Why did Forrest dislike John Chalmers?

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gary

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I found something in the O.R. where Forrest attempted to sack John Chalmers and sent him to Polk for reassignment. He took Chalmers's only tent and gave it to his brother. Chalmers complained. Polk reinstated Chalmers to his command. So, why the dislike?

Chalmers was not in favor with Forrest and Forrest wanted him sacked. O.R. Series I, Vol. 32, part III, pages 609-610. Note, in the interim, Chalmers’s Division remained with Forrest and under command of Col. McCulloch.

HEADQUARTERS FORREST'S CAVALRY DEPARTMENT,
Columbus, March 10, 1864.
Col. T. M. JACK,
Assistant Adjutant-General :
COLONEL: I have the honor respectfully to forward you a copy of letter received from Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers, and to state that I have relieved him from duty with my command and ordered him to report to the lieutenant-general commanding for assignment. I am satisfied that I have not and shall not receive the co-operation of Brigadier-General Chalmers, and that matters of the smallest moment will continue, as they have heretofore done, to be a source of annoyance to myself and detrimental to the service, and, holding myself responsible to the proper authority for all orders I have or may hereafter issue, I deem it both necessary and beneficial that we should separate.
Hoping that the lieutenant-general commanding may be able to place Brigadier-General Chalmers in a position more congenial to his taste and wishes than the one he now occupies, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST,
Major-General.


Like a bad penny, Chalmers came back to Forrest by order of General Polk. When Chalmers was sent away, Forrest took his only tent. O.R. Series I, Vol. 32, part III, page 648.
SPECIAL ORDERS No. 77.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF ALA., MISS., AND E. LA.,
Demopolis, Ala., March 17, 1864.
* * * * * * * * * *
IV. Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers will resume command of his division and report to Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, commanding, &c.
By command of Lieutenant-General Polk:
THOS. M. JACK,
Assistant Adjutant-General.
 

trice

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IIRR, Chalmers and Forrest were from the same area before the war. I think there was some disagreement about Forrest joining a militia company, and Chalmers was an officer in that company. Chalmers also outranked Forrest early in the war, again IIRR.

However, Chalmers and Forrest seem to have settled in and worked out their problems. By mid-1864 they were working together very well.

Tim
 
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larry_cockerham

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Socially and perhaps politically, these two came from two different worlds.

Here's a bit on Chalmers. In the summer of 1864, they certainly must have developed considerably respect for each other. The fate of several thousand men after the battle for Nashville depended on that factor.

Brigadier General James Ronald Chalmers

James R. Chalmers was born January 11, 1831 in Halifax county, Virginia. His father, Joseph W. Charlmers, settled at Holly Springs, Mississippi when James was a small boy. James graduated from the South Carolina College at Columbia and studied law at Holly Springs and was admitted to the bar in 1853. Before the war he was a district attorney and a delegate to the secession convention. He entered the Confederate army as a Colonel of the Ninth Mississippi Infantry in 1861 and was sent to Pensacola, Florida. He was promoted to Brigadier General in Febuary 1862 and commanded the second brigade of Withers' division at the battle of Shiloh. It was at Shiloh that he first encountered Nathan Bedford Forrest. At this time Chalmers was a Brigadier General and Forrest was a Colonel but Chalmers attained most of his fame and glory serving under Major General (and then Lieutinent General) Forrest. After Shiloh he served with General Bragg in his operations in Mississippi and Kentucky.

In April 1863 General Chalmers was placed in command of the military district of Mississippi and Louisiana and in 1864 he was assigned to the command of the cavalry brigades of Jeffrey Forrest and McCullock, forming the First division of Forrest's cavalry. He played a conspicuous part in all the brilliant campaigns of Forrest in North Mississippi, West Tennessee and Kentucky and was highly praised by Forrest.

After the war Chalmers was prominent in the politics of Mississippi. He was elected to the state senate in 1875 and 1876 and as a U.S. representative in the Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Congress. He died at his home in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1898.
 

trice

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Socially and perhaps politically, these two came from two different worlds. ...
Back before the war, Chalmers organized the first military company in Forrest's old home town of Hernando. Chalmers also made Brigadier before Shiloh (where Colonel Forrest fought near Chalmers), and commanded the Cavalry in northern MS before Forrest came west after Chickamauga. Not too surprising the two strong-willed men might have a few head-butting sessions.

