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FORREST'S ATTACK ON FORT PILLOW.
tion to Meridian, and these had been sent by General Hurlbut to occupy it,
Forrest approached Fort Pillow on the morning of the 13th of April, and
Failing to make any
When Forrest received Bradford's refusal, he gave a signal, and his con-
MASSACRE AT FORT PILLOW.
to escape down the steep bank to the river, or to find concealment and refuge from the wrath of the assailants in the bushes, or among the fallen timber. The conquerors followed, butchering the defenseless fugitives at every step. In the fort and out of it the most fiendish atrocities were exhibited-atrocities which find no parallel in the history of war between civilized men. Soldiers and civilians—men, women, and children, white and black-were indiscriminately slaughtered by methods most cruel. The massacre continued until night, and was renewed the next morning, when " at least three hundred were murdered in cold blood,” and the ferocity of Forrest, under the inspiration of the chief Conspirators at Richmond, exhibited in his summons to Hicks at Paducah, was fully gratified. Major Bradford, being a native of a Slave-labor State, and therefore considered a “traitor to the South,” was reserved for a special act of barbarity. While on his way toward Jackson, Tennessee, the day after the Confederates retreated from Fort Pillow, he was led about fifty yards from the line of march, and then deliberately murdered. He fell dead, pierced with three musket-balls.' “Forrest's motto," said Major Charles W. Gibson, of his command, to the writer, was: “War means fight, and fight means kill—we want but few pris
By his foul deed at Fort Pillow, Forrest won for himself an imperishable record of infamy in the annals of his country, as dark as that gained by Butler, the leader of the Tories and Indians in the massacre in the Wyoming Valley during the Old War for Independence.
Testimony of one of Forrest's men before a Congressional committee. See the Report on the Massacre at Fort Pillou.
? See page 638, volume II.
3 - The officers and men seemed to vie with each other in the devilish work. Men, women, and even children, wherever found, were deliberately shot down, beaten, and hacked with sabers. Some of the children, not more than ten years old, were forced to stand up and face their murderers while being shot; the sick and the wounded were butchered without mercy the rebels even entering the hospital building, and dragging them out to be shot, or killing them as they lay there, unable to offer the least resistance. All over the hill-side the work of murder was going on; numbers of our men were collected in lines or groups, and deliberately shot." The most fiendish cruelty was shown toward the colored people. “ All around were heard cries of 'No quarter! Kill the damned niggers! Shoot 'em down !' and all who asked for mercy were answered by the most cruel taunts and sneers. Some were spared for a time, to be murdered under circumstances of the greatest cruelty.
One negro, who had been ordered by a rebel officer to hold his horse, was killed by him when he remounted; another, a mere child, whom an officer had taken up behind him, was soen by Chalmers (General Chalıners one of Forrest's leaders), who at once ordered the officer to put him down and shoot him, which was done." They burned huts and tents in which the wounded had sought shelter, and were still in them. - Ono man was deliberately fastened down to the floor of a tent, face upward, by means of nails driven through his clothing and into the boards under him, so that he could not possibly escape, and then the tent set on fire. Apother was nailed to the side of a building outside of the fort, and then the building set on fire and burned.
These deeds of murder and cruelty ceased when night came on, only to be renewed the next morning, when the demons carefully sought among the dead, lying about in all directions, for any of the wounded yet alive, and those they found were deliberately shot.
Many other instances of equally atrocious cruelty might be enumerated, but your committee foel compelled to refrain from giving here more of the heart-sickening details, and refer to the statements contained in the voluminous testimony herewith submitted."-Report of Mesers. Wade and Gooch, a sub-committee of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Conduct and Erpenditures of the War. This committee visited Fort Pillow two weeks after the massacre, and made a thorough investigation. They took the testimony of a large number of eye-witnesses and sufferers, all of which was submitted to Congress.
