Saturday, April 12, 2014

4.12.14 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        12, one East Tennessee woman's notice of the bombardment of Fort Sumter
....Mr. Douglas commenced fighting at 4 o'clock this morning, at Charleston, continues until the 13th. Honor and Shame from no condition rise. Act well your part, there all the honor lies.
Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman, p. 90.[1]

        12, "The uniform is a beautiful dark green coat, with red pants and blue stripe, and cap with long brim." A juvenile military company in Memphis
The Tennessee Cadets.—This is a new company of lads from eleven to seventeen years of age, formed for the purpose of drill and future service under a southern flag which they will bear. The uniform is a beautiful dark green coat, with red pants and blue stripe, and cap with long brim. The officers elected are W. A. Flournoy, captain; F. A. Tyler, jr., first lieutenant; W. O. Lofland, jr., second lieutenant. We have no doubt they will some day give a good account of themselves. We could suggest to some of the patriotic young ladies of Memphis the matter of making and presenting for their encouragement a beautiful Confederate flag, for they sway the flag of the old Union has become too much soiled for their use, since the election of Hamlin.
Memphis Daily Appeal, April 12, 1861.

        12, Report of Confederate Flag Waving in Manchester
We find the following items in the Huntsville Advocate of the 9th inst.
In Manchester, Tenn., the other day, about 70 Federal cavalry entered the town, there being no resistance. As they passed Mrs. E. N. Marcell's house (her husband being in our army) she waved a Confederate flag; the Captain demanded its surrender; she refused to give it up; he then threatened to burn her house, and finally ordered four men to present arms and take aim at her, but still she waved the flag and refused to give it up. At last, one of them snatched it from her and the 70 made off with it. All honor to her! Let the men of Tennessee and North Alabama imitate Mrs. Marcell's boldness.
Daily Chronicle & Sentinel [Augusta, Georgia], April 12, 1862.[2]

        12, "It is really laughable to me to hear a naturalized citizen attempting to ostracize people to the manor born." Pro-Union sentiment in Clarksville
For the Nashville Union.
Clarksville, April 12, 1862.
Mr. Editor: At last a paper is published in Nashville which need not blush at its name, "The Union." Thank God! the time for Free Speech, and a Free Press has come….
This town, as you are well aware, is strongly Secession having cast but one vote for the Union at the time the State went out. A few votes were cast for the Union in my district, but altogether in the country a very meagre sentiment only was expressed at the polls. Voting at that time, however, was but a poor index of what was the feeling then, much less of what it is now. I talked but yesterday with some of my farming friends, and two that I had never dreamed were anything but "rebels," I found to be strong Union men. One said that he had never voted on the Secession question at all, knowing that he could do no good, and the other said he only voted that way through advice of friends, that "we ought to be united, so as to prevent civil war in our own borders," but that now he regretted it—always thought it was wrong, &c., &c….Writing of the "Union men" in town here, let me assure you that there are a goodly number—more than I ever dreampt of while we were not allowed to speak our sentiments; and in the country (my word for it)—the next gathering at the polls will make the "Scottish chiefs," (as one of my neighbors calls them) of the rebellion, open their eyes. It is a fact that the most noisy of these fellows in town are Scotchmen—Scotch Tobacco buyers and Harness makers—rich and poor so they are Scotch; seem to think they can not be loud enough in their denunciations of the d----- Yankees. It is really laughable to me to hear a naturalized citizen attempting to ostracize people to the manor born. But till I hear from you, I dare not be lengthy, not knowing that your columns are open to correspondents, and especially to those who can give you nothing but country news.
Nashville Daily Union, April 18, 1862

        12, Brigadier General John Beatty's confession and word of warning to historians of the battle of Stones River
The historian who accepts these reports as reliable, and permits himself to be guided by them through all the windings of a five-days' battle, with the expectation of finally allotting to each one of forty brigades the proper credit, will probably not be successful. My report was called for late one evening, written hastily, without having before me the reports of my regimental commanders, and is incomplete, unsatisfactory to me, and unjust to my brigade.
Beatty, Citizen Soldier, p. 252.

        12, "Now Fannie Dear I will tell you of a scrape I got into which came very near costing me dear." Frank M. Guernsey's letter to Fannie
Memphis, Tennessee
Ap. 12th, 1863
[Dear Fannie,]
I have just returned from church and have a few leisure moments which I will devote to writing to you. We had the Episcopal form of service for the first time since our regiment was organized. It went off first rate for the first time, and I understand that our Chaplain proposes to use that form hereafter. I like it very much there is a good deal of solemnity about it and then the Chaplain dont [sic] have to preach so long sermons which I suppose makes it easier for him. The Col. just steped [sic] in and said that there was a man from Wis who was going to address the Regiment on some subject so I think I will close this for the present and finish after the speech. I will then give you a history of a scrape I got into last night and how it came out.
Monday eve [sic] Well [sic] the speech is made and a very good one it was too. He talked to the boys on the subject of religion, and related many little stories to the boys of what he had witnessed while going through the army as a colporter [sic], many of which brought tears to the eye of those who had endured the dangers of our campaign without the least particle of emotion. I tell you Fanny that when you talk even to us rough and hard hearted soldiers of the love and mercy of Jesus, how he suffered and died for man, there is a power in it that tells after he had finished speaking he distributed among the boys quite a large amount of Tracts and Books which were gladly received I assure you.
Now Fannie Dear I will tell you of a scrape I got into which came very near costing me dear. Night before last I together with Capt Hodges and Sergt. Tabor went down to the theatre to see the play entitled Jack Sheppard, we did not starte [sic] from camp until late so that the play had commenced when I got there the seats were nearly all taken so we three had to seperate [sic] and find seats where we could. I finally succeeded in getting a seat on the end of a seat next to the aisle the Capt. and Sergt. found seats about half way across the house from me. we [sic] were soon all very deeply interested in the play and enjoying it very much. I was watching the stage very earnestly when I was startled by the report of revolver very close to me and an officer sitting on the end of the seat directly opposite me fell over onto the floor, we were surrounded where we were sitting by citizens, some one of whome [sic] had shot this officer as I thought. I jumped to my feet and drew my revolver calculating to shoot the first person that I saw make a motion, this was rather indiscreet in me as when the whole audience humped to their feet to look and see what was the matter there I stood like a rock with my revolver in my hand ready to shoot the first man who said boo, or made a motion, this fastened the suspicion of the deed, on me and for a few moments I was looked upon as the murderer sure. it [sic] was supprising [sic] to see how quick nearly every man had a revolver in his hand ready to shoot poor Frank or any other man, but I never was more cool and collected in my life laying at my feet was an officer weltering in his gore, and turned on me was perhaps a thousand eyes flashing with anger just then Capt. Fox of Genl. Veatchs [sic] staff came up and enquired of me what the cause of the rowe [sic] was. I told him in as few words as possible all I knew of the matter and I suppose that my cool and collected manner disarmed him of all suspition [sic] he entertained in regard to me. He however said he should order me under arrest and detain me until morning as evidence, so the Sergt. of the guard was ordered to take me in custody and keep me in durance vile, until the next morning. I was kindly provided with a bed (by a fellow prisoner) on the floor in the morning I was breakfasted and upon a statement of the facts of my case to the officer of the day I was released unconditionally. on [sic] arriving at camp I found the camp very much excited as they had been informed by Capt. Hodges that I was arrested for murder, and was in the Irvin Block, (the military prison). the [sic] Col. was just going down town to see about my case when I went into his tent to report. he was very glad to see me safe and sound but I presume I have wearied your patience by this long yarn, so I will close, please give my best regards to your people and write soon, accept much love and a dozen kisses from
Yours Affectionately
Frank M. Guernsey
P.S. I have recovered my health and shall go on duty tomorrow.
Guernsey Collection

        12, Orders to reinforce Fort Pillow
HDQRS. SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Memphis, Tenn., April 12, 1864--7 p. m.
GEN.: You will send with all possible dispatch a good regiment, with four days' rations and full supply of ammunition, to re-enforce Fort Pillow. They will embark at the earliest moment on the steamer Glendale, or such other boat as may be furnished by the quartermaster's department.
Promptness is all important.
S. A. HURLBUT, Maj.-Gen.
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF MEMPHIS, Memphis, Tenn., April 12, 1864.
SIR: You will send with all possible dispatch the Fifty-fifth United States [colored], with four days' rations, or as much as they can carry in their haversacks, to re-enforce Fort Pillow. The men will take 40 rounds of ammunition in cartridge-boxes, and you will send 100 rounds extra on wagons to the boat. They will embark at the earliest moment on the steamer Glendale, or such other boat as may be furnished by quartermaster's department. Promptness is all important.
By order of Brig.-Gen. Buckland:
ALF. G. TUTHER, Capt. and Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. III, pp. 336-337.

