The General’s Mount: a Poem on General Forrest’s Horse

THE GALLOP warmed his blood Loosened stiff and aching muscles. Ahead, A fence, He cleared it With a mighty surge of effort. He was warm And he was running, A painful, awkward stride, But running hard To the General. THE next fence- Up and over- He almost lost his footing; But he could smell the powder now. The General smelled of powder. NOW he could see the men and horses, Nervous horses, Ready for the charge. Now he could see the General. One last fence before him And the field. He cleared it as the bugles blasted "CHARGE!" HE was racing with the shouting horsemen now. He was straining hard To reach the General’s side, Five good strides ahead. Bleeding. Straining hard. Three good strides . . . When the killing bullet hit him in the chest. THE keen ear of the General caught a sound; Inaudible, almost, against the din. Half a plaintive nicker, Half a choking scream; Like the scream of horses "bad hit" on the field. Amid the shouting and the shrieking and the fire The General heard it. He stiffened, Half turning in his saddle. And there behind him In the charge, Stumbling, plunging, dying, His war horse -On his feet, but dying In the charge. THE feared And fearless, Battle-hardened General Spurred ahead; To fight more awesome battles for his cause. But the man-the horseman- Underneath his honored uniform -Bedford Forrest- Died a little there On the field near Spring Hill, March the fifth, 1863.

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9 Responses

  1. Mr. M. Music

    Thank you for sharing this poem, in America’s Civil war

    magazine,

    It is truly a very good poem,

    CW reenactor
    17th MI coe infantry

    Reply
  2. dave

    the genaeral had 30 horses shot out from beneath him,which horse was this?

    Reply
  3. michael goins

    I first read this poem when I was a child. If not the same one, then one that was very close to it. It was in a copy of the Nashville Banner newspaper from Tennessee. I do not remember the year, but it was a commemorative issue.

    Reply
  4. ‘zine of the times | WordInk

    […] fare as: “Visiting Stonewall Jackson’s Left Arm at Chancellorsville” or “The General’s Mount: a Poem on General Forrest’s Horse“– that one spans three pages. In other news, the demand for information about fashion […]

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  5. James Burns

    Mr.M.Music
    “the genaeral had 30 horses shot out from beneath him, which horse was this?”
    To wit: General Forrest, unlike many Union Generals, actually led his men into battle by riding towards the front and exposing himself to artillery, musket, and sabre. This was CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s horse named Roderick. Roderick was shot out from under General Forrest on 5 March 1863 near Spring Hill, Tennessee. In addition, General Forrest also owned and rode a war horse named Highlander. He cherished both Roderick and Highlander and each time he lost a horse, he lost a little of himself. His favorite horse, King Philip, a large gray horse, was wounded in the neck during the same battle where Nathan’s brother, Colonel Jeffrey Forrest was killed. This so enraged Nathan, that he charged into the Union lines and used his sabre to personally kill or injure over three Union soldiers.
    This was during the Feb 1864 Battle of Okolona.

    Reply
  6. Debbie

    This brought me to tears when I read it at the Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield information center. An incredible piece.

    Reply
  7. Ray Pendergrass

    I enjoyed reading this article about General Forrest and his horse. This horse and man are typical of the kind of men that fought for our states rights in the Civil War. This is one reason that it took the Yankees four years to defeat our Southern relatives and friends even though they outnumbered us two and a half millon men to one and a half million men. That is why I am proud to be a Tennessean born southern man.

    Reply
  8. Bill Smith

    Read this yesterday and got to thinking about Alexander the Great and his horse, Bucephalus. Bucephalus is one of the few horses we know by name from antiquity. He was clearly the favorite of Alexander and some accounts suggest that Alexander personally tamed the animal. Bucephalus carried Alexander to numerous victories in battle, probably dying of fatal injuries at the battle of Hydaspes in June of 326 BC. Alexander founded a town nearby named after Bucephalus to honor his horse and had him buried on that site. A number of classical paintings have been done over the centuries of Alexander and his horse. With the appreciation of classical Greek civilization that was prevalent in the mid 19th Century, I wonder if General Forrest wouldn’t have known about Alexander and Bucephalus…..

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