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Nathan Bedford Forrest - N.B. Forrest - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Jan 30th, 2007 03:20 pm
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Fuller
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I've seen posts with "The Best" and "The Worst" leaders in the Civil War.  I want to hear opinions on those who may not have made either list but have enough material about them to talk about.  My first choice is Nathan Bedford Forrest.  What are your opinions on his choices as a leader?

Fuller



 Posted: Tue Jan 30th, 2007 04:57 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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My opinion on Forrest: One of the BEST!!.....

He kept the Yankees occupied because they kept sending out expeditions to catch him, and he whupped'em everytime!!... He caused millinos of dollars in damages to the enemy....He, for a while, had his own "Navy" (which again kept the enemy busy!). He "charge'em both ways!" to get out of being surrounded.... He didn't  surrender his command at Ft Donelson....He financed the equipping of his unit....He was the only man in American History to go from Buck Private to Lt Gen. in the course of one war.....His men respected him, his enemies feared him, perhaps, like no other soldier on either side....

Just my opinion....

 

Albert Sailhorst, Scott's TN Battery



 Posted: Wed Jan 31st, 2007 02:07 pm
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David White
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His audacity probably even puts Lee to shame and he was pretty audacious.



 Posted: Wed Jan 31st, 2007 08:17 pm
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Johan Steele
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"After all, I think Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side.”

"If it costs us ten thousand lives and breaks the treasury, there will never be peace in Tennessee until Forrest is dead!" ... June 15th, 1864

-- William T. Sherman

You can judge a man by his enemies and what they think of him... Sherman knew what he was talking about.

"That we are beaten is a self-evident fact, and any further resistance on our part would be justly regarded as the height of folly and rashness...The terms upon which you were surrendered are favorable, and should be satisfactory and acceptable to all. They manifest a spirit of magnanimity and liberality on the part of the Federal authorities which should be met on our part by a faithful compliance with all the stipulations and conditions therein expressed...Civil war, such as you have just passed through, naturally engenders feelings of animosity, hatred and revenge. It is our duty to divest ourselves of all such feelings...The attempt made to establish a separate and independent confederation has failed, but the consciousness of having done your duty faithfully and to the end will in some measure repay for the hardships you have undergone."

Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, May 9, 1865.

 

I certainly would not have liked the man... but I tell you what he was a fighting man of the highest order.



 Posted: Wed Jan 31st, 2007 10:03 pm
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ole
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Forrest either dictated that note or had someone write a nice letter for him.:P



 Posted: Thu Feb 1st, 2007 06:06 am
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susansweet
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Johan I agree with your post .  I was sitting here trying to think of the quote and there it was posted by you.  He was an amazing general and from what I have read his men were extremely  loyal to him.  I don't agree with some of his ideas but I sure respect him as a general.   I have also read he was quite a gentleman around the ladies.  But was one of the best  at swearing in the Civil War. 



 Posted: Thu Feb 1st, 2007 06:06 am
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susansweet
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Last edited on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 06:07 am by susansweet



 Posted: Thu Feb 1st, 2007 02:27 pm
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HankC
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The general knock on Forrest is that he had little actual impact in major campaigns. Other than Shiloh and Chickamauga he was elsewhere and his role was fairly minimal at those 2 battles.

The great unknown is his potential impact if he'd been turned loose on US supply lines in 1863 and 64...

Cheers,

HankC



 Posted: Thu Feb 1st, 2007 07:01 pm
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ole
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Hank:

Sherman showed a bit of brilliance in his Atlanta campaign by ensuring that Forrest was otherwise occupied. Billy didn't need NBF camping on his RR to Chattanooga.

Ole



 Posted: Thu Feb 1st, 2007 08:32 pm
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Johan Steele
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Whoever says Forrest had minimal impact upon campaigns... needs to read a touch more.  All of the raids he commanded seriously upset Union plans and postponed or outright cancelled whole campaigns.

His actions after Nashville prevented the absolute destruction of the CS AoT.  His various raids from December of 62-October 64 were as brilliant as they get.  I believe the largest force he commanded on one of these raids was around 4,500 men and his raids regularly tied up 15-20,000 US troops.  No he was as profecient a fighting soldier as you can get; far more effective than any other in the CS arsenal and yes, that includes Bobby Lee. 



 Posted: Sat Feb 3rd, 2007 08:03 am
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Kentucky_Orphan
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Forrest was certainly an excellent field commander. I have always been hesitant about comparing men like Forrest and Mosby to men like Grant or Lee. The responsibilities and nature of commanding so radically different forces makes it so difficult.

I will say this about Forrest though, he planned and executed the most brilliant single battle of the civil war IMO (Brices crossroads). It was as close to perfection as a battle strategy can be and was executed extraordinarily well. Like Shelby Foote said (recounting a quote by a contemporary), Nathan Bedford Forrest was born to be a soldier like John Keats was born to be a poet.

