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Forrest - The Conundrum - N.B. Forrest - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Sep 9th, 2009 07:03 pm
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TimK
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I was recently at Brice's Crossroads, the site of what is considered N.B. Forrest's greatest victory. I openly admit I am not a scholar, but know enough to be a little dangerous. I also realize that there is already a thread about this man that is fairly lengthy, but has not been added to in a couple years. I want to open up a slightly different thread, and in no way do I hope it gets inflammatory - I'm just looking for some insight.

According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know), there are 32 historical markers in Tennessee linked to NBF, which is more than the three presidents the state has produced. Numerous other parks, schools, counties, etc. are also named after him. Does anybody out there maybe feel a little uncomfortable sending their kid to N.B. Forrest Elementary School, not because of his military accomplishments, but because of his business ventures and social clubs? With a predominately northern perspective, I still would not have a problem sending my child to R. E. Lee or Thomas Jackson Middle School, but when I was in Memphis I was a little uncomfortable lunching in Forrest Park. Therein lies the conundrum. Any thoughts?



 Posted: Wed Sep 9th, 2009 07:40 pm
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19bama46
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TimK wrote: I was recently at Brice's Crossroads, the site of what is considered N.B. Forrest's greatest victory. I openly admit I am not a scholar, but know enough to be a little dangerous. I also realize that there is already a thread about this man that is fairly lengthy, but has not been added to in a couple years. I want to open up a slightly different thread, and in no way do I hope it gets inflammatory - I'm just looking for some insight.

According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know), there are 32 historical markers in Tennessee linked to NBF, which is more than the three presidents the state has produced. Numerous other parks, schools, counties, etc. are also named after him. Does anybody out there maybe feel a little uncomfortable sending their kid to N.B. Forrest Elementary School, not because of his military accomplishments, but because of his business ventures and social clubs? With a predominately northern perspective, I still would not have a problem sending my child to R. E. Lee or Thomas Jackson Middle School, but when I was in Memphis I was a little uncomfortable lunching in Forrest Park. Therein lies the conundrum. Any thoughts?
I will not go into all the accomplishments of this man but will say that his occupation prior to the ACW was legal if somewhat unsavory. He is not honored for that. He is sometimes accused by folks who really don't know or understand what they think they know relative to his relationship or lack of same with the KKK, but again he is not honored for this. Was he flawed... all humans are. Would you be honored to send your children to JFK  HS?... all indications are that he was a womanizer who objectified women... Is he being honored for these actions or others? MLK a man who accomplishe many things in his life had many faults... do we honor him for his accomplishemnts or condem him for his faults?Why is it that we cannot accept people as whole complete with warts and faults? Name one person from anywhere on Planet earth that can be honored if we refuse to honor them if they have faults.Off my soapboxEd

Last edited on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 07:40 pm by 19bama46



 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 03:27 pm
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Johan Steele
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Forrest is one of those men who the more I learn about the more I respect him. That doesn't mean I'd necessarily invite the man to dinner but he was one hell of a fighting man. I can say that about quite a few ACW men, but I can also say there are those that the more you learn the less you like.

I'll take Forrest over Wheeler any day.



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 05:50 am
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cklarson
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My visceral perception of Forrest has always been that he is a hero because: a) people love guerrillas (read: underdogs); and b) by definition, being from Mississippi, he was their state hero. Beyond that I find it difficult to gloss over: a) his slave trading career; b) his responsiblity for the Ft. Pillow massacre of US black troops and, I think, also whites; and c) his founding of the KKK (although to his credit, even he quit after they became so violent).

But more precisely, some years ago I heard a very good lecture by a West Point history instructor who did a professional review of Forrest's career. His major conclusions were: 1) his guerrilla reputation is somewhat glorified, as he never went up against a force of more than 2,500 men and when he finally did he was beaten; 2) he was a terrible subordinate--had to do things his own way.

Otherwise folks might be interested in the 10-page deposition of Mary Ann Pitman, aka Lt. Rawley, who was a soldier under Forrest and worked as a gun runner to and from St. Louis for him. The provost marshal who interestviewed her declined her offer to set up Forrest in a trap to be captured, apparently doubting her motives. The most revealing part of the deposition is the questioning at the end in which she relates the goings on at, I think, KGC meetings in which assassinations and robberies of US soldiers were planned. In the end, she preferred not to rejoin her former service. This interview is in the official army records; just look up her name in the general index.

CKL



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 06:52 pm
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19bama46
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slave trading was an unsavory occupation, but a legal one at the time. That was a wart on his career, but all have them.

The "Massacre" at Ft Pillow has never been proven or disproven.. That would have been a complex situation even if the propaganda machine had not gotten involved. That it did probably means we will never know with certainty what happened. I have read accounts that villified Forrest, others that said the casulty rate was not out of line with the times. Some said USCT were killed out of hand, others say the USCT soldiers put down weapons and surrenedered one minute, only to pick them back up again and take on the role of combatents..

