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 Posted: Sat Feb 24th, 2007 01:18 pm
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Johan Steele
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ole wrote: Johan Steele:

My point was simply that Forrest's excuse for Fort Pillow should apply as well to Sherman's devastating saunter across the south. If there were excesses,  They should be attributed to  the understandable exuyberance of the troops committing them. Although the commander is ultimately responsible, it is quite understood that he didn't, in fact, necessarily order it.

Much appreciated your Lakota words for "wolf." I remember in my youth a fellow named Al Ramey. He was a native American and was refused service at the town pub as a "canoe pusher."  I can only remember the story that he pitched bales with both arms -- one bale in this one and one bale in that one. Saw him once or twice. Shoulders like a buffalo. Hands like hams hanging from arms like tree trunks. Never did figure out why he was shunned. Looked like a decent man to me.

Ole

I tend to agree w/ your analysis on the men under both commands.  In reference to the numbers commanded I was thinking of the number of scum held w/in.  If, say 10%, of an army are dirtbags an army of 4500 will field 450 less than savory charachters and an army of 60,000... the disparity is obvious.  But that said the unsavory lot are the minority and normally held in check by the more numerous decent sort.

As in any gathering of human beings decent people gravitate toward decent people and scum towards other scum.  You get 50-60 scum together away from the control & influence of the decent sort you are going to have problems and those problems may well become quite severe.

That said you know my view towards all of the evil Shermans men rhetoric propogated by the Lost Cause.

 

As to the Lakota... a wonderful people.  The two of the most stunningly beautiful women I have ever known were Lakota; Mona LeCompte & Ishone Uses the Knife.  Some of the best and most decent people I have had the honor to meet were also Lakota.  Good people some, bad others... just like any other culture; you have your good and your bad.



 Posted: Sat Feb 24th, 2007 02:50 pm
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Widow,

That was an absorbing analysis of the situation existent at Fort Pillow and many other places in the Civil War to a certain extent. It certainly presented itself every single time a US Colored Trooper was captured or injured and captured on the battle field.  It also explains the rage against white officers who had the affrontery to lead such men in battle against the Confederacy.

But, too, it shows the abject desperation of the Confederate high command when they finally realized they had no recourse but to arm their own slaves and give them their freedom just to meet the dangerous manpower crisis that all but crippled the South by 1864 and 65.

Widow, thank you for your observations and perspective. 

Here's another example of the prevailing attitude that does illustrate what the Widow is saying. Colonel Charles W Fribley led the Eighth U.S. Colored Troops at the Battle of Olustee where he was mortally wounded. After the battle General Seymour requested of Confederate  General Finegan, that Fribley's body be returned or at least a marker be placed where he fell and died.   Gen. Finegan  at first denied the request saying he had "no sympathy for the fate of a white officer commanding negroes. " 

Part of a letter published in the Savannah Daily Morning News in 1864 was eevn less kind.

"Yes! The black-hearted Freble (sic) had a dog's burial. A leader of a horde of infuriated negores, on a mission of murder, robbery and rape, ought he not  have been left to rot on the plain, to the obscene birds to fatten on his vitals, and the great wolves to gnaw on his bones?" 

The above is quoted from "Confederate Florida, The Road to Olustee" by William H. Nulty, page 190. 



 Posted: Sat Feb 24th, 2007 03:37 pm
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Fuller
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It's always interesting to see where these posts will branch off to.

When Col. Shaw of the 54th Mass. was killed, the Confederates buried his body next to his black soldiers.  When his father heard of his burial place he said,

"The poor benighted wrenches thought they were heaping indignities upon his dead body; but the act recoils upon them.  We can imagine no holier place than which he is." 

Captain W. McCarty of the 78th Ohio was catured during the July 22nd battle of Atlanta.  The following is from his writings speaking of his imprisonment...

