Most staff officers and escort members of famous Civil War generals have faded into obscurity. However, the escort company and staff officers of Nathan Bedford Forrest were held in awe by men on both sides of the conflict during the war and long after, and they continue to be held in esteem as figures as legendary as Forrest himself. Not merely guards or couriers, these men were an elite force who rose harder and fought more fiercely than any others.
Dr. Michael R. Bradley explores the legend of both Forrest and his men, describing how Forrest’s stature influenced his men, and how they influenced the general:
“In him they recognized not only the daring, able, and successful leader but also the commanding officer who would not hesitate to punish with severity when he deemed punishment necessary….They possessed as an inheritance all the best and worst valuable fighting qualities of the irregulars accustomed as they were from boyhood to horses and the use of arms, and brought up with all the devil-may-care lawless notions of the frontiersman. But the most volcanic spirit among them felt he must bow before the superior iron will of the determined man who led them. There was something about the dark gray eye of Forrest that warned his subordinates he was not to be trifled with and would stand no nonsense from either friend or foe.”
“Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort and Staff” offers new perspectives on the fact and fiction surrounding Forrest and his men and includes the previously unpublished minutes of the association formed in 1877 to keep alive memories of when they “rode with Forrest.”