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Stories from the Battle of Fort Pillow

Stories and Antedotes on those who fought
at Battle of Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864

      This page relates some of the personal stories and events of those who were at the battle.  Some of these
stories are documented facts and some are eye-witness accounts.  The page provides more details about the soldiers who fought and died at the battle.   It tries to sort out fact from fable. 


Andersonville Cemetery
   A sample of Graves of several soldiers who were captured
   at Fort Pillow and died at Andersonville Prison Camp, GA.
History of Andersonville      A short history of the National Cemetery at Andersonville.

Confederate Soldiers
Stories about some of the Confederates.
 Union Soldiers & Civilians Stories about some of the Union soldiers.

Medical Reports

Details of the wounds described by Medical Reports
Role of General Hurlbut  Disobeying orders, corruption and failure to defend his area.




  The Union prisoners captured at Fort Pillow were sent to Camp Sumter, also known as Andersonville.  Those from the 13th Tennessee Cavalry arrived along with the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, who surrendered at Union City a few days earlier. The black prisoners from Fort Pillow were not sent here.  After the war ended, the cemetery was made a National Cemetery. 

   Left is a replica of the North Gate where the prisoners entered. 
   Right is a statue at the entrance to the National Cemetery.

Statue at Andersonville Cemetery
Andersonville Cemetery

This is a few of the 100+ graves of Fort Pillow prisoners who are buried at Andersonville Cemetery.
Their unit identity is recorded in the database of the National Cemetery.
Below are only a few solders from the
13th Tennessee Cavalry, with full identity following the photos.

  Grave - Alexander    Grave - Babb   Grave - Metheney   Grave - Childers  Grave - Long 
   Grave - Lovett   Grave - Pratt    Grave - Ralph    Grave - Ray   Grave - Carter

    Grave - Scarborough     Grave - Scoby    Grave - Needham   First Grave - Lemmons  Second Grave - Lemmons      

Short biography of above soldiers.  All dates are 1864 unless otherwise stated.

Patton S. Alexander  #8493 - Corporal,  Company D, 13 Tennessee Cavalry.  From Obion County, 5 children. Enlisted in 1st Tennessee Mounted Regiment in 1846 and served in Mexican War.
  Died Sept 11.

George W. Babb, Jr. .#2006  Company A, 13 Tenn Cavalry. 
From Obion County.  Died June 15 of Diarrhea. 

Velentria V. Metheney  #9783   Sergeant.  Age 18.  Company A,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  Said to have deserted Feb 17 & returned to his unit.  Died September 26.

Ed  "Uriah" Childress  #7523 Company E,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  Died Sept 1.

John N. Long  #4575  Age 21. Company A,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  Died August 2.

William T. Lovett  #1223  Company A,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  One of first of Fort Pillow Prisoners to die at Andersonville on May 19, only 37 days after being captured.

Charles Pratt  #5309  Company A, 1 US Artillery, assigned to Fort Pillow.  

J. F. Ralph  #1783   Company E, 13 Tennessee Cavalry.  Died June 9.

Samuel Ray  #2132  Company A,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  Enlisted at age 18.  Died June 18.

Henry C. Carter  #2940  Company E,
13 Tenn Cavalry. Died July 6.   Brother to Corporal William B. Carter who died at Andersonville on October 22.

Solomon N. Scarborough #3035  Company B,
13 Tenn Cavalry.  Died in camp Andersonville July 8.

John H. Scoby  # 7787  Company B, 13 Tenn Cavalry.  Died in Quarters Andersonville Sept 4.

Thomas E. Needham  #9640  Company C,
13 Tenn Cavalry.   Died Sept 24.

Lemmons :   There were two soldiers with simliar names and confusing records.  The
National Park database for Andersonville lists both as in the 13 Tennessee Cavalry and both died on same day.  NPS lists the graves as shown below. From the NARA records, John E. Lemmonsis is identified as the 13 Tennessee soldier buried in Grave #3830.
  # 4114 
John C. Lemmons   Company A.  Sergeant.  Died July 23. (NPS)
  # 3830  John E. Lemmons   Company A.  Sergeant.  Died Andersonville July 22.  (NARA)

History of Andersonville Prison Camp
  The Confederates began moving the prisoners out of Andersonville in September 1864 after the fall of Atlanta. On Aug. 9 Andersonville's prison population peaked at 33,006. Not sure if they were receiving any more prisoners after that, but they were down to 31,693 at the end of the month--with 2,992 deaths recorded in August so they might have received a thousand or so. By the end of September there were only 8,218 with 2,700 having died during the month.
     In October another 1,560 died, and some were transferred out as only 4,208 remained at the end of the month. In November another 485 died and more transferred out leaving only 1,359 at the end of the month. By the end of the month the threat that Andersonville might be taken by the Federals was gone.
     The CSA began moving prisoners back in with 4,706 at the end of December and staying near that for the remainder of the war. This is about the same number it had at the end of its first month of operation in March of 1864. The mortality rate was more reasonable as a result, falling to 3% per month (still very high) vs. about 10% per month in Aug/Sept. 
    Dorence Atwater of the 2nd New York Cavalry was transferred into Camp Sumter in 1864.  At 19 years of age, he was assigned by the camp commander to record the names of deaths in the camp.  Atwater began to keep a secret copy of the list which he took with him when he was released.   Immedialely after the war ended, the Army sent an expedition to transform the rough burying ground into a national cemetery.  Dorence Atwater worked with Clara Barton on the re-burial of the soldiers and notification of the next of kin.  Clara Barton was given the honor of raising the flag on the new cemetery on August 17, 1865.  Thanks to their efforts, the cemetery contains 13,714 graves and only 921 are marked "unknown".