General S. D. Lee, Forrest's chief, after denying the truth of the report of the committee, undertook to show, by the most feeble special pleading, that the inassacre was justifiable, especially on the ground that somo of the soldiers were of " a servile race;" and said, without pretending to cite an instance of such atrocity among civilized nations, “ I respectfully refer you to history for numerous instances of indiscriminate slaughter after successful assault, even under less aggravated circumstances."-Letter of S. D. Lee, June 28, 1964. The friends of Forrest afterward attempted to avert from him the scorn of mankind, by alleging that he was not in immediate command, and therefore not responsible for the massacre. Confederate reports silenced the falsehood by saying: ** Generals Forrest and Chalmers both entered the fort from opposite sides, simultaneously, and an indiscriminate slaughter followed. One hundred prisoners were taken, and the balance slain. The fort ran with blood.”—Cited by W. J. Tenney, in his Military and Naval History of the Rebellion, page 519.
EXPEDITION INTO MISSISSIPPI.
· April 18,
On the day after the capture of Fort Pillow, Buford appearedo before Columbus, and, in imitation of his chief, demanded an unconditional surrender, saying: “Should you surrender, the negroes now in arms will be returned to their masters. Should I be compelled to take the place by force, no quarter will be shown negro troops whatever.” The demand was refused. Buford did not attack, but, with Forrest, retreated rapidly out of Tennessee, on hearing that General S. D. Sturgis (who had come down from East Tennessee), with a heavy force, was about to march from Memphis to intercept him. It was soon found that the practice of the indiscriminate slaughter of prisoners, which Forrest inaugurated for the purpose of intimidating the negroes and preventing their enlistment in the National armies, had an opposite effect, and was likely to react with fearful power; so it was abandoned.
Sturgis did not move from Memphis in time to intercept Forrest. He marched out to Bolivar with about twelve thousand men, but
April 30. his intended prey had already escaped across the Wolf River, and was safe in Northern Mississippi with his plunder. Several weeks later, when it was known that Forrest was gathering a larger force than he had ever before comm
nmanded, for the purpose, it was supposed, of either making another raid into Tennessee and Kentucky, or re-enforcing Johnston, then contending hotly with Sherman in Northern Georgia, Sturgis started from Memphis with a force of nine thousand infantry and artillery, and three thousand cavalry under General Grierson (including a greater portion of General A. J. Smith's corps, lately returned from the Red River region), with instructions to hunt up and beat the bold cavalry leader. Sturgis pushed in a southeasterly direction, and struck the Mobile and Ohio railway near Gun Town. Grierson, in advance with the cavalry, there meto a large force of Forrest's horsemen, and pushed them back to their infantry supports, when they took a strong position for battle on a commanding ridge. Grierson had sent back word to Sturgis, six miles in the rear, of the situation of matters at the front, when that commander pushed forward the infantry at double-quick, under a blazing sun, and with them a train of about two hundred wagons. Finding Grierson hotly engaged, the exhausted infantry, without being allowed time to rest, or be properly formed in battle order, were thrown into the fight directly in front, no attempt being made to turn the flank of the Confederates. The result was most disastrous. The whole National force were speedily routed, and their wagon-train, which had been parked within range of Forrest's guns, was captured and lost. The vanquished troops were driven in wild confusion over a narrow and ugly road, without supplies, and with no re-enforcements near, covered, as well as possible, by the Second Brigade, under Colonel Winslow, which formed the rear-guard. The pursuit was close and galling, until the fugitives crossed a stream at Ripley, where they turned upon the pursuers, and gave battle. The struggle was fierce for awhile, and was favorable to the Nationals; and thereafter the retreat was less fatiguing, because the chase was less vigorous and more cautious. When Sturgis returned to Memphis he found his army full three thousand five hundred less in number than when he left, and stripped of almost every thing but their arms.
This disastrous failure produced alarm and indignation, and another
FORREST DASHES INTO MEMPHIS.
