Massacre of Fort Pillow

In: Historical Events

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The Massacre at Fort Pillow:
Holding Nathan Bedford Forrest Accountable
Ned Bishop
United States History II
Professor Citro
March 22, XXXX
Title of paper.
Writer’s name.
Title of course, instructor’s name, and date.
Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004).
67
Bishop 2
Although Northern newspapers of the time no doubt exaggerated some of the Confederate atrocities at Fort Pillow, most modern sources agree that a massacre of Union troops took place there on April 12, 1864. It seems clear that Union soldiers, particularly black soldiers, were killed after they had stopped fighting or had surrendered or were being held prisoner. Less clear is the role played by Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest in leading his troops. Although we will never know whether Forrest directly ordered the massacre, evidence suggests that he was responsible for it.
Fort Pillow, Tennessee, which sat on a bluff overlooking the
Mississippi River, had been held by the Union for two years. It was garrisoned by 580 men, 292 of them from the Sixth United States
Colored Heavy and Light Cavalry, 285 from the white Thirteenth
Tennessee Cavalry. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops numbered about 1,500 men.1
The Confederates attacked Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864, and had virtually surrounded the fort by the time Forrest arrived on the battlefield. At 3:30 P.M., Forrest displayed a flag of truce and sent in a demand for unconditional surrender of the sort he had used before: “The conduct of the officers and men garrisoning
Fort Pillow has been such as to entitle them to being treated as prisoners of war. . . . Should my demand be refused, I cannot be responsible for the fate of your command.”2 Union Major
William Bradford, who had replaced Major Booth, killed earlier by sharpshooters, asked for an hour to consult. Forrest, worried
Thesis asserts…...

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