Fort Pillow and more.....

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
We learn nothing from history if all the facts are left out by ignorance, deliberate intention, and/or period or modern Propaganda/Hyperbole. Further when speaking of Military History; civilian historians who have no combat experience or worse, no military experience at all, can easily make mistakes and assumptions, even if they are doing their best to attempt to be impartial.

So in this light and since the Battle of Fort Pillow (almost always erroneously referred to as a massacre) has been brought up in another thread with MOST of the relevant facts omitted; I offer a synopsis of the battle by a U.S. Military Historian of note, whose Career has demanded accurate historical accounts to be taught at the U.S. Army War College.

NOTE: The emboldening, italicizing and underlining in the article below was almost all done by me and not in the original article.

“Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Fort Pillow, 1864
By Ed Kennedy (Lt. Col. USA. retired)

Although just a minor tactical action in the greater scheme of the Civil War, the April 12, 1864 battle at Fort Pillow became a strategic issue. The effects of the battle unintentionally rose to the very highest levels of both the Union and Confederate governments. There were a number of issues that caused this seemingly minor battle to rise to national prominence.

Fort Pillow was built in 1861 on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River about forty miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. Abandoned by the Confederates and occupied twice by Union forces, Fort Pillow became a target for Confederate forces commanded by Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest in April 1864. In March 1864 two Union artillery units and a cavalry unit (a total of 557 soldiers) occupied the fort under the command of Major Lionel F. Booth. Second-in-command was Major William F. Bradford, Forrest’s fellow Tennessean from the same home county but fighting on the Union side. Bradford commanded the 13th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.), a unit that was already notorious for its war crimes against West Tennessee citizens. Compounding the issue of the unit’s abuses were the Confederate deserters that had been incorporated into the ranks of this Union-raised unit serving in a Southern state. Also in Fort Pillow before the battle began were approximately one hundred civilian family members and workers.

Although the Union Army officially opened its ranks to African-American soldiers in 1863, they were only allowed to serve in segregated units under the command of white officers ”“ at half the pay of white Union soldiers. The two artillery units in Fort Pillow were two such African-American units manned by, in the official term used during the Civil War, "U.S. Colored Troops." Roughly half of the Fort Pillow garrison’s strength was African-American Union soldiers.

After making a raid to Paducah, Kentucky in order to gain materiel and recruits, Forrest turned south towards Memphis. Fort Pillow immediately garnered Forrest’s attention due to the fact that it had been recently re-occupied by the Union. Confederate soldiers in Forrest’s ranks had family members in the area surrounding the fort and had complained of their abuse by the Union forces. Bradford’s "home grown Yankees" of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry were the named culprits. Local West Tennessee citizens requested that a unit from Forrest’s command be detailed to guard their homes and families from Bradford’s depredations. Forrest decided to do more. He ordered a demonstration towards Memphis and then launched the bulk of his forces against Fort Pillow.

On the early morning of April 12, 1864, almost 1,500 Confederate troops converged on Fort Pillow. The Confederates quickly drove in the outlying Union pickets and then occupied hillocks that allowed Confederate sharpshooters to begin engaging the fort’s defenders. Major Booth attempted to burn cabins and outbuildings near the perimeter of the fort to prevent the Confederates from using them as cover and concealment. It was here that some Union soldiers may have been shot down, then inadvertently burned in the very buildings they were torching to prevent Confederate use. However, this subsequently became a contentious issue when, after the battle, the Union claimed that the Confederates had burned wounded U.S. soldiers.


With Confederate Brigadier General James R. Chalmers commanding the initial assaults, the Confederates hemmed the Union defenders inside the fort and then began a concerted effort to close on the Union works. At about 9 a.m., Major Booth was killed by one of the 300 assaulting Confederate sharpshooters. At 10 a.m. Forrest arrived on the scene to take command. He immediately made troop dispositions to conduct a double envelopment as well as a frontal assault. About this time the Union naval gunboat, USS New Era, commanded by Captain James Marshall, began firing at the nearby Coal Creek ravine to prevent Confederate forces from enveloping Fort Pillow from the north. Forrest was injured when two horses were shot out from under him, but he remained to command the upcoming assault. At about 1 p.m. the New Era pulled away farther along the Mississippi River to allow its guns to cool. Almost 300 gunboat shells had been fired at the Confederates with virtually no effect.

