Friday, April 11, 2008
by Lee White
I have heard that every NPS historic site has one, the one subject that has a cult following, and one that you can't do a tour or program without hearing the name. At Fredericksburg its the Irish Brigade, at Gettysburg its Joshua Chamberlain, and here at Chickamauga its Nathan Bedford Forrest. I've never been a Forrest fan, even in the days of my neo confederate youth, I never could develop a like for him, It was Robert E. Lee as a child, and then Patrick Cleburne during my teenage years, now Ive evolved or devolved as the case may be to a fascination with Braxton Bragg. Now with Bragg its not a real like, but more of a curiosity. Anyway, back to Bedford. Forrest is an icon here, and why is beyond me, Forrest probably had his worst performance here of the war. He failed Bragg in his role as the eyes and ears of the army, worst of all he provided Bragg with erronious information right after the battle that made Bragg think the Army of the Cumberland was abandoning Chattanooga. Combat wise, he did very little other than stir up the fight on the morning of September 19th, after that he is on the sidelines. Oh well. I did have an interesting conversation the other day with one visitor who offered this, Can you name any good Federal commander that Forrest ever beat in one of his stand alone fights?