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[402] Beauregard determined to do all he could to increase, if possible, his sphere of usefulness.

The reader is aware that three regiments of cavalry—Colonels Scott's, Wharton's, and Adams's—had been sent, nearly two months before, to assist General E. Kirby Smith in an offensive movement into middle Tennessee from Chattanooga. This force, instead of operating together against the common enemy, as ordered, kept separated, because of some trivial misunderstanding about rank among its officers, and was unable to accomplish any valuable result. General Beauregard, troubled at such a state of affairs, so clearly prejudicial to good order and discipline, resolved to put a stop to it by placing Colonel Forrest in command of those regiments, with special instructions to afford their officers no time for further disputes. Forrest hesitated at first, modestly alleging his inability to assume such a responsibility; but yielded, finally, when again urged by General Beauregard, and after receiving the promise that his old regiment should be sent to him as soon as it could be spared from the Army of the Mississippi. The following order was thereupon written and immediately handed to him:

Headquarters Western Department, Tupelo, Miss., June 9th, 1862.
Colonel N. B. Forrest, Comdg. Cavalry:
Colonel,—The general commanding directs that you will, with as little delay as practicable, repair to north Alabama and middle Tennessee, and assume command of the cavalry regiments in that section, commanded respectively by Colonels Scott, Wharton, and Adams.

You will carry into effect the verbal instructions communicated to you by the general commanding.1

I am, Colonel, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Geo. Wm. Brent, Acting Chief of Staff.

Thus began the brilliant military career of this remarkable man. He was a born soldier, and had he received a military education, would have ranked among the greatest commanders of the late war. Even as it was, he should, perhaps, be counted as one of the first.

It was shown in the preceding chapter with what persistence Mr. Davis demanded of General Beauregard his reasons for abandoning

1 Copies of the order were furnished for the information of Colonels Scott, Wharton, and Adams.

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