Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography (Vintage Civil War Library)

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nyarb60

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Jack Hurst is a historian and former journalist who has written for newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Nashville Tennessean. His books include Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography, Men of Fire: Grant, Forrest, and the Campaign That Decided the Civil War, and Born to Battle: Grant and Forrest—Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga. A native of Maryville, Tennessee and a descendant of both Union and Confederate soldiers, he currently lives with his wife outside Nashville, Tennessee.


One of Jack Hurst’s bio and interesting video on C-Span:

https://www.c-span.org/person/?jackhurst

http://www.cowancenterforthearts.org/lectures/past/jackhurst.html

https://civilwarandcivilrights.com/author/

https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/JACK-HURST
 

nyarb60

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Review in short: Now this epic figure is restored to human dimensions in an exemplary biography that puts both Forrest's genius and his savagery into the context of his time, chronicling his rise from frontiersman to slave trader, private to lieutenant general, Klansman to—eventually—New South businessman and racial moderate. Unflinching in its analysis and with extensive new research, Nathan Bedford Forrest is an invaluable and immensely readable addition to the literature of the Civil War.


Straight from the beginning you begin to see the character of this great man, for example an excerpt from

The book states:

When speaking of his mother, Mariam Beck, a woman of which I believe Forrest

inherited much of his fighting spirit this according to the author occurred:


"She seems to have prevailed over her environment through implacable

refusal not to. Soon after William Forrest’s death (her husband) she and her

unmarried sister Fanny, who lived with Forrest’s at the time (and probably the namesake

of her eldest son’s twin) rode ten miles through Mississippi wilderness to call

on their neighbor- by whom, in gratitude, they were presented a basket of baby

chickens, a prize on the wild frontier. Toward dusk on their return journey, within

a mile of home, the two sisters found themselves pursued by a panther.

The sister begged Mrs. Forrest to drop the basket of chicks, which the panther

apparently had scented, but she refused. When their horses had to slow to

cross a high banked creek within earshot of their home, the panther attacked

Mrs. Forrest’s horse, bleeding profusely from the big cat’s assault, reared and threw

its assailant into the stream, then died, while the panther fled as the rest

of the Forrest household came running with their dogs. Clawed severely on

her neck and shoulders, Mrs. Forrest had her clothes torn from her back,

but she held on to the chickens.

Another of her eldest son’s youthful exploits immediately followed

this incident. As soon as Mariam Forrest’s wounds were dressed he took a

flintlock musket and some hounds into the night to wreak vengeance. In deep

woods around midnight, the dogs treed the panther, and the youth waited

below in the dark until dawn brought sufficient light for a shot. By 9 a.m.

he returned home carrying the animal’s scalp and ears. Legend quotes

him as having grandly told the matriarch, “Mother, I am going to kill that beast if

it stays on the earth.” His actual words probably weren’t that pretty, but spirit

was one he would live by most of his life; no creature, four-legged or otherwise

could harm him or his impunity."


This has become one of my favorite stories about Nathan Bedford Forrest.


Looking forward to comments, good or bad.
Thank You.
 
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nyarb60

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Slave Trader

Part 1

Slave Trader


The first commercial mention of Forrest in Memphis property transactions records is as the partner of Hernando-based slave trader S.S. Jones. Prior to moving back to Tennessee and perhaps in preparation to he seems to have widened the scope of his slave dealing significantly, so he probably was out of Hernando often during his last years there; in fact, one of his reasons for moving may have been to avail himself of the more extensive transportation and communication facilities Memphis offered in the spring of 1852, the year and season in which he moved. Forrest is known to have gotten as far away as southern Texas. The evidence of the Texas trip is an incident on a steamboat bound for Galveston from Houston, the first leg of a journey back to Memphis. In a too-frequent occurrence then, the pilot of the craft got into a race with another vessel as a travel-weary Forrest tried to sleep on board roused by an incipient gunfight among card-playing gamblers and weary of being accidentally shot in his berth, he rose and, as the account goes, “by a few peremptory words, his resolute manner, and imperious will, quelled the disturbance just on the verge of a general melee.” He then walked out onto the deck to get some air and found the steamboat’s chimneys overheating from the rigors of the progressing race. After protesting to the captain, who was drunk and so committed to the contest that he vowed to win it or “blow the old tub with every soul on board to h—l. Forrest uncharacteristically retired to the boat’s rearmost area to await the inevitable; a loud boiler explosion that soon followed.