At about 3 p.m. Confederate ammunition resupplies arrived and Forrest sent a demand for surrender to Major Booth not knowing Booth already had been killed. Forrest’s surrender demand read: "I now demand unconditional surrender of your forces, at the same time assuring you that you will be treated as prisoners of war. ”¦ I have received a new supply of ammunition and can take your works by assault, and if compelled to do so you must take the consequences."

Union naval gunboats, now including USS Olive Branch, began moving as if to reinforce the fort despite the truce. The Confederates reacted by moving troops towards the Mississippi River beach area to repulse any Union landings. This subsequently became another point of contention as the Union claimed a violation of the rules of war by citing the movement of the Confederates ”“ but never acknowledging the potential reinforcement by the gunboats.


Major Bradford in the meantime, with Booth’s death now in command of Fort Pillow, stalled for time by returning a note to Forrest requesting time to consult with his officers. Aware of his personal reputation with Forrest, Bradford signed the note as the now-deceased “Major Booth.” Union soldiers along the ramparts were feeling confident enough to heckle the attacking Confederates after holding them off for the better part of a day. This intentional heckling only served to inflame the passions on the Confederate side. Major Bradford was cognizant of Forrest’s command’s previous use of ruses to gain the surrender of Union defenders. Most recently, at Union City, Tennessee, the Union garrison there had surrendered to one of Forrest’s subordinates who had a numerically inferior force. Bradford sealed his own force’s fate by declaring that he would never surrender. He placed barrels of alcoholic beverages with dippers for the defenders to drink from, perhaps hoping to steel the resolve of his soldiers.

At about 5 p.m., Forrest ordered the bugler to sound the "Charge." Outnumbering the Union defenders by at least two-to-one, the Confederates surged over the fort’s parapets in a rush. Not only did the Confederates outnumber the defenders, they had the additional benefit of overwhelming close-range firepower provided by the six-shot pistols all of the Confederate cavalryman habitually carried ”“ but only half of Fort Pillow’s Union defenders were armed with revolvers. Assuming that the direct assaulting force consisted of about 800 Confederate soldiers armed largely with revolvers, the Confederates might have faced only about 260 Union troops with pistols, the remaining Union defenders being armed with either single-shot muskets or carbines. This alone would give the assaulting force the necessary 3:1 firepower ratio considered necessary for success by military doctrine for attackers since the muskets, once fired, were no good at such close-quarters combat except with bayonets or as clubs. The end result of this disparity in firepower meant that combat was necessarily close due to the short range of the pistols and the fact that the Confederates physically closed to within just a few yards of the defenders as they vaulted the walls of the fort. This produced hand-to-hand combat and point-blank shooting at extremely close range, creating another point of contention: based on powder burns found on some Union casualties, the Union accused Forrest’s Confederates of executing some of the fort’s defenders. However, such powder burns were to be expected at close-range engagements using black powder firing weapons.

At this point confusion reigned as the Confederates literally surged over the Union lines. Major Bradford shouted for the defenders to save themselves. The Union soldiers broke and ran to escape down the cliff to the beach area and the possible safety of the Union gunboats. No thought had been given to an organized surrender and Bradford’s hasty declaration to “Save yourselves!” panicked the Union defenders into a disorganized rout. Moreover, as the Union defenders fled to the beach, the U.S. flag still flew from Fort Pillow’s flagpole ”“ this is significant since in 19th century warfare “Striking (lowering) the Colors” was the universally accepted signal that a garrison had surrendered and an unmistakable signal to the victorious attackers to stop firing. Had Bradford sensibly lowered the U.S. flag, this would have been a clear indication to all attacking Confederates that the garrison had surrendered.

