counter create hit Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

Amid the aristocratic ranks of the Confederate cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest was untutored, all but unlettered, and regarded as no more than a guerrilla. His tactic was the headlong charge, mounted with such swiftness and ferocity that General Sherman called him a "devil" who should "be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the treasury." And in a Amid the aristocratic ranks of the Confederate cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest was untutored, all but unlettered, and regarded as no more than a guerrilla. His tactic was the headlong charge, mounted with such swiftness and ferocity that General Sherman called him a "devil" who should "be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the treasury." And in a war in which officers prided themselves on their decorum, Forrest habitually issued surrender-or-die ultimatums to the enemy and often intimidated his own superiors. After being in command at the notorious Fort Pillow Massacre, he went on to haunt the South as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Now this epic figure is restored to human dimensions in an exemplary biography that puts both Forrest's genius and his savagery into the context of his time, chronicling his rise from frontiersman to slave trader, private to lieutenant general, Klansman to -- eventually -- New South businessman and racial moderate. Unflinching in its analysis and with extensive new research, Nathan Bedford Forrest is an invaluable and immensely readable addition to the literature of the Civil War.


Compare

Amid the aristocratic ranks of the Confederate cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest was untutored, all but unlettered, and regarded as no more than a guerrilla. His tactic was the headlong charge, mounted with such swiftness and ferocity that General Sherman called him a "devil" who should "be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the treasury." And in a Amid the aristocratic ranks of the Confederate cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest was untutored, all but unlettered, and regarded as no more than a guerrilla. His tactic was the headlong charge, mounted with such swiftness and ferocity that General Sherman called him a "devil" who should "be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the treasury." And in a war in which officers prided themselves on their decorum, Forrest habitually issued surrender-or-die ultimatums to the enemy and often intimidated his own superiors. After being in command at the notorious Fort Pillow Massacre, he went on to haunt the South as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Now this epic figure is restored to human dimensions in an exemplary biography that puts both Forrest's genius and his savagery into the context of his time, chronicling his rise from frontiersman to slave trader, private to lieutenant general, Klansman to -- eventually -- New South businessman and racial moderate. Unflinching in its analysis and with extensive new research, Nathan Bedford Forrest is an invaluable and immensely readable addition to the literature of the Civil War.

30 review for Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Normally, I don't like biographies that much because most people do not have such exciting lives throughout. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was an exception. He started out as a slave trader, enlisted as a private after Fort Sumter, but quickly rose to the rank of general commanding Confederate cavalry in Tennessee and Mississippi. He typically won battles in which his side was grossly outnumbered, never neglecting to "put the skeer" on his enemy. With no West Point or other significant schooling Normally, I don't like biographies that much because most people do not have such exciting lives throughout. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was an exception. He started out as a slave trader, enlisted as a private after Fort Sumter, but quickly rose to the rank of general commanding Confederate cavalry in Tennessee and Mississippi. He typically won battles in which his side was grossly outnumbered, never neglecting to "put the skeer" on his enemy. With no West Point or other significant schooling, Forrest was an original. When attacked from two sides, he would think nothing of dividing his forces and have each attack in opposite directions. His cavalry operated more as dragoons, who used horses for mobility but fought as infantry. At Brice's Crossroads, he did the unthinkable: He had an artillery charge that completely flummoxed the Union forces. (Even now, I cannot imagine what THAT looked like.) Unfortunately, Forrest was associated for the rest of his life with the massacre at Fort Pillow. He grew disgusted when his negotiations for a truce were running into what he considered bad faith. At this point, he ordered his men to "kill every God damned one of them." Most of the Union forces were black soldiers in uniform, and they were more likely to be killed than the whites. After Appomattox, Forest became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, though he repudiated the organization and tried -- unsuccessfully -- to build a railroad between Memphis and Selma. But the Fort Pillow taint plus local envy from his fellow Memphis citizens led to the project being abandoned. In the end, Forrest wasted away and died of advanced diabetes twelve years after the war. Jack Hurst has done a creditable job in his Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. There was no question but that Forrest was a bad ass. But, according to Civil War historian Shelby Foote, he is one of the two greatest geniuses the war produced, the other being Abraham Lincoln.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shelly♥

