Sherman: REALLY involved with the Joint Select Committee?

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Nathanb1

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Found this interesting blog post when I was researching something else--and I think it deserves further discussion here. If someone here is the author, please let us know!

The author is Robert L. Baker, and I love his blog. I don't see Part 2 listed in archives, etc., so keep your eyes peeled.

You know how entertaining this forum can be--please keep it civil, because this is my first post since becoming a host again, and I'm an old woman who wields a big retired teacher stick. :D

 

diane

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You know, I don't think Sherman ever said that interesting phrase! Can't find it in any of his biographies I have around, either. He always had a problem with the press who put words in his mouth - Forrest had that problem, too. Sherman did sit on the first inquiry but that appeared to be it - Wade and Gooch ran that one. The second one in 1871 was chaired by one John Scott and resulted in the KKK law, or the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The year before, in 1870, Forrest and Sherman bumped into each other somewhere on the Mississippi and had an interesting visit. The first time they had met was at Fallen Timbers - brief but memorable, at least to Sherman! (Forrest didn't recall it.) Sherman candidly told Forrest he was the stuff of nightmares and Forrest candidly told him he would have made those nightmares reality - explained what he would have done if he'd been the guy sent after Sherman's army marching through Georgia. Sherman was pretty glad it was Wheeler they used.
 

Nathanb1

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I think this is what really caught my attention, from the LOC response to the question:

"You can see from the report title and by reading some of the the testimony that this committee was not convened to determine Forrest’s role in the creation of the KKK. The committee was to investigate Klan activities, and vigilante violence generally, throughout the southern states."

We may have to print the whole danged thing and go through it. Which is okay, actually. That's what we do, right? Also the comment about the Cincinnati Inquirer article. Boy, I bet he wished he'd never seen that guy (or at least thrown up on his shoes).
 
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diane

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Well, I think the inquiries about Ft Pillow and the inquiries about a possible insurgency in the South got mushed together. There were two Congressional inquiries about Ft Pillow - one almost immediately after the battle, and the other a couple years after. These were part of the ongoing Congressional investigation into the conduct of the war. John Sherman was involved but not Gen Sherman. Forrest did some running back and forth between Tennessee and Washington!

Yes, Forrest was not pleased with that reporter and maintained he'd made up most of what he wrote 'whole cloth'. Forrest absolutely could not let it stand - he could have had his parole revoked and a whole lot of other things could have happened if he had. Some things that were said in that showed up as questions when Forrest was testifying about the klan.
 

StevenACole

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I was wondering where the illustration came from?
Does this article or forum seek to characterize Sherman as Hero and Forrest as villain?
The thought of the Fort Pillow Massacre being a myth used to influence the USCT to fight more ferociously seems odd.
Were there ever any USCT prisoners of war?
Thanks for the interesting forum!
 
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diane

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I was wondering where the illustration came from?
Does this article or forum seek to characterize Sherman as Hero and Forrest as villain?
The thought of the Fort Pillow Massacre being a myth used to influence the USCT to fight more ferociously seems odd.
Were there ever any USCT prisoners of war?
Thanks for the interesting forum!
The illustration is by Thomas Nast, one of several he did for commentary on the Democratic party's convention in New York in 1868. Their platform was white supremacy, white man's government.

The article is simply up for discussion! We should let the forum host @Nathanb1 weigh in, but the Forrest forum does not seek to portray Forrest as a hero or villain - just discuss who he was, warts and all. Same with Sherman. Sherman also has a forum dedicated to discussions about him with the same objectives in mind.

There is also a sub-forum in the Forrest forum regarding Ft Pillow. Certainly no myth! USCT did not need encouragement to fight Bedford Forrest, that's for sure - they wanted to give as good as they got. Forrest captured many USCT and followed Confederate policy about them - he sent them to the proper authorities to be either returned to their masters, re-enslaved or otherwise.
 

TerryB

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I was in high school when read any books dealing with this. Pardon my ignorance, Nate; who are the other two men in the cartoon?


Found this interesting blog post when I was researching something else--and I think it deserves further discussion here. If someone here is the author, please let us know!

The author is Robert L. Baker, and I love his blog. I don't see Part 2 listed in archives, etc., so keep your eyes peeled.

