What General Lee Said

Stiles/Akin

Sergeant Major
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Atlanta, Georgia
https://www.facebook.com/SCVmemphis...8282524710359/707575172781091/?type=3&theater

23031235_707575172781091_5999125443308968611_n.jpg
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Thanks for posting this! I've always wondered if that quote was authentic - there's still room for doubt, naturally. But Giles Buckner Cooke was on Lee's staff and assistant inspector general.

Fun Fact: The author of the article, Captain James Dickens, is one of the elders filmed in a famous 1930s Smithsonian clip of Confederate veterans doing the rebel yell.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Didn't Sherman also acknowledge that Forrest was a great soldier as well?

He did.

"Several years after the war, in a conversation with General Frank C. Armstrong, whose intimate relations as a lieutenant of Forrest were known to him, General Sherman said: 'After all, I think Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side. To my mind he was the most remarkable in many ways. In the first place, he was uneducated, while Jackson and Sheridan and other brilliant leaders were soldiers by profession. He had never read a military book in his life, knew nothing about tactics, could not even drill a company, but he had a genius for strategy which was original, and to me incomprehensible. There was no theory or art of war by which I could calculate with any degree of certainty what Forrest was up to. He seemed always to know what I was doing or intended to do, while I am free to confess I could never tell or form any satisfactory idea of what he was trying to accomplish.'"
Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, John Allan Wyeth.
(Wyeth's source - personal communication with General Armstrong.)

He also said there was no other cavalryman North or South he feared - Forrest scared the whey out of him. Grant said the same thing in slightly different words, and he didn't scare worth a dang! As far as I know, Grant and Sherman both met Forrest briefly in Washington when he was there for a Congressional inquiry, and Sherman bumped into him on the Mississippi quite by accident. There wasn't anyone to record the conversation and Forrest never did allude to it, but Sherman said they did discuss his march through Georgia and what Forrest said he would have done made Sherman's hair stand up! He replied he had been afraid of that very thing... :D

Jefferson Davis spoke of Forrest in glowing terms in the carriage on his way to be a pall bearer at Forrest's funeral - and he did get a chance before Forrest passed to tell him he done good. (Davis never was much good at apologizing!) I've always thought it a little odd that Forrest visited New York and Washington a few times and met some Union commanders, but never did stop by Lee's place in Virginia. It wouldn't have been too far out of the way, after all. I can't find any credible record of the two ever meeting. If Lee said this about Forrest - and it appears he might well have - then he would have appreciated meeting him! I've sometimes wondered if it was a class thing as well. Forrest was always conscious of his lack of education and, even though he didn't wipe his mouth with the tablecloth or eat his peas with a knife, he was not all that polished. Lee was genuine hoi-paloi! (I can relate to this - know how it is to feel like the Baby Ruth bar in the swimming pool!)
 

W. Richardson

Captain
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Jun 29, 2011
Location
Mt. Gilead, North Carolina
He did.

"Sherman bumped into him on the Mississippi quite by accident. There wasn't anyone to record the conversation and Forrest never did allude to it, but Sherman said they did discuss his march through Georgia and what Forrest said he would have done made Sherman's hair stand up! He replied he had been afraid of that very thing... :D

Any hint, anywhere, by anyone, just what those tactics by Forrest would have been??? Would be great to know...........


Respectfully,
William
Nathan Bedford Forrest - 1.jpg
 

diane

Retired User
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Location
State of Jefferson
Any hint, anywhere, by anyone, just what those tactics by Forrest would have been??? Would be great to know...........


Respectfully,
William
View attachment 166827

He told Sherman he would have aggressively pressed his flanks and forced him into the worst areas to march. That was precisely the stuff of Sherman's nightmares. Wheeler tried diversion and destruction of materiel before Sherman, but Sherman was unpredictable and able to feint one direction while actually aiming at another. (It was clever - it caused the Confederates to do just about as much damage to themselves as his army could do to them.) He couldn't do that with Forrest because Forrest was even more unpredictable - Sherman never knew what he was doing yet Forrest always seemed to know what he was doing. That's from Sherman. Wheeler and Sherman were both West Point and went mostly by the book, as it were...Forrest didn't even know there was a book.

ps
Kilpatrick commanded Sherman's cavalry, a guy Sherman noted was 'a d-ned fool'. He sure never said that about Forrest!
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Thanks for posting this! I've always wondered if that quote was authentic - there's still room for doubt, naturally. But Giles Buckner Cooke was on Lee's staff and assistant inspector general.

We batted around whether this quote was real or not quite a bit on another thread. I think it's real.

To summarize the evidence for the quotes' authenticity, we know it was supposed to have taken place on December 4, 1866 in Lee's office at Washington College. We have confirmation from Major Giles Cooke and two students, John Graham and J. W. Ewing claimed to have witnessed the quote. What we didn't have was anything from the principals, Lee and Lord Garnet Wolseley.

@cash found it hard to believe that Wolseley would not have used the quote in some of his writing....either about Lee or about Forrest. This is an explanation of why we don't have anything on the quote from Wolseley.

Lee wrote to another Englishman in August, 1866. Lee responds to a request to publish parts of their conversation. On the envelope which was found on Lee's desk after his death is written:

"Herbert C Sanders asks permission to publish his conversation with me August 22d - Refused"

In the letter Lee wrote that their conversation was "was entirely for your own information, and was in no way intended for publication....I have an objection to the publication of my private conversations, which are never intended but for those to whom they are addressed. I cannot, therefore, without an entire disregard of the rule which I have followed in other cases, and in violation of my own sense of propriety, assent to what you propose. "

That would explain the lack of the use of the quote by another English visitor. The entire letter can be found in Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
We batted around whether this quote was real or not quite a bit on another thread. I think it's real.