• August 4.
expedition was speedily fitted out for the purpose of wiping out the disgrace and accomplishing the object sought for. It was estimated thar Forrest had about fourteen thousand troops under him, with his head-quarters in the neighborhood of Tupelo, and in that direction, from Salisbury, fifty miles east of Memphis, General A. J. Smith marched with about twelve thousand men, early in July. He met Forrest's cavalry at the outset, and skirmished with them nearly all the way to Tupelo, on the Mobile and Ohio railway, where the Confederate leader had made up his mind to give battle. The expedition arrived at Pontotoc, west of Tupelo, on the 12th, and
when moving forward the next morning, General Mower's train • July, 1864.
was attacked by a large body of cavalry. These were repulsed, and the expedition moved on, and when, the next day, it approached Tupelo, Forrest's infantry, in heavy numbers, attacked the line. They were repulsed,
after a sharp battle. The assault was repeated on the same day, • July 14.
with a similar result, when the Confederates were driven, leaving on the field a large number of their dead and badly wounded comrades. Smith pushed no farther southward at that time, but, after a pretty severe cavalry fight the next day at Old Town Creek, he retraced his steps, and encamped his troops not far from Memphis. There he allowed them to rest
about three weeks, when, with ten thousand men, he again moved
for Mississippi. He penetrated that State as far as the Tallahatchie, which he reached on the 17th, but found only a few Confederate cavalry to oppose him. Forrest's men were not there. Where could they be? was a perplexing question. The bold leader himself answered it, by dashing into Memphis at dawn on the morning of the 21st of August, and making directly for the Gayoso House, where, according to information furnished by spies, he might expect to find Generals Hurlbut, Washburne, and Buckland, it being their quarters. He failed to secure his hoped-for prizes, but seized and carried away several of their staff-officers, and about three hundred soldiers as prisoners. He hoped to open the doors of the prison there, in which Confederate captives were confined, but pressing necessity made his stay too short to perform that achievement, and within an hour after entering the city he was driven out of it, carrying away his prisoners and some plunder, but losing there, and in a sharp skirmish a short distance from the town, about two hundred men. His exploit was a bold and brilliant one. Informed that Smith was in Mississippi looking for him, and believing that Memphis was nearly bare of troops, he flanked the National force with three thousand of his best horsemen, performed the feat here recorded, and then retreated to his starting-place, notwithstanding there were about six thousand troops in and around Memphis. And so it was that Forrest performed his prescribed duty in keeping re-enforcements from the National army in Northern Georgia, in the spring and summer of 1864.
As we have from time to time, in these pages, noticed the employment of negro troops, and in this chapter have observed how the Confederates were disposed to treat them, it seems to be an appropriate place here to give, in a few sentences, a history of the measure.
During the white-heat of patriotic zeal that immediately succeeded the attack on Fort Sumter, and the massacre of troops in Baltimore, a few colored men in New York City, catching inspiration from the military move
ORGANIZATION OF NEGRO TROOPS.
Aug. 25, 1862.
ments around them, hired a room and began to drill, thinking their services
Then followed a proposition from General G. W. Phelps to General Butler, his chief, to organize negro regiments in Louisiana, to be composed of the fugitive slaves who were flocking to his camp at Carrollton, near New Orleans. Receiving no reply, he made a requisition for arms and
July 30. clothing for “three regiments of Africans,” to be employed in defending his post. Butler had no authority to comply, and told Phelps to employ them in cutting trees and constructing abatis. “I am not willing to become the mere slave-driver you propose, having no qualifications that way,” Phelps replied, and, throwing up his commission, returned to Vermont. Not long afterward, General Butler, impressed with the perils of his isolated situation, called for volunteers from the free colored men in New Orleans, and within a fortnight a full regiment was organized. A second was soon in arms, and very speedily a third ; and these were the colored troops whom Butler turned over to his successor, General Banks, as we have observed on page 352, volume II.
Another year passed by, and yet few of the thousands of negroes freed by the President's Proclamation were found in arms. There was a universal prejudice against them. Yet, as the war was assuming vaster proportions, and a draft was found to be inevitable, that prejudice, which had been growing weaker for a long time, gave way entirely, and, when Lee invaded Pennsylvania, the Government authorized the enlistment of colored troops in the Free-labor States, as we have observed. Congress speedily author
• July 16, able-bodied male citizens,” &c., without distinction of color. Yet
1 Page 185.
? General Hunter said: “To the first question, I reply, that no regiment of fugitive slaves' has been or is being organized in this Department. There is, however, a fine regiment of persons whose late masters are fugitire rebels-men who everywhere fly before the appearance of the National flag, leaving their servar's behind them to shift as best they can for themselves."
3 See note 1, page 91.