Fort Donelson, TN

[Battle of Fort Donelson, Kurz & Allison, Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Date(s): February 11-16, 1862

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, Tennessee, United States

Campaign(s): Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers [1862]

Battles in Campaign:


  • On February 6th, a combined force under Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Flag-Officer A.H. Foote had easily captured Fort Henry.

  • On February 6, Grant wired to Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Grant's superior as commander of the Department of the Missouri, "Fort Henry is ours. ... I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry."

  • Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston decided to reinforce Donelson with another 12,000 men, knowing that a defeat there would mean the inevitable loss of Middle Tennessee and the vital manufacturing and arsenal city of Nashville


  • Union: Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Flag-Officer A.H. Foote

  • Confederate: Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, Brig. Gen. Gideon Pillow, and Brig. Gen. Simon B. Buckner

Principal Forces:

  • Union: District of Cairo and Western Flotilla [24,531]

  • Confederate: Fort Donelson Garrison [16,171]


  • After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson.

  • On February 16, 1862, after the failure of their all-out attack aimed at breaking through Grant’s investment lines, the fort’s 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally.

  • This was a major victory for Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and a catastrophe for the South.

  • It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

  • Grant received a promotion to major general for his victory and attained stature in the Western Theater, earning the nom de guerre “Unconditional Surrender.”

Photo Gallery:1

Fort Donelson Visitor Center

Tour Map of Fort Donelson

Fort Donelson - Key to the Cumberland

On to Donelson!

Gunboats Open the Tennessee

Model Showing the Impact of Cannon Ball on Ironclad

Confederate Monument

Erected by the Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1933, the Confederate Monument commemorates the Southern soldiers who fought and died at Fort Donelson.

Description of Confederate Forces Holding Fort Donelson

Lower River Batteries

Foote's Fleet - Iron Valentines

Unseasoned Artillerymen

Gun Positions

Jackson's Virginia Battery

Col. Jacob G. Lauman's Union Brigade - Description of Assault

Description of Union Attack Led by Brig. Gen. C. F. Smith

Description of Union Attack Led by Brig. Gen. C. F. Smith

Site of Grave's Battery

Description of Actions by Confederate Col. William Baldwin's Brigade

Description of Brig. Gen. Gideon Pillow's Confederate Division at Fort Donelson

Texas Monument - Describes Actions of Texas Troops at Fort Donelson

Description of Actions by Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Cavalry


Slide Presentation2: Fort Donelson, TN

Classification3: A


  • Union: 2,331 

  • Confederate: 15,067

Results: Union Victory

Battlefield Website:

  • Fort Donelson National Battlefield - National Park Service

  • Battle of Fort Donelson - Wikipedia

  • Forts Henry and Donelson -

Recommended Resources:

1 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of"

2 Slide Presentation Updated on 1/31/07. Click on link to view as web-based slide show.

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 07/17/2008