References Sources for Andersonville

   Andersonville Diary: With a List of the Dead,  Published by Digital Scanning Inc. 
This book contains excerts from John Ransom's diary that was originally published in 1881.  The book also includes a complete list of the known soldiers buried at Andersonville Cemetery, sorted by state and listing their regiment and date of death and headstone number.

   NPS - National Park Service, Soldiers & Sailors Database. 
   The NPS site allows search for all Civil War soldiers.  You can also search a database of prisoners at Andersonville and those buried there.
External Link to:  NPS Cemetery Search  


Return to Top of Page


Stories of Union Combatants
    The following are details about some of the Union soldiers who were at Fort Pillow.
     The officers are listed first followed by stories of some of the enlisted men. 
         NARA icon  Click on this icon to view NARA record for soldier.

    Major William Bradford was
acting commander of the fort after Major Booth was killed by a sniper.  When the fort fell, Major Bradford fled and jumped into the Mississippi River in an attempt to escape.  The Confederates fired volleys at him but missed.  He was retrieved out of the water and then tried to run up the bluff.  Again, volleys were fired at him and he was taken prisoner without any injuries.  During the night he escaped from the Confederate Officer's tent.  He was re-captured and one version is that he was shot trying to evade capture and the other story is he was executed.  Major Bradford grew up in Tennessee not very far from General Nathan Forrest's childhood home.  They were neighbors.

  Captain Theodore Bradford, brother to Major Bradford, was acting as signal officer and attempted to signal the gunboats for help. As the Confederate assault over-ran the fort, they saw him on a ridge signalling.  One account said he shot 3 Confederates as they attempted to capture him.  An order was given to kill the officer and the advacing soldiers fired a volley.  He was said to have been shot to pieces by this volley.

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File Captain Charles J. Epeneter and his mess mate, Lt. Peter Bischoff, both had transferred from the 1st Missouri Light Artillery so they could obtain Officer commissions in Company A of the 6 USC Heavy Artillery.  Capt. Epeneter was manning the #4 gun when a ball fractured his head.  Lt. Bischoff continued to fight and when Major Bradford yelled for everyone "Save yourself", Lt. Bischoff stayed and tried to rally the troops. Capt. Epeneter was taken as a prisoner despite his head wound.  Lt. Bischoff survived and was transported with Captain Young to the prison camp.  Captain Epeneter escaped from a captivity in Charleson SC and returned to his unit on Nov. 4, 1864. 

  Surgeon Charles Fitch -  Charles Fitch was the Surgeon for the fort. He previously served as an Assistant Surgeon for the 4th Iowa Cavalry.  He rendered aid to the wounded down below the bluff.  He was also present to give aid after the battle had ended.  He testified for the Congressional Investigation while recovering at his home in Iowa but some did not think his statment supported their agenda.

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File Captain John T.Young was one of the few officers to have survived. He was a on the rolls with the 24th Missouri Infantry but was assigned to Fort Pillow as Provst Marshall.  During the battle, he was a member of the team that met for the truce, along with Lt. Leming and Captain Theodore Bradford.  After the battle, General Forrest’s aid selected Captain Young from the group of prisoners to help him negotiate a truce with the Union gunboats and transfer the wounded to the steamer “Platte Valley”.  Captain Young was first taken to Andersonville Prison but was later seperated, as the Confederates tried force him to sign papers denouncing the massacre.  After the war, he was a school teacher in Missouri and died in Los Angeles in 1915..

Lieutenant Mack J. Leming was the Adjutant with 13th US Tennessee Cavalry.  His name is recorded in different books and sources by various spellings: Lemming, Leaming, Learning, and even Seaming.  Lt. Leming testified to the Congressional investigation that he was shot at 15 paces after surrendering.  A Confederate who was a fellow Mason removed him from the field and placed him in one of the make-shift hospitals.  He testified several colored troops were killed before the wounded were moved to the steamboat.  His previous service was as a private in 72nd Illinois Infantry Regiment.

Lieutenant John C. Akerstrom was the QuarterMaster Officer and a member of Company E, 13th US Tennessee Cavalry.  Lt. Akerstrom was severly wounded. It seems the Confederates had a special grudge against Lt. Akerstrom.   Eye witness reports in the OR's and Congressional Investigation state Lt. Akerstrom was nailed to the side of one of the houses and it was set on fire. There were various accounts and descriptions of how he was found. 

 Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  Lt. Cordy Revelle had previously served in Hurst's 6th Tennessee Cavalry(US).  When he joined the 13 Tenn Cavalry, he was elected as an officer.  Cordy’s two brothers, Hardy Revelle and Axum Revelle, had served in Duckworth's 7 Tennessee Cavalry(CS) earlier in the war.  Both completed their required service or had deserted.  Hardy Revelle was a clerk in the town.  Lt. Cordy Revelle was also described as a clerk for the Army post.  During the battle, Hardy fought with the soldiers.  He survived the battle and was released.  However, Lt. Cordy Revelle was killed, most likely after the fort fell.  Another interesting connection is that their sister had married into a family who owned 400 acres in Fulton, just south of the fort.  This all seems to support the theory that Fort Pillow was used to transport stolen and black market goods.  Hardy wrote a letter from Fort Pillow the day before the attack.
Click to Open Trooper's NARA File   Hardy Revelle's records in Confederate cavalry.  Store Clerk and armed civilian.
Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  Axum Revelle's records in Confederate cavlry.  Not present.

   William (Billy) R. Nail of Company E, 13 Tennessee Cavalry had the misfortune of being captured by the 16th Tennesse Cavalry(CS) regiment from which he had deserted.  His name appears on the role of prisoners but there is no record of him enrolled into any prison camp.  Either he died of his wounds enroute to the prison camps or his former comrades executed him as a deserter. (Source: Ward)

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File John W. Long is mentioned on page 293 of "River Run Red" as being a survivor of Andersonville who later died when the Steamer SULTANA exploded on the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865.  The NARA files for John W. Long of the 13 Tennessee Cavalry states he died and was buried at Andersonville prison.  There was a John Long of the 3 Tennessee Cavalry whose NARA records and other sources prove he was the one who died on the SULTANA explosion.  It seems that the book got the wrong soldier and unit. There were no Fort Pillow prisoners on board the SULTANA.

