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The Right Thing To Do

Updated on October 10, 2014

An Officer and a Better Man!

John Forrest was born to Mariam Beck and William Forrest around the 1820's and was the brother of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. John Forrest volunteered in the American Army and served in the Mexican War. During the Mexican War, John Forrest received a gunshot wound through the lower portion of the spinal chord paralyzing him from that point downward. He could only walk or stand with the aid of crutches. He resided in Memphis, TN, my hometown, and lived at the Worsham house for veterans when the Federals(Damn Yankees) occupied the city in 1862. I should have mentioned earlier that the family of John Forrest consisted of 11, not counting the three sons and a daughter that Mariam Beck bore after remarrying after Williams's death early in General Forrest's childhood. It was a large family.

I mention that in order to make the point that family was of great importance to the Forrest name. Anyway, a Union officer with a detachment of men passed by the Forrest Plantation, in Mississippi I believe at the time, not farther than five or six mile from Memphis. The Union officer and detachment of men did not behave in a suitable manner for the mother of the Forrests.

Unfortunately, by this time, all of her sons were in service to the Army, except for John Forrest residing at the Worsham house in Memphis. Mariam visited John in Memphis and informed him of what had occurred as a result of the Yankee behavior. This led to an unexpected opportunity for John to confront the officer as he passed by the Worsham house days later. John alerted the officer as to his own disapproval of the officer's behavior in the presence of his mother. John added that, "if you ever repeat the offense again, I will break my crutch over your head." The Yankee officer resented the remark, naturally, and did not choose to change his ways regarding the Forrest family. John Forrest replied in kind by keeping his word and attempted to strike the crutch on the Yankee's head but, the Yank kicked the other crutch out before John could strike the blow. John lay on the ground, still having use of his arms, and raised his pistol shooting the officer who recovered from the wound later.

John Forrest was of course, arrested and held at the loading docks in Memphis. The news of his brother's arrest came to General Nathan Bedford Forrest who immediately demanded his brother's release and proper treatment by the general in command. He asked that be done until his brother could receive a trial by law for shooting the Union officer. The demand was complied with and, at once, John was freed and later acquitted of any charges. This story represents how a family takes care of one another at whatever the cost.

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