after the Battle of Dover, the Union garrison rebuilt its fortifications. Diary
accounts by soldiers of the 83rd Illinois Regiment, stationed here after the
Battle of Fort Donelson, indicate how demanding soldiering could be. Besides
working on the new fortifications, the garrison protected to Union supply line.
Soldiers often commented on the constant threat of attacks by guerilla parties.
Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Baugh wrote in 1863
that the "rebels [had] been trying to blockade the river" again. Pvt.
Mitchel Thompson, who was often detailed to repair telegraph lines, described
the area as being filled with "rebel bands of thieves and robbers."
Many enslaved workers from nearby plantations came
into the Union lines for shelter, food, and protection after the 1862 victory.
How to deal with these refugees, still
considered property by the slave owners and individual state laws, presented a
problem for both the Union army and the Lincoln administration. In 1862 Grant
chose to protect the slaves and put them to work for the army.
Eventually freedmen camps were set up across
Tennessee, and an estimated 300 slaves wintered at Fort Donelson in 1864. The
army employed men as laborers and teamsters. Women commonly served as cooks and
laundresses. In 1863 the Union army also began recruiting free blacks from
Tennessee and Kentucky.
Soon after the war, this site was selected for the
Fort Donelson National Cemetery, and the remains of 670 Union soldiers were
reinterred here. These soldiers had been buried on the battlefield, in local
cemeteries, in hospital cemeteries, and in nearby towns. The large number of
unknown soldiers-512-can be attributed to haste in cleaning up the battlefield
and to the fact that Civil War soldiers did not carry government-issued
identification. Today the national cemetery contains both Civil War Veterans
and Veterans who have served the United States since that time. Many spouses
and dependent children are also buried here.
To assist in locating men, women, and children who rest in Fort Donelson National Cemetery, you may visit this website, operated by the Veterans' Administration. (This may cause you to leave this application. You will have to select "Ft. Donelson" on the menu.)