Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail
During the Battle of Chickamauga the cavalry forces under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest held the position on the extreme right of the Confederate Army. On the first day of the battle, using his men as dismounted cavalry, Forrest helped push the Federals back from the Reed's Bridge Road and Jay's Mill. His men pressured the Federals to retreat from their position near West Chickamauga Creek to one more in line with other Union troops at the LaFayette Road. As the senior general present, Forrest also commanded the infantry units until General H.T.W. Walker arrived.
On the second day of the battle, Armstrong's Division of Forrest's Cavalry Corps operated on the right of Breckinridge's Division. Around 11:00 A.M. they captured the Federal hospitals at the Cloud farm. At this time, the Federal reserve corps, under General Gordon Granger, was located to the northeast around McAfee's Church. During the afternoon they were ordered to the support of General Thomas, who was being hard pressed at Snodgrass Hill. This movement caused the Confederate cavalry to pull back to the east. After the passage of these troops, however, the Confederates returned to the Lafayette Road.
Forrest's cavalry held this position during the afternoon, being occasionally engaged with the batteries of Dan McCook's artillery of General J.D. Morgan's Division that General Brannan had left on the high ground to the northwest of the McDonald house to attempt the protection of the Federal left. Near the end of the battle there was some skirmishing with Turchin's Brigade of Reynolds Division from the Federal 14th Army Corps.
Immediately after the battle, General Forrest pursued the retreating Federal Army as far as Rossville Gap. There he climbed a high tree and used a telescope to observe the situation at Chattanooga. He reported that the Federals were in somewhat of a disarray and in full retreat to Chattanooga. He strongly recommended that the Army of Tennessee should attack and complete the destruction of the Federal Army. This was sound advice that was completely ignored by General Braxton Bragg. This widened a rift between Forrest and his commander. Bragg, who was having problems with most of his subordinates after Chickamauga ordered Forrest to "turn his troops over" and report to Gen. Joseph Wheeler. This was in spite of the fact that Bragg was fully aware that Forrest had vowed never to fight with Wheeler again. An angry Forrest confronted Bragg over the orders, threatening the Commander of the Army of Tennessee with bodily harm. Bragg never reported the incident because he realized that Forrest was too important to the cause to be jailed for insubordination.
Forrest immediately wired his superiors in Richmond informing then he would not follow another order issued by Bragg and resigned his commission in protest of Bragg's actions at Chickamauga. President Jefferson Davis, however, refused to accept Forrest's resignation and, instead, promoted him to major general and handed him command of all cavalry in west Tennessee and north Mississippi.