The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman

Nathan Bedford Forest

Brian Steel Wills

This is the best biography of one of the most exciting, colorful, and controversial figures of the Civil War. A renowned cavalryman, Nathan Bedford Forrest perfected a ruthless hit-and-run guerrilla warfare that terrified Union soldiers and garnered the respect of warriors like William Sherman, who described his adversary as "that Devil, Forrest . . . the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side."

Historian Bruce Catton rated Forrest "one of the authentic military geniuses of the whole war," but Brian Steel Wills covers much more than the cavalryman's incredible feats on the field of battle. He also provides the most thoughtful and complete analysis of Forrest's hardscrabble childhood in backwater Mississippi; his rise to wealth in the Memphis slave trade; his role in the infamous Fort Pillow massacre of black Union soldiers; his role as early leader and Grand Wizard of the first Ku Klux Klan; and his declining health and premature death in a reconstructing America.

“The first modern biography of the Confederacy's greatest cavalry leader. Forrest emerges as a product of the Southern frontier, a self-made man of limited vision, iron will, and an ungovernable temper.”

Publishers Weekly

“Surprisingly, given Forrest's well-deserved fame as a first-rate combat general, Wills is the first scholar to present a truly balanced, objective portrait of the most persistently controversial figure the Civil War produced.”

Journal of American History
See all reviews...

About the Author

Brian Steel Wills is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University, where he is professor of history. He is the author George Henry Thomas: As True As Steel (Kansas).

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series