In February 1862, this battlefield set the scene of the first major Union victory in the Civil War. See the earthworks and remnants of the historic fort, cannons and the clear vistas of the Cumberland River.
The fort was constructed by Confederate troops and slaves in late 1861 and early 1862 to secure the Cumberland River against Union attack. In early February 1862, a Federal army under Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, cooperating with a naval flotilla under Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, invested the fort. A naval assault was turned back by the Confederate water batteries, but Union land forces held off a Confederate attempt to break the siege, and on February 16, the fort surrendered, and roughly 13,000 Confederates were taken prisoner.
The site also offers a visitor center, a picnic area, and 5.7 miles of hiking trails.
Visitor Services are temporarily located at the Stewart County Visitor Center, 117 Visitor Center Lane in Dover. The visitor center is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1.
In 1867, Fort Donelson Cemetery was established as the final resting for Union soldiers and sailors initially buried in the Fort Donelson area. 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. A cemetery shelter contains interpretive panels and a grave locator.
Another historic structure of interest is the Dover Hotel (Surrender House). Built between 1851 and 1853, the Dover Hotel accommodated riverboat travelers before and after the Civil War. The structure served as Confederate General Simon Buckner's headquarters during the Civil War. It was here on February 16, 1862, General Buckner accepted Union General Ulysses S. Grant's terms and agreed to an unconditional and immediate surrender of Fort Donelson and its garrison during the war. The exterior has now been restored to its original appearance by the National Park Service.
Mid-March (Spring time change) to Memorial Day: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Memorial Day to Labor Day: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Labor Day to Mid-October (Fall time change): 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Mid-October (Fall time change) to Mid-March (Spring time change): 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
All vehicles must be off the Tour Road by the time the gates lock. The Tour Road will be open for walking, running, or bicycling from daylight til dusk.
The National Cemetery drive is open 7:00 am to 8:00 pm year round.