Historic marker dedication highlights Forrest Homecoming
"I have never, on the field of battle, sent you where I was unwilling to go myself; nor would I now advise you to a course which I felt myself unwilling to pursue. You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens."
Those were the words that Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest spoke at his farewell address to his troops on May 9, 1865 at Gainesville, Alabama.
The exploits of the one of the greatest military minds of all-time are well documented and his popularity has not waned among his admirers who were out in a huge numbers at the boyhood home of "The Wizard of the Saddle" on Pyles Road at Chapel Hill on Saturday for the 13th Annual Forrest Homecoming.
Because of his heroism and dedication to his men and the cause, Forrest's words rang true then and they reverberated once again as his undying legacy was honored with the State of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development dedicating a Historical Marker as part of its Tennessee Civil War Trail program.
"These sites in Marshall County connect the dots to a very important story that not only the locals need to know, but for Middle Tennessee, the whole state of Tennessee and the south and the nation," said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development representative Lee Waddell Curtis.
General Forrest's grandfather, Nathan moved to Bedford County in 1808 where the Forrest family took roots, including William Forrest, who was 10 years old at the time of the move.
William Forrest became a blacksmith in Chapel Hill where Nathan Bedford, the eldest of 12 children was born at Caney Spring on July 13, 1821.
The family moved to the Pyles Road property in 1830 where Forrest spent the next three years before they moved to Mississippi.
Forrest's heroism, gallant leadership and myriad of victories in battle made him a feared opponent of the Union Army during the Civil War as General William Tecumseh Sherman once wrote in a letter to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, "Forrest is the very devil, if we must sacrifice 10,000 lives and bankrupt the Federal Treasury, it will be worth it. There will never be peace in Tennessee till Forrest is dead."
The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) have remained those good soldiers, fostering Forrest's legacy and the SVC has been the driving force behind the preservation of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home, illuminating the great Calvary general's call for good citizenship.
In the Civil War, Tennessee was a divided state with brothers fighting brothers and cousins fighting cousins, embroiled in the vicious bloody battle across the state that saw many families lose husbands, fathers and sons.
Over 120,000 Tennessee soldiers fought for the Confederacy, while 31,000 aided the Union cause and there were more battles fought within the borders of the Volunteer State than any other state except Virginia.
"We are a big ground zero here in Tennessee for telling the story and it's important to tell the entire story, because fifty years ago when they commemorated the 100th anniversary of this war, the entire story was not told," said Curtis.
"That is why it is important to talk about the fact that this was a state divided and the visitors that come here want to know where their relatives stood."