CS Forrest, Mary Ann Montgomery

Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest
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Born: October 24, 1826

Birthplace: Franklin County Tennessee

Father: William Hugh Montgomery 1792 – 1829
(Buried: Cowan Cemetery, Cowan, Tennessee)​

Mother: Elizabeth Dougherty “Betsie” Cowan 1803 – 1870

Husband: Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest 1821 – 1877
(Buried: Health Sciences Park, Memphis, Tennessee)​

Married: September 23, 1845 in Hernando, Mississippi

Children:

Captain William Montgomery Forrest 1846 – 1908​
(Buried: Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee)​
Frances “Fannie” Ann Forrest 1849 – 1854​
(Buried: Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee)
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Died: January 22, 1893

Place of Death: Memphis, Tennessee

Age at time of Death: 67 years old

Burial Place: Health Sciences Park, Memphis, Tennessee (Pending Relocation)


The following info is provided with a portrait of Nathan Bedford when he first met Mary Ann. The name of the portrait is "MARY ANN" by artist John Paul Strain. It may be found at http://www.johnpaulstrain.com/art/mary-ann.htm
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The legend of Nathan Bedford Forrest began long before the start of the American Civil War. Although there are a number of differing accounts of the events that took place in the summer of 1845, Bedford did meet his future wife in a notable and romantic way. The story illustrates that even in his early 20’s, Bedford displayed the character, chivalry, and powerful personality that would later propel him to become one of the most successful and feared cavalry commanders of the Civil War.​
On an August Sunday, Forrest met the daughter [niece] of a Presbyterian minister, Mary Ann Montgomery, and her mother while they were on their way to church. The Montgomery’s buggy had broken down while crossing a stream. A couple of the local young men were on the river bank laughing and teasing Mary Ann and her mother. Bedford rode up on his horse, saw what had happened, and dismounted. Immediately he waded across the stream and carried Mary Ann to safety and then rescued her mother. Deciding that the boisterous jokesters needed to be taught a lesson, Bedford crossed the stream again and proceeded to thrash the young men.​
After properly introducing himself, Bedford asked permission to call on Mary Ann. Impressed with his gallantry Mrs. Montgomery agreed. Bedford and Mary Ann were married six weeks later on September 25, 1845. And so began the life long love affair that would become part of the legend of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.​

Obituary: Confederate Veteran Magazine - Page 63 - Vol.1 - February 1893 No.2

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Death of Gen. Forrest's Wife-The lovely wife of Gen. N. Bedford Forrest died January 22nd, 1893, in Memphis, Tenn., where she had resided for many years. She was Miss Mary Ann Montgomery, and was married Sept.25,1855. After the General's death she devoted herself to the rearing of three grandchildren, Mary, Bedford, and William, children of her only son, whose mother died when they were quite small. Mrs. Forrest was a cultured Christian lady, and was devoted to the cause in which her husband was not only a hero, but a wonderful man. He was as a whirlwind in combatting the foe.​
 
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Polloco

Captain
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
I've heard that story of Mary Ann and her mother being rescued from the buggy in the stream. Except the story I read left out the thrashing of the two onlookers. In the story Forrest just ran them off. But He did "slap them around" later when He came calling on Mary Ann and those same 2 were there on her porch.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
That is the best piece I've seen of Mary Ann Forrest - thanks for such a good job. Her husband was extremely protective of her - to the point that he just about obliterated her! His position after the war was a difficult one but his family was always his priority. She was precious to him - he called her his guardian angel and credited her prayers for his survival. He could also credit her smarts, too - he usually found her advice and suggestions to be sound. Her importance in his life was summed up in his last words, which were simply, "Call my wife." She was his world.

