Short Biography of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the military geniuses of
American history, was born July 13, 1821, in Bedford
County, the son of William and Marian Beck Forrest.
His father's death when Nathan was 16 threw on him, as
the eldest son, the task of supporting a large family.
Beginning as a farm laborer he became a horse and cattle
trader, and later dealt in slaves and real estate, acquiring
much money and land.
He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as a
private, raised and equipped a mounted battalion at his
own expense, and was appointed lieutenant colonel. He
served with distinction at Fort Donelson, opposed the
decision to surrender it, and proved the error of the decision by cutting his way out with his men.
He was a colonel in the Battle of Shiloh, was severely wounded in the retreat, and became
brigadier general in July 1862. From then until the end of the war Forrest served mostly as an
independent cavalry raider, operating on Union lines of communication and delivering surprise
attacks on isolated Union garrisons. His Battle of Brice's Cross Roads has been called the
"perfect" battle, and his campaigns were studied closely, before World War II, by the German
field marshal, Erwin Rommel. Nathan Bedford Forrest is the only man on either side of the war to rise from private to Lieutenant General. He died in 1877, after serving as the President of the Marion Railroad.