Friday, February 5, 2016
During the Civil War, the Confederacy was vulnerable to warships coming down the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky declared neutrality during the war, so the Confederates looked for a place near the the border where they could defend the river. About a mile north of Dover and about 10 miles downstream along the Cumberland River from the Kentucky Border was the site of this fort. At this location, the river has a lengthy strait path before a bend and the bluffs above the river provided a great location for a battery to shoot down any Union boat that would try to come through. In Feb. 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant led troops to capture this fort so that the Union could send ships through here.
When I was in 6th grade, my class visited this spot on the way to an overnight stay at Land Between the Lakes and it's something that has stuck in my mind over two decades later.
Today with a dam upstream, the Cumberland River is also Lake Barkley, but the width of the waterway is about the same as it was during the war. Fort Donelson is under the oversight of the National Park Service and is designated a National Battlefield and on the National Register of Historic Places. The lower batteries have been rebuilt and preserved here. The Upper batteries are also preserved and is located around the bend. The cannon shown here has a date of 1846 etched in the side.