Nathan Bedford Forrest controversy rides again

November 24, 2006

Today’s Tennessean has a piece on the neverending fracus kicked up by the infamous “Wizard of the Saddle.” This latest episode was kicked off by the Middle Tennessee State University Student Government Association, which passed a resolution calling on the University to remove the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Army ROTC building.

Forrest represents a conundrum for Tennesseans. He was indisputably a great tactician and commander–no less than Shelby Foote said that the Civil War produced two geniuses, Forrest and Abe Lincoln–but the former Memphis alderman’s involvement with the Fort Pillow massacre and subsequent leadership of the Ku Klux Klan tarnishes his image.

One thing that Forrest fanciers and opponents can agree on, however, is that the fiberglass depiction of him erected alongside I-65 in Nashville is, hands down, the singlemost hideous Civil War statue ever created.