Some sixty people are reported to have died in the wreck, but thanks to rescue efforts by the other vessel involved, nearly that many were Saved. Forrest, despite a “severe contusion of the shoulder” and loss of all his luggage, helped remove survivors to the other boat and then tried to “alleviate the suffering of the wounded” the rest of the to Galveston.


He had gone to Texas, the account evasively explains, to accomplish the “adjustment of some business affairs” probably the delivery of some slaves to a Texas planter, since his other pursuits seem unlikely to have demanded Trips to such distance. Slaves just bought or sold usually were marched over land by traders or owners, and the primary land, western hub of these treks was Memphis. It was a major collection point for both raw cotton bound for ports and manufacturing plants of the Northeast and slaves headed southwest to power relentlessly expanding plantations.

In this section of the book, I see the character of Forrest as one who is always willing to
jump in the heat of the battle and do what is right. I found him honorable here in that he
was also injured, by didn't hesitate to assist with the wounded.

Also, I find him determined in deed to call out the wrong. As he went to the captain, probably heated in his tone to get the attention of the captain, yet upon discovering his drunkard state, preparing as best he could for the inevitable.

From the beginning, I see a man who was always trying to right a wrong. And when it went wrong, he still showed determination to continue the "fight."

 
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nyarb60

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Slaver Trader

Part 2


The earliest mention of the new merchant, late of Hernando, among Shelby County’s property records is one detailing a transaction made November 27, 1852. In a neat, feminine-appearing hand, a clerk wrote the first of many such entries that would ascribed to the newcomer in the next nine years:

Received of Finetty Bowen Seven hundred and Seventy Five dollars for a Negro Man named Gerry aged about thirty five years which Negro we warrant to be of sound in body and mind and a slave for life and title good and free from all incumberance. Forrest and Jones

FIVE HUNDRED NEGROES WANTED. – WE will pay the highest cash price for all good Negroes offered. We invite all those having Negroes for sale, to call on us, at our Mart, opposite Hill’s old stand, on Adams Street. We will have a lot of Virginia Negroes on hand for sale, in the fall. Negroes bought and sold on commission. HILL & FORREST.

FOLLOWING THAT WOULD prove to be a lifelong pattern, Forrest restlessly changed professional associates.

Southern Caucasian legend has it that the proprietor of these premises was emphatically good to his human stock in trade. Writer Lafcadio Hearn, who was visiting Memphis at this time of Forrest’s funeral in 1877, reported that he was said to have been “kind to his negroes; that he never separated members of a family, and that he always told his slaves to go out in the city and choose their own masters.” No slave took advantage of this freedom to run away, Hearn said, because “Forrest taught them that it was to their interest not to abuse the privilege; and, as he also taught them to fear him exceedingly, I can believe the story. There are some men in the town to whom he would never sell a slave, because they had a reputation of being cruel masters.

Col. George W. Adair, an Atlanta slave dealer and later newspaper executive “intimately associated with Forrest during this period of his career”, has been quoted in particularly roseate terms, asserting that “Forrest was overwhelmed with applications from any of this class, who begged him to purchase them.” Adair went on to say that when a slave was purchased for him, the first act was to turn him over to his negro valet, Jerry, “with instructions to wash him thoroughly and put clean clothes on him from head to foot,” thus making the slave “proud to belonging to him.” Adair said Forrest “was always very careful when he purchased a married slave to use every effort to secure also the husband or wife, as the case might be, and unite them and in handing children he would not permit the separation of the family.”

