Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“My remains shall rest with those of brave men”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 24, 2015

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My blogging colleague Rob Baker recently passed along a link to this transcript of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s will:

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FIRST I commit my body after death to my family and friends with the request that it may be entered among the Confederate dead in the Elmwood Cemetery near the City of Memphis, it being my desire that my remains shall rest with those of the brave men, men who were my comrades in war and shared with me the danger and peril of battle fields fighting in a cause we believed it our duty to uphold and maintain.

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Return Nathan Bedford and Mary Ann Forrest to Elmwood. It’s the right thing to do.

___________

GeneralStarsGray

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15 Responses

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  1. Robert Moore said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:45 am

    It certainly seems especially so.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Although I follow (and write about) disputes over monuments and flags, I usually try to avoid explicitly advocating a course of action, preferring to let the local community sort it out one way or another. To me, this case is different for the reasons outlined here and in the previous post.

      • Robert Moore said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:56 am

        Agreed. The whole thought of moving the dead just because they offend… that’s more complicated for a wide range of reasons. Yet, because he wasn’t buried where the monument was in the first place, and was only relocated to its current location later… and because his will makes it clear where he wanted to be… I think the next course of action is quite clear.

        *Disclaimer… some of my wife’s NW Alabama ancestors rode with Forrest (while other kin happened to be in the 1st Alabama Cav., U.S.) during the “Wa’war.”

        • Robert Moore said, on July 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

          I’ll add, however, that the latest “shovel in the dirt” incident is something that should not go without consequence. It’s not any different that defacing a monument… worse, actually.

  2. Rob Baker said, on July 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I’m hoping that since the issue is gaining traction and copies of N. B. Forrest’s “Last Will and Testimony” is starting to circulate online, that someone in the area can run down and scan a copy of the original. I will say that according to the will online, it was filed on Dec. 17, 1877, which is the day it went into effect. On that same day, newspaper articles emerged with advertisements for people to seek out Forrest’s “executors” for settling debts and business. The two people listed in the newspaper match those mentioned in the will.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 24, 2015 at 10:53 am

      As I’ve been immersed lately in exactly this sort of estate business, all of these procedures are getting familiar to me.

  3. Craig Swain said, on July 24, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I don’t see that this is a “new” or “fresh” angle. This portion of the will has been cited since the 1980s, to my recollection, in regard to the issue. What has clouded the discussion is that the deal was struck, years after Forrest’s death, for the current monument/grave. There are all sorts of things mentioned as part of that deal (my favorite is the “the city gets President’s Island”.. which Forrest never actually owned). I would suggest that regardless of what Forrestt’s will said, it is the text of the deal between the heirs of the estate and the city which needs to be consulted and quoted. And from that, determine the best way to move Forrest to the place he was originally buried.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 24, 2015 at 11:18 am

      “I would suggest that regardless of what Forrestt’s will said, it is the text of the deal between the heirs of the estate and the city which needs to be consulted and quoted.”

      That’s certainly part of the due diligence/legal considerations that come into play in this. There are lots of moving parts in this; what makes it interesting to me is that there’s actually an affirmative reason to support the move, beyond “we don’t like that guy.”

  4. Lee Sanders (@Orangepatrol) said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    So you people are seriously discussing digging up Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and re interring him and his wife Mary at Elmwood for what reason? Please give one good reason because we all know it doesn’t have anything to do with his will or what he wanted. What would this move achieve? We are having Confederate gravesites in private and church cemeteries vandalized all over the South already because of you historically ignorant bastards. I guess also you have all decided to just brush aside the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013 and the wishes of the Forrest family in the matter. If you want to kiss a black mans ass I’m sure you can find any number who would be more than happy to let you smooch away and take a picture of it to. It’s officious sons-of-bitches like you who have caused enough trouble already. Or do you want blood?

    • Andy Hall said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      So you people are seriously discussing digging up Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and re interring him and his wife Mary at Elmwood for what reason?

      Because it was his desire to be buried at Elmwood. That’s a good reason.

      It’s officious sons-of-bitches like you who have caused enough trouble already. Or do you want blood?

      You have a nice day, Lee.

  5. Christopher Shelley said, on July 26, 2015 at 10:41 am

    “Or do you want blood?”

    Why are they all so quick to suggest violence?

    • Andy Hall said, on July 26, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Maybe exercising “southern heritage” includes reinforcing negative stereotypes of southerners as belligerent assholes prone to violence. Maybe Lee will enlighten us on that point.

      • Christopher Shelley said, on July 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm

        I always had a hunch that the violence inherent in a slave society carried over into modern times. Not that the rest of America was pacific, mind you; nor that the movement West was without violence. But the large-scale and then almost constant violence from Reconstruction thru Jim Crow’s heritage of lynching suggests something more endemic.

        • Jimmy Dick said, on July 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm

          They might want to realize that the answer to the question for some people is yes. There seems to be a very mistaken attitude among some elements of our society that they can use violence to force their views on others. I think they are trying a nice big bluff which they are thinking will not be called. It has been called time and time again. More people today are opposed to racism and they will meet violence with violence if necessary. The militia movements and gun nuts live in a fantasy world where in their minds they can use threats of violence to get their way.

          Those people are fools.


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