think many of them were killed. They are yet wandering over the country, attempting to return to their masters. With reference to the status of those captured at Tishomingo Creek and Fort Pillow, I will state that, unless otherwise ordered by my Government, they will not be regarded as prisoners of war, but will be retained and humanely treated, subject to such future instructions as may be indicated.
Your letter contains many implied threats. These you can of course make, and you are fully entitled to any satisfaction that you may feel from having made them. It is my intention, and that also of my subordinate officers, to conduct this war upon civilized principles, provided you permit us to do so, and I take this occasion to state that we will not shrink from any responsibilities that your actions may force upon us. We are engaged in a struggle for the protection of our homes and firesides, for the maintenance of our national existence and liberty. We have counted the cost and are prepared to go to any extremes, and although it is far from our wish to fight under the black flag, still if you drive us to it we will accept the issue. Your troops virtually fought under it at the battle of Tishomingo Creek, and the prisoners taken there state they went into battle under the impression that they were to [would*] received further remark that if it is raised, so far as your soldiers are concerned, there can be no distinction, for the unfortunate people whom you pretend to be aiding are not considered entirely responsible for their acts, influenced as they are by the superior intellect of their white brothers.
I inclose for your consideration certain papers+ touching the Fort Pillow affair, which were procured from the writer after the exaggerated statements of your press were seen.
I am, general yours, respectfully,
S. D. LEE,
[Inclosure Numbers 4.]
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,
Memphis, Tenn., July 2, 1864.
Major General N. B. FORREST,
Commanding Confederate Forces, near Tupelo:
GENERAL: Your communications of the 20th and 23rd ultimo are received. Of the tone and temper of both I do not complain. The desperate fortunes of a bad cause excuse much irritation of temper, and I pass it by. Indeed, I received it as a favorable augury and as evidence that you are not indifferent to the opinions of the civilized world.
In regard to the Fort Pillow affair, it is useless to prolong the discussion. I shall forward your report, which you did me the favor to inclose, to my Government, and you will receive the full benefit of it. The record is now made up, and a candid world will judge of it. I beg leave to send you, herewith, a copy of the report of the investigating committee from the U. S. Congress on the affair.
*According to Lee's copy instead of the words "were to."
+See statements of Captain Young, pp. 594, 595.