Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Confederate Breakout ~ February 15, 1863

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: on a footpath (actually formerly a park road) extending from Cedar Street at stop eight, French's Battery, on the driving tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 28.808    W 087° 50.642
  36.48013333    -87.84403333
Waymark: None


The advantage lay with the Confederates. They could press the attack and possibly destroy Grant's army, or follow their original plan to escape. They did neither. General Pillow, whose initial assault had proved so successful, now mysteriously ordered his men back into the entrenchments. General Buckner, having moved his division from the right to support the breakout, challenged Pillow's orders. As the commanders argued among themselves, a lull settled over the battlefield.

By this time Union General Grant had returned from his meeting with the naval commander. Sensing an opportunity to save his army, Grant ordered his men to retake the position on the Union right, and then directed General Smith to attack the Confederate entrenchments near the river. By early evening, both attacks had proved successful. The Federal forces had recovered most of the ground lost earlier in the day. And General Smith's troops on the Union left had captured the rifle pits of the Confederate interior defenses.

"We are completely invested with an army many times our own numbers. I regret to say the unanimous opinion of the officers seems to be that we cannot maintain ourselves against these forces."
Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, CSA
February 16, 1862

Erected by Fort Donelson National Battlefield - National Park Service - Department of the Interior


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