I just finished reading the book The Campaigns Of General Nathan Bedford Forrest And Of Forrest's Cavalry
what a amazing general. The book contains all the info on his military operations throughout the whole war. It goes some into his early life but of the 700 or so pages it is 95% military actions. It was written [ this is updated version reprint] in 1868 using battle action reports from both confederate and federal officers as well as interviewing soldiers and generals on both sides and entirely checked and supported by Forrest himself who provided his reports and constant fact checking. Some of the more interesting finds and quotes in book I found stood out.
-He had no schooling or military training
-He enlisted as 40 year old private, by end of war he was a lieutenant general
“ Historians consider him to be one of the greatest Calvary commanders of all time”
-A superhuman warrior personally killed 30 men in battle --No high ranking general killed as many men in combat since medieval period
-He was attacked by 4 men in Calvary fight while mounted he shot one but received wounds to head and arm 3 more federals come into fight shooting and stabbing at him he uses his pistol to block attacks but his hammer is hacked away on pistol so cannot fire, his horse gets shot and wounded. His escape is blocked on all sides by thick woods on sides and federal troops forward and a wagon across road in retreat, he jumps over wagon with horse to retreat, 30 paces down road attacked again by saber blocks with new pistol and shoots and kills attacker.-
-Multiple times captured numbers larger than his own command and had to let prisoners go because he did not have enough men to control them.
-At shiloh his 15 year old son and 2 other soldiers his age captured 15 federals
-Survived wounds that would kill most
-Used captured infantry drums to make his Calvary appear more numerous to enemy. [Thinking infantry was in area.]
- Always ready to charge his escort [elite soldiers around 70 men] in middle of fight to turn tide of battle or stave off disaster.
-Kept enemy uncertain of his moments
-Used some of his older men to act as local citizens and give false info to upcoming federals on the whereabouts of Forrest .
--when federals tried to trap him, he would be able to get across bridges/streams thought unpassabel
- A case of federal Calvary not attacking when they found out Calvary was under Forrest command [ though they had larger force]
-Often would do the mission when no volunteer would in his command [ cross frozen rivers, dangerous scouting missions etc]
-A captured Forrest solider convinced the federal general of a confederate force that was not there and caused federals force to retreat [though larger than Forrest]
-Often blocked retreat of larger enemy force with much needed men even when outnumbered 3 or 4 to 1.
-Had many horses shot from under him[ guess of 20] -one charge received 5 bullet holes to saddle.-another he was scouting ground wanted good info got so close had 2 horse shot under him before he felt had enough info.
-when viewing his lines made his 4,500 look like over 10,000 to union commander during surrender negotiations.
-Had artillery brought up road in circles to appear like he had more than he did during surrender negotiations
-He had scouts wear captured federal uniforms to gather info and captured 50 soldiers [ who thought them federals soldiers]
--Forrest outran retreating federals following a rout found himself surrounded by 100 federals and was shot multiple times, his horse mortally wounded- he used a revolver cleared path and escaped from a hail of bullets.
-Often had to release most of his prisoners as he had to many to control and bring with him.--Once had prisoners help move artillery wagons through rough roads to than be set free.
---Many soldiers deserted from Joe Johnston army wanting to instead fight for Forrest
- A negro helped confederate Calvary with info on federal Calvary that led to capture of federal Calvary.
-A union officer saved his life by yelling his name telling him to get back out of harms way of union ambush [former captive of Forrest's who was released]
- Did lose a few battles but never a fair fight and always because outnumber 3-4 to 1 and directions not followed or intercepted courier.
-Not the founder of the KKK
-In march 1845 was attacked by 4 citizens was shot, but severely wounded all and drove them off [later the 4 were arrested]
-Treated slaves well and always bought whole families
-6'2 broad shoulders full chest muscular limbs
- Was a sates rights democrat, did not want union to dissolve so long as states had rights
-Friend who knew him from before war said he looked unrecognizable in battle [ face eyes expressions looked like war Indian they said]
-Caring of his men
-Great at scouting/ambushing
-Some say part of his success was luck, I thought so at first but when it kept happening I found it to be his amazing timing of troops sent and arriving at correct time.
