Restricted Forrest Bust at Tennessee State Capitol.

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
If the soldiers were killed after they surrendered and were no longer resisting...
That happened at several places during the war- The Crater, Fort Blakely, Honey Springs, Saltville, Fort Gregg, Poison Spring, etc -but they're not called massacre - or it's only called that when Union troops are the victim.

I would define massacre as where there is clear intent (orders) to slaughter an enemy and the only survivors are those who manage to escape. At Fort Pillow, the Confederates took nearly 300 prisoners and there were about 400 survivors in all (70%).
 

Quaama

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
If the soldiers were killed after they surrendered and were no longer resisting then the massacre term applies, regardless of the number.

Forrest offered surrender to the Fort Pillow garrison sending a message that said:
“I demand the unconditional surrender of the entire garrison, promising you that you shall be treated as prisoners of war. My men have just received a fresh supply of ammunition, and from their present position can easily assault and capture the fort. Should my demand be refused, I cannot be responsible for the fate of your command.”
The garrison [stupidly] refused to surrender and were killed in great numbers. There's no point trying to surrender just as a man is about to shoot or bayonet you - it's too late by then.

Apparently [link] one Confederate officer was heard (by a white Union officer) to say "I tell you to kill the last God damned one of them.” Such things happen in the heat of battle but it was not a calculated attempt by the Commander (Forrest) to massacre everyone in the Fort let alone to target black troops in doing so.
Additionally (from the link):
"Whoever—if anyone—had issued such an order, it was apparently not Forrest. Chalmers told a captured Union officer the next day that he and Forrest had “stopped the massacre as soon as we were able to do so.” Another Confederate at the scene, Surgeon Samuel H. Caldwell of the 16th Tennessee Cavalry, wrote to his wife on April 15, “If General Forrest had not run between our men & the Yanks with his pistol and sabre drawn not a man would have been spared.” Brigade commander Colonel Tyree Bell blamed what he called “promiscuous firing” by Forrest’s men on the drunken, panicky behavior of the enemy. “The drunken condition of the garrison and the failure of Colonel Bradford to surrender, thus necessitating the assault, were the causes of the fatality,” Bell told Forrest biographer John A. Wyeth 35 years later."

It Forrest's intention was to massacre the entire garrison then why spare anyone? Almost 40% were taken prisoner, the remainder were either killed during the battle or drowned in trying to escape.
[This battle reminds me a little of Ball's Bluff although the US casualties there showed a greater disparity, almost 7-1 opposed to the 3-1 at Fort Pillow.]
 

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
That happened at several places during the war- The Crater, Fort Blakely, Honey Springs, Saltville, Fort Gregg, Poison Spring, etc -but they're not called massacre - or it's only called that when Union troops are the victim.

I would define massacre as where there is clear intent (orders) to slaughter an enemy and the only survivors are those who manage to escape. At Fort Pillow, the Confederates took nearly 300 prisoners and there were about 400 survivors in all (70%).
I used the dictionary definition of the word massacre.
 

jcaesar

Private
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
I remember Fitzhugh Lee arguing that he believed Forrest had issues that perhaps he would not have if he went to West Point.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
I used the dictionary definition of the word massacre.
Which I wouldn't think was meet. The real problem was their was no orderly surrender as the Union failed to maintain command and control.

If you throw your hands up, while your comrades are still shooting, it's rather reasonable the other side will keep shooting as well.

Accounts generally seem to agree instead of an orderly surrender, you had some trying to surrender, some firing back, and others trying to escape.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
hard to not think it's rather agenda driven.
It does seem that way ... when reading some comments.

I've always found it very interesting that the Forrest detractors never mention the Official United States Congressional inquiry
re: Fort Pillow.

Those official records are relatively easy to find.

Seems there was not enough evidence even from Union witnesses to charge Forrest with a "War Crime".

Moreover, it also appears from both (Confederate & Union) testimony that a large majority of the USCT ( United States Colored Troops) were indeed very intoxicated.

