Articles/Biographies/Military Leaders/Forrest, Nathan Bedfordby Frank Stroupe
Confederate commander, Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest is among the most interesting and controversial figures from the American south. His life before and after The War Between the States, and his battles and actions during the war are still studied, written about, and debated even today by historians, military experts,and activists alike.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, and his twin sister Fanny, was born July 13, 1821, to William and Miriam Beck Forrest, in Bedford County, TN, the second and third oldest of 12 children. In 1834, the family relocated to the newly purchased Chickasaw Territory in northeastern Mississippi, and they settled in a small community called Salem, in Tippah County. (the former site of Salem, which was burned during the Civil War, is now in Benton County) Little is known about William Forrest, except that he was a blacksmith by trade, and the fact that he died when Bedford (the name that Forrest went by) was 16 or 17, forcing young Forrest to become the man of the family.
Likewise, little is known of Forrest's childhood. He received a rudimentary education, as did most male children in that area, probably two to three years at the most, and spent most of his time clearing and working land. Some interesting anecdotes about his childhood do survive, demonstrating the fearlessness, determination, and business savvy, that would serve him well as an adult:
While still living in Tennessee, which would have made him no older than 13, Forrest and some friends were out picking blackberries, when they came upon a rattlesnake. The other boys immediately fled, but Forrest killed the snake with a stick, mainly to show that he wasn't scared of it. Later, in Mississippi, Forrest's mother was attacked by a panther. Forrest took his gun and dog, and tracked down the offending animal, and killed it. (panthers are extremely difficult to track and kill) After his father's death in 1837, Forrest made a comfortable living for the formerly poor family, between the time he was 17 and 21 years old.
In 1840, the family became stricken with "the fever" (probably yellow fever), and although Bedford fully recovered, he lost two of his six brothers, and three of his six sisters, including Fanny, his twin.
In 1841, Forrest joined a small band of local men volunteering to help Texas win their independence from Mexico, though the conflict was over before the time they arrived. Soon after his return to Tippah County, he was stricken with another lengthy illness.
In 1842, after ensuring that his mother was well taken care of financially, and that his younger brothers were old enough to take care of her, Forrest relocated to Hernando, MS, to go into the livery and livestock business with his uncle, Jonathan Forrest. He was extremely successful, showing himself to be an excellent businessman. He also showed himself to be "much of a man", although he seldom started fights, he had no problem ending them.
In 1845, Forrest married Mary Montgomery, and they relocated to Memphis, TN. Forrest built an extremely successful business, dealing in cotton plantations, livestock, real estate, and slaves. Unlike most slave traders at the time, who were considered ruthless and uncaring of the slaves they sold, Forrest was well known for being kind to the slaves in his charge, ensuring they were well fed and clothed, and attempting the best he could to not separate families. Forrest became a wealthy and influential man, and was elected as an alderman to the city.
In 1859, after amassing well over one million dollars (over 21 million in 2005 dollars), Forrest retired his business and purchased a delta cotton plantation in Cohoma County, MS. Though he owned the plantation for only a few years, it was very successful, in 1861 he showed a profit of more than $30,000. ($616,000 today) By that time, he was among the wealthiest planters in the area.
In June, 1861, immediately after Tennessee seceded from the Union, Forrest enlisted as a private in White's Tenn. Mounted Rifles. Forrest refused to use his influence or wealth to "purchase" a commission in the Tennessee militia. Within days, a group of Memphians convinced Governor Ishom Harris, and General Leonidas Polk, that Forrest was capable of much higher responsibility, so Forrest was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the militia, and was allowed to raise a battalion of Cavalry, at his own expense. (the first of three units he would raise and outfit at his own expense during the war)
Much has been written about Nathan Bedford Forrest, and his military exploits. This text will not detail his military history, but will just touch on various battles to further show his character.
Though Forrest had absolutely no military training, he immediately showed an immense understanding of the kind of cavalry tactics that would serve him well during the war. While watching a militarily trained subordinate training the men in various cavalry drills, Forrest asked if there was a drill that would take the same men past the same point various times. The subordinate answered "yes", and was curious why Forrest wanted to know. Forrest replied he felt that some time in the future they would need to make the enemy think they had many more men than they actually did. To quote Shelby Foote, in "The Civil War, a Narrative": "In his first fight, northeast(sic) of Bowling Green, the forty year old Forrest improvised a double envelopment, combined it with a frontal assault-classic maneuvers which he could not identify by name and of which he had most likely never heard..."