-The only real downfall would be that perhaps he trusted militia to much.
some of his main tactics in battle were
“Get their first with the most”
Sudden assaults on isolated positions
Scout and have good info of enemy
Kept enemy uncertain of his movements
Swift heavy blows
-In one battle charged a force 2x size up hill with artillery, he captured the guns took 75 prisoners caused 50 causalities retook 60 captured confederates and supplies. After battle was done He had 15 bullet holes in cloths and his horse fell dead after battle with 7 bullet wounds.[ later that day would have horse hit with solid shot from cannon die under him]
-Attack a depot with 300 untried troops, results were 400 prisoners 1,000 horses 15 wagons 600,000 rounds ammo 100,000 rations cloths etc $500,000 worth overall.
-with 1/3 the enemy force battle of tishomingo creek enemy force 3,300 Calvary and 5,400 infantry - Forrest had only 3,200 men he drove federal force 58 miles captured 19 guns 200 wagons 30 ambulances ammunition other materials 2,000 prisoners 1,900 killed complete destruction/disorganization of force [ only about 1,000 men from union made it back by foot]confederates fatigued from long travel before battle losses low as 140 killed 500 wounded.
-One raid with 1,800 in command they captured 150 federals, killed 25, wounded another 50, captured 200 horses, a few wagons and 2 artillery, tore up railroad and captured rail cars.. He rearmed his entire force [ brigade] with better captured weapons than when they went into raid . Lost 3 killed 5 wounded.
-A raid in Tennessee caused 3,500 federal casualties 8 artillery captured 400 horses and mules 100 wagons 100 cattle 3,000 arms stores destroyed rail 6 bridges 2 locomotives 50 fright cars captured/destroyed 50 block houses gained 1,000 men [ recruited from area deserters from Joe Johnson army looking for Forrest] at a loss of 300, returned stronger than left.
-On a raid in West Tennessee a federal newspaper wrote “Forrest with less than 4,000 men has moved right through the 96th army corps has passed within 9 miles of Memphis carried off 100 wagons, 100 beef cattle 3,000 conscripts [ men who joined his ranks from population/stranglers etc] innumerable stores, tore up railroad track, cut telephone wire, burned and sacked towns ran over picket lines, with a single derringer pistol and all in the face of 10,000 men [ 7,500 more sent from Kentucky].-Known for his deep raids in enemy territory
-He would charge fast at slight chance to cause panic – one example 150 confederates charged 350 federals while crossing river caused rout and captured 70 soldiers
-In a month long campaign destroyed rail, 2,500 federals killed or prisoners and came back stronger and better equpied than he left.
-Attacked with 1,800 men- captured 2,200 not including killed wounded and lost only 30 men 150 wounded.
-Another battle the Federal losses were 500 prisoners 10 killed [ 230 soon after]16 wagons 3 ambulances Forrest lost only 1 killed 2 wounded
-In one action he burned 4 bridges captured 145 federals plus 15-20 killed without a single man killed or wounded in.
-During 4-5 small skirmishes lost 200 men, but killed 350 captured 2,000 prisoners and captured artillery and wagon
-Union set a ambush, but Forrest charged faster than they thought captured 30 killed/wounded 20 lost only 2 killed
-Charged a lined enemy Calvary with superior force and only lost 1 killed and killed 20 and took 50 prisoners.
Great quotes from book
“wait a moment major, I 'll bring one from the Yankees yonder” returning little while later “ here's the horse I promised you, major, and a Yankee to boot” [ captured federal officer as well]
Private argyle powell to major Phil Allin upon losing his horse before a charge
In pursuit of routed federals confederate officer yells “Get out of our country, you worthless rascals”
Federal turns his head and says “Faith and by Jasus an't it that same we're trying to do just as fast as we can”
"His cavalry, which Sherman reported in disgust “could travel one hundred miles in less time than it takes our to travel ten,”