Tuesday, June 27, 2017

General Nathan Bedford Forrest - Did He Make a Difference? Part 5.

Notes from presentation made by retired General John Scales at the Prattville Dragoons camp meeting on Thursday May 11, 2017. 

In late 1864 for the Nashville campaign, General Hood put Forrest in charge of all the cavalry.  Against Forrest's recommendation Hood attacked Franklin TN frontally and lost 6000 men.  Hood sent Forrest to take Murfreesboro but the strong fort there could not be taken.  Hood was defeated and retreated south into Alabama and Forrest covered his retreat brilliantly protecting the entirety of the Army of Tennessee against Union General Wilson.   For his performance in this campaign, Forrest earned his third star. 

In 1865 Forrest's forces numbering 10000 opposed 15000 cavalry again under General Wilson.  Forrest's troops were widely dispersed as they foraged for food and they only had about 3500 men in front of Wilson as the Federals approached Selma.  The Union attack on Selma was successfully coordinated largely due to the capture of Forrest's messenger.  Forrest surrendered in May of 1865 after addressing his troops.  

In summary, there were four key places where Forrest made a difference, Murfreesboro in 1862, West Tennessee in 1862, Mississippi in 1864 and Ft. Pillow in 1864.  His brilliant tactics and heroic actions significantly extended the War.  

The reader may be interested in perusing General Scales website - www.johnrscales.com/.   Note his latest book on Forrest at War, "The Campaigns and Battles of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest 1861-1865", available on Amazon - www.amazon.com/Battles-Campaigns-Confederate-General-1861-1865/dp/1611212847/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498267174&sr=8-1&keywords=john+scales+forrest. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

General Nathan Bedford Forrest - Did He make a Difference? Part 4

Notes from presentation made by retired General John Scales at the Prattville Dragoons camp meeting on Thursday May 11, 2017.  

Early in 1864, Forrest conducted raids in Western Tennessee and Kentucky.  He took Union City capturing 475 Union soldiers with a bluff, without firing a shot.  At Paducah KY, Forrest was unable to take Fort Anderson which was protected by gunboats.  The time was also utilized to rest and resupply his men and horses.  

Fort Pillow was meant to protect the Mississippi but by 1864 it was a base of support for Yankees to raid the Confederate countryside and as a center of illegal cotton trade. Union General Sherman actually directed Fort Pillow to be evacuated but his order was disobeyed.  There was a lot of geographical relief including gullies and mounds around the fort offering cover and high ground to attack.  The Union commander at the fort was killed and the second in command refused to surrender although his position was untenable.  He thought Forrest was again bluffing when he demanded the fort be surrendered.  In the battle, Forrest lost just twenty men killed and 80 wounded while there were 600 Union troops killed, wounded (100) or captured (200). Reports of torture were never substantiated even though there were Congressional investigations.  There was evidence of some killings after the surrender but Forrest was at a distance of a half mile from the fort  Thousands of copies of the Congressional report were circulated before the 1864 Presidential election to drum up support for the War and the Republicans.  The reports also helped US Colored Troops recruiting as they vowed revenge.  Flames of racial animosity were deliberately fanned. 

In the summer of 1864, Forrest defended Mississippi while Sherman defended his supply lines.  At Brice's Cross Road, Forrest's troops routed experienced Union troops in a brilliant victory.  At Harrisburg, S.D.Lee and Forrest sustained casualties but the Union forces retreated again.  Forrest took advantage of action in the southern part of the state to launch an attack on Memphis which required Union forces to be brought back up to defend occupied Memphis.  But, ultimately, Sherman's supply lines remained secure and Forrest lost many men and horses.  

In September 1864 Sherman took Atlanta.  Forrest was released to attack his supply lines  and he was successful in destroying Tennessee and Alabama railroads and ironclad steamers but his efforts were too late for a major impact.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dragoons Complete Robinson Springs Cemetery Workday

The morning of Tuesday June 20th, with strong storms just to the north of Millbrook AL and rain coming up from the south, a group of devoted descendants of Confederate soldiers gathered at Robinson Springs Cemetery to help clean the grounds including weed eating and trim work.  This cemetery is the final resting place of a number of Confederates, and veterans of other wars including WWII, the Spanish American War and others including early residents of Autauga County AL.  These SCV members are motivated to honor the dead and were rewarded in their efforts as the Good Lord kept the rain away until ten minutes after completion of the work.