Forrest’s Confederate cavalrymen pursued the fleeing enemy to prevent any further Union organized defense from being reconstituted. Captain Marshall of New Era, who had previously struck an agreement with the fort’s commander to support-by-fire any attempt of the Confederates to pursue the Union troops to the beach area, planned to engage the Confederates with cannister (anti-personnel) cannon rounds. But Marshall’s fire support plans were thwarted because the Union and Confederate forces were intermingled and therefore he risked hitting his own side’s soldiers.

In the race for the beach and possible safety, units intermingled, leaders were shot down and the inevitable confusion of fierce combat caused a loss of control on both sides. Major Booth actually had planned for such a contingency (of his garrison being pushed back to the beach) by pre-positioning ammunition boxes for his defenders to use if forced back to the beach. However, Booth’s planning assumption was predicated on an orderly displacement, not a panic-stricken rout. Later, some of the pre-positioned ammunition boxes were found opened, showing that at least some of the Union defenders knew their purpose and used the ammunition.

In one of the most controversial actions during the short assault, the Confederates shot down a number of Union soldiers in the beach area while many defending survivors drowned while trying to escape by swimming the Mississippi River. The Union subsequently tried to claim it was a planned massacre. In reality, it was most likely the result of a number of unintentional consequences combined to cause a tragedy for the Union soldiers. First, no organized surrender was ever declared. Soldiers surrendering did so as individuals. Because some of the Union defenders subsequently rearmed themselves after surrendering, it is likely that the Confederates became enraged and indiscriminately shot other defenders who were "surrendering." There is no doubt that latent racism was likely a contributing factor. Although Forrest had African-American Confederate soldiers in his ranks, the Confederate attackers were incensed that the defending African-American Union soldiers had taunted them during the truce and were therefore “guilty by association” with Bradford’s troops who had previously abused the attackers’ families. Revenge and heated passions from a long day of fighting made a deadly combination.

Experienced combat arms soldiers know how confusion occurs when converging forces assault an objective from three directions. This is what happened at Fort Pillow. Malice aforethought cannot be assumed simply because the losing side incurred a large number of casualties. A one-sided rout and vigorous pursuit would naturally produce a large number of casualties suffered by the defeated unit since the routed unit’s soldiers would not be organized to defend themselves and could more easily be shot down as they ran away. The attribution of a deliberate racist intent by the attacking Confederates to intentionally execute defenders defies knowledge of the culture and customs of Forrest’s command throughout the war. To ascribe ex post facto what happened to a premeditated conspiracy to "massacre" is logically and ethically wrong. Post-war lithographs of the battle and Union propaganda and disinformation managed to inflame passions. The prints used distortions and “tried” Forrest and his Confederate soldiers in the public forum, then found them guilty, despite the results of official Union inquiries into the conduct of the battle. Interestingly, all the prints and lithographs showing women and children present at the battle are part of the disinformation as all but ten civilian men had been evacuated by the Union Navy shortly before the battle. The women and children depicted being killed and brutalized by “blood-thirsty Confederates” in the notorious lithographs were not even present when the fort was assaulted and overrun.

Casualty figures vary slightly, but approximately 230 Union soldiers (of the approximately 560 in the fort’s garrison during the battle) were killed. About 60 African-American Union soldiers were taken prisoner (168 white Union troops were captured), the remainder either killed or reported as “missing in action.” In the wake of the battle, Forrest released 14 of the most seriously wounded Union African-American captives to the U.S. Navy steamer, Silver Cloud. About 14 Confederate soldiers were killed and more than 80 were wounded.

Only two weeks after the battle, a U.S. Congressional inquiry could not conclusively determine exactly what happened. Both sides failed to control the action, and only Forrest’s direct, personal intervention to stop the shooting saved many of the Union defenders left standing on the beach. Not satisfied with the Congressional inquiry, Union General William T. Sherman convened a not-so-impartial inquiry. He openly stated that he would try and convict General Forrest. However, Sherman’s inquiry also ended without substantive evidence to find Forrest culpable.

