[CIVIL WAR]. FORREST, Nathan B. (1821-1877), General C.S.A.. Letter (text and signature ["N.B. Forrest Brig. Genl. of Cavalry"] in the hand of his Assistant Adjutant General Major J.P. Strange), to Lt. Col. John G. Parkhurst, Commander 9th Michigan Infantry, U.S . Army, [Murfreesboro, Tennessee], 13 July 1862. ½ page, 4to (upper half of a sheet), blue paper, original envelope addressed in Forrest's hand and bearing a rough pencil drawing possibly depicting the Murfreesboro battlefield in schematic form.
FORREST'S CHILLING ULTIMATUM TO UNION FORCES AT MURFREESBORO: "I MUST DEMAND AN UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER...OR I WILL HAVE EVERY MAN PUT TO THE SWORD"
A remarkably dramatic memento of Forrest's legendary first raid into Tennessee. Forrest's famous note (probably dictated to Strange during the fighting) is addressed to the besieged Union commander at Murfreesboro: "I must demand an unconditional surrender of your force as prisoners of war or I will have every man put to the sword. You are aware of the overpowering force I have at my command & this demand is made to prevent the effusion of blood I am Col. very Respectfully your Obt. Servt...."
Forrest and his cavalry brigade (some 1500 strong) moved from Chattanooga on July 9 and early on the morning of July 13 attacked Union Army encampments at Murfreesboro. In the early moments of the confused fighting, Acting Brigadier General Duffield, in command of the Ninth Michigan Infantry, "running out of his tent, called to his men to get their arms and stand their ground. He had scarcely given this command before the Texans [Confederates] were riding in among them, firing at them...at close range....A pistol shot seriously wounded Duffield, who was forced to relinquish the command... to Lt. Col. Parkhurst" (Wyeth, p.73). The Federals rallied under Parkhurst and drove the Confederates back: "The Union Commander, with great judgement, rapidly rallied his troops in an enclosure...within a few minutes had extemporized a formidable stockade...Meanwhile the firing was severe..." Forrest arrived on the scene and "immediately sent a flag of truce to Cols. Duffield and Parkhurst, stating that he had succeeded in capturing all the other troops and had concentrated his entire command on their position and...demanded their immediate and unconditional surrender. This demand was accentuated with Forrest's usual threat--that if he was compelled to carry their position by force, he would give no quarter to those who resisted." Parkhurst and the other officers voted unanimously to surrender.
Then, having succeeded so brilliantly in this bluff, Forrest rode to where another Federal force was under attack, and sent another surrender demand, identical to the present letter, to the Union commander. That force too, surrendered. Forrest had captured two brigadier generals, staff, and the entire command at Murfreesboro, along with stores valued at almost a million dollars (Boatner, p.289). As a result of this raid, Governor Andrew Johnson feared for the safety of Nashville. A full account is in John Allen Wyeth, That Devil Forrest, 1989, Chapter 5.