In this section I see the beginning of his slave trading business. Throughout the chapter it speaks in great detail the purchase of slaves and the humane way in which he treated them. It also speaks of some occasions in which he wasn't humane.

This is about his induction into the business, but I can't help but see that it is realistic to believe he did treat many of his slaves well, as many went on to volunteer to serve him in battle, there is only one record of one escaping, (although that is only of record).

The book goes into greater detail and I suggest you read it to see for yourself the dynamics behind his work ethic and how Forrest was able to fund his own Calvary during the war.

 
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nyarb60

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Slave Trader

Part 3


That Forrest’s yard was no paradise is indicated by Eden’s collection of a day when he and the other blacks were being promenaded for buyers. A slave broke formation and “kicked over a chamber pot that was near and broke it. The guard – I do not know whether it was General Forrest or not, but remember it well, picked up another chamber pot and broke it over the negro’s head. I remember seeing an old negro woman washing his head at a pump. On the other hand, Eden’s account indicates not only that Forrest was more considerate of mothers with small children than many other slave dealers but also perhaps that he was, as Hearn was told, choosy about the kind of masters to whom he sold. Eden recalled that his mother told him “they always tried to keep us together and sell us together; that some man wanted to buy her and another wanted me, but the master held us together and we were sold finally to a Mr. –Eden of Paducah, KY. He was a good man and treated us kindly.

A man who always appreciated and took excellent care of horseflesh, Forrest probably did the same with his slaves when doing so didn’t interfere with his profits- and for good reason. Reared in backwood deprivation, he learned early to make maximum use of resources and to abhor waste. Treating a slave poorly, rendering him or her unable to fufill the desired role of optimum efficiency, was foolish. He must have bought many slaves the way other shrewd traders have acquired livestock since time immemorial; purchasing them from un prosperous masters in poor condition, feeding them well, and selling them to richer masters in a state not only better but more profitable.

The year 1854, however, was not one of unmixed blessings. On June 26, according to an entry in the county death records, six year old Fanny Forrest died of “dysentery.” The Memphis Daily Appeal of the following July 4 listed hers as one of seventeen Memphis deaths for the week ending July 1. It specified the cause of her death as “disease.” Her father, whose love of children was marked, could take little solace from remarks by W. J. Tuck, secretary of the town’s board of health, appended to the death list; “We have no epidemic prevailing here, our city being unusually healthy for the season of the year…..

For me, this section reflects again Forrest's homegrown spirit of being a part of the "looked upon" class. I can't help it, but I would guess it is possible that although he was in business to make money and provide for his family, thru his upbringing he could relate to the division in the classes, even to the extent of the slave vs. the master. I may be wrong about that, but we all carry baggage from our childhood into adulthood.

The saddest part, obviously is the loss of Fanny. In addition to that was the lack of respect for the loss of his child by the board of health, as to not alarm the city of the possibility of an epidemic or the tone of the time that one was to come.
 
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nyarb60

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Slave Trader

Part 4

Part One


Forrest and Maples

SLAVE DEALERS

87 Adams Street

Between Second and Third

Memphis, Tennessee


Have constantly on hand the best selected assortment of FIELD HANDS, HOUSE SERVANTS & MECHANICS, at their Negro Mart, to be found in the city. They are daily receiving from Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, fresh supplies of likely young Negroes. Negroes Sold On Commission and the highest market price is always paid for good stock. Their Jail is capable of containing Three Hundred and for comfort, neatness and safety, is the best arrayed of any in the Union, Persons wishing to purchase are invited to examine their stock before purchasing elsewhere. They have on hand at present Fifty likely young Negroes, Comprising Field Hands, Mechanics, home and body Servants, etc.


