"We lived luxuriously in comfortable tents and log huts," one Fort Donelson soldier wrote in the more tranquil days before cold weather set in and the armies clashed. Besides rations of flour, fresh and cured meats, sugar, and coffee, every boat brought boxes from home filled with things a farm or store could provide, including uniforms and clothing. The reconstructed log hut represents the approximately 400 huts built for the fort's garrison by soldiers and slave laborers as living quarters, some 100 of them inside the 15-acre fort. When winter came, these crude huts with their canvas roofs made from tents and their fireplaces made from stone, stick, and mud, warded off the wind, rain, and snow, and kept many Confederates from freezing to death. Most of the thousands of soldiers who arrived before the battle were housed in tents or slept beneath a blanket on the ground, and suffered terribly in the bitter February cold.
The only known contemporary illustration of the Confederate encampment within Fort Donelson appeared in the March 17, 1862, issue of Harper's Weekly. The view is from the area occupied today by the National Cemetery.
Fort Donelson's defenders wore a wide variety of clothing, as this photograph of captured Fort Donelson soldiers shows.
Few had uniforms, most wore citizens' clothes. Many of the officers had the regular gray uniform, while others wore U.S. Army blue.
No one knows exactly what the cabins at Fort Donelson looked like, but they probably didn't differ much from those pictured here, built by Confederate soldiers of Centreville, Virginia in the winter of 1861-62.