Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Non-fiction, pictures, maps, bibliography, index, 110 pp. Heritage Books, Inc., 1540E pointer Ridge Place, Bowie, MO 20716.

The military actions of Col. James W. Starnes, who served under General Nathan Bedford Forrest, are rarely considered by historians. He began his military career in the Mexican War by serving as a Regimental Surgeon. Afterwards, he returned home to practice medicine and manage his lands. When rumors of war began to circulate, Mr. Starnes choose to enter the military as a Confederate cavalry commander and began organizing a company of mounted men. This company would voluntarily attach to Forrest’s troopers while in Kentucky.

Forrest’s Forgotten Horse Brigadier offers a historical account of Col. James W. Starnes and his men’s involvement in the War Between the States. The detailed writings of tactical maneuvers offer the reader a step by step description of their engagements. This military book shows the precision movement required for the overall victory of a battle. Orders must be considered, given, sent, received, and carried out on the field.

According to H. Gerald Starnes, author of Forrest’s Forgotten Horse Brigadier, “While the bravery and tactical instincts of General Forrest in combat are without question, there is a descernible absence of mention or information on the sub-commanders who executed the general’s strategies and orders.” General Forrest, like most officers, must rely on his corp. commanders to carry out his wishes in a timely and accurate manner while attacking and defending against the enemy.

Col. Starnes proves he is capable of following the commands of his superiors; yet, his ability to think while in battle shows an intellect and courage few posses. Through this, Starnes and Forrest would develop a mutual respect and friendship for one another. Mr. Starnes states, “Forrest and Starnes had in common a total disregard for their own personal safety, and an eager willingness to fight even though seriously outnumbered. Otherwise, the contrast in their personalities and demeanor showed striking differences.”

In the Chattanooga Daily Rebel on Tuesday, July 2, 1863, an editorial about Col. Starnes, who died on June 30, 1863 from a wound received in the Tullahoma Campaign, states, “Many of his exploits are wholly unrecorded and numbers of them forgotten amid the confused turmoil of war, and its crowded canvass of events. After the most useful career as an independent commander, Col. Starnes was attached to a regular cavalry service, and has gained a rare, though not noisy reputation in the service for courage, reliability, and skill.” Through his in-depth study of Col. Starnes, Mr. Starnes provides a glimpse of this man forgotten by the annuals of history. Pvt. Harris remembering Col. Starnes states, “He was a kind hearted man, and could lead brave man farther than most men, while Forrest could make a coward fight.”

This publication includes a brief genealogical account of Col. Starnes’ family lines, with numerous photos of persons mentioned. Maps help the reader to understand the complicated tactical maneuvers discussed in this book; however, there is a need for more detailed illustrations to help visualize the troop movement. Many pictures of the locations written about are difficult to see, virtually being just a black box.

Forrest’s Forgotten Horse Brigadier is well researched and provides an excellent insight to skirmishes seldom mentioned. This book is for the person who enjoys military maneuvers and troop movement. It is written in an attempt for the reader to feel as if they are a part of the battle, knowing exactly where each commander is and their actions. The personal recollections of the soldiers offer a human perspective to the story that unfolds.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow

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