Forrest and Racism
As covered in your September 2012 Battlefield Leader article on Nathan Bedford Forrest, two stains on his record – the 1864 Fort Pillow Massacre and his postwar KKK involvement – inevitably raise the issue of Forrest’s racism. His little-known actions during and after the war are therefore revealing. Not only did Forrest free all of his own African-American slaves 18 months prior to the war’s end (telling them he feared he might be killed and his promise of freedom unrealized), postwar he publicly advocated African-American voting rights, a highly unpopular position among fellow white Southerners. In 1875, the Jubilee Pole Bearers – a fraternal group of African-American Memphis business owners – invited Forrest to be guest of honor at their annual picnic. He gave a moving speech supporting African-American participation in government as free men. And, as the ACG article noted, when the KKK “degenerated into thuggish, violent racism” brutally targeting African-Americans, Forrest quit the Klan.
REDSTONE ARSENAL, ALA.
We appreciate your letter helping us understand the kind of person Forrest was, both during and after the war. We are also grateful for your assistance with our Battlefield Leader article featuring the South’s “Wizard of the Saddle.”
Readers are encouraged to visit armchairgeneral.com to check out Kennedy’s insightful web article on the controversial April 1864 Battle of Fort Pillow.
Got my September 2012 ACG issue yesterday! Great articles! The quality of articles is superb, as usual. However, the World War II German weapon in the photo on p. 64 of the You Command Solution article, “82d Airborne Division in Sicily, 1943,” is misidentified as “a captured German 75 mm pack howitzer.” The weapon shown is actually a Panzerabwehrkanone (PaK) 40, a long-barreled, high-velocity, anti-tank cannon, and not a short-barreled pack howitzer.
ACG editor Jerry Morelock, who served in the U.S. Army artillery branch for 36 years, is extremely embarrassed for not catching this glaring error.
New ACG Fan
I just bought my first copy of Armchair General, the July 2012 edition. I’m not much into conflicts, war, etc., and usually yawned in school while learning about them. Almost 10 years since graduating high school, I’ve now relearned about World Wars I and II, some of the “warlords” of the World War II era, and I’ve still got more to read. I don’t read much, but each of your articles is very engaging, so where I leave off with one article the next one picks me up to the next story without feeling dull like some articles in newspapers might be.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
Thank you for the compliment. We are pleased that you have become a fan of ACG and that you find our articles so engaging.
Nimitz and MacArthur
In your July 2012 ACG, you had a sidebar, “Who’s the Boss” [p. 26], about Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur at the Japanese surrender. You noted that Nimitz was one step behind and to the left of MacArthur, in the subordinate’s position. I think this occurred for a number of reasons: 1) MacArthur received his fifth star one day before Nimitz (December 18 and 19, 1944, respectively). This technically made MacArthur the senior officer; 2) At the September 2, 1945, surrender, MacArthur signed for the Allied Powers, and Nimitz signed for the United States. This also made MacArthur the senior man; 3) MacArthur was Nimitz’s guest aboard USS Missouri. Nimitz’s upbringing would demand he show a guest as much courtesy as possible.
Throughout the Pacific War, Nimitz refused to echo complaints about MacArthur. Nimitz thought MacArthur was “highly intelligent with a magnetic personality but, unfortunately, was prone to striking poses and pontificating” (from E.B. Potter’s biography, Nimitz).
EDUCATION DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PACIFIC WAR
Thanks for sharing your insight on these two fascinating American military leaders. We appreciate your knowledgeable perspective!
Civil War “Young Guns”
The article on Civil War Union generals Francis Barlow and Emory Upton in the July 2012 issue, titled Special Feature “Little Boys Blue,” was fabulous. As a kid, I identified strongly with Barlow – probably because in every picture he looked like he was about 18. Author Ralph Peters brought out some other parts of Barlow’s character of which I wasn’t aware that are worth understanding. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything Peters has written that I didn’t appreciate, even when I don’t agree with him – which is very rare.
WILLIAM R. PIPER
ST. LOUIS, MO.
Thank you for your letter. Indeed, Ralph Peters is a terrific writer!
Readers may be interested to know that Mr. Piper is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Churchill Museum (nation alchurchillmuseum.org) at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. This state-of-the-art, must-visit museum memorializes the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill (1874- 1965), Britain’s famed World War II prime minister and renowned world statesman.
In the September 2012 Dispatches item “ACG Visits the Hoover Institution” (p. 14), Mr. Abid Ilahi’s name was mistakenly spelled “Ilaji.” We apologize for the error.
Originally published in the January 2013 issue of Armchair General.