War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0597 Chapter XLIV. FORREST'S EXPEDITION INTO W. TENN. AND KY.

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Fort Pillow, April 12, 1864.

General FORREST,

Commanding C. S. Forces:

I [we*] will not surrender.

Very respectfully,


Major, Commanding.

As all negotiations for a surrender proved unavailing, the major-general commanding gave orders to prepare for the assault. The time expired, and the bugle sounded the charge. Our brave troops dashed forward with a yell, and in less then twenty minutes firing had ceased, the work was done, and half the garrison lay weltering in their blood.

It is an easy matter to account for the loss of life at Fort Pillow when you understand the position of our forces and the ground they occupied. In making the assault our troops, being without bayonets, reserved their fire. As they dashed toward the fort one deafening roar of artillery and a volley of musketry greeted them, and the enemy disappeared under the brink of the bluff. As they descended the detachment from Barteau on the right and the three companies on the left poured into them an enfilading and deadly fire, at a distance of 40 to 100 yards. The assaulting line in the mean time had gained the brow and mowed down their rear.

For the survivors it was also a fortunate occurrence that some of our men cut the halyards and pulled down their flag, floating from a high mast in the center of the fort. Until this was done our forces under the bluff had no means of knowing or reason for believing that the fort was in our possession, as they could from their position see the flag but could not see the fort.

The wounded of the garrison were detailed, under the supervision of their own officers, to bury the dead and remove the wounded to the hospitals, tents, and buildings, under orders from General Forrest. I took with me Captain Young, a Federal officer, and endeavored to deliver a message, copy of which I here give:


Fort Pillow, April 12, 1864.


Commanding Gun-Boat Numbers 7., U. S. Navy:

SIR: My aide-de-camp, Captain Charles W. Anderson, is fully authorized to negotiate with you for the delivery of the wounded of the [Federal*] garrison at this place [upon your own or any other U. S. vessel*] on board your vessel.

I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,



We searched for a skiff or a small boat to go out to the vessel, but without success. Captain Young tried, by walking along shore and waving a white flag, to induce the vessel to send her boat ashore. Whether she saw our flag or was afraid to send her boat Captain Marshall alone can answer, as she soon steamed out of sight.

The burial of the dead continued until dark. On the next morning I was again sent to the fort by the major-general commanding; and refer you to my official report. (Copy of report marked A; correspondence with vessel, B.)


*According to Forrest's copy. See p. 616.