Forrest had the uncanny ability, not unlike that of Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and other great military leaders, to immediately read a battlefield, to read the disposition of his opponents, and to know when his opponents had reached the breaking point. Actually, Forrest duplicated many of the tactics of Bonaparte, though he had not been trained in them, nor most likely did he know the name of a single principle of war. Yet, few generals in history made better use of them.
When asked, Forrest stated that he won battles "by getting there first with the most men, planning and making my own fight, never letting the other fellow make the fight for me...Strike the first blow...Get them skeered and keep the skeer on them...charge and give them hell." Most successful military leaders throughout history would basically say the same thing.
Forrest, who was a tall man for the day, at 6'1", was said to have struck an imposing figure. He was described by one of his biographers as: "In person he is six feet one inch and a half in height, with broad shoulders, a full chest and symmetrical, muscular limbs, erect in carriage, and weighs 185 pounds; dark gray eyes, dark hair, mustache, and beard worn upon the chin; a set of regular set teeth and clearly cut features," which altogether, makes him rather a handsome man." Accounts of him by soldiers are similar to those of General Robert E. Lee, his very presence was felt. Private Phillip D. Stephenson, of the 5th Washington Artillery wrote:
"A tall, lithe, straight figure with the look and tread of an Indian passed swiftly by me, his right arm extended and gesticulating energetically to his men, and his tongue 'keeping time to it,' in a loud, high, harsh voice, every accent full of a commanding will that made his men jump to obedience....Forrest was in full uniform, faded but complete, except the head gear. He wore a home-made, bell-crowned, low, black, beaver hat, wide brimmed. Not very pretty. No man had more right to care for appearances than he, noted Stephenson. Forrest was a handsome man with a face, figure, movement, and bearing that no one, once seeing, was apt to forget. You felt that he was a combination of enormous activity, endurance, and strength. That's what he was! Grace too! Forrest was no country gawk nor awkward man, as rough hewn self made men are apt to be."
Though considered by many to be the best cavalry leader of the war, Forrest really didn't follow the traditional role of a traditional cavalry leader, that role being primarily to serve as the eyes and ears of the army commander, Forrest pretty much redefined that role, to serve as mounted infantry. He was most effective when allowed to work independently, though his command always performed superbly when asked to perform traditional cavalry roles.
As early as the campaign against Fort Donelson, in Feb 1862, where Forrest was in charge of all of the Cavalry in the battle, Forrest realized that two Union brigades were retreating, and suggested that he lead his cavalry in an all-out attack. The general on the field, fearing an ambush, forbid it. There was no ambush present, if Forrest had attacked at the particular point he was suggesting, the attack would most likely have been extremely successful, it would have gained an important early-war victory that most likely have likely changed the War in the West, and definitely permanently ruined the career of the opposing general, Ulysses S. Grant. Though, Forrest would give Grant much heartache two years later. Forrest was promoted to Colonel immediately after Fort Donelson.
That night, in a conference of the commanders, the decision was made to surrender. Forrest, furious with the decisions that had been made that day, stood up and angrily exclaimed: "I did not come here for the purpose of surrendering my command!" It was agreed that Forrest's command could leave if they were gone by the time the surrender party showed up. Not only did he extract his entire command, but many other soldiers that wanted to leave, and also Gen's Floyd and Pillow.
A few months later, at the battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), Forrest fought gallantly during the first day, being located at "the hornets' nest". After the death of the commanding general, Albert Sidney Johnston, the new commander, General P T G Beauregard, decided to call off the fighting about an hour before dark, as the men were exhausted and starving, they had marched the entire previous night through mud and water, and had fought viciously throughout the uncommonly hot day. He also believed reinforcements for the Union were 1-2 days' march away. Forrest strongly disagreed with Beauregard, he felt that the Union army, backed against the Tennessee River, was at the breaking point. At midnight, the Union army was reinforced, and the next day proved a huge defeat for the rebels. As the Confederate army retreated, Forrest's cavalry served bravely as rear guard, and prevented further rout and defeat of the army. Forrest actually personally charged and routed a line of Union skirmishers during the retreat. He was promoted to Brigadier General a few months later.
