Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography
By Jack Hurst
Amid the the ranks of the Confederate cavalry, Nathan Bedford Forrest was untutored, all but unlettered, and regarded as no more than a guerrilla to some. His tactic was the headlong charge, mounted with such swiftness and ferocity that General Sherman called him a “Devil” who should “be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the treasury.” And in a war in which officers prided themselves on their decorum, Forrest habitually issued surrender-or-die ultimatums to the enemy and often intimidated his own superiors. After being in command at the notorious Fort Pillow incident (which has been touted as a massacre, but the full story is rarely told), he went on to associate with the original Ku Klux Klan.
Now this epic figure is restored to human dimensions in an exemplary biography that puts both Forrest’s genius and his savagery into the context of his time, chronicling his rise from frontiersman to slave trader, private to lieutenant general, and New South businessman to radical moderate. Unflinching in its analysis and with extensive new research, Nathan Bedford Forrest is an invaluable and immensely readable addition to the literature of the War Between the States.
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