The remains of the trenches you see here are part of the outer line of defenses that protected Fort Donelson against land attack. This part of the line was initially occupied by Capt. Rice E. Graves' six-gun Kentucky Battery with instructions to keep Union troops out of Indian Creek Valley.
On February 13, 1862, when Union General McClernand tried to capture Capt. Frank Maney's four-gun Tennessee Battery on the ridge southeast of here, Graves' Battery was instrumental in thwarting the Federal attack. During this battle, the first major fighting between the two armies, exploding shells ignited dry leaves and brush below Maney's position, and the ensuing fire killed a number of Union wounded. A few Confederates rescued some of the Union soldiers from the flames.
The outer line entrenchments, hurriedly built after the surrender of Fort Henry, ran in a broken semi-circle from Hickman Creek on the west to near the Cumberland River beyond the town of Dover on the east.