You know how entertaining this forum can be--please keep it civil, because this is my first post since becoming a host again, and I'm an old woman who wields a big retired teacher stick. :D

[/QUO
 
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I was in high school when read any books dealing with this. Pardon my ignorance, Nate; who are the other two men in the cartoon?
The guy on the right is a caricature of an Irish immigrant...Nast always portrayed them with a Simian style & associated with mob violence. There is also a caricature on the right of an affluent NY business man who is buying votes.

@StevenACole asked Were there ever any USCT prisoners of war? Forrest captured USCT troops in several battles including Fort Pillow. They were sent to work on fortifications at Mobile and had a much higher survival rate than the white soldiers captured at Fort Pillow.

As to the article in the original OP, General W T Sherman did not participate in the Congressional Investigation of Fort Pillow of the later Congressional Investigation of the KKK. His brother, Senator John Sherman was on the second committee.

Four days after the battle, General Sherman was charged by Sec of War Stanton to conduct a military investigation of Fort Pillow. He delegated the task to General Brayman who collected affidavits from wounded soldiers from the battle in ILL. However, he was happy to turn over the task to the Joint Subcommittee on the Conduct of the War when Ben Wade showed up.

So the supposed Sherman quote : "We are here to investigate, try and convict" is fake. However he did write this in his memoirs:

The massacre at Fort Pillow occurred April 12, 1864, and has been the subject of congressional inquiry. No doubt Forrest's men acted like a set of barbarians, shooting down the helpless negro garrison after the fort was in their possession; but I am told that Forrest personally disclaims any active participation in the assault, and that he stopped the firing as soon as he could. I also take it for granted that Forrest did not lead the assault in person, and consequently that he was to the rear, out of sight if not of hearing at the time, and I was told by hundreds of our men, who were at various times prisoners in Forrest's possession, that he was usually very kind to them. He had a desperate set of fellows under him, and at that very time there is no doubt the feeling of the Southern people was fearfully savage on this very point of our making soldiers out of their late slaves, and Forrest may have shared the feeling.

Grant handled the subject in his memoir by quoting Forrest battle report.

Congress got back into the Fort Pillow business at least two more times. The first occurred in 1879 after Forrest death. The occasion was the election of J R Chalmers to the US House from a district in Mississippi. Some GOP members did not want to seat him and while not a full blown investigation the issues were revisited. Chalmers produced Charles Fitch's statements to defend himself.

Fort Pillow was again on the minds of Congress in 1899 when some members thought that the US military was guilty of similar actions in the Filipino War. The 1864 investigation was entered into the record again and the old arguments about what really happened were reopened.
 
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Nathanb1

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I was wondering where the illustration came from?
Does this article or forum seek to characterize Sherman as Hero and Forrest as villain?
The thought of the Fort Pillow Massacre being a myth used to influence the USCT to fight more ferociously seems odd.
Were there ever any USCT prisoners of war?
Thanks for the interesting forum!
Thank goodness for my "unofficial hosts"! Apparently my "watch" thingy didn't alert me. I apologize--nasty vertigo and a really nasty power outage for an entire day in 103 degree heat threw me off!

  • The illustration was printed in Harper's Weekly. (I can look up the date if you're interested)
  • Nah, in my personal opinion (and those of the founding forum hosts) we're interested in the guy himself and whatever we can learn. As diane said in the beginning and always--warts and all. Men are fallible...Sherman and Forrest included.
  • Why not? Fight harder and you might survive. Surrender and die. Propaganda was (as it is now) heavy-handed.
  • Why of course! See diane's answer (and that might be a great question on another forum--I can imagine a terrific discussion related to that). I've always subscribed to diane's answer long ago on one of these threads--Forrest was a slave trader--don't mess with the merchandise. The South needed (slave) labor to offset the loss of most of its able-bodied white men in the army; if you kill the guys rather than send them south as labor, you're losing a valuable commodity.
  • Thank you for adding to the discussion! We welcome honest discussion here. It's what we do.
 
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Lazy Bayou

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You know how entertaining this forum can be--please keep it civil, because this is my first post since becoming a host again, and I'm an old woman who wields a big retired teacher stick. :D

You really don't want to make Nate mad. She will haunt you all the way to the grave. :D
 
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