Riding With Forrest

The Memoir of John Barrett, Escort Company, Forrest's Cavalry, CSA, during the War Between the States (a novel)

Fiction - Historical - Personage
401 Pages
Reviewed on 05/04/2023
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

I wrote this book 40 years ago. I attempted to publish it back then, but life happened. I put it in the closet, and there it sat! Every once in awhile, I would run across it, but in essence it lay, forgotten. I suddenly got the idea in January 2023 that I could self publish on Amazon, and so here it is.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Riding with Forrest: The Memoir of John Barrett, Escort Company, Forrest’s Cavalry, CSA, during the War Between the States by L. E. Denton, is one of those rare historical novels that has used an actual character’s journal as the basis for creating the story. Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most feared Confederate generals in the American Civil War. His exploits are legendary and although the Confederacy would ultimately fail, this book sets out to show that Forrest and his Escort Company were men of honor, character, and immense courage. John Barrett was still a callow teenager when he and his best friend joined the Confederacy to fight for their homeland, which they genuinely believed the Yankees were determined to destroy. However, only a private, John and his sidekick become close to General Forrest, a fantastic tactician and soldier and an incredible leader of men who could engender total unwavering loyalty from his troops even under the direst of circumstances. Although ultimately doomed to fail and often up against vastly superior numerical forces with better equipment, the army controlled by General Forrest frequently overcame the odds against them and won battles that may have been impossible.

Riding with Forrest by L. E. Denton is a profoundly moving and bloody account of a war that decimated the youth of a fledgling country as brothers were pitted against brothers. What I appreciated most was that this story was told from the perspective of the Confederacy, the South, which is not something that generally occurs. It is often said that the victors write history. Hence, it is refreshing to read the other side’s viewpoint and to fully understand that the average soldier for the South was not fighting necessarily to defend slavery, which few had any interactions with anyway but instead viewed the North as interlopers trying to tell those in the South how to live their lives. For the average soldier, they were defending their families and livelihoods from the North’s naked aggression. I also appreciated the camaraderie, loyalty, and even compassion demonstrated by both Forrest as a general and the men under his command. I found it fascinating that Forrest, a man with no military training and limited education, was regularly able not only to best and outmaneuver his enemy forces but frequently show up his fellow generals from the Confederacy as incompetent. This is a fascinating insight into the horrors of war, but it is also a telling coming-of-age novel set in the most horrific of circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.