General Nathan Bedford Forrest and His Flag
Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest


"If I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men,
my sword in this right hand." -- Gen. Robert E. Lee August 1870

"The Confederate Soldiers were our kinfolk and our heroes.  We testify to the country our enduring fidelity to their memory.  We commemorate their valor and devotion.  There were some things that were not surrendered at Appomattox.  We did not surrender our rights and history, nor was it one of the conditions of surrender that unfriendly lips should be suffered to tell the story of that war or that unfriendly hands should write the epitaphs of the Confederate dead.  We have a right to teach our children the true history of that war, the causes that led up to it and the principles involved."    Senator Edward Ward Carmack, 1903.

Since I've been asked why I have the 12 star flag of General Forrest and his picture on my website, I decided to write this little article about him and about his flag. This isn't all my writings, I've gleaned parts here and there on the internet and from the books I've read about Forrest.

This part of the history was sent to me by Lee Millar president Forrest Historical Society

From 1861 to '64, Forrest used a First National flag.  It was the usual issue size, which sized about 3 feet by five feet.  In April 1862 his cavalry was also issued the 13-star battleflag.   Shortly afterwards, Forrest began using a 12-star pattern, with the center star removed, so that when his enemies saw that flag they would know that Forrest was on the field and that the end for them was soon near.  It was excellent psychological warfare, and worked.   He used the 12-star battleflag to strike fear into his opponent.  as noted by Sgt A. H. D. Perkings, Color-bearer, Forrest's cavalry

Their Second National battle flag was presented in late March, 1864 according to the Mobile Register & Advertiser of March 23rd.

In July, 1864 they officially received their 12 star Mobile Depot battle flag when Forrest's Cavalry Corps were issued those flags.

 There is A short article about what the bible says about the number thirteen at the end.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was uneducated but certainly wasn't ignorant. He was one of the military geniuses of American history, was born July 13, 1821, in Bedford County, the son of William and Marian Beck Forrest. His father's death when Nathan was 16 threw on him, as the eldest son, the task of supporting a large family. Beginning as a farm laborer he became a horse and cattle trader, and later dealt in slaves and real estate, acquiring much money and land.

He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as a private, raised and equipped a mounted battalion at his own expense, and was appointed lieutenant colonel. He served with distinction at Fort Donelson, opposed the decision to surrender it, and proved the error of the decision by cutting his way out with his men. He was a colonel in the Battle of Shiloh, was severely wounded in the retreat, and became brigadier general in July 1862. From then until the end of the war Forrest served mostly as an independent cavalry raider, operating on Union lines of communication and delivering surprise attacks on isolated Union garrisons. His Battle of Brice's Cross Roads has been called the "perfect" battle, and his campaigns were studied closely, before World War II,
by the German field marshal, Erwin Rommel.

Nathan Bedford Forrest is the only man on either side of the war to rise from private to Lieutenant General. He died in 1877, after serving as the President of the Marion Railroad.

Forrest fought by simple rules: he maintained that "war means fighting and fighting means killing" and that the way to win was "to get there first with the most men." Both Grant and Sherman feared this man and his cavalry, which Sherman reported in disgust "could travel one hundred miles in less time than it takes ours to travel ten." He secured more Union guns, horses, and supplies than any other single Confederate unit. He played pivotal roles at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the capture of Murfreesboro, the Nashville Campaign, Brice's Cross Roads, and in the pursuit and capture of Streight's Raiders.

The valor and stamina of this man was amazing, he led his men into the battles, not setting back somewhere watching. He had thirty horses shot out from under him, was wounded 5 times and personally killed 31 yankees. He said that he wanted to make sure that he killed more yankees than the horses they had killed of his. After the war he was in business with a Yankee officer who came to his house one day and as soon as Forrest's horse saw the blue uniform, he attacked him with his mouth open snarling and trying to bite and kick him. One of Forrest's former slaves that worked for him saw what was happening, came over and saved the officer.
The Yankee officer told Forrest that it wasn't any wonder he won so many battles,
his horses fought for him with as much fury as his men did.

