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The Genius of Forrest


Nathan Bedford Forrest was perhaps the most interesting and controversial general of the civil war. This uneducated, almost illiterate, backwoodsman was a self-made millionaire who enlisted as a private and with no prior military training rose to the rank of lieutenant general and has been called the greatest cavalry commander of either army. Genral Dabney Maury went so far as to say that he was the greatest general of the war (greater than Lee, Grant, or Jackson) but perhaps his greatest compliment was paid by his enemy, William T. Sherman, who called him "the very devil" and is reported to have pronounced Forrest "the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side . . . He had a genius which was to me incomprehensible." Forrest himself summarized his military genius with a few brief words, "War means fighting and fighting means killing." Inspite of his maxim to "get there first with the most men," he faced overwhelming odds on almost every battlefield yet never lost a battle that he personally commanded.





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