War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0588 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter XLIV.

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entire Southern press of the perpetrators of the massacre, I may safely presume that indiscriminate slaughter is to be the fate of colored troops that fall into your hands; but I am not willing to leave a matter of such grave import and involving consequences so fearful to inference, and I have therefore thought it proper to address you this, believing that you will be able to indicate the policy that the Confederate Government intends to pursue hereafter ont his question. If it is intended to raise the black flag against that unfortunate race, they will cheerfully accept the issue. Up to this time no troops have fought more gallantly and none have conducted themselves with greater propriety. They have fully vindicated their right (so long denied) to the treated as men. I hope I have been misinformed in regard to the treatment they have received at the battle of Brice's Cross-Roads, and that the accounts received result rather from the excited imaginations of the fugitives than from actual fact. For the government of the colored troops under my command I would thank you to inform me, with as little delay as possible, if it is your intention or the intention of the Confederate Government to murder colored soldiers that may fall into your hands, or treat them as prisoners of war and subject to be exchanged as other prisoners.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure Numbers 3.]


Memphis, Tenn., June 19, 1864.

Major General N. B. FORREST,

Commanding Confederate Forces:

GENERAL: Your communication of the 14th instant is received. The letter to Brigadier-General Buford will be forwarded to him.

In regard to that part of your letter which relates to colored troops, I beg to say that I have already sent a communication on the same subject to the officer in command of the Confederate forces at Tupelo. Having understood that Major General S. D. Lee was in command there, I directed my letter to him. A copy of it I inclose.*

You say in your letter that it has been reported to you "that all the negro troops stationed at Memphis took an oath on their knees, in the presence of Major-General Hurlbut and other officers of our army, to avenge Fort Pillow, and that they would show your troops no quarter." I believe that it is true that the colored troops did take such an oath, but not in the presence of General Hurlbut. From what I can learn, this act of theirs was not influenced by any white officer, but was the result of their own sense of what was due to themselves and their follows, who had been mercilessly slaughtered. I have no doubt that they went into the field as you allege, in the full belief that they would be murdered in case they fell into your hands. The affair of Fort Pillow fully justified that belief. I am not aware as to what they proclaimed on their late march, and it may be as you say, that they declared that no quarter would be given to any of your men that might fall into their hands. Your declaration that you have conducted the war on all occasions on civilized principles cannot be accepted, but I receive


*See inclosure Numbers 2, preceding.