Tim
 

larry_cockerham

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Back before the war, Chalmers organized the first military company in Forrest's old home town of Hernando. Chalmers also made Brigadier before Shiloh (where Colonel Forrest fought near Chalmers), and commanded the Cavalry in northern MS before Forrest came west after Chickamauga. Not too surprising the two strong-willed men might have a few head-butting sessions.

Tim
Geographically, same world. Socially, not really. Chalmers by virtue of his education and contacts with the uppercrusts of society would have been expected to perhaps at first view Forrest with a bit of skepticism. The closest Forrest had been to society's higher level was his service as a Memphis alderman. Both were headstrong, a fact for which many a Confederate soldier would have been quite thankful. In this rare case, it seems two men recognized each other's strengths and went on with tackling the problem at hand.
 
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footeghost

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From the same area I meand hernando ect families knew of each other, who is the alpha dog? but social clash. Chalmers educated good family, etc... Forrest the 300lb gorrilla in the room. Chalmers may have known Forrest a long time, also Forrest gaining what would have gone to him rank wise. But in the end Chalmers was there and they had great success and even if begovered trust which truely they got over. Friends Wild Guess
 

DixieRifles

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James, John, Alexander

I call the Question...

James R. Chalmers was born January 11, 1831 in Halifax county, Virginia.
The title of the thread states "John".

Also, there was a Major Alexander H. Chalmers who commanded the 18th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry within General J. R. Chalmers division.

Were they related? brothers? Father/son?

Steve
 

Elennsar

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I am unaware of any relationship between James and Alexander, but the Chalmers that would be the subject of this thread (as there is no General John Chalmers) would have to be a James.
 
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DixieRifles

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I am unaware of any relationship between James and Alexander,
Is there a genealogist in the house?

Chalmers also made Brigadier before Shiloh (where Colonel Forrest fought near Chalmers)
Chalmers commanded the 2nd Brigade in Wither's Division, Bragg's Corps. Forrest was a colonel of a cavalry regiment. In Feb 64, the roles were reversed when Chalmers was assigned to Forrests Corps. I have been studying the Battle of Fort Pillow. Gen Chalmers division was assigned the task to attack the fort while other brigades acted as diversion. But Gen. Forrest was there and ran the show.

Steve
 

larry_cockerham

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I call the Question...



The title of the thread states "John".

Also, there was a Major Alexander H. Chalmers who commanded the 18th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry within General J. R. Chalmers division.

Were they related? brothers? Father/son?

Steve
The guy who titled the thread is a northerner? That might be the problem.
 

larry_cockerham

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Is there a genealogist in the house?



Chalmers commanded the 2nd Brigade in Wither's Division, Bragg's Corps. Forrest was a colonel of a cavalry regiment. In Feb 64, the roles were reversed when Chalmers was assigned to Forrests Corps. I have been studying the Battle of Fort Pillow. Gen Chalmers division was assigned the task to attack the fort while other brigades acted as diversion. But Gen. Forrest was there and ran the show.

Steve
Get yourself a copy of J.W. Morton's book on Forrest's artillery. In it you will find three or four letters back and forth from Forrest in which he denies having ordered any massacre of troops. I believe him, for what that's worth.
 
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DixieRifles

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Get yourself a copy of J.W. Morton's book on Forrest's artillery. In it you will find three or four letters back and forth from Forrest in which he denies having ordered any massacre of troops. I believe him, for what that's worth.
Larry,
Where did that comment come from? I don't want to go there. I have that book and several more and I've read all the Threads on that Subject found on this forum. My post had nothing to do with that; I was commenting on the organizational changes.

I also have a new book "Coming Like Hell", about the 12 Tennessee Cavalry. This book mentions that General Johnston and General Chalmers were both giving conflicting orders to Col R. Richardson in fall of 1863, as if they were fighting for their command. Finally, after Col Richardson recovered from a lung shot and re-grouped his scatter units(who were listed as deserters but were home getting supplies), he joined Forrest's command. It was later in February(or March) 1864 that General Chalmers' was placed under command of General Forrest.

