Reports of Maj. Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut, U.S. Army, commanding Sixteenth Army Corps, of the capture of Fort Pillow.
MARCH 16-APRIL 14, 1864.--Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee and Kentucky.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXII/1 [S# 57]
HEADQUARTERS SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Memphis, Tenn., April 15, 1864.
Maj. Gen. J. B. MCPHERSON,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee.
GENERAL: Fort Pillow, garrisoned by four companies Alabama Siege Artillery, under Major Booth, and about 250 recruits for Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry, under Major Bradford was attacked by a heavy body of the enemy, commanded by Major-General Forrest in person, on the morning of the 12th instant.
A surrender was demanded and refused and the fort was held until about 3 p.m., at which time the enemy in overwhelming numbers carried the fortifications by assault. Resistance was gallantly made until the last moment, notwithstanding the loss of Major Booth, the brave commander, at an early period of the engagement. After resistance had ceased the enemy, in gross violation of all honorable warfare, butchered in cold blood the prisoners and wounded.
For the proof of these charges I refer you to the official report of Acting Master W. Ferguson, U.S. Navy, and of Lieutenant Van Horn, Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery (colored troops), late First Alabama Siege.
The list of killed and wounded, so far as received, accompanies this report, and demonstrates the severity of the action. It is unquestionably true that the colored troops fought desperately and nearly all of them are now killed or wounded; but few are held as prisoners.
The armament of the fort: Two 10-pounder Parrotts, two 6-pounder field guns, two 12-pounder howitzers, with about 100 rounds to the piece, were captured in good order by the enemy, and are now held by them.
I received notice of the attack about 7 p.m. of the 12th, and immediately ordered the Fifty-fifth U.S. Infantry, colored troops, to embark on the Glendale; but within an hour after issuing the order authentic intelligence of the capture of the fort and garrison and of the force of the enemy was received, and the order countermanded.
I am this day informed that the rebels have abandoned the neighborhood of Fort Pillow, and I therefore allow the boats which have accumulated here to pass up the river. I cannot conclude this report without very earnestly calling the attention of the War Department through you to the necessity of some vigorous action on their part to insure the treatment due to soldiers to our colored troops. Not only is it due to our good name, but it will be necessary to preserve discipline among them. In case of an action in which they shall be successfully engaged, it will be nearly impracticable to restrain them from retaliation.
Among the officers killed in this engagement I was personally acquainted only with Maj. L. F. Booth, Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery, colored. He was a good soldier and brave officer, and fell honorably in the gallant discharge of duty.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
S. A. HURLBUT,
HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Huntsville, Ala., April 24, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, and attention of the commanding-general called to the barbarous outrages committed upon the troops at Fort Pillow. The case demands the serious consideration of the Government.
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
MEMPHIS, April 15, 1864.
GENERAL: Fort Pillow was captured after a desperate resistance by assault on the 12th.
We have lost over 250 in killed and wounded. The rebels butchered the negro troops after resistance ceased. Six guns--two 10-pounder Parrotts, two 6-pounders, two 12-pounder howitzers, were captured. The fort is now reported abandoned by them. Our garrison was four companies, William D. Turner's artillery (colored), and 250 recruits (Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry); in all, about 550 men, which was a sufficient force for the fort.
Forrest has moved east and north. Lee is reported moving from Grenada to Columbus on account, it is said, of a movement on Tuscaloosa. Loring is on the line of the Tombigbee, moving north.
I have ordered up the four regiments of the Third Division of the Seventeenth Corps, now in Vicksburg, as soon as practicable, that I may have some movable troops. The veteran cavalry is detained at Saint Louis for want of horses. The enrolled militia is rapidly improving, and I think will fight if needed in the city.
S. A. HURLBUT,
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