The Confederates were now back in their own neighborhood.
(face-to-face with the guys that had been terrorizing their families)

The entire situation was much more than a recipe for disaster.

For any new members that are interested in General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow, please check out a dedicated
"sub forum " within the Forrest Forum:

https://civilwartalk.com/forums/ft-pillow.177/
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
So you noticed 109 is not 300 too...
So if you tell the police I stole $300 from you, but they only find $109 on me, will they not arrest me? Will I not have to still suffer consequences?

Look, **** happens in war. I get that. But Forrest is no doubt a controversial figure, and Fort Pillow is only ONE reason why that is true. My question is, is this a monument to Forrest the Cavalry commander, or Forrest the legend? Because those are pretty much two different people...and the answer changes things.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
So if you tell the police I stole $300 from you, but they only find $109 on me, will they not arrest me? Will I not have to still suffer consequences?

Look, **** happens in war. I get that. But Forrest is no doubt a controversial figure, and Fort Pillow is only ONE reason why that is true. My question is, is this a monument to Forrest the Cavalry commander, or Forrest the legend? Because those are pretty much two different people...and the answer changes things.
As I said before - one number looks like a massacre, but the other one doesn't.

The Union fumed and fussed about Fort Pillow, but there was no retaliation. Neither Forrest nor anyone else was ever charged with a war crime. Perhaps those higher up (Lincoln, Grant, Sherman) knew there was a good bit of exaggeration going on.
 

VaMtLady

Cadet
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
It's hard to comprehend that someone who is often portrayed as a committed racist and white supremacist would even attend a meeting of an association that existed to improve conditions for black people let alone say such things as Forrest did say.
Just because Forrest is portrayed that way does not make it accurate. I believe he advocated for hiring blacks after the war.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Once combatants surrender, they are to be treated as prisoners. Regardless of their race.
Of course.

And that fact alone seems to be a primary reason for the Fort Pillow controversy.

Both Union and Confederate witnesses testified the USCT troops were given at least two chances to surrender. Some said they initially agreed, but then fired on the Confederates.

Both Union and Confederate witnesses also testified that some Confederate rank & file began murdering the Black troops as soon they entered the fort.

There's probably some truth to both eye-witness accounts.

I seriously doubt there was any official order to kill the Black troops.

From the Confederate officer's perspective, they would have been far more valuable if sent back into slavery.
No one understood that fact better than Forrest. After all, he had become a millionaire as a slave trader before the War.
These men were not regarded as combatants by the Confederates, they were considered escaped "property".

At the same time, if I had been a recently freed slave ... I wouldn't have given a rat's azz about the White man's
"rules of war". I would have fought to my death before returning to slavery.

So, I doubt we will ever know what really happened that day.

No sources , only my thoughts.
 
Last edited:

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Massacres have been used throughout the ages to send a clear and direct message to any opposition nearly all nations are guilty of preforming massacres including the United States and Great Britain with Indians and Zulus respectively.

I'm sure Forrest did not object to his men killing some un armed Black union soldiers after all it would send a message to the free blacks wanting to join the Union war effort of course it could be counter productive in fuelling the desire of coloured soldiers to seek revenge or hardened their resolve to Join the Army sometimes it works and sometimes is does not.

What you have to remember here is these are not very nice people your dealing with a lot of Forrest's command at the time were borderline criminals and hardened woodsmen where death was just part of life.

I'm also pretty sure that the confederate authorities at the time did not really do much to chastise Forrest like they didnt with another notorious bushwhacker Champ Ferguson after he murdered coloured troops in their hospital beds even getting a commission off wheeler as a captain of partisan rangers.

Sorry but Forrest was guilty as sin a brilliant cavalry raider but a horrid man , It is said he found god at the end of his life its just a shame he didn't find god at Fort Pillow.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Well as long as the laws and regulations are followed the public shouldn't have a problem accepting the removal decision. A transparent legal process that does not involved invoking false history for or against an historical figure in dealing with issues of busts, monuments etc. serves the common good.
 
Top