Nathan Bedford Forrest Is in All the Civil War News
Thu, May 31, 2012
Based on the common theme running through the ton of Civil War news this week, I can only assume that Nathan Bedford Forrest recently got a new PR person.
First comes this mention — "There were numerous skirmishes in the area including a June 1863 fight in which Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest’s artillery put a cannon ball through the roof of Federal commander Gen. Gordon Granger’s headquarters."—in this story about efforts to identify and preserve fortifications in Triune.
Then comes the news that Franklin’s Charge has met the deadline to receive matching funds from the Civil War Trust to purchase the strip mall anchored by the Domino’s in Franklin in order to tear it down and build an interpretive park. Forrest isn’t specifically mentioned, but who can forget when the Carter House used to show that film of the Battle of Franklin that was fifteen 15 of Forrest’s luxurious long hair flowing behind him like a literal manifestation of the trail of glory he was on?
And then, Forrest gets a huge article in the Murfreesboro Post all about how they’re going to reenact his raid on the Rutherford County Courthouse in July in honor of the raid’s 150th anniversary.
All the celebrating aside, let’s also note that there’s reason to believe that we’ve grossly underestimated the loss of life during the war. Prof. J. David Hacker analyzed census data to discover how many men were missing from the 1870 census who should have been there based on the 1860 census and he believes that the number of dead is not 620,000 but probably more like 750,000 people. To give you a sense of the magnitude of this loss, Hacker says:
I think it’s important to get the number right. I think it’s important in terms of the economic cost of the war, the demographic cost, all the repercussions of the war to get that number right. Now, certainly it doesn’t change our understanding of the war as being very deadly.
You mentioned that the population was about 31 million in 1860. Today it’s about 310 million. So, if you could imagine a war today that produced 7.5 million deaths, you get some indication of how devastating the war was on the population, on the economy, on the institutions of 19th century America.
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