Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Rice House - Decision to Surrender

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: on Petty Street, at stop ten, Dover Hotel, of the driving tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 29.317    W 087° 50.208
  36.48861666    -87.8368
Waymark: None


At 1:30 a.m., February 16, 1862, at a final council of war in the Rice house (originally located in front of you at the corner of Pillow and Petty streets) Confederate Generals Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner decided that their failed breakout attempt meant that surrender was inevitable. Floyd, fearing capture and prosecution in the North, turned over command to Pillow. Pillow passed it on to Buckner, who agreed to remain and surrender the fort and what was left of the army. Pillow escaped by small boat across the Cumberland in the night, Floyd the next morning on a steamer with two regiments of Virginia infantry. Forrest and 700 troopers escaped through the icy waters of Lick Creek. Bushrod Johnson, Pillow's second in command, simply walked away. Buckner wrote Grant requesting an armistice and terms of surrender.

General Buckner to General Grant, requesting terms of surrender.
"...I propose to the Commanding Officer of the Federal forces the appointment of Commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces and Fort under my command..."

Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner
"I regarded it as my duty to remain with my men and share their fate, whatever it might be."

Brigadier General Gideon J. Pillow
"I am determined that I will never surrender the command nor will I ever surrender myself as a prisoner. I will die first."

Brigadier General John B. Floyd
"The surrender was a painful and inexorable necessity, which could not be avoided, and not a 'measure deemed proper for the entire army'."

Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest
"I did not come here to surrender my command."

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