|Name:||Nathan Bedford Forrest|
|Birth Day:||July 13, 1821|
|Death Date:||October 29, 1877(1877-10-29) (aged 56)
|Birth Place:||Chapel Hill, United States|
|#1||William Montgomery Bedford Forrest||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Fanny Ann Forrest||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Nathan Bedford Forrest died on October 29, 1877(1877-10-29) (aged 56)
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Nathan Bedford Forrest was born on July 13, 1821 to a poor settler family in a secluded frontier cabin near Chapel Hill hamlet, then part of Bedford County, Tennessee, but now encompassed in Marshall County. Forrest was the first son of Mariam (Beck) and William Forrest. His father William was of English descent, and most of his biographers state that his mother Mariam was of Scotch-Irish descent, but the Memphis Genealogical Society says that she was of English descent. He and his twin sister, Fanny, were the two eldest of blacksmith William Forrest's 12 children with wife Miriam Beck. Forrest's great-grandfather, Shadrach Forrest, possibly of English birth, moved from Virginia to North Carolina, between 1730 and 1740, and there his son and grandson were born; they moved to Tennessee in 1806. Forrest's family lived in a log house (now preserved as the Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home) from 1830 to 1833. John Allan Wyeth, who served in an Alabama regiment under Forrest, described it as a one-room building with a loft and no windows. William Forrest worked as a blacksmith in Tennessee until 1834, when he moved to Mississippi. William died in 1837 and Forrest became the primary caretaker of the family aged 16.
In 1841 Forrest went into business with his uncle Jonathan Forrest in Hernando, Mississippi. His uncle was killed there in 1845 during an argument with the Matlock brothers. In retaliation, Forrest shot and killed two of them with his two-shot pistol and wounded two others with a knife which had been thrown to him. One of the wounded Matlock men survived and served under Forrest during the Civil War.
Forrest had 12 brothers and sisters; two of his eight brothers and three of his four sisters died of typhoid fever at an early age, all at about the same time. He also contracted the disease, but survived; his father recovered but died from residual effects of the disease five years later, when Bedford was 16. His mother Miriam then married James Horatio Luxton, of Marshall, Texas, in 1843 and gave birth to four more children.
In 1845, Forrest married Mary Ann Montgomery (1826–1893), the niece of a Presbyterian minister who was her legal guardian. They had two children, William Montgomery Bedford Forrest (1846–1908), who enlisted at the age of 15 and served alongside his father in the war, and a daughter, Fanny (1849–1854), who died in childhood.
Forrest had success as a businessman, planter and slaveholder. He acquired several cotton plantations in the Delta region of West Tennessee, and became a slave trader at a time when demand for slaves was booming in the Deep South; his slave trading business was based on Adams Street in Memphis. In 1858, Forrest was elected a Memphis city alderman as a Democrat and served two consecutive terms. By the time the American Civil War started in 1861, he had become one of the richest men in the South, having amassed a "personal fortune that he claimed was worth $1.5 million".
Forrest was well known as a Memphis speculator and Mississippi gambler. In 1859, he bought two large cotton plantations in Coahoma County, Mississippi and a half-interest in another plantation in Arkansas; by October 1860 he owned at least 3,345 acres in Mississippi.
After the Civil War broke out, Forrest returned to Tennessee from his Mississippi ventures and enlisted in the Confederate States Army (CSA) on June 14, 1861. He reported for training at Fort Wright near Randolph, Tennessee, joining Captain Josiah White's cavalry company, the Tennessee Mounted Rifles (Seventh Tennessee Cavalry), as a private along with his youngest brother and 15-year-old son. Upon seeing how badly equipped the CSA was, Forrest offered to buy horses and equipment with his own money for a regiment of Tennessee volunteer soldiers.
His superior officers and Governor of Tennessee Isham G. Harris were surprised that someone of Forrest's wealth and prominence had enlisted as a soldier, especially since major planters were exempted from service. They commissioned him as a lieutenant colonel and authorized him to recruit and train a battalion of Confederate mounted rangers. In October 1861, Forrest was given command of a regiment, the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry. Though Forrest had no prior formal military training or experience, he had exhibited leadership and soon proved he could successfully employ tactics.
