Fort Pillow Tennessee
American Civil War
April 12, 1864
The war's single most brutal incident involving black troops took place at Fort Pillow. Publicized Congressional inquiries determined that many Colored Troops in the Union fort were massacred after having surrendered to Confederate attackers. Some black units responded with the avenging battle cry, "Remember Fort Pillow" in subsequent retaliations
Bedford Forrest's Escort And Staff
The CSA escort company and staff officers of Nathan Bedford Forrest were held in awe by men on both sides of the conflict during the war and long after, and they continue to be held in esteem as figures as legendary as Forrest himself. Not merely guards or couriers, these men were an elite force who
rode harder and fought more fiercely than any others
In April 1864, the Union garrison at Fort Pillow, a Confederate-built earthen fortification and a Union-built inner redoubt, overlooking the Mississippi River about forty river miles above Memphis, comprised 295 white Tennessee troops and 262 U.S. Colored Troops, all under the command of Major Lionel F. Booth.
Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the fort on April 12 with a cavalry division of approximately 2,500 men. Forrest seized the older outworks, with high knolls commanding the Union position, to surround Booth's force. Rugged terrain prevented the gunboat New Era from providing effective fire support for the Federals. The garrison was unable to depress its artillery
enough to cover the approaches to the fort Rebel sharpshooters, on the surrounding knolls, began firing into the fort killing Booth.
Major William F. Bradford then took over command of the garrison. The Confederates launched a determined attack at 11:00 am, occupying more strategic locations around the fort, and Forrest demanded unconditional surrender. Bradford asked for an hour for consultation, and Forrest granted twenty minutes.
Bradford refused surrender and the Confederates renewed the attack, soon overran the fort, and drove the Federals down the river's bluff into a deadly crossfire. Casualties were high and only sixty-two of the U.S. Colored Troops survived the fight. Many accused the Confederates of perpetrating a massacre of the black troops, and that controversy continues today. The Confederates evacuated Fort
Pillow that evening so they gained little from the attack except a temporary disruption of Union operations.
The "Fort Pillow Massacre" became a Union rallying cry and cemented resolve to see the war through to its conclusion.
Result(s): Confederate victory
Location: Lauderdale County
Campaign: Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee and Kentucky (1864)
Date(s): April 12, 1864
Principal Commanders: Major Lionel F. Booth and Major William F. Bradford [US]; Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]
Forces Engaged: Detachments from three units (approx. 600) [US]; Brig. General James R. Chalmers's 1st Division, Forrest's Cavalry Corps [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 654 total (US 574; CS 80)
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The history of how our culture determines manhood. Although a rather detached supporter of abolition, Shaw was skeptical about the fighting abilities of freedmen, and initially declined the command. When he did accept, he was aware that the eyes of the nation were on his regiment, and his training of them was relentless. The 54th measured up
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Black Southerners in Confederate Armies
Official records, newspaper
articles, and veterans' accounts to tell the stories of the Black Confederates. This well researched collection is a contribution to the discussion about the numbers of black Southerners involved and their significant history.
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War in Kentucky: From Shiloh to Perryville
by James Lee McDonough
By mid 1862, Union gains in the Mississippi Valley and in
Tennessee and Kentucky had brought the Confederacy to a point of strategic crisis. This valuable addition to the growing literature on the Civil War in the West tells how the Union then failed to press home its advantage while the Confederacy failed to force Kentucky into the Confederacy. The climax of these events was the little-known Battle of Perryville, in which a greatly inferior Southern
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The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga
Cozzens follows up his magisterial account of the Battle of Chickamauga, This
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U.S. National Park Service
U.S. Library of Congress.
City of Alexandria Virginia
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