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Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

H. L. Bedford Memoirs

Identifier: MS-2176

The bulk of this collection consists of a memoir describing the February 1862 battle of Fort Donelson from the point of view of a Confederate soldier. Interestingly, this document contradicts reports by Union commanders published in the Records of the Rebellion. It explains why Confederates chose Fort Donelson's location, names commanders, infantry regiments, and artillery batteries at Donelson, describes the placement of Confederate artillery, describes in detail how the upper and lower batteries effectively defended the fort, claims that Federals mistook the size of the Confederate force, and praises Confederate artillerists (especially the superior use of a crippled Columbiad). Bedford also mentions the deployment of Union infantry and miscommunication and hesitancy among Confederate commanders while seeking to restore General Albert Sydney Johnston's reputation, praising Lt. Col. Milton Haynes, and lauding the work ethic and bravery of Confederates. The document also mentions Generals Floyd and Pillow.

Bedford's memoir also discusses the naval aspects of the Battle of Fort Donelson, describing the exploits of the ironclad Carondelet, the naval battle of February 14, and reporting on the Carondelet's damage. Finally, the document offers counterfactual outcomes of the battle.

This manuscript is accompanied by a note dated October 5, 1883 from the editor of The Century Magazine, indicating that the magazine cannot publish Bedford's memoir because parts of it [are] - unadapted to our purpose.


  • circa 1882-1883

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


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H. L. Bedford's memoir provides a detailed account of the placement and use of Confederate artillery at Fort Donelson. The memoir disagrees with Union reports included in the Official Records and rehabilitates the reputation of Confederate troops and commanders at the fort. Bedford was an adjutant in the Tennessee Corps of Artillery.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lieutenant H. L. Bedford (Hugh), son of a Mississippi planter Benjamin Bedford, was an adjutant in the Tennessee Corps of Artillery. At Fort Donelson, he served under Captain Reuben Ross, commander of the Maury County Artillery (Company 19). While there, he helped supervise the erection of Fort Donelson, and according to Lt. Col. Milton Haynes, Chief of Tennessee Corps of Artillery, he zealously and energetically performed his duties in a prompt and faithful manner. After being captured by Union forces at Fort Donelson, Bedford was a prisoner of war at Johnson's Island, located in Ohio, near the Sandusky Bay (Lake Erie).


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

Collection was purchased by Special Collections.

Repository Details

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

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA