Workers begin removing Nathan Bedford Forrest remains from Memphis park

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Crews in Memphis have begun work to remove the remains of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, according to the Associated Press.

The remains of the former slave trader and Ku Klux Klan leader and his wife will be moved to a museum in Columbia, Tenn.

Forrest and his wife are buried in solid metal caskets.

RELATED: Tennessee Historical Commission votes to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from State Capitol

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is overseeing the move to the National Confederate Museum, according to the AP.

A spokesperson from the organization, Lee Millar, confirmed the removal of Forrest’s remains, along with the statue and monument.

“Initially, it was pretty sad that someone would want to remove a monument because everyone’s history is important to everybody but some people don’t realize that and they just want to get rid of history which is wrong and then secondly removing a grave that’s not a good idea either but as things progressed, we reached a compromise,” Millar said.

SEE photos from the removal here.

He said the family originally wanted the statue and remains to stay in Memphis.

“They’ve been here for 117 years,” Miller said.

The museum where the remains will be moved is close to where Forrest grew up.

“He’ll be moving to a better place where he can be visited, respected, protected it’ll be a good site for the general,” Millar told FOX13.

Forrest’s remains were housed at a park that used to bear his name.

The remains were already disinterred once in 1904.

He could not give an exact figure on the cost of the removal but estimated the price to be between $150K-200K.

Private donors stepped up to pay for the cost.

The plan for the removal has been in the works for several months, Miller said.

Phase one involves removing the pedestal, and specialized engineers have to dismantle the granite site.

Archaeologists will remove the remains during phase two.

The process could take weeks from start to finish.

Commissioner Tami Sawyer was at Health Science Park as workers were removing a pedestal that once held the Confederate monument.

As she watched and spoke with the media, a worker began a heated debate with the commissioner.

Sawyer told FOX13 that she would press harassment charges against the worker.

Sawyer released the following statement on the removal of Forrest’s remains:

“There can be no mention of today without acknowledging the work of #takeemdown901. We provided an umbrella for Memphians to organize under and take on the hateful legacy of the Confederacy. I am a Black woman, a descendent of enslaved Black people who were sold at slave marts like the one that made Forrest wealthy. I am the blood of Black women trafficked by the ads placed by Forrest offering “bedroom girls” for sale. Forrest may be considered a great general to some, but his final battle was lost to the descendants of the Black people that he enslaved, abused and attempted to destroy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.