What makes Nathan Bedford Forrest Honorable?


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Zella

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#24
I always thought the way he helped raise and take care of his younger siblings after his dad's death was quite admirable and honorable.

Likewise, I always thought the story of how he met his wife was quite gallant. I've never seen any indication he was anything but respectful of her, which I consider honorable.

That's not to say Forrest didn't have his issues--he was a complex man, for sure--but he's definitely got an honorable side to me beyond 19th century perceptions of honor.
 

archieclement

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#25
You're right...just get perturbed when Confederate Generals get questioned on "honor" … Confederate bashing seems rampant in 2018.:wink:
I agree when it comes to "opinion" I think the best judges would be his actual peers who knew him and lived in that time and era with the same societal codes. The fact he became practically a folk hero would pretty much indicate how he was actually viewed and it doesn't appear to have been as dishonorable.
 

Ole Miss

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#26
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.
Diane
A little known follow up to the Brooks vs Sumner affair was Brooks failure to accept the challenge of Sumner's colleague Anson Burlingame. Burlingame called Brooks "the vilest sort of coward" and issued a challenge to a duel but Brooks backed out. Evidently he was only good at attacking a defenseless man sitting down with a sneak attack. Talk about a lack of honor, Brooks was it.

The honorable aspect of Forrest was his innate nature of being open about his opinions and actions. He hid behind no one or anything.
Regards
David
 

shermans_march

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#27
@shermans_march , there was a second portion of the OP that needs clarification for the purposes of discussion - did Forrest know right from wrong? Could you explain a little more what you want to find out in that regard?
We could go into that, but when comparing that time period to present, things that are right and wrong might be very different.

Posts that are for or against him being considered honorable along with evidence to back up their claims is the main thing I was after. :smile:
 

diane

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#28
Diane
A little known follow up to the Brooks vs Sumner affair was Brooks failure to accept the challenge of Sumner's colleague Anson Burlingame. Burlingame called Brooks "the vilest sort of coward" and issued a challenge to a duel but Brooks backed out. Evidently he was only good at attacking a defenseless man sitting down with a sneak attack. Talk about a lack of honor, Brooks was it.

The honorable aspect of Forrest was his innate nature of being open about his opinions and actions. He hid behind no one or anything.
Regards
David
Oh, yes! I remember that now! Thanks.

Forrest was mighty open and didn't mind calling a thing what it was. As alderman of Memphis before the war, there was quite a bit of money passing around city projects - one of them was the construction of a wharf. The council was inspecting one that was called poor and most were agreeing on that except Forrest. Looked fine to him! Some character gently pulled him aside and whispered that he should go along with the others who said it was bad since the guy's brother-in-law would be the one to get the contract to fix it up. He would get the same pay-off the others were going to get. Forrest didn't whisper. "Do you take me for as great a scoundrel as you are yourself???!!!" The other people quickly intervened since it was apparent there was about to be a death in the scoundrel's family!
 
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#30
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-codewest/

http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/minute/john_wayne_the_scout_law-611.asp

Honor has been said by many as indescribable, not so much as a thing that can be described, but it should be seen more a rhetoric or a set of possible actions, rather than as a code. Therefore it would be something which is carries more meaning to the person involved. John Wayne had a set of rules of conduct he believed in. he believed every man needed a code, a creed to live by. In the Shootist he told someone: "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a- hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." That was that character's sense of honor. Knowing right from wrong is something else altogether. Wayne also said something, which goes to why men or women fight. Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
 
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diane

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#31
I recall a story about how he helped a young lady (his future wife) and her mother get their carriage out of the mud when a group of guys didn't come to their assistance.
Treatment of women is also something that has to do with honor as well as character. Forrest was always respectful of women and never mistreated any of them, even if he'd never met them. A friend of his in the military had an affair with a lady in a nearby town and got her pregnant. Forrest asked him when the happy day would be. What happy day? Well, the wedding. The friend then said there wasn't going to be a wedding as he already had a fiancee. So, when are you going to tell your fiancee about the kid? What kid? Well, if you aren't going to marry the lady, you are going to take responsibility for the baby, right? No. Heck, I don't even know if it's mine! Wouldn't want to mess up this engagement after all. Outta here! End of friendship for all time. "Won't have a man around me treats a woman like that," growled Forrest.
 

diane

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#32
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-codewest/

http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/minute/john_wayne_the_scout_law-611.asp

Honor has been said by many as indescribable, not so much as a thing that can be described, but it should be seen more a rhetoric or a set of possible actions, rather than as a code. Therefore it would be something which is carries more meaning to the person involved. John Wayne had a set of rules of conduct he believed in. he believed every man needed a code, a creed to live by. In the Shootist he told someone: "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a- hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." That was that character's sense of honor. Knowing right from wrong is something else altogether.
That's it exactly. It's who you are.
 
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#33
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.
A penknife??:cold:
 

diane

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#38
I think Northerners and Southerners had different notions of honor and do even to this day.
I'd thought that was what shermans-march was looking at - the societal code of honor. How you behaved according to society and I do think the South had a more aristocratic set of rules. Easier to get into a fight, some might say! The duel went west with the Southerners, where it morphed into a variety of things - the OK Corral may not have been exactly that but Earp's pursuit of his enemies afterward definitely was. And, what was considered honorable/necessary action in Mississippi would not be countenanced in Virginia.

Mofederal brought up the personal code. That was mostly based on Christianity and Biblical teachings - who you really were. Champ Ferguson thought it was right and just to shoot somebody dead for thinking bad thoughts about him! No societal code of honor to be followed but this was who he was - he believed a pre-emptive strike on an enemy was definitely ok.
 

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