He was saved after the war, after one of his officers, who was a preacher met him in Memphis, Tenn. and witnessed to him. They went into an alley, knelt down and his former officer prayed with him, the next Sunday he went to the Presbyterian church his wife went to. At the end of the service, he told the pastor that he had no other excuses to lean on. The pastor told him to go home and read Ps. 22, he professed salvation the next service.

Some asked "Wasn't he the first grand wizard of the KKK?

In 1867 Forrest was reported to have been named the Grand Wizard of the new Ku Klux Klan, a secret organization from Tennessee set out to rid the south of the radical Republican course of action, and any beliefs they felt harmed the southern way of life.  In the books I've read about him they said that he tried to shut it down in 1869 I think that was the year. What most people don't understand about the KKK is that it was self defense for white Southerners during "Reconstruction". The "carpetbaggers, "Scalawags", about half of the freed Negroes and the Yankee occupation of the South severely oppressed the Confederates and their families so they had to defend themselves some way without anyone knowing who they were.

If you would like to read some good books about Nathan Bedford Forrest, get:

"The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest", by John A. Wyeth. Forrest comes alive on the pages of John Wyeth's biography. First published in 1899, That Devil Forrest is based almost entirely on accounts of those who knew Forrest personally and on contemporary military papers and records. It is the single greatest source of primary material on Nathan Bedford Forrest

That Devil Forrest By John Allen Wyeth 1899 (original)
republished in 1989 by Louisiana State University Press

Hurst, Jack.  Nathan Bedford Forrest:  a Biography.
Random House Inc., New York, NY.  1993

There are several others at

I liked N.B. Forrest's flag with 12 stars instead of 13, because the number 13 is a bad number.

Here is a short essay on "The Number Thirteen".

There's no doubt about the number Thirteen being a bad number. Eighty five percent of the thirteens in the Bible refer to something bad.

1. There are thirteen words in the harlot's subscription in Revelation 17.
2. There are thirteen letters in "Judas Iscariot".
3. The word "dragon" occurs thirteen times in Revelation.
4. Nimrod, the first type of Antichrist, is the thirteenth from Adam.
5. The curse of the law is in Galatians 3:13.
6. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, (3 times 13)
7. The last word of the 39 books is curse.
8. There are thirteen evils in the human heart which Jesus lists. Mark 7:21,22
9. There are twenty-six unclean animals in Leviticus. (2 times 13)
10. In Mark 1:13 you'll find Satan showing up.
11. There are forty stripes save one  for breaking the law making thirty-nine. (3 times 13)
12. There are thirteen Baals in scripture.
13. The king of Assyria (type of the Antichrist) is mentioned thirteen times.
14. The number 666 occurs in Ezra 2:13, Revelation 13:18 and II Chronicles 9:13.
15. There is a reference to Satan in Revelation 2:13.

Thirteen has a well-founded superstition connected with it and you may well be highly suspicious of it. The psychiatrists have a word for it, "tripskadekaphobia". I wonder what they read that persuaded them that the number 13 was bad? Most say they don't believe the bible!

Is it possible there will be fifty-two states in the United States before long? (4 times 13)

On the old dollar bill which was a silver certificate (not a federal reserve note) there were twenty-six ones.
(2 times 13)

E Pluribus Unum has thirteen letters in it, and there were thirteen stars and thirteen stripes for the original thirteen colonies that had a snake for a symbol on their flag with the words, "Don't tread on me," which has thirteen letters in it.

Thirteen is the number of rebellion. The first time 13 is written out in the Bible it says,
"in the thirteenth year they rebelled," Genesis 14:4

There were several Confederate Generals that had 12 star battle flags like the flag Gen. Forrest carried.
The flag comes from this site,

General Forrest's flag was slightly rectangular. Overall the flags varied in size somewhat, with the flags for Forrestís Cavalry being the smallest in terms of dimensions. The gamut runs from flags of 42 by 53 inches to 48 by 55 inches. The stars were a uniform 4 ½ inches across and were spaced every 8 ½ inches typically. The blue bars varied from 6 to 8 ½ inches in width. Forrestís flags were 37 by 46 inches usually and the cross was 7 inches wide. The star spacing varied from 6 ¾ to 7 ½ inches. The exterior borders were double hemmed to prevent fraying. On many of the flags of this pattern the hoist edge was folded over and sewn into a sleeve for attachment to the pole.


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