Post-war Nathan Bedford Forrest question

diane

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Rob9641,

Unfortunately the link to the letter is defunct - it was in a collection in Texas, where some of Forrest's correspondence with his mother and her second family was kept. I'll give another search, though, and see if I can find it somewhere else.

p.s. The 'orneriest' comment is located at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.
 

Nathanb1

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Rob9641,

Unfortunately the link to the letter is defunct - it was in a collection in Texas, where some of Forrest's correspondence with his mother and her second family was kept. I'll give another search, though, and see if I can find it somewhere else.

p.s. The 'orneriest' comment is located at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

Do you know which collection in Texas that was in?
 

diane

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Nathanb1,

I'm really foggy on it but I believe it was in Corsicana. Navarro College? There were a few letters there by Forrest and some family members. One was particularly interesting about Ft. Pillow - Forrest wanted a trial to clear his name of 'charges as black as the hearts of the men who made them'. He was right bitter about those accusations with no chance to tell his side of it.
 

larry_cockerham

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Sherman, when the inquiry was held, could not find enough evidence to indict Forrest for Ft. Pillow. Probably for good reason.
 

diane

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larry_cockerham,

Sherman sat on both inquiries into Ft. Pillow. He said, just minutes before the second opened, "We are here to investigate Forrest, charge Forrest, try Forrest and hang Forrest." Doesn't sound too impartial! Even so, neither committee found against him. Forrest was on board with all that except, well, that last bit! But he never got his day in court. I suppose some people might have found themselves having to explain why Forrest had to be there since they were supposed to be the law in them thar parts. Forrest could have brought out some very embarrassing skeletons from some Union closets.
 

ole

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Top of the head. No. Sherman didn't sit on the investigative board. He sent someone to sit instead. And the only comment I've seen attributed to him was that the blacks would extract their own revenge -- which they did.

There wasn't and still isn't evidence enough to convict Forrest of a massacre. And the idea of Sherman sitting through a trial where there is no defendant is more than slightly ludicrous. Sherman knew that from the get-go. Which is why he didn't waste his time sitting in.
 

diane

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Yes, you're partly right. The initial, preliminary investigation that Lincoln wanted was given to Sherman by Stanton. Sherman put Gen. Brayman in charge of it - this was the military investigation. Stanton wanted a Congressional investigation, done by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War and this one was headed by Ben Wade, a very radical Republican who wasn't choosy about the evidence as long as it was showing Confederates - particularly Forrest - as guilty of massacring black soldiers. A few years later a less hysterical investigation was done by Congress and they came to the same conclusion Sherman basically had to start with - the sorry incident was a fortunes-of-war situation, Forrest had temporarily lost control of his men and he had tried to stop it. He couldn't be held responsible for it. Lincoln himself looked over the matter and came to the same conclusion Sherman had. After the war, Forrest demanded from every section of government he could contact to be charged with it, tried and have a chance to present evidence from his side of it.
 

Nathanb1

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Dagnabit. I can't believe I stood in that place and didn't know what was in it. (That was before my obsession with THAT GUY). Oh well. Corsicana's not that far :smile: Thanks!
 

larry_cockerham

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The klan as per John Morton

In Capt. John W. Morton's book THE ARTILLERY OF NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST page 344 there is a photocopy of a letter written by Morton transcribed as follows:

"Possibly the only order of the Klan that was ever written is the following, in Captain Morton's possession:

" ' Alarming Era, 2d Black, Horrid Hour 68.

"Gen. G. G. Dibrell is hereby appointed Deputy Grand Titan, Third Dominion, First Realm, to organize all the Divisions in his Dominion when found competent under the Prescript.

" ' By order of GRAND WIZARD OF THE EMPIRE,
" ' Per J.W. Morton, Jr., Genii."
 

larry_cockerham

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Morton continued, page 345:

"DISSOLUTION OF THE KUKLUX KLAN.