Steve
Gr-gr-grandson of Pvt Cole, 5th Miss Cavalry, KIA at Fort Pillow

PS: If you want to see my Rosters of both Union and Confederate Casualties of Fort Pillow, check out my pages of names that I've compiled:

http://www.custermen.com/DixieBoys/FtPillowCSA.htm

http://www.custermen.com/DixieBoys/FtPillowUSA.htm
 

DixieRifles

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I found something in the O.R. where Forrest attempted to sack John Chalmers
James. But I think you know that.

I just noticed this was an old thread and I posted 2 times to it.

I'm trying to remember the source that gives the best account of one of the quarrels. An argument started when General Forrest took tents away from Chalmers' headquarters and gave it to his brother or one of his brigade commanders. Brig-General Chalmers got mad enough to threaten to resign. I think it was General S. D. Lee who stepped in and smoothed the ruffled feathers. General Chalmers eventually gained respect for Forrest when he saw him fight at Okolona(I believe).
Need to do some searching.
 
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Nathanb1

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James. But I think you know that.

I just noticed this was an old thread and I posted 2 times to it.

I'm trying to remember the source that gives the best account of one of the quarrels. An argument started when General Forrest took tents away from Chalmers' headquarters and gave it to his brother or one of his brigade commanders. Brig-General Chalmers got mad enough to threaten to resign. I think it was General S. D. Lee who stepped in and smoothed the ruffled feathers. General Chalmers eventually gained respect for Forrest when he saw him fight at Okolona(I believe).
Need to do some searching.
I should probably go back and put OLD THREAD WARNING in red. :giggle:
 

DixieRifles

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This is a quote from Jack Hurst's biography.


… so when Forrest stormily left Bragg and was given the North Mississippi command then held by Chalmers, the latter no doubt was doubly displeased.

A flurry of communications concerning Forrest’s relief of him proceeded quickly. “Write me the reasons for relieving the officers named in your dispatch of today,” Polk wrote Forrest March 10, referring to Chalmers and Brig-Gen. R. V. Richardson, who had been brought up on charges by a subordinate. Polk soon got notes from both Forrest and Chalmers. Forrest said he had dismissed Chalmers from his duties because he was “satisfied that I have not and shall not receive the cooperation of Brig-Gen Chalmers, and that matters of the smallest moment will continue, as they have heretofore done, to be a source of annoyance to myself and detrimental to the service . . . “ Chalmers’ communication dealt in specifics: “General Forrest took my only tent from me and gave it to his brother. I wrote him a letter which he considered disrespectful, and he has relieved me from my command and ordered me to report to you. . . “

The Chalmers affair apparently became as embarrassing for Forrest in the Confederate military hierarchy as it was unworthy of him. Polk wrote Richmond for a decision in the case, adding his own opinion that Forrest “has exceeded his authority. . . Please answer.” Confederate adjutant and inspector general Samuel Cooper replied briefly and emphatically: “General Forrest has no power to relieve an officer and order him to report in person to the department commander. The officers should remain with the command and be tried if amenable to charges.” Polk’s office then ordered Chalmers to “resume command of his division and report to Major General N. B. Forrest. . . “ Forrest at that point seems to have dropped the charge.

General R. V. Richardson had charges brought against him and his appointment to general was removed until the matter was under review. His rank was restored. There was also a small "mutiny" among commanders and some officers of this Tennessee brigade over the fact that an outsider, Rucker, was chosen to command their brigade. One was discharged and some were punished with reduction in pay.

 
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diane

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Oh, dear! I think Larry pretty well nailed it. DixieRifles is right, too. Okolona was where Chalmers really changed his attitude about Forrest. He lost his brother there and acted in a very human manner, right down to making an uncharacteristically impulsive attack that would have ended in catastrophe if not for Black Bob. He also had a major guilt trip about fuming over the tent Forrest had literally snatched from over his head when he found out Forrest's reason for taking it so abruptly was to try to save another brother from dying - which didn't work. The dismissal letter was generated from that grief-anger area that comes with such a loss. It seems to me that Chalmers at first regarded Forrest as a lowlife bully not fit for the position he held, but every time he saw the real man under the outside armor he gained respect.
 

DixieRifles

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Okolona was where Chalmers really changed his attitude about Forrest. He lost his brother there and acted in a very human manner, right down to making an uncharacteristically impulsive attack that would have ended in catastrophe if not for Black Bob.
I thought he changed his attitude when he saw Forrest charge into the melee than what he saw in his suffering. But we can never really know---unless he wrote about it later.
 
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