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The fort overlooks Lake Barkely now. The river's course has changed since the Civil War
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Closest available address
120 Fort Donelson Road Dover, Tennessee, 37058
The visitor center is open 8am-4:30pm. Park is open daylight hours.
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
Fort Donelson National Battlefield is a military park in western Tennessee. It is the location of an 1862 Civil War battle and an important Union victory. The main park area is 700 acres but recent land purchases have increased the size to 1,000 acres. Facilities include a museum, auto tour, and picnic facilities. There are also historic cannon and extensive earthworks.
Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively. Fort Henry quickly fell to a Union naval attack. Union forces then moved onto Donelson. Northern ships were met by a fierce Confederate artillery barrage. The Union Army then began a siege. The Southern Army attacked and succeeded in opening a gap in Union lines. However, confusion and poor leadership led Confederate troops to then retreat back to their original positions. Two cowardly Confederate officers later abandoned their troops, and a subordinate surrendered the next day. Most Confederate troops were captured, but Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later achieved great success and notoriety, escaped with 700 cavalrymen.
Fort Donelson Park is an older park that was established in 1928, but unlike other such parks it is not overrun with war memorials. The auto tour is the best way to see the park. There are 11 stops which includes the core battlefield, as well as a historic hotel and a national cemetery. Stops 2-4 which are closest to the historic Cumberland River were the most interesting, with impressive batteries, good views, and informative historical signs. The park museum is small but has installed new exhibits and displays in 2013 that a ranger advised provide a more intimate experience of the battle and history from the perspective of different participants. This park was quiet, relaxing, educational and enriching. It was also well maintained, and service was helpful. Those into military history will definitely enjoy it. Others may want to stop by for a walk or picnic in a tranquil setting.
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Gar the Bold
3/19/2014 10:09:31 AM
This is very helpful review.
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