Fort Donelson National Battlefield was established as a National Military Park on March 26, 1928, and soon after that re-designated as a National Battlefield on August 9, 1985. The national battlefield is made up of about 552 acres of parkland and about five acres of cemetery land. These protected areas are situated about a mile west of Dover, Tennessee, and just about three miles east of ‘Land Between the Lakes’ which is along US 79.
This park preserves both Fort Donelson and Fort Heiman, which were two sites of the American Civil War campaign (the Forts Henry and Donelson Campaign). During these military campaigns, Union Army Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote captured three Confederate forts and opened two rivers, the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River, to afford more access and control to the Union Navy.
These exploits allowed the two commanders early Union victories on February 1862, leading to national recognition for their successes. The capture of Fort Donelson and its garrison by the Union led to the capture of Nashville, which was Tennessee's capital and industrial center. Control of Nashville on February 25, 1862, gave the Union effective control over most of Tennessee, and this struck a significant blow to the Confederacy early in the war right until the end of the war.
Some of the unique features of this historical period include Fort Donelson (Dover) National Cemetery and its 1,842 interments (504 of which are unidentified). Besides these features of the national battlefield, the Fort Donelson National Battlefield is also a good place for visitors to enjoy auto touring and hiking. Visitors can also use the park's amenities that include restrooms, a visitor center, self-guided trails, and museum/exhibit. Dogs are also allowed into the national battlefield, but they must always be kept on a leash and away from restricted areas of the park.