THE MEMPHIS BUSINESS apparently blossomed quickly for the whole of page 251 of the 1855 Memphis city directory is used for this advertisement of Forrest’s partnership with Josiah Maples. The same directory indicates that Forrest was beginning to use his brothers in the operation and that the Adams Street compound was divided into the slave-dealing office and the family residence. The publication lists two Forrests: The proprietor’s younger brother Aaron – A. H., clerk, 87 Adams – boarded at 85 Adams and “N.B., slave dealer, 87 Adams” residing at 85 Adams.

In this section I deleted a good deal of information, due to copyright issues, but suffice it to say breeding of women was paramount and fortunes were made quickly from such actions.
In 1808 the Federal Government outlawed slave trading from the African continent, so planters had to reproduce with what they had on hand, and did.

There isn't much else to say, again I recommend you read the book to understand the context of the time, the drive for the wealth of the master's and the expense in which the slaves suffered because of it.
 
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nyarb60

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Slave Trader

Part 4

Part Two

Adept at figures, Forrest was nothing if not enterprising and thrifty. He had watched the progress of the slave economy through and ever deepening association with it for twenty years and combined a profound understand of its financial possibilities with the will and energy to extract is maximum profits. Sometime in the early 1850’s, if not before, he seems to have decided to try to capitalize on all the ways one could profit from slave owning.

In the process, he was forming acquaintances with the most prominent Memphians. Sam Tate, to whom he sold slaves in late 1854, was surely the attorney who was president of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The A. Wright to whom he sold four salves around the same time as the Tate transaction was apparently Archibald Wright, noted jurist and ultimately Supreme Court justice of the state of Tennessee. R.B. Hawley, an 1855 customer, was a grocer and commission merchant, and Minor Meriwether was chief engineer of the Memphis and Tennessee Rail Road.

Forrest’s penetration of his city’s power elite was not without the occasional reverse. In 1855, banker and civic leader Isaac B. Kirtland – to whom Forrest & Maples had sold a fourteen year old slave named Dick on December 14, 1854 – sued the partnership in chancery court, charging breach of promise and seeking damages of $2,000. He charged Forrest & Maples had warranted “said Slave to be sound, healthy, sensible and a Slave for life”, but claimed that, instead, “the slave named Dick… at the time of the sale thereof was not sound and healthy but unsound and unhealthy and was of no use or value to the said plaintiff and …. This said plaintiff hath been put to charges and expense” to care for and keep “Said Slave Dick and for money expended in employing physicians and medicines.” Kirtland added that he filed his suit after Forrest & Maples refused to return the $975 he paid for Dick, “although often requested…” The verdict in the case is unknown. The only notation on the surviving copy of the lawsuit indicates that the defendants contended they weren’t liable.

Perhaps the lawsuit cooled Forrest’s ardor for partnerships. For the next two years he apparently worked as head of his own business, splitting his profits with no partner while acquiring agricultural holdings that would make his slave dealing even more profitable.

From records filed with the County Register, it is difficult to determine the total price or down payment for both land and slaves, but a later document indicates that in the two transactions Forrest pledged to pay notes totaling $18,371.35 plus interest. The land he thus acquired was possibly a shrewd addition to the Memphis business; working in tandem, it and the downtown slave trading operations could maximize each other’s profits.

In this, he seems to have been following the examples of role models in the New Orleans market, which was not only a larger version of the Memphis slave trading scene but also similar in its hot and not always healthful climate; “most of the New Orleans traders believed in quick sales, large profits and leaving the risk to others; and negroes not sold by late spring were commonly disposed of at reduced prices, to avoid the jeopardy of close confinement and iillness during the depressing heat of a New Orleans summer.”

One prominent New Orleans slave trading firm “made virtue and a profit of a very different practice; they established a farm in a healthy and accessible region about 80 miles north of New Orleans, where the slaves were not sold by June could cheaply and profitable be kept and trained while becoming acclimated.” Forrest must have been highly interested in this system whereby slaves not selling rapidly could be used on a plantation to earn other agricultural profits while awaiting sale and maintaining their health or perhaps restoring it, through exercise of farm work.