The stain that his lopsided Fort Pillow victory was a premeditated “massacre” remained with Forrest for the rest of his life. Northern newspapers publishing obituaries after his October 29, 1877 death, while acknowledging Forrest’s genius as a cavalry commander, nonetheless resurrected the “Fort Pillow Massacre” charges. The New York Times’ obituary even claimed that, during Forrest’s post-Civil War life, “his principal occupation seems to have been to try to explain away the Fort Pillow affair.” Northern newspapers criticizing Forrest’s effort “to explain away the Fort Pillow affair,” however, seem especially disingenuous since the sensationalist accounts by the partisan Northern press bears a large share of the burden for creating and perpetuating the “massacre” claim in the first place. Forrest always disputed claims that his Fort Pillow victory was a “massacre.” Any fair-minded judgment as to whether it was truly the racism-inspired, premeditated massacre claimed by the Northern press and Union leaders at the time must also take into consideration the inevitable confusion of desperate, hand-to-hand combat and the many contributing factors that created and exacerbated the disastrous Union rout.”

Lt. Col. Edwin L. Kennedy Jr., USA Ret., retired as an infantry officer after 22 years of enlisted and commissioned service. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Command and Leadership at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is a former tactics and history instructor at the college.

Note: Lt. Col. Kennedy identified Major Bradford’s Cavalry as the 13th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.), as that was the way they were identified/referred to in the Official Records. However, Bradford’s Battalion of Cavalry was officially known as the 14th Tennessee Cavalry (US).

Some, but not all of the important facts almost always left of other accounts of the Battle of Fort Pillow:

1. Local Innocent Civilians had asked General Forrest for protection from the depravities and War Crimes committed against them by Bradford’s U.S. Cavalry, including family members of some of the men in Forrest’s Command. When that happens, things would never bode well for the”¦ ahem”¦.soldiers”¦”¦who had committed those atrocities and would certainly earn them “special attention” by the Confederate Soldiers.


2. General Forrest decided to attack and take Fort Pillow to stop the War Crimes done by those ”¦. ahem”¦.soldiers”¦”¦who had committed those atrocities. (It should be noted the U.S. Black Soldiers at Fort Pillow were Artillery Soldiers stationed inside the Fort, so they almost certainly did not take part in the War Crimes.)

3. General Forrest had freely offered terms where (even considering the War Crimes done by some of the ”¦.soldiers”¦.. at Fort Pillow) they would be treated as Prisoners of War.

Of course in the period as is still true today; Prisoners of War who had committed War Crimes, would be tried by Military Courts and if found guilty, could/would be legally executed by the Laws of War. (Keep this in mind for the next point.)

4. When asked for proper surrender and considering he was by then the Senior Surviving Officer and in Command of Fort Pillow, Major Bradford at first used deception by forging Major Booth’s signature in his reply to ask for a Truce time to consider surrendering (and in fact was granted that Truce) . That forgery was to hide the fact Bradford was in command and because he knew what his reputation was with Forrest. (No doubt Bradford knew that even as a Prisoner of War, he would be tried for War Crimes that he and his men had committed.)

Ultimately Bradford refused to surrender and afford his men the PROTECTION of being held as Prisoners of War.

Not only that, but Bradford had opened Barrels of Booze with dippers laid out, so his men could be “fortified” in their defense. Though the practice of handing out a small ration of booze to each soldier in such situations was not unheard of, no Commander in his right mind would have laid out opened barrels of Booze with dippers - where his men fearing imminent death in battle or capture, had the opportunity to get DRUNK or IMPAIR their ability to fight. (Gee, do you suppose in the confusion of battle that a soldier who had been imbibing freely ”“ would not have been recognized as trying to properly surrender?)

