Nathan Bedford Forrest is one of ablest commanders on record, the only Civil War officer to go from Private at the beginning of the war to highest rank then used, Lieutenant General.
Union General Sherman said Confederate Lt. General Forrest was “the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side.” Sherman, regarded as a great strategist, wrote this about Forrest:
“…he had a genius for strategy which was original, and to me incomprehensible. There was no theory or art of war by which I could calculate with any degree of certainty what Forrest was up to. He always seemed to know what I was going to do next.”
Forrest was remarkably brave in battle. Private James Hamner described one of their early battles:
“The Col. (Forrest) was about 50 yards ahead of us fighting for his life. I believe there was at least fifty shots fired at him in five minutes. One shot took effect in his horse’s head, but did not kill him. He killed 9 of the enemy.”
Of another early battle, General Clark wrote this of Forrest:
“…he was conspicuous for the most daring courage; always in advance of his command. He was at one time engaged in a hand-to-hand conflict with 4 of the enemy, 3 of whom he killed, dismounting and making a prisoner of the fourth.”
Forrest was noted for using a distinctive 12-star battle flag. He removed the middle star so his enemies knew exactly who they were fighting.