Historic Markers Across Tennessee

With Admirable Precision

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: on Lock D Loop, at stop 4, the river batteries, on the driving tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 29.658    W 087° 51.295
  36.4943    -87.85491666
Waymark: None


This is the smallest of the two river batteries built by Confederates in 1861 to protect the Cumberland River, a strategic transportation and supply route to Clarksville and Nashville. Semicircular in design and set some 30 feet above the river, the battery mounted one 6.5-inch rifled cannon and two 32-pounder ship carronades, all protected by sandbags and a strong parapet. The battery was manned by the Maury Light Artillery Battery commanded by Capt. Reuben R. Ross. Portions of Captain Ross's command were also assigned to serve the 10-inch Columbiad in the nearby Lower River Battery. Though inexperienced in handling heavy artillery, Ross's gunners were praised for exhibiting "admirable precision" against the Union ironclads on February 14, 1862. the collapsed remains of the powder magazine used by the Confederates to store ammunition for the cannon during the battle can be seen in the hillside behind you.

(Illustration caption):
Upper River Battery after Union occupation. From a sketch by Henri Lovie, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 15, 1862.

(Notations from left to right):
- Lower River Battery
- 32-pounder ship Carronade
- 4 Ironclad Gunboats 350-yards away (closest position). (To silhouettes) 1½ miles away.
- 6.5-inch rifled cannon This gun was capable of firing explosive shells long distances with a high degree of accuracy. Though out of action part of the time, it helped repel the Union gunboats.
- 32-pounder ship Carronade These short range cannon caused little or no damage to the Union gunboats. Confederate officers considered them "entirely useless" in this location.

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