    This book is exactly the reason that I love Non Fiction - because this is a real story. It's true. And while the details might have to be fleshed out from letters and documents of a bygone era, it doesn't change the fact that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a remarkable man. If you are a student of the Civil War or a resident of the deep South, you have probably heard Forrest's name. Most notably it is connected with a massacre of Black troops at Fort Pillow and as First Grand Wizard of the KKK. But e This book is exactly the reason that I love Non Fiction - because this is a real story. It's true. And while the details might have to be fleshed out from letters and documents of a bygone era, it doesn't change the fact that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a remarkable man. If you are a student of the Civil War or a resident of the deep South, you have probably heard Forrest's name. Most notably it is connected with a massacre of Black troops at Fort Pillow and as First Grand Wizard of the KKK. But even those details cannot be taken at face value of what we understand them to be today. Forrest was one of the greatest American Cavalrymen to ever ride a horse. Although untrained in military methods, Forrest had an uncanny ability to make the most of any situation - even when vastly outnumbered. His name invoked fear in the hearts of the Union soldiers. There is so much more to Forrest's story than his Civil War service - and even a surprise and unexpected ending. Looking back on his life, the author fleshes out a Forrest that is unseen by many because the world is too busy trying to define him by atrocities which may or may not have been his fault. It's an eye opening account. I personally grew up in the Midwest, and had a very scant education on the details of the Civil War. In teaching my children about the history of this country, I have gained my own unexpected passion for this conflict, and have enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the many amazing men that have fought on both sides - some whose names I never even knew. Forrest is one of these. I have very much enjoyed learning about his life, and the war in the west. Recommend for: Students of the Civil War.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This book is a little painful to read. Amazon review: Nathan Bedford Forrest was the only soldier to rise from the rank of private to general during the U.S. Civil War. At once "a soft-spoken gentleman of marked placidity and an overbearing bully of homicidal wrath," Forrest is best remembered for the combination of brilliant military leadership and flamboyant bravery that drove his Confederate cavalry troops from victory to victory on the battlefield. His subordinates feared him (he shot those w This book is a little painful to read. Amazon review: Nathan Bedford Forrest was the only soldier to rise from the rank of private to general during the U.S. Civil War. At once "a soft-spoken gentleman of marked placidity and an overbearing bully of homicidal wrath," Forrest is best remembered for the combination of brilliant military leadership and flamboyant bravery that drove his Confederate cavalry troops from victory to victory on the battlefield. His subordinates feared him (he shot those who turned tail), as did his enemies (he rarely lost a fight). General Sherman once said that Forrest must be "hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the [national:] treasury." Detractors point out that Forrest never has been exonerated from the Fort Pillow massacre, in which many Union soldiers, most of them black, were slaughtered after attempting to surrender. Following the war, he went on to found the Ku Klux Klan. Late in life, however, Forrest disavowed racial hatred and called for black political advancement. Author Jack Hurst has written the essential biography of a complex and compelling man who was arguably the Civil War's most remarkable soldier. (Movie trivia: Forrest Gump's mother named her son after this general.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Harry

    I enjoyed this bio mostly because the author did not show any bias against his subject. I do not like supposed bio's that editorialize about the individual it is about instead of just writing the person's story. Jack Hurst began the book with Forrest's ancestors and ended with his effect on history. I appreciated the facts without hurst's opinions. It did seem a little long, but the author was probably just trying to be thorough. I enjoyed this bio mostly because the author did not show any bias against his subject. I do not like supposed bio's that editorialize about the individual it is about instead of just writing the person's story. Jack Hurst began the book with Forrest's ancestors and ended with his effect on history. I appreciated the facts without hurst's opinions. It did seem a little long, but the author was probably just trying to be thorough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Miles Foltermann

    Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most remarkable soldiers to emerge during the War Between the States. He was brilliant and intrepid, and he commanded the respect and fear of Confederates and Federals alike. His exploits prompted Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to remark, "That devil Forrest must be hunted down and killed if it costs ten thousand lives and bankrupts the federal treasury." Years later, after hostilities had ceased, Sherman said: "I think Forrest was the most remarkable man Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most remarkable soldiers to emerge during the War Between the States. He was brilliant and intrepid, and he commanded the respect and fear of Confederates and Federals alike. His exploits prompted Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to remark, "That devil Forrest must be hunted down and killed if it costs ten thousand lives and bankrupts the federal treasury." Years later, after hostilities had ceased, Sherman said: "I think Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side. To my mind he was the most remarkable in many ways. In the first place, he was uneducated, while Jackson and Sheridan and other brilliant leaders were soldiers by profession. He had never read a military book in his life, knew nothing about tactics, could not even drill a company, but had a genius of strategy which was original, and to me incomprehensible. There was no theory or art of war by which I could calculate with any degree of certainty what Forrest was up to. He seemed always to know what I was doing or intended to do, while I am free to confess I could never tell or form any satisfactory idea of what he was trying to accomplish." Equally notable was his meteoric rise through the ranks. When the war began in 1861, Forrest enlisted as a private. By the war's end in 1865, he was a lieutenant general. The small force of "mounted infantry" under his command spent the war fighting battles, taking Union prisoners, freeing Confederate prisoners, capturing supplies, and threatening enemy supply lines across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. On more than one occasion, Forrest bested a numerically superior Union force. The quintessential example is the Battle of Brice's Cross Roads in 1864, which saw Forrest outnumbered greater than two-to-one. Yet he emerged the decisive victor. But Forrest was also deeply flawed: a volatile personality, a slave trader, an early member of the Ku Klux Klan. In the present day, he is largely remembered for two reasons: his presence at the Fort Pillow massacre, and his post-war involvement in the first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan. These incidents are understandably concerning to the modern reader, but a certain mythology has grown up around them and has made understanding them all the more difficult. The 1994 film "Forrest Gump" wrongly credits Forrest with starting the Ku Klux Klan. I also recently read a book by an author who claims the general was "a cofounder of the Ku Klux Klan." These inaccuracies do nothing to facilitate understanding the man or learning from his life (warts and all). The strength of Hurst's book is that he doesn't seek to conceal anything about Forrest. He makes an extensive case for the military genius of this self-taught general. But he also addresses the fact that Forrest was engaged in the buying and selling of human flesh, and that he had a deep antipathy (at one time) for blacks. Hurst puts these things in historical context. One of the most distorting attitudes that contemporary "historians" indulge is presentism--the idea that people who lived in former times must conform to modern ideologies or they must be condemned, even expunged from our memories. Forrest lived in an era when the great majority of white Americans--North and South--held deep prejudices against blacks. His attitudes were not unusual for his time. This does not excuse his words or deeds, but it does help us gain a better understanding of them. Hurst helps the reader in that regard. There is a certain muddleheadedness among those people who insist that Forrest was a misanthrope who should be erased from history. In actuality, Forrest broke with the Ku Klux Klan as the organization became increasingly violent, and he ultimately became a defender of Southern blacks. In 1874, in the wake of the murder of four black men, Forrest even offered his services to the governor of Tennessee, pledging that he would "exterminate the white marauders" who perpetrated the atrocity. In 1875, the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association (an organization dedicated to the advancement of black Southerners in society) invited Forrest to give a speech. After being gifted a bouquet of flowers, the general said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God's earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man to depress none. I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. I have not said anything about politics today. I don't propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I'll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand." This speech drew the ire of whites across the South, but the general stood by his words. In the last years of his life, Forrest became a Christian, repented of prior wrongdoing, and found assurance of forgiveness in the Gospel. When he died in 1877, over 10,000 people attended his funeral, including 3,000 blacks. Hurst's biography is masterful, and it deals fairly with all of the above. The book steers far from the fallacious deconstruction and psychologizing that characterize so many modern biographies. Hurst rather presents the life story of a flawed man who lived in a trying time, who exhibited great moral courage in some situations, who failed to find it in others, and who eventually found redemption.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ira Livingston

