This is the best biography of one of the most exciting, colorful, and controversial figures of the Civil War. A renowned cavalryman, Nathan Bedford Forrest perfected a ruthless hit-and-run guerrilla warfare that terrified Union soldiers and garnered the respect of warriors like William Sherman, who described his adversary as "that Devil, Forrest . . . the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side." Historian Bruce Catton rated Forrest "one of the authentic military geniuses of the whole war," but Brian Steel Wills covers much more than the cavalryman's incredible feats on the field of battle. He also provides the most thoughtful and complete analysis of Forrest's hardscrabble childhood in backwater Mississippi; his rise to wealth in the Memphis slave trade; his role in the infamous Fort Pillow massacre of black Union soldiers; his role as early leader and Grand Wizard of the first Ku Klux Klan; and his declining health and premature death in a reconstructing America.