War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0590 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter XLIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,

Memphis, Tenn., July 6, 1864.

Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. General, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

COLONEL: On the 20th ultimo I inclosed copies of correspondence between Major-General Forrest and myself in regard to the Fort Pillow massacre and treatment of colored troops. I now inclose further correspondence between Major-General Forrest and Lieutenant-General Lee and myself, on the same subject.

I am, colonel, respectfully, yours,

C. C. WASHBURN,

Major-General.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

HEADQUARTERS FORREST'S CAVALRY,

Tupelo, June 25 [23], 1864.

Major General C. C. WASHBURN,

Commanding U. S. Forces, Memphis:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt (per flag of truce) of your letter of 17th instant, addressed to Major General S. D. Lee, or officer commanding Confederate forces near Tupelo. I have forwarder it to General Lee with a copy of this letter.

I regard your letter as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department, and grossly insulting to myself. You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer and as guilty of the wholesale slaughter of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and found your assertions upon the ex parte testimony of your fiends, the enemies of myself and country.

I shall not enter into the discussion, therefore, of any of the questions involved nor undertake any refutation of the charges made by you against myself; nevertheless, as a matter of personal privilege alone, I unhesitatingly say that they are unfounded and unwarranted by the facts. But whether these charges are true or false, they, with the question you ask as to whether negro troops when captured will be recognized and treated as prisoners of war, subject to exchange, &c., are matter which the Government of the United States and Confederate States are to decide and adjust, not their subordinate officers.

I regard captured negroes as I do other captured property and not as captured soldiers, but as to how regarded by my Government and the disposition which has been and will hereafter be made of them, I respectfully refer you through the proper channel to the authorities at Richmond. It is not the policy nor the interest of the South to destroy the negro-on the contrary, to preserve and protect him-and all who have surrendered to us have received kind and humane treatment.

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.

You speak of your forbearance in not giving to your negro troops instructions and orders as to the course they should pursue in regard to Confederate soldiers that might fall into their (your)