    More Civil War history for me, after my trip to Shiloh, TN which I had spent 4 days touring during the 155th Anniversary of the battle. This book, my brother picked up and then ended up not having room in his bag, so he lent it to me to read first and get back when we meet up this summer again. I'm glad he did, Forest was not the great Cavalry General in Shiloh that he becomes afterwards in the war. And most of the things I've learned of him was usually through the eyes of General Sherman, so had More Civil War history for me, after my trip to Shiloh, TN which I had spent 4 days touring during the 155th Anniversary of the battle. This book, my brother picked up and then ended up not having room in his bag, so he lent it to me to read first and get back when we meet up this summer again. I'm glad he did, Forest was not the great Cavalry General in Shiloh that he becomes afterwards in the war. And most of the things I've learned of him was usually through the eyes of General Sherman, so had the anti CSA slant. This book is pretty straight forward, telling us little of his childhood and jumping into his adulthood before the War Between the States. It follows his bad business decisions, and then the profession of slave trader, which is where he starts to shift his family up the social ladder. However, it still along ways off from the wealthy plantation owners which he despised. He then goes to war, as Tennessee succeeds to the south, and is far more ruthless than the General Sherman which most view as a butcher of Atlanta and the march to the sea. Forrest could viewed as one of the greatest cavalry commanders in all of US history, and had tactics similar to the German blitzkrieg of WWII. Pretty amazing qualities for an average man with no military background or teaching before the war. Afterwards he is known as the father of the Klu Klux Klan and still a revolutionary against the carpet baggers invading the south, but is never really able to overcome the controversial Battle at Fort Pillow during the Civil War. If you wish to learn, I suggest the read -- lots of new things I learned about this colorful character, it's just a shame that he and I would have been at opposite opinions on everything he stood for.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    As a Confederate general, I find Nathan Bedford Forrest fascinating and quite intimidating. I have been interested in reading a bio on him for quite some time. This book captures much of that menacing mystique, of this fiery Calvary officer and his post war life, of becoming the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. The introduction of this bio is excellent. Where this bio fails is in the methodical details, which bombard the reader and drag down the narrative, even in many of the famous battle sequenc As a Confederate general, I find Nathan Bedford Forrest fascinating and quite intimidating. I have been interested in reading a bio on him for quite some time. This book captures much of that menacing mystique, of this fiery Calvary officer and his post war life, of becoming the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. The introduction of this bio is excellent. Where this bio fails is in the methodical details, which bombard the reader and drag down the narrative, even in many of the famous battle sequences. I am glad I read it but I can only grudgingly recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I couldn’t wait for it to be over! This man was satanic and a useful idiot for the Democratic Party. He became a Christian after he butchered an insane number of blacks either himself or through his subordinate soldiers. He was stated to be the fiercest soldier in the Civil War by General Sherman. Again, I’m ecstatic for it to be over and no longer a corpse that I felt like I was walking around with as I painfully plowed through the book on Audible.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rich Hephner

    Author is way too apologetic of Forrest. He was a slave trader, but he was kind to his slaves. He killed several men in personal altercations throughout his life, but each time it was self defense. He was “the butcher of Fort Pillow” but the press blew it out of proportion. He was the first grand wizard of the KKK, but they were really more of a political organization at that point. Either Forrest was one of the unluckiest misunderstood men of his era, or he was a sadistic racist. Hurst argues t Author is way too apologetic of Forrest. He was a slave trader, but he was kind to his slaves. He killed several men in personal altercations throughout his life, but each time it was self defense. He was “the butcher of Fort Pillow” but the press blew it out of proportion. He was the first grand wizard of the KKK, but they were really more of a political organization at that point. Either Forrest was one of the unluckiest misunderstood men of his era, or he was a sadistic racist. Hurst argues the former. Overall, well written and interesting subject matter. However, not nearly enough critical analysis to call it a definitive biography.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Great Cavalry officer, superb tactician. Had 29 horses shot out from under him was wounded 4 times and killed 30 Union troops in combat. A man of courage and volatile temper. After the war he became the first grand wizard of the klan, but later he tried to disband the organization and spoke against it's hatred. Great Cavalry officer, superb tactician. Had 29 horses shot out from under him was wounded 4 times and killed 30 Union troops in combat. A man of courage and volatile temper. After the war he became the first grand wizard of the klan, but later he tried to disband the organization and spoke against it's hatred.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Will Kastner

