Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Tour Stop 11 (National Cemetery)

In 1863, after the Battle of Dover, the Union garrison rebuilt its fortifications. Dairy accounts left by soldiers of the 83rd Illinois Regiment, stationed here after the Battle of Fort Donelson, explain how demanding soldiering could be. Besides working on the new fortifications, the garrison protected the Union supply line. Soldiers frequently commented on the constant threat of attacks by guerrilla 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 Union telegraph lines, described the area as being filled with "rebel bands of thieves and robbers." Slaves began coming into the Union lines soon after the victory in 1862, seeking shelter, food, and protection. The issue of how to deal with the large influx of slaves who were 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 established across Tennessee, and it is estimated that approximately 300 slaves wintered at Fort Donelson in 1862. The army employed men as laborers and teamsters, while 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 establishment of 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.


(5-05) Cemetery Lodge, Fort Donelson National Cemetery
Bivouac of the Dead
Courtesy of Brian Risher, MS

  (3-95) Fort Donelson National Cemetery
(3-95) Fort Donelson National Cemetery  

(5-05) Cemetery Lodge
Interpretive Marker:
This 1877 house served as office and quarters for the cemetery keeper until 1931. The design of the building is Second Empire (French), from the reign of Napoleon III (1852-1870). This architectural style is characterized by gables and a roof consisting of two slopes on all sides.
The addition of a kitchen with porch in 1936 is the only alteration.
Today, this structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as park staff quarters. It is not open to the public.
Courtesy of Nick Luck, MI

(2007) Cemetery Lodge
Courtesy of Rick Shelton, Indianapolis, IN

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