Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Planning to Escape

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: at the intersection of Natcor Drive (County Route 943) and Main Street, at stop nine, Forge Road, on the driving tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 28.832    W 087° 50.401
  36.48053333    -87.84001666
Waymark: None


The road heading down the ravine (to your left) is Main street. In 1862, it was Forge Road and key to plans to remedy what Generals Floyd, Pillow, Buckner, and Forrest considered a deteriorating situation. The plan took shape at a late-night council of war on February 14 at General Floyd's headquarters in the Dover Hotel. Despite their success in repulsing Union gunboats in the afternoon, the Confederate generals were still gloomy about their prospects of successfully defending Fort Donelson. All agreed that the fort was probably untenable and that they should try to open an escape route before it was too late. General Pillow's division would lead the breakout attempt, supported by Buckner's division and Forrest's cavalry.

The Plan | February 15
Attack and push back the Union right flank to open Forge Road as an escape route to Nashville.

Brigadier General John B. Floyd
"I had already seen the impossibility of holding out for any length of time with our inadequate numbers and indefensible position."

Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner
"We had heard the enemy had received 11,000 reinforcements. This made them three or four times our strength. The only recourse is to mass ourselves on the left and make a sortie to get out."

Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest
"All the officers present felt the necessity of cutting our way out. It was therefore resolved to give them battle in the open field the next morning."

Brigadier General Gideon J. Pillow
"I gave orders to have my whole force under arms at 4.30 o'clock and to be ready to march out of our works at precisely 5 o'clock."

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