Five Dragoons from SCV Camp 1624 met at Robinson Springs Cemetery including members Tyrone Crowley, Bill Myrick, Bill Gill, James Spears and Larry Spears. Compatriot Carl French of the Cradle of Confederacy camp in Montgomery cuts the grass at the cemetery in a joint effort between the camps. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Did He Make a Difference? Part 3

Notes from presentation made by retired General John Scales at the Prattville Dragoons camp meeting on Thursday May 11, 2017.

Thru 1863, Forrest fought under Generals Wheeler and Van Dorn.  Significant engagements included Steight's Raid, an impressive victory by Forrest capturing Streight's 1700 men with a smaller force of only 500 at Cedar Bluff, AL.

Forrest protected Bragg's left (western) side operating in the western theatre.  At Chickamauga, Forrest missed an opportunity - he delayed Granger but another half hour would have resulted in a Confederate victory in in this battle.

Forrest had a final showdown with Bragg and attempted to resign but President Jefferson Davis refused.  Bragg forced Forrest to raise another brigade of cavalry.

In February of 1864, Sherman with 30,000 infantry attacked Confederate General Leonidas Polk with 10,000 men at Meridian MS.  Union General William Sooy Smith with 7000 cavalry moved south to join forces with Sherman and if he had been able, Sherman likely would have swept thru Selma to attack Mobile from the rear (north).  Forrest opposed Smith with just 3000 men but Smith was afraid of Forrest and postponed his advance and upon reaching West Point MS, he elected to retreat north back to Memphis.  Forrest vigorously pursued the retreating Union forces and at Okolona he avoided a trap set by Smith's second in command.  Forrest waited for the Federals to again move before attacking again, routing them to full retreat back to Memphis.

Sherman could not do to Alabama what he subsequently did in Georgia in the fall of that year because he did not have the cavalry support from Smith.  Forrest effectively delayed Alabama's defeat by a year.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Did He Make a Difference? Part 2

Notes from presentation made by retired General John Scales at the Prattville Dragoons camp meeting on Thursday May 11, 2017.

General Bragg wound up taking Forrest's cavalry and giving them to General Joe Wheeler so Forrest returned to the Columbia/Nashville TN area to raise another brigade of cavalry.

Union Generals Grant and Sherman were threatening Vicksburg and Bragg directed Forrest to confront this large Union army although the Confederates were undersupplied and not yet trained sufficiently.  The plan was again to slow the Federals advance by disrupting supply and communication lines.

Between December 15, 1862 and January 2, 1863, ten separate engagements occurred including destroying a rail line along the Tennessee River culminating at Parker's Crossroads where Forrest narrowly avoided capture.  Forrest lost 400 men with 300 prisoners but the Union forces lost 1300 including 1000 prisoners.  http://www.parkerscrossroads.com/Battle_Information/history.htm

Forrest delayed Vicksburg's fall by six months thru his raids and destroying the railroad line used to supply the sieging Union army.
Artwork - "Forrest at Parker's Crossroads" by John Paul Strain

Friday, June 16, 2017

General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Did He Make a Difference? Part 1

Notes from presentation made by retired General John Scales at the Prattville Dragoons camp meeting on Thursday May 11, 2017.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born in Chapel Hill TN but his family moved to Salem Mississippi when he was a boy.  He was a voracious reader but had little formal education as his father died and Nathan Bedford had to work for his family's sustenance at an early age. He did some horse trading with his uncle and also was a successful slave trader and for a time was even the mayor of Memphis.  He was a very successful and wealthy businessman.

Forrest was originally against secession but when war broke out, he joined Captain Overton's cavalry as a private.  But he raised a cavalry battalion himself and was accordingly promoted to Lt.Colonel.  At this early time, he patrolled in front of the Confederate Army in Kentucky for General Albert Sydney Johnson.

Forrest performed credible service at Fort Donelson and escaped when the Confederate Generals there decided to surrender, salvaging supplies in Nashville.  At Shiloh, Forrest manned the right flank, reinforcing the Confederate attack and also performed reconnaissance.  At Fallen Timbers, he opposed Union General Sherman's pursuit of the retreating Confederates and was wounded after charging Sherman's forces and actually capturing an aide of Sherman's after overruning the Feederal lines with his 300 cavalrymen.

Forrest was selected to take over the Chattanooga defenses and was promoted to Brigadier General.  He commanded only about 5000 defenders threatened by General Buell with over 40000 men.  Forrest took over the Brigade which was in disarray and successfully repulsed Union General U.S. Grant who's army was stymied by a malaria outbreak.

