General Nathan Bedford Forrest


If the name sounds familiar, it should.  Remember that little movie with Sally Fields and Tom Hanks called Forrest Gump?  Well Forrest Gump’s mom named him Forrest after this man because he was a great confederate General. 

General Forrest was a Confederate general and perhaps the American Civil War’s most highly regarded cavalry and partisan ranger (guerrilla leader). Forrest is regarded by many military historians as the war’s most innovative and successful general. His tactics of mobile warfare are still studied by modern soldiers. 

But Wait, there’s a catch…… 

Nathan Forrest also became a businessman, an owner of several plantations and, just prior to hostilities, a slave trader based on Adams Street in Memphis.  Not only was he a slave owner/trader, he founded the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi.

Some Fun Facts about the Genereal

-Bedford was later acclaimed at a Nashville, Tennessee, KKK convention (1867) as the first Grand Wizard, or leader-in-chief of that organization.

-Forrest boasted that the Klan was a nationwide organization of 550,000 men

-He stated that the Klan did not see blacks as its enemy (violence against blacks by the organization was pervasive)

-Because of Forrest’s prominence, the organization grew rapidly under his leadership. (many members of the new group began to use force to oppose the extension of voting rights to blacks, and to resist Reconstruction-introduced measures for the ending of segregation)

So explain to me why in Jacksonville, FL  there is a high school named after this slave trader/Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard?  A group of sociologist from a local community college are trying to get the school board to change the name of the high school.  I applaud them for this effort.  What is pissing me off about this story is Tommy Hazouri (school board member)  Here is what he had to say about the issue:

“If I were doing it today, and I were out there, I wouldn’t like to have the school named after him. It’s a tradition now. It’s been built since 1958.  A lot of people probably don’t even know there’s a background, anymore, with the Confederate soldier. I think more importantly is it’s become a tradition.”

So since people are ignorant of the fact of who this man is, tradition trumps moral and social justice?  This man started an organization whos main purpose was to invoke fear and terrorize black people.  They hung thousands of black people because of the color of their skin.  They are the ultimate terrorist group in the United States and they are alive a well today.  Once again this is a clear example of our society being culturally conditioned to believe that white is superior and black is inferior. 

To discount changing the name of the high school because it has always been named after Forrest, is racist within itself.  Not only is there a High School in Florida named after this man, there is also a state park in Memphis named in his honor.  Black people in the state of Tennessee are having their tax dollars go toward the upkeep of a state park honoring a man who organized the Damn Ku Klux Klan.  People of the south would rather only look at his confederate service and not his involvement in an organization known for brutally slaughtering black people.

I agree with the professor in this article; you wouldn’t see a high school or any instituation named  after Adolf Hitler.  And there should never be any institution named after any Nazi; the same concept applies to the Klan Members!!! 


19 Responses

  1. I attended Forrest High School and what you really need to know is that most of the students I went there with, which were 60% black, had great pride in teh school and defended the name of the school. Just because some punk kids now are trying to change the name doesn’t mean it will work, as well it shouldn’t.

  2. That is even more disturbing that 60% of the population at the school is black, it means that they are not informed of their history or have the lack of interest why it is important not to honor people who contributed to organizing the number one terrorist group in this country; The Ku Klux Klan. The punk kids you are referring to are college students at the local community college. The pride that the black students have there, I assume are for their teachers and classmates, not for the who the school was named after. This is a prime example of how we are culturally conditioned in this country to believe that white is superior and black is inferior; and as an end result, black people are underestiamted, undervalued and marginalized…

  3. I can’t believe this day and age a school would be named after such a horrible man! I am SO sick of the saying “It’s my heritage.” What? its your heritage to name a school after a RACIST!! Come on its 2006 wake up, name the school after someone who did great works, not someone who was a slave trader!!!

  4. You guyz? who is you guyz? Just because he was cleared of any wrong doing in 1871 Congressional hearing does not mean he did not participate in Klan activity, even he he allowed or promoted any aspect of the Klan.

  5. Thank you for the info. But my opinions on this matter still stands

  6. NativeSon

    I understand what you are doing and why you censored me, but is it really fair to your readers to keep them in the dark as well, just so they will agree with you?

    I say put it all out there and let them decide for themselves!

    Merry Christmas

  7. Billy Bearden:

    repost your information

  8. Lt General Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Ku Klux Klan

    The KKK was founded in Dec. 1865 by 6 former Confederate officers; Captain John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe,
    John D. Kennedy, Calvin Jones, Richard R. Reed, & Frank O. McCord. Kennedy, Lester and Reed were from the CSA 3rd TN Infantry. They put it together in the back room of J. Calvin Jones’ father’s law office in Pulaski , TN.

    The six young men organized as a social club or fraternity and spent their time in horseplay of various types, including wearing disguises and galloping about town after dark. They were surprised to learn that their nightly appearances were causing fear, particularly among former slaves in the area. They quickly took advantage of this effect and the group began a rapid expansion. Various factions formed in different towns, which led to a meeting in April 1867 to codify rules and organizational structure.

