For Dan Lauck…

From: colonel@37thtexas.org
To: assignments@khou.com

…I read your story "Rep. Ted Poe’s KKK leader quote gets Web buzzing" and I have to admit I am getting sick and tired of the of the constant reminder that the news media has no education and does no research before they report.

In 1871 a Congressional committee composed of Radical Republicans investigated the Klan, its origins, its activities and the possible involvement of former Confederate leaders. They had the current facts at-hand and the men they were investigating testified before them. Among those compelled to testify was Forrest.

The Committee, which would have liked nothing better than to be able to charge and try Forrest, concluded in its official findings that Forrest did not found the Klan, was not the Klan’s leader, did not advise the Klan and instead worked only to have the Klan disband. See "The reports of Committees, House of Representatives, second session, forty-second congress," P. 7-449.

Now, would you like to explain why your story contradicts the findings of the Congressional committee to continue the old propaganda fable about Forrest founding and leading the Klan? I can only assume that were not aware of the 1871 investigation.

You called Forrest a racist. False.

"Forty-five of Forrest’s own slaves, indeed served through the war with him as teamsters. ‘I said to forty-five colored fellows on my plantation…’ Forrest told a Congressional committee after the war, ‘that I was going into the army; and that if they would go with me, if we got whipped they would be free anyhow, and that if we succeeded and slavery was perpetuated, if they would act faithfully with me to the end of the war, I would set them free. Eighteen months before the war closed I was satisfied that we were going to be defeated, and I gave those forty-five men, or forty-four of them, their free papers, for fear I might get killed.’" – "First With the Most" Forrest" by Robert Selph Henry, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1944, page 14

Not only did these men serve Forrest as teamsters – before and after they were freed – but the Federal Official Records and reports from Union officers prove that at least some of these men served as armed combat troops under Forrest’s command. Seven of them served as his personal armed bodyguards and I know the Grandson of one of those Black bodyguards. They served with Forrest to the end of the war and beyond.

"The forces attacking my camp were the First Regiment Texas Rangers

[8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Texas Rangers, ed.], Colonel Wharton, and a battalion of the First Georgia Rangers, Colonel Morrison, and a large number of citizens of Rutherford County, many of whom had recently taken the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day." – Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol XVI Part I, pg. 805, Lt. Col. Parkhurst’s Report (Ninth Michigan Infantry) on General Forrest’s attack at Murfreesboro, Tenn, July 13, 1862

During the 1871 Congressional investigation Forrest was asked about the Blacks who rode with him and he replied, "Those fellows never left me…and better Confederates did not live."

More proof that Forrest was not a racist? No problem at all. Simply read the following speech without regard for who gave it and then consider if that person was a racist or a civil rights advocate.

"Memphis Daily Avalanche, July 6, 1875, 1.

July 4, 1875 – Memphis, Tennessee –

Nathan Bedford Forrest was invited to speak by the Jubilee of Pole Bearers, a political and social organization in the post-war era comprised of Black Southerners. Miss Lou Lewis was introduced to General Forrest then presented him with a bouquet of flowers and said: ‘Mr. Forrest – allow me to present you this bouquet as a token, of reconciliation, an offering of peace and good will.’

General Forrest received the flowers with a bow, and replied:

‘Miss Lewis, ladies and gentlemen – I accept these flowers as a token of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the South. I accept them more particularly, since they come from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s great earth who loves the ladies, it is myself.

This is a proud day for me. Having occupied the position I have for thirteen years, and being misunderstood by the colored race, I take this occasion to say that I am your friend. I am here as the representative of the Southern people – one that has been more maligned than any other.

I assure you that every man who was in the Confederate army is your friend. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live in the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters.

When the war broke out I believed it to be my duty to fight for my country, and I did so. I came here with the jeers and sneers of a few white people, who did not think it right. I think it is right, and will do all I can to bring about harmony, peace and unity. I want to elevate every man, and to see you take your places in your shops, stores and offices.

I don’t propose to say anything about politics, but I want you to do as I do – go to the polls and select the best men to vote for. I feel that you are free men, I am a free man, and we can do as we please. I came here as a friend and whenever I can serve any of you I will do so.

We have one Union, one flag, one country; therefore, let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment.

Many things have been said in regard to myself, and many reports circulated, which may perhaps be believed by some of you, but there are many around me who can contradict them. I have been many times in the heat of battle – oftener, perhaps, than any within the sound of my voice. Men have come to me to ask for quarter, both black and white, and I have shielded them.

Do your duty as citizens, and if any are oppressed, I will be your friend. I thank you for the flowers, and assure you that I am with you in heart and hand.’"

Forrest then kissed Miss Lewis on the cheek before departing.

In case it was too long for you to take the time to read let me offer some excerpts:

"We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live in the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters . . . I want to elevate every man, and to see you take your places in your shops, stores and offices . . . I feel that you are free men, I am a free man, and we can do as we please. I came here as a friend and whenever I can serve any of you I will do so . . . We have one Union, one flag, one country; therefore, let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment . . . Do your duty as citizens, and if any are oppressed, I will be your friend. I thank you for the flowers, and assure you that I am with you in heart and hand."

If you want to revisit the "Ft. Pillow Massacre" simply follow this link to our website:

"The Grand Fabrication"

I realize that modern "news" reporting has nothing to do with reporting the facts, consideration of the truth or a requirement for diligent research before reporting but this whole "stink" about Rep. Poe quoting Forrest has set a new low standard for quality of reporting and lack of research.

Through painstaking research and thorough, uncommented documentation we celebrate the courage, sacrifice, and heritage of ALL Southerners who had to make agonizing personal choices under impossible circumstances.

"The first law of the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." – Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

We simply ask that all act upon the facts of history. We invite your questions.

Your Obedient Servant,

Colonel Michael Kelley, CSA
228-235-7720
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s)
http://www.37thtexas.org
"We are a band of brothers!"

". . . . political correctness has replaced witch trials and communist hearings as the preferred way to torment our fellow countrymen." "Ghost Riders," Sharyn McCrumb, 2004, Signet, pp. 9

"I came here as a friend…let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment." – LT Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA, Memphis Daily Avalanche, July 6, 1875