Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption
Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest is, without a doubt, one of the most controversial figures in American history. From Forrest’s childhood through his involvement in the Civil War and the Ku Klux Klan to his conversion to Christianity, this spiritual biography follows the general on his journey to salvation.
Twelve chapters detail Forrest’s days as a slave trader and recalls his escapades in the Civil War, including such battles as Sand Mountain, Okolona, and the Fort Pillow massacre, which cemented his reputation as a relentless and victorious warrior. Revealing an unfamiliar side of the feared Civil War general, the book details Forrest’s meeting and marriage to a pious Presbyterian who likely influenced his later devotion to the Christian faith.
He briefly served as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan but eventually called for its disbandment. Afterwards, he became an advocate for African Americans. In a famous speech made to the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers, the forerunner of the NAACP, Forrest declared that he was with them “heart and hand” and pledged his support. His radical transformation from a dedicated Confederate general to a meek man may alter common conceptions.
“To many, Nathan Bedford Forrest is beyond social redemption and forgiveness. Kastler’s in-depth research reveals a warrior who fought for the Confederacy, yet in later years became contrite, repentant and, most importantly, a sincere, vocal advocate of social justice for freed slaves. Kastler’s book examines Forrest’s involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, primarily his recruitment of KKK members. The author explains, but does not justify, this behavior as understandable in light of the frustration and fears in the South during Reconstruction. The author’s thesis is the redemptive power of God in the life of this much-maligned individual. While many will continue to debate and demonize Forrest, this author contends that where sin is present, grace can also be found.
— Janet Bucklew, Civil War News
“One of the most surprising and stunningly gospel-centered biographies I have ever read. A book that will transform the view of many about Nathan Bedford Forrest, from the commonly held view that he lived his whole life as a detestable racist and cruel butcher. Are we willing to believe that such a man became a brother in Christ awaiting us in heaven? Read this biography and learn again of the grace of God. The God who saved ‘chief of sinners’ Saul of Tarsus and slave-trader John Newton is still in the business of transforming some of the worst of men.”
— Dennis Gundersen, Owner, Grace & Truth Books