   George W. Kirk of Company A, 13 Tennessee Cavalry was one of those captured during the battle.  Ward's book, "River Run Red", says had deserted from the 11 Texas Cavalry(CS) before joining Bradford's Union cavalry.  However, the NARA records for the soldier in the 11 Texas Cavalry(CS) was not the same person.  The NARA files show that George W. Kirk enlisted in the 13 Tennessee Cavalry(US) in December 1863. Upon capture, he was probably sent to Andersonville but there is no detail records on him there.  One prisoner form states he was released in North Carolina on February 27, 1865.  George Kirk died at sea in the disaster of the steamer GENERAL LYONS, which sunk caught fire during a storm and sunk on March 31, 1865 with the loss of 400 soldiers and paroled prisoners.

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  Jasper Cozart of Company E, 13th Tennessee Cavalry, enlisted on January 20, 1864.   Jasper Cozart was from Crocket County but enlisted at Union City.  He had a brother, Newton, who enlisted in the Confederate 6 Tennesse Infantry. After capture at Fort Pillow, Jasper was taken to Newborn, SC, where he escaped and made it to the Union lines on March 15, 1865.  He moved to Texas after the war and had a daughter.  I researched this soldier as I believe he was a relative of a friend at work who has family ties to Fayette County, Tennessee.

   Armstead Burgess of Company B, 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery, was one of the black soldiers who survived capture.  In August 1863, he enlisted into the 1st Alabama Siege Artillery(African Descent) in Corinth.  He was from Franklin, Alabama, as were many blacks who joined this unit. This unit was redisgnated the 6USCHA.  During the battle, Private Burgess was struck in the head and when he woke he was a prisoner.  He was among 20 black prisoners who were returned to hard labor.  In December 1865, he was sent to Richmond by train to work on defenses there.  By May 1865, he was still listed as MIA and possibly killed.  He eventually returned to his unit, now redsignated 11 USCT(new) and mustered out January 12, 1866.  Burgess was a farmer and property owner and lived in Tennessee and Arkansas.  He marrying three times and had 12 children. He died 1923 in Monroe County, Arkansas.     {Details provided by his great-granddaughter Yulanda Burgess}
  Click to view NARA Record.   Click to view Prisoner Form for Pvt Burgess of 11USCT issued at Richmond.

 After the battle, Daniel Tyler of Company B, 2nd US Colored Light Artillery,  was badly wounded and the Confederates threw him into the ditch and buried him.  He was lying near the edge and was able to dig his face out with his good hand. By dawn of the 13th, he managed to dig himself out about the time the gunboat “Silver Cloud” arrived.  He managed to get down to the gunboat.  There were many newspaper accounts about Tyler’s second deliverance. Though badly wounded and almost blind, he returned to his unit in May 1864.  He then went somewhere to recuperate and when he returned in March 1865, he was accused of being absent without leave and was imprisoned in Libby Prison in Memphis.  Amid the filth and deplorable conditions, he died in prison 4 months later on July 12, 1865.

  Michael Click was mortally wounded.  His name did not appear on any rolls of the wounded.  He was thought to have died at Andersonville but research of personal records showed that he died soon after the battle.  See Appendix B, Footnote 5 of Cimprich's book "Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory".  A total of 16 names are listed as those whose records were lost for a period of time after the battle.

  Isaac Ledbetter of Company E of 13 Tenn Cavalry was discharged and became a Methodist minister and postal clerk and had 6 childen.  He was the oldest living survivor of the Union garrison.  He died in Morrilton AR in 1935.

Charles Macklin (aka Koon) of Company C, 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery stood over 6 feet tall and had a patch of white hair near his temple. His owner in Alabama named Koon had sold him to the Macklin family in Carroll County, Mississippi.  He ran away to join the army.  After the battle, his body was easily identifiable by his height and the white patch of hair.  He was identified by his uncle, Charles Hughes who was a black cook serving with General Forrest's staff.    (Source: Ward)

   Adam, Simon and Essex Middleton.  These three brothers were present at the battle.  They were runaway slave who had joined Company C, 6 USCHA.   Essex Middleton was the only one of the brothers to have survived the battle.  After the battle he was identified by Capt. William Green Middleton, who was the son of their former master.   Captain Middleton found the bodies of the other two brothers by the river.  Capt. Middleton returned 
Essex back to their plantation before he himself was killed at Battle of Harrisburg.  Their names appear in the records of the reorganized 11USCT, the unit that succeeded the 6USCHA.  {See story of Capt. William Middleton in the Confederate stories, below.}

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  Sherry Blain (aka Blane), company D, 6 USCHA,  was the brother of Aaron Blaine, 6/D.   He was discharged in Jan 1866 and reclaimed his father's name, Thornton.  Attached Pension record shows his alias.

   John Hennessey   He enlisted at age 21 with Company A, 113th Illinois Infantry Regiment. He transferred to the 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery where he was promoted to Sergeant-Major.  Captain Smith offical report of the battle stated that Sgt. Hennessey was murdered after the flag of truce. However, Sgt. Hennessey escaped from the enemy and returned to his unit at Memphis on May 20, 1865.

  Lt. John Gregory
-  The service records of  Lt. Gregory, Co. A, 13 Tenn Cavalry, included a letter that states he was shot and killed by Major Bradford during a confrontation on Feb 23 1864 at Fort Pillow.  He was not killed at the Battle.  The story is that Lt. Gregory was angry when Major Bradford selected his brother, Theodorick, to command a newly formed company.  There was a confrontation and pistols were drawn and Lt. Gregory was killed.  It seems quite amazing that an Army officer was shot by his own commander and there is no report of any court martial or investigation. His story provides some insight into the discipline of the Union cavalry during this time.

