What makes Nathan Bedford Forrest Honorable?


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#4
off the top of my head... I would say his defense of a women being abused by her husband was honorable.

His speech to his men at the end of the war was an honorable act. So was his speech to the Pole-Bearers Association.

His duty as he saw it to his home (TN) and his men was honorable.

His courage to fight for his beliefs both in combat and in pushing back against his superiors (Gen Bragg).

He wasn't a man to give into drink (get drunk), that is honorable in my opinion.

I think he was certainly a man with a code and honor... doesn't mean he was perfect or nice.
 
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#5
@diane, this thread is for you! :smile: I'm so excited to see the responses from the experts. I'm no expert, but Forrest will always be (relatively) honorable in my eyes. He did get a wee bit out of hand a few times. :wink:
I also look forward to @Diana post, sometimes I get the sense that she actually knew the General.
 
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#9
I’ll add that his acknowledgment that he was flawed individual and his actions to improve himself, (in his case through accepting Jesus Christ as his lord and savior) makes him honorable. The softer, kinder more accepting Gen Forrest that addresses the Pole-Bearers and kisses the Black women in Public is often associated/presented as proof of his personal religious awaken. (he became “woke” as my generation would say :wink:, at least for 1870 standards)

Note I’m not claiming his religious views were right or wrong (that’s against the rules:redcarded:), simply stating that his religious awaken seems to have led him to be a better man. That acknowledgment of faults and will to improve (be through religion or other ways) is very honorable.
 

diane

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#11
Generally, when someone is arguing another's honor, there's a problem with presentism. For example, at one time it was considered perfectly honorable to whop the tar out of a fairly helpless senator in defense of family name - Brooks and Sumner. To me, it's perfectly cowardly to corner a guy behind his desk and give him brain damage while he has little chance to defend himself - yet, Brooks was hailed as an honorable man. An insult had been given the South and the Brooks' family name and he had given the guilty party the beating he deserved. Honorable? I don't think so but many of that time did - he got a load of canes in case he needed them for just such another occasion! In Forrest's day, there was little fluid about the matter of honor - it was a societal code, and it didn't always include what we might think it did or should have.
 

Cavalry Charger

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#12
The first difficulty I see with the OP is with the definition of 'honorable'. It needs to be defined.

The second difficulty is the parameters that are to be set. Was he honorable as a man, a soldier, a son, brother, husband or father?

What I know about Forrest I have learnt here. Both Grant and Sherman spoke highly of him as a soldier. Not necesssarily all his actions. The calamity of war engenders many dishonorable actions which can be the cause of later regret.
He also was the only man who rose from the lowest to the highest rank of the army on either side. These are things to acknowledge IMO.

Like most men, I don't think Forrest lived up to any one's expectations except his own with regard to the concept at hand.
 

shermans_march

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#13
Ok - that's clarification. Seems WilliamH up above gave you a few reasons on the pro-honorable side. You apparently accept that small list as valid or you would have given reasons why not.

p s
Sorry! I'm talking to sherman's-march!
Thanks. I don't disagree with some good things that are attributed. It is my opinion that the good has to be weighed with the bad and only after that can we acknowledge if someone is honorable. The information I know on Forrest has been mainly the negative. To be honest I don't believe Forrest as a person was honorable. I can acknowledge that he was loyal and brave though. Does that make him honorable? I don't know.
 
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shermans_march

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#14
The first difficulty I see with the OP is with the definition of 'honorable'. It needs to be defined.

The second difficulty is the parameters that are to be set. Was he honorable as a man, a soldier, a son, brother, husband or father?

What I know about Forrest I have learnt here. Both Grant and Sherman spoke highly of him as a soldier. Not necesssarily all his actions. The calamity of war engenders many dishonorable actions which can be the cause of later regret.
He also was the only man who rose from the lowest to the highest rank of the army on either side. These are things to acknowledge IMO.

Like most men, I don't think Forrest lived up to any one's expectations except his own with regard to the concept at hand.
Good question. Individuals from the thread linked to this one said that Forrest was honorable. There was no definition of what honorable meant or to what parameters it applies. The reason for this thread is to get clarification.
 

diane

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#15
Honorable, in Forrest's case, would clearly have to be defined by what was considered honorable in his time. For example, if someone called you a pup, you were perfectly justified in getting a gun and shooting the guy in the back - which is basically what Jefferson C Davis did with Bull Nelson. Nelson was murdered but Davis had a 'matter of honor'.

With Forrest, the fight in the plaza of Hernando was a duel not a brawl, and the perimeters were set out before the affair even began. Three men appeared to challenge his elderly uncle over the custody of some children belonging to both families. The men timed it to coincide with Forrest's absence but he was told of it and appeared - he was told it was not his concern. However, honor said it was his concern. He was the target's nephew, family, and one defended family. It was also a simpler matter - 3 young men against 1 old man needed some evening up! The offended party picked their weapons - shotguns, sticks and bowie knives - and they fired the first shot. Now, honor was served when the killer of the uncle was shot dead by Forrest, but justice was not - so the fight continued until it was resolved by all four being wounded, two dying.

The Forrest/Gould affair was another matter of honor. Gould was insulted by his demotion for losing his guns at the battle of Days Gap - he considered it a slur against his courage and therefore a matter of honor. He got Forrest into a hallway to talk to him and then used the opportunity to try to draw a pistol from the pocket of his duster - knowing Forrest did not have a pistol or any other obvious weapon with which to defend himself. Gould did it properly, issuing a challenge so that Forrest would know this attempted murder was a duel, by saying, "One of us will not leave here alive!" As it happened, Forrest was shot but gave as good as he got with a penknife he opened with his teeth. These two duels are examples of a certain societal code of honor we might not find so honorable today.

Brian Steel Wills examines Forrest's life from the viewpoint of the Southern code of honor - A Battle From the Start. It's a very interesting book and may help explain some things about Forrest that do not seem to fill the bill for honor.
 

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Belle Montgomery

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#20
All Generals had their flaws and honor to them is subjective...**off-topic content edited.**
 
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