Re: No Fort Pillow massacre

From: colonel@37thtexas.org
To: news@chattanoogan.com

Joan McNew Flores wrote, "Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, often described by his admirers as a brilliant tactical general, was nonetheless the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and was also known for his command that resulted in the massacre of 300 soldiers at Fort Pillow who were in the process of attempting to surrender."

In 1871 William Tecumseh Sherman chaired a Congressional Committee which investigated the KKK and the possible involvement of a number of former Confederate generals and also took the opportunity to revisit the "Ft. Pillow Massacre" in an effort to find some reason to bring Forrest to trial.

The Committee concluded in its report that Forrest’s only involement with the Klan was to work to try to get it to disband. They also found that there was no evidence of a "massacre" but that there were (their words) "isolated incidents near the river bank" which Forrest stopped as soon as he arrived on-site.

As for "the massacre of 300 soldiers at Fort Pillow who were in the process of attempting to surrender" Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn, Sixth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, wrote, "There never was a surrender of the fort, both officers and men declaring they never would surrender or ask for quarter" (Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol. 32, Part 1, pp. 569-570).

Add the fact that Forrest transferred the 14 most seriously wounded Black Union soldiers to the U.S. Steamer Silver Cloud and the term "massacre" becomes the simple propaganda it always has been.

Ms. Flores also wrote, "As a student of history…" – apparently not a student of real history.

Michael Kelley
colonel@37thtexas.org
Pascagoula, MS

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