"This hospital was in charge of G. R. C. Todd, a brother-in-law of President Lincoln. The doctor was an ardent rebel, and one incident occurred there which I shall not soon forget. A colored prisoner, belonging to a Massachusetts regiment, who had been taken at Fort Wagner, was accused by the guard of spitting from the portico of the building down into the yard, and without any investigation whatever, the doctor caused him to be stripped and tied, and receive thirty lashes on his naked back. The indignation of our sick prisoners was intense at this brutal treatment inflicted by the hand of a man far inferior to the negro, for the latter could read and write, while the other could do neither, and could scarcely tell his name. The negro was a prisoner of war, born and educated in a free State, and he was entitled to the same protection and treatment that we were, and the doctor could assign no other reason for his violation of the rules of warfare, than that the boy was a "d—d ni--er." But perhaps the doctor will apply for pardon now."

I started this post knowing that it would most certainly break off into a tangent of racial situations.  Not wanting to heat things up but rather learn from these incidents.  I find Forrest a very intense person to study and I am impressed with the many discussions from you all that have stemmed because of him.

Fuller



 Posted: Wed Feb 28th, 2007 08:29 pm
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I guess it is unavoidable...any conversation about Forrest, no matter how it starts(in this case his merits as a combat officer), always seems to end with Fort Pillow or some controversial aspect of his personality-or about race relations.

Unfortunate, really... and its getting to be as polarized as it was in 1865.In many places simply stating admiration for any confederate general automatically places one in the racist bigot category.

 



 Posted: Thu Mar 1st, 2007 02:12 pm
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I've never read about any white slaves
Widow,

A bit off topic here, but in a way it mirrors the excesses at Fort Pillow. On April 16, 1746, the battle of Culloden Moor was fought by Scottish Highlanders and troops under the Duke of Cumberland. 300 dead English compared to as many as 1,400 dead Scots. But it didn't end on the battlefield as the Highlanders were systematicaly hunted down and killed or sent to the Amercian colonies as slaves. Many Scottish Americans can trace their roots back to slave blocks in Maryland and Barbados.

Tom (Clan Gordon)

http://www.scotlinks.com/scotland-articles/The-Battle-of-Culloden-2.html

http://www.highlanderweb.co.uk/culloden/jacobite.htm

http://www.rampantscotland.com/famous/blfamcharlie3.htm



 Posted: Thu Mar 1st, 2007 02:41 pm
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Kentucky_Orphan wrote: I guess it is unavoidable...any conversation about Forrest, no matter how it starts(in this case his merits as a combat officer), always seems to end with Fort Pillow or some controversial aspect of his personality-or about race relations.

Unfortunate, really... and its getting to be as polarized as it was in 1865.In many places simply stating admiration for any confederate general automatically places one in the racist bigot category.

 


But this is probably true of any Civil War personality...Lincoln, Davis, Grant. Lee, Sherman, Jackson.

They are not flat 2-dimensional characters in a finely-scripted play, but living, breathing men with faults and virtues magnified by a time of incomprehensible change in our nation's history.

 

Cheers,

HankC



 Posted: Thu Mar 1st, 2007 06:52 pm
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"They are not flat 2-dimensional characters in a finely-scripted play, but living, breathing men with faults and virtues magnified by a time of incomprehensible change in our nation's history.

 

Cheers,

HankC"

 

I think that says it better w/ less wording than anything I've read recently... thank you.



 Posted: Sat Mar 3rd, 2007 04:27 am
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But this is probably true of any Civil War personality...Lincoln, Davis, Grant. Lee, Sherman, Jackson.


I've never heard any topic about the merits of Grant, Sherman, or Jackson as combat commanders turn to a discussion about race relations (relating to these men and african americans, other than a small reference or two). Forrest, on the other hand, has always been controversal...


No, this is something new. As Shelby Foote noted, men both north and south seemed to admire men like Lee and others in confederate service (this is not universally true of course, but more this than villified) during and after the war. 

Much is made about the "lost cause" proponents on boards like this. While this view may prevent a fully objective view on history, how much worse is the "PC" crowd that labels one a racist for simply mentioning any aspect of men like Lee in a favorable light?