During the next year, Forrest's regiments performed brilliantly in the traditional role as Cavalry - disrupting enemy movements, communications, supply lines, and creating confusion- throughout Western and Middle Tennessee and Northern Mississippi. He captured thousands of Union troops, usually outnumbered 4 to 1. He captured literally millions of dollars of Federal supplies and ordinance...more than any other cavalry commander in history. He actually at one point captured two Federal riverboats, but didn't have the personnel to man them.
At the Battle of Chickamauga, once again, Forrest saw a defeated and demoralized Union army before him (and he was once again correct), and advised an all-out attack. The next night, after the Union army had retreated into Chattanooga, he went to Bragg's headquarters, beside himself of the fact that the army had not moved against the enemy, and tried to impress on General Braxton Bragg the poor state of the enemy. Bragg (who always had some kind of excuse why not to follow up a near victory) asked Forrest how they could move against the enemy without supplies, and refused to order an attack. Forrest replied "General Bragg, we can get all of the supplies we need in Chattanooga." Bragg didn't answer, and Forrest stormed from the tent. Later, when Bragg ordered Forrest to turn over his troops, (the second time, he had also done it about a year before) and report to Gen Joseph Wheeler, a man that Bragg knew that Forrest hated, Forrest said to Bragg:
"You commenced your cowardly and contemptible persecution of me soon after the battle of Shiloh, and you have kept it up ever since. You did it because I reported to Richmond facts, while you reported damned lies. You robbed me of my command in Kentucky, and gave it to one of your personal favorites -- men that I armed and equipped from the enemies of our country. In a spirit of revenge and spite, because I would not fawn upon you as others did, you drove me into West Tennessee in the winter of 1862, with a second brigade I had organized, with improper arms and without sufficient ammunition, although I had made repeated applications for the same. You did it to ruin me and my career.
"When in spite of all this I returned with my command, well equipped by captures, you began your work of spite and persecution, and have kept it up. And now this second brigade, organized and equipped without thanks to you or the government, a brigade which has won a reputation for successful fighting second to none in the army, taking advantage of your position as the commanding general in order to further humiliate me, you have taken these brave men from me.
"I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it.
"You have threatened to arrest me for not obeying you orders promptly. I dare you to do it, and I say that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path, it will be at the peril of your life."
(This quote was told after the war by Forrest's chief surgeon, Dr. J. B. Cowan. Cowan was the only person besides Bragg and Forrest that heard this exchange. Afterwards, Cowan exclaimed to Forrest, "Well, you're in for it now." Forrest replied, "He'll never open his mouth. Unless you or I mention it, this will never be known.")
Forrest spent most of 1864 wreaking havoc on the Union forces under Gen William T. Sherman, in Northern Mississippi, Western and Middle Tennessee (which by this time was under control of the Union army) and Northern Alabama. Sherman became enamored with getting rid of Forrest, and sent several excursions into Northern Mississippi purely for that purpose.
The aftermath of the Battle of Fort Pillow in April, 1864, is still heatedly debated today. An inquiry by General Sherman soon after the "massacre", and a congressional investigation by the US Congress after the war, exonerated Forrest from any personal wrongdoing there. The gist of the controversy stems from accusations that Forrest's men allowed no African-American soldier in Union uniform to surrender, but shot them instead. Although these were the first US Colored Troops that any soldier in the western theater had seen, Forrest had both slaves and freedmen fighting in his ranks, it could have come as no shock to see black men in uniform.
Forrest's defeat of General Samuel D. Sturgis at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads was and is considered brilliant, and is still studied by students at the US Army War College, and in other military schools throughout the world. It has been called "the perfect battle".
While leading his troops north from Decatur to Nashville in late September, 1864, Forrest encountered a Union regiment at Athens, Alabama. When the Federal commander, Colonel Wallace Campbell, refused to surrender, Forrest asked for a personal meeting and invited Campbell to inspect his troops. Campbell accepted. Each time the men left a detachment, Forrest's troops would quickly pack up and race to another position; Forrest and Campbell would then arrive and continue to tally up an impressive number of Confederate troops. By the time they returned to the fort, Campbell was convinced that he was vastly outnumbered and gave Forrest an unconditional surrender.
