Monday, August 29, 2011

Block of the Month Quilt, Month 5

Civil War Chronicles
Month 5
Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest

Born to a Presbyterian minister on Oct 2, 1826, Mary Ann Montgomery was raised as a devout Christian. Her future husband, Nathan Forrest endured a harsh childhood marked by the death of his father and a typhoid epidemic that killed three of his siblings.
The two met in April 1845, when Nathan encountered Mary and her mother stuck in a streambed on their way to church. While some other young men had stopped to laugh at the women's plight, Nathan offered to carry both Mary and her mother to safety. Nathan asked if he could call on Mary and her mother agreed.
After just 3 visits, Nathan asked for Mary's hand in marriage. While both mother and daughter agreed, Mary's uncle objected to the union on the basis that Nathan cussed and gambled. He felt Mary needed a more suitable husband. Nathan explained that Mary was of extraordinary moral character and explained "that's why I want her". Mary's uncle relented and married the couple in Sept 1845.
Despite lacking a formal education, Nathan became a successful business man even serving as an alderman for the city of Memphis. Over time he developed a strong cattle and horse trade and then expanded into slave trade. By 1861, he was one of the wealthiest men in the South.
In June, 1861, he enlisted as a private along with his 15 year old son in the Tennessee Mounted Rifles. Soon, Tennessee's governor commissioned him as a lieutenant colonel with authority to recruit his own battalion. In 4 short months, Nathan put together 790 men to ride under his command. Fearing for both her husband and son, Mary made arragements to travel with them riding in a special ambulance. While she undoutedly found the conditions trying, her only request was that her son, Willie, have appropriate companions of his own age.
Nathan then borrowed two companions for Willie--the teenage sons of two of Nathan's friends. During the first battle of Shiloh, all three young men disappeared causing much concern. Later they marched back into camp with a dozen Union prisoners whom they had captured.
The Memphis newspaper learned how Mary traveled with her family from battlefield to battlefield. They commented about her: "She survived the privations, inconveniences, and exposures of four years, moving from place to place as the scenes of the war shifted, like a ture soldier."
Through all their years together, Mary worked to have Nathan embrace her Christian faith. Finally, in 1875, he officially became a Christian explaining? "I am not the same man you were with so long and knew so well. I hope I am a better man now than then. I have been and am trying to lead another kind of life. Mary had been praying for me night and day for all these years, and I feel now that, through her prayers, my life has been spared and I have passed safely through so many dangers."

From Homestead Hearth.

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