        12, Capture of Fort Pillow[3]
JACKSON, TENN., April 15, 1864.
GEN.: I attacked Fort Pillow on the morning of the 12th instant with a part of Bell's and McCulloch's brigades, numbering 1,500, under Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers. After a short fight drove the enemy, 700 strong, into the fort under the cover of their gun-boats. Demanded a surrender, which was declined by Maj. L. F. Booth, commanding U. S. forces. I stormed the fort, and after a contest of thirty minutes captured the entire garrison, killing 500 and taking 200 horses and a large amount of quartermaster's stores. The officers in the fort were killed, including Maj. Booth. I sustained a loss of 20 killed and 60 wounded. Among the wounded is the gallant Lieut. Col. Wiley M. Reed while leading the Fifth Mississippi. Over 100 citizens who had fled to the fort to escape conscription ran into the river and were drowned. The Confederate flag now floats over the fort.
N. B. FORREST, Maj.-Gen.
HDQRS. FORREST'S CAVALRY, Jackson, Tenn., April 15, 1864.
* * * *
Have dispatched by telegraph of the capture of Fort Pillow.
Arrived there on the morning of the 12th and attacked the place with a portion of McCulloch's and Bell's brigades numbering about 1,500 men, and after a sharp contest captured the garrison and all of its stores. A demand was made for the surrender, which was refused. The victory was complete, and the loss of the enemy will never be known from the fact that large numbers ran into the river and were shot and drowned. The force was composed of about 500 negroes [sic] and 200 white soldiers (Tennessee Tories). The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for 200 yards. There was in the fort a large number of citizens who had fled there to escape the conscript law. [added] Most of these ran into the river and were drowned.
The approximate loss was upward of 500 killed, but few of the officers escaping.
It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners. We still hold the fort.
* * * *
I am, colonel, with respect, your obedient servant,
N. B. FORREST, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 609-611.

Another source indicates that a massacre took place at Fort Pillow. A letter by Sergeant Achilles V. Clark, a member the Twentieth (Russell's) Tennessee Cavalry of Forrest's cavalry and participant in the battle, written to his sisters just two days after the battle gives a believable account of the massacre:

"The slaughter was awful....Their fort turned out to be a great slaughter pen....human blood stood about in pools and brains could have been gathered up in any quantity. I with several other tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but Gen. Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs, and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased."
Jones, Every Day In Tennessee History.[4]

Another letter, from Dr. S. H. Caldwell at camp near Brownsville, to his wife, Mrs. S. H. Caldwell, spoke about the fight and consequent massacre:
Camp Near Brownsville, April 15, 1864.
My Dear Darling Wife:
We are ordered to Alabama some where [sic] in the neighborhood of Tuscaloosa. Am very much surprised at the order but must obey-I suppose the Yanks are making a raid into that State & we are to check it-
We are just [back] from Fort Pillow which fort we attacked on Tuesday the 13th. 1864[5] &carried by storm. It was garrisoned by 400 white men & 400 negroes [sic] & out of the 800 only 168 are now living.[6] So you can now guess how terrible was the slaughter. It was decidedly the most horrible sight that I have ever witnessed-
They refused to surrender-which increased [sic] our men & if General Forrest had not have run between our men & the Yanks & his Pistol and sabre [sic] drawn not a man would have been spared-we took about a hundred & 25 white men & about 45 negroes [sic] the rest of the 800 are numbered with the dead-they sure heaped upon each other 3 days-[7]
After the fight they commenced to plunder the town[.][8]The men fire[d] new new [sic] stores full of goods[.] I got nothin [sic] except what the boys brave me which was a new hat-a pair of the finest boots you ever saw-a pair of pants-2 shirts-2 ladies collars & 2 pair of shoes too large for anybody & 2 bolts of seailand [sic] domestic all of which I thought I would send home to you. But this order knocks it all in the head. Will have to give them all away for my horses can't possibly pack them-Am very much disappointed at not being able to send them home particualrerly [sic] the domestic. Chap[9] is dressed as fine as any man you ever saw -- says that he believes he will like the army a great deal better than he thought he would-Has new boots and new hats and new coats & breeches & is perfectly delighted-He says to tell Sythe that he thinks a great deal of her and that she must not marry until he comes home -- sends his love to all at home & is better satisfied than he has ever been. I think that our loss in killed & wounded will not amount to over 80 or 90 -- the loss of Bells Brig. is 37-five killed & 32 wounded-among the killed was Rueben Burrow-a son of Uncle Reuben. A better soldier never lived or died. He died on the parapet of the fort-was prepared to die & expressed a perfect willingness to leave this world-I would give worlds if I owned them-not a soldier who know him but wepted [sic] at the sad news of his death-I am writing by candle light and my eyes are so sore that it was nearly impossible for me to see the paper much less the lines. Tell Wayne that I have got his pistol that he lost at Okalona & will deliver it to him when he brings my mare & not before.
Nothing more but to remain your devoted husband,
S. H. Caldwell
W. P. A. Civil War Records, Vol. 4, p. 61.

An excerpt from the account of Dr. Charles Fitch, a surgeon with the U. S. Army at Fort Pillow likewise indicates a massacre took place. According to Dr. Fitch:

....every man seemed to be crying for Quarters[,] the Rebs [sic] paying no attention to their cries except to reply if you Damn scoundrels surrender, fall into line, there were over 20 who fell into one line, near the edge of the River, when there was a volley fired into them bringing them all down but two, these men were all holding up their hands pleading for quarters. I has started to get into this line, and was within fifteen or twenty feet of the lower end of the line, when they were fired into, The [sic] two that were not killed swam out into Coal Creek, and got behind a log, there were several shots fired at them behind the log, killing one of them, the other one remained there until 9 o['clock] when he came out, he was my steward[.] his name is George, he belongs to the 7th Kansas Cavalry, he and myself were standing together among the wounded soldiers, they were encircled, as it were, with red flags stationed around them[.] I think they were all killed except two, the most of them were chopped to pieced with Sabres; the two there [who] were not killed belonged to the 6th U. S. Heavy Artillery A.D., one was a Captain[,] the other was a Lieut. I do not know their names. I saw them on the 13th among the Prisoners in the Rebel Camp and shook hands with them, the Captain was wounded on the side of his head, a scalp wound, the Lieut. had a severe wound in his left fore arm. I formed lock step with a Rebel Soldier who was leading a horse up the Bluff. I inquired who was in command? a soldier replied Genl[.] Forrest. I asked where is he? he pointed to Forrest saying that is him sighting the Parrot Gun on the Gun boat, the breech of the gun was not over forty feet from me. I sprang instantly to Forrest addressing him, are you Genl. Forrest? He replied yes sir, What do you want? I told him I was the Surgeon of the Post, and asked protection from him that was due a prisoner. He said, you are Surgeon of a Damn Nigger Regiment. I replied, I was not. You are a Damn Tenn. Yankee then. I told him I was from Iowa. Forrest said what in hell are you doing down here for? I have a great mind to have you killed for being down here. He then said if the North west had staid at home the war would have been over long ago, then turning to a Soldier told him to take charge of me and see that I was not harmed. For which I thanked him. I was taken to the south side of the Breast works, where I was guarded until about 10 Oclock [sic] P.M. while here I saw them kill every negro that made his appearance dressed in Federal uniform. I had not been blessed with a Guard but a few moments, before White soldiers as they gained the bluff, and seeing a Guard with me, rushed to him claiming protection[.] In a short time there was a Guard detailed under the command of a Lieut. and placed over us. It was but a short time before some drunken Rebel soldiers came up and fired in among the Prisoners with their Revolvers, wounding some four or five. General Chalmers riding up and seeing such conduct, ordered a strong Guard, the Guard to be mounted in double file, forming a hollow square around us, after which we were not molested. About 5 Oclock [sic] the Rebs [sic] commenced burying our dead, and continued until near 10 Oclock [sic] in the night. The dead were placed mostly in the Entrenchments on the south side of the Breastworks. Major Booth [the slain commander of the fort] and some of the other Officers were buried in separate graves, close up to the Entrenchment. I saw them place Major Booth in the grave. A Rebel soldier had taken off his uniform, and was parading around with it on....About 10 Oclock [sic] P.M. the Prisoners we[re] marched out, East from the River some three miles. We passed close by the Hospitals, they were still standing. On arriving in Camp the Rebs [sic] built good fires for us and gave us plenty to eat. On the morning of the 13th about sunrise they brought us our breakfasts, after we had eaten it, we were formed into line, and our names token. There were 101 prioress....twenty...wounded....
Dr. Fitch's Report on the Fort Pillow Massacre[10]The January 1, 1865 account of the battle from the point of view of one of the defenders of Fort Pillow, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 14th Tennessee Cavalry, Mack J. Leaming told how:

Hardly a nucleus of the command remained after the vengeance of the rebel soldiery had been wreaked upon the brave but overpowered defenders of our flag. For ten long hours they held out against overwhelming numbers of the enemy, all the while sending death and destruction into their ranks, and repelling with terrible slaughter their repeated charges. With every temporary advantage thus obtained, cheer after cheer was sent up by the brave 'boys in blue' as they beheld with infinite delight the rebel horde recoiling in confusion before their well directed fire. Finally, at about four o'clock, the enemy through a violation of his flag of truce, succeeded in overpowering the garrison and compelling it to surrender. Up to this juncture only three of our officer who participated in the fight had fallen, but after the blood-thirsty barbarity of the rebels had been dealt out to their unarmed and helpless prisoners, only three of our officers were found to be alive....
* * * *
Report of the Adjutant General, pp. 646-647.

Evidently Forrest was very sensitive about the massacre at Fort Pillow, and even more worried about the reported determination of Negro troops to never again surrender to Confederates. The following excerpts from correspondence between Major-General Cadwallader C. Washburn, U. S. Army, and Major-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, C S. Army, regarding Negro troops and the debacle at Fort Pillow.
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Memphis, Tenn., June 20, 1864.
Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, Asst. Adjt. Gen., U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
COL.: I have the honor to inclose copies of correspondence between Maj.-Gen. Forrest and myself. As it pertains to the treatment of colored troops, I beg to request that the attention of the Secretary of War be specially called to it.
It gives me pleasure to state that the conduct of the colored troops on the occasion of the late fight was of the most gallant character.
I am, colonel, your obedient servant,
C. C. WASHBURN, Maj.-Gen.
[Inclosure No. 1]
HDQRS. FORREST'S CAVALRY, In the Field, June 14, 1864.
[Maj. Gen. C. C. WASHBURN:]
* * * *
There is a matter also to which I desire to call your attention....It has been reported to me that all the negro troops stationed in Memphis took an oath on their knees, in the presence of Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut and other officers of your army, to avenge Fort Pillow, and that they would show my troops no quarter.
* * * *
In all my operations since the war began I have conducted the war on civilized principles, and desire still to do so, but it is due to my command that they should know the position they occupy and the policy you intend to pursue. I therefore respectfully ask whether my men now in your hands are treated as other Confederate prisoners; also, the course intended to be pursued in regard to those who may thereafter fall into your hands.
* * * *
N. B. FORREST, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 587-588.

Memphis, Tenn., June 19, 1864. Maj. Gen. N. B. FORREST,
Cmdg. Confederate Forces:
* * * *
You say in your letter that it has been reported to you "that all the negro troops stationed at Memphis took an oath on their knees, in the presence of Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut and other officers of our army, to avenge Fort Pillow, and that they would show your troops no quarter." I believe that it is true that the colored troops did take such an oath, but not in the presence of Gen. Hurlbut. From what I can learn, this act of theirs was not influenced by any white officer, but was the result of their own sense of what was due to themselves and their follows, who had been mercilessly slaughtered...
* * * *
I am left in doubt by your letter as to the course you and the Confederate Government intend to pursue hereafter in regard to colored troops, and I beg you to advise me with as little delay as possible as to your intention....If you intend to treat such of them as fall into your hands as prisoners of war, please so state. If you do not so intend, but contemplate either their slaughter or their return to slavery, please state that, so that we may have no misunderstanding hereafter. If the former is your intention, I shall receive the announcement with pleasure, and shall explain the fact to the colored troops at once, and desire that they recall the oath that they have taken. If the latter is the case, then let the oath stand, and upon those who have aroused this spirit by their atrocities, and upon the Government and the people who sanction it, be the consequences.
* * * *
C. C. WASHBURN, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 588-589.

HDQRS. FORREST'S CAVALRY, Tupelo, June 25 [23], 1864.
Maj. Gen. C. C. WASHBURN, Cmdg. U. S. Forces, Memphis:
* * * *
I regard your letter as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department, and grossly insulting to myself. You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer and as guilty of the wholesale slaughter of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and found your assertions upon the ex parte testimony of your fiends, the enemies of myself and country.
I shall not enter into the discussion, therefore, of any of the questions involved...
* * * *
I regard captured negroes [sic] as I do other captured property and not as captured soldiers, but as to how regarded by my Government and the disposition which has been and will hereafter be made of them, I respectfully refer you through the proper channel to the authorities at Richmond [sic] It is not the policy nor the interest of the South to destroy the negro-on the contrary, to preserve and protect him-and all who have surrendered to us have received kind and humane treatment.
Since the war began I have captured many thousand Federal prisoners, and they, including the survivors of the Fort Pillow massacre (black and white), are living witnesses of the fact that with my knowledge or consent, or by my order, not one of them has ever been insulted or in any way maltreated.
* * * *
N. B. FORREST, Maj.-Gen.
HDQRS. FORREST'S CAVALRY, In the Field, June 23, 1864.
Maj. Gen. C. C. WASHBURN, Cmdg. U. S. Forces, Memphis, Tenn.:
* * * *
....You ask me to state whether "I contemplate either their slaughter or their return to slavery." I answer that I slaughter no man except in open warfare, and that my prisoners, both white and black, are turned over to my Government to be dealt with as it may direct. My Government is in possession of all the facts as regards my Official conduct and the operations of my command since I entered the service, and if you desire a proper discussion and decision, I refer you again to the President of the Confederate States.
* * * *
....The negroes [sic] have our sympathy, and so far as consistent with safety [we] will spare them at the expense of those who are alone responsible for the inauguration of a worse than savage warfare.
Now, in conclusion, I demand a plain, unqualified answer to two questions, and then I have done with further correspondence with you on this subject. This matter must be settled. In battle and on the battle-field, do you intend to slaughter my men who fall into your hands?
* * * *
N. B. FORREST, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 590-593.[11]

One witnesses[12] testimony is included here:
CAIRO, ILL., April 23, 1864.
Elois Bevel, being duly sworn, deposes and says:
I am a citizen of Osceola, Ark. I was driven from my home by guerrillas. I arrived at Fort Pillow, Tenn., on the night of the 11th of April, 1864. I was at Fort Pillow during the engagement between the rebel forces under Forrest and Chalmers and the United States garrison at that place on the 12th of April instant, 1864. About sunup the alarm of rebels being in the fort was received at Maj. Booth's headquarters. I took a position where I could see all that was done by the rebel and United States forces. Deponent further saith: I saw the contraband camps in flames at different points; could see the skirmishers of the rebels. Signals were given by Capt. Bradford to Capt. Marshall, of the Navy, commanding gun-boat No. 1, which was in sight of the fort which was done by Capt. Marshall. About one hour after sunrise brisk skirmishing began. The bullets from rebel infantry caused me to move from where I was and take position behind a large stump near the fort where. I could better see the rebels who swarmed the bluff. The rebels were here so near the gun-boat that the crew under Capt. Marshall had to close their ports and use their small-arms. At 1 p. m. the firing on both sides ceased; a flag of truce was sent from the rebel lines to demand an unconditional surrender. While the flag of truce was approaching three fort I saw a battery of artillery moved to a better position by the rebels, and saw their sharpshooters approaching the fort from another quarter. At 2 o'clock the fight began again; about fifteen or twenty minutes after I saw a charge made by about 2,000 on the breast-works, and near it on the bluff. Sharp fighting took place inside the fort of about five minutes' duration. I saw their bayonets and swords. I saw the Union soldiers, black and white, slaughtered asking for quarter; heard their screams for quarter, to which the rebels paid no attention. About 100 left the fort and ran down the bank of the bluff to the river, pursued by the rebels, who surrounded them. In about twenty minutes every one of them, as far as I could see, was shot down by the rebels without mercy. I left at this time, getting on the gun-boat. On Thursday, the 14th of April, I met Capt. Farris, of Forrest's command, about 6 miles from Fort Pillow, at Plum Point; his soldiers said they were hunting for negroes [sic]. I asked him if they took any prisoners at Fort Pillow. He said they took some of the Thirteenth Tennessee, who surrendered, but no others.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 520.

An excerpt from a letter by Bryan McAlister,[13] at Meridian Mississippi, provides more information relative to Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Fort Pillow Massacre.
"Before the large chimney-place of a small cabin-room, surrounded by a group of Confederate officers and men, the room dimly lighted by a small tallow candle, I first saw Lieutenant-General N.B. Forrest, commanding a corps of cavalry in the rebel army. Forrest is a man of fine appearance, about six feet in height, having dark, piercing hazel eyes, carefully trimmed mustache, and chin-whiskers dark as night, finely cut-features, and iron-grey hair. His form is lithe, plainly indicating great physical power and activity. He was neatly dressed in citizen's clothes of some gray mixture -- the only indication of military service being the usual number of small staff-buttons on his vest. I should have marked him as a prominent man had I seen him on Broadway; and when I was told that he was the 'Forrest of Fort Pillow," I devoted my whole attention to him, and give you the result of our conversation. My first impression of the man was rather favorable than otherwise. Except a home guard of some hundred Federal soldier, more than half a mile away, I was, with the exception of another person, the only Yankee in the room, and being dressed in citizen's clothes, was never suspected, except by the landlord.
'"General,' said I, 'I little expected to be seated by this fire with you.'
'"Why so?'"
"' Well, because your name has been in the mouth of every person for a long time.'
"'Yes,' said he, displaying the finest set of teeth that I think I have every
"'I have waked up the Yankees everywhere, lately.'
"'Now that you have time, General, do you think you will ever put upon paper the true account of the Fort Pillow affair?'
"'Well,' said he, 'the Yankees ought to know. They sent down their best men to investigate the affair.'
"'But are to believe their report, General?'
"'Yes, if we are to believe anything a nigger says. When I went into the war, I meant to fight. Fighting means killing. I have lost twenty-nine horses in the war, and have killed a man each time. The other day I was a horse ahead; [?] but at Selma they surrounded me, and I killed two, jumped my horse over a one-horse wagon, and got away.'
"I began to think I had some idea of the man at last. He continues:
"'My Provost-Marshall's book will show that I have taken thirty-one thousand prisoners during the war. At Fort Pillow I sent in a flag of truce, and demanded an unconditional surrender, or I would not answer for my men.[14] This they refused. I sent them another note, giving them one hour to determine. This they refused. I could see, on the river, boats loaded with [Federal] troops. They sent back, asking for an hour more. I gave them twenty minutes. I sat on my horse during the whole time.
"'The fort was filled with niggers and deserters from our army;-men who lived side by side with my men. I waited five minutes after the time, and then blew my bugle for the charge. In twenty minutes my men were over the works, and the firing had ceased. The citizens and Yankees had broken in the heads of whiskey and lager-beer barrels, and were all drunk. They kept up firing all the time, as they sent down the hill [toward the Mississippi river]. Hundred of them rushed to the river, and tried to swim to the gunboats, and my men shot them down. The Mississippi River was red with their blood for three hundred yards. During all this, their flag was still flying, and I rushed over the works and cut the halyards, and let it down, and stopped the fight. Many of the Yankees were in tents in front, and they were in their way, as they concealed my men and some of them set them on fire. [?] If any were burned to death, it was in those tents.
"'They have a living witness in Captain Young, their quartermaster, who is still alive [sic]; and I will leave it to any prisoner I have ever taken if I have not treated them well.' 'You have made some rapid marches, General,' said I. 'Yes,' said he, 'I have five thousand men that can whip any the thousand in the world.'
* * * *
Forrest is a thorough bravo-a desperate man in every respect. He was a negro-trader before the war, and in 'personal affairs,' as he calls them, had killed several men....
* * * *
Any one hearing him talk would call him a braggadocio. As for myself, I would believe one half he said, and only dispute with him with my finer upon the trigger of my pistol....
* * * *
Anecdotes, pp. 451-452.

Finally, that there was at least a taint of racism associated with the event can be substantiated by the following words of Brigadier-General James R. Chalmers in his April 20, 1864 address to his troops after their West Tennessee Raid, which included the attack on Fort Pillow: "....the lion-hearted McCulloch, with his 'fighting brigade' of Missourians, Texans, and Mississippians, nobly assisted by Col. Bell, with his gallant brigade of Tennesseeans [sic]...stormed the works at Fort Pillow...and taught the mongrel garrison of blacks and renegades a lesson long to be remembered."
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. I, p. 623.