This is the attitude I am concerned about. Don't think it exists? Go to some of my sisters classes then in Ithaca NY, and watch as children are brainwashed that anyone who admires or speeks in a postitive way about any sothern general is racist. History is being revised far more by people like this today than by "lost cause" proponents. Hey, while you're at it, ask two or three of those same professors how U.S. Marines in Iraq are no better than the D.C. serial killers.

This has gotten way off topic...my last post was about how far off topic we had gone (the initial post was about Forrests merits as a combat officer), and here I am perpetuatiing it...oh well...



 Posted: Sat Mar 3rd, 2007 01:09 pm
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Johan Steele
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"I've never heard any topic about the merits of Grant, Sherman, or Jackson as combat commanders turn to a discussion about race relations (relating to these men and african americans, other than a small reference or two). Forrest, on the other hand, has always been controversal..."

Much is made about the "lost cause" proponents on boards like this. While this view may prevent a fully objective view on history, how much worse is the "PC" crowd that labels one a racist for simply mentioning any aspect of men like Lee in a favorable light?

This is the attitude I am concerned about. Don't think it exists? Go to some of my sisters classes then in Ithaca NY, and watch as children are brainwashed that anyone who admires or speeks in a postitive way about any sothern general is racist. History is being revised far more by people like this today than by "lost cause" proponents. Hey, while you're at it, ask two or three of those same professors how U.S. Marines in Iraq are no better than the D.C. serial killers
."


It's common fodder of many of the modern Lost Cause to call Lincoln, Sherman & Grant racists, tyrants etc.  Sherman doubtless was.  In shallow attempts to discredit everything "Northern" & often US.  As a mod on another board I watched several modern Lost Causers spend 2+ years espouseing everything CS as purer than the driven snow in that time four of these, individuals, never once said a positive thing about the North or the US in fact they went to great extents to slander all who ever wore the blue.

That particular board never censors anything unless it involves obvious flaming, cursing or Spam w/ a mod team that has a strict hands off policy towards censorship. As soon as they reliazed they were gaining no converts there became a concious and purposeful effort to shut down the board via mass hate mail, charges of bias, censorship and other outright lies about the owners and mod team.  That is the modern Lost Cause at its finest.  They are the kind of people that never let history get in the way of their story.  That is the rewriting of history I see courtesty of the Lost Cause.

They are often the same people I have seen or read about at Anti-War/anti US demonstrations or bragging about membership to the League of the South or kkk...  Ironic that many in the radical PC crowd are merely the flipside of the same coin.  THey aren't interested in truth or history, merely their own agenda.

The rewriting of history courtesy of the modern Liberal movement is no less insidious or despicable than that of the Lost Cause; the difference is simply that it is a more competantly done job.  Great authors such as Stephen Ambrose and Shelby Foote have noted the concious movement.

But as to the danger of the Lost Cause... who would dare to question the competance of the great Bobby Lee?  or that Genl Lee w/ a one legged Sgt and forty naked Confederate Privates for 4 years against hordes of evil yanks.   Would you ever have heard of little places Vicksburg, Shiloh, Atlanta etc w/out an interest in the CW.  Why it was all about Lee and his one loss at Gettysburg don't ya know!  There was the ANV & the AoP see... they fought the whole war and decided the fate of the war!  A lacadasical education system, the Lost Cause and the PC crowd have created their own version of history that has little foundation in actual research.

"PC crowd" & the Lost Cause Crowd?  Equally despicable and neither w/ any grounding in actual historical research.  Flipsides of the same bad penny that keeps cropping up.

As to professors who say such... I do love how they lack the intestinal fortitude to praise terrorists as their true heros.  But as an aside is a Lost Causer who spends his whole life highlighting every negative (real or invented)  ever done by the US any better?

Now can we get back to Forrest and his merits and flaws... I once heard he used to pick his nose... uncouth charachter no doubt!  ;)



 Posted: Sun Mar 18th, 2007 07:57 pm
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Thinking about that make's my heart burn within me. Sherman would never have taken Atlanta before the presidential election if that had happened or is Johnston would have gone through with the attack at Cassville.

