First with the Most Forrest

First with the Most Forrest

First with the Most Forrest

First with the Most Forrest

Excerpt

"Ever greater than his opportunities . . . The greatest soldier of his time. "

On the fourteenth day of June 1861, one month before his fortieth birthday, Nathan Bedford Forrest quietly walked into a Memphis recruiting office to enlist as a private in the service of the Confederate States of America.

In age, in appearance, in his air of successful management of affairs, the new trooper in. Captain Josiah White's company of Tennessee Mounted Rangers stood out from the general run of eager youth crowding to enlist in the Confederate cause. There was six feet two of him, lithe and powerful of build, with teady eyes of deep gray-blue set wide in a lean, high-cheeked, swarthy face crowned with thick, wavy, iron-gray hair and set off with a short black chin beard—altogether a'man of striking and commanding presence.

But he was no beau sabreur of the sort in whom the South delighted. Rather, he was a middle-aged, quiet-spoken businessman who, by the time he was forty, had earned from nothing a fortune, according to his own estimate, of more than a million dollars, and who was going to war in no mood of youthful and romantic adventure, but in cold and sober earnest, wholly and without reservation. "I went into the war because my vote had been unable to preserve the peace," he said in an interview publisbed in the New York Times of June 22, 1868. But he added, "I took a through ticket, and I fought and lost as much as any one else; certainly as much as I could." This one private soldier of all the armies of that war who was to rise to the rank of lieutenant general, and whose operations, long after he was dead, were to receive the respectful study. of commanders of armies in the United States and in Europe, had no military education whatsoever.

His formal education of any sort, indeed, is supposed to have consisted of no more than three months of schooling in the village of Chapel Hill, in Middle Tennessee, where he was born in 1821, and about as much more between his thirteenth year, when the family removed to Tippah County, in northern Mississippi, and his sixteenth year, when the . . .

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