Forrest on Fort Pillow: 1868 Cincinnati Commercial Newspaper Interview

diane

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That's an understement.

But there are enough post War Forrest threads already on this site that . . . I won't even start another such thread.
I sure hear you on that! But, I do enjoy these kinds of post-war threads - like the ones Pat was putting up, too. Learning is great! I haven't paid much attention to news articles about Forrest but they are very enlightening as to what happened to his legacy, and why he has become the lightning rod he is today. I've always been of the opinion 90 percent of what Forrest has been toting around isn't baggage of his own packing.
 

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DixieRifles

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I wonder if @DixieRifles has seen this interview before? I just ran across it when looking for something else.
I have not seen this article. However, some of the words seem familiar. Maybe it was from Jordan & Pryor's book or another account.

The whole force in the garrison numbered in all 557 troops, white and colored . . .
Interesting that General Forrest would quote the number of troops as being 557. This number comes from Lieut-Colonel Harris, who was Adjutant General to General Hurlbut. I was just reading through the Congressional Investigation Report and it contains Lt-Col. Harris' report that was dated 26 April. IMHO, I think Harris was reporting the soldiers who were assigned to the fort and not exactly who was present. There were other soldiers and staff, i.e., Quartermaster staff, who were assigned and not on the roll of the 6USCHA, 2USCLA and 13 Tenn Cav(US). Then of course there were those who recently enlisted on site---an number which is unknown.


My most current project has been to review names listed on the Fort Pillow State Park's Roll of Honor plaque. This plaque was erected just prior to the 150th Anniversary and lists all those Killed in Action, including the Confederates. When I first saw it, I recognized some names of soldiers who I thought survived the battle. Before, I began reviewing each name on the plaque, I first took a look at the statistics from the plaque.
So I will assume there were a Total of 557 Men present.

COLORED TROOPS
+ 6 USCHA . . . 164 KIA/MIA . . . 29%
+ 2 USCLA . . . . 18 KIA/MIA . . . . 3%

13 TENN CAV . . . 64 KIA/MIA . . . 11%

- - - TOTAL Names for KIA/MIA . . . . 246. . . . or 44% (or 56% Survived)

Additional lists for "Died of Wounds"
+ 6 USCHA . . . . . 10 WIA-Mortally
+ 13 Tenn . . . . . . 21 WIA-Mortally

TOTAL Names of Union KIA/MIA & WIA = 277 . . . . or 49.7% of the 557 men reported present.
This is the total number of names on the plaque at Fort Pillow State Park.

The extra names identified as "Died of Wounds" creates some confusion about the plaque. We can pretty much be assured the list doesn't include all those Mortally Wounded. And they didn't list the mortally wounded for the Confederate, which would raise total casualties to 20. This is why I don't count Mortally Wounded and take a "roll call" on the day after the battle as to how a soldier is classified.

I have finished going through the names on the FP State Park's Roll of Honor and find about 17 names who were not KIA or were PW's or were not even at the Battle. I'm still trying to confirm the date of death for one who died in Memphis. There are 4 names listed in Died of Wounds under the 13 Tenn Cavalry who actually died in prison camps at Andersonville or Florence, SC.
Here is just one example: Jackson Brown of 6 USCHA listed as KIA. His NARA records reports that he died of disease at Fort Pickering (Memphis) in March 1864.
 

19thGeorgia

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I have not seen this article. However, some of the words seem familiar. Maybe it was from Jordan & Pryor's book or another account.


Interesting that General Forrest would quote the number of troops as being 557. This number comes from Lieut-Colonel Harris, who was Adjutant General to General Hurlbut. I was just reading through the Congressional Investigation Report and it contains Lt-Col. Harris' report that was dated 26 April. IMHO, I think Harris was reporting the soldiers who were assigned to the fort and not exactly who was present. There were other soldiers and staff, i.e., Quartermaster staff, who were assigned and not on the roll of the 6USCHA, 2USCLA and 13 Tenn Cav(US). Then of course there were those who recently enlisted on site---an number which is unknown.


