Nathan Bedford Forrest

About Nathan Bedford Forrest

Who is it?: Military commander
Birth Day: July 13, 1821
Birth Place: Chapel Hill, United States
Nickname(s): Old Bed Devil Forrest Wizard of the Saddle
Buried: Health Sciences Park Memphis, Tennessee
Allegiance: Confederate States
Service/branch: Confederate Army
Years of service: 1861–1865
Rank: Lieutenant General
Unit: White's Company, TN Mounted Rifles
Commands held: 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Forrest's Cavalry Brigade Forrest's Cavalry Division Forrest's Cavalry Corps
Battles/wars: American Civil War Fort Donelson Shiloh First Murfreesboro Chickamauga Fort Pillow Brice's Cross Roads Tupelo Second Memphis Third Murfreesboro Nashville Wilson's Raid
Relations: Nathan Forrest II (grandson) Nathan Forrest III (great grandson)

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born on July 13, 1821 in Chapel Hill, United States, is Military commander. One of the most imposing and intimidating Confederate Generals during the Civil War, Nathan Bedford Forrest was a name to reckon with. He started off as a private soldier and rose to the rank of a lieutenant general serving as a cavalry officer at numerous battles including the ones at Shiloh, Chickamauga, Brice’s Crossroads and Second Franklin. Despite having no military training, he reigned at the battles due to his sheer tactics and fierce swordsmanship. All throughout the war, he successfully conducted various raiding operations on federal supplies and communication lines. While he successfully led quite a many battles, it was the Battle of Fort Pillow in April 1864 that stained his illustrious career as he was known to have caused the murder of 200 Union unarmed troops, mostly blacks. Post war, he worked as a planter and railroad president, and served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Nathan Bedford Forrest is a member of Military Leaders

Does Nathan Bedford Forrest Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Nathan Bedford Forrest has been died on October 29, 1877(1877-10-29) (aged 56)\nMemphis, Tennessee.

🎂 Nathan Bedford Forrest - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Nathan Bedford Forrest die, Nathan Bedford Forrest was 56 years old.

Popular As Nathan Bedford Forrest
Occupation Military Leaders
Age 56 years old
Zodiac Sign Leo
Born July 13, 1821 (Chapel Hill, United States)
Birthday July 13
Town/City Chapel Hill, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s zodiac sign is Leo. According to astrologers, people born under the sign of Leo are natural born leaders. They are dramatic, creative, self-confident, dominant and extremely difficult to resist, able to achieve anything they want to in any area of life they commit to. There is a specific strength to a Leo and their "king of the jungle" status. Leo often has many friends for they are generous and loyal. Self-confident and attractive, this is a Sun sign capable of uniting different groups of people and leading them as one towards a shared cause, and their healthy sense of humor makes collaboration with other people even easier.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born in the Year of the Snake. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Snake are seductive, gregarious, introverted, generous, charming, good with money, analytical, insecure, jealous, slightly dangerous, smart, they rely on gut feelings, are hard-working and intelligent. Compatible with Rooster or Ox.

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Famous Quotes:

The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men fall upon their knees and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. The white men fared but little better. Their fort turned out to be a great slaughter pen. Blood, human blood stood about in pools and brains could have been gathered up in any quantity.



A monument to Forrest in the Confederate Circle section of Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama reads "Defender of Selma, Wizard of the Saddle, Untutored Genius, The first with the most. This monument stands as testament of our perpetual devotion and respect for Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. CSA 1821–1877, one of the South's finest heroes. In honor of Gen. Forrest's unwavering defense of Selma, the great state of Alabama, and the Confederacy, this memorial is dedicated. DEO VINDICE". As an armory for the Confederacy, Selma provided a substantial part of the South's ammunition during the Civil War. The bust of Forrest was stolen from the cemetery monument in March 2012 and efforts are currently underway to restore the monument. A monument to Forrest at a corner of Veterans Plaza in Rome, Georgia was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909 to honor his bravery for saving Rome from Union Army Colonel Abel Streight and his cavalry.


In 1841, Forrest went into Business with his uncle Jonathan Forrest in Hernando, Mississippi. His uncle was killed there in 1845 during an argument with the Matlock brothers. In retaliation, Forrest shot and killed two of them with his two-shot pistol and wounded two others with a knife which had been thrown to him. One of the wounded Matlock men survived and served under Forrest during the Civil War.


