Fort Pillow Massacre Facts

Fort Pillow Massacre Facts
Fort Pillow was a military fort near Henning, Tennessee, which is approximately forty miles northeast of Memphis, Tennessee on the Mississippi River. Although not a very large fort, it became a strategic and symbolic target in the Western Theater of operations during the American Civil War. At the beginning of the war, the fort was originally built and occupied by Confederate forces, but they were vanquished by Union forces in June 1862. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was from Memphis, led a cavalry campaign in March 1864 that began in western Kentucky and ended up in western Tennessee. Although Fort Pillow was quite small - only about 600 men defended the post versus Forrest's force of around 7,000 men - it was an easy target for the Confederate forces to raid and pillage before continuing south. On April 12 the Confederate forces sieged the fort and after a day of fighting took control. As the fort was being surrendered, Confederate soldiers opened fire on the black Union soldiers, who comprised about half the fort, and their white officers. Forrest later denied giving the order to shoot, but some of his contemporaries and later historians charged that he did, while others said he did not but did nothing to stop the massacre.
Interesting Fort Pillow Massacre Facts:
The Confederate Army installed forty cannons at the fort facing the Mississippi River.
Before losing Fort Pillow in 1862, the Confederate forces attempted a river borne counterattack with eight steamboats converted into armed rams, but lost.
The Union's capture of Fort Pillow in 1862 was part of a larger campaign where they worked their way down the river, taking other strategic points such as Island Number 10.
Major Lionel F. Booth was the Union commander of Fort Pillow: he was killed by sniper fire during the battle.
In response to the Union army using black troops, the Confederate States of America passed a law in 1863 that treated captured black Union troops as slave insurrectionists, which was a capital offense
Fort Pillow was named for Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow, who ordered its construction.
Most of the black soldiers at Fort Pillow were with the 6th U.S. Regiment Colored Heavy Artillery.
At least two wounded black soldiers were said to have been buried alive with dead Confederate, but were able to dig themselves out.
About half of the Union forces died while only fourteen Confederate soldiers lost their lives in the battle.
After the massacre, President Lincoln and his cabinet considered massacring Confederate prisoners, but ultimately decided against it stating, "blood can not restore blood, and government should not act for revenge."
"Remember Fort Pillow" was a rallying cry of black soldiers at the Petersburg on June 15, 1864.
There is a consensus among modern historians that a massacre took place at Fort Pillow, but there is debate over whether it was planned or not.
Fort Pillow is now a Tennessee State Historic Park and a National Historic Landmark.

Related Links:
Civil War Facts
Animals Facts