Nathan B. Forrest: A Man Without Rest


I watched in horror when 4 days before Christmas, the statue of Nathan B. Forrest was pulled to the ground in Memphis, Tennessee, to cheering crowds. Jefferson Davis’ statue in New Orleans had been removed months prior to this, and I remembered thinking, “who’s next?” I found out seven months later.

If the above wasn’t enough, protesters who supported the removal of the N.B. Forrest statue, started digging beside Forrest’s grave, once the statue had been taken away; an action to show that they wanted Nathan and Mary Forrest’s bodies to be removed as well. Disgusting comes to mind. But one of the men who shovelled into sacred ground remarked that this was a ‘step in the right direction towards ending racism.’ I must admit that I was speechless and could only wonder at the mindset of this person who represented many – you have just commited an act that is anything but the one you are supposedly trying to accomplish. And threatening to come back with a bulldozer and actually dig up the remains of the Forrests further fans the flame of racism and shows a lack of understanding, disrespect, and disregard that I simply cannot comprehend. This seems to me to be little more than a modern day act of the KKK.

It appears that this ongoing quest to remove all things Confederate briefly comes to light and then quietly slips away, until another Confederate symbol comes under attack. I know this topic has been bandied about on the internet for some time, but I’m encouraged by recent statistics of how Americans truly feel about the destruction of historical symbols.

Despite buildings, roads, and schools (as well as the removal of Confederate monuments) being renamed, according to recent Reuters/Ipsos and NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist opinion polls; a sizeable majority of Americans are against the removal of Confederate monuments. I find this very encouraging and most interesting. I suspect that these people have dug deep into understanding the issues, that of Confederate heritage, and upon reaching their conclusions have asked themselves one of many questions. Should Washington or Jefferson be removed from Mount Rushmore because they owned slaves, or is this part of American history, warts and all?

To be sure, the fight continues to keep Confederate heritage alive and well, but if you remove the frenzied media, politicians and reformist historians from the mix, it appears that the “remove” side of this debate is clearly losing. According to the director of the “George Tyler Moore Centre for the Study of the Civil War” (Shepherd University), James J. Brromall:

“The removal of Confederate monuments troubles me as much as the destruction of a historic building or the total ‘rehabilitation’ of a battlefield.”

Author and historian Dr. Gary Gallagher (University of Virginia) states: “In my view, eliminating parts of the memorial landscape is tantamount to destroying documents or images–all compose parts of the historical record and should be interpreted as such. I favor adding text that places monuments within the full sweep of how Americans have remembered the Civil War. I also support ***** new monuments devoted to previously slighted groups or events.”

Nominated Pullitzer Prize and American historian, Professor William Davis (former Professor of History at Virginia Tech and Director of Programs: Virginia Centre for Civil War Studies) states: “Confederates represent a part of our history. Judge past figures by today’s values, and our Capitol’s ‘Statuary Hall’ would become ‘Empty Statuary Hall.’”

And one last example. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer compares the removal of “Confederate tributes” to “destroying artworks that may have both historical and aesthetic value.”

Back to Nathan B. Forrest. It seems that his tactical brilliance and ‘wizardry in the saddle’ have been eclipsed by two events - Fort Pillow and the KKK.

Firstly, Fort Pillow. Two weeks after this event, an inquiry by the U.S. Congress was inconclusive in its findings, but by then the “massacre at Fort Pillow” had been firmly entrenched in the minds of Northerners. Dr. Charles Fitch, a Union army surgeon, wrote in 1879 that “most of the killing took place at the bottom of the bluff, where many of the Fort’s defenders had fled in an attempt to reach a Union gunboat in the Mississippi River, and could not have been seen by Forrest atop the bluff.”

Confederate soldier, Samuel H. Caldwell, wrote to his wife, “If General Forrest had not run between our men and (the) Yanks with his pistol and saber drawn not a one would have been spared.”

On the other hand, Confederate Sgt. Achilles V. Clark wrote to his family, “The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor, deluded **** 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.”

