That Devil Forrest: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest

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LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807115787
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1989
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 680
  • Sales rank: 974,627
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Allan Wyeth was born in Alabama, and served as a private in the Confederate cavalry until his capture two weeks after Chickamauga. After the war he became a surgeon. He died in 1922.

LSU Press

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2006

    Outstanding Biography

    John Allan Wyeth's book 'That Devil Forrest: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest' is a significant military narrative on the life and controversial military career of Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Wyeth, who also fought for the Confederacy, deserves accolades for his painstaking efforts in researching documents and interviewing those soldiers who fought with and against Forrest. The book was first published in 1899 and still has historical relevance even today. It of course at times has a pro-southern bias but is still not adverse to display Forrest's quick temper and reckliness which could have but in the end did not hamper his military prowess. The one event that dogged Forrest throughout his life was the Fort Pillow incident of April 12,1864. Wyeth's viewpoint was that a massacre did not occur. Instead Union soldiers seeking to esacape the fort by gunboat were shot down piecemeal in the course of the battle. A federal subcommittee was convened after the war and it absolved Forrest of the claims against him. The one major fault with the book is Wyeth's decision not to go into more detail concerning Forrest's involvement in the Ku-Klux clan. I have to assume that Wyeth was himself uncomfortable in discussing the political and social ramifications of the Klan in the re-construction period following the war. His interviews with those who knew of Forrests involvement with the Klan might have put into perspective the direction the South was taking during that time. Forrest was reknowned for his indomitable courage and undaunting conviction that a total commitment was needed by every fighting soldier to win the war. He had no military training but seemed to rely on his keen intuitive nature to outguess his opponents in engagements both major and small. Forrest was no angel and personally killed in combat some 30 soldiers. How could a Southern soldier not respect his General for putting his own life on the line in leading calvary charges on the enemy despite being hopelessly outnumbered. Forrest was determined to make the Union pay dearly in lives and in financial resouces for every inch of Southern soil. There is a key Foreword section in the book presented by the now deceased Amercian historian Henry Steele Commager. Commager succintly points out that had President Jefferson Davis and his Generals utilized Forrest to his full potential in hampering the Union advance into the south in the latter part of the war that the North might have negotiated for peace. The Confederacy DID NOT have to win the war but just bog down the Union military machine. The draft riots in New York, the falling American dollar and President's Lincoln's decision that he could not be re-elected would have created an environment that could have led to a resolution favouable to the South had Forrest's strategy been put into effect everywhere. Commager's Foreword nicely complements Wyeth's well written and extremely informative narrative. The Southern historian Shelby Foote regarded Forrest as the greatest military leader the South produced. Final word goes to Union Brigadier-General William Tecumseh Sherman who said of Forrest 'He had a genius which was to me incomprehensible...He always seemed to know what I was doing or intended to do, while I am free to confess I could never tell or form any satisfactory idea of what he was trying to accomplish.' This book in my opinion is one of the top 25 books concerning the Civil War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2003

    Great Biography

    I highly recommend this biography about one of the South's greatest generals. It is amazing to study his unconventional tactics and dedication to battle. Wyeth went to great lenght to emphasize the respect that Forrest's genious earned not only according to his men but in the enemy's recollections as well.

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