"The order of dissolution of the Klan, as issued by General Forrest, was in every way characteristic of the man. When the white race had redemmed six Southern States from negro rule in 1870, the Grand Wizard knew that his mission was accomplished, and issued at once his order to disband. The execution of this command by young Morton, the Cyclops of the Nashville Den, also on the staff of the Grand Wizard, is typical of what occurred throughout the South.

"Sixteen picked men, mounted, armed, and in full Kuklux regalia for both horses and men, were selected for the ceremony and ordered to boldly parade through the streets of Nashville. The capitol was still in charge of 3,000 Reconstruction militia and 200 metropolitan police, who had sworn to take every Kluklux Klansman, dead or alive, who dared to show himself abroad.

"On the night appointed the squadron of sixteen white and scarlet horsemen moved out of the woods and bore down upon the city. The streets were crowded with people watching the strange procession of ghostlike figures. On the principal streets the police blew their whistles and darted here and there in great excitement, but made no move to stop the dare-devil paraders. On they rode up the hill and passed the capitol building, round which the camp fires of a thousand soldiers burned brightly, and not a hand was lifted against them........ continued
 

larry_cockerham

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Morton and the Klan continued....

"They turned south into High Street, and ladies began to wave their handerchiefs from windows and men to shout and cheer from sidewalks. The scalawag police heard these shouts with supressed oaths. At last they began to summon citizens to aid them in the arrest of the clansmen. The citizens laughed at them.

"On reaching Broad Street, Morton, who rode at the head of the squadron, observed a line of police drawn across the street with the evident intention of attempting to stop or arrest the riders. Turning to Mart N. Brown, a gallant clansman, who rode by his side, Morton said: 'What shall we do, Mart?"

" 'Turn into Vine Street,' he quickly answered. 'Pass around them.'
" ' No; ride straight through them without a change of gait,' was Morton's order. [Morton wrote in the third person]
"And they did. The astonished police, dumfounded at the insolence of the riders, opened their lines and the horsemen rode slowly through without a word.
"They passed a large frame building used a a carpetbag militia armory on Vauxhall Street. It was full of negroes that Brownlow was feeding at the State's expense. Morton ordered several clansmen to dismount and knock at each door. It was a bright night and the negroes rushed to the front windows, and when they saw the ghostlike figures they mad a rush for the back and jumped out. Many of them wore window sashes home for collars.

"The clansmen silently wheeled again into double columns and rode toward their old rendezvous. They had overthrown the carpetbag negro regime and restored civilization. The last act was a warning. A handful of the men boldly slapped the face of the hostile authorities before the new administration entered upon its work, and dared them lift a hand again.

"Outside the city they entered the shadows of a forest. Down it's dim cathedral aisles, lit by trembling threads of moonbeams, the white horsemen slowly wound their way to their appointed place. For the last time the chaplain led in prayer, the men disrobed, drew from each horse his white mantle, opened a grave and solemnly buried their regalia, sprinkling the folds with the ashes of the copy of the burned ritual. This weird ceremony thus ended the most remarkable revolution of history."*

*Morton referenced Metropolitan Magazine, September 1905, pages 657-669.
 

larry_cockerham

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Morton never claimed that Forrest was present for any of the stuff he wrote about the klan aside from his description of the swearing in ceremony. It doesn't make much sense that Forrest would have spent a great deal of time in Nashville, a town 200 miles from his home in Memphis where he was diligently trying to rebuild his business interests. This was a fascinating time. All we have are these glimpses, real or imagined.
 

Independence

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I read some of NBF testimony before congress in about 1872 or so,it was just funny,he tied those congressmen in knots with his answers,he never gave a straight one that I remember!
 

Independence

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Hey, some of my favorite people are liars. Jim Bowie for example. I'm just saying, he did more than not give straight answers, he lied under oath.
They should have expected that, what was he gonna do,roll over and spill the beans? Sure. He made fools of them. It was a waste of all involved's time.
 

K Hale

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They should have expected that, what was he gonna do,roll over and spill the beans? Sure. He made fools of them. It was a waste of all involved's time.
Exactly. Thinking there would not be perjury in this situation was asking too much.
 
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