I think it’s safe to say that a slaughter did take place at Fort Pillow, but the question remains whether General Forrest ordered the Fort Pillow massacre, or whether he rode in to stop it? Given the evidence and the fact that Forrest took 47 of his slaves into the army with him, and he’s quoted as saying that “better Confederates did not live:” I’m of the opinion that General Forrest rode in to stop the massacre, and that the ACW winners wrote yet another tale.

Secondly, the KKK. It’s well documented that after the ACW, N.B. Forrest was offered an honorary title in the KKK before he really knew the extent of their activities. Once the KKK took it upon itself to practice systematic violence, Forrest called a gathering of the members and is quoted as saying, “Boys, take off those sheets and go home.” Forrest joined the KKK in the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, nearly a year after the group was organized at Pulaski, Tennessee.

When exactly did hate transcend heritage, and why? I must admit that I’m somewhat baffled by the gleefulness in which the ‘removal people’ stand by/participate in the destruction of historical landmarks and beautiful artwork. But desecrating a grave site? That’s an entirely new level of hatred that chills me to the bone.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • blueshawk1: It doesn’t matter what Forrest did or didn’t do, I guarantee you 99% of the ignorant people involved don’t know any more about him other than he was a Confederate.
    As many people besides myself have been saying, all this removal of Confederate monuments isn’t about the Confederates, that’s just an easy starting point. For too long, for no good reason I can fathom, we’ve been in the habit of giving in to a segment of our society to appease them, all they have to do is cry "slavery" or "racism" and everyone rolls over. So those with a bigger agenda are using them to attack the Confederate symbols and monuments knowing we will just roil over and little or nothing will be done to stop it.
    But the picture is much bigger than that. Not as widely publicized, there have been vandalizing and calls for removals of non-Confederate statues like Jefferson for example. I wish I had kept track of all the others, you would easily see what I mean. If they manage to get all the Confederate monuments removed, you will really be able to see it, because then they will go after the others without hesitation.
    The fact is, it’s about erasing American history, and more specifically, white history. This all about two groups trying to destroy or take everything we’ve built, those who hate and/or are jealous of America, and the "diversity" group, "diversity" just being the cover word for white genocide. Their goals are different, but one helps serve the purpose of the other.
    As far as desecrating the graves of Forrest and his wife, that just shows that there is no limit to what they will do, there is nothing too low for them.
  • Vale: Thank you Taylor for discussing what is happening as well as the history behind it. I think that Forrest was targeted because not only was he a Confederate but also because many people do associate him as being with the KKK. However, that does not excuse them threatening to dig up his and his wife’s graves.
    I think that before removing any more statues, there should be a chance to debate the people to whom the statues are dedicated and people should be required to learn more about them and the circumstances under which the statues were built before they are allowed to vote to tear them down.
  • Taylor: Vale:
    That is my issue and what really ticks me off - everything to do with the Confederacy must go. The ‘removal people’ have turned this into an emotionally volatile crusade, without the least knowledge or understanding of the real history behind these monuments, or have a deep appreciation for a beautiful work of art. It took Charles Henry Niehaus three years to sculpt this monument and it was considered one of America’s finest equestrian statues.
    The Memphis City Council couldn’t find a way to legally remove the statues of Forrest and Davis, so they found a loophole to allow the city to sell parts of the two parks where the two Confederate statues stand to a local non-profit (Greenspace) for $1,000 each, which is far below fair market value. And of course Greenspace now owned the land so they could do whatever they wanted with the statues.
    Maybe it’s this cold Canadian air freezing my brain, but I can’t for the life of me understand how these monuments are associated with racism and bigotry. It was another time and another place - Forrest was no different than most wealthy Southerners of his times...many had inherited a problem that was very complex and no one in the U.S. could come up with a responsible plan, other than to ship black people out of the country, whether they wanted to go or not. But speaking of racists - who was a bigger racist than Abraham Lincoln?
    This brings me to Robert Byrd, who was a member of the KKK in the 1940’s and helped established the hate group’s chapter in Sophia, W.V. However, in 1952, Mr. Byrd announced that "After about a year, I became disinterested in the KKK, quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization." But Robert Byrd went on to have an illustrious career in politics and served for 57 year in the U.S. Congress.
    When Robert Byrd died in 2010, Hilary Clinton stated: “Today our country has lost a true American original, my friend and mentor Robert C. Byrd." Let’s remember that there was a 70 year gap in Forrest’s participation with the KKK and Robert Byrd’s, but somehow Byrd was forgiven, and was awarded a full state memorial service. And no one said a word about his prior membership with the KKK, or breathed the words "racism" or bigotry."
    Blueshawk - thanks for your comments. "Diversity" has become a parody of itself, has it not?
