Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hike 2011.060 -- Fort Donelson National Battlefield, TN

Hiked Monday, September 5. Fort Donelson National Battlefield is located along the Cumberland River or Barkley Lake, just south of (and across the river from) Land Between the Lakes. It was a key early battle in the Civil War, in which the Union (led here by Ulysses S. Grant) won their first major victories. By capturing Fort Donelson (on the Cumberland River) and nearby Forts Heiman and Henry (on the Tennessee River), the Union had a clear path into the Confederacy's interior, including the major rail and industrial facilities in Nashville. Grant also made a name for himself here and would later go on to become commander of all Union forces and later President of the United States.

None of these forts ever really looked like what you might imagine a fort to look like. They were mostly just fortified gun emplacements, with earthworks dug in a perimter around the guns. The guns overlooked their respective rivers and were intended to prevent Union ships from approaching and invading the south through the waterways.

Today, the earthworks (really just long berms for the Confederates to hide behind) are still visible. Cannon are also deployed, though I suspect these are not the actual cannon that were there at the time of the battle. They do give an idea of their function at Fort Donelson, however.

There are several hiking trails here. I mostly stuck with the Donelson Trail, with the exception of taking the River Loop and the spur to the National Cemetery nearby. Many battle dead were buried there, but there are also many more recent interments of veterans and their families from the more recent era.

I saw a number of white tailed deer hightail it away from me. No pictures of them, but they're obviously present here, and probably skittish because they're hunted (not in the battlefield, but I'm sure adjacent to it). I also saw a number of large white water birds that I tend to think were egrets, although some had more orangish bills than I would have expected.

Some small amount of fall foliage color was present, as well. There was also a very picturesque bridge. I guess bridges are almost always picturesque, just because they're analogies for a journey and joining separate places.

Approximiately 5 1/2 miles of walking today. Because of the riverside location, there's a bit more climbing and descending here than on most of the other trails I've taken recently.


  1. Had to go to a "public" computer lab to get my post up. For some reason, the computer in my office can't post, although I can edit. Weird.

  2. KVCR, public television for San Bernardino, broadcasted a show a few days ago that was produced by Nasvhille public television on Civil War songs and stories. I recognized a few shots taken around Fort Donelson. It was nice to see some familiar territory, even though I only visited it once.

    Pictures from LBL and surrounding areas still dominate my computer's slideshow when the screen saver kicks in.