His slave sales in 1857 were often in four figure sums. Five years following his move to the metropolis from little Hernando, he was challenging the city’s largest slave merchants. Within another twelve months, a violent chain of events would make him preeminent.

I
t is apparent in this section that Forrest put into action the practices he witnessed in New Orleans. Possibly this is where most of his wealth derived from. For me, it is an eye opener that does reflect poor character for Forrest to go into this trade, however, I believe he handled the crudeness of this trade as decent as possible for the time. I also feel strongly that since he created his own regiment with his own funds for the war, it was possibly his way of giving back to the cause, in spite of where the funds were derived from, and no one can deny that his attention to detail in the field, particularly the Battle of Johnsonville, did delay Sherman's march to Atlanta. Just my opinion.

I also still believe his upbringing taught him to make the most of his resources, never waste, never back down and strive to do what you believe is the right thing to do at all cost. He was very young when his father died, which left the responsibility of a large family on his shoulders. Also, he witnessed a lot of violence in the frontier and in Memphis, and for that I believe he felt strongly that honor is paramount.
 
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nyarb60

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Part 5


ANOTHER HOMICIDE


JAMES MCMILLAN WAS yesterday severely wounded by ISAAC BOLTON, at the slave depot of BOLTON & CO., with pistol shots, BOLTON shot four times at McMillan, wounding him twice, MCMILLAN used no weapon.

A SLAVE TRADER from Kentucky, James McMillan died in Forrest’s home. McMillan sometimes bought slaves for Forrest on a commission basis in Kentucky and, accompanied by a partner named Hill had come this time to Memphis with a few whom he quartered for safekeeping in Forrest’s slave jail. Forrest’s facility housed a business that at the time was excelled in the thriving Memphis marketplace only that of Bolton, Dickens & Co., which boasted affiliates in New Orleans, Vicksburg, Mobile and Lexington, Kentucky.

The incident no doubt damaged the Bolton firm, costing senior partner Isaac Bolton much credibility. The infuriated Bolton invited McMillan to his slave yard on the false pretense of wishing to buy a “fancy” houseboy for his wife, and when McMillan, doubtless suspicious, asked Forrest what he should do, Forrest advised him to take a likely slave to the Bolton offices. When McMillan arrived there shortly after 9 am, Bolton began cursing and told him to refund the price of the free Negro or be killed. According to testimony in the trial that ensued, Bolton drew a pistol and fired three shots at his unarmed guest, severely wounding him. The victim was ultimately taken to Forrest’s, where he died about 5 p.m.

This virtual assassination produced public revulsion toward the Bolton firm, whose volume of trade quickly fell behind Forrest’s and soon collapsed altogether. Bolton returned to Memphis and was indicted and jailed in an atmosphere so charged that a change in venue was granted. As Forrest waited to testify for the prosecution, another killing shook Memphis. A businessman named Everson was murdered on the street by John Able under circumstances which brought an immense crowd to the jail. Able, reputed to be a “notorious gambler”, claimed to have been drunk when he drew the pistol and shot Everson. Hundreds of Memphians, already disturbed by other gambler’s outrages and McMillan’s recent murder, demanded a hanging.


At the public meeting to determine the circumstances, a committee was formed of three to notify another gambler and murderer, Joe Able, John Able’s father to leave the county of Shelby by noon the next day and never to return; also ordering all gambler’s to leave Memphis within ten days. The committee also ordered the closing of all gaming houses in Memphis. The The Daily Appeal named “Bedford Forrest” as a member of the three man committee. Considering Forrest’s own gaming proclivities, it is interesting to speculate why he was one of those chosen to go see Joe Able. Furthermore it is interesting to wonder how he came to be named Vice President of the three man committee to extract the gambler’s out of Memphis. Forrest’s authorized biographers, say that almost as soon as the murder had been committed, Forrest was drawn to the scene. When he saw the mob’s intent to lynch Able, Forrest counseled with the mayor and other prominent citizens. The mayor, newly elected was R.D. Baugh, later a political ally of Forrest’s and possibly already a personal acquaintance. In a lynch mob atmosphere, a brand new mayor no doubt would call on all dependable help he could find, especially someone as fearless as Forrest.