  • EastTennessee1948: Another great post Taylor The following link is to the author of the book, "The Redemption Of Nathan Bedford Forrest". I would highly recommend it to those interested in the "Wizard Of The Saddle". The book not only deals with his hard childhood (oldest of several children, becoming the "man of the house, at age 16). But also his Christian conversion following the war that totally changed him, including his attitude toward the Black Man. If he lived today, he probably would be considered politically liberal in that regard.
  • Taylor: East Tennessee1948:
    Thanks for the link – that was an interesting read and the book sounds like another must to add to my post Christmas list!
    I’d read that Forrest had been forced to step up to the plate as head of the household after his father’s death, and that poverty dominated his early beginnings – I can’t imagine being the mother of eleven children under these circumstances.
    Try as I might, I simply can’t reconcile the vilification directed at N.B. Forrest by the PC crowd whose major goal is to erase parts of American history, and white-wash it into a story that is incomplete and disingenuous. Slavery was not unique to the U.S. and it’s part of almost every nation’s history from Greek and Roman civilizations, to modern day forms of human slavery. America was built on the backs of people who were ‘different’ and attempting to eliminate the evidence or revising text books changes nothing. Without understanding where we’ve been, it’s impossible to change and learn from the lessons that history teaches us.
    It seems to me that Americans should be celebrating their history, warts and all, as it’s the past struggles and challenges that have made the U.S. the powerful, vast, and beautiful country that it is today. The ideal of the Manifest Destiny allowed early settlers to blaze westward and exterminate a group of people along the way, and enslaving others to build a country has been around since early civilization. You simply can’t erase a country’s history – it is what it is. So this movement to erase part of American history is beyond me. Canadian history is full to the brim with blood and violence – what nation’s early beginnings are not?.
    We all know that slavery was one of the most evil crimes to ever be perpetuated against another human being, but it was not exclusive to the U.S. or Europe. What of the roles that Africans themselves played in the slave industry? It was considerable, especially in western and central Africa where the conquest and capture of Africans, by Africans, and their sale to other countries, was the main source of foreign exchange. I don’t hear this little piece of history mentioned by the ‘removal people. And I’m surprised that suggestions to remove Andrew Jackson from the American $20 bill haven’t happened earlier - after all Jackson made his fortune from the slave industry and his actions against Native Americans were nothing short of horrific. But I guess Jackson gets a free pass for all these years and has instead been remembered/judged as a national war hero and for his accomplishments as the 7th President of the U.S. So it seems that you could become wealthy as a slave trader/owner, be nick-named a vicious Indian killer, but still be immortilized/honoured by having your face stamped on a $20 bill. But any association to the Confederacy makes you a racist and a bigot. This dichotomy is quite startling.
    The KKK continues to mystify me and getting back to Congressman Byrd, in 1946 he wrote a letter to Senator Theodore Bilbo, in which he asserted that ‘integration of the military was a huge mistake and that he would rather “die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see his beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” By the time Byrd wrote this letter he had already recruited at least 150 of W.V.’s power elite into a local KKK unit, with himself as head.. Also in 1946, Senator Byrd wrote to the Grand Wizard:
    “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.”
    Another free pass and a State memorial funeral service. And Hilary’s mentor…
    A few years ago, a document was leaked that indicated four Republican senators were allegedly affiliated with the KKK and other racial hate groups. I believe the investigation is still ongoing, but John Cornyn was one of these men and he remains a U.S. Senator.
    I only have one suggestion for those Americans who have taken their own personal prejudices/hatred and misdirected it at all things Confederate. Truly steep yourselves in American history and stop crying wolf whenever it’s convenient, as your lack of understanding/education is disquieting, as is your willingness to judge only ‘certain people’ for their actions, or lack thereof.
    I have no wish to beleaguer the ‘Confederate removal issue’ or the KKK concerns, but I do think it’s important to keep the conversation going, if only to honour the Southern men and women who died for a cause they believed in.
    Rant over…my laptop is starting to smoke!
  • Vale: Taylor, good example about Byrd. Especially since he was a member well after Forrest! I really wish that people would learn more about the Confederacy and the war and everyone involved before they just go around saying tear everything down. It seems like it’s more like lack of education and witch hunting than an attempt to move the country past racism. Maybe they should take a poll and see how many people feel the country is better off and that people are less racist as each statue or symbol of the Confederacy is erased.
  • enjay: Taylor. You have tackled a touchy subject, and in a way that could possibly incur the wrath of certain elements of American society. It would be easier to support the removal, and quietly go along with the elements who want to erase Confederate history. Yet you stood your ground, and eloquently defended a man who is so easily vilified by those with an incomplete understanding of the facts, and a one sided view of Forrest’s legacy. I wonder how society would react if certain elements of the population decided to deface Native American burial grounds, because their ancestors were killed by NA warriors. Would these folks see history through distorted eyes, without a complete understanding of the history of the West, and feel they had a moral right to erase the truth of what really happened to NAs as the pursuit of Manifest Destiny moved westward? I think not. In my opinion, the monuments should be left where they are, and any attempt to destroy graves should be met with the full extent of the law. Kudos to you, Taylor, for taking a stand, and giving us the, to quote Paul Harvey, "the rest of the story".
