"We Don't Have Enough Contempt for NBF"

Joined
Mar 25, 2014
I have never heard before that Forrest was an abolitionist. Do you have a cite for that? I'd love to look into that. I know late in life he reconciled with the defeat and urged racial healing.

He freed the slaves that he owned that accompanied him to the war in 1863. (see Nathan Bedford Forrest's Escort and Staff, Michael R. Bradley)

Just before the close of the war he manumitted his remaining slaves. (George W. Cable wrote out the manumission papers. He documented this in letters to his mother (presently housed at Tulane) and also in an essay after the war.)

Like Lee and Cleburne, Forrest advocated recruitment of slaves into the Confederate army, however, he also proposed that they be given freedom and promised land after the war. (This appears in period newspapers as part of the debate on arming slaves.)

He advocated passage of the 13th amendment. This can be found in his Congressional testimony. It is also mentioned in papers of Isham G. Harris, and James Alcorn.

He strongly denounced slavery after the war and offered he would fight any man who tried to bring it back. He declared it a failed system.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Nathan Bedford Forrest was skilled and ferocious fighter and a brave as they come.
Ben Grierson says hello.

Jokes aside Forrest was a fine cavalry commander one of best however over time his legend has been embellished so its hard to discern the real Forrest from the myth bit like Lee.

People call Forrest a man of his time but he was more than that , At 16 he was taken care of his whole family of 13 and that responsibility is what shaped him as man I believe , The fact that he didn't suffer fools lightly and that he was in charge from an early age he sort of got used to telling people what to do so a natural born leader.

Forrest was a self made man who would have done anything to support his family , He was loyal but had an independent free spirit where nobody told him what to do.

Obviously he was a very flawed man as well who sought redemption just before dying (Convenient) but maybe guilt caught up with him like it does many people and in the end he wanted ride through those pearly gates and be admitted into heaven.

One of the most complicated men in the civil war imho.
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
Ben Grierson says hello.

Jokes aside Forrest was a fine cavalry commander one of best however over time his legend has been embellished so its hard to discern the real Forrest from the myth bit like Lee.

People call Forrest a man of his time but he was more than that , At 16 he was taken care of his whole family of 13 and that responsibility is what shaped him as man I believe , The fact that he didn't suffer fools lightly and that he was in charge from an early age he sort of got used to telling people what to do so a natural born leader.

Forrest was a self made man who would have done anything to support his family , He was loyal but had an independent free spirit where nobody told him what to do.

Obviously he was a very flawed man as well who sought redemption just before dying (Convenient) but maybe guilt caught up with him like it does many people and in the end he wanted ride through those pearly gates and be admitted into heaven.

One of the most complicated men in the civil war imho.
It is not for us to judge a man’s conversion or path of redemption because it is beyond our scope.

If you are a believer I will mention the thief on the cross, receiving the gift of salvation very soon before his death. Only God forgives and it is between that man and our Lord to sort out the sincerity of his will to redeem/humble himself before Him.

If you are not, I would merely say that none of us is privy to the real intentions of another’s conscience.

Appreciate your words. I do agree with your general sentiment.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
He freed the slaves that he owned that accompanied him to the war in 1863. (see Nathan Bedford Forrest's Escort and Staff, Michael R. Bradley)

Just before the close of the war he manumitted his remaining slaves. (George W. Cable wrote out the manumission papers. He documented this in letters to his mother (presently housed at Tulane) and also in an essay after the war.)

Like Lee and Cleburne, Forrest advocated recruitment of slaves into the Confederate army, however, he also proposed that they be given freedom and promised land after the war. (This appears in period newspapers as part of the debate on arming slaves.)

He advocated passage of the 13th amendment. This can be found in his Congressional testimony. It is also mentioned in papers of Isham G. Harris, and James Alcorn.

He strongly denounced slavery after the war and offered he would fight any man who tried to bring it back. He declared it a failed system.
Thanks! I appreciate the cites. Definitely adds to the complexity of understanding him.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
You should study CA history during this period. You think NBF was so bad. Californians ran off all of their blacks. Enslaved and starved to death their native Americans. Hung Asians, banned them eventually. Treated Hispanics no better. Good thing NBF wasn’t a Californian, he would of been Racist!