He also had more great quotes, and more great quotes about him, than any other man in the civil war. Classics like these two never get old to me, they always make me at least chuckle:

"If you were any part of a man, I would slap your face and force you to resent it!" Nathan Bedford Forrest to his commanding officer, Braxton Bragg

"I'll officer you!", Forrest to one of his men as his pulled out his sword when the soldier attempted unsuccessfully to convince Forrest that, because he was an officer, he shouldn't have to do the labor enlisted men were doing.

 

 

 

 



 Posted: Tue Feb 6th, 2007 12:38 am
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CleburneFan
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KY Orphan, didn't members of the Kentucky Orphans Brigade ride with Forrest early in the war ---maybe even were members of the very first brigade he trained---or am I confused with another general? 



 Posted: Thu Feb 8th, 2007 01:44 pm
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HankC
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There are 2 sides to the Forrest myth: his personal bravery, the many victories in battle, his rags-to-riches story and dynamic personality, and his post bellum defense for the Lost Cause.

Then there is the butchery of black troops at Ft. Pillow, his association with the KKK, and his guerrilla warfare tactics.

Obviously the truth lies somewhere between.

However, in the great ebb and flow of the war in the west where do we find a Forrest action altering the general tide?

 

HankC



 Posted: Thu Feb 8th, 2007 01:44 pm
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HankC
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There are 2 sides to the Forrest myth: his personal bravery, the many victories in battle, his rags-to-riches story and dynamic personality, and his post bellum defense for the Lost Cause.

Then there is the butchery of black troops at Ft. Pillow, his association with the KKK, and his guerrilla warfare tactics.

Obviously the truth lies somewhere between.

However, in the great ebb and flow of the war in the west where do we find a Forrest action altering the general tide?

 

HankC



 Posted: Thu Feb 8th, 2007 02:19 pm
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David White
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His Dec. 62 Tennesse Raid probably saved Vicksburg (along with Van Dorn's) for a few months anyway.  His actions in Mississippi and Tennessee had Sherman looking over his shoulder during the Atlanta Campaign more than he should have and led to his decision to cut loose from his supplies during the March to the Sea.  If Hood had contested that movement versus galavanting into Tennessee, perhaps that might have been a fatal error on Sherman's part or led him to rely on a supply line that Forrest could have impacted.



 Posted: Fri Feb 9th, 2007 07:56 pm
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Kentucky_Orphan
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@ CleburneFan


I am not aware of any such connection between Forrest and the Orphan Brigade proper. They fought together on several battlefields of course, but to my knowledge the relationship you describe did not exist.



 Posted: Wed Feb 21st, 2007 08:26 pm
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younglobo
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Hank C

Did you know Forrest quit the KKK because he thought it was getting to Violent and wasn't helping  the post civil war south. For a man like  Forrenst to quit the KKK due to the level of violence says something.  As far as Fort Pillow , the North was warned by the Confed. what would happen to Colored union soilders and thier officers captured in battle.

 



 Posted: Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 02:04 pm
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David White
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As far as Fort Pillow , the North was warned by the Confed. what would happen to Colored union soilders and thier officers captured in battle.

And that absolves him of any guilt?!?



 Posted: Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 02:26 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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What Forrest did at Ft. Pillow was a military engagement. As to a "massacre", that is still a subject of debate, the outcome of which will probably never be agreed upon.

For the sake of argument, let's pretend to agree that Ft. Pillow was a massacre. Let's compare the military action of Gen. Forrest at Ft. Pillow against Sherman's "March to the Sea". Sherman's war on the civilian population is inexcusable. He burnt women and children out of their homes, etc. Caused more damage and hardship against civilians than did Forrest commit against soldiers. So, I do not think Forrest has to be absolved of any guilt whatsoever. He committed a military action against military personnel.

Having read "River Run Red" by Andrew Ward, I am still not convinced that Ft. Pillow was a massacre. In that book, I feel that the author "fashions" the action into a massacre in order to fulfill his own wishes, as he says, in the beginning of the book, that he has always been facsinated with massacres; hence, he wrote the book about about Ft. Pillow, and called it a massacre in order to justify his facsination and completion of the book. I still like that book and would recomend it to anyone. The research he did was good; however, I didn't find enough evidence to conclude, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was a "massacre" or that Forrest ordered it to be a massacre. Again, I do not think Forrest needs absolution for Ft. Pillow.

 

Albert Sailhorst, Cannoneer, Scott's TN Battery



 Posted: Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 02:38 pm
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David White
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Albert:

I'm not arguing that, I'm just shocked that Youngblood thinks a warning of a death sentence for black soldiers and their officers upon capture somehow makes doing it okay.  If he believes that, then the cutting off of heads of Western soldiers, journalists and contractors in Iraq is okay because the inurgents told us that would happen, in fact, they are merciful because they don't do it everytime.  Of course, that is not the case.

Also your tit for tat argument falls short or are you advocating the cutting off of the heads of insurgents versus  putting panties on their heads at Abu Gharib?  Wrong is wrong and is not made right by another wrong.



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