As far a Forrest, he certainly had a dark side. He made his fortune in the slave trade and founded the KKK after the war because of the horror of reconstruction but to his credit he disbanded it.

We know for sure that Forrest was totally fearless and aggressive but a bit insubordinate. In any case he certainly would have made a difference in the Atlanta campaign and if he were to even stall Sherman until after the election it would likely have changed the course of history.

So many "what if's"

J

HankC wrote:
The general knock on Forrest is that he had little actual impact in major campaigns. Other than Shiloh and Chickamauga he was elsewhere and his role was fairly minimal at those 2 battles.

The great unknown is his potential impact if he'd been turned loose on US supply lines in 1863 and 64...

Cheers,

HankC



 Posted: Sun Mar 18th, 2007 08:07 pm
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Wasn't the whole "Ft Pillow" affair, re: Forrest, put to rest when General Sherman investigated and found no fault in Forrest?

J

 Kentucky_Orphan wrote:
I guess it is unavoidable...any conversation about Forrest, no matter how it starts(in this case his merits as a combat officer), always seems to end with Fort Pillow or some controversial aspect of his personality-or about race relations.

Unfortunate, really... and its getting to be as polarized as it was in 1865.In many places simply stating admiration for any confederate general automatically places one in the racist bigot category.

 



 Posted: Sun Mar 18th, 2007 08:13 pm
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Hi Widow,

Isn't Farifax county, VA in the south?

You have it nailed down and this thinking is also what caused all the trouble in reconstruction. The yankees knew very well that this was the way people in the south thought and is the very reason they installed blacks into political office in the south. They did it as an "in your face" punishment and as an offense. It set race relations, that were already bad,  back at least another 50 years and caused much more violence.

J

Widow wrote:
There may have been another factor at Fort Pillow.  It has to do with the chivalric traditions of battle and notions of social equality.  This is just my wild theory, I've never read it anywhere.  What's more, I've never visited the South and I really don't know what I'm talking about.  So bear with me here, please.

Back in the days of yore, when some guys clanked around in tin suits, the general idea was that in battle, it should be a contest between equals.  That is, equal social rank, equal weapons, equal numbers.  Face to face.  The code duello is the perfect illustration.  No sniping, no carrying hidden weapons, no ganging up.

In battle they generally took prisoners to hold for ransom.  A fund-raising activity, you might call it.  So to kill a prisoner was deemed unchivalric as well as unprofitable.

Equal social rank was probably the most important of all.  Aristocrats wouldn't have anything to do with common people.  Noblemen wouldn't fight with yeomen.  It took a thousand years to break that concept that your social status is unchangeable.  What your father was, so you will be.  A bankrupt aristocrat had more privileges than a wealthy merchant.

A slave society must justify itself by believing that the slaves are inferior people.  And when all the slaves are black/mulatto/quadroon/octoroon, it's easy to make the transition from slaves-are-inferiors to blacks-are-inferiors.  I've never read about any white slaves.

So, here you are at Ft. Pillow, a Confederate soldier facing USCTs.  All your life you have been taught to believe they're your inferiors.  The Yankees have changed the rules by putting them on the same level as you.  The underpinnings of your life's belief about what's right and good and proper and civilized - gone!  Would you feel angry, bewildered, frustrated?

I might have, in those circumstances.  Rage is so hard to control.

Patty



 Posted: Sun Mar 18th, 2007 09:26 pm
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In any case he certainly would have made a difference in the Atlanta campaign and if he were to even stall Sherman until after the election it would likely have changed the course of history.


Lieutenant:

Sherman certainly didn't want Forrest anywhere between him and Chattanooga. That's why he arranged to keep "that Devil" busy elsewhere. I don't think that the election caused Sherman to worry overmuch. If there were communications out there emphasizing haste because of the election, they're hiding pretty effectively.

Sherman didn't like politicians -- any politicians. He even avoided his brother unless there was something  he wanted. He'd take orders from Grant. That Grant's orders conveyed Lincoln's wishes didn't matter -- they came in the form of orders. And I've seen no evidence where Grant mentioned the election anywhere in his communications with Sherman.