My most current project has been to review names listed on the Fort Pillow State Park's Roll of Honor plaque. This plaque was erected just prior to the 150th Anniversary and lists all those Killed in Action, including the Confederates. When I first saw it, I recognized some names of soldiers who I thought survived the battle. Before, I began reviewing each name on the plaque, I first took a look at the statistics from the plaque.
So I will assume there were a Total of 557 Men present.

COLORED TROOPS
+ 6 USCHA . . . 164 KIA/MIA . . . 29%
+ 2 USCLA . . . . 18 KIA/MIA . . . . 3%

13 TENN CAV . . . 64 KIA/MIA . . . 11%

- - - TOTAL Names for KIA/MIA . . . . 246. . . . or 44% (or 56% Survived)

Additional lists for "Died of Wounds"
+ 6 USCHA . . . . . 10 WIA-Mortally
+ 13 Tenn . . . . . . 21 WIA-Mortally

TOTAL Names of Union KIA/MIA & WIA = 277 . . . . or 49.7% of the 557 men reported present.
This is the total number of names on the plaque at Fort Pillow State Park.

The extra names identified as "Died of Wounds" creates some confusion about the plaque. We can pretty much be assured the list doesn't include all those Mortally Wounded. And they didn't list the mortally wounded for the Confederate, which would raise total casualties to 20. This is why I don't count Mortally Wounded and take a "roll call" on the day after the battle as to how a soldier is classified.

I have finished going through the names on the FP State Park's Roll of Honor and find about 17 names who were not KIA or were PW's or were not even at the Battle. I'm still trying to confirm the date of death for one who died in Memphis. There are 4 names listed in Died of Wounds under the 13 Tenn Cavalry who actually died in prison camps at Andersonville or Florence, SC.
Here is just one example: Jackson Brown of 6 USCHA listed as KIA. His NARA records reports that he died of disease at Fort Pickering (Memphis) in March 1864.
Many of the MIA later turned up alive. One had an unusual story of being held a slave for several months even after the war was over.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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First thread on Fort Pillow I've read in 7 years that you don't have to read flinching or waiting for it to be locked. Talk about a discussion group. Noticeably have nothing to add ( and apologize for not adding more ' likes ', they imply the ' liker ' knows topic matter and I don't ) these threads never get far enough to learn much.

Page 3, maybe keep it going? The only gasket burst was @lelliott19 insisting it remain civil- I'm sorry but that made me smile. Going to bat for civility? Little awesome.
 

Eark

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Wondering, (not focusing on days before), what would be my gg-grandfather's events of this date April 13, 1864.. as "Tennesseean Troops" burial tasks? or traveling to GA by rail, or, or pending.

Looking at a map, Fort Pillow does not appear on the Mississippi or directly on the Hatchie. Gunboats mentioned in narrative. It would seem the captured moved by foot or rail, not river. Unfamiliar with this area. Family would have been 80+ miles north/east. Wondering how long before they were made aware of his capture, or if only after death in August.

Other side of family, oral stories passed along always presented the same, words, vocal timbre, gestures, enough to consider possible accuracy. This side, both family & historical event nothing.
 

lelliott19

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The only gasket burst was @lelliott19 insisting it remain civil- I'm sorry but that made me smile. Going to bat for civility? Little awesome.
Sorry about that. :redface: I don't lose my temper often..... but just had to do it this time to get the thread back on track. :O o:

Wondering how long before they were made aware of his capture, or if only after death in August.
Hello @Eark and welcome to Civil War Talk. I'm sorry that I don't really know enough to help with other parts of your question. What I can say is that companies were usually raised from men from the same town or even neighborhoods. Lists of men killed, wounded, and captured were usually forwarded back and published in local newspapers. Also, surviving members of the company from the same hometown would have written to their loved ones and included lists of casualties. Chances are that family members who had husbands and sons serving checked the newspaper everyday. I know to us, it sounds like a horrible way to find out that a loved one was killed, wounded or captured, but it was really the only way information got back to families at home.
 
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DixieRifles

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Looking at a map, Fort Pillow does not appear on the Mississippi or directly on the Hatchie. Gunboats mentioned in narrative. It would seem the captured moved by foot or rail, not river. Unfamiliar with this area. Family would have been 80+ miles north/east. Wondering how long before they were made aware of his capture, or if only after death in August.
Uh. The Ole Man River moved about 1 mile in the last 150 years.