   Lieut-Colonel Thomas Jackson was given command of the 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery on March 1864. Even though he was in command of the unit, he placed Major Booth in command of the unit in the field.  After the battle, Lt-Col. Jackson visited the Fort and became involved in the reporting of the events, both through official Army correspondence and other unofficial accounts.  Two stories that he circulated turned out to be questionable.  
   Lt-Col. Jackson developed an elaborate account of how the regimental flag was saved by Sgt. Eli Cothel of Company B.  The story goes that Sgt. Cothel was wounded early in the battle and as the fort was over-ran, he saw the regiment’s flag and took it and wrapped it around his body, thus staining it with his own blood while trying to rescue it. Sgt. Cothel never mentioned this account to any newspaper nor to the Congressional Investigation Committee for which he was a witness.  This could not have been Sgt. Cothel, because when he was wounded in the morning, he was taken down the bluff to the makeshift hospital and he escaped by crawling into the brush along the river.
Lt.-Colonel Jackson also identified Sgt. Cothel as the soldier who dug himself out after being buried alive by the Confederates.  This story is true but the real soldier was Daniel Tyler of Company B(see related story).  Lt-Col. Jackson also spoke highly of his troops by saying they continued fighting while retreating down the bluffs to the safety of the gunboats.  This did not match up with the account that was portrayed by the Congressional Investigation Committee. These stories told by Lt.-Col. Jackson as well as many other discrepancies he spoke about, may explain why the Committee did not include his testimony in their report.

   Lieutenant Willialm Clary of the 13 Tennessee Cavalry was returning to Fort Pillow onboard the gunboat Silver Cloud and witnessed the battle.  He testified to the Congressional Committee. 
    William E. Johnson, Company B, 13 Tennessee Cavalry, was also on board the Platte Valley, but was possibly out of sight of the fort.

Transfers from
3rd Illinois Cavalry

Three of the officers transferred from the 3rd Illinois Cavalry into the 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery.

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  Captain Delos Carson, Company D, 6 USCHA.  Captain Carson was in command of Company D during the battle.  Private Fran Hogan witnessed Captain Carson shot after the surrender.  His previous service was a private in the 3rd Illinois Cavalry.  Many white soldiers jumped at the opportunity to join a colored regiment so they could get a quick promotion.

   Lt. Daniel Van Horn, Company D
, 6 USCHA.  Lt. Van Horn was slightly wounded.  He changed clothes and escaped capture.  He wrote a report of the battle and accounted for the officer casualties.  His report was published in the Joint Committee Report.

Click to Open Trooper's NARA File  1st Sergeant Melville Jenks, Company D, 6 USCHA. This name was mentioned in some OR's but he was not mentioned in Ward's book and many other sources.  His records say he was a 1st Sergeant in Company D.  His NARA records describes him as "florid" or reddish, which means he was not a black man.  His records state he was wounded and also taken prisoner.  His death certificate specifically stated that he died at Andersonville but there is no record of him being a prisoner there or even buried there.  None of the soldiers from the 6 US Colored Heavy Artillery, neither black or white, were sent to Andersonville.
  Further research of his records show that he enlised in the 3rd Illinois Cavalry and served in Company I with Delos Carson and Daniel Van Horn. He joined the 6USCHA at Corinth on
25 November 1863 by Lt. Meagher.  It appears the artillery unit was still forming at this time--- and only 4 months before the Battle of Fort Pillow.
  The newspaper article, below, tells what happened to 1st Sgt. Melville Jenks and Captain Carson.


This is an article from the The New York Herald Tribune, dated May 2, 1864. 
Remember this is a newspaper account and sometimes they got it wrong.

  "The captain of Company C was on leave of absence at Memphis, consequently he is safe. The first lieutenant, Company C, John D. Hill, was killed early in the morning. The second lieutenant, Company C, F. McClure, is wounded and prisoner. The captain of Company D, Delos Carson, was taken prisoner, as far as we have heard, and was shot two miles out from Fort Pillow, because he acknowledged to be a captain of a colored company.

  The 1st Sergeant of Company D, Melville Jenks, was shot while bearing a flag of truce to the Rebels, in token of his and his squad of men's surrender. He had got nearly up to them before they fired on him, then they murdered the squad of men that had thrown down their arms. The whole number killed will exceed 250; all but about 75 or 100 were murdered in cold blood after they were overpowered. They never surrendered, as has been published, but were taken by storm, fighting until completely crowded out of the little fort by the Rebels coming in."
                         (Source Webpage: )

 Note:  the article does not say Sgt Jenks was killed---only shot. 


CAC's-- Civilian Armed Combatants
Stories of Civilians at the battle

The following are details about the civillians who were at Fort Pillow or witnessed the attack from the safety of the gunboat or an island.  CAC's were Civilian Armed Combatants or those civilians who picked up a rifle to help fight the Confederates.

   Charles Robinson
was a civilian from Minnesota who had gained experience in photography.  This allowed him to follow the army and take photos of the soldiers.  Due to unknown circumstances, he was at Fort Pillow on the day of the battle.  When the firing started, they issued him a Union tunic and a rifle.  He surrendered when the fort was over-run and some Confederates stole his money and watch.  Later, his tunic was taken, which allowed him to blend in with the Confederates soliders.  He was eventually released.
              (Source:  Letter he wrote on April 17 & published in Minnesota Historical Society article
                            "Fort Pillow 'Massacre'; Observations of a Minnesotan".)

