By Jack Hurst, Joe Barrett
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Extra resources for Born to Battle
After graduation, he spent eleven years in the army. He participated, he later recalled, in about as many battles of the Mexican War as one person could. His behavior under fire was rock steady; his feats included intrepidly riding through house-to-house fighting in the streets of Monterrey, amid hails of bullets, to request more ammunition for a unit that was running out. He did this despite being an officer and an adjutant, then gave the credit to his horse, Nelly. Such exploits won him brevet promotions to first lieutenant and captain, but he reached the latter rank permanently only years later, just prior to his abrupt departure from the army.
But the Confederate commander, General Braxton Bragg, had pursued laxly, and the Federals had entrenched. And Nathan Bedford Forrest neared the end of his patience. Forrest was a violent, unschooled, but brilliant brigadier general of cavalry. He had a lengthening record of battlefield wizardry and an obsessive will to win, and he had urged Bragg to stay on the Federals’ heels after Chickamauga. When Bragg did not, Forrest rode to headquarters to find out why—and returned still puzzled. 1 Having risen from a leased Mississippi hill farm to self-proclaimed millionaire status before the war, Forrest had seen his fierce intelligence and much Confederate blood squandered by Bragg and other high-toned Southern aristocrats and West Pointers.
INTRODUCTION SCOUTING THE GROUND Bloody autumn, 1863. After a disastrous summer, the Confederate States of America’s prospects were fading fast. Defeat had dogged its armies. Starved-out Vicksburg, the Confederacy’s last hold on the Mississippi River, fell to Ulysses S. Grant in July, a day after George Pickett’s annihilated charge crowned Robert E. Lee’s crushing defeat at Gettysburg. Down a vital railroad connecting Lee’s Virginia base to its Deep Dixie breadbasket, the valiant but ill-led Army of Tennessee won a September victory at Chickamauga in Georgia, sending its Union foe fleeing to Chattanooga.
Born to Battle by Jack Hurst, Joe Barrett