Forrest decided to attack Mufreesboro and the stockpile of supplies there and cripple the resupply railroad.  He was able to approach from the east in the Cumberland Plateau thru a solid Confederate friendly area. His attack resulted in 120 Union soldiers killed and wounded and he lost 100 men but accomplished the mission.  He stayed behind Union lines harassing Buell's troops, destroying three bridges, killing and capturing more Union troops while sustaining no casualties.  Buell kept sending troops to find Forrest and wound up ignoring Chattanooga so Forrest was successful in his defense of Chattanooga.

From August 24 thru Sept 2, 1862, Forrest conducted a raid against a Union supply wagon train but it was guarded by artillery and many troops so Forrest's raids were largely unsuccessful.  So, he opted to loop around and attacked a stockade but without artillery, that attack was repulsed.  He lost between 75-80 men before he rejoined General Bragg in the east.

In summary, Forrest delayed Buell's forces despite the Federals having overwhelming numbers of 10,000 men positioned within 30 miles of Chattanooga which didn't fall for over a year thru a persistent threat to the Union supply lines.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Alabama Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Reunion 2017

A very successful and well attended Division Reunion was held the weekend  of June 9-10, 2017 in Cullman, hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Denney Camp. Commander Wayne Willingham and the members of the Denney camp worked very hard to be sure the entire Reunion went according to plan. Friday night the Commander’s Reception was held at Sportsman Lake under a large comfortable pavilion where a nice breeze drifted in from the lake and the ducks and geese played nearby. The food was prepared by camp members, particularly Division 1st Lt. Commander Carl Jones who smoked several Dixie butts and chickens. Home made baked beans and cole slaw were added as side dishes as well as bread, desserts and beverages. The food was excellent and displayed the expert cooking skills of the camp members. Entertainment was provided by Carl Jones, Gary Carlyle and Russ Hare with their guitars and Bill Anthony with his harmonica. Members and guests mingled and enjoyed excellent fellowship as old acquaintances were renewed and new friends were made.

Saturday morning brought the opening ceremonies and business session at the West Point Middle School. Representing the Dragoons were Tyrone Crowley, George Jenks, Harold Grooms, Bill Myrick and Larry Spears. The business and reports of the Division were handled in a professional manner and the session concluded about 2:30 in the afternoon. All three proposed amendments to the Division Constitution were adopted by the delegates after somewhat detailed debate. The amendments changed the wording on Division life membership, duties of Brigade Commanders and discipline of members. It was reported that the Division has 62 camps and 2006 members. A good bit of time was spent discussing the recently enacted Alabama Memorial Protection Act which protects memorials to veterans and other significant persons on public property in the state. 

The Awards banquet was held Saturday evening at the school with our speaker, Dr. John Killian. John was “fired up” about the attacks on the Confederacy and proposed a “What If” scenario… what if the South had won The War? His presentation was very interesting, passionate and inspirational. The Dragoons' own Conner Lee was one of 3 recipients of the General Joe Wheeler Scholarship. He was a guest of the Division and was recognized for his achievements. Conner will be attending Faulkner University in the Fall.  Another noteworthy presentation was the Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award the Division bestows, to our Brigade Commander, Butch Godwin. For many years Butch has quietly worked to improve the Division and is always willing to help any member or any camp at any time. 

Pictured below are Commander Jimmy Hill at the podium, the Dragoon delegates, banquet participants  featuring Conner Lee, his brother Nick, mother Laura and Grandfather Bill Gill, also a Dragoon. Next picture is Conner with the other 2 recipients of the General Joe Wheeler award and lastly, Brigade Commander Butch Godwin being presented the Lifetime Achievement award.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Prattville Dragoons Camp 1524 Meeting for June 2017

The Prattville Dragoons held their June 2017 meeting on Thursday June 8th at the Shoney's on Cobbs Ford Road with 1 LT. Commander Harold Grooms leading the meeting.  Manny enjoyed fellowship over a nice meal prior to the meeting commencing then Lt. Grooms provided a presentation about the progression of war time weaponry. The program was very interesting and included some video as well as  a slide presentation. 

We had the honor of welcoming two guests, one of whom is a prospective member. Also, Colby Carlock brought his 10 month old son, Braxton, to the meeting and Braxton was very fascinated with his new surroundings.   Chaplain Snowden started the meeting with an Invocation and devotional.  Dragoon Will Dismukes was  then welcomed and introduced as our new color sergeant -- a huge thanks for assuming this important responsibility.  Upcoming events and news were shared before 1st Lt Grooms made his excellent presentation.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Prattville Dragoons Chaplains Column for June 2017

In Romans 6:11-12 it says, “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”
How many times have you said, “Lord, I promise I will never do that again”—yet you find yourself within days, if not hours, repeating the very same mistake? We tend to wander from God due to our fallen nature.

