Following the swift capitulation of Fort Henry, Grant and Foote believed the use of gunboats against the fortifications at Fort Donelson might lead to the surrender of that position as well. As Grant's troops began sealing off the garrison from escape by land, the naval war vessels attempted to bombard the fort's guns at close range on 14 February. The move met with disappointing failure as two ships were disabled and another heavily damaged. Foote was injured with a wound that would eventually kill him. An instructor of artillery at the fort, H.L. Bedford witnessed the repulse of the Federal flotilla and recounted his experiences in an address which was originally published in the Southern Society Historical Papers.
The operations of the army at this place having proved disastrous to the Confederate cause, it has been condemned as a strategic point, and no one seems particularly anxious to acknowledge the responsibility of its selection. It was the general impression at the Fort that its location had been ordered by the Tennessee authorities as being the most eligible point on the Cumberland River, in close proximity to Fort Henry on the Tennessee. The original intention evidently was the obstruction of the Cumberland. The engineer in charge, Lieutenant Dixon, while tracing the outlines of the earthworks, never dreamed that a persistent stand against an invading army would ever be attempted, and I feel warranted in suggesting that General A.S. Johnston regarded it simply as a protection to his rear.
When I received orders in October, 1861, to report there as Instructor of Artillery, Colonel E.W Munford, aide to General Johnston, informed me that he was instructed by his chief to impress upon me that the Cumberland river cut his rear, and the occupation of Bowling Green was dependent upon the proper guarding of that stream. If, then, Fort