    An excellent biography of a complex and dangerous man.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scott Cedotal

    Forrest was a Confederate Calvary General during the Revolutionary War. He was absolutely fearless. Great story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    James P. Myers

    Apologetic Sinfully apologetic for a scourge on American history. What racist wrote this simpering book? I don’t understand the fawning for Forrest any more by reading this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Forbes

    Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest is, at best, a highly controversial figure from a chaotic and troubled time in America’s history. At his worst, Forrest could be characterized as a blood-thirsty, slave-trading, inaugural Klan grand wizard–and none of those descriptions would ring false. Hurst’s biography of Forrest seeks to delve beyond those manifestations to–not necessarily humanize Forrest–but place his actions in context of a Southern society struggling to hold onto its Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest is, at best, a highly controversial figure from a chaotic and troubled time in America’s history. At his worst, Forrest could be characterized as a blood-thirsty, slave-trading, inaugural Klan grand wizard–and none of those descriptions would ring false. Hurst’s biography of Forrest seeks to delve beyond those manifestations to–not necessarily humanize Forrest–but place his actions in context of a Southern society struggling to hold onto its pre-war economy and way of life, as well as reacting to the postbellum new world order. Forrest, to me, appears more as an opportunist than a man with deep-rooted white supremacist ideology. This allowed him to evolve over the course of his life, seeking socioeconomic advancement in each stage (slave trader, soldier, klansman), while divorcing himself from a set of beliefs when no longer supportive of his wealth and status-based end goal. All that said, the main reason I chose this book was Bruce Catton’s depiction of Forrest in command. Hurst’s account certainly does an amazing job of describing Forrest’s innovative, and at times gruesome, leadership of the most successful cavalry in the Civil War. Lessons Learned: The Klan, in part, spawned from lack of national leadership in postbellum period. Lincoln died within days of the Civil War’s end, ascending Tennessee’s Andrew Johnson to the presidency. While Grant and Sherman had done an admirable job brokering terms of surrender that sought reconciliation between North and South, the leadership vacuum in the capital left Johnson battling for control with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (for which he was eventually impeached and did not seek reelection). The Republican North combined with Gov Brownlow’s (TN) apparent pro-Union and anti-Confederate leanings left some Tennesseans concerned about their economic future. Forrest, for example, began the war owning a several thousand acre plantation (albeit purchased with monies generated via slave trade) and entered the postbellum having to sell his land to satisfy debts and become a sharecropper. These disaffected Southerners were also conflicted by the rise of former slaves to positions of power (serving in militias, etc) and having equal voting rights while simultaneously enraged by those Northern Republicans whom, they felt, would take advantage of the negro vote to expand the North’s control of the congress and further cast Southerners below their Northern counterparts in the socioeconomic hierarchy. Well over a century removed from this period, we know that these feelings are misplaced, yet it was a part of a painful, necessary reintegration of the Confederacy back into the Union. And while it is folly to assume that racial supremacy was not part of the Klan’s initial rise, Hurst contends that these aforementioned concerns were equally, if not more of a driver behind the establishment of the Klan. Hurst further contends that the Tennessee Klan began to disband once senior klansmen, including Forrest, were brought into the political process in the run-up to the 1868 election; only to be reborn as a more xenophobic, cross-burning iteration in the early 20th century. Specific to Forrest’s evolution as a person, Hurst gives examples of his participation in Union ceremony activities and negro socials, his speech in the immediate aftermath of the South’s surrender, and lastly his turn towards Christ in his final days. In no way do these instances absolve Forrest of his abhorrent antebellum actions, nor his alleged egregious actions during the war, but it does show Forrest to have been complicated figure who exhibited both the worst and most hopeful elements of humanity. Questions: Would reconstruction have been different under Lincoln’s leadership? Would we view Lincoln’s presidency differently if he had survived his second term? Lincoln is generally viewed as the greatest president in United States history. Arthur Schlesinger once rated Lincoln in a tier amongst the “Great” presidents of our time, whereas Andrew Johnson was third to last in the “Failure” tier. It’s considered heresy to question Lincoln’s accomplishments, but it’s fair to state that reconstruction was a monumental task, fraught with challenges that require political savvy and the ability embrace estranged Southerners while building upon the North’s economic behemoth developed during the war. Johnson was not up to the task. I’m sure Lincoln would have fared better, but by how much? Lessons yet to learn: How does Civil War reconstruction compare to WWI, WWII, Iraq, and other US-led reconstruction attempts? Lessons learned? Interesting Fact: Mary Ann Montgomery was kin to Sam Houston Had Confederate President Jefferson Davis equipped and unleashed Forrest on Sherman the war might have ended differently. From his first military action Forrest was a different soldier than his more civilized, well-bred contemporaries (Steven Lee, Bragg, Hood, Wheeler—all West Point graduates). Forrest, due to the Confederacy’s relegation of Tennessee to a secondary region, was never provided the men, arms, horses or supplies necessary to execute his missions. Rather he raised what troops/conscripts he could and continually fought from a position of numerical weakness with an intensity and military acumen that led his opponents to routinely over-assess his fighting strength. In one battle Hurst describes Forrest moving the same artillery back and forth giving the perception that additional artillery was just catching up with the main body. In many cases Forrest split his forces (normally a cardinal sin when leading a lesser force) and pursued a frontal, flank and rear attack with each element giving the perception that it was the main force. Towards the end of the war his reputation and military record proceeded him and led to many early surrenders by Federal forces. Forrest also revolutionized the use of cavalry by having them serve as a lightening infantry—getting his men to the point of battle quickly, then having them dismount for engagement. These attributes were deemed satisfactory for battle in Tennessee and Mississippi, but Jefferson Davis chose not to employ Forrest in Georgia until the war’s outcome was fait accompli (and Davis notes his regret many times after the war and upon Forrest’s death). Gen Joe Wheeler, Forrest’s cavalry commanding counterpart, served that role most likely due to the West Point education which he shared with Davis and other Confederate leadership. Even though Forrest was restricted to a western area of responsibility, Gen Sherman remained cognizant and concerned about Forrest’s movements and what could happen to his supply trail if Forrest were unleashed. Was Davis right to keep Forrest closer to the Mississippi River to protect valuable farmland? Would the war have tilted had Forrest engaged Sherman’s forces during his famous March to the Sea? Did Forrest’s infamous leadership in the Fort Pillow massacre impact Confederate leadership’s view of his capabilities? Were Forrest’s forces an insurgency? In roughly comparing ISIS with Forrest’s forces there are several similarities. Both fought from a known position of weakness (numerically inferior forces) and used their knowledge of the terrain (Tennessee river area; Iraq/Syria) to improve their odds of victory. Speed was essential to Forrest’s cavalry movement as it is to ISIS information dissemination and coordination over the internet. Both sought to constitute their wartime capability through acquisition of their adversary’s weapons/vehicles/horses/supplies (in both cases originally US supplies). Lastly, both organizations held an ideology generally discouraged by the civilized world (ISIS to a much greater degree). Quotes: “…when there was a fight, he was never content to hold his ground, and he could not flee to avoid getting whipped…Forrest’s inclination to battle tenaciously was not in the guerrilla tradition” biographer James Ramage on Forrest (95) “Go back to your quarters, and don’t you come here again or send anybody here again about mules. The order will not be obeyed; and, moreover, if [the quartermaster] bothers me any further about this matter, I’ll come down to his office, tie his long legs into a double bowknot around his neck, and choke him to death with his own shins.” N.B. Forrest on Gen Hood’s order to reduce his unit’s number of mules to consolidate into Hood’s army (230) Awesome Words: 
Roseate – Rose colored
Reconnoiter – Make a military observation
Enfilade – A volley of gunfire directed along a line from end to end
Picket – A small unit of soldiers, placed on a line forward position to warn against an enemy advance
Laconic – Person of few words
Opprobrium – Harsh criticism or censure
Escutcheon – Shield or emblem bearing a coat of arms
Aeolian – Relating to or arising from the action of the wind
Apothegm – Concise saying or maxim; aphorism