This thread is supposed to be about Forrest, but you're forgetting Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. It was illegal for free black people to settle there in 1860.

"I'll take American history for $100, Alex."

OK, what major party presidential candidate said, "I do not believe the negro is equal to the white man?"

Answer: Abraham Lincoln

Ding ding ding! Alex owes the contestant $100.

Welcome to American history. If Bedford Forrest is the worst we've got, so be it, but I don't think so.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2014
Location
The South
Why doesn't someone come up with some post war accounts of NBF and his relation with blacks?
He had redeemed himself after the war and was respected in the black community of Memphis and its environs. Maybe the good don't outweigh the bad. But perhaps it don't in our own lives as well. All that aside, Forrest was a military genius.
The best cavalryman of the war.
"In 1871-72,General Forest was summoned before the committee of Congress appointed to inquire into condition of affairs in the late insurrectionary states in regard to the formation of the Ku-Klux organization. The committee stated that perhaps Generals Forrest and John B. Gordon knew more about the formation of this secret society than any others. Forrest testified that while he did not take an active part in the organization of the Ku-Klux, he knew that it was an association of citizens in his state (Tennessee) for self-protection. (from then Governor Brownlow's proclamation, basically state troops,)"...license to commit any kind of depredation against those lately in arms against the Union. Forrest stated that he had advised against all manner of violence on the part of the Southern people, and when the Loyal Leagues, for fear of the Ku-Klux began to disband, he urged the disbanding of the other society." Congress was satisfied that the men, (Gordon and Forrest) had spoken the truth, and that "...no state was ever reduced to such humiliation and degradation as that unhappy commonwealth (Tennessee) during the years Brownlow ruled over her."
John A. Wyeth, "That Devil Forrest" page 550
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
"In 1871-72,General Forest was summoned before the committee of Congress appointed to inquire into condition of affairs in the late insurrectionary states in regard to the formation of the Ku-Klux organization. The committee stated that perhaps Generals Forrest and John B. Gordon knew more about the formation of this secret society than any others. Forrest testified that while he did not take an active part in the organization of the Ku-Klux, he knew that it was an association of citizens in his state (Tennessee) for self-protection. (from then Governor Brownlow's proclamation, basically state troops,)"...license to commit any kind of depredation against those lately in arms against the Union. Forrest stated that he had advised against all manner of violence on the part of the Southern people, and when the Loyal Leagues, for fear of the Ku-Klux began to disband, he urged the disbanding of the other society." Congress was satisfied that the men, (Gordon and Forrest) had spoken the truth, and that "...no state was ever reduced to such humiliation and degradation as that unhappy commonwealth (Tennessee) during the years Brownlow ruled over her."
John A. Wyeth, "That Devil Forrest" page 550
Except that we know now that Forrest was lying through his teeth throughout this testimony.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Except that we know now that Forrest was lying through his teeth throughout this testimony.
" Except that we know now"

I'm curious about your post.
Can you provide links to any new information that Forrest was "Lying" during the 1871-72 session of the United States Congress ?

I would enjoy reading such new findings.

Thanks.
 
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JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
" Except that we know now"

I'm curious about your post.
Can you provide links to any new information that Forrest was "Lying" during the 1871-72 session of the United States Congress ?

I would enjoy reading such new findings.

Thanks.
"Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography", by Jack Hurst. Pages 339-345. Although to be fair, Hurst did say Forrest's testimony 'probably contained more truth than fiction". But please note the "probably" disclaimer, indicating its a close call.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
"Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography", by Jack Hurst. Pages 339-345. Although to be fair, Hurst did say Forrest's testimony 'probably contained more truth than fiction". But please note the "probably" disclaimer, indicating its a close call.

" Except that we know now"

I'm curious about your post.
Can you provide links to any new information that Forrest was "Lying" during the 1871-72 session of the United States Congress ?

I would enjoy reading such new findings.

