Fort Pillow Thesis

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The Battle of Fort Pillow, also known as the Fort Pillow massacre, was fought on April 12, 1864, at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River in Henning, Tennessee, during the American Civil War. The battle ended with a massacre of Union troops attempting to surrender to Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Military follower David J. Eicher said, “Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history.” and the Confederates calling it uncivilized. In response the Confederacy passed a law in May 1863 demanding that black U.S. soldiers captured while fighting against the Confederacy would be tried as slave opposers in civil courts; a capital offense with automatic sentence of death. The law stated that the Confederates should commit “full and complete retaliation” against such people. Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River north of Memphis, was built by confederate Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow in early 1862 and was used by both sides during the war. With the fall of New Madrid and Island Number 10 to Union forces, Confederate troops evacuated Fort Pillow on June 4, in order to avoid being cut off from the rest of the Confederate army. Union forces occupied Fort Pillow on June 6 and used it to protect the river approach to Memphis. The fort…show more content…
The black soldiers belonged to the 6th U.S. Regiment Colored Heavy Artillery and a section of the 2nd Colored Light Artillery, under the overall command of Major Lionel F. Booth, who had been in the fort for only two weeks. Booth had been ordered to move his regiment from Memphis to Fort Pillow on March 28 to augment the cavalry, who had occupied the fort several weeks earlier. Many of the regiment were former slaves who understood the personal cost of a loss to the Confederates, at best an immediate return to slavery rather than being treated as a prisoner of
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