The Civil War, Day by Day

General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Tennessee Formally Secedes

Before the war began, Tennessee had opposed the extremism of both the Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders, favoring compromise over the dissolution of the Union. The state even contributed an anti-war candidate - John Bell of the Constitutional Union party - to the 1860 Presidential election. Both the politician and his party were quickly forgotten.

Compared to its Confederate counterparts, Tennessee was not purely a “slave state.” Slavery was virtually non-existent in its mountainous eastern portion, which was strongly pro-Union. In the populous western region, wealthy plantation owners co-existed with middle-class farmers and industrial workers who owned few slaves.

Although Tennessee provided the South with more battlefields and soldiers than any other state except Virginia, it was not a Confederate stronghold. After Fort Donelson fell in February of 1862, the Union reclaimed Tennessee and named Andrew Johnson as it military governor. Three years later, Johnson would succeed Lincoln as President of the United States.

Mort Künstler painted this portrait of General Nathan Bedford Forrest in front of the Tennessee flag.

July's Archived Features:

Friday July 1, 2022



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.