Friday, April 11, 2008

Can't see the Forrest for the trees...


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?

3 comments:

rowdydawg_aci1 said...

Nathan Bedford Forrest...Simply the best Cavalry commander of the War Between The States...Bar none.

Wild Bill

Patrick Lewis said...

Evidence???

See the next post for a rather different opinion, and one, I might add, which is seemingly proved by your statement here.

Ken R Knopp said...

Lee, Gotta differ with you on this one.....
You said..."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?"

I can...how about Sooy Smith, Streight, Sturgis and even AJ Smith? At the time Sherman sent them into the field against Forrest they were all considered the best available to deal him his death blow. However, in each instance it was Forrest who made them the failures they turned out to be. Given the context of the time one should trust Sherman's judgement on the matter and, respect Forrest's abilities. Sherman certainly respected him and no wonder he spent so much time, blood and treasure in dealing with him.

Ken R Knopp