    On August 28, 1868, in the Cincinnati Commercial, Lt General Forrest was interviewed to get his “…views in regard to the condition of your civil and political affairs in the State of Tennessee, and the South generally…”
    The following back and forth is between the reporter and Forrest. The reporter begins asking about the Klan.

    “Why, General, we people up north have regarded the Ku-Klux as an organization which existed only in the frightened imagination of a few politicians”

    “Well, sir, there is such an organization, not only in Tennessee, but all over the South, and its numbers have not been exaggerated.”

    “What are its numbers, general?”

    “In Tennessee there are over 40,000; in all the Southern states they number about 550,000 men.”

    “What is the character of the organization; May I inquire?”

    “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.”

    “Do you think, general, that the Ku-Klux have been of any benefit to the State?”

    “No doubt of it. 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.”

    “Do you think, General, that the Ku-Klux have been of any benefit to the State?”

    “No doubt of it. 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.”

    “Are you a member of the Ku-Klux, general?”

    “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. A case in point is the killing of Bierfield at Franklin, a few days ago. I sent a man up there especially to investigate the case, and report to me, and I have his letter here now, in which he states that they had nothing to do with it as an organization.”

    “Then I suppose that there can be no doubt of a conflict if the militia interfere with the people; is that your view?”

    “Yes, sir; if they attempt to carry out Governor Brownlow’s proclamation, by shooting down Ku-Klux – for he calls all Southern men Ku-Klux – if they go to hunting down and shooting these men, there will be war, and a bloodier one than we have ever witnessed. I have told these radicals here what they might expect in such an event. I have no power to burn or kill negroes. I intend to kill the radicals. I have told them this and more, there is not a radical leader in this town but is a marked man, and if a trouble should break out, none of them would be left alive. I have told them that they are trying to create a disturbance and then slip out and leave the consequences to fall upon the negroes, but they can’t do it. When the fight comes not one of them would get out of this town asaying it was “being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace”live. We don’t intend they shall ever get out of the country. But I want it distinctly understood that I am opposed to any war, and will only fight in self-defence.”

    The Klan’s increasing reputation for violence led the more prominent citizens to drop out while criminals and the dispossessed began to fill the ranks. Local chapters proved difficult, if not impossible, to monitor and direct. In disgust in January 1869, Forrest officially disbanded the organization saying it was “being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace” and the vast majority of local groups followed his lead. a small number of local units continued to operate but were eventually disbanded or sent into hiding by federal troops.

    In 1871 William Tecumseh Sherman chaired the 42nd U.S. Congressional Committee Investigation into the KKK and it’s activities. Among the former Confederate officers investigated and interviewed was N.B. Forrest since his name was used in forming and recruiting the original Klan.

    Sherman was never a friend or ally of Forrest “Forrest is the very devil”, Union General William T. Sherman wrote Secretary of War Stanton on June 15th, 1864. ” If we must sacrifice 10,000 lives and bankrupt the Federal Treasury, it will be worth it. There will never be peace in Tennessee till Forrest is dead..” Sherman was also noted to have stated before the investigation convened that, “We are here to investigate Forrest, charge Forrest, try Forrest and hang Forrest.”

    When the Congressional Committee completed its investigation ( including a revisiting of the alleged “Ft. Pillow Massacre” ) and concluded that while Forrest’s name had been used in forming the Klan that it was likely done without his permission and that his only activities related to the Klan were his public efforts to compel it to disband.

  9. On July 4, 1875, Forrest gave the following speech when he was invited to speak by the Jubilee of Pole Bearers, a political and social organization in the post-war era comprised of black Southerners:

    Memphis Daily Avalanche, July 6, 1875, 1.

    “July 4, 1875 – Memphis, Tennessee –

    Miss Lou Lewis was introduced to General Forrest then presented him with a bouquet of flowers and said: ‘Mr. Forrest — allow me to present you this bouquet as a token of reconciliation, an offering of peace and good will.’

    Gen. Forrest received the flowers with a bow, and replied:

    ‘Miss Lewis, ladies and gentlemen — I accept these flowers as a token of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the South. I accept them more particularly, since they come from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s great earth who loves the ladies, it is myself.

    ‘This is a proud day for me. Having occupied the position I have for thirteen years, and being misunderstood by the colored race, I take this occasion to say that I am your friend. I am here as the representative of the Southern people — one that has been more maligned than any other.

    ‘I assure you that every man who was in the Confederate army is your friend. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live in the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters.

    ‘When the war broke out I believed it to be my duty to fight for my country, and I did so. I came here with the jeers and sneers of a few white people, who did not think it right. I think it is right, and will do all I can to bring about harmony, peace and unity. I want to elevate every man, and to see you take your places in your shops, stores and offices.

