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John C. Brown, Bushrod Johnson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Autographs

Identifier: MS-3477

  • Staff Only

This collection contains sections of three documents bearing the autographs of General John C. Brown, General Bushrod Johnson, and General Nathan Bedford Forrest.


  • 1868, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection contains sections of three documents bearing the autographs of General John C. Brown, General Bushrod Johnson, and General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Biographical/Historical Note

General John Calvin Brown (January 6, 1827-August 17, 1889) was born in Giles County, Tennessee. He graduated from Jackson College in Columbia, Tennessee in 1846, studied law with his brother, and began practicing law in 1848. Brown enlisted in the Confederate Army as a Private in early 1861 but soon worked his way up to Colonel of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. He was captured during the Battle of Fort Donelson but was a prisoner for only six months before being paroled and exchanged in August of 1862. He was promoted to Brigadier General soon afterward and was put in charge of a new and larger brigade. Brown fought in Kentucky, in Tennessee, in the Atlanta Campaign, and in the Carolinas Campaign before surrendering with Joseph E. Johnston’s forces at Bennett Place. Brown returned to Pulaski, resumed his law career, and involved himself in politics, serving in the Tennessee General Assembly (1869), in the Tennessee Constitutional Convention (1870), and as Governor of Tennessee (1870). After losing a race for an open United States Senate Seat, Brown served as the President of the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and later the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railway Company. He died at Red Boiling Springs in 1889.

General Bushrod Johnson (October 7, 1817-September 12, 1880) was born in Belmont County, Ohio. He was raised as a Quaker and, before moving to the South, worked on the Underground Railroad with his uncle. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1840 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry. He fought in both the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War before being forced to resign from the Army in 1847 after being accused of selling contraband goods. Johnson went on to work as a teacher, as a professor of philosophy and chemistry at the Western Military Institute (1851), and as professor of engineering at the University of Nashville (1855). During this period, he was also active in the state militias of Kentucky and Tennessee. When the Civil War broke out, Johnson enlisted as a Colonel of Engineers in the Tennessee Militia. This unit became part of the Confederate States Army a week later. Johnson helped to construct Fort Donelson and was promoted to Brigadier General on January 24, 1862. He went on to fight at Shiloh (where he was wounded) and to participate in the Tullahoma Campaign and in the Siege of Knoxville. Johnson was promoted to Major General on May 21, 1864 and fought with the Army of Northern Virginia until the end of the war. He was paroled at Appomattox Court House. After the war ended, Johnson served as a professor and co-chancellor of the University of Nashville before retiring to Brighton, Illinois in 1875. He died in Illinois in 1880 and was buried in Miles Station. He was reinterred next to his wife in Nashville’s Old City Cemetery in 1975.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821-October 29, 1877) was born to a poor family in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. His father died when he was 17, and Forrest became the head of the family. He became a businessman and slave trader, owning several plantations in the Tennessee Delta. By the start of the Civil War, he was one of the richest men in the South, having amassed a personal fortune that he claimed amounted to $1.5 million. Forrest enlisted in the Confederate States Army and joined Company E of the Tennessee Mounted Rifles on July 14, 1861. On seeing how poorly equipped the troops were, he offered to buy supplies with his own money. His superior officers were surprised that he had enlisted as a common soldier (especially since planters were exempt from service) and commissioned him as Lieutenant Colonel with permission to recruit a battalion of Confederate Mounted Rangers. He was put in command of Forrest’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion and went on to distinguish himself at the Battle of Fort Donelson in February of 1862. He campaigned extensively in Tennessee in 1862 and early 1863, distinguishing himself for his courage and flair for the dramatic. He was later sent to backcountry Alabama and West Georgia and finished the war in Gainesville, Florida, where he surrendered on May 9, 1865. Both Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee expressed their belief that the Confederate high command had failed to fully utilize Forrest's talents in their postwar writings.

After the war, Forrest settled in Memphis, Tennessee and built a house on the bank of the Mississippi River. From 1867 to 1869, he served as the First Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. With slavery abolished, the former slave trader suffered a major financial setback. He found employment at the Selma-based Marion & Memphis Railroad and eventually became the company president. Under his direction, the company went bankrupt. Nearly ruined, Forrest spent his final days running a prison work farm on President's Island in the Mississippi River, living with his wife in a log cabin they had salvaged from his plantation. Forrest died in Memphis in October 1877, reportedly from acute complications of diabetes. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery but was reinterred in Forrest Park (a Memphis city park named in his honor) in 1904.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

Special Collections purchased these autographs on February 4, 2011.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA