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[367]

We lay around to the south of Nashville with headquarters at various places, Nolensville, Franklin, Spring Hill and Thompson Station, doing outpost and picket duty, which involved some fighting every day.

Most of us thought we were having a hard time, but we found before the year ended that we were, in reality, having the best time of our lives. Food and forage were plentiful, the men and horses in good condition, and, as a matter of fact, most of us preferred a scout or a fight to lying in camp and doing camp duty—for if there is anything a cavalryman hates worse than another it is doing camp guard duty. And it really was of no practical service, for if a soldier wanted to spend a day off to see ‘his girl’ and get a good dinner, all he had to do was to see a friend on guard duty. But even that was unnecessary, for the officers were very lenient and would sign a pass without a question w-hen there was no prospect of fighting on hand. Even Colonel Starnes and General Forrest would countersign a private's pass upon a plausible request.

It was the best army, the best material and the strangest mixture of men that composed any army that history gives any account of. It was essentially a volunteer army. Young men whose parents were wealthy slave owners, and who had never blackened their own shoes or brushed their own clothes in their lives, served as private soldiers under a captain whose father was, perhaps, a tenant on his father's farm. When in camp and off duty the company officers were called by their first names, and even by their nicknames if they had one, and nearly every cavalryman had one. Yet these sons of rich men obeyed orders from their officers as promptly and more cheerfully than the privates in the United States regular army under officers educated at West Point.

This class of soldiers needed but little knowledge of military tactics. On the contrary, it is my opinion that a perfect drill would have detracted from their fighting value. A regiment of well drilled men was simply one fighting machine. A regiment of Forrest's troops was composed of so many hundreds of individual fighting machines, each endowed with sufficient

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N. B. Forrest (2)
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