The mass meeting named it’s officer’s and passed a resolution to name one man from each of the city’s six wards as a committee of vigilance. Forrest was named as Alderman of his ward. Also, at the time of this public meeting, the crowd cried out for Able to be brought forward for the lynching. He was dragged to the navy yard, however the crowd encountered his wife, mother and sister. A rope encircled Able’s neck, “when his mother rushed in and plead for her son’s life and succeeded. The prisoner was returned to jail, but the crowd once again that evening tried to take him away and was dissuaded only by several speeches- one of which may have been Forrest, although no surviving newspaper account names all the speakers who dispersed the lynching attempt.

Whatever else he did in the Able incident, Forrest doubtless made enough of a name for himself that the people of Memphis began to see him as more than just a slave trader. However questionable Forrest’s business dealings, his forthright behavior on the side of the law and order in both the Able affair and the Bolton outrage was admirable and must have seen particularly so in the Memphis of that era. On June 22, 1858, the “Local Matters” column in the Appeal reported that the voters of the Third Ward will hold a meeting tonight at Forrest’s yard, for the purpose of nominating candidates for Alderman.

Five days later, the Appeal printed the Third Ward vote results in the aldermanic election: Coleman 158, Kortrecht 168 Forrest 196, Brooks 47.

The Bolton affair helped to boost the business of Forrest in this section.

This section begins the process of the "upper crust" of the city of Memphis to take notice of Forrest and honor him with the civic duty of Alderman for his ward.

His civic duty and desire to see right out do wrong was finally acknowledged and admired by the people of the city of Memphis.


 
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nyarb60

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There is more to come. I bit off more than I can chew. This book is very detailed, lots of quotes by Forrest.

I will shorten my post considerably, in order to focus on his time as a soldier.

I hope I am not violating any rules regarding reprint of the text from the book and have altered some for the sake of time.

Please feel free to comment, any advise or constructive criticism is appreciated.
 

nyarb60

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Part 6


Forrest joined the city council at a precarious municipal time.


In contrast to many long-winded peers, Forrest was the same speaker who testified in the Bolton trial; forceful, succinct, practical, and markedly unawed by the merchants, attorneys, and other city fathers with whom he served. They on the other hand, seem to have recognized early that he was a man possessed of certain skills and insights the rest of them lacked.

Forrest was appointed to a body overseeing the affairs of “Courhouse and Jails” as well as to four other committees: Finance, Vigilance, Improvements, and Markets.

Forrest’s observations were to the point. For example, during one meeting he proposed construction of a new bridge and added that the one being used at the time would ”fall down in three weeks.”

As a member of the Markets Committee, he began working on a proposal to give the city a new market house. The affair dragged on, and after a down payment had been made on property he recommended, the protest of a prominent widow against locating the market near her home caused the council suddenly to reverse its position and order a new site to be found. Forrest threatened to resign from the committee if the change was made, (he was “sick of the subject,” the Appeal quoted him as saying) but the council persisted. He immediately resigned from the Market House Committee and said he “would never again, he believed, serve on a special committee.”

The more important things Forrest did included, toward the end of his first term, offering a resolution establishing the city’s first paid fire department. In late June, 1858, Forrest was re-nominated for his position and on July 1 the Appeal reported he had been reelected with more votes than polled a year earlier. Forrest was named head of the Finance committee. He suddenly resigned. A day or two prior to his resignation, the following advertisement ran in the Appeal:

HILL,WARE & CHRISP

A grand and complete arrangement – having bought of Mr. Bedford Forrest his new and splendid residence, and the commodious and well arranged Negro Mart building attached thereto, I have also associated as partners, Messrs. Ware and Chrisp and in this business we flatter ourselves that we give general satisfaction to all who favor us with their patronage. We will also receive board, and for sale on commission, and negroes consigned to our care.

