Forrest and a Formal Military Education

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bankerpapaw

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If Forrest had had a "proper" military education, would he have been as reckless in battle as he was and would his tactics have taken a different slant?
 
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diane

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Forrest wasn't reckless - daring, but not reckless. At Dover he could be accused of it, though - heading straight down the main drag without knowing whether or not the defenders were ready for him...which they were... Impulsive and reckless would be Okolona, and there he was extremely emotional after the death of his brother - all he wanted was to kill some Yankees!

You've got another thread with the same title, @bankerpapaw ! Would you change them so we know what we're talking about? Sure would appreciate it!
 

bankerpapaw

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Forrest wasn't reckless - daring, but not reckless. At Dover he could be accused of it, though - heading straight down the main drag without knowing whether or not the defenders were ready for him...which they were... Impulsive and reckless would be Okolona, and there he was extremely emotional after the death of his brother - all he wanted was to kill some Yankees!

You've got another thread with the same title, @bankerpapaw ! Would you change them so we know what we're talking about? Sure would appreciate it!
How do I change the title? Sorry about the confusion.
 
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diane

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Ok!

Well, back to Forrest! :D

One thing about Forrest's military genius that some have not considered important is his intelligence gathering. He was very meticulous about sending his scouts, under William Hezekiah Forrest's able command, everywhere all the time. This constant gathering of real time, accurate information gave him a thorough understanding of the military situation, and gave him the 'phantom' effect that Sherman found so disturbing - he knew what Sherman was up to all the time, but Sherman seldom knew what Forrest was up to, or even if he was around. As one of Bill's scouts put it, the general said it was 'just as important to know where they ain't' as where they were. He also tended to discard numbers as less important than knowing his enemy - that included who the commander was, what sort of men he commanded and how their morale was. A good example of using this to advantage was his first substantial battle at Sacramento. There he dismounted some of his troops to act as sharpshooters until the rest of his men could get up - that kept the Union disorganized. Then he sent troops around the flanks while ordering an especially aggressive frontal assault. The enemy, seeing this fierce charge and movement on their flanks, broke and took off. Their commander was, as Forrest thought, not inclined to stand his ground for this particular battle. Win! Another example of Forrest's good scouting was late in the war, when Wilson had to ask Forrest if he happened to know where his man Croxton was...Wilson had lost him. "Bout 12 miles up that road," said Forrest.

Forrest's battles may sometimes have seemed reckless, like this one, but they were actually calculated. Forrest had the ability to do this very rapidly and was always flexible - not every commander was able to do either let alone both - and his aggressiveness was a valuable tool. Sherman pegged him on that and told his cavalrymen that one thing they could be sure of with Forrest was he would always attack with 'vehemence'. When or where...that was a different matter!

Forrest's campaigns were always very well constructed and thought out, his objectives clear and his officers and troops had no problem understanding their mission. He was always able to distill the most complex military matter into terms the stupidest of his men could understand! For him, these matters were instinctive - he was a born soldier and understood complexity without having the terms for what he understood. At Brice's Crossroads he told Morton see them fellers down there? I'm going to take my troops yonder on that ridge and double 'em up. When you see them double up, you come straight down here with your artillery and give 'em all you got. Then he rode off. Morton and his lieutenant stared at each other. "Does the general really mean for us to go straight down there with no support?" asked the lieutenant. "You heard him!" snapped Morton. The battle was a great win but Morton had to see Forrest afterward and tell him, "General, you scared me! You scared me bad!" Forrest grinned. "I just wanted to see if they could take your guns," he said. Forrest knew Morton - another artilleryman would have been used differently.

I still haven't made up my mind if military training would have improved this side of Forrest or not. Where it would certainly have helped was in getting along with cranky or incompetent commanders. Tolerating fools was not a specialty of his and military training would have taught him how to say yes, sir no matter what kind of idiot his superior was!
 
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7th Mississippi Infantry

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I still haven't made up my mind if military training would have improved this side of Forrest or not.
I agree.

I'm still undecided if a formal military education would have had any effect on Forrest's actions/tactics.

My gut feeling is probably not.

I'm quite sure Forrest would have been kicked out of any Military Academy . . . assuming he was accepted into said academy in the first place.
 
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diane

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I agree.

I'm still undecided if a formal military education would have had any effect on Forrest's actions/tactics.

My gut feeling is probably not.

I'm quite sure Forrest would have been kicked out of any Military Academy, assuming he was accepted into said academy in the first place.
It's a question, all right. I think Forrest would have been accepted if someone had put his name forth. Jackson was accepted! The thing would be Forrest's preparatory education. That was what almost kept Jackson out of West Point and he really sweated it to get up to the requirements. (Don't know about learning French, either...that was considered the necessary military lingo...) But if he did get all educated and stuck it out, he would have been like Grant. He would have pitched overboard what he didn't need and used differently what he did need - might have been interesting! It sure is hard to tell.
 

7th Mississippi Infantry

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diane

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He told Wilson's aide Hosea "I never rubbed my back up against no college" and told another "Whenever I fit one of them West Pointers I generally had him whipped before he got his tune pitched." These were all a bit of bluster to let the West Pointers he was talking to know they'd got whupped by a hillbilly! :laugh: Of course, he wasn't one - his parents and relations taught him a good deal and so did his wife. He tried to see to it his little brothers had more than he did but it wasn't until Jeffrey was college age that he had enough money to give him the full ride. Forrest was absolutely lavish, determined that Jeffrey would be the first in his family to graduate college and have a more genteel life. No plowing the back 40 for you, kid brother! I'm not sure where he was schooled but he could speak and write Latin and Greek, and was well on his way. But it turned out Jeffrey didn't survive. Willie went on to complete college and his father was very proud of that. It was quite a bit harder for him, though, because his dad was quite a bit poorer! Forrest told Anderson, his good buddy and comrade in arms, that whenever he was around educated people he felt very keenly his lack of it. Later on, he was a strong advocate of black education and often told them education and the vote was the way they would change things.
 

7th Mississippi Infantry

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He told Wilson's aide Hosea "I never rubbed my back up against no college" and told another "Whenever I fit one of them West Pointers I generally had him whipped before he got his tune pitched." These were all a bit of bluster to let the West Pointers he was talking to know they'd got whupped by a hillbilly! :laugh:
:bounce:
 
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