The Confederate generals—John Floyd,
Gideon Pillow, Simon Buckner and Bushrod
Johnson—also rejoiced; but sober reflection
revealed another danger. Grant was receiving
reinforcements daily and had extended his
right flank almost to Lick Creek to complete
the encirclement of the Southerners. If
the Confederates did not move quickly, they
would be starved into submission. Accordingly,
they massed their troops against the Union
right, hoping to clear a route to Nashville
and safety. The battle on February 15 raged
all morning, the Union Army grudgingly retreating
step by step. Just as it seemed the way
was clear, the Southern troops were ordered
to return to their entrenchments—a
result of confusion and indecision among
the Confederate commanders. Grant immediately
launched a vigorous counterattack, retaking
most of the lost ground and gaining new
positions as well. The way of escape was
closed once more.
Floyd and Pillow turned over command of
Fort Donelson to Buckner and slipped away
to Nashville with about 2,000 men. Others
followed cavalryman Col. Nathan Bedford
Forrest across swollen Lick Creek. That
morning, February 16, Buckner asked Grant
for terms. Grant's answer was short and
direct: "No terms except an unconditional
and immediate surrender can be accepted."
Fort Donelson Ghost Photo
sent to us from Wes Clements.
Soon after the surrender, civilians and
relief agencies rushed to assist the Union
Army. The U.S. Sanitary Commission was one
of the first to provide food, medical supplies,
and hospital ships to transport the wounded.
Many civilians came in search of loved ones
or to offer support. Although not officially
recognized as nurses, women such as Mary
Bickerdyke cared for and comforted sick
and wounded soldiers.
With the capture of Fort Donelson and its
sister fort, Henry, the North had not only
won its first great victory, it had also
gained a new hero—"Unconditional
Surrender" Grant, who was promoted
to major general. Subsequent victories at
Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga would
lead to his appointment as lieutenant general
and commander of all Union Armies. Robert
E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox would send
Grant to the White House.
After the fall of Fort Donelson, the South
was forced to give up southern Kentucky
and much of Middle and West Tennessee. The
Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, and railroads
in the area, became vital Federal supply
lines. Nashville was developed into a huge
supply depot for the Union army in the west.
The heartland of the Confederacy was opened,
and the Federals would press on until the
"Union" became a fact once more.
FORT DONELSON NATIONAL CEMETERY
In July 1862, Congress passed legislation
giving the President of the United States
the authority to purchase land for the establishment
of cemeteries “for soldiers who shall
die in the service of their country”.
The legislation effectively began the national
cemetery system. In 1863, the Union Army
abandoned the Confederate works and constructed
a new fortification on the ground that became
the cemetery site. A freedmen's community
developed around the new Union fort. Four
years later, this same site was selected
for the establishment of the Fort Donelson
National Cemetery and 670 Union soldiers
were reinterred here. These soldiers (which
included 512 unknowns) had been buried on
the battlefield, in local cemeteries, in
hospital cemeteries, and in nearby towns.
These totals include five known and nine
unknown soldiers from the United States
Colored Troops. The high percentage of unknown
soldiers can be attributed to the haste
in cleaning up the battlefield and the fact
that civil war soldiers did not carry government-issued
In 1867, Fort Donelson Cemetery was established
as the final resting for Union soldiers
and sailors initially buried in the Fort
Today the national cemetery contains both
Civil War veterans and veterans who have
served the United States since that time.
Many spouses and dependent children are
also buried here.
Confederate soldiers were hastily buried
on the battlefield after the surrender.
The exact location of their graves is unknown.
This monument commemorates the Southern
soldiers who fought and died at Fort Donelson.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy
erected the monument in 1933.
Many say they see the dead soldiers walking
the grounds at all times of the day. Often
it is said many seemed dazed and lost. The
smell of ghostly gun powder fills the air
at times and the sound of canons eing fired
is also reported by many visitors. The first
major victory for the Union Army in the
Civil War occurred here in February of 1862
under the leadership of Ulysses S. Grant.
Fort Donelson (Dover) National Cemetery
(1,842 interments; 504 unidentified) adjoins
It has been reported by various people
who have had to enter the Cemetery area
numerous screams and moans can be heard
high energy can be felt and extreme chills
even in the middle of summerthroughout the
The Surrender House in Dover, Tennessee
which is part of Fort Donelson National
Battlefield Park is haunted.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield - Cemetery
- haunted by the ghost of Civil War infantryman
Reuben Hammond, who is buried there. Reuben
believes his job is to stand watch and make
sure his dead comrades are safe. He's also
very lonely and sad because no one talks
to him. Gun shots fired throughout the night
are said to heard often.
Operating Hours & Seasons
Fort Donelson visitor center is opened
daily 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed December
25. 552 acres.
Begin your visit at the visitor center.
The visitor center, located on Highway 79,
is open daily, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The information desk is operational all
day and the person manning it can provide
you with a list of scheduled park events
and provide you with a copy of the official
Fort Donelson Park and Guide. The visitor
center contains a gift shop/book store,
staffed by Eastern National, a museum displaying
Civil War artifacts and an exhibit on the
Underground Railroad. The park’s orientation
film Fort Donelson: Gateway to the Confederate
Heartland engages visitors with a storyline
that draws on the lifelong friendship between
Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate
General Simon B. Buckner. Emphasis is still
placed on the 1862 battles at Forts Henry
and Donelson and its military significance.
Park visitors also learn a couple of new
facts: Confederates actually built three
earthen forts, one named Fort Heiman, which
was built just across the Tennessee River
in Calloway County, Kentucky, and that these
forts were eventually used as safe havens
by freedom-seeking slaves. All visitor center
facilities are accessible.
The tour at Fort Donelson National Battlefield
is self-guided. A park brochure explains
the six-mile, self-guided tour. Park Rangers
are available for questions.
The park has 5.7 miles of hiking trails
for nature lovers to enjoy. Visitors can
pick up a trail guide at the visitor center.
ENTRANCE FEES: NONE
ACTIVITY FEES: NONE
ALSO SEE: THE TOP
TEN MOST HAUNTED BATTLEFIELD LIST
the battles have long ago ended and the
sound of cannons and muskets is but a distant
memory, there are some souls who are still
waiting for the call to “Retreat”
– and for them, it may never come!
plans to visit a Haunted Battlefield today!
VISIT HERE TO VIEW FULL LIST >