Forrest had by then engaged for a year and a half in a complicated series of real estate transactions, in Memphis, Mississippi and Arkansas. Two weeks before he resigned his aldermanic seat he bought from Hill a lot at the corner of Second and Adams.

These are the facts, but Forrest’s aims at the time are unclear; maybe they were so even to him. Five weeks after his resignation he was back on the city council. Perhaps he had planned to move to the remote Coahoma County plantation – and Mary Ann had balked.

By the late 1850’s Forrest’s annual net income from slave trading alone has been estimated minimally at from $50,000 to $96,000. A month after diffusing a duel, the Appeal printed impressive evidence of how far the slave trader had elevated himself in both the society and the sporting circles of his adopted city:

The semi annual meeting of the Memphis Jockey club, at the Worsham House last evening, was….
Called for the election of officers and for making regulations for the approaching races.
General Thomas H. Bradley was chosen president
and Messrs. JJ Worsham, J. Knox Walker,
N.B. Forrest, J.M. Rodgers
and James Goslee were elected vice presidents.

It is clear in this chapter that Forrest was regarded in Memphis as a man of his word and character, but
was not afraid to show his anger at the unjust way in which high city officials conducted business, for money
or political gain. I think it is the beginning of an end, in which he realized he was not a man comfortable
around the elite or being associated with such men, and that his upbringing possibly instilled in him his distaste for those that were of this nature.
 
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diane

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I missed this thread before! Hurst's biography is my go-to for Forrest. He goes into much more detail about Forrest's slave trading business dealings and his post-war activities than any other biographer. He also doesn't 'leave out' things that might be disturbing - That Guy is right there as close to as he was as has been seen so far. Starting with Jordan and Pryor's bio, and following them down in more or less order, you can see an interesting evolution of what has become Forrest lore. Incidentally, it's true 'breeding females' was a very lucrative section of the slave trade and many dealers became wealthy just in that, but Forrest wasn't one of them. Women who were in that situation or worse, and having their children sold away, often applied to him to buy them as he was known not to deal in that area and to keep children with their mothers if possible. That's how he acquired the enigmatic Catharine, a teenager who had already had three children taken away from her and had a baby - she applied to him to buy her. She happens to be the only slave Forrest himself owned, and she and her husband (name unknown) remained with the Forrests for some years after the war. What happened to her and her family is unknown.
 

AshleyMel

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That's how he acquired the enigmatic Catharine, a teenager who had already had three children taken away from her and had a baby
AH!
Was this the Catharine that some or another newspaper said Forrest might have been the father to her children?
 
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diane

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Yes, indeed it is! The New York paper (forget the exact title) printed an article purportedly by a reporter who had met and talked with Forrest, and claimed he had a black wife and a white wife and had two children by each. Also claimed Forrest was an unimpressive sallow man of medium height with a beard and no mustache. Obviously whoever he met with wasn't Forrest!

Everybody would like to find out more about Catharine. Forrest had about 100 slaves on his two plantations but he didn't own them nor did he own any at his various businesses - she was the only one he ever had the bill of sale for. She was extremely devoted to Mary Ann. The fact that she was nursing her baby at the time the Forrests had just had one might be why he personally bought her - Mary Ann was unwell, so Catharine was perfect for a nursemaid.
 

Cavalry Charger

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I have been wanting to get this book for awhile based on the recommendations of some of the other members and I am happy to say my husband ordered it for me and I started reading it two night ago!

I am really enjoying it so far!

Thanks for all your time put into this review!
Great minds think alike @AshleyMel and we are reading the book at the exact same time. Some amazing unknown facts (to me) about Forrest have come to light already, and that's just in the first few pages!

I am sharing my thoughts with another friend on the forum, but I might decide to add some here as well.

Strangely enough, Ulysses S Grant's impressions of him are also what caused me to take a greater interest in Forrest.
 
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