A fellow church member once told me, “teaching that Christians still have a sin nature just leads to a defeated life.” The Bible says if you’re a Christian, you no longer have a sin nature—you only have your God-given nature.” Now, where would he get such an idea? To be honest, the Bible does teach that we have a new master once we become a Christian. In Romans 6:6–7, Paul says, “Our old self-was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” I admit this church member was right in one sense. It’s wrong to tell Christians that you will always be a slave to the old nature until you see Jesus one day. That defeatist teaching is responsible for a lot of the disobedience among Christians. Paul said, “If you are a Christian, your old nature has been crucified. You don’t have to be a slave to sin. Sin has no more power over your life than you choose to allow it to have.”

The Bible says within every Christian is a civil war between our new set of desires that comes when we become a Christian and that old set of desires that wants to disobey God. But here’s the liberating truth: your new nature doesn’t have to win just some of the time; it can win every time. You don’t have to obey sin any longer. Sin has no more power over your life than you choose to allow it to have. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts” (vv. 6:11–12). God has given you His Holy Spirit to give you victory over any and every sin in your life.
Before you become a Christian, you have no power over sin whatsoever. You can try all you want to say no to sin. You are a slave to sin. But once you trust in Christ as your Savior, God not only provides you forgiveness from your sins, but He also gives you power over your sins. He gives you the Holy Spirit, who can grant you victory over every sin in your life. Paul says you no longer have to be a slave to sin. Live as if sin were dead in you. We need to do everything we can to kill the old nature, to refuse to feed it, and to choose to have victory over it.

Understanding this truth will protect you against wandering away from God. But the message I want you to hear more than anything else is this: no matter how far you’ve wandered, you can come back again to the Father who loves you. No matter how far you’ve wandered away from God, never forget: you have a loving heavenly Father who stands with arms outstretched saying, “Come home to the Father who loves you.”

By the time you read this Column you will have already enjoyed your memorial day. I pray that each of us have taken time to reflect on our Confederate ancestors who also fought bravely for our freedoms. We owe much to all our fighting armed forces and their sacrifice given.

Please remember everyone that is on our prayer list.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

How to Make the Magnolia Wreath for Remembrance Service

Documenting how to make the magnolia wreath which was used by the Prattville Dragoons, SCV Camp 1524 for the Remembrance Service for the Fallen at Trinity Presbyterian in Montgomery AL, May 2017.

Purchased a grape vine wreath from Hobby Lobby, approximately 26-28" in diameter.  Clipped a half trash can bag of magnolia limb ends from some magnolia trees including a couple with flower bulbs.  Careful to choose limbs/leaves which were in nice condition and which had medium size leaves.
Next, using some utility scissors, clipped off the best leaves from these branches, choosing the shiniest perfect leaves and of varying shades of green from the dark green of the mature magnolia leaves to the lighter newer leaves.  These leaves were all of a medium size.  Need to clip the leaves back close to the branch to allow a stem to remain for assembly.
Warm up a hot glue gun and ensure you have plenty of glue sticks, also available from Hobby Lobby.  Then start gluing the leaves to the grape vine wreath frame fanning them across the front side to conceal the wreath backing.  Use plenty of glue and also try to insert the leaf stems into and between the wreath vines somewhat to secure.
Continue layering around the wreath.  For the bulbs, leave them secured to the small branch and remove the larger leaves and lay the branch in the direction of the layered leaves.  Use plenty of glue and again, try to insert into the wreath vines somewhat to help secure.
Continue to assemble and glue the leaves all the way around the wreath.  We included two flower bulbs on opposing sides of the wreath.  To get the last few leaves assembled, care must be exercised to lift the leaves which were first glued to the wreath under which the last leaves are glued.  Let the wreath lay to cure the glue fully, preferably inside in an air conditioned environment until the wreath is used in the memorial program. The wreath was placed on a wire wreath stand to display.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Upcoming Events for Confederate Compatriots

From the Prattville Dragoons Camp Dispatch for June 2017:

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting – Thursday June 8th at 7pm at the Shoney’s in Prattville on Cobbs Ford Rd

Alabama Division SCV Reunion – Friday June 9th and Saturday June 10th in Cullman AL. Commander's Reception at Sportsman Lake will start at 6 pm on Friday the 9th. Opening ceremony and business meeting will start at 8 am on Saturday the 10th at West Point Middle School. Reunion lunch will be at noon at WPMS. Reunion lunch will be at noon at WPMS. Memorial Service will be held at the Crooked Creek Civil War Museum 30 minutes after completion of the business meeting. It is about 3 miles from the school. And then the banquet will be at WPMS at 6 pm.

