Restricted Bronze bust of Forrest missing in Selma

Glorybound

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Bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest missing in Selma

Published: Monday, March 26, 2012, 7:10 PM Updated: Monday, March 26, 2012, 7:15 PM

By The Associated Press


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AP file photoA monument honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma, Ala., is shown on April 30, 2011.

SELMA, Ala. — Who's got the general's head?

It's a question making the rounds in Selma since earlier this month, when a bronze bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest vanished from atop a 7-foot-tall granite monument at Live Oak Cemetery.

Sons of Confederate Veterans members were outraged when it happened and have been busy raising reward money to see if loose lips just might sink the culprit's ship.

Attorney Faya Rose Toure, the most vocal Forrest critic in Selma, said she didn't have anything to do with the disappearance, but she is happy it happened and even volunteered to defend the guilty party or parties — if caught — "free of charge."

"(Forrest) was a domestic terrorist, and I think the man who took (the bust) did us all a favor," said Toure, formerly known as Rose Sanders, the wife of state Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.

Selma Police Chief William Riley said an investigation is continuing into the theft, but no arrests have been made.

The bust, kept in the cemetery's Confederate Circle, apparently was taken on the night of March 9, but no one noticed it was missing for a few days.

Copper and bronze have frequently been stolen from houses and businesses in Selma and taken to junk yards for cash. The swiping of the bust may not have been done for monetary reasons, however.

That's because of the way it was stolen. No sledgehammer was used to knock it off the granite monument. It had been carefully removed from the top, leaving behind eight holes where it had been bolted to the base.

The Forrest memorial had a history in Selma long before the bust was removed from the cemetery.

In October 2000, the monument was erected in front of the Smitherman Building, formerly a Confederate hospital and now a museum. It didn't take long for angry black residents to begin calling for the monument's removal. Protesters dumped garbage on it, and demonstrators tried to yank it off the heavy base.

"Jews would not tolerate a statue of Hitler in their neighborhood and what they put up in our neighborhood back then was pretty much the same thing," Toure said. "Descendants of those who enslaved us insist on honoring someone with Klan connections."

The City Council voted to move the monument from outside the building to the city cemetery in 2001, but Toure said the bust still has "no place" on public property.

A group called "The Friends of Forrest" raised the $25,000 to pay for the monument, saying it represents a man of honor, gallantry and military leadership. In Ken Burns' acclaimed TV documentary, "The Civil War," historian Shelby Foote noted that America's bloodiest war produced "two authentic geniuses — Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest."

Forrest and his weary troops arrived in Selma in the waning days of the Civil War, knowing they didn't have a chance as they were outnumbered by Union cavalry bent on punishing the city, one of only two arms manufacturing centers in the Confederacy. The city bore the brunt of a punitive Union raid on April 2, 1865.

After losing the Battle of Selma, Forrest returned to Tennessee and resumed his successful business activities. Along the way he also helped to organize the Ku Klux Klan.

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans view Forrest as a hero of the first order, a brave leader known as the "Wizard of the Saddle." Critics say "wizard" was an apt description, as in Grand Wizard of the Klan.

Forrest resigned from the Klan when he felt it had become too violent and disbanded it at the same time. That didn't erase the fact that he had been a Klan leader.

The Battle of Selma is commemorated every April in an event held not far from the actual site of the clash. Re-enactors from across the country come to town to re-create one of the last battles of the Civil War.

James Hammonds, who has helped direct the re-enactment each year and supplies his own artillery unit, said Forrest has been acknowledged "as one of the best fighting generals to come out of the Civil War on either side." Hammonds said he has told the police chief the "re-enacting community" has had a "keen interest" in the investigation "and I think he sees this as an economic crime."

"I have personal knowledge that material salvage crime is rampant in this area of town," Hammonds said. "We should do more to interpret and protect our great resource at Live Oak Cemetery. I hope the bust is recovered or replaced."

Forrest devotees are expected to raise as much as $20,000 in reward money and announce it soon.

http://blog.al.com/wire/2012/03/bust_of_confederate_gen_nathan.html
 

truthckr

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Another misguided person stating that Forrest was an organizer/ founder of the KKK; he was not. So many lies and half truths told about the man, that it's pitiful. Maybe some of these people should do a little more research for themselves and not rely on other people's delibertate misinformation.
 

James B White

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Last time I was at the cemetery, there was a bus-load of tourists from Minnesota spread out over the place. A group of them--at least I think they were from the bus--joined hands in a circle and began dancing in front of the monument. The only thing I could figure, was that they thought they were dancing on his grave, since there's no other traditional form of protest or reverence that includes dancing in front of someone's statue, that I know of. :unsure: Wonder if they realized he wasn't even buried there?

Anyway, that's my Forrest statue trivia. I didn't follow the logic here, though:

The swiping of the bust may not have been done for monetary reasons, however.

That's because of the way it was stolen. No sledgehammer was used to knock it off the granite monument. It had been carefully removed from the top, leaving behind eight holes where it had been bolted to the base.