5. Not having documentation otherwise, the movement of the Union Gun Boats moving up to support the Fort during the Truce was most likely due to an unfortunate lack of communication available between them and the Fort and thus was not an intentional act to break the Truce. Still it is easy to see how in the fog of war, the Confederates believed it was an act to break the Truce and thus a treacherous action.

6. The fact that Union Soldiers who had surrendered and then took up arms again to fight, was no doubt a significant factor causing unnecessary casualties/deaths for themselves and other U.S. Soldiers - who may have tried to surrender properly, with honor. Such treacherous acts, after mercy is granted to them as Prisoners of War, long before this battle and right up to today - will mean that Offers to Properly Surrender will be ignored by Opposing Forces.

7. General Forrest not only endangered himself to stop the killing, but allowed the evacuation of severely wounded U.S. Soldiers. Hardly the actions of one who ordered or condoned a “massacre.”

Will stop here with the facts of the battle and add more commentary in a follow on post.

Gus
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2013
Messages
20,091
Reaction score
990
Ed Kennedy said:
There is no doubt that [strike]latent[/strike] blatant racism was likely a contributing factor.

Sorry, I had to correct that.

Ed Kennedy said:
The attribution of a deliberate racist intent by the attacking Confederates to intentionally execute defenders defies knowledge of the culture and customs of Forrest’s command throughout the war. To ascribe ex post facto what happened to a premeditated conspiracy to "massacre" is logically and ethically wrong.

It bothers me that he admits but glosses over those points.

By the way, what was the "culture and customs of Forrest’s command throughout the war" ?

I find the actual correspondence between Forrest and Washburn more enlightening.

I can refer you to my demand upon Major-General Hurlbut (no doubt upon file in your office) for the delivery to Confederate authorities of one Col. Fielding Hurst and others of his regiment, who deliberately took out and killed 7 Confederate soldiers, one of whom they left to die after cutting off his tongue, punching out his eyes, splitting his mouth on each side to his ears, and cutting off his privates.
N. B. FORREST,
Major-General.





Had I and my men known it as you admit it, the battle of Tishomingo Creek would have been noted as the bloodiest battle of the war. That you sanctioned this policy is plain, for you say now "that if the negro is treated as a prisoner of war you will receive with pleasure the announcement, and will explain the fact to your colored troops at once, and desire (not order) that they recall the oath; but if they are either to be slaughtered or returned to slavery, let the oath stand."
N. B. FORREST,
Major-General.


Folks can read all the letters in there entirely here with out the biased opinion of an "Armchair General"
http://www.civilwarhome.com/forrestcorrespondence.html


Reading though such correspondence I can sympathize with the psychological brainwashing, fear, and paranoia that was instilled in the common soldier by their commanders. It does not justify their nor admonish their crimes, but it does help to understand them.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

David Snellen

40 Cal.
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
315
Reaction score
14
Dear Sir,
Excellent post!. It is funny how people always note the Fort Pillow 'massacre', but conveniently leave out Fort Blakely. Missouri and Mississippi troops were defending against overwhelming odds.
The coloured troops massacred the Mississippians AFTER they surrendered.

The Centralia 'massacre'-
Missouri guerillas captured a train with furloughed union soldiers. They were shot. This is AFTER the union said there would be no quarter given to guerillas. Missouri partisans were to be hanged or shot. After Centralia, US mounted infantry attacked the partisans. They were whipped. That was a battle- not a massacre.

7 boys (aged 9-17) were on their way to join Gen. Price. The yanks captured them and shot unarmed boys down in front of Ham Brown's barn....then the was the Palmyra massacre...10 innocent Missourian were executed for 1 missing federal (they had nothing to do with it). Also, the provost marshal took advantage of a woman that gave her honour to save her husband.
People should read the UNCivil War, it simply documents where union soldiers wrote/bragged and federal papers describe the atrocities committed against Southerners.
To deny there was prejudice would be inaccurate. To say the War was entirely over slavery is foolish.
One needs only to read thing such as Moses Ezekiel (a hero from VMI) to know the average soldier was not fighting to keep their slaves. Quantrill had 3 black men that rode with him (of their own volition and served as personal bodyguards.

