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.

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