Elvis has left the Fort
  One of the civilians who worked in the town was Elvis Bevel from Osceola, Arkansas. He testimony was taken on April 23, 1864 at Ciairo and appears in the Congressional Report.  He was forced out of his home by Confederate guerillas and escaped Fort Pillow on 11th April.  When the battle started, Elvis went to the protection of the fort but he didn't take up a weapon.  He was told to go down the bluff and get on the gunboat with the women.  However, he hide behind a tree stump below the bluffs and was a witness to the Union evacuation of the fort.
   I have searched Census records for someone with this name and could not find this name anywhere.  Then I discovered that some copies of the
Congressional Report, the witness is listed by the name of Elios Bevel. The testimony seems to be that of a man and not a woman but I'm not sure of the identify of this person.  They testified they were close to the fighting and saw "their bayonets and swords". 
                                                      (Source: "River Run Red"  pages 159, 231, 242, 282.)

Three Revelle brothers:   Axum M. Revelle, Hardy Revelle and Cordy B. Revelle, who was a Lieutenant with the 13 Tennessee Cavalry.  These brothers were from West Tennessee and had family connections.  Two of the brothers had joined the Confederate Army early in the war but deserted.  Lt. Cordy Revelle was with the 13 Tenn. Cavalry and was killed at the Battle of Fort Pillow.  Hardy Revelle was a clerk in the town and took up arms during the battle but survived.  He escaped to Missouri and eventually joined a Union regiment.  Axum Revelle made frequent trips to Fort Pillow as he seemed to have been selling cotton and sending it up the river. 
              (See more under Lt. Cordy Revelle, above, and also General Hurlbut's story, below.)

Return to Top of Page

Stories of Confederate Combatants
    The following are details about some of the Confederate soldiers who were at Fort Pillow.

   Lt.-Col. Wiley Martin Reed, commander of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry, was standing next to Lt. N. B. Burton about 80 yards from the fort's parapets.  Both were struck by a volley.  Lt-Col. Reed was severely wounded and Lt. Burton was killed.
  The loss of commander of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry was mentioned in General Forrest's correspondance on the results of Fort Pillow.  The "Confederate Military History: Tennessee" mentions Lieut-Col. Wiley Reid was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister (page 282).  It also states that Lieut. Col. Reed investigated the series of atrocities of Col. Fielding Hurst of the 6th Tennessee(USA) Cavalry.  This report was passed on to General Forrest and can be found on page 118, Vol. XXXII, Part 3 of Official Records of the War.
   Col. Reed was mortally wounded in the Battle of Fort Pillow. 
His men took him to Jackson, TN, where he died after 19 days of excruciating pain.  After his death, General Forrest lead a funeral procession for him on May 1st.  Forrest and his remaining command immediately departed for their return to Mississippi.   An Atlanta newspaper dated 1877 said his body was moved to Nashville for re-internment 13 years later.

  General James Ronald Chalmers   - James Ronald Chalmers was a lawyer and a district attorney in Marshall County, MS, before the war.  He started the war in the infantry and was a Brigadier General at Battle of Shiloh where he commanded a brigade.  He was briefly in command of Colonel Forrest's regiment. Chalmers transferred from the infantry and began to organize a cavalry division after the fall of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863.  General Chalmers led his cavalry brigade on several raids in North Mississippi and against the Memphis & Charleston RR at Collierville, TN.
   When General Forrest was promoted, General Chalmers and his division were assigned to Forrest's new cavalry corps.  The two generals got into a dispute and Chalmers asked to be re-assigned. The Confederate command refused to transfer Chalmers and they resolved their differences.  Chalmers accompanied Forrest on the West Tennessee raid. 
   For the attack on Fort Pillow, Forrest selected Chalmers to lead two brigades.  However, Forrest and his escort accompanied them and he eventually took command of the battle.  General Chalmers is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis along with
Col. Clark R. Barteau, who commanded the 22nd Tennessee Cavarly.

Captain William Green Middleton, Capt. of Co. E, 18 Mississippi Cavalry. 
   His name was not on my original list of casualties, but was added later.  The following account was found in Ward's "River Run Red".
  Capt. Middleton was at Battle of Fort Pillow, where he came upon one of three runaway slaves from the family plantation of his father Holland Middleton of Panola County, MS.  The three slaves were Adam, Simon and Essex Middlton and all had joined Company C, 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery Essex was the only one of the three black soldiers to have survived the battle.  Capt. Middleton found Essex after the battle and the bodies of his two brothers were found by the river.  Capt. Middleton returned Essex back to their plantation before he himself was killed at Battle of Harrisburg.  
  After pulling up his NARA record, it stated that he 
was wounded slightly in the arm at the Battle of Fort Pillow

  Captain J. Cardwell Wilson, Company F, enlisted September 20, 1863 in Henry Co., TN, by Colonel Bell for 3 years.  Appointed Captain on September 20, 1863.   "Died Apl. 16, 1864 of Wounds received at Fort Pillow, Apl. 12, 1864". Described as 25, blue eyes, dark hair, dark complexion and 6 feet.  He was the brother of Col. Andrew N. Wilson, who commanded the 16th Tennessee Cavalry, which also fought at the battle.   
   Cardwell Wilson enlisted in the 5th Tennessee Infantry in 1861. He was elected Lieutenant in 1862 and was wounded and captured at Perryville (KY, Oct. 1862).  He served as 2nd Lieutenant in Company G to June 30, 1863. Before his exchange, the regiment was consolidated and his position eliminated.  He recruited a company for the 20th Tennessee Cavalry and became its captain.  At the Battle of Fort Pillow, he was shot through the lungs "while charging at the head of his company. He was carried by his men on stretchers eighteen miles to Dr. Brodie's, where he died after lingering several days" on April 16, 1864.  Two of his men ("Hard" Wilson and Smith Randle) were detailed to wait with him.
   (Source for quotes are from a
website on 20th Tennessee Cavalry)

   Colonel Andrew "Drew" N. Wilson was commander of the 16 Tennessee Cavalry(CS).  He was one of 4 brothers who fought at Fort Pillow.

