September 25, 1864: Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle


Nathan Bedford Forrest again demonstrated that so long as he was in the vicinity no Union supply line was safe.  On September 23, 1864, near Athens, Alabama, he and 4500 troopers were engaged in destroying a Union controlled  rail trestle.  He easily beat a Union force that sallied from Fort Henderson to stop him.   Taking Athens, he began an artillery barrage on Fort Henderson on the morning of the 24th.  Convincing the Union commander that he had 8,000-10,000 men, a common Forrest trick, the garrison capitulated.  Shortly after the capitulation, 350 men of the 18th Michigan and the 102nd Ohio had the misfortune to arrive by rail.  Forrest promptly attacked them, and they surrendered after losing a third of their numbers.

The next day Forrest moved on the Sulphur Creek Trestle, guarded by a Union fort and two blockhouses.  Unbelievably, the fort had been built below adjacent hills.   Seizing the hills, Forrest launched an artillery bombardment that killed the Union garrison commander and killed or wounded 200 of the garrison.  The remaining 800 Union troops surrended.  In two days Forrest had inflicted 2,350 Union casualties, most of them prisoners, in exchange for 139 Confederate.

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  1. How sad it is that the political correctness police have made him a nonperson.Far more than Robert E Lee,he deserved recognition as the Souths greatest commanding officer.As a non West Pointer his contemporaries denied him recognition,then because of questionable accusations about The Fort Pillow massacre and the KKK,we ignore him today.

  2. TQ: I agree. Whenever I think of Forrest, von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry Overture” runs through my alleged mind.

    His (I think) motto, “Get there fustest with the mostest.” says it all. Additionally, he had his troopers trained, motivated, experienced, hugely confident in his leadership abilities, and convinced that he would win every time and not waste their lives. He was the opposite of certain Union cav generals, e.g. Kilpatrick, whose nickname was “Kill cavalry.”

    Another cavalry CW phenom similarly maligned by subsequent events and professional envy was Custer.
    Patton was also dashingly victorious. He couldn’t keep his mouth in check or control himself and not slap soldiers. And, his politics rankled the commies in the Army and elsewhere. My friend’s (RIP) father (RIP) was a Lt. with Patton from France to Germany. He loved the man. The other brass hats, not so much.

  3. “Get there first with the most men. Reported by General Basil W. Duke and Richard Taylor
    Often erroneously reported as “Git thar fustest with the most mostest.” In The Quote Verifier : Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes, p. 272, the phrase he used has also been reported to have been “I always make it a rule to get there first with the most men” and “I just took the short cut and got there first with the most men.””

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