It was an important battle that played a massive role in the outcome of the United States Civil War.
So how much did you learn about the Battle of Fort Donelson in your history classes? For some odd reason, I doubt you were told hardly anything about this Battle and if you were, it was probably very little.
So I am going to provide you with 10 cool facts about the Battle of Fort Donelson. And the next time you enter a Civil War discussion, you can share your expertise about this battle.
#1: When And Where?
The battle of Fort Donelson was fought from February 11th to the 16th in 1862. It was fought at the Confederate Fort Donelson in Tennessee which was on the Cumberland River.
#2: Many Casualties
There was a lot of bloodshed in this Battle.
- Just under 14,000 Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded
- Almost 3,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded.
#3: From Fort Henry
Tennessee was considered the Western Theater of the Civil War. The Union knew the Tennessee river were an important supply route for Confederate forces so they chose to block those supply channels.
They started with Fort Henry in middle Tennessee on the Tennessee River. On February 6th, the Union took Fort Henry.
It was a huge win for Brigadier General Ulysses Grant and he then marched his troops to take Fort Donelson.
#4: Primary Leaders And Forces
The Union was led by Brigadier General Ulysses Grant and he had approximately 24,000 troops. The Confederates were led by Brigadier General John Floyd and had approximately 16,000 troops.
Grant arrived about 12 miles from Fort Donelson on the 11th. He sent small batteries to make small attacks to probe for weaknesses in the Confederates.
On the 14th, Union boats came near and fired cannons at the Fort but the defenses were too strong and Flag Office Andrew Foote ordered a retreat.
Brigadier General John Floyd saw an opportunity and took troops out on a flank attack of the Union forces. They were able to open a zone of escape but Floyd ordered his men back to the Fort.
#6: The Importance Of Fort Donelson
Fort Donelson was ultra important to the Confederates since it was the lone guardian of Nashville wher munitions were stored and also the rich farmlands that supplied Confederate forces.
If the Union could capture Fort Donelson, they would be taking major resources away from the Confederates.
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#7: Passing Down The Loss
Brigadier General John Floyd saw that his Confederate troops were losing so he decided to not be responsible for the loss. He passed the command of Fort Donelson to Brigadier General Gideon Pillow who immediately wanted no part of the loss and subsequently passed command to Brigadier General Simon Buckner.
Floyd and Pillow both escaped with a small contingent of men and left Buckner holding the Fort.
#8: Unconditional Surrender
Most surrenders are made with conditions, but on February 16th, Ulysses Grant received an unconditional surrender from Buckner.
This gave Grant instant fame and he was promoted to Major General.
If Confederates would have successfully defended Fort Donelson, the odds were good that Kentucky would have joined the Confederacy.
The outcome kept Kentucky in the Union and gave the river power of Tennessee over to the Union.
#10: The Spoils
As I said, this Battle was a huge role in the outcome of the Civil War. Now the Union had those rivers and Nashville would be in their control.
Fro the battle, the Union got:
- 15,000 POWs
- 20,000 rifles
- 48 artillery pieces
- 17 heavy guns
- and about 2,800 horses
Plus they took a lot of food supplies too.
This is the Battle that raised Ulysses Grant to high regards under President Lincoln. It also was a huge victory in the downfall of the Confederates.
Do you have any input?
Feel free to leave all questions or comments below.
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.