  Lt.-Col. Dew Moore Wisdom was commander of the Forrest's Escort company. He had first served as a captain in Missouri and was badly wounded.  After Shiloh, he joined the cavalry and fought with General Forrest, where he was wounded again at Harrisburg, Miss.  He would lead the assault on Fort Pillow.  Later he would play a leading part in the Battle of Brice's Crossroads on June 10, 1864.

  "Hancock's Diary"  or A History of the Second Tennessee Confederate Cavalry   This is a diary of a member of Barteau's 2nd Tennesee Cavalry regiment published in 1877 and is available free on Google Books.  In the chapter on Fort Pillow he lists the casualties of the regiment.  The diary gives detail of one of the casualties as follows:
   "William Duke's leg was broken near the ankle joint by a firle-ball, and after examination and conultation our surgeons decided to amputate his foot. As soon as Duke learned their decision he called on D. B. Willard ( a member of Company C who carried him from the field) to hand him his pistol, and said, "I'll shoot the first man who attempts to cut off my foot."  "If you don't want it cut off it will not be done," said Willard.  By request of Duke, Willard made some splinters, and finally the surgeons assisted in bandaging his leg, and the result was he soon got well, and thus saved his foot."
    The diary also stated 1st Lt George Leave "fell mortally wounded by a canister-shot".  NARA records show a 1st Lt. George Love of Company D was killed in tthe battle.

Samuel Allen, Private of Co. C, 18 Mississippi Cavalry Battalion. 
   Two of the last names added to my list of Confederates were from the 18 Mississippi Cavalry Battalion, commanded by Lt-Col. Alex Chalmers, the brother of General J. R. Chalmers.  I was not sure if this regiment participated in the battle as many of the regiments were swapped between brigades in order to carryout diversionary operations.  Samuel Allen was one of those killed in the battle.  He was listed as an escort for General Chalmers' staff.  This might mean that he was present but the 18 Mississippi Cavalry was not.  However, Rowland's history of this regiment states this regiment was the first to enter the fort during the assault.  Two other members
of the 18 Miss. Battalion were also casualties: Lt. R. J. Hubbard  was mortally wounded and Capt. William Middleton(see above) was slightly wounded.

 John Bond, Pvt of Co. G, 16 Tennessee Cavalry.
Lynn Shaw, a local historian at Brownsville, reports the family history says that John Bond joined up with General Forrest at Brownsville just before the Battle of Fort Pillow.  He was wounded and returned to Brownsville, where he was discharged.  It is said his only service was this one raid.  After the war, he became a lawyer.
His National Archive record shows he was "left by order of Gen Chalmers" when the returned to Mississippi.  It also shows that he enlisted on July 13, 1863 at Jackson, TN.  There may be an explanation why John Bond joined the regiment but was not available for service until April 1864.

  Pvt Richard W. Cole of Black Hawk, MS.  The booklet called "Military Annals of Carrol County" is a small publication that documents the service of the citizens of Carroll Country, MS in various wars.  A quote from this booklet states that “Mr. Cole of Black Hawk was killed at Collierville”.  This refers to the battle of Collierville, TN, on 11 Nov 1863, where the 5 Mississippi Cavalry sustained many casualties.  Census records and National Archive records verify this Richard W. Cole was from Black Hawk and was killed at Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864 and not at Collierville.  This error may be attributed to the fact that this publication was written years after the war by a local historian without access to the National Archives records.            (This soldier is my great-great-grandfather.)

   Pvt James Edward Flowers, another member of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry who was killed in action.  He is buried in the Flowers family cemetery in Kilmichael, Montgomery County, MS.  His headstone is engraved with “Killed at Fort Pillow”.  A letter was printed in a Winona (Miss) paper in the 1920 describing his his brother and their family history.  The article said this brother and his sister were the only two siblings to have survived.  In the article it mentions that Edward Flowers died at Fort Pillow and his mother had his body reinterred at Kilmichael.

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Recognized Confederates at the Battle
    Sometimes a unit may be present at a battle but not the commander or vice versa.  This is a list of a few of those who were present and played a role in the battle or wrote an account of it years later.

  Capt. Charles W. Anderson  General Forrest Staff.  Lead a detachment of sharp shooters.  Negotiated parole of wounded.
  Capt. James Dinkins  Aide to General Chalmers.  Wrote “1861 to 1865, by an Old Johnnie”
  Dewitt Clinton "Clubfoot" Fort  Scout.  Wrote an account; "14 Letters to a Friend" 
  Lt-Col. Robert "Black Bob" McCulloch  Brigade Commander
  Col. Tyree H. Bell  Brigade Commander.  Biography states he helped soldiers climb the wall.
  Thomas F. Berry  Wrote account:  “Four Years with Morgan and Forrest"
   3rd Sgt. R. R. Hancock  2nd Tennessee Cavalry.  Wrote account: “Hancock's Diary”

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General Stephen Hurlbut under suspicion?
   Union General Stephen A. Hurlbut was in command of the XVI Corps assigned to protect Memphis and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, as well as send patrols into Northern Mississippi to break up Confederate radiers.  If General Hurlbut had obeyed his commanding officer, General Sherman, there would have not been any Union forces at Fort Pillow.  So why were the troops there?  Did Hurlbut have a personal agenda to keep them there?
  This section looks into some speculation and events that resulted in the build-up of Union soldiers at Fort Pillow.

  Did General Sherman order General Hurlbut to abandon Fort Pillow?