Prattville July 4th Parade – Tuesday July 4th at 9am downtown Prattville. Join the Dragoons entry for this patriotic event honoring fire fighters and these heroic first responders.

Forrest Birthday Party – Saturday July 15th at 3pm at Ft. Dixie, Pat and Butch Godwin’s place in Selma. Come enjoy great music, speakers, presentations and felloowship as well as delicious fried catfish and watermelon.

National SCV Reunion – in Memphis, TN–July 18-23, 2017 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, downtown. http://scvmemphis2017.org/

Prattville Dragoons Dixie Butt Fundraiser – Tickets will be disbursed in July for distribution in August.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Prattville Dragoons Commander's Column June 2017

"The Confederate Alt-Right" or "Is the SCV and the Charge Right or Wrong?"

Attended church service one recent Sunday morning and found the sermon interesting in light of the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution condemning the Confederate Battle flag, as well as their proposed new resolution denouncing the “alt-right”.  While ignoring and bypassing any condemnation of far left hate groups like Black Lives Matter and the fascist antifa, the SBC PC crowd is proposing a new resolution criticizing the “Deplorables” who specifically take pride in their nation and its heritage and culture, seek to protect it from an invasion of illegal immigration and believe in traditional values.  One might contemplate whether our Confederate forebears would have been branded alt right constitutionalist racist Islamaphobic fundamentalist homophobes too.

So this sermon was interesting in posing the question, “How do I decide what’s right or wrong?” 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 was cited as reference scripture.  As Sons of Confederate Veterans who seek to carry forth the Charge and promote the true Cause for which our ancestors fought to preserve liberty and defend their homes and families.  The first question asked to determine this question as to whether a pursuit is right or wrong was, “Is it constructive?”  Certainly we would all defend the SCV as a worthwhile organization which seeks to defend the honorable names of our Confederate ancestors which has become increasingly challenging in the face of the attacks on our monuments and the truth of the Cause and our Southern heritage.  The Charge implores us to do so and outlines the imperative. 

Is this pursuit beneficial?  We have sought to make the SCV not only an educational institution thru workshops and conferences within our organization but in outreach to the public including living histories, classroom presentations and educational literature.  But we have expanded our vision to include cemetery care and guardianship, donations to historical organizations for artifact preservation and conveying the accurate telling of this important period in our nation’s history, as well as community service projects such as our camp food drives and kettle ringing. 

Is the SCV good for others?  Beyond the aforementioned charitable donations, awards are available for students providing scholarships and medical research fellowships.  But what is also a positive influence is when we have the opportunity to convey the truth of the Cause to those who would otherwise be ignorant of the virtues and principles which guided our Confederate ancestors and does so for us today.  The past two Cityfest events offer examples when black ladies happened by and stopped to look at our camp activities poster and the Division educational poster.  Both times these passers-by exclaimed that they had no idea we were involved in all our activities and, in regards to the latter, that there were black Confederates of renown, not to mention Confederate leaders who were truly heroic and virtuous, timeless examples for us still today.

Finally, is the SCV and our Charge glorifying?  The Bible teaches us to honor our parents and ancestors.  An historically important result of the War was the revival which transpired during and after the conflict when our grandfathers returned home to build a Bible Belt if no longer a Confederacy.  The chaplains in the Confederate army were instrumental in this transpiring and our SCV chaplains at the camp and Division and national levels are also, conveying to members the truth in scripture and the righteousness of the Cause and asking blessings on our efforts to advance the Charge and reach our neighbors and communities.  Our SCV Constitution provides for the establishment of the critical position of chaplain.  Our camp is blessed to have a chaplain so gifted in providing spiritual guidance and messages.  Our camp and the SCV has so many Godly men with whom we are fortunate to fellowship. 

Is participation in the Sons of Confederate Veterans right, a good pursuit?  It can be objectively shown that the SCV organization and our Dragoons Camp 1524 is without a doubt constructive, beneficial, good for others and, glorifying to God.  But, our Confederate ancestors would probably have been branded alt-right fundamentalist fascists, just listen to their words.  “We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honour and independence.” President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A. – 29 April 1861  “All that the South has ever desired was that the Union as established by our forefathers should be preserved and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.” General Robert E. Lee