To summarize the evidence for the quotes' authenticity, we know it was supposed to have taken place on December 4, 1866 in Lee's office at Washington College. We have confirmation from Major Giles Cooke and two students, John Graham and J. W. Ewing claimed to have witnessed the quote. What we didn't have was anything from the principals, Lee and Lord Garnet Wolseley.

@cash found it hard to believe that Wolseley would not have used the quote in some of his writing....either about Lee or about Forrest. This is an explanation of why we don't have anything on the quote from Wolseley.

Lee wrote to another Englishman in August, 1866. Lee responds to a request to publish parts of their conversation. On the envelope which was found on Lee's desk after his death is written:

"Herbert C Sanders asks permission to publish his conversation with me August 22d - Refused"

In the letter Lee wrote that their conversation was "was entirely for your own information, and was in no way intended for publication....I have an objection to the publication of my private conversations, which are never intended but for those to whom they are addressed. I cannot, therefore, without an entire disregard of the rule which I have followed in other cases, and in violation of my own sense of propriety, assent to what you propose. "

That would explain the lack of the use of the quote by another English visitor. The entire letter can be found in Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son.

Thanks, roberts! :thumbsup: I'm glad to see there is more to support it being authentic - I always knew Lee was completely aware of what Forrest was doing and figured he would be a better analyst than Forrest's immediate superiors. (Kind of think he had Bragg's number, btw...) There is one other question I've always wondered and this helps explain it - why Forrest never visited Lee on one of his several trips back east. The klan was the main one that came to mind, of course - the last thing Forrest wanted to do was implicate Lee, and...we might say anything complimentary Lee said about Forrest he might want to keep twixt him and the fence post for the same reason.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
We batted around whether this quote was real or not quite a bit on another thread. I think it's real.

To summarize the evidence for the quotes' authenticity, we know it was supposed to have taken place on December 4, 1866 in Lee's office at Washington College. We have confirmation from Major Giles Cooke and two students, John Graham and J. W. Ewing claimed to have witnessed the quote. What we didn't have was anything from the principals, Lee and Lord Garnet Wolseley.

@cash found it hard to believe that Wolseley would not have used the quote in some of his writing....either about Lee or about Forrest. This is an explanation of why we don't have anything on the quote from Wolseley.

Lee wrote to another Englishman in August, 1866. Lee responds to a request to publish parts of their conversation. On the envelope which was found on Lee's desk after his death is written:

"Herbert C Sanders asks permission to publish his conversation with me August 22d - Refused"

In the letter Lee wrote that their conversation was "was entirely for your own information, and was in no way intended for publication....I have an objection to the publication of my private conversations, which are never intended but for those to whom they are addressed. I cannot, therefore, without an entire disregard of the rule which I have followed in other cases, and in violation of my own sense of propriety, assent to what you propose. "

That would explain the lack of the use of the quote by another English visitor. The entire letter can be found in Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son.


Don't hurt yourself with all that leaping.

Did Lee ever mention Forrest in any primary source?
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Don't hurt yourself with all that leaping.

Did Lee ever mention Forrest in any primary source?

LOL...I'll be careful with the leaping but don't you work up a sweat in moving the goal posts. :smile:

The statement by Lee didn't ring true for me which is why I researched it. I found the newspaper version to be very weak but the conversation with Wolseley had two witnesses as well as a when and where. Even though it didn't surface until years after the meeting it had more meat that many "quotes." Still, it bothered me (and you) that I could not find Wolseley using it. The letter from Lee explains that point to me which makes it more acceptable to me.

I am still surprised that Lee would assert that Forrest to be the "greatest military genius" of the war but I changed my mind about whether he said it.

Why would he say this? Maybe he was humoring his visitor, maybe he didn't want to nominate an opponent or one his subordinates in the ANV, maybe his modesty wouldn't allow him to say what he really thought...maybe that was what he believed. I don't know.
I am done researching this but if something new arises I could change my mind again...that's the way I am :giggle:
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
LOL...I'll be careful with the leaping but don't you work up a sweat in moving the goal posts. :smile:

The statement by Lee didn't ring true for me which is why I researched it. I found the newspaper version to be very weak but the conversation with Wolseley had two witnesses as well as a when and where. Even though it didn't surface until years after the meeting it had more meat that many "quotes." Still, it bothered me (and you) that I could not find Wolseley using it. The letter from Lee explains that point to me which makes it more acceptable to me.

I am still surprised that Lee would assert that Forrest to be the "greatest military genius" of the war but I changed my mind about whether he said it.

Why would he say this? Maybe he was humoring his visitor, maybe he didn't want to nominate an opponent or one his subordinates in the ANV, maybe his modesty wouldn't allow him to say what he really thought...maybe that was what he believed. I don't know.
I am done researching this but if something new arises I could change my mind again...that's the way I am :giggle:

Since the letter has nothing to do with this alleged quotation, nor was it addressed to Wolseley, then it doesn't explain any point regarding that alleged quotation. Some direct evidence would be nice. Lee, as far as I am aware, never wrote a word about Forrest, nor did he mention Forrest in the documented conversations, such as those with J. William Jones. This alleged quotation is the only one of which I'm aware in which Lee is purported to have mentioned Forrest. If he had such a high opinion of Forrest, I find it very difficult to believe this would be the only time he would talk about Forrest.
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
He said that HE said...
kind of reminds me of that far too often used quote of Lee's when he supposedly said: "Governor, if I had foreseen the use these people desired to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox, no, sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand."
I, and a lot of others don't believe Lee EVER said THAT!

Kevin Dally
 
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