Forrest had 12 brothers and sisters; two of his eight brothers and his three sisters died of typhoid fever at an early age, all at about the same time. He also contracted the disease, but survived; his father recovered but died from residual effects of the disease five years later, when Bedford was 16. His mother Miriam then married James Horatio Luxton, of Marshall, Texas, in 1843 and gave birth to four more children.


In 1845, Forrest married Mary Ann Montgomery (1826–1893), the niece of a Presbyterian minister who was her legal guardian. They had two children, william Montgomery Bedford Forrest (1846–1908), who enlisted at the age of 15 and served alongside his father in the war, and a daughter, Fanny (1849–1854), who died in childhood. His descendants continued the military tradition. A grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest II (1872–1931), became commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia and secretary of the national organization. A great-grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest III (1905–1943), graduated from West Point and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Air Corps; he was killed during a bombing raid over Nazi Germany in 1943, becoming the first American general to die in European combat in World War II.


Forrest became a successful businessman, planter, and slaveholder, and acquired several cotton plantations in the Delta region of West Tennessee. He was also a slave trader, at a time when demand was booming in the Deep South; his trading Business was based on Adams Street in Memphis, and allowed him to support his mother and put his younger brothers through college. In 1858, Forrest was elected a Memphis city alderman as a Democrat and served two consecutive terms. By the time the American Civil War started in 1861, he had become one of the richest men in the South, having amassed a "personal fortune that he claimed was worth $1.5 million".


Forrest was well known as a Memphis speculator and Mississippi gambler. In 1859, he bought two large cotton plantations in Coahoma County, Mississippi, and a half-interest in another plantation in Arkansas; by October of 1860 he owned at least 3,345 acres in Mississippi.


His superior officers and Governor of Tennessee Isham G. Harris were surprised that someone of Forrest's wealth and prominence had enlisted as a soldier, especially since major planters were exempted from Service. They commissioned him as a lieutenant colonel and authorized him to recruit and train a battalion of Confederate mounted rangers. In October 1861, Forrest was given command of a regiment, the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry. Though Forrest had no prior formal military training or experience, he had exhibited leadership and soon proved he had a gift for successful tactics.


The Union Army gained military control of Tennessee in 1862 and occupied it for the duration of the war, having taken control of strategic cities and railroads. Forrest continued to lead his men in small-scale operations, including the Battle of Dover (1863) and the Battle of Brentwood until April 1863. The Confederate army dispatched him with a small force into the backcountry of northern Alabama and west Georgia to defend against an attack of 3,000 Union cavalrymen commanded by Colonel Abel Streight. Streight had orders to cut the Confederate railroad south of Chattanooga, Tennessee to cut off Bragg's supply line and force him to retreat into Georgia. Forrest chased Streight's men for 16 days, harassing them all the way. Streight's goal changed from dismantling the railroad to escaping the pursuit. On May 3, Forrest caught up with Streight's unit east of Cedar Bluff, Alabama. Forrest had fewer men than the Union side, but he repeatedly paraded some of them around a hilltop to appear a larger force, and convinced Streight to surrender his 1,500 or so exhausted troops (historians Kevin Dougherty and Keith S. Hebert say he had about 1,700 men).


On December 4, 1863, Forrest was promoted to the rank of major general. On March 25, 1864, Forrest's cavalry raided the town of Paducah, Kentucky in the Battle of Paducah, during which Forrest demanded the surrender of U.S. Colonel Stephen G. Hicks: "... if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter." The bluff failed and Hicks refused.


After his bloody defeat at Franklin, Hood continued on to Nashville. Hood ordered Forrest to conduct an independent raid against the Murfreesboro garrison. After success in achieving the objectives specified by Hood, Forrest engaged Union forces near Murfreesboro on December 5, 1864. In what would be known as the Third Battle of Murfreesboro, a portion of Forrest's command broke and ran. When Hood's battle-hardened Army of Tennessee, consisting of 40,000 men deployed in three infantry corps plus 10,000 to 15,000 cavalry, was all but destroyed on December 15–16, at the Battle of Nashville, Forrest distinguished himself by commanding the Confederate rear guard in a series of actions that allowed what was left of the army to escape. For this, he would later be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on March 2, 1865. A portion of his command, now dismounted, was surprised and captured in their camp at Verona, Mississippi on December 25, 1864, during a raid of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad by a brigade of Brig. Gen. Benjamin Grierson's cavalry division.


