The Wizard of the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest

The Wizard of the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest - Jeffrey K. Smith

The Wizard of the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest

His admirers call him a military genius, while his detractors label him a cold-blooded killer. Regardless of the characterization, Nathan Bedford Forrest entered the American Civil War as a virtual unknown, but emerged as a Rebel hero and a Yankee villain. As a young adult, the Tennessean worked his way up the economic ladder, operating a livery business and brick yard, and serving as the town constable and coroner. With fierce determination to improve his financial standing, he eventually became a successful slave trader, real estate broker, and cotton planter. By the time the Civil War broke out in April of 1861, Forrest was a millionaire. Joining the Rebel cavalry with no previous military training, he became the only man in either the Confederate or Union Armies to rise from the rank of Private to Lieutenant General. He soon became the Confederacy's most accomplished cavalryman. His daring troopers repeatedly disrupted Union Army communication and supply lines. Lacking a West Point resume, and having benefited from a year of formal education, at most, Forrest developed his own battlefield strategies, which have since been studied at military academies throughout the world. A master at mobile warfare, the intrepid Forrest readily transformed his cavalrymen into foot soldiers when battlefield conditions were favorable. Forrest was also devastatingly adept at using artillery to pound the enemy into submission. At the same time, he was a master at the bluff, often inducing much larger Union Army forces to surrender to his troopers. When asked to summarize his military strategy, he offered a simple, but often-quoted maxim: "Get there first with the most men." Unlike many contemporary military leaders, Forrest led the charge into battle. Wounded 4 times, his courage under fire inspired his troopers and fortified their resolve. During the course of the Civil War, Forrest killed 31 enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat and had 30 horses shot out from under him. At the end of the war, his troopers were credited with having taken 31,000 prisoners of war. Forrest emerged from the Civil War physically battered and financially ruined. He was never able to replicate his pre-war financial successes, and ultimately was employed as the supervisor of convict labor camp. Rebelling against the sociopolitical culture of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, Forrest joined the newly-formed Ku Klux Klan and was purportedly elected as the secret organization's first Grand W
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His admirers call him a military genius, while his detractors label him a cold-blooded killer. Regardless of the characterization, Nathan Bedford Forrest entered the American Civil War as a virtual unknown, but emerged as a Rebel hero and a Yankee villain. As a young adult, the Tennessean worked his way up the economic ladder, operating a livery business and brick yard, and serving as the town constable and coroner. With fierce determination to improve his financial standing, he eventually became a successful slave trader, real estate broker, and cotton planter. By the time the Civil War broke out in April of 1861, Forrest was a millionaire. Joining the Rebel cavalry with no previous military training, he became the only man in either the Confederate or Union Armies to rise from the rank of Private to Lieutenant General. He soon became the Confederacy's most accomplished cavalryman. His daring troopers repeatedly disrupted Union Army communication and supply lines. Lacking a West Point resume, and having benefited from a year of formal education, at most, Forrest developed his own battlefield strategies, which have since been studied at military academies throughout the world. A master at mobile warfare, the intrepid Forrest readily transformed his cavalrymen into foot soldiers when battlefield conditions were favorable. Forrest was also devastatingly adept at using artillery to pound the enemy into submission. At the same time, he was a master at the bluff, often inducing much larger Union Army forces to surrender to his troopers. When asked to summarize his military strategy, he offered a simple, but often-quoted maxim: "Get there first with the most men." Unlike many contemporary military leaders, Forrest led the charge into battle. Wounded 4 times, his courage under fire inspired his troopers and fortified their resolve. During the course of the Civil War, Forrest killed 31 enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat and had 30 horses shot out from under him. At the end of the war, his troopers were credited with having taken 31,000 prisoners of war. Forrest emerged from the Civil War physically battered and financially ruined. He was never able to replicate his pre-war financial successes, and ultimately was employed as the supervisor of convict labor camp. Rebelling against the sociopolitical culture of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, Forrest joined the newly-formed Ku Klux Klan and was purportedly elected as the secret organization's first Grand W
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