Thanks.
Oh, and it was published in 1994, so not really any "new" findings.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
"Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography", by Jack Hurst. Pages 339-345. Although to be fair, Hurst did say Forrest's testimony 'probably contained more truth than fiction". But please note the "probably" disclaimer, indicating its a close call.
Thanks !
I thought you had found some new sources.

Personally, I believe Jack Hurst's biography of NBF is the best.
( Or at least the most objective)

And while I also enjoy Wyeth, I do find him hard to read at times ... specifically his "flowery" 1800's style of writing and such.
However, while Hurst provides the best overview of NBF, Wyeth is a great primary source for the mundane " day-to-day"
life of Bedford.



 
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JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Thanks !

Personally, I believe Jack Hurst's biography of NBF is the best.
( Or at least the most objective)

And while I also enjoy Wyeth, I do find him hard to read at times ... specifically his "flowery" 1800's style of writing and such.
However, while Hurst provides the best overview of NBF, Wyeth is a great primary source for the mundane " day-to-day"
life of Bedford.



I just finished reading it, and enjoyed it a great deal. And learned alot about Forrest I did not know before.
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
"Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography", by Jack Hurst. Pages 339-345. Although to be fair, Hurst did say Forrest's testimony 'probably contained more truth than fiction". But please note the "probably" disclaimer, indicating its a close call.
I haven’t read this yet. Can you please provide a quote from those pages that show Forrest was “lying through his teeth?”
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Just a quick glance at some of his answers to questions: he didnt know anything about the klan except what people told him as he had no personal knowledge, he was never a member, he never organized any units off the Klan, that the klan only admitted gentlemen who did not drink or gamble or who would not break the law, he couldnt recall anyone who was ever a member of the klan, all his efforts with respect to the klan were to oppose it and to disband it. There are several more pages that go into the testimony but I think the above pretty well makes the case. As I quoted the author above, he characterized that about his testimony was "fiction", which is a nice way to say lies. He clearly was not going to testify that he was at one time the leader of the whole organization and travelled to promote it, as the author documents.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
There's not much evidence that places Forrest as head of the klan or even as a member. I seem to recall a newspaper article (a Cincinnati paper?) and some account written nearly 50 years after the events described. But for some that's enough to put the klan label on ole Forrest even when we have his own sworn testimony to the contrary.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
There's not much evidence that places Forrest as head of the klan or even as a member. I seem to recall a newspaper article (a Cincinnati paper?) and some account written nearly 50 years after the events described. But for some that's enough to put the klan label on ole Forrest even when we have his own sworn testimony to the contrary.
I'm sure Forrest knew what was going on he was not some babe in the wood.

However without evidence to prove he was a member then we have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
 

JerryD

Private
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
There's not much evidence that places Forrest as head of the klan or even as a member. I seem to recall a newspaper article (a Cincinnati paper?) and some account written nearly 50 years after the events described. But for some that's enough to put the klan label on ole Forrest even when we have his own sworn testimony to the contrary.
If you read Hurst's biography of him, you'll see that his own sworn testimony is pretty convincing evidence we was in the Klan, despite his statement otherwise. He knew an awfully lot about the organization for someone who was not a member. And then we have the testimony of many people who were admitted klan members with Forrest, and of course the written history of the klan itself.
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
Just a quick glance at some of his answers to questions: he didnt know anything about the klan except what people told him as he had no personal knowledge, he was never a member, he never organized any units off the Klan, that the klan only admitted gentlemen who did not drink or gamble or who would not break the law, he couldnt recall anyone who was ever a member of the klan, all his efforts with respect to the klan were to oppose it and to disband it. There are several more pages that go into the testimony but I think the above pretty well makes the case. As I quoted the author above, he characterized that about his testimony was "fiction", which is a nice way to say lies. He clearly was not going to testify that he was at one time the leader of the whole organization and travelled to promote it, as the author documents.
Thank you. Do you have actual quotes from the text that demonstrate this? I have this book on my backburner so I’ll read for myself in the future but would appreciate the quotes.
 
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