Finally, was he in fact the Grand Poobah of the KKK or did he just lend his name to what was then sort of a veterans club?...

Was he lilly white, no, but he was not the monster others would make him out to be.



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 09:31 pm
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javal1
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Would I feel bad if my kid went to N.B. Forrest School? Is it a good school? If so, I couldn't care less what it's named. Would I feel bad about being in N.B. Forrest Park? Only for the fact that I could probably be doing something more constructive. Couldn't care less what it's called.

I think slavery was a horrible blot on our history. But the genocide of the American Indian was every bit as evil. Take a look at some of the "American Heroes" (including Presidents if I'm not mistaken) who had a grand old time participating in that little outrage. Do we re-name the schools and parks that they're named after?

BTW, I happen to admire the tactical genius of Forrest as an independent commander.

Good question though!



 Posted: Sun Sep 13th, 2009 07:28 pm
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susansweet3
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javal good response.  The Native American statement is so true.  Sheridan , Custer , and others were part of the mass killing of the Native population but schools and towns and other sites don't get renamed. 

I laughed about being in Forrest Park.  My only problem with being there is being mugged or such.  It is not in the best part of Memphis anymore.  My cousin only slowed down to the curb so I could take a picture out the window of the car. 

As to the Klan charge .  Many historians today think the Klan at the end of the war was not the Klan as we know it today.  Forrest was not the founder and when the Klan changed he left the klan. 

By the way Forrest was not from Mississippi .  He was born in Chapel Hill Tennessee and died in Memphis Tennessee .  That would make him a Tennesseean I would think.  Some of his raids were in Mississippi like Brice's Crossing . But he and his men were from Central Tennessee . 

Susan



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 05:40 pm
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TimK
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I realized when I started this thread that it was probably a little touchy, and it might make more sense to leave it alone, but I was looking for a little civil conversation. I received it, and thanks for not ripping me too hard. The fact is, I cannot disagree in total with what most are saying, hence the conundrum. But I would like to respond to a few points.

1) I can't quite bring myself to make a comparison to what JFK did and what Forrest did. Womanizing and objectifying women, in my opinion, does not fall in the same category as buying and selling people. I can't defend his or MLK's actions in this area, but I can't relate this to slave trading. Even though slave trading was legal, many recognized it was not quite the same as buying and selling coffee or horses. Yes, we all have warts, but not all of us have warts like this.

2) True, Fort Pillow has never been totally proven. However, from most accounts, including some from Confederates, something bad happened. And if I were part of the USCT and tried to surrender with no recognition of such, I would pick my arms up again also. Enough has been written for me to believe that there was a Fort Pillow massacre, and Forrest had a part in it.

3) I can't argue with the genocide of American Natives being just as or more evil than anything Forrest did. This also sickens me quite a bit. But I also think that many names have been changed where they can be. An example would be that when inaugurated in 1946, Little Bighorn Battlefield NM was named Custer Battlefield NM. The name was changed in 1991. Certainly not enough, but at least there is some recognition of trying to right a poorly named monument.

4) Maybe I'm naive, but I have never felt threatened in Forrest Park. I have been there more than once, and the last time with my young children and my mother in-law. I did find it ironic that at times, I was the only person with white skin in the park dedicated to a man that possibly bought and sold some of the ancestors of the people enjoying the park.

So, yeah, I whole heartedly agree that Forrest should be respected for his tactical genius and deserves the military recognition he has received, even if he was considered a terrible subordinate. But, with all due respect to people that consider Forrest one of their heroes, I am going to stick with my gut feeling that all the monuments, parks, counties, etc. dedicated to Forrest may not be proportionate to his military achievements.

This is all my opinion and posted with respect to all.



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 05:53 pm
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javal1
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Tim,

I don't think anyone took offense at your post. I personally like "controversial" topics like this. I think it's been a civil thread.

Remember, sometimes folks words on a board come out sharper than they're meant. I for one HATE to type - I despise it. So I type what I want to say with a minimum of niceties. But you've talked to me on the phone and you know I'm just a big softie :P



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:03 pm
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19bama46
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Tim,
with respect, I believe you are allowing your 21st century values to influence your view of a 19th century event. Slave trading was unsavory, but not sickening in THAT ERA.
Kennedy was just "lucky with the ladies" in HIS ERA. If we judge them by OUR era, we come off with a skewed view.


Forrest was a man on his times and should be judged in the context of those times, and yes, they were way different than ours...
Ft Pillow,..... some say "where there's smoke, there's fire".. I'm inclined to believe "where there's smoke, someone has a smoke machine" I just don't see it that way. From all I have read, from everything I know, the "massacre" resulted from raw untrained troops, from Forrest NOT being present.., from yellow journalism and sensationalism... Nothing in Forrest's background or in his actions after the fact comes even close to that event. It is totally our of character witht the man as we know him...