Here, I'm on shaky ground but, off the top of my head, he ignored different governors' requests for voting leaves theor their states' troops. And he allowed leaves only for those troops he wasn't planning to take with him.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Mar 19th, 2007 12:57 am
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I apologize, I was not clear. I didn't mean to say that Sherman was thinking in any way about the election. What I meant to say was that if Sherman had not taken Atlanta by November, Lincoln may well have lost to Mac and then everything would have changed. Lincoln certainly was worried about it. Sherman was a soldier, I agree.

 

J

 

ole wrote:
In any case he certainly would have made a difference in the Atlanta campaign and if he were to even stall Sherman until after the election it would likely have changed the course of history.


Lieutenant:

Sherman certainly didn't want Forrest anywhere between him and Chattanooga. That's why he arranged to keep "that Devil" busy elsewhere. I don't think that the election caused Sherman to worry overmuch. If there were communications out there emphasizing haste because of the election, they're hiding pretty effectively.

Sherman didn't like politicians -- any politicians. He even avoided his brother unless there was something  he wanted. He'd take orders from Grant. That Grant's orders conveyed Lincoln's wishes didn't matter -- they came in the form of orders. And I've seen no evidence where Grant mentioned the election anywhere in his communications with Sherman.

Here, I'm on shaky ground but, off the top of my head, he ignored different governors' requests for voting leaves theor their states' troops. And he allowed leaves only for those troops he wasn't planning to take with him.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Mar 19th, 2007 02:54 pm
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2nd. LT. Chapman wrote:  You have it nailed down and this thinking is also what caused all the trouble in reconstruction. The yankees knew very well that this was the way people in the south thought and is the very reason they installed blacks into political office in the south. They did it as an "in your face" punishment and as an offense.
 

I think the freedmen had something to do with it. They voted for the people that would best represent them...

 

HankC



 Posted: Mon Mar 19th, 2007 04:24 pm
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2nd. LT. Chapman wrote: I apologize, I was not clear. I didn't mean to say that Sherman was thinking in any way about the election. What I meant to say was that if Sherman had not taken Atlanta by November, Lincoln may well have lost to Mac and then everything would have changed. Lincoln certainly was worried about it. Sherman was a soldier, I agree.

 

Do not apologize. It was I who was unclear. I was attempting to disassociate Atlanta with the elections, but digressed and then compounded the digression. The election is a good topic for discussion by itself.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Oct 8th, 2007 02:18 pm
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Hi...I'm new to this Forum. I'm wondering about a documentary video titled "Rebel Forrest" that's available in a few Civil War catalogs, like DixieGunWorks.com and CivilWarStandard.com. Has anyone seen it? Is it any good?



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 Posted: Wed Oct 10th, 2007 02:32 pm
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Bama:

I don't think anyone denies something untoward happened at Ft. Pillow, the question is what started it exactly and how high up the chain of command either condoned it or was passviely aware of what was going on.

If I notice the other side is killing people trying to surrender, I think I'd pick up my gun again too.

 



 Posted: Wed Oct 10th, 2007 02:58 pm
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I don't quite get all this fuss. Of course it's just propaganda---it's a move in a game. Defeat it or be defeated.

The story of the fight over his rep is itself an amazing story. ---Is there a more convoluted one out there?

All war and fighting is unfair (and wrong and bad) at some level.

How did Forrest kill those 29 guys by hand? --When they finally had their guard down---had twisted around to give him their back or when they dropped their sword or had an empty firearm. It's messy and ugly. And when it's finally "unfair" the other guy can win. For Forrest to sharpen his sword was itself an incorrect thing that gave him an advantage that other officers didn't have. ---Of course, the sword-sharpening is also part of a story, of propaganda with a certain goal in mind.

I can't imagine a leader with an unblemished record. We look at the whole story. I emphasize that what's reported is part of a STORY. One either controls their story or doesn't.

Forrest had no class connections, for one thing. How could he control his story? The people who like(d) him are/were free spirits---even today---they don't like control. Probably they're not connected in terms of class status either---his fans are populists, underdogs. So lack of control comes back to haunt them.

