Fort Donelson to celebrate campaign’s 149th anniversary

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, located near Dover, Tenn., is planning to commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Fort Donelson Campaign with a series of encampments and the start of a new book and film discussion series.

In February 1862, Union forces attacked – and eventually retook – Fort Donelson. The attack began on Feb. 14, 1862, when ironclads commanded by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote arrived from nearby Fort Henry, which union forces captured earlier in the month, and offered so-called “iron valentines,” but soon retreated.

Confederate forces surrendered the fort on Feb. 16. In response to a Confederate inquiry into terms of surrender, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant said: “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.”

Anniversary events include:

  • From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 5-6, the park will host an encampment interpreting the 2nd Iowa’s charge against Fort Donelson and the Confederate right flank. Gen. Charles F. Smith led the Feb. 15, 1862, charge on the order of Grant, Smith’s former student and then superior officer.
  • From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 12, the park will host an encampment interpreting the 50th Tennessee Infantry regiment that will exhibit Fort Donelson life from February 1862.
  • From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 19-20, the park will host an encampment interpreting the 9th Kentucky Infantry (USA) and portraying Civil War drills, camp life, and training.
  • At 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, the fort’s visitor center will play host to the inaugural event of the new book and film discussion series. The first discussion will center on Harold Holzer’s “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861.”

In addition, the historic Dover Hotel will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on days the fort is hosting events. The hotel will feature new exhibits that showcase the building’s history, the fort’s surrender and stories of those who participated in the campaign.

For more information, call the park at (931) 232-5706 or visit

IF YOU GO: From Atlanta, take Interstate 75 North to Chattanooga, then take Interstate 24 West to Exit 4. Turn left on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard, then take a right onto 101st Airborne Division Parkway/Tenn. Highway 374. Continue until Tenn. Highway 374 and then turn right. Follow signs to Dover; the visitor center is located one mile west of the town.

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