Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Confederate Breakout ~ February 15, 1862

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: Cedar Street near Wynn's Ferry Loop, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 28.808    W 087° 50.642
  36.48013333    -87.84403333
Waymark: None


"A great shouting was heard behind me, whereupon I sent an orderly to ascertain the cause. The man reported the road and woods full of soldiers apparently in rout. An officer then rode by at full speed, shouting 'All's lost! Save yourselves!'"
Brig. Gen. Lew Wallace, USA

Their escape plans finalized, the Confederates passed the night of February 14 preparing for the attack on the Union right wing. Men, artillery and horses were moved into position, while high winds from a winter storm prevented all sound from carrying to the Union lines.

Saturday, February 15, was clear and cold. Northern soldiers, having suffered severely during the night, rose early, building fires and frying bacon brought up by supply wagons the evening before. Shortly after daybreak, the Confederates launched their attack against the unprepared Union position. Outnumbered, the Union troops were gradually forced to withdraw. By mid-morning the Confederates had achieved their main objective. The road to Nashville, and freedom, was clear.

"On the honor of a soldier, the day is ours!"
Brig. Gen. Gideon Pillow, CSA

Brigadier General Gideon Pillow, second-in-command of the Confederate forces at Fort Donelson, launched the attempted breakout. As a prosperous Tennessee lawyer prior to 1861, Pillow had earned a controversial
reputation while commanding troops in the Mexican War.

Brigadier General John McClernand, an Illinois Congressman before the Civil War, commanded the First Division of General Grant's army at Fort Donelson. Occupying the extreme right wing of the Union line, McClernand's troops felt the full force of the Confederate breakout attempt.


More information:
Wikipedia: Battle of Fort Donelson
NPS: Fort Donelson
NPS: Fort Donelson - Battle Summary