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Lawmakers question historian during discussion over Nathan Bedford Forrest bust

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 23:18:56-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The continued debate over the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust brought strong words during committee discussion Tuesday.

The question: should the bust remain in the state capitol? Forrest was a Confederate General during the Civil war, a slave trader and an early KKK leader.

During discussion in the Naming, Designating and Private Acts Committee, Historian Michael Bradley was questioned about the Confederate general's role in the Civil War.

"How many people can you massacre and still be honored, out of curiosity, asked Rep. Jason Hodges (D) Clarksville. "You're not disputing that the guy didn't massacre people. You're disputing how many and what's a good number to still be honored in the state of Tennessee?"

"First of all, we do not know how many people were massacred, that is if we use the term massacre at all. Because the term 'massacre' is obviously a loaded word, explained Bradley. "It was never used by some people. It was by others. For many years, Forrest was referred to as 'The Butcher of Ft. Pillow' massacre was used by the..."

Rep. Hodges cut Bradley off saying, "Well let's go with butcher. How many people can I butcher and still be honored by the state of Tennessee?"

Bradley went on to answer the question saying, "Probably a large number because many of our people have done it in the past including some of those who have statues on the capitol grounds."

Forrest led troops in the Fort Pillow Massacre in which an estimated 300 African-American soldiers were killed instead of being taken as prisoners of war.