Forrest’s Escort (Little)

Also known as Forrest’s Guards, Tennessee Calvary
Records filed under “Captain J.C. Jackson’s Company, Tennessee Calvary

Organized September, 1862, at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Paroled at Gainesville, Alabama, May 10, 1865.


  • Montgomery W. Little,
  • John C. Jackson


  • 1st Lieutenants-Nathan Boone (Commanded from March 6, to October 1, 1863), Matthew Cortner.
  • 2nd Lieutenants-Daniel Dunaway, George L. Cowan
  • 3rd Lieutenants-Daniel Dunaway, John Eaton

This company was recruited at the instance of Nathan Bedford Forrest shortly subsequent to his promotion to brigadier general, by Captain Montgomery Little, a native of Bedford County who had been before the war a planter and business man in Memphis. It was made up mainly of men from Bedford County, part of which is now Moore County, who were assembled in Shelbyville in September and moved from there to Murfreesboro just before the town was temporarily occupied by a Federal raiding force. They were integrated into Forrest’s command in time to participate in the confused fighting around Lavergne on October 7, 1862.

Thereafter, the combat record of this company is the record of battles in which Forrest was himself engaged. After taking part in the demonstration against Nashville on November 6, they moved with Forrest to his West Tennessee Raid, and from there to the frequent fighting around Spring Hill, Thompson’s Station,-where Little was killed-College Grove, Franklin and Breutwood; they also participated in the pursuit and capture of Streight during the early Summer of 1863. They then moved south and east, screening Bragg’s withdrawal in the Chattanooga Campaign, to take part in the Battle of Chickamauga. From here they were transferred, a part of the nucleus of Forrest’s new command, to West Tennessee.

In West Tennessee, they took part in the operations incident to Forrest’s mobilization of a force from the stragglers hiding in that area and North Mississippi, and gathering supplies. The mobilization having been accomplished, they took part in the Battle of Okolona, the raid to Paducah, the capture of Fort Pillow, the Battles of Brice’s Crossroads and of Harrisburg and the Memphis Raid. Following the Middle Tennessee Raid and the destruction of Johnsonville, they moved with their commander to the screening action ahead of Hood on his invasion of Tennessee, which was followed by coverage of the retreat. During all these operations, they were frequently mentioned favorably in orders. It would not be unusual for the general commanding to make favorable mention of his Escort, but the facts are that all these commendations were richly deserved.

It is significant to note that, whereas the Escort had numbered 90 men at its first muster, and had been 65 strong on its arrival in West Tennessee, it had, when paroled at Gainesville, Alabama on May 9, 1865, mustered a strength of 119. Part of this increase may be attributable to the gathering in of stragglers from other units, but a part is also due to the fact that the Escort, from its first organization to the final surrender, had an incomparable morale.

This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.

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