At Spring Hill, TN, Forrest's command defeated the Federal cavalry, and held a large portion of the infantry until General John Bell Hood's infantry arrived. Forrest again read the enemy disposition correctly, realizing that the enemy would move that night, and demanded that General Hood allow him to cross the river and cut off the Union escape route, but Hood would not give permission. At the end of the following day, after the Battle of Franklin, 5 Confederate Generals and over 6200 of their men lay dead on the battlefield, another general was mortally wounded, and 5 more generals wounded, along with 53 regimental commanders. Afterwards, Forrest told Hood (who had lost a leg, and obviously his confidence, at Gettysburg) if he were half of a man, he would slap his jaws. Hood sent Forrest's command to Murphreesboro, to attempt to draw some of the Union forces away from Nashville, and then proceeded to decimate what was left of his army by ordering a frontal attack against Federal positions at the Battle of Nashville.
Forrest's movements as rear guard, working along with a Mississippi infantry regiment under BG Edward Walthall, has been considered magnificent by military historians around the world. For it, Forrest was promoted to Lieutenant General, and given command of all the cavalry forces in Mississippi. (Walthall was promoted to Major General)
By this time, Forrest knew the war was lost, but continued to harass the Union army as ordered, and continued to fight with the same determination and spirit that he had had throughout the war. (actually, he had admitted that the war was lost as early as 18 months before the surrender.) The word that Lee had surrendered reached the west while Forrest was fighting at Selma, AL. Forrest was approached by Mississippi governor Charles Clark, and Tennessee governor (exiled) Isham Harris, to discuss taking the army to join unsurrendered forces in Texas. Forrest replied, "Men, you may all do as you damn please, but I'm a-going home...To make men fight under such circumstances would be nothing but murder. Any man who is favor of a further prosecution of this war is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum." Forrest surrendered his command, and gave his final address to his troops:
Soldiers: By an agreement made between Lieut.-Gen. Taylor, commanding the Department of Alabama. Mississippi, and East Louisiana, and Major-Gen. Canby, commanding United States forces, the troops of this department have been surrendered.
I do not think it proper or necessary at this time to refer to causes which have reduced us to this extremity; nor is it now a matter of material consequence to us how such results were brought about. That we are BEATEN is a self-evident fact, and any further resistance on our part would justly be regarded as the very height of folly and rashness.
The armies of Generals Lee and Johnston having surrendered. you are the last of all the troops of the Confederate States Army east of the Mississippi River to lay down your arms.
The Cause for which you have so long and so manfully struggled, and for which you have braved dangers, endured privations, and sufferings, and made so many sacrifices, is today hopeless. The government which we sought to establish and perpetuate, is at an end. Reason dictates and humanity demands that no more blood be shed. Fully realizing and feeling that such is the case, it is your duty and mine to lay down our arms -- submit to the "powers that be" -- and to aid in restoring peace and establishing law and order throughout the land.
The terms upon which you were surrendered are favorable, and should be satisfactory and acceptable to all. They manifest a spirit of magnanimity and liberality, on the part of the Federal authorities, which should be met, on our part, by a faithful compliance with all the stipulations and conditions therein expressed. As your Commander, I sincerely hope that every officer and soldier of my command will cheerfully obey the orders given, and carry out in good faith all the terms of the cartel.
Those who neglect the terms and refuse to be paroled, may assuredly expect, when arrested, to be sent North and imprisoned. Let those who are absent from their commands, from whatever cause, report at once to this place, or to Jackson, Miss.; or, if too remote from either, to the nearest United States post or garrison, for parole.
Civil war, such as you have just passed through naturally engenders feelings of animosity, hatred, and revenge. It is our duty to divest ourselves of all such feelings; and as far as it is in our power to do so, to cultivate friendly feelings towards those with whom we have so long contended, and heretofore so widely, but honestly, differed. Neighborhood feuds, personal animosities, and private differences should be blotted out; and, when you return home, a manly, straightforward course of conduct will secure the respect of your enemies. Whatever your responsibilities may be to Government, to society, or to individuals meet them like men.