Forrest won praise for his performance under fire during an early victory in the Battle of Sacramento in Kentucky, the first in which he commanded troops in the field, where he routed a Union force by personally leading a cavalry charge that was later commended by his commander, Brigadier General Charles Clark. Forrest distinguished himself further at the Battle of Fort Donelson in February 1862. After his cavalry captured a Union artillery battery, he broke out of a siege headed by Major General Ulysses S. Grant, rallying nearly 4,000 troops and leading them to escape across the Cumberland River.
By early summer, Forrest commanded a new brigade of inexperienced cavalry regiments. In July, he led them into Middle Tennessee under orders to launch a cavalry raid, and on July 13, 1862, led them into the First Battle of Murfreesboro, as a result of which all of the Union units surrendered to Forrest, and the Confederates destroyed much of the Union's supplies and railroad track in the area.
Promoted on July 21, 1862 to brigadier general, Forrest was given command of a Confederate cavalry brigade. In December 1862, Forrest's veteran troopers were reassigned by General Braxton Bragg to another officer, against his protest. Forrest had to recruit a new brigade, composed of about 2,000 inexperienced recruits, most of whom lacked weapons. Again, Bragg ordered a series of raids to disrupt the communications of the Union forces under Grant, which were threatening the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Forrest protested that to send such untrained men behind enemy lines was suicidal, but Bragg insisted, and Forrest obeyed his orders. In the ensuing raids he was pursued by thousands of Union soldiers trying to locate his fast-moving forces. Avoiding attack by never staying in one place long, eventually Forrest led his troops during the spring and summer of 1864 on raids into west Tennessee, as far north as the banks of the Ohio River in southwest Kentucky and into north Mississippi.
The Union Army gained military control of Tennessee in 1862 and occupied it for the duration of the war, having taken control of strategic cities and railroads. Forrest continued to lead his men in small-scale operations, including the Battle of Dover and the Battle of Brentwood until April 1863. The Confederate army dispatched him with a small force into the backcountry of northern Alabama and western Georgia to defend against an attack of 3,000 Union cavalrymen commanded by Colonel Abel Streight. Streight had orders to cut the Confederate railroad south of Chattanooga, Tennessee to seal off Bragg's supply line and force him to retreat into Georgia. Forrest chased Streight's men for 16 days, harassing them all the way. Streight's goal changed from dismantling the railroad to escaping the pursuit. On May 3, Forrest caught up with Streight's unit east of Cedar Bluff, Alabama. Forrest had fewer men than the Union side but feigned having a larger force by parading some repeatedly around a hilltop until Streight was convinced to surrender his 1,500 or so exhausted troops (historians Kevin Dougherty and Keith S. Hebert say he had about 1,700 men).
Fort Pillow, located 40 miles (64 km) upriver from Memphis (near Henning, Tennessee), was originally constructed by Confederate general Gideon Johnson Pillow on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, and taken over by Union forces in 1862 after the Confederates had abandoned the fort. The fort was manned by 557 Union troops, 295 white and 262 black, under Union commander Maj. L.F. Booth.
Not all of Forrest's exploits of individual combat involved enemy troops. Lieutenant Andrew Wills Gould, an artillery officer in Forrest's command, was being transferred, presumably because cannons under his command were spiked (disabled) by the enemy during the Battle of Day's Gap. On June 13, 1863, Gould confronted Forrest about his transfer, which escalated into a violent exchange. Gould shot Forrest in the hip and Forrest mortally stabbed Gould. Forrest was thought to have been fatally wounded by Gould but he recovered and was ready to fight in the Chickamauga Campaign.
Forrest served with the main army at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 18–20, 1863, in which he pursued the retreating Union army and took hundreds of prisoners. Like several others under Bragg's command, he urged an immediate follow-up attack to recapture Chattanooga, which had fallen a few weeks before. Bragg failed to do so, upon which Forrest was quoted as saying, "What does he fight battles for?" The story that Forrest confronted and threatened the life of Bragg in the fall of 1863, following the battle of Chickamauga, and that Bragg transferred Forrest to command in Mississippi as a direct result, is now considered to be apocryphal.
On December 4, 1863, Forrest was promoted to the rank of major general. On March 25, 1864, Forrest's cavalry raided the town of Paducah, Kentucky in the Battle of Paducah, during which Forrest demanded the surrender of U.S. Colonel Stephen G. Hicks: "if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter." Hicks refused to comply with the ultimatum, and according to his subsequent report, Forrest's troops took a position and set up a battery of guns while a flag of truce was still up. As soon as they received the Union reply, they moved forward at the command of a junior officer, and the Union forces opened fire. The Confederates tried to storm the fort, but were repulsed; they rallied and made two more attempts, both of which failed.
