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Forrest, Nathan Bedford 1821-1877

Military officer; born in Bedford county, Tenn., July 13, 1821; joined the Tennessee Mounted Rifles in June, 1861; and, in July following, raised and equipped a regiment of cavalry. By 1863 he had become a famous Confederate chief; and early in 1864 the sphere of his duties was enlarged, and their importance increased. He was acknowledged to be the most skilful and daring Confederate leader in the West. He made an extensive raid in Tennessee and Kentucky, with about 5,000 mounted men, in March and April, 1864. He had been skirmishing with Gen. W. S. Smith in northern Mississippi, and, sweeping rapidly across the Tennessee

Nathan Bedford Forrest.

River into western Tennessee, rested a while at Jackson, and then (March 23) pushed on towards Kentucky. A part of his force captured Union City the next day, with the National garrison of 450 men. Forrest then pushed on to Paducah, on the Ohio River, with 3,000 men, and demanded the surrender of Fort Anderson [406] there, in which the little garrison of 700 men, under Colonel Hicks, had taken refuge. It was refused; and, after assailing the works furiously, and plundering and burning the town until midnight, he ceased the assault. Hearing of reinforcements for Hicks approaching, he retreated (March 27), with a loss of 300 men killed and wounded. The National loss was sixty killed and wounded. Forrest was chagrined by this failure, and proceeded to attack Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi, which he captured in April. Hearing of the march of General Sturgis from Memphis to intercept him, Forrest escaped from Tennessee into Mississippi. A few weeks later, troops sent out from Memphis to hunt up and capture him were defeated by him in a severe engagement at Gun Town (June 10), on the Mobile and Ohio Railway, and were driven back with great loss. On the 14th he was defeated near Tupelo, Miss. Not long afterwards, when Smith was in Mississippi with 10,000 men, the bold raider flanked him, and dashed into Memphis in broad daylight, at the head of 3,000 cavalry, in search of National officers, and escaped again into Mississippi. He died in Memphis, Tenn., Oct. 29, 1877.

His invasion of Tennessee, in 1864, was a remarkable performance. For several weeks he had been in northern Alabama, to prevent troops from the Mississippi joining Sherman. He crossed the Tennessee River, near Waterloo (Sept. 25, 1864), with a force of light cavalry, about 7,000 strong, and invested Athens. The post was surrendered about half an hour before sufficient reinforcements arrived to hold it. These, with the garrison, after a sharp conflict, became prisoners. Forrest then pushed on northward to Pulaski, in Tennessee, destroying the railway; but General Rousseau, at Pulaski, repulsed Forrest after brisk skirmishing several hours, when the raider made eastward, and struck the railway between Tullahoma and Decherd. He was confronted and menaced by National forces under Rousseau, Steedman, and Morgan, and withdrew before he had done much damage. At Fayetteville he divided his forces, giving 4,000 to Buford, his second in command. Buford attacked Athens (Oct. 2-3), which General Granger had regarrisoned with the 73d Indiana Regiment, and was repulsed. Forrest had pushed on to Columbia, on the Duck River, with 3,000 men, but did not attack, for he met Rousseau, with 4,000 men, coming down from Nashville. At the same time, Gen. C. C. Washburne was moving up the Tennessee on steamers, with 4,000 troops, 3,000 of them cavalry, to assist in capturing the invaders. Several other leaders of the National troops, under the command of General Thomas, who had then arrived at Nashville, joined in the hunt for Forrest. He saw his peril,

Map of scene of some of Forrest's operations.

[407] and, paroling his prisoners (1,000), he destroyed 5 miles of the railway south from the Duck River, and escaped over the Tennessee (Oct. 6), at Bainbridge, with very little loss.

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