  15. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    History is messy. History is complex. History needs context. Nathan Bedford Forrest, was a Confederate calvary general who many historians believe was one of the most effective military leaders in the war. Forrest was so aggressive that he had 29 horses shot out from under him, was shot four times himself and reportedly killed 30 men in hand to hand combat. This is Knights of the Round Table stuff. Yet, General Forrest’s statue has been pulled down. He’s been cancelled. As a sometime Civil War Bu History is messy. History is complex. History needs context. Nathan Bedford Forrest, was a Confederate calvary general who many historians believe was one of the most effective military leaders in the war. Forrest was so aggressive that he had 29 horses shot out from under him, was shot four times himself and reportedly killed 30 men in hand to hand combat. This is Knights of the Round Table stuff. Yet, General Forrest’s statue has been pulled down. He’s been cancelled. As a sometime Civil War Buff I, surprising to myself, had never read anything about General Forrest. Here is my report: He was a nineteenth century man, a Southerner, a slave owner and slave trader before the war. Post war he was Grand Wizard of the KKK for a year when it first started. He earned infamy in the North for his involvement in the massacre of black soldiers at Ft. Pillow.This is not a resume that will endear one to history’s current filter. Interestingly, in the slave owning South slave traders were not held in high esteem. It was not the occupation of the gentleman and, hypocritically, this worked against General Forrest in his military career. The high ranks of the Confederacy were filled with aristocrats who, although they might have done business with him, looked down on the former slave merchant. Had they taken him more seriously as a soldier he might have more significantly affected the outcome of the war. As it is, his military record is nearly unmatched having led too many charges to count and captured by his own count more than 30,000 prisoners. As a military strategist Forrest most always attacked. He was also famous for his ruses where he would parade soldiers in view of the Union forces, loop them around and parade them by again creating the impression that he had many more men than he actually had. As a result, he was able in many cases to demand surrender of a fort or stronghold, avoiding loss of life and resulting in the thousands of prisoners he claims to have captured. As a young man he was combative and entrepreneurial. His energies were directed at making money and the slave trade became his best option. When the war started he was a very wealthy man. After the war, although he initiated many ventures including attempting to build a short line railroad, he ended up running a private prison and never regained his prewar position. That said, because of his reputation in the South he was highly respected and sought after as a speaker at reunions. As a KKK leader he quickly realized that those activities were counter productive to his business goals. He needed to raise money in the North and presenting himself as a Grand Wizard would not get the job done so he eased out of his KKK role. In fact, Tennessee, his state, was reconstituted early during Reconstruction and the state leaders all realized that the KKK was not that necessary. There is an interesting chapter in the book where Forrest testifies for four hours to the Congressional Committee investigating the KKK. He was not completely forthcoming in his testimony. At the end of his life he was reconciled to changes that needed to be made and was conciliatory toward the former slave population. As with most people old age gives one a different perspective. In today’s highly polarized environment we don’t look at the entire arc of a life. He was a slave trader/owner. That is apparently all you need to know about N.D. Forrest. I was fascinated by the fact that a man with no military background or training in the art of war, who enlisted as a private soldier discovered the skill set that allowed him to rise to the highest ranks. He had an impact on military tactics that is still studied in war colleges today.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Phillips

