Nathan Bedford Forrest "The Wizard Of The Saddle” His tacticson the battlefield are still studied by military academies today
“I wish none but those who desire to be actively engaged. Come on boys, if you want a heap of fun and to kill some yankees”
29 horses shot from under him, killed or seriously wounded at least thirty enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, and had been himself wounded four times.
In the motion picture Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks’s character Forrest Gump states that he was named after a “General Forrest”
Forrest’s victory at Brice’s Cross Roads became the subject of a class taught at the French War College by Marshal Ferdinand Foch before World War I.
His mobile campaigns were studied by the German general Erwin Rommel, who as commander of the Afrika Korps in World War II, emulated his tactics on a wider scale, with tanks and trucks.
Not only did he lack formal military training, but had very little formal education in his youth. Forrest was the eldest, and the head of seven brothers and three sisters. His father, a blacksmith, died while Forrest was still a young man, necessitating that he forego a formal education and help to raise the family. As a young business man, Forrest overcame his lack of schooling, entering the war as a private with an estimated wealth of a million and a half. During the war, he was an avid reader, scanning the newspapers daily to keep abreast of military information.
Years after the war, General Sherman said, "I think Forrest was the most remarkable man the civil war produced on either side. His opponents were professional soldiers, while he had no military training. He was never taught tactics yet he had a genius for strategy that was original and to me incomprehensible. I couldn’t calculate what he was up to, yet he always knew my intentions."
His lack of education became most noticeable in his poor spelling and punctuation of personally written dispatches and reports. The words such as “skeer,” “git” and “thar” were some examples. Described as urbane and polished in his mannerisms, most of the grammatical distortions in his speech were products of his staff officers and their leg-pulling tales of Forrest. However, in anger or excitement, his no nonsense approach to the English language would become evident. Once, having received a soldier’s repeated request for leave, Forrest responded in writing: “I have told you twict goddamit No!”
He continued to be surrounded by controversy for the remainder of his life. He continued to be active in civic and political events until his health declined prior to his death. On May 14, 1875 he presence was conspicuous at a reunion of the Seventh Cavalry in Covington. Requested to make a speech, he did so from horseback. “…Comrades, through the years of bloodshed and weary marches you were tried and true soldiers. So through the years of peace you have been good citizens, and now that we are again united under the old flag, I love it as I did in the days of my youth, and I feel sure that you love it also….It has been thought by some that our social reunions were wrong, and that they would be heralded to the North as an evidence that we were again ready to break out into civil war. But I think that they are right and proper, and we will show our countrymen by our conduct and dignity that brave soldiers are always good citizens and law-abiding and loyal people.”
Civil War Era- Orator,Abolitionist, Women’s Advocate, Author, Playwright And Actress
First woman to speak before the United States Congress
First white woman on record to climb Colorado’s Longs Peak in 1873.
One newsman wrote that she “could hold her audience spellbound for as much as two hours. She gave the impression of being under some magical control.” Averaging a speech every other day, she earned as much as twenty thousand dollars annually – an amazing amount for that era.
In 1861 she held a position at the U.S. mint in Philadelphia, but she was fired for publicly accusing General George B. McClellan of treason in the loss of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Thereafter she devoted herself to the speaker’s platform.
She addressed venereal disease in a lecture titled “Between Us Be Truth” and spoke on polygamy in “Whited Sepulchers.” Her most popular talk was about Joan of Arc, and some people referred to her as the “Civil War’s Joan of Arc.” She also published several books, the most radical of which was a novel sympathetic to interracial marriage, What Answer? (1868).
By 1891, showed such signs of paranoia that she was involuntarily committed to a Pennsylvania hospital for the insane. She filed lawsuits upon her release, was adjudicated sane, and recovered damages from newspapers – but the experience shook her self-confidence and ended her career. Fame arguably had come too easily, too early in her life. Although she was a genuine celebrity and an asset to the Union in the Civil War, Anna Dickinson lived the next forty years in the households of friends, unnoticed and unwanted by the public. She died just days before her ninetieth birthday.
The use of camels for warfare has gone back for thousands of years as the camel has many advantages over the traditional horse. In dry arid deserts a camel can function for up to a week without water and can cross desert terrain to rough for horses. While not as fast or maneuverable as a horse, a camel is a much larger animal which lends to an intimidation factor in battle. These were the same arguments made by Capt. George H. Crossman, a Mexican American War veteran who was accustomed to operating and fighting in dry desert conditions. Throughout the 1850’s Capt. Crossman preached to all who would listen, espousing the view that the US Army should adopt camels for use on the western frontier.
In 1855 he got his chance when Secretary of War Jefferson Davis approved his plan to assemble an experimental camel corps. With $30,000 dollars Capt. Crossman and his associate Major Henry C. Wayne purchased 76 camels from Greece, Malta, Turkey, and Egypt along with 5 experienced Bedouin handlers.
In 1856 the camels landed at Indianola, Texas and were driven Camp Verde for assignments. Once there the men were trained by the camel handlers how to ride, care for, and command their camels. From 1856 to 1860 the 1st US Camel Corps patrolled the southwest. The Camel Corps even conducted exploratory surveys and mapping expeditions Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and California. Early results of the experiment showed great success, as the animals easily operated in the deserts of the southwest. Furthermore the camels proved that they could cross rugged terrain that horses could not go. If it wasn’t for the American Civil War, John Wayne and the Lone Ranger may have ridden camels instead of horses.
In 1860, with tensions rising between the north and the south, the US Army began to consider a war fought in the east. Regular cavalry was given priority over experimental camelry and in 1861 the US Camel Corps was disbanded. Some were sold to the public, most were turned loose into the wild. As a result the southwest actually sported a small population of wild camels. The last camel sighting occurred in 1941 near Douglas, Texas.
Joseph W. Fifer and Benajah Brigham, believed to be the last two living Civil War veterans in Bloomington, died in 1938 and 1940, respectively. Coincidentally, both men served together in Company C of the 33rd Illinois Infantry Regiment.
In March 1936, the closing of Bloomington-Normal’s last Grand Army of the Republic post signaled the imminent end of the Civil War generation. The GAR was a fraternal organization of Union veterans that wielded impressive political power in the decades after the war.
Ninety-five-year-old Bloomington resident Joseph Fifer, the local GAR post commander and former Illinois governor, was the only veteran able to attend the rather bittersweet ceremony. The three other remaining Bloomington-Normal veterans, including Benajah Brigham, were unable to be there.