Nathan Bedford Forrest did not invent mobilized guerilla warfare, but he did modernize and polish it to an extent that has left few theoretical areas for improvement. Tanks and jeeps, it could be said, do not possess the mobility relative to the main force which they attack that Forrests dedicated band of horsemen enjoyed.
Following in the footsteps of Francis Marion and Light-horse Henry Lee, American practitioners of the devastating hit-and-run cavalry attack of the Revolutionary War, Forrest raised their effective but geographically limited campaigns to an art-form spread over the widest possible tactical theatre. He accomplished this with superior knowledge of terrain and of horses coupled with an iron will, a complete disregard for physical exhaustion (his own and that of his men) and, this book will demonstrate, by the most admirable sort of sheer country orneriness.Forrest, a man of simple upbringing, is the perfect symbol of the odd melange that was the Confederate Army- patrician West Pointers like Lee side by side by unregenerate racists like Forrest.
These well-bred students of battles from the classical era were not prevented by an almost unimaginable not prevented by and almost unimaginable difference in class from being able to recognize the tactical genius of a farmer from the low country. Nor were they sufficiently threatened by Forrests innate comprehension of the sort of war required to prevent Forrest required to prevent Forrest from becoming the only enlisted man in the entire Civil War to achieve the rank of a General.That any scholar of this history of warfare would have to judge Forrest rather more harshly for his conduct after the war than this conduct during it is just another tragic aspect of the larger tragedy that generated The War Between the States.
Heroes rose from unlikely places and returned, when the time for heroism had past, to their more unheroic pursuits. Whether that return negates the valor shown during the conflict is only for you to determine, after you have learned of Forrests life in all its aspects, heroic, and less so.From the Hardcover edition