Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/333
Lieu't-Gen'l N. B. Forrest, C. S. Army. 327
and soon discovered that large Federal reinforcements were being ferried over the Tennessee river.
He at once perceived the gravity of the position, and did all he could to communicate this to his army headquarters, but no one knew where they were. In his search to find them he fell in with the officer commanding an infantry brigade, to whom he said, in his own rough colloquial vernacular: ll If the enemy come on us in the morning we shall be whipped like hell." His prophecy was not far wrong, and by Monday night General Beauregard's army was in retreat.
General Sherman pressed the retiring Confederates very hard all Tuesday, the 8th of April; upon one occasion during the day Forrest, with about three hundred and fifty men, keenly watched his oppor- tunity for an offensive return from behind a ridge which afforded his soldiers good protection. The Federal advanced guard of two bat- talions of cavalry and a regiment of foot, upon reaching the ridge, at once proceeded to attack it with great spirit, but in crossing a little intervening ravine and stream, fell into some confusion. For- rest with his usual quick military perception of such an opening, at once told his bugler to sound the " Charge !" and, pistol in hand, dashed in among the astonished Federals. The effect was instanta- neous. The enemy's horsmen fled back panic stricken through the woods, scattering their own infantry, who quickly doubled after them. A scene of the greatest confusion ensued, and Forrest, pursuing for some distance, killed many, and took some seventy prisoners. With his usual hardihood, pushing on well ahead of his men, he soon found himself face to face with the enemy's main body, and under a galling fire from all sides. A ball struck him above the hips, and, hurting his spine, at once benumbed his right leg. His horse, though mortally wounded, still enabled him to bolt for his life through a crowd of the enemy, who shouted: "Kill him!" "Shoot him!" etc. An unerring shot with his revolver, he soon cleared a path for himself, and found once more at least temporary safety among his own men.
It was many weeks before he was again able to take an active part in the war. The following description of this affair by General Sherman will, I think, interest my military readers:
" The enemy's cavalry came down boldly at a charge led by Gen- eral Forrest in person, breaking through our lines of skirmishers, when the infantry, without cause, threw away their muskets and fled.