Fort Donelson National Battlefield commemorates the first major Union victory of the Civil War. It quickly followed the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River (which is now flooded by Kentucky Lake). The battle earned Union General U.S. Grant fame for his reply to Confederate General Simon Buckner: “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” This led to the joke that his initials stood for “Unconditional Surrender.” After more than 12,000 Confederate troops were taken prisoner on February 16, 1862, the Union army soon took Nashville, Tennessee.
Dover Hotel, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, cannons
Visitors today can take a six-mile driving tour to see the rifle pits, lower river battery, and earthworks along the Cumberland River, in addition to an exhibit on the first floor of the Dover Hotel (where terms of surrender were signed). This hilly riverside park is also a nice place to exercise and watch for bald eagles and other wildlife. Fort Donelson National Cemetery is located nearby.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield is neighbors with Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Tucked between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, this area was claimed through eminent domain by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) when dams were built. Outdoor recreation is now the focus with reservoirs, trails, bison and elk herds, a living history museum, and a planetarium. Also, there are more than 200 cemeteries in this 170,000-acre area.
Giant cannons are mounted in the lower river battery along the Cumberland River.
None for the National Battlefield, but there are entry fees for portions of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
All roads paved
There are numerous campgrounds in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, as well as at Paris Landing State Park.
Shiloh National Military Park (Tennessee)
Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
Explore More – Fort Donelson and which other nearby fort were havens for escaped slaves later in the Civil War?