    ‘I don’t propose to say anything about politics, but I want you to do as I do — go to the polls and select the best men to vote for. I feel that you are free men, I am a free man, and we can do as we please. I came here as a friend and whenever I can serve any of you I will do so.

    ‘We have one Union, one flag, one country; therefore, let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment.

    ‘Many things have been said in regard to myself, and many reports circulated, which may perhaps be believed by some of you, but there are many around me who can contradict them. I have been many times in the heat of battle — oftener, perhaps, than any within the sound of my voice. Men have come to me to ask for quarter, both black and white, and I have shielded them.

    ‘Do your duty as citizens, and if any are oppressed, I will be your friend. I thank you for the flowers, and assure you that I am with you in heart and hand.'”

  10. The congressional investigation also found that there was no evidence of a “massacre” at Ft. Pillow (see with “isolated incidents along the riverbank” which Forrest stopped as soon as he arrived on-scene. The Federal Official Records document that a Union lieutenant, not Forrest’s men, set fire to Union barracks with wounded Union soldiers inside. Forrest transferred the 14 most severely wounded United States Colored Troops to the U.S. Steamer Silver Cloud — hardly the act of someone having committed a “massacre.”

    While Forrest was a slave dealer prior to the war he was known for humane policies. When the war started he then owned 45 black men and had to consider their fates.

    “Forty-five of Forrest’s own slaves, indeed served through the war with him as teamsters. ‘I said to forty-five colored fellows on my plantation…’ Forrest told a Congressional committee after the war, ‘that I was going into the army; and that if they would go with me, if we got whipped they would be free anyhow, and that if we succeeded and slavery was perpetuated, if they would act faithfully with me to the end of the war, I would set them free. Eighteen months before the war closed I was satisfied that we were going to be defeated, and I gave those forty-five men, or forty-four of them, their free papers, for fear I might get killed.'” — “‘First With the Most’ Forrest” by Robert Selph Henry, Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1944, page 14.

    How did these men serve in Forrest’s comand? The most reliable military resource concerning the Civil War documents their real roles.

    “The forces attacking my camp were the First Regiment Texas Rangers [8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Texas Rangers, ed.], Colonel Wharton, and a battalion of the First Georgia Rangers, Colonel Morrison, and a large number of citizens of Rutherford County, many of whom had recently taken the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day.” — Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol XVI Part I, pg. 805, Lt. Col. Parkhurst’s Report (Ninth Michigan Infantry) on Col. Forrest’s attack at Murfreesboro, Tenn, July 13, 1862.

  11. Since it’s ok to name schools after Confederates and Klansmen, there shouldn’t be any problem naming schools after people who lead slave rebellions. How about a Nat Turner Academy, or a John Brown Elementary? Nothing against all the slaveholders that were killed, we’re just honoring history and tradition.

  12. Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn, Sixth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery reported in the Federal Official Records: “There never was a surrender of the fort, both officers and men declaring they never would surrender or ask for quarter.”

  13. You should check out a blog called the Crotonblog which has created and given itself an award in honor of Forrest yet actually claims he had nothing to do with the klan!

  14. I was going to rape you with real history; but Billy has it covered; via quotes. Even better then knowledge.

    However, Forrest was the first white speaker at a black civil rights group and encouraged them to pursue equality; he quickly retracted from affiliation when the KKK became very violent, and he was a damn good general. This was a GOOD man. I am sorry people have a thumb up their ass. I wonder why they are in community college? Maybe they should pick up some books more…

  15. What you need to understand is that while General Forrest was a Klan member, he supported African Americans. He disbanded the group after they became known for lynching and the likes. It was originally formed to force out carpetbaggers after the war. He did not see blacks as an enemy, and he even said “These boys stayed with me…and better Confederates did not live!” …talking about Black Confederate Soldiers that served under him (both free blacks and slaves that chose to fight for the south)

  16. Dear Native Son,

    Just came across your comments. I agree with you about the outrage of naming things after the racist monster, Bedford Forrest. But in fact there *are* schools and other institutions in the US named after a Nazi, or anyway, after one of the worst Nazi allies, Cardinal Stepinac, who led the Catholic church in installing the Nazi-backed Croatian Ustashe in secessionist Croatia (World War II), who then murdered over a million ‘subhumans’ – Serbs, Jews and ‘Gypsies’, the last because they weren’t ‘white.’ Hitler called them ‘our Nazis.’

    Just enter the words ‘cardinal stepinac school’ (without quotation marks) and you will see, he is much honored, much to our shame.

  17. Oops, I meant to write, “Just enter the words ‘cardinal stepinac school’ (without quotation marks) IN GOOGLE.COM,” etc.

  18. They should not put the name of the racist man after to a black school. They should rename a school and they should put like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Hiram Revels, and even Emmanuel Driggers!

  19. Also, they should rename the school after Elizabeth Key Grinstead, the very first African-American woman to fight against slavery and won her freedom!

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