The history of Fort Heiman is unique to any other area. This history is tied directly to Forts Henry and Donelson as the Confederacy built all three to guard the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. The three forts were captured by a joint army/navy operation in February 1862. Forts Heiman and Henry fell first to the Union forces and Fort Donelson fell 10 days later. It is therefore impossible to interpret the complete story of Fort Donelson without first interpreting Forts Heiman.
Some slave labor was used on all three forts, but Fort Heiman was built almost entirely using slave labor. All three forts were occupied by the Union Army and became havens for refugee slaves searching for freedom. The Union Army made changes in the areas, but Fort Heiman has the only example of these changes still existing. Fort Heiman is also a site of a Confederate raid in 1864, where Union shipping was interrupted.