Fort Donelson National Battlefield preserves the site of the first major victory by Union forces in the Civil War, and which made General U.S. Grant famous. (soldiers said U.S. stood for Unconditional Surrender) The battle was also the first use of ironclad gunboats commanded by Flag Officer Andrew Foote.
The capture secured access to the heart of Dixie via the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Soon afterward, the Confederate city of Nashville fell; which was a major supply depot. Also, the surrounding railroads could then be used for quickly moving troops and supplies.
Along with control of the fort and rivers, 13,000 Confederate soldiers were captured. The success at Fort Donelson was a pivotal campaign that turned the tide of war to the Union’s favor. It’s surprising to me that it is overshadowed by other battles further east.
The surrender site was at the nearby Dover Hotel. Brigadier General Simon Buckner ceded the field to Grant. Buckner refused to leave his men, while the other three Confederate generals fled to avoid capture. Buckner and Grant were classmates at West Point and good buddies until the war.
All of the key points were easily accessible with good descriptions. For Civil War buffs, I think the Fort Donelson Battlefield is a must see.
Camp: Harpeth River Bridge CG-COE electric
Scene: Fort, battlefield, cemetery
Note: This visit occurred in the end of September.