    Jack Hurst has done a great service to the study of the civil war and to the legacy of General Forrest with this book. Along with the genius of his tactics the reader will also find the flaws in the man but it is the real flaws you will find, not the myths and half-truths that are so common in any discussion of this subject. One begins to understand Forrest as he reads this book. It becomes very clear very early that Forrest has a very hot temper. It is a temper however that while quick to surfac Jack Hurst has done a great service to the study of the civil war and to the legacy of General Forrest with this book. Along with the genius of his tactics the reader will also find the flaws in the man but it is the real flaws you will find, not the myths and half-truths that are so common in any discussion of this subject. One begins to understand Forrest as he reads this book. It becomes very clear very early that Forrest has a very hot temper. It is a temper however that while quick to surface is just as quickly gone. That is when Forrest comes into focus. He is a man that in the heat of the moment would say and do things that he would regret. Time and again he is pictured going about after one of these flashes of temper trying to mend fences. In short, after Forrest had time to think about what he had said or done he almost always, in the end, did the right thing. Fort Pillow I think is an example of this. In his anger after the fort refused to give up he may well have unleashed his troops but there is good evidence that very shortly he rode into the fray and personally saved the lives of many Union troops, both black and white. The Klan is, I think, another example of this. Frustrated by the Brownlow government he seems to have saw the Klan as the only way to combat what was without a doubt a horrible regime. As the Klan began to get out of hand though and he saw what it had become he ordered it disolved. Frankly, it is probably lucky that Forrest was sought out to be Grand Wizard for the formation of such a group was almost inevetable and without someone of Forrest's stature at the top who could and did see the evil of the group, things might have been much worse. Forrest indeed eneded up advocating rights for blacks that even few in the north talked about. His war record needs little review. Genius is a term often applied and one that is deserved. His campaigns are kind of hard to follow since when he put the ,"skeer" into a foe he wasn't about to let the enemy gather his wits so the battle would be a running one that went on for miles and days. Other reviewers have pointed out the need for maps and they are right. As a native of Tennessee I had trouble keeping up with all of the place names that flew by so a reader from Oregon will be in deep trouble. Still, even if you can't follow the battles well you will get a fairly good understanding of Forrest's tactics and the accounts are very readable. If future editions add some maps this will be an easy five star choice and even without the maps it is a must read for the student of the civil war in the west. You can't understand the war in the west without understanding Forrest and this book is the best I have read on the subject yet.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Cline

    Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography, by Jack Hurst (pp 448). Published 1994. This book was recommended (and gifted) by a good friend who is a history buff. It took me a while, but I finally got through it — a bit of a slog, I have to admit. I certainly know more about the general than ever before, but in my opinion he still lands squarely in the pile of evil humanity. Part way through I concluded the author was an apologist. That was actually hinted at by language on the back page: “... restored Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography, by Jack Hurst (pp 448). Published 1994. This book was recommended (and gifted) by a good friend who is a history buff. It took me a while, but I finally got through it — a bit of a slog, I have to admit. I certainly know more about the general than ever before, but in my opinion he still lands squarely in the pile of evil humanity. Part way through I concluded the author was an apologist. That was actually hinted at by language on the back page: “... restored to human dimensions ... that puts both Forrest’s genius and his savagery into the context of his time ...” My friend, also an author, noted that cover blurbs are not written by authors, but by publicists, so I shouldn’t put too much emphasis on that. Regardless, it’s worth noting that the ‘context of one’s times’ does not justify savagery. A genuine hero or even a gentleman would employ moral principles notwithstanding the savagery of one’s times. Was Forrest an amazingly good military leader? No doubt. He had a hard time working within the framework of a command structure, but was a brilliant raider. Aside from his slave trading, racial atrocities committed or condoned during the war, and his role in the early Ku Klux Klan, I suppose he was a really nice guy. NOT. If he helped set in motion the Ku Klux Klan, he bears some responsibility for its future excesses. Moreover, I have a hard time believing the secretive Klan was initially established for benign purposes, as is asserted in the book. Supposedly, it quickly went off the tracks, and was later emulated by lawless brigands. Forrest apparently accepted Christ in his last years when he was ailing. My personal opinion is, so what? That may work for an omniscient being whose only criteria for salvation is acceptance of Christ, but I do not feel post-atrocity conversion erases those atrocities or removes them from the scale of justice when balancing good and evil deeds. Moreover, throughout his life he seems to have pursued fortune and fame over all other considerations. And he was clearly duplicitous on many, many occasions to protect his interests. All and all he was a ruthless, amoral person notwithstanding some deeds along the way. Sorry for the rant, but I really was disappointed in this portrayal. Few books have ever raised this much ire in me while reading them. It was very good in fleshing out Forrest as a civilian, businessman, politician, and warrior, but I simply can’t agree with the author’s implicit conclusions. If you’re a Civil War apologist, this book might be of interest.

