King Philip

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s last horse of the war (and one of his most favorite) was King Philip. King Philip gained a reputation during the war for hating yankees. During battle, he would kick, bite, and trample yankees.

King Philip came home with the general after the war and Forrest ordered that no saddle ever touch his back again. Like his owner, he never really lost his martial ardor. In August 1866, a troop of yankee cavalry passed by General Forrest’s plantation.  They had been out on an unrelated errand and rode a little out of their way to see the home of the fearsome Rebel General. They intended no harm and were more tourists than anything else. Unfortunately, King Philip was grazing in the yard and he did not know the war was over. He did what he always did when he saw bluecoats – he attacked them. The startled yankees tried to keep out of the way, but he stood up on his hind legs , snorting and trying to kick them. The Northerners tried to protect themselves. One yankee was severely kicked and threatened to kill the horse. Seeing this, Jerry, Bedford’s servant, rushed out with a pitchfork to defend King Philip. Bedford rode up at that moment and helped to restore peace.

Though he wore no saddle, the retired war horse was occasionally forced to endure the indignity of being a carriage horse. One day, while the family was visiting in Memphis, Mary, Bedfords’s wife, and some of her friends, decided to go shopping. They were having a happy day until King Philip looked up and saw a platoon of yankee recruits forming up on the sidewalk. Their uniforms were blue and that was enough for him. His ears went back, his tail went up, he snorted with hate and down the sidewalk he went, at full speed, ignoring the screaming women in the carriage. Shoppers dropped their packages and gentlemen jerked their ladies out of the path of the charging war horse, who had blood in his eyes.

The recruits heard the commotion and, seeing the rampaging and rapidly advancing horse, they broke formation and fled down alleys, ducked into doorways, and took cover under water troughs in order to escape.

In the end, King Philip stood proudly on the spot previously occupied by the ‘enemy,’ all alone except for the hysterical ladies, who were still screaming.

King Philip definitely knew how to break-up an enemy formation.

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