The attempt made to establish a separate and independent Confederation has failed; but the consciousness of having done your duty faithfully, and to the end, will, in some measure, repay for the hardships you have undergone.
In bidding you farewell, rest assured that you carry with you my best wishes for your future welfare and happiness. Without, in any way, referring to the merits of the Cause in which we have been engaged, your courage and determination, as exhibited on many hard-fought fields, has elicited the respect and admiration of friend and foe. And I now cheerfully and gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the officers and men of my command whose zeal, fidelity and unflinching bravery have been the great source of my past success in arms.
I have never, on the field of battle, sent you where I was unwilling to go myself; nor would I now advise you to a course which I felt myself unwilling to pursue. You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the Government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous.
Forrest surrendered himself and his command, and after he was exonerated for war crimes, he signed his parole in Memphis, his fortune gone, he one again began living as a civilian. He once was quoted as saying "I went into the army worth a million and a half dollars, and came out a beggar."
Forrest took a job as president of Selma, Marion & Memphis Railroad, which he was successful at.
Forrest was a local celebrity after the war. He tried to help former Confederate soldiers, and their widows and families all he could.
Forrest gave many speeches and talks around the Memphis area from 1866 to 1874. Most of these speeches talked of peace, patriotism for the US Constitution, and trying to bring the country back together. Addressing an African-American group, he was quoted as saying, "We are born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live on the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters?"
In August, 1866, a troop of Federal cavalry was riding by Forrest's place, as much out of curiosity to see him as for any more definite reason. Forrest's war horse, King Phillip, was grazing in the front lot. As the blue-clad cavalry filed into the lot on the way up to the house, King Phillip's training in many a melee reasserted itself, and he rushed the bluecoats, teeth bared and front feet flailing. When some of the soldiers, astonished at his onslaught, struck at him, Forrest's wartime body servant Jerry- whom the other Negro's in the Forrest command had referred to, and obeyed, as "the Gin'ral"- rushed out to defend the horse. After Forrest himself had come out and the horse was back in the stable and things had quieted down, the Federal captain observed, "General, now I can account for your success. Your negroes fight for you, and your horses fight for you."
Forrest was also known to have a soft side. He held women in the highest regard, and was said to "melt" in the presence of children, whom he loved. At the battle near Okolona, Miss, his favorite brother, Jeffrey, who was also one of Forrest's division commanders, was shot in the neck and died on the battlefield. Forrest went to him, knelt on the ground, and was said by witnesses to have been visibly shaken and pained by his brother's death.
"Reconstruction", the 17 year period after the war when the south was under martial law, and the people basically lost their rights as Americans, was a terrible time for the citizens of the former Confederate States of America. It was intended by the US Congress as punishment for secession. The south was controlled by military leaders, who may have been excellent commanders in battle, but were pretty much universally horrible as governors. A "carpetbagger" government was put in place...men that were generally scoundrels and often criminals, served as "rulers" of the states and communities. They appointed former Union sympathizers and former slaves in positions of authority, to infuriate and humiliate the people. This was pretty much a lawless time throughout much of the south, not unlike that in the western territories. Forrest described that government as "I believe that party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst men on Gods earth - men who would not hesitate at no crime [sic], and who have only one object in view - to enrich themselves."
The Ku Klux Klan is a secret organization that has always been shrouded in mystery. Even its very beginnings are sketchy. It is known that 6 former Confederate officers at Pulaski Tennessee, approached Forrest with the idea of a "police force", for the blessings of Forrest, who held the respect of the people. Forrest gave his blessings, and for it, he was appointed their first leader. The controversy stems in whether Forrest actually played an active part in the organization.
The KKK quickly spread throughout the south. Secrecy was, of course, an important part of this organization, because it was considered illegal by the "carpetbagger" government. Forrest, in an interview with the Cincinnati Commercial stated:
"Yes, sir. It is a protective political military organization. I am willing to show any man the constitution of the society. The members are sworn to recognize the government of the United States. It does not say anything at all about the government of Tennessee. Its objects originally were protection against Loyal Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic; but after it became general it was found that political matters and interests could best be promoted within it, and it was then made a political organization, giving its support, of course, to the democratic party...."