Mary Ann was greatly influenced by Sir Walter Scott's writings, as were many antebellum Southern ladies. Lady of the Lake was a favorite - her favorite character being Roderick Dhu, the darkly noble Scottish outlaw chief. The plantation Forrest bought just before the war was to be their retirement home - it was named Roderick by Mrs Forrest. Forrest's favorite horse was Roderick, son of a famous racer named Roderick Dhu...and it was pretty clear their relationship was filtered through the romantic haze of Lady of the Lake! The last person to be a romantic would be Forrest, or so one might think. Mary Ann brought out qualities he himself didn't know he had - she was certainly the best thing that ever happened to him. She helped him educate himself, righted him when he was wrong and was the only human being who could stand up to him in one of his astoundingly ballistic temper fits. Sometimes he couldn't come down from a battle and was incredibly dangerous - the aides would ride for Mary Ann. Forrest's troops dearly loved Old Missus, their pet name for her - she helped tend them when they were sick or shot during the war and after the war she was very involved in many charities for Confederate veterans and orphans of the war. If any of Forrest's men were down and out, they could always find help with the general, and after his death, his wife. After her husband's death she did indeed withdraw from public to concentrate on her son's children but she never recovered from the death of her beloved husband.

As her obituary suggests, Mary Ann Forrest did not give up the cause for which her husband had sacrificed so much, and had a strong hand in raising her grandchildren after Willie's wife died. The oldest of the grandchildren was Mary Forrest Bradley, who was six or seven when her grandfather died. He was not well many of those few years, consequently he didn't know his grandchildren. Their grandmother was a huge influence on them. They did indeed have one of the best romances and most content marriages of the war. The only thing they ever fought about was his gambling. Not only was it a vice and non-Christian, it was dangerous! Then one day, after gambling to pay off a big bill, he gave it up. Having won big (and needing to!) he put the money in his hat and began to leave, but the other players begged him to stay so they could get some money back. "No, gentlemen," said Forrest, "I have played my last game. My wife is sitting at home with her Bible in her lap praying for me." As far as is known, that really was his last game. She was a remarkable lady, indeed.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
As my wife loves to say: Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman.

Strong men - especially head-strong men! - never seek out a weak partner. They know! When Mary Ann's uncle objected, the good reverend said, "Why, Bedford, I can't give my consent. You cuss and gamble! Mary Ann is a good Christian girl." "I know it," said Forrest. "That is just why I want her!" Those two contenders at the creek and later at the house were uncle's choices - one was from a high society family and the other was studying for the ministry. They were quite sure of themselves. You're a violent man, Bedford - you brawl in the streets and fight duels in addition to cussing and gambling...we don't! Forrest had first met Mary Ann just a few weeks after the shoot-out in Hernando where he had killed two and wounded two others. The Sunday meeting in the creek was the first time he'd met her, the calling on her the second time and he told her he was coming back with a marriage license - so, third meeting uncle is on the porch while prospective husband is standing there with his marriage license. When Forrest saw something he wanted, he usually got it - and that was what Mary Ann saw. This particular man was willing to take the risks, fight for his goals, and see things through right to life and death. The others weren't! They were looking at her social prestige, her inheritance, the position her ancestors had - she was a direct descendant of a Revolutionary war hero, promotion of themselves. But she didn't see anything else in their proposals. When Forrest proposed to her he pointed out that he was working - didn't need her money, was a constable and alderman - didn't need much of a boost in society, and that he would protect her - if she married one of those two suitors she'd always find herself stuck in a creek somewhere! This man wanted to marry her because he loved her - and she had had her eye on him ever since her family arrived at Horn Lake. It wasn't a total accident they met up on that creek!
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
A book I'm reading from describes the two other suitors as "dandies". That description of them kind of makes a person wonder about their character.

Uncle wasn't keen on Bedford, that's for sure! No niece of his was marrying a dueling swearing gambler who never went to church even if he was the county constable/coroner and had his own livery business. But, Betsy - Forrest's future mother-in-law - was already sold on him. Her brother had a few words in his ear from her, but he got the two 'dandies' to show up anyway. So, here they are all sitting in the parlor waiting for Mary Ann to appear...which she did not do for some time. When she did go downstairs, there was only one man sitting in the parlor patiently waiting! She knew what she was doing... :laugh:
 
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