        12, Restoration of Civil Law
NASHVILLE, TENN., April 12, 1865.
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 21.-A large portion of Northern Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Western North Carolina being now within the lines of the Federal army, the Major-General commanding desires to restore the authority of the civil law in several counties of these States embraced within this department at as early a period as possible.
It is accordingly recommended that all duly authorized Judges, Sheriffs, Commissions, Justices of the Peace, and other officers who may be in those counties, immediately proceed to enter upon and perform the duties of their respective offices, according to the laws of the State in force at the beginning of the war as far as it may be found practicable.
Whenever vacancies in country offices exist, it is enjoined upon the loyal people of the neighborhood to hold regular elections and select officers competent to reorganize the civic courts and uphold the authority of the laws.
Commanding officers of all military districts and posts are directed to protect the civil authorities far as may be consistent with the interests of the service, and to cooperate with them in restoring order.
At the breaking out of the rebellion against the National Government, the people of Northern Alabama and Georgia, and Western North Carolina overpowered by the Tide of secession were among the fast to desert the cause of the Union; and the Commanding General of the Department, confidently hopes that they will be among the first to return to their allegiance, and assist in the restoration of peace with enforcement of the law. By command of Major-General Thomas.
New York Times, April 17, 1865

[1] Myra Adelaide Inman, "The Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman of Cleveland, Tennessee, During the War Between the States. 1859-1865." 1940. Typescript, 317 pp. Copies in Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSL&A) and Knox County Public Library.[Hereinafter: Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.][transcript of unknown origin; see W. Calvin Dickinson and Eloise R. Hitchcock, A Bibliography of Tennessee History, 1973-1996, (Knoxville: Unviversity of Tennessee, 1999).
[2] As cited in:
[3] This event is also widely known also as the "Fort Pillow Massacre." It is listed as "Massacre, Fort Pillow," in Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee. Many ardent devotees of Nathan Bedford Forrest disavow the assertion that there was a massacre at all, claiming instead that either Forrest was not there at the time, and so did not order such a bloodbath, or that if there was such an incident it was because otherwise disciplined soldiers became irrational after the fight due to presence of Negro soldiers and so vented their frustrations on the Federal soldiers that surrendered.
Major-General Forrest's reports regarding the fight at Fort Pillow indicate a massacre occurred, although he never used the word.
[4] As cited in: James B. Jones, Jr., Every Day In Tennessee History, (Winston Salem: John F. Blair, 1996), p. 75. It may be that this Rebel cavalryman was exaggerating to impress his sisters, but when taken in conjunction with the preponderance of evidence collected by Federal investigators it tends to strongly and independently verify the reality that a massacre did take place at Fort Pillow. "Remember Fort Pillow" would become a Republican Party slogan to rally the Negro vote during reconstruction in Tennessee.
[5] Surgeon Caldwell was obviously mistaken. It was April 12.
[6] Thus, according to Caldwell's figures, 79 % of the Federal forces (or about 8 out of every 10 men) were killed. This figure tends to corroborate the notion that a massacre did take place, regardless of whether or not Forrest actually ordered it.
[7] Apparently Caldwell meant it took three days to gather the bodies and bury them in a mass grave.
[8] There is little information about the "town" of Fort Pillow. It was most likely a temporary community of sutlers, refugees, contrbands and camp followers composed of frame structures. It was very likely not a town in any usual sense of the word.
[9] Not identified.
[10] John Cimprich and Robert C. Mainfort, "Dr. Fitch's Report on the Fort Pillow Massacre," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. XLIV No. 1 (Spring, 1985), pp. 27-39.
[11] See also: Report No. 65, House of Representatives, Thirty-eighth Congress, first session; and reports of Capt. Alexander M. Pennock, U. S. Navy, in Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, December 5, 1864.
[12] Their are a total of thirteen reports relating directly to the Fort Pillow massacre, found in the OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 502-623.
[13] The identity of Bryan McAllister has not been established, but from his reference to "Broadway" he was from New York City and may have been a newspaper correspondent.
[14] Thus, by his own admission, Forrest either could not, would not or was not in control of his men. 

James B. Jones, Jr.
Public Historian
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN  37214
(615)-532-1550  x115
(615)-532-1549  FAX

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