History of the Forrest Equestrian Monument

      In 1887, ten years after the death of one of the South’s greatest heroes Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, efforts were begun to raise money for a statue to be erected in his memory. Three gentlemen of Memphis, James E. Beasley, Col. W.F. Taylor and W.W. Schoolfield began canvassing for donations toward this monument fund. During the early years of their work, small contributions were received, but in November 1891 the Forrest Monument Association was incorporated.

      The following officers were elected to lead the Association. Gen. S.T. Carnes, President, Gen. George W. Gordon, Vice-President, James E. Beasley, Treasurer, and Judge J.P. Young, Secretary. Also named were thirteen Directors who represented the who’s who of Memphis at that time.

      Immediately following this organization, a fundraising benefit was given by the Old Lyceum Theater Company. Various donations followed during the years of 1892 and 1893. During 1894, a number of Confederate Veterans organized a drill team designated as Company A, UCV. Their first order of business was to challenge the "Chickasaw Guards" of Memphis to a competitive drill. The cash prize of $1,927.45 was won by Company A and received as the largest donation to the Forrest Monument fund to date.

      By January 1900, the cash and signed pledges to the Association amounted to $14,000. In June 1900, interested Ladies of Memphis formed an auxiliary and deserve special mention for their work. For in October 1904, they turned over to the Association treasury $2,955.51 of solicited donations.

      The cornerstone for the monument was laid during the May 1901 UCV Reunion in Memphis. In August 1901, sculptor Charles H. Niehaus was contracted to produce the bronze statue of General Forrest astride his favorite horse "King Phillip." It took three years for the modeling of the statue and nearly nine months for the casting. The marble work was done by the Ross Marble Co. of Knoxville and is of Tennessee marble.

      The bronze casting of more than heroic size, being one and one-half life size, weighs 9,500 pounds. Height of the monument is 21 feet 6 inches, including the equestrian of 12 feet. Height of the pedestal is 7 feet, and the terrace 2 feet 6 inches. The total cost of this magnificent tribute to the "Wizard Of The Saddle" was $32,359.53.

      Casting was done in Paris France at the well known foundry of E. Guret June. The statue was shipped by steamer to New York, and then to Savannah , and from there by rail to Memphis, arriving here on April 8, 1904. The Forrest Monument Association, believing that the most appropriate place for the remains of Gen. Forrest would be beneath the foundation of this splendid statue, obtained the consent of his son, Capt. William Montgomery Forrest. The bodies of Gen. Forrest and his wife were re-interred from the Forrest family plot at Elmwood Cemetery to Forrest Park on November 11, 1904.

      The dedication ceremony took place on May 16, 1905 beginning at 2:30 p.m., with 30,000 Southerners from seven States attending. Following the various speeches, the little eight year old great granddaughter Kathleen Forrest Bradley, finally pulled the cord that unveiled the magnificent memorial and Professor Arnold’s band cranked up "Dixie."

      "With his intrepid eyes directed to the land (South) he loved so well, General Nathan Bedford Forrest commands today as he did in the days of struggle and strife, when his words were law and his commands were as binding as bands of steel."

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