This will never be over. Some of us want to be independent and believe in States rights and some believe in a strong federal government that can impose its will on the States. As Patrick Henry feared, we are now taxed beyond belief, the presidents act more like kings and we are losing our rights. Not to imply that America is bad, or that we have less rights than other countries, simply that we are daily losing rights that are
inherent to the States.
David
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
Yes, I had no doubt you would attack the credibility of a Distinguished Historian and Officer of the United States Army. Unlike you, that Officer had to stand the scrutiny of historic fact in his career on active duty and later as an Assistant Professor at the War College.

Or perhaps I mistaken? If so, please link to any published articles you have written or any treatises, or books or anything where your credibility of historic fact can be examined.

Yes, this article was published in the Armchair General, but it was published in other places as well. I knew of the article and was looking for it and found it first in the Armchair General.

Again, please link to anything you have published, before you demean a person whose name and reputation is in the open for all to see and examine.

Thank you for providing a link the letters. It shows a great deal of the facts were left out by the Union Officers reporting to their Seniors about the Battle and even then were trying to spin it so they would not have to stand the scrutiny of War Crimes against innocent civilians, nor their incompetent to downright stupid things done ”“ as in the case of the opened barrels of booze with dippers laid out for their troops. Funny how those and other things never were included in these letters.

However, one letter proves that just as Lt.Col. Kennedy wrote, that Bradford FORGED the signature of Major Booth to the letter requesting an hour to consult with his Officers and the Officers of the Gun Boat, as well as "no preparation to be made by either side." Major Booth was DEAD by that time, having been killed by Sharpshooters earlier that morning. Funny how none of the Union Officers mentioned that, either.

I also note you failed to mention anything concerning the underlying cause of the battle, I.E. due to the Depravities and War Crimes committed by Bradford's US Cavalry against innocent civilians.

The Battle of Fort Pillow was not a “Massacre” no matter how one tries to spin it, either then or now, as seen when the facts of the Battle are brought out in the open.

Gus
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
David,

Thank you for a very interesting post. That was one of many such instances of War Crimes done by the Union Army, I had never heard of before.

Of course most of the study I have done over the years has been involved in the Eastern Theatre of War and about the Confederate States Marine Corps.

I am working on another post of another infamous War Crime done by Union Officers in Northern, VA; but it will take a while since I have to clean up after the huge storms we have been having around here lately, as well as other things.

Gus
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2013
Messages
20,091
Reaction score
990
Artificer said:
Or perhaps I mistaken?

Gus

Yes, you are mistaken, but that comes with bias....One only sees things one way. Which is really my only criticism of what Kennedy wrote. That it has a bias slant.

I try not choose a side in such battles but rather look at them as a neutral observer....A person can really learn a lot if they don't choose a side from the get go.

In times of war there is often a great reluctance to prosecute crimes, they are often overlooked and "justified" as being the nature of warfare.

The crime admitted to in the fort Pillow massacre was one of lying to the southern soldiers, telling them that they were going to be slaughtered if captured.....That in turn led them to do the very thing they feared.

Such is the ugliness of war.
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
Well, it seems I was not mistaken that you have not published anything where your account/view of history can be scrutinized by others.

Your bias is very clear from what you have written here in this thread and other threads.

By the fact you are ignoring the fact that innocent civilians reported War Crimes done to them by the US Cavalry and asking for the protection of not only their own Soldiers, but more importantly those who were friends and family in those Confederate forces; very clearly shows you are not neutral.

There is no doubt the Confederate forces were out for blood, because of the War Crimes reported to them by friends and family. Yet instead of just slaughtering all those US Soldiers out of hand, Forrest asked for their surrender and offered them the protection of being Prisoners of War. Not only that but Forrest endangered himself to stop the killing and allowed evacuation of severely wounded U.S. Soldiers.

