The Fort Donelson National Battlefield provides a glimpse of American history. The park itself today is smaller than what the battle took place on, however you still get to see the most important parts. I would recommend visiting the visitor's center first to pick up a map and see the small exhibit and short film. The film itself was somewhat simplistic but still provides valuable insight for those not knowledgeable about the battle. The park ranger also was very helpful and always ready to answer any questions.
You tour the battlefield by car. It is possible to walk if you have the time as well, but you will see all of the same sights. The brochure from the visitor's center provides details at each stop, as well as information boards along the route. I would recommend getting out of your car (unfortunately extremely uncommon when I was there) and read the signs and walk the battlefield and gun emplacements. You might get lucky and see a bald eagle as well!
Most of the sights are linked closely together, however there are a few that are outside of the main park. Across the street from the park is the location of one of the batteries and road that the Confederates used in their unsuccessful breakout attempt from the fort. The National Cemetery is also the last stop on the tour, however you can see the cemetery at any time. The Dover Hotel is also open. The hotel was where General Buckner surrendered to his friend General Grant. The exhibits provide a glimpse into the leaders on each side as well from the soldiers and civilians viewpoints.
The battles of Ft. Henry and Donelson marked the first major victories for the Union and brought General Grant into the national picture and his nickname "unconditional surrender Grant". While the battlefields in the Eastern theater get most of the attention, Ft. Donelson should be on everyone's bucket list for those interested in the Civil War. While you will learn a lot from the information provided, nothing beats standing behind the cannons and seeing the earthworks and putting yourself in the battle. It is hard to imagine standing along the shore with the ironclads pounding the fort and the Confederates firing back and immobilizing the ships.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.