This map was captured from Google Maps. Chute Lake is the bed of the Mississippi River as it was in 1860's.

FtPillow.JPG
 

Eark

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Thanks for the map & verbal location info. I did consider & looked at New Madrid shift map. Guess there's always been river shift activity since "water wins".

If there'd been aerial surveys since the balloon era, we'd have a nifty visual to orient events in less populated places.

Once could orient fairly well in Weakley/ Obion Counties, due north KY & east to Nashville, but west & south memories vague. Wouldn't recognize Jackson or Memphis now.
 

bdw1964

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Thanks for sharing, this interview is news to me, and it confirms a lot of my suspicions of the battle, specifically the mention of "outrages" by the garrison towards the surrounding local population, which has always been the reason for the "massacre" in my mind more than any other reason. One body of troops targeting a population loyal to the other side in war is always a recipe for disaster when the enemy comes knocking no matter the war or era.

This is an awesome find!

The 13th TN Cav and the USCT had not been in Fort Pillow long enough to commit "outrages". However, there was one Union TN Cavalry unit in the area of West Tennessee that was known for committing depredations and outrages, things that even then would have been considered war crimes. That was the 6th TN Cavalry USA (Hurst's Worst"). Hurst and Forrest were more than just enemy combatants, they were mortal enemies. The claim of "outrages by the garrison" were either ex-post-facto justification or were conflated with the actions of the 6th TN Cavalry. Even by the time of the attack on Fort Pillow, not all of the companies of the 13th TN Cavalry had arrived. The descendants of the 13th Cavalry soldiers and some of the soldiers continued to live in the area of west Tennessee after the war and were not treated as "war criminals". Much of the 13th TN Cavalry came from Henderson County, TN. These counties in west Tennessee were divided by the war, a substantial portion of the population were Unionists. It would be hard for a local citizen to commit "outrages" on their neighbors and expect to live in the same communities afterwards and more importantly, where their own wives and children were living at the time. As a note, "outrages" was a 19th century term usually meaning what we classify as rape.
 

Will Carry

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I have studied the Fort Pillow massacre for many years, trying to picture, hear, smell and feel the battle, so I could understand what the men on both sides were feeling. I have my own ideas of how it went down but I know I am probably wrong. Thank you all for this post. I read every word of it.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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The 13th TN Cav and the USCT had not been in Fort Pillow long enough to commit "outrages". However, there was one Union TN Cavalry unit in the area of West Tennessee that was known for committing depredations and outrages, things that even then would have been considered war crimes. That was the 6th TN Cavalry USA (Hurst's Worst"). Hurst and Forrest were more than just enemy combatants, they were mortal enemies. The claim of "outrages by the garrison" were either ex-post-facto justification or were conflated with the actions of the 6th TN Cavalry. Even by the time of the attack on Fort Pillow, not all of the companies of the 13th TN Cavalry had arrived. The descendants of the 13th Cavalry soldiers and some of the soldiers continued to live in the area of west Tennessee after the war and were not treated as "war criminals". Much of the 13th TN Cavalry came from Henderson County, TN. These counties in west Tennessee were divided by the war, a substantial portion of the population were Unionists. It would be hard for a local citizen to commit "outrages" on their neighbors and expect to live in the same communities afterwards and more importantly, where their own wives and children were living at the time. As a note, "outrages" was a 19th century term usually meaning what we classify as rape.
As I had mentioned back then, "outrages" and what would be called war crimes today had happened and was a recipe for disaster. It doesn't matter who was garrisoning the fort at what time, the fort was there, garrisoned by Union troops, and incredibly screwed up acts had been committed by Union troops in the area, such as the heads of Confederate soldiers planted on mile markers for six miles by your Hurst and his merry band psychotic nutcases not too long before Fort Pillow, (I hope I'm remembering that right).

The average Confederate soldier wasn't going to know if the troops and their company and or regiment at the fort were the ones guilty of these acts, they just knew it happened, and the perpetrators had been at the fort, and recently....

Like I said, a recipe for disaster, and if I may add, tragedy.
 


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