It sounds more like a salvage crime if it was carefully and silently removed, with nothing else damaged. I'd think vandals would be more apt to take sledge hammers and spray paint to anything in the area.
 

diane

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If they want to dance on Forrest's grave then they need to go to Forrest Park in Memphis - that's where he's buried. That statue gets vandalized regularly - the city of Hernando offered to take it off Memphis' hands if Memphis would pay the freight. It's darned heavy, though, and apparently the city doesn't want to pay! However, I think that particular statue should be protected under the graves laws. It's part of a grave and therefore grave goods.
 

DanF

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If they want to dance on Forrest's grave then they need to go to Forrest Park in Memphis - that's where he's buried. That statue gets vandalized regularly - the city of Hernando offered to take it off Memphis' hands if Memphis would pay the freight. It's darned heavy, though, and apparently the city doesn't want to pay! However, I think that particular statue should be protected under the graves laws. It's part of a grave and therefore grave goods.
does that make it a "grave" situation?

:D
 

Nathanb1

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If they want to dance on Forrest's grave then they need to go to Forrest Park in Memphis - that's where he's buried. That statue gets vandalized regularly - the city of Hernando offered to take it off Memphis' hands if Memphis would pay the freight. It's darned heavy, though, and apparently the city doesn't want to pay! However, I think that particular statue should be protected under the graves laws. It's part of a grave and therefore grave goods.

Yes and Mary Ann is buried there, too. Frankly, I think I might be a little nervous about messing with their grave!
 

diane

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Think good ol' Willie should have left his folks planted in Elmwood, though. Of course, he thought transplanting them under the statue - which is really a good one - was a fine thing. But his old man had put in a lot of time with the Elmwood cemetery, lots of his troops are buried there and his brothers - it's where he said he wanted to be, after all! Guess it goes in the no good deed goes unpunished category... :nah disagree:
 

JWheeler331

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It was stolen right after the Civil Rights march across the same bridge MLK marched across many years ago. The attorney Rose.....called for someone to steal it or trash it while on the radio. I guess some of her followers did so. She has been an enemy of that bust from day one.

Here are some pictures from last April when I was there for the Battle of Selma.

http://wheelerstudios.blogspot.com/2012/03/nathan-bedford-forrest-bust.html
 

Glorybound

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From the article :

"Attorney Faya Rose Toure, the most vocal Forrest critic in Selma, said she didn't have anything to do with the disappearance, but she is happy it happened and even volunteered to defend the guilty party or parties — if caught — "free of charge."

"(Forrest) was a domestic terrorist, and I think the man who took (the bust) did us all a favor," said Toure, formerly known as Rose Sanders, the wife of state Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma."

Also from the article:

"A group called "The Friends of Forrest" raised the $25,000 to pay for the monument, saying it represents a man of honor, gallantry and military leadership. In Ken Burns' acclaimed TV documentary, "The Civil War," historian Shelby Foote noted that America's bloodiest war produced "two authentic geniuses — Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest."

"James Hammonds, who has helped direct the re-enactment each year and supplies his own artillery unit, said Forrest has been acknowledged "as one of the best fighting generals to come out of the Civil War on either side." Hammonds said he has told the police chief the "re-enacting community" has had a "keen interest" in the investigation "and I think he sees this as an economic crime."
 

DanF

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I think Forrest's Ghost took it. He would have had more pride and dignity Than to want it on that pedestal with the sophomoric campaign type slogans on it.

What did they do have a contest for third graders to come up with slogans for the monument?
 

whitworth

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Vandals will always find monuments as a target. Some are even attacking the air conditioner monuments attached to homes around the country.
I can understand the modern opposition. The monument probably didn't have room to indicate that Forrest actually lost his battle in Selma. And of course they probably made no mention of James H. Wilson, the young Union general who led the Union cavalry, armed with Spencer rifles, in new tactics, in his victory over Forrest.

Forrest might have been a genius. It just didn't work too well against Spencer rifles.
 

diane

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There's a letter from about ten years ago from a Charles Yow to the Friends of Forrest talking about the bust and it sounded like exactly the same stuff chewed again. Mr Yow, now deceased, was a civil rights activist lawyer who mainly dealt with Sioux issues and AIM. He also dealt with Southern rights - strangely blending the two at one point. He successfully defended some Cherokee students in Alabama who wanted to wear CBF t-shirts to high school. One of the things he pointed out was the officials of the city of Selma were using inflammatory rhetoric and fanning the flames of race issues - and, rightly, it was appalling to him that this type of thing should come from a government source and be sanctioned as correct. As we see in the current article, he would still have a point.

That said, the inscription on the pedestal is not exactly conducive to harmony of any sort. It's definitely as militant as anything and appears to be designed to start a fight, as it were. There are certainly more diplomatic ways of saying Forrest was a great guy without glorifying the Confederacy (which Forrest flatly said was dead as roadkill on April 9, 1865) and punctuating it with Deo Vindice - which appears to be a prayer already answered. There is no Confederacy.

It would be nice if both sides stopped using symbols like Forrest to poke each other in the eyeballs. It boils down to old Sherman got one thing right when he said there'd never be peace in Tennessee until Forrest was dead. Apparently there'll never be peace in Alabama or Mississippi, either - dead or alive!
 
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