Fort Donelson - Explore the battlefield where Union and Confederate soldiers fought in February of 1862. Discover the history of the past displayed inside the Visitor Center or scattered across the battlefield, where monuments, plaques, and canyons portray the battle that ultimately ended with the Union forces capturing Fort Donelson. The construction of the Fort Donelson started in the year 1861 by Daniel S. Donelson and was named after him. During the Civil War of the 1860s, the Union forces were heading south to fight the Confederacy. Fort Donelson was key because of its location on the Cumberland River. When Fort Donelson was captured by the Union in February 1862, it was their first major victory for the Civil War. With the fort under Union control, they now had the door open to the Confederacy, ensuring that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opening up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. At Fort Donelson, visitors can learn about the battle, view the earthworks and cannons, and take a walk through the area on one of two trails. There also are areas for picnics, parking, and strolls along the Cumberland River, as well as a Visitor Center, where guests can learn the history of the war leading up to this battle and the events that occurred after it was finished.
Fort Donelson National Cemetery - The Fort Donelson National Cemetery in Dover, Tennessee was established in 1867 as a burial ground for Union soldiers killed in a significant early Civil War battle.Today, the cemetery contains the graves of veterans representing the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Fort Donelson National Cemetery is one of 14 national cemeteries managed by the National Park Service and is a part of the Fort Donelson National Battlefield. In July 1862, Congress passed legislation giving the President of the United States the authority to purchase land for the establishment of cemeteries “for soldiers who shall die in the service of their country.” The legislation effectively began the National Cemetery System. In 1863, the Union Army abandoned the Confederate works and constructed a new fortification on the ground that became the cemetery site. A freedmen's community developed around the new Union fort. Four years later, this same site was selected for the establishment of the Fort Donelson National Cemetery and 670 Union soldiers were reinterred here. These soldiers (including 512 unknowns) had been buried on the battlefield, in local cemeteries, in hospital cemeteries, and in nearby towns. These totals include five known and nine unknown soldiers from the United States Colored Troops. In 1867, Fort Donelson Cemetery was established as the final resting for Union soldiers and sailors initially buried in the Fort Donelson area. Today the national cemetery contains both Civil War veterans and veterans who have served the United States since that time.
The Surrender House/Dover Hotel - This 1850s building was originally the Dover Hotel and was a popular stop for travelers of the time. During the Battle at Fort Donelson, General Buckner and his staff used the hotel as their headquarters during the battle. It also served as a Union hospital after the surrender. After Buckner accepted Grant's surrender terms, the two generals met here to work out the details. Today, the building is restored and showcases historical artifacts and galleries. Built between 1851 and 1853, the Dover Hotel accommodated riverboat travelers before and after the Civil War. The Dover Hotel was the site of the "unconditional surrender" of General Buckner to General Grant, on February 16, 1862. Grant's terms of "unconditional and immediate surrender" were described by Buckner as "ungenerous and unchivalrous.” This was the Union Army's first major victory of the Civil War, setting the stage for invasion of the south and eventual capture of the Mississippi River Valley. The structure was originally built in 1851, and still stands in the heart of Dover. The structure had served as General Buckner's headquarters during the battle. The Fort Donelson House Historical Association and the National Park Service restored the house in the 1970s, and today the exterior looks much as it did at the time of the surrender.
Stewart County Visitor Center - Explore the Stewart County Visitor Center to learn about the history and future of the city of Dover. Walk through the Gallery located inside to get a visual representation of the city’s culture and history or talk to a resident at the Visitor Information Desk to hear their own piece of Dover history! Stewart County proudly opened its Visitor Center in October 2010. It has been a beautiful addition to the county and serves the community on multiple facets. The Center includes a Visitor Information Desk, where guests can discover the history of the county, hear about how the city is changing and improving through future plans, and even get tips on the best local eateries and stores. Take a tour through the Gallery, where the history and culture of Stewart County is highlighted through interesting articles, incredible art pieces, and rare artifacts, and then relax in the comfort of the fireplace.
Stewart County Historical Society Museum - Stewart County Historical Society Museum: This historical building showcases the history, culture, and customs of the city of Dover. Guests can explore many displays of local art, artifacts, and photographs as local experts recount the stories of this historical county. The Stewart County Tennessee Historical Society Museum is in the heart of Dover, TN. The museum houses an abundant collection of rich information on the county’s history, culture, and customs. While visiting the Historical Society Museum, guests have the opportunity to explore the county’s one-room schoolhouse and the history found inside, the beautiful Stewart County quilt showcased for all to see, and many more displays that demonstrate the local history. The building is also used to host many local events from charity dinners and dancing nights to educational seminars and talent shows, the Stewart County Historical Society Museum works hard to bring the community together.
Dover Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Stewart County is a small county enriched with history, picture-perfect scenery, and welcoming citizens. Guests are greeted with nature's beauty and wildlife surrounding the city. Located at the county’s heart is Dover, its county seat and the home of Fort Donelson National Park. This peaceful, picturesque town is the location of one of the most historic battles of the Civil War - a battle that changed the direction of the war for the North. Today, bald eagles call this park their home as and soar through the skies; a true symbol of freedom. Although small and rural, Dover has much to offer her visitors who can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many local restaurants or take in the comforting hometown charm found throughout the city. Dover and Stewart County are the perfect gateway to a simple, cozy, quiet, country experience.
CIVIL WAR THEME
Delve into the history of the war as we visit one of the most riveting and game-changing battlefields of the American Civil War. Fort Donelson was the Confederacy’s last attempt at control over the state of Tennessee after the Union Army captured Fort Henry on February 6, 1862. Union General Ulysses S. Grant pushed vigorously to Fort Donelson, where confederate soldiers awaited attack. On February 14th, 1862, Grant opened fire on what would become a very bloody Valentine’s Day. The frigid hills echoed with the ear-piercing boom of a thousand gun shots, as the Union Army slowly began to break down the Confederates. Just two days later, after their final attempt on an all-out attack, Confederate General Simon Buckner surrendered to Grant, deeming the battle a Union victory, opening up Tennessee for a Northern advance and ensuring Kentucky would remain in Union control.
Begin this Civil War-themed day in the Grand Saloon, where a background of Fort Donelson will be revealed in an intense film before we tour the historic Fort Donelson Battlefield lined with cannon, statues, and monuments recounting the events of this intense battle.
August 25th Departures: 7:45 AM & 10:00 AM
October 17th Departures: 8:00 AM & 10:30 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Activity Level: 2