On April 12, 1864, Forrest's men, under Brig. Gen. James Chalmers, attacked and recaptured Fort Pillow. Booth and his adjutant were killed in the battle, leaving Fort Pillow under the command of Major William Bradford. Forrest had reached the fort at 10:00 am after a hard ride from Mississippi, and his horse was soon shot out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground. He then mounted a second horse, which was shot out from under him as well, forcing him to mount a third horse. By 3:30 pm, Forrest had concluded that the Union troops could not hold the fort, thus he ordered a flag of truce raised and demanded that the fort be surrendered. Bradford refused to surrender, believing his troops could escape to the Union gunboat, USS New Era, on the Mississippi River. Forrest's men immediately took over the fort, while Union soldiers retreated to the lower bluffs of the river, but the USS New Era did not come to their rescue. What happened next became known as the Fort Pillow Massacre. As the Union troops surrendered, Forrest's men opened fire, slaughtering both black and white soldiers. According to historians John Cimprich and Bruce Tap, although their numbers were roughly equal, two thirds of the black Union soldiers were killed, while only a third of the whites were killed. The atrocities at Fort Pillow continued throughout the night. Conflicting accounts of what actually occurred were given later.
Forrest's most decisive victory came on June 10, 1864, when his 3,500-man force clashed with 8,500 men commanded by Union Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis at the Battle of Brices Crossroads in northeastern Mississippi. Here, the mobility of the troops under his command and his superior tactics led to victory, allowing him to continue harassing Union forces in southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi throughout the war. Forrest set up a position for an attack to repulse a pursuing force commanded by Sturgis, who had been sent to impede Forrest from destroying Union supply lines and fortifications. When Sturgis's Federal army came upon the crossroads, they collided with Forrest's cavalry. Sturgis ordered his infantry to advance to the front line to counteract the cavalry. The infantry, tired, weary and suffering under the heat, were quickly broken and sent into mass retreat. Forrest sent a full charge after the retreating army and captured 16 artillery pieces, 176 wagons and 1,500 stands of small arms. In all, the maneuver cost Forrest 96 men killed and 396 wounded. The day was worse for Union troops, who suffered 223 killed, 394 wounded and 1,623 missing. The losses were a deep blow to the black regiment under Sturgis's command. In the hasty retreat, they stripped off commemorative badges that read "Remember Fort Pillow" to avoid goading the Confederate force pursuing them.
One month later, while serving under General Stephen D. Lee, Forrest experienced tactical defeat at the Battle of Tupelo in 1864. Concerned about Union supply lines, Maj. Gen. Sherman sent a force under the command of Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith to deal with Forrest. Union forces drove the Confederates from the field and Forrest was wounded in the foot, but his forces were not wholly destroyed. He continued to oppose Union efforts in the West for the remainder of the war.
Forrest led other raids that summer and fall, including a famous one into Union-held downtown Memphis in August 1864 (the Second Battle of Memphis) and another on a major Union supply depot at Johnsonville, Tennessee. On November 4, 1864, during the Battle of Johnsonville, the Confederates shelled the city, sinking three gunboats and nearly thirty other ships and destroying many tons of supplies. During Hood's Tennessee Campaign, he fought alongside General John Bell Hood, the newest commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, in the Second Battle of Franklin on November 30. Facing a disastrous defeat, Forrest argued bitterly with Hood (his superior officer) demanding permission to cross the Harpeth River and cut off the escape route of Union Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's army. He eventually made the attempt, but it was too late.
After his bloody defeat at Franklin, Hood continued on to Nashville. Hood ordered Forrest to conduct an independent raid against the Murfreesboro garrison. After success in achieving the objectives specified by Hood, Forrest engaged Union forces near Murfreesboro on December 5, 1864. In what would be known as the Third Battle of Murfreesboro, a portion of Forrest's command broke and ran. When Hood's battle-hardened Army of Tennessee, consisting of 40,000 men deployed in three infantry corps plus 10,000 to 15,000 cavalry, was all but destroyed on December 15–16, at the Battle of Nashville, Forrest distinguished himself by commanding the Confederate rear guard in a series of actions that allowed what was left of the army to escape. For this, he would later be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on March 2, 1865. A portion of his command, now dismounted, was surprised and captured in their camp at Verona, Mississippi on December 25, 1864, during a raid of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad by a brigade of Brig. Gen. Benjamin Grierson's cavalry division.
