Regarding "Short BATTLE"


I always find it fascinating when someone takes a point of ignorance, makes a stand on that ignorance and is somehow ennobled for doing so.

The historical fact is that Nathan Bedford Forrest’s alleged involvement with the Ku Klux Klan was thoroughly investigated by a Congressional committee in 1871. Their conclusion, after conducting their investigation, was that Forrest’s only involvement with the KKK was in his efforts to have it disband.

They concluded he did not found it, he did not lead it and he did not participate in its activities. A Congressional committee populated with Radical Republicans concluded that.

The only official flag of the KKK is and always has been the United States flag. That is the flag that 100,000 robed Klansmen carried by the thousands through the streets of Washington, DC, in 1926. Klan use of the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag only began in the late 1950s.

That is simple historical fact – the Holy Water against anti-Southern hysteria.

As a slave trader Forrest was renowned for his humanity in a trade mostly devoid of humanity. Slaves who suffered under cruel masters often asked to be sold to Forrest – whose policies included that he would never break up families, that he would purchase and reunite families that had been separated and that after offering newly-purchased slaves new clothing he would give them passes to go and find the person to whom they wished to be sold. His trust was never betrayed.

As for Ft. Pillow that is simply tired old wartime Union propaganda which was also reinvestigated after the war. The committee found no evidence of a "massacre" and charged exactly no one with any crime whatsoever. The only witness who claimed to have seen Forrest at the riverbank described the six foot four-inch Forrest as "a little bitty man."

Check the Federal official records and you will find that Union barracks reported burned by Forrest’s men with wounded Union soldiers inside were actually burned by a lieutenant of U.S. Colored Troops under orders. The reference is: Numbers 16. Report of Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn, Sixth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, of the capture of Fort Pillow – Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol. 32, Part 1, pp. 569-570.

Accusations were made that Forrest’s men buried wounded Black Union soldiers alive but burial details were conducted by Union soldiers under the command of Union officers. More lies.

Incidentally, Lieutenant Van Horn was himself taken prisoner and escaped but made NO mention of any "massacre" or even misconduct by Forrest or his men – he did, however, note the following in his report, written only two days after Ft. Pillow: "There never was a surrender of the fort, both officers and men declaring they never would surrender or ask for quarter."

As a matter of fact, Forrest took 39 U.S. Colored Troops prisoner and turned them over to higher command. Among the most seriously wounded Union soldiers Forrest transferred to the U.S. Steamer Silver Cloud were 14 U.S. Colored Troops. If there had been a "massacre" would Forrest have bothered to take prisoners or worry about the fate of the seriously wounded Black soldiers?

Incidentally, Forrest had 45 Black men riding with him during the war and they fought with him as documented by Union reports in the Federal Official Records:

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: "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."

If you want to find out what Forrest did after the war, then follow this link and actually read what he said.

Incidentally, the tired old line about "traitors" flies in the face of the fact that Congress in 1928 officially recognized Confederate soldiers as AMERICAN soldiers. Not a single Confederate soldier, officer or office holder was ever charged with or tried for treason.

Incidentally, the South did not secede over slavery or states’ rights – the Southern states seceded over unfair taxation that had them paying 70% of the Federal budget with only 10% being reinvested in the South and the remainder financing Northern industrialization. Since Lincoln supported and tried to get slavery permanently protected in 1861 (Corwin Amendment) and in December, 1862, offered the South gradual compensated emancipation with slavery lasting until 1900 the "fighting to protect slavery" mantra rings hollow.

Your entire article was based on tired old fables, not historical fact and Michael Meiselman’s profound ignorance is no excuse. He needs to read a few of the original records and a bit more factual histories and steer away from simple-minded retelling of disproven old lies.

As a 12th generation Virginian who has lived all over the country and overseas before, during and after the civil rights era and as the father of two half-Filipino sons I know where the continuing hatred of and prejudice against Southerners stem from. It stems from the fact that most of us refuse to be "good Southerners" and bow our heads, shuffle our feet and thank the Union for destroying the South, committing war crimes and generally flaunting all of the rules of civilized warfare to achieve economic domination.

Ask the Poles to thank the Nazis for what they did to Poland.

"Eight decades after the end of Reconstruction, the National Emergency Council created to examine the Depression of the 1930s reported its findings to President Franklin D. Roosevelt: The South, it said, had been reduced to the status of a colony." – Report of the National Emergency Council (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1937)

If you would like to know, the only person actually tried and convicted of war crimes during the Civil War was Colonel Turchin of the Union Army. For his wanton destruction of Athens, Alabama, he was charged by the Union Army, tried, convicted and recommended for dismissal from service. President Lincoln pardoned him and promoted him.

Is that clear? Saint Abraham pardoned and promoted the only convicted war criminal of the Civil War.

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
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s)
"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


Bruce Rushton wrote:
Thanks for reading.

The problem with the Internet is that one never knows what is fact or fiction, which authors have axes to grind and which are bona fide scholars.

I think we can safely assume that Forrest was controversial and scholars disagree on much when it comes to him. As for his Klan involvement, seems to me there’s not much question he was an early leader of the group. Whether he, in fact, renounced the group in his heart or only for political purposes, only he can say. I’m told that that Forrest’s slaves agreed to fight only after he promised them their freedom. In short, they were promised wages far higher than most other soldiers got.

The Congressional investigation of 1871 absolved Forrest of founding the KKK or participating in it. Are you in possession of information and/or understanding that they lacked in 1871 when all of the people involved were alive and the evidence/information was readily at-hand? Can you point out how they "missed" what you somehow know or are second-guessing?

The committee was composed of Radical Republicans and chaired by Sherman. Do you suppose they were "sympathetic" to Forrest?

That seems just a bit egotistical to me and rather disingenuous. You are using your assumption in place of factual evidence.

Here is the FACTUAL reference for Forrest’s Black members:

"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

They were promised their freedom, they received their freedom and they stayed on to the end of the war and beyond as paid employees after the war. When questioned about these men by the Congressional committee Forrest replied that, "Those fellow never left me…and better Confederates did not live." If it was only a matter of receiving their freedom it is unlikely they would have stayed on beyond that point.

Incidentally, seven of these men were Forrest’s personal armed bodyguards. Mr. Nelson Winbush, of Kissimmee, Florida, is the grandson of Louis Napoleon Nelson, one of those bodyguards, and remembers the stories his Grandfather told him before he died when Mr. Winbush was nine years old.

Once again, you are mistaking your personal assumptions for factual history. When you can back up your opinions with established fact let me know.

History does not care what you or I "believe" – history is about provable, documentable fact.

Read this again:

"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.)

Back when I took journalism reporting was supposed to involve the facts – opinions were reserved for the editorial page.

Your Obedient Servant,

Colonel Michael Kelley, CSA
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s)
"We are a band of brothers!"

"There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race." – Col. Robert E. Lee, United States Army, December 27, 1856