  18. 5 out of 5

    EJ Daniels

    As interest in the Confederacy grows ever more controversial, one Confederate icon holds the distinction of having always been controversial: Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Reviled in his own lifetime for his involvement in the Fort Pillow Incident and reviled today for his role in the early Ku Klux Klan, Forrest was, nevertheless, a doughty warrior, a skilled leader, and perhaps the greatest cavalier in American history. Jack Hurst provides a full and fascinating picture of this monumental As interest in the Confederacy grows ever more controversial, one Confederate icon holds the distinction of having always been controversial: Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Reviled in his own lifetime for his involvement in the Fort Pillow Incident and reviled today for his role in the early Ku Klux Klan, Forrest was, nevertheless, a doughty warrior, a skilled leader, and perhaps the greatest cavalier in American history. Jack Hurst provides a full and fascinating picture of this monumental Tennessean, and while Hurst falls to capture Forrest in all of his nuance, he closely approaches the mark. Most of the modern studies of Forrest focus less upon his life and more upon his legacy; the emphasis seems to be to either vilify Forrest as a bigoted marauding monster or redeem him as a gifted soldier who was merely a man of his time. Hurst seeks simply to tell the man's story, and any musings on his morality and ethics progress naturally from the progression of his life, which is told with remarkable attention to historical detail but also very nicely ornamented with the myriad of incredible anecdotes which have sprung up about the Forrest. The result is an exceedingly well researched work of history with the bravo and gusto of fiction. But while Hurst's biography is one of the best "new" (by which I mean post-1980s) biographies of a figure from the War Between the States, to some extent he shines because of the dimness of his peers. Recent publication on this period of American history is dismal, to say the least, and Hurst is not above falling prey to certain trends in the field, namely, that he stretches historical evidence to justify certain tenuous conclusions to fit his larger narrative regarding race: most egregious is his assessment of Forrest at Fort Pillow, his odd efforts to cast Forrest and the US Colored Troops as being in some personal competition, and his final assessment that Forrest "evolved" in his views on race. This final point speaks more to a modern need to view all heroes as not being racist and tells far more about the writer and the reader than the complexities of Forrest himself. These slips, however, do not detract from the central focus of this work, which is simply a thorough retelling of the life of an important historical figure. I would recommend Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography to all fans of historical biography and military history, and especially those who think they "know" Forrest and his legacy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I'm appalled by the high ratings for this book. I found it dreadful and tedious. It's a great example of an author who has a dynamic, complicated subject and excellent primary source materials, but produced a morning, tedious biography. Hurst gives an almost day-by-day account of Forrest's civil war time, and well as the five years or so following the war. Mostly this seems to be because he can. There is no summary of the information, and no putting into a larger context, so that it can be diffi I'm appalled by the high ratings for this book. I found it dreadful and tedious. It's a great example of an author who has a dynamic, complicated subject and excellent primary source materials, but produced a morning, tedious biography. Hurst gives an almost day-by-day account of Forrest's civil war time, and well as the five years or so following the war. Mostly this seems to be because he can. There is no summary of the information, and no putting into a larger context, so that it can be difficult to understand if the read doesn't already have a good understanding of the war and Reconstruction years. There is also ZERO analysis of Forrest, except in the epilogue. His exploits are presented, then Hurst moves on. By contemporary standards, Hurst seems to be an apologist for Forrest, with his justifications for Forrest's behaviors sounding appalling - for example, suggesting that it was better for Forrest to torture and beat some of his slaves so that the rest behaved, and implying that this was ok, is repugnant. Also, there is almost no information about Forrest's family life. How many children did he have, and how many lived to adulthood? No idea. What was his relationship like with his wife, Mary? And what was her character? No idea, although we have a pretty good idea of the personalities of Forrest's military contemporaries. What was Mary doing during the war? Meh...couldn't tell you. But I could tell you the day by day failing of Forrest's railroad ventures, which I couldn't care less about. Forrest himself was a complicated man. If the biography has any redeeming quality, it's that this is evident. Like all humans, he was capable of horrible acts of violence but also kindness and loving towards those in his inner circle.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

    The biggest disappointment for me with this book is that we really don't get the biggest disappointment for me with this book is that we really don't get idea how this man formed. What was it that enabled him to be able to have such problems on the battlefield or just the natural ability of an entrepreneur prior to the war. The overall indication is that he was simply a natural genius. Aside from that I appreciated the overview of a highly controversial figure. Lastly, it gives a very good overv The biggest disappointment for me with this book is that we really don't get the biggest disappointment for me with this book is that we really don't get idea how this man formed. What was it that enabled him to be able to have such problems on the battlefield or just the natural ability of an entrepreneur prior to the war. The overall indication is that he was simply a natural genius. Aside from that I appreciated the overview of a highly controversial figure. Lastly, it gives a very good overview of the foundations of the Ku Klux Klan and many aspects of that of which I had no idea. Just one more piece of evidence supporting my conviction that before you make assertion that assumptions and claims you should really do some research and you will almost always find things are far more complicated than you originally assumed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    "'Yes, sir, I've always got ideas, and I'll tell you one thing, General Lee. If I knew as much about West Point tactics as you, the Yankees would whip hell out of me every day.'" (quoting Nathan Bedford Forrest, 207) "'Obey the lays, preserve your honor, and the government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous.'" (quoting NBF, 258) "The reality is that over the length of his lifetime Nathan Bedford Forrest's racial attitudes probably developed more, and more in t "'Yes, sir, I've always got ideas, and I'll tell you one thing, General Lee. If I knew as much about West Point tactics as you, the Yankees would whip hell out of me every day.'" (quoting Nathan Bedford Forrest, 207) "'Obey the lays, preserve your honor, and the government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous.'" (quoting NBF, 258) "The reality is that over the length of his lifetime Nathan Bedford Forrest's racial attitudes probably developed more, and more in the direction of liberal enlightenment, than those of most other Americans in the nation's history." (385)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bill Mason