In the spring of 1865, Forrest led an unsuccessful defense of the state of Alabama against Wilson's Raid. His opponent, Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson, defeated Forrest at the Battle of Selma on April 2, 1865. A week later, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant in Virginia. When he received news of Lee's surrender, Forrest surrendered as well. On May 9, 1865, at Gainesville, Forrest read his farewell address to the men under his command, enjoining them to "submit to the powers to be, and to aid in restoring peace and establishing law and order throughout the land."
As a former slave trader and slave owner, Forrest experienced the abolition of slavery at war's end as a major financial setback. He had become interested in the area around Crowley's Ridge during the war, and took up civilian life in 1865 in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1866, Forrest and C.C. McCreanor contracted to finish the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad, including a right-of-way that passed over the ridge. The ridgetop commissary he built as a provisioning store for the 1,000 Irish laborers hired to lay the rails became the nucleus of a town, which most residents called "Forrest's Town" and which was incorporated as Forrest City, Arkansas in 1870.
Forrest was an early member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), which was formed by six veterans of the Confederate Army in Pulaski, Tennessee, during the spring of 1866 and soon expanded throughout the state and beyond. Forrest became involved sometime in late 1866 or early 1867. A common report is that Forrest arrived in Nashville in April 1867 while the Klan was meeting at the Maxwell House Hotel, probably at the encouragement of a state Klan leader, former Confederate general George Gordon. The organization had grown to the point where an experienced commander was needed, and Forrest was well-suited to the role. In Room 10 of the Maxwell, Forrest was sworn in as a member by John W. Morton. Brian Steel Wills quotes two KKK members who identified Forrest as a Klan leader. James R. Crowe stated, "After the order grew to large numbers we found it necessary to have someone of large experience to command. We chose General Forrest". Another member wrote, "N. B. Forest of Confederate fame was at our head, and was known as the Grand Wizard. I heard him make a speech in one of our Dens". The title "Grand Wizard" was chosen because General Forrest had been known as "The Wizard of the Saddle" during the war. According to Jack Hurst's 1993 biography, "Two years after Appomattox, Forrest was reincarnated as grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. As the Klan's first national leader, he became the Lost Cause's avenging angel, galvanizing a loose collection of boyish secret social clubs into a reactionary instrument of terror still feared today." Forrest was the Klan's first and only Grand Wizard, and he was active in recruitment for the Klan from 1867 to 1868.
In an 1868 interview by a Cincinnati newspaper, Forrest claimed that the Klan had 40,000 members in Tennessee and 550,000 total members throughout the Southern states. He said he sympathized with them, but denied any formal connection, although he claimed he could muster thousands of men himself. He described the Klan as "a protective political military organization ... The members are sworn to recognize the government of the United States ... Its objects originally were protection against Loyal Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic ...". After only a year as Grand Wizard, in January 1869, faced with an ungovernable membership employing methods that seemed increasingly counterproductive, Forrest dissolved the Klan, ordered their costumes destroyed, and withdrew from participation. His declaration had little effect, however, and few Klansmen destroyed their robes and hoods.
Forrest testified before the Congressional investigation of Klan activities on June 27, 1871. He denied membership, but his individual role in the KKK was beyond the scope of the investigating committee, which wrote: "Our design is not to connect General Forrest with this order (the reader may form his own conclusion upon this question)". The committee also noted, "The natural tendency of all such organizations is to violence and crime; hence it was that General Forrest and other men of influence in the state, by the exercise of their moral power, induced them to disband". George Cantor, a biographer of Confederate generals, wrote, "Forrest ducked and weaved, denying all knowledge, but admitted he knew some of the people involved. He sidestepped some questions and pleaded failure of memory on others. Afterwards, he admitted to 'gentlemanly lies'. He wanted nothing more to do with the Klan, but felt honor bound to protect former associates."
After the lynch mob murder of four blacks who had been arrested for defending themselves in a brawl at a barbecue, Forrest wrote to Tennessee Governor John C. Brown in August 1874 and "volunteered to help 'exterminate' those men responsible for the continued violence against the blacks", offering "to exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes".