In the spring of 1865, Forrest led an unsuccessful defense of the state of Alabama against Wilson's Raid. His opponent, Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson, defeated Forrest at the Battle of Selma on April 2, 1865. A week later, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant in Virginia. When he received news of Lee's surrender, Forrest also chose to surrender. On May 9, 1865, at Gainesville, Forrest read his farewell address to the men under his command, enjoining them to "submit to the powers to be, and to aid in restoring peace and establishing law and order throughout the land."


Forrest was an early member of the Ku Klux Klan ("KKK" or simply "the Klan"), which was formed by six veterans of the Confederate Army in Pulaski, Tennessee during the spring of 1866, and soon expanded throughout the state and beyond. Forrest became involved sometime in late 1866 or early 1867. A Common report is that Forrest arrived in Nashville in April 1867 while the Klan was meeting at the Maxwell House Hotel, probably at the encouragement of a state Klan leader, former Confederate general George Gordon. The organization had grown to the point where an experienced commander was needed, and Forrest was well-suited to the role. In Room 10 of the Maxwell, Forrest was sworn in as a member by John W. Morton. Brian Steel Wills quotes two KKK members who identified Forrest as a Klan leader. James R. Crowe stated, "After the order grew to large numbers we found it necessary to have someone of large experience to command. We chose General Forrest". Another member wrote, "N. B. Forest of Confederate fame was at our head, and was known as the Grand Wizard. I heard him make a speech in one of our Dens". The title "Grand Wizard" was chosen because General Forrest had been known as "The Wizard of the Saddle" during the war. According to Jack Hurst's 1993 biography, "Two years after Appomattox, Forrest was reincarnated as grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. As the Klan's first national leader, he became the Lost Cause's avenging angel, galvanizing a loose collection of boyish secret social clubs into a reactionary instrument of terror still feared today."


Forrest joined the Ku Klux Klan, apparently in 1867, two years after its founding, and was elected its first Grand Wizard. At the time the group was a loose collection of local groups that used violence and the threat of violence to maintain white control over the newly liberated and enfranchised slaves. While Forrest was a leader, the Klan, during the Election of 1868, suppressed voting rights of blacks and Republicans in the South, through violence and intimidation. In 1869, Forrest became disillusioned with the lack of discipline among the various white supremacist groups across the South, ordered the dissolution of the Ku Klux Klan and its costumes to be destroyed, and withdrew from the organization. Without any coordinated leadership, and strong prosecution of the Klan by President Grant and the newly established Department of Justice, the Klan gradually disappeared.


During the presidential election of 1868, the Klu Klux Klan under the leadership of Forrest, and other terrorist groups, had used brutal violence and intimidation against blacks and Republican voters. The Republicans had nominated Union war hero Ulysses S. Grant for the Presidency at their convention held in October. Klansmen took their orders from their former Confederate officers. In Kansas, there were over 2,000 murders committed to suppress blacks and Republicans from voting. In Georgia, Republicans and blacks received threats and beatings at a higher rate. In Louisiana, 1000 blacks were killed to suppress Republican voting. The violent tactics used by the Klan backfired as Grant, whose slogan was "Let us have peace," won the election and Republicans gained a majority in Congress. Grant, however, did lose Kansas, Georgia, and Louisiana where the violence and intimidation against blacks was most prominent. Many in the north, including President Grant, backed the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment that gave voting rights to Americans of African descent and former slaves. Congress and Grant passed the Enforcement Acts from 1870 to 1871, to protect registration, voting, officeholding, or jury Service of African Americans. Under these laws enforced by Grant and the newly formed Department of Justice, there were over 5,000 indictments and 1,000 convictions of Klan members across the South.