  • dylan: Some Good News for a Change!
    I just found this out and thought I would bring it to the attention of the Forum. We always seem to be losing ground concerning holding on to our Confederate heritage, especially concerning the monuments to our Confederate leaders, etc.
    For once, someone decided in our favor!
    News From The Southern Historical Society:
    A judge in Nashville, TN has ruled in favor of the Memphis Sons of Confederate Veterans.
    A Nashville judge has issued a temporary restraining order until the case with the thieves and lawbreakers on the Mphs city council goes to court.
    This is good news for the rule of law in the state of Tennessee, across the South and the country. So many laws were broken, with abandon. The Forrest monument was damaged as were the graves of General and Mrs. Forrest. We understand the damage has been repaired by the diligence of the Memphis Sons, thank God.
    This is good news and the lawless thieves cannot do anything more until the case is decided.
    Now, join us in thanking God.
  • blueshawk1: While good news, I have a hard time getting excited because it wasn’t too long ago, another monument, I believe it was a Lee statue, was going to be taken down (sorry, I forget where now), in that case, it was a daughters group that got a temporary restraining order. I believe it wasn’t much more than 24 hours later the case was decided and the libtards were allowed to take down the monument.
  • Vale: It seems like it is one step forward and three steps back in these cases. I really wish there was a law that said people needed to educate themselves more about the history and bring up a lawsuit in order to have a statues taken down rather than just saying "it’s confederate, it’s racist, take it down" and the people who vandalized the graves should be prosecuted harshly to deter others.
  • Taylor: I do too Vale. In a city on the east coast of Canada, a statue of Edward Cornwallis ( British military officer who established Halifax, Nova Scotia and Governor of N.S. from 1749 -1752) was recently taken down due to increased pressure from the Mi’kmaq, a First Nations people indigenous to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.
    Despite his many accomplishments, the honouring of Cornwallis has become controversial in N.S., and again, it’s about educating oneself and really digging dig in order to understand a complex time in history. Cornwallis has now became a ‘villain’ to a certain group of people, and this quote from Mi’kmaq activist Rebecca Moore, after the statue was removed:
    "What it means to me is that it’s really showing that violence against Indigenous people and Indigenous women is not OK...and that we won’t stand for it. That’s what it symbolizes to me."
    I think that Ms. Moore might be mixing issues from the past with the present. But regardless, during the time period when Cornwallis was Governor of N.S., there were enough atrocities to go around between Indigenous people, the French, and the British, during the early settlement of Eastern Canada. And Cornwallis is now being used as a scapegoat.
  • Vale: Scapegoat is a good word. It’s easy to make the famous people the scapegoats in order to make everyone else feel better about themselves. I just quickly skimmed the history of Cornwallis and the Mi’kmaq and I agree with you, the events of the past were terrible, the Mi’kmaqs had every right to defend their land, but removing a statue of Cornwallis won’t change the past. Perhaps instead another statue should be ***** of the Mi’kmaq who lived there before the British. It could be presented with a plaque explaining the history, which would help educate everyone.
  • Taylor: Vale:
    I completely agree. Rather than tear down historical statues, monuments etc. which represent one side of the story, why not, in moving forward, erect new symbols/displays etc. that speak to everyone? This seems like a fair and logical solution to what for many is an ultra sensitive/emotional issue, whether it’s Canadian or American. And then it’s up to individuals to take responsibility and do their own research, before making uninformed decisions. Father Jean-Louis Le Loutre has just as much blood on his hands as Edward Cornwallis.
    One of the problems that I have with Rebecca Moore’s response after the Cornwallis statue was removed, is her use of language. "We won’t stand for it" doesn’t exactly invite thoughtful dialogue on a sensitive issue, and is almost baiting in its ‘tone.’
    Ancestors of Cornwallis’ early settlers are scattered throughout Nova Scotia but no one seemed to give a second thought as to their feelings when the statue was removed and put in ‘temporary storage.’
  • Vale: I agree, many people have this sort of attitude, and then if you defend the statue, it’s like you are automatically labelled racist, insensitive, etc.
  • enjay: Interesting stuff. For 18 months the highest paid Union non white soldiers received approximately half what the lowest paid white soldiers made. What’s next? A witch hunt on the Union politicians who supported lower pay for non whites while the non whites went without pay (for 18 months)in protest? Maybe identify some of those terrible people and deface or destroy any statues or monuments dedicated to them? I can see the signs now. "Supported lower pay for non whites over 100 years ago" I’d shake my head, but that’s probably politically incorrect. Let’s not erase history! Let’s study and learn from it. Isn’t that a part of democracy?
  • dylan: enjay wrote: Let’s study and learn from it. Isn’t that a part of democracy?
  • Enjay: Dylan, I have a prediction. In 10 years or so we won’t be able to say "amen" for fear of aggravating someone. If you were the Canadian Prime Minister (waiting for Taylor to add a comment here), he’d probably end his spiritual meditation with "apeople" , or would it be "eh people"? Sorry, couldn’t resist!
  • Taylor:

    Enjay: I appreciate you poking fun at our Prime Minister! It was bound to happen sooner or later, but finally the “pretty boy” is falling from grace. Justin Trudeau admits that he ‘tells dumb jokes,’ which he uses as an excuse every time he puts his foot in his mouth. But Trudeau is really about as deep as a puddle and I sometimes wonder if he gives any ‘thoughts to his thoughts.’ While unicorns in Justin’s brain run wild, I have a few word suggestions for our PM: “Mangoes:” Peoplegoes “Manitou Island” (Lake Huron)L Peopleitou Island “Manitoba” (Canada): Peopleitoba “Manhattan:” Peoplehattan “Manatees:” Peopleatees “Nelson Mandela:” Nelchild Peopledela This is what happens on Friday when I’ve had too much caffeine.

  • Enjay: Hi Taylor. Poor Justin. He is taking so much flak for his "feminlinguistcs". Well, as he said during a recent interview, "Hey, I make mistakes. I don’t wear a red Cape, and have a big" S" emblazoned on my shirt. I am not, repeat not, from Krypton, and I am NOT Super Person! ".
  • Taylor: Enjay:
    Well, the games continue, and I don’t mean the Winter Olympics. Trudeau has managed to offend people (Boushie case, Saskatchewan) with respect to his recent remarks, all the way from California.
    But I fear I’m high jacking this blog with Canadian politics...soon we’ll have Justin nestled safely back in the Great White North and he can dig himself out of the many snowbanks he created while hiking in the hills with the Mayor of L.A...fabulous opportunity for new selfies!

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