Did Forrest really fling a Yankee across his back?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
33,340
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
We've had a few lively discussions on this before, but something popped up on a Texas History forum that might bear looking into. First, let's take a gander at Forrest and his hapless victim, as depicted by artist Bradley Schmel. "Forrest Takes a Hostage" is the name of the piece.

91GETdTnleL._SL1500_.jpg


The story is that during the Battle of Fallen Timbers (April 8, 1862), during a wild melee around what had been a Confederate Hospital taken over by Sherman's forces, here came Forrest into the middle of Sherman's men (and Sherman himself)...

Here's Sherman's account. "“Forrest’s cavalry came down, with a yell, firing away with their pistols, over the skirmish line, over the supports right in among us. My Aide-de-Camp, McCoy, was knocked down, horse and rider, into the mud, but I, and the rest of my staff ingloriously fled, pell mell, through the mud, closely followed by Forrest with pistols already emptied.”

According to Forrest's biographers, Jordan and Pryor (the one you really need to read because they actually talked with the man), Forrest was basically surrounded by the enemy and was shot at the point of the hip, with the bullet coming to rest lodged against his spine. To get out of the mess he was in, Forrest supposedly picked up a scrawny Federal private and slung the poor guy up behind him on the horse, using him as a shield to get away.

According to Sherman in his 1881 paper on the Battle of Shiloh, “I have seen Forrest since the war; have talked to him about this very matter, and he explained that he was left behind by Breckinridge to protect this hospital camp, and if possible to check the pursuit by our forces which was naturally expected after the close of the battle of Shiloh. I’m sure that had he not emptied his pistols as he passed the skirmish line, my career would have ended right there.”

Nothing about the guy. Hmmmm....

But this thread isn't really about whether it happened--it's about whether he could have done it. Let's look at a little incident taking place a bit later--in Texas.

“Adobe Walls was a trading post on the Canadian River in the Texas panhandle. It was believed to have been constructed around 1854.
The Second Battle of Adobe Walls on June 27, 1874 was an encounter between the Comanches and their allies against the buffalo hunters. The white buffalo hunters began to intrude on Comanche hunting grounds and were threatening the tribe's food source. Although the buffalo hunters could not be dislodged, the aftermath of the battle ended buffalo hunting in that particular region. It was also the event which began the Red River War of 1874-1875. This military campaign was launched by the United States Army to subjugate the tribes of the Southern Plains and to forcefully relocate them to established reservations in Indian Territory.

In the Adobe Walls battle, the Comanche warrior Quanah Parker stood out by bravely riding through a gauntlet of gunfire to rescue his fellow injured Comanche. From his horse, Quanah leaned down and picked up the warrior Howea. Quanah firmly hung from his horse by his arm and foot still strongly holding onto Howea. Both men rode fast through the battle and reached safety.”

Historical photo of noted Yamparika Chief Howea (Gap in the Woods), circa 1872. Photograph courtesy of William Soule, Wilbur S. Nye Collection.

850AAF37-CE16-46DE-B17B-CCF6BD4DE962.jpeg


Now, this guy isn't starving. At all. Obviously, Quanah wasn't using a cavalry saddle with stirrup. He also wasn't 6'2" (although he's described as taller than the average Comanche, and thinner) and on an adrenaline high. I'm still sticking to my long-time theory that if Afghans can play a game called Buzkashi with a goat hide filled with sand, Forrest COULD have picked up a petite Yankee and slung him behind him on the saddle long enough to ride off.

What's your opinion--could it have been done?




 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,556
Location
State of Jefferson
I think it happened! Forrest was amazingly tough. Forrest didn't need to hold that soldier more than a few seconds - the whole incident in total was only a matter of minutes - nor did he have to drag him entirely on board. Physically possible for Forrest, I think is the key. When he was shot in the same hip (same place, too) at Columbia by Lt Gould, he not only fought with Gould and stabbed him, but proceeded to stride down the street and over to the tailor's shop (as well as over the provost marshal), then run down an alley in pursuit. Forrest's activity level led some to say he wasn't hurt much but he was - he was six weeks in bed. Same report was made by Harrison of the Texas Rangers at Fallen Timbers with Forrest - he reported only a slight wound to the colonel. It was considerably more serious than that as Dr Cowan's account showed. Most men, if seriously wounded in the way Forrest was, would be down. Earlier in life, Forrest was a constable who was escorting a witness to trial - they were ambushed by a man with a shotgun who killed the witness with one barrel but didn't shoot Forrest with the other barrel as he didn't think it would take care of him - or even slow him up!
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Cavalry Charger

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
Messages
6,485
I'd say with enough adrenaline anything is possible. And there's no doubt in my mind that would have been an adrenaline driven moment which would also be a reason for Forrest being able to overlook his serious injury.

Sounds like an adrenaline driven moment for Sherman, too, who given the choice between fight and flight, took off a runnin' ... sure that if Forrest's pistols hadn't already been emptied, he would have been dead.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,556
Location
State of Jefferson
The horse died 8 days later. But not General Forrest.

((According to Jordan and Pryor, I believe))
Thanks, DixieRifles - that's true! He was a well bred horse, too, quite expensive but sure proved he was worth his hay. Forrest did ride him to Corinth. Pretty hard trip for both - Forrest tried a buggy but that was way worse than riding, which was pretty awful too.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Messages
13,789
Location
Mississippi
Thanks, DixieRifles - that's true! He was a well bred horse, too, quite expensive but sure proved he was worth his hay. Forrest did ride him to Corinth. Pretty hard trip for both - Forrest tried a buggy but that was way worse than riding, which was pretty awful too.
I don't blame Forrest.

There's no way I would have taken a buggy from Shiloh to Corinth after that battle.
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,556
Location
State of Jefferson
Forrest was very particular about the treatment of horses - always after troopers who mistreated or rode sick animals. He wouldn't have ridden that horse either if he'd had any other alternative. Bouncing along in a buggy with square wheels and a minie ball snuggled up against your spine just ain't gonna work! I'm pretty sure he was wondering about his right leg as well - a bullet in the spine was what crippled his brother, John.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Messages
13,789
Location
Mississippi
It would make a great scene in a movie!
You're right !
I've always thought that too !

@AshleyMel . . . whether it happened or not, it would indeed make a magnificent scene in a movie,

But that leads us back to the converstion, what actor would be the best Forrest ?



:smile coffee:
 

CCMDCSA

Sergeant
Joined
May 20, 2018
Messages
548
Location
Silver run Md carroll county
I choose to believe it happened forrest was known for being a tough battle hardened soldier whether or not it happened has depicted in the painting we will never know but if he was to grab a yankee by the collar to use as a shield grabbing the closest scrawny one would make the most sense the history of NBF might be different if he tried to use a well fed yank
The painting I've never seen before but it's a really good one
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top