Gus
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2013
Messages
20,091
Reaction score
990
Artificer said:
Well, it seems I was not mistaken that you have not published anything where your account/view of history can be scrutinized by others.

That's a feeble attempt to discredit me... :shake:

Your bias is very clear from what you have written here in this thread and other threads.

It only appears that way because I argue the other side.


By the fact you are ignoring the fact that innocent civilians reported War Crimes done to them by the US Cavalry and asking for the protection of not only their own Soldiers, but more importantly those who were friends and family in those Confederate forces; very clearly shows you are not neutral.

I'm am more that willing to learn about what the US Cavalry did.....I await your evidence on the subject....
There is no doubt the Confederate forces were out for blood, because of the War Crimes reported to them by friends and family. Yet instead of just slaughtering all those US Soldiers out of hand, Forrest asked for their surrender and offered them the protection of being Prisoners of War. Not only that but Forrest endangered himself to stop the killing and allowed evacuation of severely wounded U.S. Soldiers.

Gus

Yes, it appears by Forrest's, own letters that he was not the one that committed the crimes. That it was Col. Fielding Hurst and others of his regiment.

Also, I would note that even Forrest referred to the battle as a "massacre".
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
I don't have to discredit you.

You were the one trying to discredit a distinguished Historian and Officer of the United States Army. So you should therefore provide your credentials to do so and your own published works.

If you are going to quote something in the letters with such an ambiguous quote you claimed about General Forrest, then at least point out which letter it came from.

Gus
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2013
Messages
20,091
Reaction score
990
Artificer said:
I don't have to discredit you.

You were the one trying to discredit a distinguished Historian and Officer of the United States Army. So you should therefore provide your credentials to do so and your own published works.

I wasn't trying to discredit it....
My complaint was this it is slanted towards the South.....Besides, you cant discredit someone's opinion....


If you are going to quote something in the letters with such an ambiguous quote you claimed about General Forrest, then at least point out which letter it came from.

Gus

Which quote?


[/quote]
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
So, if you are only saying you believe Lt. Col. Kennedy's opinion is slanted, then I take it you are not arguing the facts he presented?

I think this is the quote you meant from this letter "HEADQUARTERS FORREST'S CAVALRY,
Tupelo, June 25 [23], 1864.

Maj. Gen. C. C. WASHBURN,
Commanding U.S. Forces, Memphis:"


"Since the war began I have captured many thousand Federal prisoners, and they, including the survivors of the Fort Pillow massacre(black and white), are living witnesses of the fact that with my knowledge or consent, or by my order, not one of them has ever been insulted or in any way maltreated."

It should be pretty easy to see by the tone of the letter that General Forrest is responding to accusations and insults and is using the term "massacre" very sarcastically, because that was how it was referred to against him.

Gus
 

David Snellen

40 Cal.
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
315
Reaction score
14
Dear Gus,
First, thank you for your service. I appreciate it more than you know. I never was in the service, but retired from law enforcement.

Also thank you for your kind words.
Most Missourians don't know their own history- sad to say. We had more fights than anyone other than Virginia (#1) and Tennessee (#2). Few realize we were the 12th State to join the Confederacy and sent more troops than Ark and Fl. combined. The union of course didn't recognize our secession, and then they set up an illegal provisional government and said if you weren't pro union, you can't vote.
A great book is called Quantrell (note the spelling)- it has 1 to 5 page stories by the men that fought with him (including a black guerrilla).
Thanks again,
David
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,546
Reaction score
10,879
Dear David,

Thank you for your service. Most of we career military fully understood we could not do what we had to do if people like you were not guarding/protecting our family and kin while we were away.