Forrest testified before the Congressional investigation on Klan activities on June 27, 1871. He denied membership, but his individual role in the KKK was beyond the scope of the investigating committee, which wrote, "our design is not to connect General Forrest with this order, (the reader may form his own conclusion upon this question... ." The committee also noted, "The natural tendency of all such organizations is to violence and crime; hence it was that General Forrest and other men of influence in the state, by the exercise of their moral power, induced them to disband".


During the Virginius Affair of 1873, some of Forrest's old Southern friends were filibusters aboard the vessel so he wrote a letter to then General-in-Chief of the United States Army william T. Sherman and offered his services in case of war with Spain. Sherman, who in the Civil War had recognized what a deadly foe Forrest was, replied after the crisis settled down. He thanked Forrest for the offer and stated that had war broken out, he would have considered it an honor to have served side-by-side with him.


After the lynch mob murder of four blacks, arrested for defending themselves at a barbecue, Forrest wrote to Tennessee Governor John C. Brown in August 1874 and "volunteered to help ‘exterminate’ those men responsible for the continued violence against the blacks", offering "to exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes".


On July 5, 1875, Forrest demonstrated that his personal sentiments on the issue of race now differed from those of the Klan when he was invited to give a speech before the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, a post-war organization of black Southerners advocating to improve the economic condition of blacks and to gain equal rights for all citizens. At this, his last public appearance, he made what the New York Times described as a "friendly speech" during which, when offered a bouquet of flowers by a young black woman, he accepted them, thanked her and kissed her on the cheek as a token of reconciliation between the races. Forrest ignored his critics and spoke in encouragement of black advancement and of endeavoring to be a proponent for espousing peace and harmony between black and white Americans going forward.


Forrest reportedly died from acute complications of diabetes at the Memphis home of his brother Jesse on October 29, 1877. His eulogy was delivered by his recent spiritual mentor, former Confederate chaplain George Tucker Stainback, who declared in his eulogy: "Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, though dead, yet speaketh. His acts have photographed themselves upon the hearts of thousands, and will speak there forever.


Forrest was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. In 1904, the remains of Forrest and his wife Mary were disinterred from Elmwood and moved to a Memphis city park which was originally named Forrest Park in his honor but has since been renamed Health Sciences Park.


Forrest is often erroneously quoted as saying his strategy was to "git thar fustest with the mostest". Now often recast as "Getting there firstest with the mostest", this misquote first appeared in a New York Tribune article written to provide colorful comments in reaction to European interest in Civil War generals. The aphorism was addressed and corrected as "Ma'am, I got there first with the most men" by a New York Times story in 1918. Though a novel and succinct condensation of the military principles of mass and maneuver, Bruce Catton writes:


Forrest's great-grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest III, pursued a military career, first in cavalry, then in aviation, and attained the rank of brigadier general in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. On June 13, 1943, Forrest III was killed in action while participating in a bombing raid over Germany, the first U.S. General to be killed in action in World War II. His family received the Distinguished Service Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor) he was awarded posthumously for staying with the controls of his B-17 bomber while his crew bailed out; the aircraft exploded before Forrest himself could bail out. By the time German air-sea rescue could arrive, only one of the crew was still alive in the water.


In the 1990 PBS documentary The Civil War by Ken Burns, Historian Shelby Foote states in Episode 7 that the Civil War produced two "authentic geniuses": Abraham Lincoln and Nathan Bedford Forrest. When expressing this opinion to one of General Forrest's granddaughters, she replied after a pause, "You know, we never thought much of Mr. Lincoln in my family". Foote also made Forrest a major character in his novel Shiloh, which used numerous first-person stories to illustrate a detailed timeline and account of the battle.


In 1978, Middle Tennessee State University abandoned the Forrest imagery it had formerly used (in 1951, the school's yearbook, The Midlander, featured his likeness in the first appearance of Forrest as MTSU’s official mascot) and MTSU President M.G Scarlett removed Forrest's image from the university's official seal. The Blue Raiders' athletic mascot was changed to an ambiguous swash-buckler character called the "Blue Raider", to avoid association with the Confederacy and with General Forrest. During the halftime of a basketball game against Tennessee State University on January 17, 1998, the school's new mascot, a winged horse inspired by the mythological Pegasus, called "Lightning", was first unveiled. The ROTC building at MTSU was named Forrest Hall in his honor. In 2006, the frieze depicting General Forrest on horseback that had adorned the side of this building was removed amid protests, but a major push to change its name failed on February 16, 2018, when the Tennessee Historical Commission denied Middle Tennessee State University's petition to rename Forrest Hall.