   Testimony at the Congressional Investigation revealed the fact that General Sherman had ordered Fort Pillow to be evacuated.  The fort was abandoned until the 13th Tennessee Cavalry(US) moved down from Missouri and occupied it.  They needed more recruits to fill out their regiment so they began conscripting men
from the farms in West Tennessee.  General Hurlbut also testified and gave his version of the events.
    General Hurlbut reponded to questions from the chairman of the Senate Committee with an answer that seemed to defy General Sherman's orders to abandon the fort.  His tesimony stated:
  "When the 52d Indiana was taken away it was temporarily abandoned until the 13 Tennessee came down to hold it as a recruiting point.  I considered  Fort Pillow as a place which ought to be held with a small garrison, and I think so yet.  And any navy officer or river man will tell you that the situation of the channel there requires it."  
    So instead of removing the 13th Tennessee, General Hurlbut sent artillery to strengthen the fortifications.  Typically, these small garrisons that guarded the river or the railroad were meant to be able to hold out for 8 to 24 hours until relief could arrive by boat or rail.  On March 26, 1864, Major Booth and the 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery arrived at Fort Pillow.  Hurlbut followed this with a letter that he would send more artillery and maybe a large gun.  A little later, a section of Company D of 2 US Colored Light Artillery arrived at Fort Pillow.   All of this was occuring after General Forrest began his raid into West Tennessee.  General Hurlbut stated he told Major Booth to report back on the condition of the fort and the troops.
  Andrew Ward in his book says that Major Booth did not communicate with Hurlbut for 10 days just before the battle.  Ward goes on to suggest that General Hurlbut probably destroyed all his records so that he would not be implemented in this disaster.  This is why there appears to be a lack of records and communications.
    Major Booth did write a brief note on April 3 that stated:
"Everything seems to be very quiet within a radius of from 30 to 40 miles around, and I do not think any apprehsions need be feld or fears entertained in reference to this place being attacked or even threatened. I think it is perfectly safe."
   Did Major Booth send back a negative report on the condition of the fort?  Did he report the poor training and morale of the 13 Tennessee Cavalry?   Then did General Hurlbut destroy these reports?  
    What details would we know if General Hurlbut had not destroyed any records?

 Why would General Hurlbut want to keep Fort Pillow open?

   General Stephen A. Hurlbut was commander of the XVI Corps and had the responsibility of securing the city and area around Memphis and the M&C RR.  Only a few days before the battle, OR's include communication between Generals Sherman and Grant and higher command about replacing General Hurlbut.  The discussion was prompted by General Hurlbut's lack of initiative to attack and confine General Forrest.  
   After the Battle of Fort Pillow, General Sherman realized that Hurlbut had disobeyed his earlier command to evacuate Fort Pillow.  General Hurlbut was relieved of his command on April 18th.  There was some speculation that General Hurlbut was dealing in contraband cotton.  The port at Memphis was too busy for him to ship out his captured goods.  Fort Pillow was an ideal location to hide his operation.  On one hand General Hurlbut was declaring he would enforce martial law over the city, yet on the other hand he was contributing to the corruption and using his power for personal gain.
   This suggestion that Fort Pillow was being used to smuggle contraband cotton is substantiated by the story of three Revelle brothers.  Hardy Revelle was a civilian working in the stores outside Fort Pillow.  He took up arms during the battle and survived.  His brother, Cordy B. Revelle, was a Lieutenant with the 13 Tennessee Cavalry. His job at the fort was acting as quartermaster for the regiment. This would give him access to shipments through the port.  The third brother was Axum M. Revelle who was traveling up and down the Mississippi River on various personal business.  He wrote a letter from the Fort on April 9 but he does not appear to have been there during the battle.
  These brothers seemed to be involved in smuggling contraband, presumably for General Hurlbut, as they had connections with family and friends in West Tennessee.  One of the brothers was married to a family that owned much of the land south of the fort.  There are documents of sale that show the Revelle brothers were shipping cotton out of Fulton, just south of the Fort.  They could not do this without consent of Union Army.
   By the end of the war, a special military commission had recommended Hurlbut's arrest and trial for corrupt practices that occurred at his next assignment in New Orleans.  The issue was dropped and he was allowed to be honorably discharged.
  Was General Hurlbut making a profit on the side by shipping captured contraband cotton out of Fort Pillow?

     U.S. Congress Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, "Fort Pillow Massacre", House Report No. 65, 38th Congress, 1st Session.
    “A Politician Turned General: The Civil War Career of Stephen Augustus Hurlbut”, by Jeffrey Lash, Kent State University Press, 2003.
  "Kill the Last Damn One of Them" by Noah Andre Trudeau.  MHQ; The Quarterly Journal of Military History;
        Vol 8 No. 2,
Spring 1996.
   "River Run Red" by Andrew Ward, Viking Penguin, 2005.
   "Axum Revelle and Fort Pillow" by Bettie B. Davis,  The Lauderdale County Enterprise, Dated March 29, 2012.

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Fort Pillow Prisoners

Total 226 Prisoners

The following table is a summary of the number of prisoners from each regiment.  It is copied
from the Official Records.  Some soldiers were attached or loaned to the fort but were still listed
on the rolls of their original unit.  For complete roster of Union prisoners,  go to  US Prisoners.
The 226 prisoners included only the names of those who were captured inside the fort.  Other
prisoners were captured outside the fort and their names were not included in this list.          
Prisoner Summary Table
Note: The above Second US Light Artillery consisted of a section of Company D, 2 US Light Artillery (Colored).
However, my research shows that 5 prisoners of the 2 USCLA listed their unit as the 6 USCHA.

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Medical Report on Union Casualties
    The following medical records were found in the service records for these Union soldiers who were wounded at Fort Pillow.  The injuries of these soldiers and others were reported as evidence found in the US Congressional Investigation Report.

    David H. Taylor   -  Co. E, 13th Tennessee Cavalry (US)
Wounded in action at Fort Pillow after the surrender. 
Musket ball passed in under the angle of right jaw fracturing the symphysis, where it emerged. 
Second ball struck front of right shoulder joint, emerged immediately below coracoid process.
Third ball entered 3 inches below and a little to the right of ensiform cartilage, passing downwards, is lost.
Fourth ball in left knee fracturing inner condyle of femur, and passed into poplitael space.
Fifth ball upper part middle third thigh. 

