Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption
By Shane Kastler
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Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest remains a controversial figure in American history. From Forrest’s childhood through his involvement in the Civil War and the Ku Klux Klan to his conversion to Christianity, this spiritual biography follows the general on his journey to salvation.
Twelve chapters detail Forrest’s days as a slave trader and recalls his escapades in the Civil War, including such battles as Sand Mountain, Okolona, and the Fort Pillow massacre, which cemented his reputation as a relentless and victorious warrior. Revealing an unfamiliar side of the feared Civil War general, the book details Forrest’s meeting and marriage to a pious Presbyterian who likely influenced his later devotion to faith.
He briefly served as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan but eventually called for its disbandment. Afterwards, he became an advocate for African Americans. In a famous speech made to the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers, the forerunner of the NAACP, Forrest declared that he was with them "heart and hand" and pledged his support. His radical transformation from a dedicated Confederate general to a meek man may alter common conceptions.