Gus
 

David Snellen

40 Cal.
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
315
Reaction score
14
Gentlemen,
The 'black flag' was introduced here in Missouri by UNION commander Gen. Blunt. He reportedly had a 2'' black border sewn around the US flag. We said if we were to be treated that way, then yankees would be treated the same. Women were safe with Missouri Partisans....not so with jayhawkers.
But, all this discussion shows is the 2 sides will never agree - anymore than Tories and Washington's men. In law school, I spoke with a student that was from the 'burnt district' (a portion of Cass, Bates and Jackson counties in Missouri that were burned by the federals). She was not aware of her history. The federals burned out approximately 9,400 of the 10,000 people. They did this because the people were Southern----most still there were women, children and the elderly.
She said she was dissapointed Missouri was a Southern State. I asked why, and she said, 'slavery'. I said slavery was not the main issue of the War, and that most Southerners did not own slaves. I explained it was over States Rights. She stated she didn't believe that. I figured she didn't understand, so I said, you mean you think that people in Washington know better how to govern the people in Missouri better than folks that live here? "Absolutely", was her reply. I stopped discussing it then. There is no way to come to a meeting of the minds with folks like her. She believes in the ruling elite.
I will cease posting on this with this end.
Our topic clearly shows we should be separate nations.
Respectfully,
David
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2013
Messages
20,091
Reaction score
990
The "black flag" was a symbol of no quarter and no surrender...The opposite of the white surrender flag.

Lee mentions it, Defending it in one of his letters to Washburn after the Ft. Pillow massacre.

Your letter contains many implied threats. These you can of course make, and you are fully entitled to any satisfaction that you may feel from having made them. It is my intention, and that also of my subordinate officers, to conduct this war upon civilized principles, provided you permit us to do so, and I take this occasion to state that we will not shrink from any responsibilities that your actions may force upon us. We are engaged in a struggle for the protection of our homes and firesides, for the maintenance of our national existence and liberty. We have counted the cost and are-prepared to go to any extremes, and although it is far from our wish to fight under the black flag, still if you drive us to it we will accept the issue. Your troops virtually fought under it at the battle of Tishomingo Creek, and the prisoners taken there state that they went into battle under the impression that they were to [would] receive no quarter, and, I suppose, with the determination to give none. I will further remark that if it is raised, so far as your soldiers are concerned, there can be no distinction, for the unfortunate people whom you pretend to be aiding are not considered entirely responsible for their acts, influenced as they are by the superior intellect of their white brothers.
I inclose for your consideration certain papers touching the Fort Pillow affair, which were procured from the writer after the exaggerated statements of your press were seen.

I am, general, yours, respectfully,
S. D. LEE,
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
23,352
Reaction score
22,451
Location
Republic mo
When men are turned loose to kill, it’s hard to stop them. It would be nice if it was an off and on switch, but even the most disciplined army comes without one. Our boys in France Germany and pacific commuted ”˜war crimes’. Indians brained babies and whites burned villages.
On a battlefield a general need to rein in his men when he can. Showing the black flag is a warning, surrender or no mercy will be shown. It’s a legitimate tactic, surrender or die.
Robert Hienlien said that there is no such thing as social gambling, you are there to cut out the other guys heart and eat it raw, or your there to lose. That can be applied ten fold to war. Sherman knew that, so did ”˜Bomber’Harris. So did Forest.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
23,352
Reaction score
22,451
Location
Republic mo
What happens on a battlefield should be seen as different then what’s commanded in the halls of political power. When a decision is laid out weeks or months before the event it CAN be despicable, when under the gun as it were the quickest sureist way of achieving victory saves lives, at least the most important lives, your own men.
The Mongol army offered cities the chance to surrender. Failure to surrender for the black flag. No mercy. After the first few most cities surrendered. During the Great age of piracy the same practice was done. Ships that couldn’t out run or out fight learned to heave to pretty quick.
Forest needed a reputation of ruthlessness, he had a small force fighting a larger better equipped Army. Sherman needed such a reputation as he was stretching his supply lines to the limit.
The meek inherit the earth, in 6x3 foot plots.
 
Top