Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“I will pay more than any other person for No. 1 Negroes”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 6, 2015

PrewarForrestA follow-up to my post yesterday on Charleston, and what seemed to me at the time to be a purely gratuitous inclusion of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the section on slave traders.

It turns out that, as a colleague suggested yesterday, that Forrest did indeed make use of the slave market in Charleston to provide the “stock” he would later sell in Memphis and New Orleans. And he was not making an isolated purchase here or there; he was buying on a large scale. Charleston Courier, March 1, 1860, p. 2:


Forrest Charleston Courier 1 Mar 1860 p2


So there it is — even in South Carolina, where there were substantially more enslaved persons in 1860 than free, Nathan Bedford Forrest was a big wheel in the domestic slave trade. If Forrest had lived in South Carolina himself, the 500 slaves he sought to purchase there would have made him one of the largest slaveholders in that state. The inclusion of Forrest in the museum exhibit certainly makes sense now, but it’s unfortunate that Forrest’s role in the Charleston slave market isn’t explained clearly.


Prewar image of Forrest via Mississippi Confederates blog.


6 Responses

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  1. Foxessa said, on December 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    He was also a partner in the Wanderer expedition — selling numbers of those captives as far west as Texas.

  2. Lyle Smith said, on December 7, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Forrest’s knowledge of supply-chain management must have been exceptional for the time. He was a real, rag-to-riches, antebellum American success story.

    Hallelujah though, antebellum success led to his, and many others, postbellum financial downfall.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 7, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      I don’t think anyone doubts his business acumen.

  3. Lyle Smith said, on December 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    What is the likelihood your ancestors bought slaves sold from Forrest at some point? Someone should write a business history of Forrest, if that doesn’t already exist, and there are enough records for it.

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