    As I have become quite interested in Civil War history over the past 6 years and follow several online pages on the subject, I decided to educate myself on NBF, as he seems to generate a fair amount of the idiotic online fighting. I do not a agree with those that claim the author tries to “whitewash” Forrest’s history. I think the book is pretty fair. Where there is doubt or alternate witness accounts, the author makes note. Where Forrest is likely to have committed a heinous act, the author des As I have become quite interested in Civil War history over the past 6 years and follow several online pages on the subject, I decided to educate myself on NBF, as he seems to generate a fair amount of the idiotic online fighting. I do not a agree with those that claim the author tries to “whitewash” Forrest’s history. I think the book is pretty fair. Where there is doubt or alternate witness accounts, the author makes note. Where Forrest is likely to have committed a heinous act, the author describes it plainly. He was certainly a complicated man in trying times. Good book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Wilson

    A good biography of a polarizing figure. If you like Forrest you will probably like this biography of him; if you don't then you won't. To Hurst's credit, he does bring to the surface more of Forrest's unappealing side than I expected him to. To appreciate Forrest means to live with a dichotomy that is associated with most of the Confederates. At the end of this book, I was left with the impression that Forrest had had a full and difficult life that included many struggles and failures ; he appr A good biography of a polarizing figure. If you like Forrest you will probably like this biography of him; if you don't then you won't. To Hurst's credit, he does bring to the surface more of Forrest's unappealing side than I expected him to. To appreciate Forrest means to live with a dichotomy that is associated with most of the Confederates. At the end of this book, I was left with the impression that Forrest had had a full and difficult life that included many struggles and failures ; he approached most of these with and energy and zeal that I don't have.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I have always heard of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Since most of his work was in the western theater of operations, I didn’t pay too much attention. I’ve heard about his unit’s actions at Fort Pillow and his association with the KKK. So this was my first biography of the man. As I sort of suspected, what you hear is part truth. Forrest was complicated. He was what you heard and what you haven’t heard. It still feels like there is still more to the man that hasn’t been published. But this is my first I have always heard of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Since most of his work was in the western theater of operations, I didn’t pay too much attention. I’ve heard about his unit’s actions at Fort Pillow and his association with the KKK. So this was my first biography of the man. As I sort of suspected, what you hear is part truth. Forrest was complicated. He was what you heard and what you haven’t heard. It still feels like there is still more to the man that hasn’t been published. But this is my first book. Guess I got some more reading to do. Recommend this for those with an open mind.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Allies

    Excellent well rounded biography The book covers Forrest's life from beginning to end and not just the period of the Civil War. It is very even handed as it doesn't treat him only as the commander at Brice's Crossroads or Fort Donnelson but also at Fort Pillow and Franklin. It spares no depth in covering his time as the leader of the Klan but also covers his later repudiation of it. Excellent well rounded biography The book covers Forrest's life from beginning to end and not just the period of the Civil War. It is very even handed as it doesn't treat him only as the commander at Brice's Crossroads or Fort Donnelson but also at Fort Pillow and Franklin. It spares no depth in covering his time as the leader of the Klan but also covers his later repudiation of it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Engel

    This history expanded my perspective of Forrest. I now appreciate him as a man with more dimension than the slave trading, superb cavalryman, 'founder' of the KKK. Although I don't think he is quite redeemed by his post bellum works, I give him credit for his attempts to make things right in his later life. This history expanded my perspective of Forrest. I now appreciate him as a man with more dimension than the slave trading, superb cavalryman, 'founder' of the KKK. Although I don't think he is quite redeemed by his post bellum works, I give him credit for his attempts to make things right in his later life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Hively

    Great in-depth biography of the Wizard of the Saddle, from his life of rags to relative prosperity as a pre-civil war slave trader and politician to one of the greatest geniuses in military history to Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan to his resignation from that position to a man advocating for racial harmony.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    The stars given has nothing to do with admiration of NBF. The stars are because the author does an impressive job of providing context and unearthing NFB the human being... as despicable at his core beliefs and actions about race really are.

  29. 5 out of 5

    kevin stone

    Loved it Excellently written, diligently researched work. Sometimes a bit dry with detail, this history of the life of Forrest is fair and insightful. The war years are especially accurate and fun reading. The best Forrest biography I've read. Loved it Excellently written, diligently researched work. Sometimes a bit dry with detail, this history of the life of Forrest is fair and insightful. The war years are especially accurate and fun reading. The best Forrest biography I've read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Greg Carson

    Informative and insightful biography of one of the South's most celebrated generals Informative and insightful biography of one of the South's most celebrated generals

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.