On July 5, 1875, Forrest gave a speech before the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, a post-war organization of black Southerners advocating to improve the economic condition of blacks and to gain equal rights for all citizens. At this, his last public appearance, he made what The New York Times described as a "friendly speech" during which, when offered a bouquet of flowers by a young black woman, he accepted them, thanked her and kissed her on the cheek. Forrest spoke in encouragement of black advancement and of endeavoring to be a proponent for espousing peace and harmony between black and white Americans.
Forrest reportedly died from acute complications of diabetes at the Memphis home of his brother Jesse on October 29, 1877. His eulogy was delivered by his recent spiritual mentor, former Confederate chaplain George Tucker Stainback, who declared in his eulogy: "Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, though dead, yet speaketh. His acts have photographed themselves upon the hearts of thousands, and will speak there forever."
Forrest was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. In 1904, the remains of Forrest and his wife Mary were disinterred from Elmwood and moved to a Memphis city park that was originally named Forrest Park in his honor, but has since been renamed Health Sciences Park.
Forrest was elevated in Memphis in particular—where he lived and died—to the status of folk hero. "Embarrassed by their city's early capitulation during the Civil War, white Memphians desperately needed a hero and therefore crafted a distorted depiction of Forrest's role in the war." A memorial to him, the first Civil War memorial in Memphis, was erected in 1905 in a new Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. A bust sculpted by Jane Baxendale is on display at the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville. The World War II Army base Camp Forrest in Tullahoma, Tennessee was named after him. It is now the site of the Arnold Engineering Development Center.
Forrest is often erroneously quoted as saying his strategy was to "git thar fustest with the mostest". Now often recast as "Getting there firstest with the mostest", this misquote first appeared in a New York Tribune article written to provide colorful comments in reaction to European interest in Civil War generals. The aphorism was addressed and corrected as "Ma'am, I got there first with the most men" by a New York Times story in 1918. Though it was a novel and succinct condensation of the military principles of mass and maneuver, Bruce Catton writes of the spurious quote:
Forrest's grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest II (1872–1931), became commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia and secretary of the national organization. A great-grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest III (1905–1943), graduated from West Point and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Air Corps; he was killed during a bombing raid over Nazi Germany in 1943, becoming the first American general to die in combat in the European theatre during World War II.
In 1978, Middle Tennessee State University abandoned imagery it had formerly used (in 1951, the school's yearbook, The Midlander, featured the first appearance of Forrest's likeness as MTSU's official mascot) and MTSU president M. G. Scarlett removed the General's image from the university's official seal. The Blue Raiders' athletic mascot was changed to an ambiguous swash-buckler character called the "Blue Raider", to avoid association with Forrest or the Confederacy. The school unveiled its latest mascot, a winged horse called "Lightning" inspired by the mythological Pegasus, during halftime of a basketball game against rival Tennessee State University on January 17, 1998. The ROTC building at MTSU had been named Forrest Hall to honor him in 1958, but the frieze depicting General Forrest on horseback that had adorned the side of the building was removed amid protests in 2006. A major push to change its name failed on February 16, 2018, when the governor-controlled Tennessee Historical Commission denied Middle Tennessee State University's petition to rename Forrest Hall.
In the 1990 PBS documentary The Civil War by Ken Burns, historian Shelby Foote states in Episode 7 that the Civil War produced two "authentic geniuses": Abraham Lincoln and Nathan Bedford Forrest. When expressing this opinion to one of General Forrest's granddaughters, she replied after a pause, "You know, we never thought much of Mr. Lincoln in my family". Foote also made Forrest a major character in his novel Shiloh, which used numerous first-person stories to illustrate a detailed timeline and account of the battle.
In August 2000, a road on Fort Bliss named for Forrest decades earlier was renamed for former post commander Richard T. Cassidy. In 2005, Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey started an effort to move the statue over Forrest's grave and rename Forrest Park. Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who is black, blocked the move. Others have tried to get a bust of Forrest removed from the Tennessee House of Representatives chamber. Leaders in other localities have also tried to remove or eliminate Forrest monuments, with mixed success.
