Historic Markers Across Tennessee

U.S.A. Naval Forces, Western Division

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: Fort Donelson Tour Stop 4 (River Batteries), Dover, TN
County: Stewart
Coordinates: N 36° 29.718    W 087° 51.414
  36.4953    -87.8569
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


U.S.A. Naval Forces, Western Division

Commodore Andrew H. Foote, U.S. Navy

U.S.S. St. Louis, Flagship, Lieutenant Leonard Paulding
U.S.S. Louisville, Commander Benjamin M. Dove
U.S.S. Pittsburgh, Lieutenant Egbert Thompson
U.S.S. Carondelet, Commander Henry Walke
U.S.S. Conestoga, Lieutenant S. Ledyard Phelps
U.S.S. Tyler, Commander William Gwin

On February 12, 1862, about 11:20am, the U.S.S. Carondelet arrived below Fort Donelson and fired a number of rounds into the fort as a signal of arrival to General Grant. Captain Ross returned the fire with the rifled gun and the Columbiad and the gunboat retired to her anchorage without having caused damage.

On February 13, in the morning, the U.S.S. Carondelet again came up the river and fired 139 rounds at a range of about one-half mile. Captain Ross' 10-inch rifled gun returned the fire. One of its shots, a 128 pound solid, passed through the forward casemate, struck the steam heater, and fell into the engine room without hitting anyone, although several of the ship's crew were injured by splinters. The 32-pounder guns of the water batteries opened fire later but the range proved excessive. The gunboat dropped down the river but came back and fired 45 additional rounds before returning to her anchorage.

On February 14, about 2pm, the entire fleet under Commodore Foote steamed up the river. The four ironclads, the St. Louis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Carondelet abreast from right to left, the wooden gunboats, Tyler and Conestoga, some distance to the rear. At 3pm, the fleet opened fire at a range of about one mile and threw a shower of projectiles against the fort and the batteries. While the boats closed in slowly to within 400 yards, the water and fort batteries returned the fire with equal intensity and great accuracy. The action lasted about one and one-half hours and terminated with the disabling of the four armored boats. The flagship alone received 59 hits. The federal casualties were 54 killed and wounded. Commodore Foote was injured when a shell entered the pilot house of the flagship and killed the pilot. The Confederate garrison, in spite of the intense bombardment, suffered no casualties.

1930-1933 War Department