The Capture of Fort Pillow, 1864

From the Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, Pa.), April 27, 1864.


      We have already given a brief account of the inhuman brutality practised by the rebels upon the troops of Fort Pillow after it had been surrendered; but the details increase in horror as they are developed. The negro troops fought most gallantly until overpowered; but they were outnumbered immensely and were overcome. A corespondent thus describes the scene after the rebels got possession of the Fort:

      After the rebels were in undisputed possession of the fort and the survivors had surrendered, they commenced the indiscriminate butchery of all the Federal soldiers. The colored soldiers threw down their guns and raised their arms in token of surrender, but not the least attention was paid to it. They continued to shoot down all they found. A number of them finding no quarter was given, ran over the bluff to the river, and tried to conceal themselves under the bank and in the bushes, were pursued by the rebel savages, and implored to spare their lives. Their appeals were made in vain, and they were all shot down in cold blood, and in full sight of the gunboat. I passed up the bank of the river and counted fifty dead strewed along. One had crawled into a hollow log and was killed it it; another had got over the bank into the river, and got to a board that ran out into the water. He lay on it on his face, with his feet in the water. He laid there when exposed stark and stiff. Several had tried to hide in crevices made by the falling bank, and could not be seen without difficulty, but they were singled out and killed. From the best information I could get the white soldiers were, to a very considerable extent, treated in the same way. One of the 13th Tennessee on board--D.W. Harrison--informs me that after the surrender he was below the bluff, and one of the rebels presented a pistol to shoot him. He told him he had surrendered and requested him not to fire. He spared him, and directed him to go up the bluff to the fort. Harrison asked him to go before him, or he would be shot by others, but he told him to go along. He started, and had not proceeded far before he met a rebel who presented his pistol. Harrison begged him not to fire but paying no attention to his request, he fired and shot him through the shoulder, and another shot him in the leg. He [sic] full, and while he lay unable to move, another came along and was about to fire again, when Harrison told him he was badly wounded twice, and implored not to fire. He asked Harrison if he had any money. He said he had a little money and a watch. The rebel took from him his watch and ninety dollars in money, and left him. Harrison is probably fatally wounded. Several such cases have been related to me, and I think, to a great extent, the whites and negroes were indiscriminately murdered. The rebel Tennesseans have about the same bitterness against Tennesseans in the Federal army, as against the negroes. I was told by a rebel officer that Gen. Forrest shot one of his men and cut another with his saber for shooting down prisoners. It may be so, but he is responsible for the conduct of his men, and Gen. Chalmeres stated publicly while on the Platte Valley, that though he did not encourage or countenance his men in shooting down negro captives, yet that it was right and justifiable.

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