Tennessee seeks solution for handling Civil War past

From: colonel@37thtexas.org
To: letters@tennessean.com

The solution is to present real history.

In 1871 a Congressional committee investigated Forrest’s alleged involvement with the Klan and the supposed "massacre" at Ft. Pillow. That committee found no evidence that Forrest formed or led the Klan and that there was no evidence of any organized "massacre" at Ft. Pillow, but that Forrest stopped isolated incidents as soon as he arrived on-scene.

During the War 45 of Forrest’s slaves rode with him as servants, cooks, teamsters, foragers, scouts, and as his personal armed bodyguards. In 1863 he freed them and all stayed on with him through the war and beyond. In 1871 he commented, "Those men never left me . . . and better Confederates did not live."

On July 4, 1875, one year before Forrest’s death, he gave a speech to a Black social and political organization in Memphis. Among the things he said were:

"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."

What problem could Messrs. Bailey and Hamilton have with ADDING the full text of Forrest’s speech of reconciliation and unity to the monuments in Forrest Park? Could it be that history does not serve their personal political agendas?

The Confederate Army included in its combat ranks more than 13,000 Indians (one a Brigadier General), 6500 Hispanics (nine of them Colonels), 5500 Jews (including the CS Secretary of State), tens of thousands of immigrants, a handful of Filipinos from Louisiana, two Amerasian sons of Chang and Eng (the original "Siamese Twins"), as well as thousands of Black Confederate combat soldiers documented by the Federal Official Records, Northern newspapers, the the letters and diaries of Union soldiers.

Let us not use falsehoods and political aspirations masquerading as fact to remove honorable history. Let us add the truth to set all free from the baggage of lies.

Michael Kelley
Pascagoula, MS