As part of the story game we can ask if other leaders killed or mistreated black enemy or if they were slave traders.

Slave trading had a bad rep even in the South, from what I read. It wasn't what a gentleman did. It was a dirty job that lower people did. This works both for and against Forrest. He was a rare leader who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. But then the dirt hurts the rep.

Anyone who has lived openly at mixed levels of society has felt the sting of losing control of their reputation---but probably not so severely. For instance, those who post their opinions candidly on the Internet can have them come back to bite them even though they're legit. They can be seen as having the wrong image for another level of life. That's why people of authority or even credential rarely post candidly online---lines can be crossed. I've tasted another tiny aspect of this. I grew up rural and ran traplines---considered a low-class, dirty thing by some---as an adult I've socialized with college-grad city people where stories about my past come up---and some blanch at the thought of traplines and hunting and some then feel privileged to be abusive to me. It's a tough game to play!

Part of today's fight against Forrest is over statues---black Southerners say they're offensive. But couldn't all statues of CSA leaders come under such fire? ---They were fighting to preserve slavery. Thus another tool in the story game can be: stand by them all or all will fall.

Detractors say he particularly represents oppression. Fans have to beat that rap, pure'n'simple. I'd say it's fair to say that his story is a uniquely mixed one. Can we handle mixtures? If not, his rep is doomed.

Forrest had a wild temper---it's amazing that more atrocity stories aren't out there.

Actually, I vaguely recall that Forrest's rep was that he mistreated a lot of black Yankees---so the bad rep might extend past Pillow. I know that his strategy when capturing forts was to cause fear to provoke surrender. It almost seems comical how well the gambit worked in the bio's---but did he also put regular doses of reason to fear in there? Wasn't EVERYONE rightly afraid of going against him? Was it all Pillow? Maybe the rep of that one bad incident let him get surrenders from there on out. If something goes wrong, use it to your advantage anyway. Sound familiar?

So he's a hero with flaws. (It's so cliche'!) Patton had them, too---he was a real nut, but thank heaven for him.

Abe Lincoln had flaws too. I recall reading that some of his political moves were considered appalling at the time. His defenders have had to work from time to time to keep the lead. It helps that he was on the winning side, eh? 

Didn't Grant basically "out die" the enemy? He had more troops he could get killed. Appalling.

Maybe there's a tactical way to handle it when we hear detractors. Maybe say: "OK, he was involved with 2 or 3 bad things, for which he was largely cleared, but he actually and definitely did dozens of amazing things."

What about Rommel? The perfect leader---for the bad guys. The public is able to separate the military from the "team" in other cases. Why can't the same be done for Forrest? Maybe we (some of us) can forgive Rommel because his flaw wasn't personal---he had an evil boss but was scrupulous himself. With Forrest everything seemed a unique mix of personal and tactic.

The trouble is partly because BOTH "sides" of the Forrest debate are working against him. The "I ride with Forrest" stickers themselves send multiple messages---well, one main message. Even tho the KKK of Forrest's day wasn't very violently racist, most of those who fly the sticker are just saying they're into the KKK, aren't they? They've tainted the "real" story, anyway, for those who might fly the sticker because they know that to have ridden with Forrest would've been an amazing thing---but does anyone fly it for that reason? It's a contrarian sticker, for sure. Which can be a good thing. But in this case the racists who like Forrest for the wrong reasons are working with those who dislike Forrest for the wrong reasons! And the bad reputation thus persists.

Forrest was an early civil rights advocate---maybe the first southern leader to take that stand? But the nail is in the coffin. It's a shame to lose a story that way. It's a heck of time winning back a story where both sides work against truth.

I've read a bunch of CW bio's and NBF's is easiest the best on many levels.

It's probably just a bunch of yahoos with stickers who wreck it for the rest of us.

Well...I ordered the video documentary---I'll report after viewing.

Last edited on Fri Oct 12th, 2007 06:15 pm by JeffOYB



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