Nathan Bedford Forrest & Family

5fish

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I see the Forrest ended his days as an overseer of prison labor... fitting since he was a slave overseer in a past life... He seem to have die broke?

Forrest’s financial situation later became desperate following the failure of his railroad business in 1874. Forced to sell off many of his assets, he spent his later years overseeing a prison labor camp near Memphis. He died in 1877 at the age of 56.

snip...

Forrest returned to his home in Memphis broken financially and physically. Despite efforts to recoup his personal finances Forrest was a poor man the rest of his life. His lands in Mississippi were lost to unpaid mortgages or because of unpaid taxes. He died at the home of his son, Willie on October 29, 1877.
 

diane

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Thanks for bringing up this thread, 5fish. The discussion is from long ago and far away but I'm game to revive it!

Most of what you've posted is accurate - Forrest did die poor. After the war, Brownlow saw to it that Forrest had to pay fines, fees, penalties and exorbitant taxes on returned properties. He also had to pay many legal fees based on warrants and other charges stemming from the war. All this was supposed to be forgiven and a clean slate given by the terms of his surrender and parole - but Tennessee's governor had it in for this most famous rebel. These costs were designed to be heavy enough and often enough to break his bank roll. He had, after the war, partnered with several Union soldiers to try to rebuild the one plantation he had left - Green Grove. Because of a lack of cheap labor and the various financial problems, Forrest was not able to rebuild the plantation, which went to his partners. He retained the saw mill on Sunflower Landing. There was also a heavy problem when Forrest vouched for a friend's big loan and the friend defaulted. At that time he was about as penniless as he ever got - he and his wife had a ten dollar bill lying on the table between them, and thousands due the bank the next day. Forrest said, "Will you let me hunt up a game of draw?" She said, "Gambling is a sin. No good comes of sin." He replied, "It is a matter of honor." She said, "Then I will be here praying." She then sat down in a chair in front of the fire with her Bible. So, Forrest picked up the bill and left. He won enough money to pay the loan and, as he was putting the money in his hat to leave, the other gamblers pleaded with him to stay and give them a shot at getting their money back. "No, gentlemen. I have played my last game. My wife is sitting at home with her Bible in her lap praying for me." He then left - and never gambled again.

Except for the railroads. That seemed to be a game every ex-general tried! Forrest, having been a master at ripping them up also made a lot of observations about what could be done to improve them, and wished to put some of these innovations into play with the new railroads. He sold a large number of bonds to various towns, who reneged on the payments, and the most he sold was to the city of Memphis. They dissolved themselves as a city to get out of paying back the bonds - and that act pushed Forrest into bankruptcy. It also almost resulted in a duel - one of the aldermen was Minor Meriwether, a former staff member of his, and who came up with the dissolve the city scheme. He told Forrest, who told him if he did that at the council meeting, "One of us will not leave there alive." That created a huge hullabaloo - anybody else might be blowing off steam but if Forrest said he was going to kill you, there was very apt to be a death in your family! At any rate, this dire extreme was avoided and the city went ahead with its plan to shaft Forrest on the bonds.

As a last ditch effort to make a living and for the health of his wife, he moved to President's Island off Memphis, which was then completely undeveloped. He planned to see if corn would grow there. He contracted with the prison system to have prisoners come live on the island in barracks. He was not a warden or prison guard but one of many who contracted for cheap labor. O O Howard was in charge of this program and reported that Forrest's accommodations on President's Island were very good, no complaints by his laborers. The dog trot cabin from his old plantation was set up for their main house but it caught fire and burned down with everything in it. Many very important papers and family memorabilia was lost. Forrest was ill by then and went to live with his brother Jesse. He died at Jesse's house.

One note - Forrest did not have to die poor. Mary Ann, his wife, had a goodly amount of money of her own - she had inherited a lot from both the Montgomery and Cowan sides of her family. Her husband absolutely refused to touch her money, not a dime of it, even though it likely would have pulled him through several financial difficulties. He simply determined she keep her money in the bank - he knew she would outlive him and would need the money herself. After his death she went to live with her son Willie. He was a widower whose wife had died after giving birth to their third child - Mary Ann took over raising his kids.
 

5fish

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Here is a Forrest story without Forrest but with four Travis two-pounder guns...


To prevent the Federal forces of Gen. James Wilson from seizing them as they swept from Columbus toward Macon in April 1865, Confederate soldiers buried the weapons in a “small-box grave-yard.” A renegade Confederate soldier later told someone in Wilson’s forces about the guns, and Union soldiers dug them up, running the risk of contamination from smallpox.

Here is a story about a Woodruff 2-pounder gun with photos... It is a good Civil War story about a man trying to sell his creation to the Union army... Lincoln has his moments in it as well...

 

diane

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The Travis guns were en route to Forrest, and had been ordered by supporters in Montgomery in April of 1864. They raised the money specifically for this. The Travis gun deserves a good expert on artillery to adequately explain them, and that's not me! However, I can say they were small, mobile little cannons that could fire a devastating load of canister and small shot like that. Forrest might not have gotten his rear kicked so heartily by Wilson if he'd gotten these guns before the Yankee Blitzkrieg. Wilson, by the way, was aware these were being sent Forrest's way and was very concerned about him getting them. As with Sherman's March, Wilson's Raid would have lost some luster had Forrest gotten these. Just as he had blown holes in Grant's lines with effectively placed shotguns at Ft Donelson, he could have done much the same thing with these powerful little guns.
 

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Here is one of Nathan Forrest's relatives... West Point man...



JOHN "JACK" FRANKLIN FORREST was born in Mexia, TX, the second son of Robert E. and Gertrude Klug Forrest. His ancestor was the great Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest. His father was severely injured as an Army Air Corps pilot in WWI, and his brother Robert fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and survived capture by the Germans.

Jack left Mexia when he was a young boy. The oil business led his father to move the family to Houston; Saginaw, MI; and Olney, IL. At Olney High School, Jack was a superb scholar and athlete, joining the National Honor Society and playing varsity basketball and football. A fine swimmer, he worked summers as a lifeguard. Jack was president of his senior class and the Debate Club, and voted "Most Popular." He had no trouble entering West Point during the closing days of WWII.
 

diane

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Texas and Tennessee have a close connection! There is a LOT of good information about Forrest to be found in eastern Texas, and a lot of his family is there to this day. (Including descendants of James (maybe John) Luxton, Forrest's stepfather.)
 
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