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Fort Donelson Anniversary Resources

With today being the anniversary of the surrender of Fort Donelson, I thought it would be a great opportunity to post some resources that I think are great in trying to learn more about the event. I hope you enjoy these and learn from these as much as I have. Obviously there are a few great books out there on the subject, not as many as some of the other battles, but there are a few that stand out.


One of the best things to have when learning about any Civil War event is the official records. If you would like to start at the beginning, I have found where they start with Grant's report on February 16, 1862. If you are curious about a certain regiment, brigade, or division report, scroll up just a few pages and you will see the reports numbered with the name of the officer submitting the report. Most of these are Federal since the Confederates surrendered. To view the OR's click HERE!


The American Battlefield Trust has a good, brief article with some basic facts if you are wanting a short intro to understanding the battle. Click HERE!



A few months ago I posted the portion of Sam Cox's diary that covered the days before and after the fall of Fort Donelson. If you would like to read the experiences of a Union soldier in the 17th Kentucky, click the links below!

Fort Donelson Diary

The Road to Pittsburg Landing


For a rather unique Confederate perspective, check out Adam Rankin Johnson's lengthy account of his activities with Forrest during the campaign. Johnson claims to have been the one to find the escape route for Forrest.

Adam Rankin Johnson in Partisan Rangers of the Confederate States Army


For another Kentucky Confederate account, this site has a portion of the diary of a gunner of Graves' Battery, a Kentucky artillery unit commanded by Rice Graves.

Lt. Seldon Spencer Diary


A brief letter written by an officer in the 2nd Kentucky from Johnson's Island after the regiment was captured on the 16th. It describes the death of a comrade.

Lt. E.F. Spears Letter


Below I've posted some helpful videos. Many are Tim Smith and Ed Bearss. Two of the best minds when it comes to Fort Donelson and the Western Theater.


You can never go wrong with Ed Bearss, one of the most knowledgeable people on the Civil War. This is part one of a two part talk at the Water Battery.


Part two of the Water Battery talk.


Tim Smith's Fort Donelson hike with the Shiloh Discussion Group. None of this takes place at the fort, but focuses on the major fighting around the fort as the Confederates attempted a breakout. One of the best videos out there on understanding the ground and how important the terrain was in the battle. You will also notice that much of the ground where the actual fighting took place is developed in many places. One of my favorites that I have watched/listened to multiple times.


Ed Bearss discusses Buckner's surrender at the Dover Hotel.


Ed Bearss and Tim Smith. This is a series of videos that cover different aspects of the battle. They should play to the next automatically.


This NPS video of the events at Fort Donelson give s a good overall explanation, but the last few minutes appear to be missing.


I also found a good report from the Evansville Daily Journal, an Indiana town across and down the Ohio River from my city, that dates to February 24, 1862. The writer mentions the two Federal Kentucky regiments, the 17th and 25th commanded by Colonels McHenry and Shackelford respectively.


The Richmond Enquirer printed a most interesting article on February 18th, two days after Buckner surrendered, proclaiming a great victory at Fort Donelson. Definitely one of the examples of slow communication in 1862.





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There is history that needs to be remembered.  

Lost and forgotten.  Too many stories from our past have collected dust on bookshelves, or have been left behind with previous generations.  Join me as I piece together the tales about the 1862 Western Kentucky Summer Campaign in Laid Low in the Dust, and John Locke of the 14th Tennessee.

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Derrick Lindow              Owensboro, Kentucky            derricklindowauthor@gmail.com

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