In August 2000, a road on Fort Bliss named for Forrest decades earlier was renamed for former post commander Richard T. Cassidy. In 2005, Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey started an effort to move the statue over Forrest's grave and rename Forrest Park. Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who is black, blocked the move. Others have tried to get a bust of Forrest removed from the Tennessee House of Representatives chamber. Leaders in other localities have also tried to remove or eliminate Forrest monuments, with mixed success.


As of 2007, Tennessee had 32 dedicated historical markers linked to Nathan Bedford Forrest, more than are dedicated to all three former Presidents associated with the state combined: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson (none of whom were born in Tennessee). The Tennessee legislature established July 13 as "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day".


High schools named for Forrest were built in Chapel Hill, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida. In 2008, the Duval County School Board voted 5–2 against a push to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville. In 2013, the board voted 7-0 to begin the process to rename the school. The school was named for Forrest in 1959 at the urging of the Daughters of the Confederacy because they were upset about the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. At the time the school was all white, but now more than half the student body is black. After several public forums and discussions, Westside High School was unanimously approved in January 2014 as the school's new name.


In 2000, a monument to Forrest in Selma, Alabama, was unveiled. On March 10, 2012, it was vandalized and the bronze bust of the general disappeared. In August, a historical society called Friends of Forrest moved forward with plans for a new, larger monument, which was to be 12 feet high, illuminated by LED Lights, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and protected by 24-hour security cameras. The plans triggered outrage and a group of around 20 protesters attempted to block construction of the new monument by lying in the path of a concrete truck. Local Lawyer and radio host Rose Sanders said, "Glorifying Nathan B. Forrest here is like glorifying a Nazi in Germany. For Selma, of all places, to have a big monument to a Klansman is totally unacceptable". An online petition at asking the City Council to ban the monument collected 313,617 signatures by mid-September of the same year.


Forrest's legacy as "one of the most controversial – and popular – icons of the war" still draws heated public debate. A 2011 Mississippi license plate proposal to honor him, by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, revived tensions and raised objections from Mississippi chapter of the NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who compared Forrest to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. The Mississippi NAACP petitioned Governor Haley Barbour to denounce the plates and prevent their distribution. Barbour refused to denounce the honor, noting instead that the state legislature would not be likely to approve the plate anyway.


Historians have differed in their interpretations of the events at Fort Pillow. Richard L. Fuchs, author of An Unerring Fire, concluded: {{quote|The affair at Fort Pillow was simply an orgy of death, a mass lynching to satisfy the basest of conduct—intentional murder—for the vilest of reasons—racism and personal enmity.


On July 7, 2015, the Memphis City Council unanimously voted to remove the statue of Forrest from Health Sciences Park, and to return the remains of Forrest and his wife to Elmwood Cemetery. However, on October 13, 2017, the Tennessee Historical Commission invoked the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013 and U.S. Public Law 85-425: Sec. 410 to overrule the city. Consequently, Memphis sold the park land to an entity not subject to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act (Memphis Greenspace), which immediately removed the monument as explained below.


Forrest Park in Memphis was renamed Health Sciences Park in 2013, amid substantial controversy. In 2015, as a result of the June 17 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, some Tennessee lawmakers advocated removing a bust of Forrest located in the state's Capitol building. Subsequently, then-Mayor A.C. Wharton urged removal of the statue of Forrest in Health Sciences Park and suggested the relocation of Forrest and his wife to their original burial site in nearby Elmwood Cemetery. In a nearly unanimous vote on July 7, the Memphis City Council passed a resolution in favor of removing the statue and securing the couple's remains for transfer. The Tennessee Historical Commission denied removal on October 21, 2016 under its authority granted by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013, which protects war memorials on public property from cities or counties relocating, removing, renaming, or otherwise disturbing them without permission. On December 20, 2017, the Memphis City Council voted to sell Health Science Park to a new non-profit, Memphis Greenspace, and, since the non-profit was not subject to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, the statue was removed that evening. The Sons of Confederate Veterans say they will sue the city.

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