Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company

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McDowell, Obolensky, 1960 - Generals - 402 pages
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I read this book as a young history student studying at the oldest college in Alabama. I sat in the historic parlor of Founder's Hall that looked very much like it might still contain ghosts of Confederate soldiers, or on the second floor balcony where once the president of the college pleaded for invading Union soldiers not to burn the school. Always, I was accompanied by a companion book from the War Between the States. Andrew Lytle's tale of Forrest's cavalry was my favorite. I particularly liked to sit on the balcony in quiet early autumn evenings and hear supposed hoof beats passing in the night as I read. I eagerly turned pages, certain that I could hear close thunder and feel quakes from Morton's artillery because I sat only 2 city blocks from where Forrest fired on Union positions around the courthouse on that late Saturday morning of September 24, 1864. Lytle transported me and made me feel history, not just read it. "The Critter Company" proved to be valuable to me, not so much because of its historical content, but because of the lure it held, vivid testimony that history can be colorful and artful and dreamlike, yet compelling because it ties past and present together skillfully and beautifully. Such was the magic of Andrew Lytle for me. The writing has a timeless quality. I read it again as a much older man and, like all art that is enduring and powerful, it still causes me to hear the horses and fanticize the faint smell of sulfur and saltpeter wafting on heavy air just after rain has ceased. Forrest passing through once more. History living, luring, seducing... 


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