Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877)-was bore near
Chapel Hill in Bedford County, Tennessee. He had very little formal education.
Forrest rose from poverty to become a wealthy cotton planter, real estate
broker, and slave dealer.
Nathan Bedford Forrest enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army in June of
1861. Forrest developed many tactics for his men. In February of 1865 he became
a lieutenant general. His formula for success was as "get there first with
the most men."
Nathan Bedford Forrest after the war was a sometime president of the Selma,
Marion and the Memphis railroad. Forrest also became the first leader of the Ku
Klux Klan, although he denied any association with the KKK. Nathan Bedford
Forrest was most famous for being a Confederate Calvary general in the Civil
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Nathan Bedford, soldier, born in Bedford County, Tennessee, 13
July 1821; died in Memphis, Tennessee, 29 October 1877. While yet quite young he
removed with his family to Mississippi, where his father soon afterward died,
leaving Nathan mainly responsible for the support of the household. In 1842 he
removed to Hernando, Miss., and established himself as a planter, remaining
there till about 1852, when he went to Memphis, Tennessee, and became a real
estate broker and dealer in slaves.
the civil war broke out he had amassed a considerable fortune. In June 1861, he
joined the Tennessee mounted rifles, and in July following he raised and
equipped, at the request of Governor Harris, a regiment of cavalry, and was made
lieutenant colonel. In October he moved with his men to Fort Donelson, where he
remained until the approach of General Grant, and whence he was allowed to
escape with his men before the flag of truce was sent. After a raiding
excursion, during which he visited Nashville, Huntsville, and Iuka he took part
in the battle of Shiloh. He was assigned to the command of the cavalry at
Chattanooga in the following June participated in the attack on Murfreesboro on
13 July 1862, and on 21 July was made brigadier general. In September he was in
command at Murfreesboro, and on 31 Dec. was engaged at Parker's Crossroads. He
fought at Chiekamauga on 19 and 20 September 1863, and in November was
transferred to northern Mississippi. In the following month he was made major
general and assigned to the command of Forrest's cavalry department. He was in
command of the Confederate forces that attacked Fort Pillow in April 1864, and,
while negotiations for the surrender of the fort were in progress under a flag
of truce, moved troops into favorable positions that they could not have gained
at any other time.
Bradford, the commander of the fort, refused to surrender, whereupon the works
were taken by assault, and the garrison, consisting many of colored troops, were
given no quarter. The excuse given by Forrest's men was, that the flag of the
fort had not been hauled down in token of surrender. During the operations of
Hood and Thomas in Tennessee he proved a great source of annoyance to the
National commanders, and in February 1865, he was promoted to the rank of
lieutenant general. General James H. Wilson finally routed him on 2 April 1865,
and on 9 May he surrendered at Gainesville.
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