     William P. Walker, Sgt  -  Co. D, 13th Tennessee Cavalry (US)
            Age 21.  Five Foot & 6 inches.
He was wounded four times in action at Fort Pillow April 12, 1864.
vis. 1st through left arm badly fracturing the humerus,
2d in left eye destroying it, 3d  in left side of neck,
4th in left shoulder, all after surrender.
Wounds received in action as stated in certificate above. 
The first wound produced serious compound fracture of the left humerus. 
The arm is useless & totally disabled & will be so for a long time. 
The left eye is entirely gone.
Disability total. 
Mound City Ill. 

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The Confederate Cavalryman

   The cavalry operations in West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi are a fasicinating study of the Civil War.  The Confedederate cavalryman rode long miles with little food and pay.  He fought hard with limited equipment and ammunition.  Some stories seem too amazing to be true. 
    Who were these men?  Where they as brave in battle as the post-war books describe? 
    What did their enemy have to say about them? 
     Here is what General Sherman wrote.
   In 1864, General Sherman wrote a 2700-word essay on this thoughts about the war that was intended for confidential eyes such as General Grant.  In this essay, he described the four classes of people living in the South.  There were the large plantation owners who supported the war and then the small farmers and laborers which made up 3/4 of the population and who had no real interest in the war.  The thrid group were the pro-Union landowners who were afraid of shadows and would do anything to appease the Confederates.

 The 4th group he called the "young bloods".  Sherman described them as follows:
       "The young bloods . . .  who never did work and never will.  War suits them, and
      the rascals are brave, fine ridders, bold to rashness and dangerous in every sense.
      They care not a sou for N-word, land or anything . . . they don't bother their brains
       about the past, present or future . . . the best cavalry . . . the most dangerous set
      of men this war has turned loose upon the world . . . when the resources of their
      country are exhausted, we must employ them."
                                                                          Source:  "Sherman: Fighting Prophet" by Lloyd Lewis.

Confederate troops operate the captured Union Guns

The following account is 
quoted from "River Run Red":

   Lee H. Russ of Forrest's Escort, who had followed the general into the fort, recalled how he and two of his comrades had to grab the wheels of the Parrott gun, back it out of the embrasure, roll it to the rim of the bluff, and aim it at the gunboat (New Era).  As one of his buddies loaded the charge, Russ rammed it home, only to discover that when the artillerists fled down the bluff they had taken their lanyards with them.  So one of Russ's buddies, Sergeant Billy Matthews, unbreeched his carbine, "drew a cartridge and forced it, inverted, into the magazine and closed up the breech, thus cutting off the ball and furnishing him a blank charge."  Stepping to one side, Matthews "deliberately fired his carbine into the touchhole of the cannon."


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   DixieBoys  Top Menu on Civli War
   Organization & Regiments
Photos of Fort Pillow State Park           Union River Fleet
Maps - Park and Battle
    A Brief History of Battle
Links to Casualty Rosters

Roster of Union Prisoners 
   Roster of Confederate Casualties
Roster of Union Casualties


Reference Material

"Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory" by John Cimprich, LSU Press, 2005.
       ISBN 0-8071-3110-5.  192 pages.  Maps.
"River Run Red" by Andrew Ward, Viking Penguin, 2005.   530 pages.
     Sub-title "The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War". ISBN 0-670-03440-1.

“The Artillery of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry”.  John W. Morton,  Tennessee Regimentals series.

“The Campaigns of Gen. Nathan B. Forrest”.  Gen Thomas Jordan and J. P. Pryor.  Da Capo Press, 1996.  736 pages.

“Hancock's Diary” or "A History of the Second Tennessee Cavalry".  by R. R. Hancock, Brandon Printing Co, 1887.  644 pages.

History of the Confederate States published in multiple volumes in 1880's and reprinted in 1950's.
     “Confederate Military History: Tennessee”

     “Confederate Military History: Mississippi”
“Confederate Military History: Missouri”

"Military History of Mississippi; 1803-1898” by Dunbar Rowland.  New edition with supplement by H. Grady Howell, Jr.  Chickasaw Bayou Press, 2003.

"Military Annals of Tennessee” - Volume 1 -  History of each Tennesee unit.
"Military Annals of Tennessee” - Volume 2 -  Tabulated list of all soldiers of Tennesee.  J. M. Lindsay & Co. 1886, reprinted in 1974.

"Tennesseans in the Civil War"  A Military History of Confederate and Union Units - Civil War Centennial Commission 1964.

American Civil War Fortifications (3): The Mississippi and River Forts”, by Ron Field, Osprey Publishing 2007, 64 pages.  ISBN 978-184603-194-6.

U.S. Congress Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, "Fort Pillow Massacre", House Report No. 65, 38th Congress, 1st Session.

"14 Letters to a Friend: the Story of the Wartime Ordeal of Capt. DeWitt "Clubfoot" Fort".  Transcribed by Laurie B. McDonald. Details about Co. G, 2nd Missouri Cavalry. Edinburg, Texas, 2007.   ISBN 978-1-60530-979-8

“The Capture of Fort Pillow”  by Charles W. Anderson.  Confederate Veteran Magazine, Dec 1925.

"Kill the Last Damn One of Them" by Noah Andre Trudeau.   MHQ; The Quarterly Journal of Military History; Spring 1996, Vol 8 No. 2.   Published by American Historical Publications, Inc. hardbound.  Article on General Forrest and the battle.

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Go to Fort Pillow Confederate Casualties for complete list of 100 Confederate casualties at the Battle of Fort Pillow.

Go to List of Union Prisoners and Casualties
for a list of ~580 Union casualties at the Battle of Fort Pillow.

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