What did Sherman say post war
" We are here to try Forrest..
We are here to convict Forrest...
And we are here to hang Forrest"....
Why didn't it happen???????



 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2009 08:30 pm
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Old Blu
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What did Sherman say post war
" We are here to try Forrest..
We are here to convict Forrest...
And we are here to hang Forrest"....
Why didn't it happen???????

I am curious.  Did sherman say that?  Maybe.  But the Congressional hearing set him free from prosecution. 



 Posted: Tue Sep 15th, 2009 03:15 am
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19bama46
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Old Blu wrote: What did Sherman say post war
" We are here to try Forrest..
We are here to convict Forrest...
And we are here to hang Forrest"....
Why didn't it happen???????

I am curious.  Did sherman say that?  Maybe.  But the Congressional hearing set him free from prosecution. 

Yes they did... why do you suppose a Republican congressional committee set him free????



 Posted: Tue Sep 15th, 2009 11:21 am
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Maverick
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No. I would not feel uncomfortable sending my child to a school or a Park or any other public place named after N.B. Forrest. Why should I feel uncomfortable ?



TimK: "....but when I was in Memphis I was a little uncomfortable lunching in Forrest Park. Therein lies the conundrum. Any thoughts?"

Why do you feel uncomfortable eating lunch in Forrest Park, TimK ?

 



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"Where this division defended, no odds broke its line; where it attacked, no numbers resisted its onslaught, save only once; and there is the grave of Cleburne." ~ Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee


 Posted: Wed Sep 16th, 2009 07:33 pm
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Old Sorrel
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Hello Mav,

I'll have lunch with ya at Forrest Park...:cool:

I'll bring some fine Yankee munches and you bring the homemade wine.



 Posted: Thu Sep 17th, 2009 11:59 am
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Maverick
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Hi Old Sorrel ! Good to see you here my friend ! :D

Sure....I'll bring the homemade wine and some homemade whiskey too ! We'll toast to the brave deeds of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Park and school named in his honor.

That is one thing among many that I, a southerner, admire about you, Old Sorrel. You being a northerner with a pro-Union stance, feel the same way as I do about the current PC regrading the ACW and the deeds of CS participants. It's all a bunch of modern media hoopla used to promote a modern agenda against the Confederacy and the modern South. Forrest was at war, and war meant killing, capturing or destroying the enemy.

No one mentioned the various reports of the civilian population against the actions of the garrisoned USCT at Fort Pillow. You usually (only) hear about the execution of negro soldiers after they surrendered: and the 'savagery' of Confederate troops under Forrest. The civilians around the Fort reported violations from the USCT to Forrest and his command before they arrived at the place. 

But I tread beyond the focus of the thread. I would have zero problem with sending my children to a school named after N.B. Forrest nor feasting in a Park named in his honor.        



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"Where this division defended, no odds broke its line; where it attacked, no numbers resisted its onslaught, save only once; and there is the grave of Cleburne." ~ Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee


 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2013 02:51 am
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PW Hess
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Old Sorrel wrote: Hello Mav,

I'll have lunch with ya at Forrest Park...:cool:

I'll bring some fine Yankee munches and you bring the homemade wine.


Better get there quick. The city of Memphis has decided to change the name of Forrest park. The PC crowd wins another one!!

Now I'm curious about one other thing-will they dig up his body (which is buried in the park) and put it somewhere else??

Attachment: Forrest.jpg (Downloaded 12 times)



 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2013 01:08 pm
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Hellcat
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That's a possibility in today's atmosphere. But I think there's another possibility. If there's anything marking his grave instead of digging him up they may remove the marker so as to leave him in an unmarked grave and thus potentially unknown to the future.

Of course there is a tird possibility, a combination of the first two, remove his body and then bury it in an unmarked grave where the body would become unknown to the future.



 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2013 01:56 pm
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PW Hess
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I checked out Find-A-Grave and here is what they said. Forrest died in 1877, and was originally buried in Elmwood Cemeteary. Jefferson Davis was the orator. Thousands marched in the funeral procession.

In 1905 the bodies of Forrest and his wife were moved to Forrest Park.

The park has now been renamed Health Sciences Park!:X

As the photos below show, it looks like they are buried under the statue. Hope the PC crowd doesn't strain them selves lifting it!!

 

Attachment: forrest park.jpg (Downloaded 11 times)

Last edited on Mon Apr 8th, 2013 02:13 pm by PW Hess



 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2013 02:16 pm
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PW Hess
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Let me just add the other pictures on the site, specifically the headstones and a close up of the Forrest statue.

 

Attachment: forreststatuehorse.jpg (Downloaded 11 times)



 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2013 02:17 pm
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PW Hess
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Headstones 1

Attachment: forrest stones.jpg (Downloaded 11 times)



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