"...Since its organization, the leagues have quit killing and murdering our people. There were some foolish young men who put masks on their faces and rode over the country, frightening negroes, but orders have been issued to stop that, and it has ceased. You may say, further, that three members of the Ku-Klux have been court-martialed and shot for violations of the orders not to disturb or molest people."
When asked if he was actually a member of the KKK, Forrest stated "I am not, but am in sympathy and will co-operate with them. I know that they are charged with many crimes that they are not guilty of."
By 1869, for several reasons, including fear of retaliation on the Tennessee people from the militia, who had been given the order from Governor Brownlow to "shoot down the KuKlux on site", it being well known that Brownlow called all southerners "KuKlux", Forrest asked the KKK to disband, stating "being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace."
Though the KKK is now known as a hate group, and is known primarily at that time for lynchings and terrorizing former slaves, the Klan did serve a useful purpose. They helped take care of poor Confederate widows; they took care of criminals and fought crime, and they basically restored order to the South, where there was none.
Forrest's health gradually declined for the last few years of his life, probably from diabetes. During much of that time, he was cared for by some of his former slaves, who had come to live him at his house in Bailey Springs, TN after the war. He attended a reunion of of his former regiments in 1876, and addressed the former soldiers from horseback, being too sick to dismount his horse. Pale and thin, Bedford said, "Soldiers, I was afraid that I could not be with you today, but I could not bear the thought of not meeting with you, and I will always try to meet with you in the future."
On October 29th, 1877, former president Jefferson Davis came to visit Forrest, along with obviously a small crowd of people, a common act at the time for someone that was dying...he was in and out of consciousness, and barely recognized Davis. At 7pm, he breathed his last breath. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery, in Memphis. His remains were reinterred to Forrest Park Cemetery...of course named after the general.
Forrest's legacy is determined by who the interested person is, where they live, what their interest in Forrest is, among other determining factors.
Forrest's contemporaries showed much respect for the General. Reportedly, someone asked Robert E. Lee to name the greatest soldier produced on either side during the war and he replied, "A man I have never seen, sir. His name is Forrest." General Sherman, who during the called him "that devil Forrest", also had a high opinion of Forrest and said, "Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side." General Joseph E. Johnston said essentially the same thing as did General P. G. T. Beauregard. To Beauregard, "Forrest's capacity for war seemed only to be limited by the opportunities for its display."
Military historians and tacticians study Forrest's tactics and movements, and still utilize his tactics in battle plans. Forrest's battles have been and are still studied today. The war colleges for most armies around the world study Brice's Crossroads. German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, and four other German military leaders, visited the battlefield in 1937, while touring the United States.
For the first two or three generations after the war, the people of the south, especially in the area that he served, loved Forrest. Towns, cities, counties, streets, parks, etc, all over Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, still bear his name. This author, who grew up in Northern Mississippi during the 1960's, remembers many older people that spoke of Forrest with reverence.
Many Civil War buffs and activists place Forrest on the same pedestal as Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, James Longstreet, and others.
Unfortunately, to most of the rest of the population, mostly due to the work of civil rights activists, Forrest is mostly known for being a slave trader, and the first "Grand Dragon" or whatever, of the KKK. Those same people have worked for years at destroying the memory of the Confederacy.
Perhaps the most fitting epitaph for Nathan Bedford Forrest, were the words his friend, Minor Meriwether, was heard to tearfully say to his son Lee, within minutes of Forrest's passing away: "the man you just saw dying will never die. He will live in the memory of men who love patriotism, and who admire genius and daring."
That Devil Forrest -The Life of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, John Allan Wyeth, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1959.
Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company, Andrew Nelson Lytle, New York: Minton Balch, 1931
Fustest with the Mostest: The Military Career of Tennessee's Greatest Confederate, Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Edward F. Williams III, Memphis: Southern Books, 1969.
First with the Most: Forrest at Brice's Cross Roads and in North Mississippi in 1864, Edwin C. Bearss, Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1979
The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. Shelby Foote, New York: Random House, 1958.
The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. Shelby Foote, New York: Random House, 1963.
The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox.Shelby Foote, New York: Random House, 1974.
Hughes, Nathaniel Cheairs Jr. "The Civil War Memoir of Philip Daingerfield Stephenson, D. D., UCA Press 1995