Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Nathan Bedford Forrest


Nathan Bedford Forrest is best known for his role as a brilliant military strategist for the Confederacy during the Civil War and as one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. But there's more to Forrest's story than that.

Born and raised in the South, Forrest moved to Memphis in 1851 already a prosperous dealer in slaves, cotton, livestock, and land. As a slave dealer, he was considered to be of a lower social rank, even by those who bought and owned slaves. In spite of his social standing, he amassed a fortune of $1.5 million before the war broke out.

After the war, however, his business ventures, an insurance company and the Memphis to Selma Railroad, both failed. He filed for bankruptcy, but, because of his success in the war, none of his creditors filed claims. 

When he died in 1877, 200,000 mourners, in a three-mile long procession, followed his casket to Elmwood Cemetery. In 1905, the bodies of Forrest and his wife Mary Ann were removed and reburied at Forrest Park. Their graves are marked by the equestrian statue which faces Union Avenue.


To learn more  about all of our regions history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or on Facebook, or at memphismuseums.org.