THAT DEVIL FORRESTNashville Campaign
November 23, 1864
Again the men in gray were outnumbered. Again they faced destruction by a more powerful enemy. Any commander would have been justified in avoiding battle. But General Nathan Bedford Forrest was not any commander. Typically, he chose to attack.
At the head of General John Bell Hood's drive into Federally-occupied Tennessee, Forrest and his cavalry found the road to Nashville blocked by a heavy concentration of enemy troops. It was just cause for a withdrawal, but instead of withdrawing, Forrest divided his force, took his 80-man escort and proceeded to flank the enemy to set up a surprise attack, at Fouche Springs.
The Federal force he intended to assault was perhaps twenty times larger than Forrest's mounted strike force. But again Forrest unleashed a ferocious strike where least expected. The enemy cavalrymen had unsaddled their mounts for the night, and did not suspect the presence of the much-feared Forrest this bitterly cold night.
Then "that devil Forrest" burst from the woods upon them - and the Northerners were terrorized. Their quiet camp erupted into chaos, and they fled in every direction. "I made the charge upon the enemy alone," Forrest would later report, "producing the perfect stampede." The stampede led the stunned Federals into a blast of fire from Forrest's main force - which ignited a panic among the men in blue. The enemy force was broken and scattered - and the road to Nashville was open for the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
Ahead, with Forrest in the lead, surely a great victory awaited them. Now anything seemed possible. Anything.
I am very excited to again paint one of my favorite generals of the Civil War, Nathan Bedford Forrest, who at this time in the war was at the height of his military prowess. Featured in the painting on the far left side is Forrest's adjutant general, Major J. P. Strange, who would save Forrest's life later that same day. (As you look at the painting from different angles, you will find that Major Strange's pistol will follow you.) Captain William M. Forrest is following right behind his father and is carrying a Spiller & Burr revolver. Also featured to the right of the General, about to fire his pistol, is Lt. George L. Cowan of Forrest's escort. Lt. Cowan would fight with Forrest until the end of the war.
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