In 2000, a monument to Forrest in Selma, Alabama, was unveiled. On March 10, 2012, it was vandalized and the bronze bust of the general disappeared. In August, a historical society called Friends of Forrest moved forward with plans for a new, larger monument, which was to be 12 feet high, illuminated by LED lights, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and protected by 24-hour security cameras. The plans triggered outrage and a group of around 20 protesters attempted to block construction of the new monument by lying in the path of a concrete truck. Local lawyer and radio host Rose Sanders said, "Glorifying Nathan B. Forrest here is like glorifying a Nazi in Germany. For Selma, of all places, to have a big monument to a Klansman is totally unacceptable". An online petition at Change.org asking the City Council to ban the monument collected 313,617 signatures by mid-September of the same year.
As of 2007, Tennessee had 32 dedicated historical markers linked to Nathan Bedford Forrest, more than are dedicated to all three former Presidents associated with the state combined: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. The Tennessee legislature established July 13 as "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day". A Tennessee-based organization, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, posthumously awarded Forrest their Confederate Medal of Honor, created in 1977.
High schools named for Forrest were built in Chapel Hill, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida. In 2008, the Duval County School Board voted 5–2 against a push to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville. In 2013, the board voted 7–0 to begin the process to rename the school. The school was named for Forrest in 1959 at the urging of the Daughters of the Confederacy because they were upset about the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. At the time the school was all white, but now more than half the student body is black. After several public forums and discussions, Westside High School was unanimously approved in January 2014 as the school's new name.
A monument to Forrest in the Confederate Circle section of Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama reads "Defender of Selma, Wizard of the Saddle, Untutored Genius, The first with the most. This monument stands as testament of our perpetual devotion and respect for Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. CSA 1821–1877, one of the South's finest heroes. In honor of Gen. Forrest's unwavering defense of Selma, the great state of Alabama, and the Confederacy, this memorial is dedicated. DEO VINDICE". As an armory for the Confederacy, Selma provided a substantial part of the South's ammunition during the Civil War. The bust of Forrest was stolen from the cemetery monument in March 2012 and replaced in May 2015. A monument to Forrest at a corner of Veterans Plaza in Rome, Georgia was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909 to honor his bravery for saving Rome from Union Army Colonel Abel Streight and his cavalry.
Forrest Park in Memphis was renamed Health Sciences Park in 2013, amid substantial controversy. In light of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, some Tennessee lawmakers advocated removing a bust of Forrest located in the state's Capitol building. Subsequently, then-Mayor A C Wharton urged removal of the statue of Forrest in Health Sciences Park and suggested the relocation of Forrest and his wife to their original burial site in nearby Elmwood Cemetery. In a nearly unanimous vote on July 7, the Memphis City Council passed a resolution in favor of removing the statue and securing the couple's remains for transfer. The Tennessee Historical Commission denied removal on October 21, 2016 under the authority granted it by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013, which prevents cities and counties from relocating, removing, renaming, or otherwise disturbing without permission war memorials on public property. The City Council then voted on December 20, 2017 to sell Health Science Park to Memphis Greenspace, a new non-profit corporation not subject to the Heritage Protection Act, which removed the statue and another of Jefferson Davis that same evening. The Sons of Confederate Veterans threatened a lawsuit against the city. On April 18, 2018, the Tennessee House of Representatives punished Memphis by cutting $250,000 in appropriations for the city's bicentennial celebration.
On July 7, 2015, the Memphis City Council unanimously voted to remove the statue of Forrest from Health Sciences Park, and to return the remains of Forrest and his wife to Elmwood Cemetery. However, on October 13, 2017, the Tennessee Historical Commission invoked the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013 and U.S. Public Law 85-425: Sec. 410 to overrule the city. Consequently, Memphis sold the park land to Memphis Greenspace, a non-profit entity not subject to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which immediately removed the monument as explained below.
As of 2019, Nathan Bedford Forrest Day was still observed in Tennessee, though some Democrats in the state had attempted to change the law which required Tennessee's governor to sign a proclamation honoring the holiday. However, since that time, Governor Bill Lee's administration introduced a bill – passed by the Tennessee legislature on June 10, 2020 – which released the governor from the former requirement that he issue a proclamation of that observance each year, and a spokesman for Governor Lee confirmed that he would not be signing a Forrest Day proclamation in July 2020.
Currently, Nathan Bedford Forrest is 201 years, 6 months and 15 days old. Nathan Bedford Forrest will celebrate 202nd birthday on a Thursday 13th of July 2023.
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