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Death of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Brother at the Battle of Okolona

Map of Okolona Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program. The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners have acquired and preserved 77 acres (0.31 km2) of the Okolona battlefield.

Death of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Brother at the Battle of Okolona Jeffery Forrest was overshadowed by his older brother – quite a few think he was a military genius equal to Bedford. 

By the time he was old enough, Forrest was wealthy and provided the means for the best education to be had. He was more a son than a brother to Forrest. 

The family placed much hope on Jeffery.

Jeffrey left his studies in Mississippi to join up with his older brother for the war. 

He was with him during the escape from Ft Donelson and had been shot through both thighs just a few months before Okolona. 

He was leading a brilliant charge against the Federals when killed, which brought the charge to a screeching halt. Forrest, commanding elsewhere on the field, was told of it and immediately rode to his brother. 

He leaped off his horse, saying, “Jeff! Jeff!” and picked his brother up.

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Forrest put his handkerchief to the neck wound. 

Jeffery opened his eyes a little and then left. 

Forrest cradled him for a bit, leaning over him, then looked up at Major Strange, who was standing nearby. With tears in his eyes he asked Strange to take care of the body, then kissed his brother’s forehead and put Jeffery’s hat over his face.

Forrest stood up and stared toward the Union line. 

Strange remarked, “…his face was terrible to behold.” Then he turned to his bugler. “Gauss, sound the charge.” At first his officers thought he was suicidal, but events proved he was not! 

He personally disposed of at least five Federals that day, three with his saber. 

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At one point, the Union troops were formidably lined up, the Confederates being fewer in numbers. Forrest, still wearing the coat that was soaked with his brother’s blood, rode down the line and looked each man directly in the eye, saying to each, “Hold this line for me.” They did!

Death of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Brother at the Battle of Okolona

Written by Danyon McCarroll