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Capture of Fort Pillow.


March and April 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, April 15, 1864.


Capture of Fort Pillow.


Indiscriminate Murder of the White and Colored Soldiers.



Another Demand Made for the Surrender of Paducah.

Interesting Items from New Orleans.

Etc., Etc., Etc.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

CAIRO, April 14 – The demand of Captain Horn, C. S. A., upon Colonel Lawrence, at Columbus, Kentucky, must have been a mere farce of rebel bravado, as no further demonstration on their part has been made since Colonel Lawrence made his reply. Nor is such an attempt feared at present. It is said by Union scouts and parties who suffered in the loss of horses, mules and other property that Horn’s command confronting Columbus, consisted of about eighty men, and they employed their time when the flag of truce was being considered, to steal everything of value they could place their hands upon.

Upon the person of a woman suspected of secreting a rebel mail at Columbus, was found a list of five brigades of troops supposed to be with Forrest’s command, and the names of three Brigadiers and one Major General. It is possible, therefore, that Captain Horn’s flag of truce and demand for the surrender constituted a mere reconnaissance for the purpose of learning our strength and at the same time turning an honest penny and bushwhacking. Certain it is that the entire force of the rebels left yesterday in the direction of Mayfield.

General Brayman has received information from Colonel Hicks from Paducah in two dispatches, the first dated this forenoon, and the other this afternoon. The first sets forth that Paducah was being again attacked this morning by a force of rebels, the number not estimated, and word sent in that one hour would be allowed for the women and children to leave. After waiting the hour specified a small force reattacked and fought some time, while their spare men were busy in stealing horses, which had been temporarily stabled in the rollying mill, but were finally shelled off by Colonel Hicks and the gun boat forces. Colonel Hicks reiterates his entire ability to protect himself and defeat the enemy, but ere this he has been further reinforced. It is possible that the main force, supposed to have been at Mayfield yesterday, has concentrated near Paducah, but it is not known, and looks as though Forrest was making these half way attacks for the purpose of covering the real and important movement. It may prove an attack, and may prove a feint to cover a retreat, and moving his ill-gotten plunder. Nothing from Fort Pillow.


CAIRO, April 14, – The steamer Platte Valley has just arrived from Memphis. As she passed Fort Pillow yesterday she was stopped by the rebels, while the battle was going on. The rebel force was about six thousand, under Forrest in person. Colonel Bradford, of the 1st Alabama (colored) regiment, was in command of the fort, with about six hundred men. The rebels appeared first with a flag of truce, and placed their forces at daylight while it was being considered. They then opened with artillery and small arms, and took one fort, turned its heavy guns upon the former, and poured death and destruction into our ranks. Col. Bradford was wounded and seeing he could not hold out though ably seconded by gunboat No. 7, finally capitulated at three P. M. In about an hour the enemy came in and cruelly butchered every colored soldier they could lay hands upon, and the officers commanding the companies. The following commissioned officers are killed: Captain T. L. Bradford, of Toledo, company A, 13th Tennessee cavalry; Lieutenant J. C. Barr, company B, 13th Tennessee cavalry; Lieutenant J. C. Akerstorm, company C, do; Lieutenant Wilson, company A, do; Lieutenant Rend or Renel, company E, do.

Wounded, Lieutenant Lippert, company A, 1st Alabama; Capt. Jno., A. Porter and Adjutant Lemming, same regiment.

Major Bradford, who was in command, refused to receive the flag of truce bearer at first, but finally received them. The rebels took advantage of it.

The Platte Valley was under the convoy of a gunboat from Fort Pillow. No trouble between here and there.

Many passengers, while under flag of truce, and while the wounded were being taken on board, saw the rebel soldiers butchering the colored men on the field, and mutilating their bodies already dead, mostly those of colored soldiers. It was found that out of the 600 composing the Garrison only 200 were alive, and some of these were wounded. The Platte Valley has 51 wounded. The prisoners taken, as far as known, were Lieutenant N. D. Logan, company C, 13th Tennessee cavalry; Captain John C. Young, 24th Missouri infantry, acting as Provost Marshal, and Captain John H. Poston, company H, 13th Tennessee cavalry.

After the capitulation the rebels commenced dismantling the works and carrying off what guns there were. The latter were to be taken to Brownsville. It was supposed that Chalmers’s force would quickly evacuate the fort and not endeavor to hold it. Five wounded died on the way up.

Forrest had his horse shot and was himself wounded. Forrest acknowledged his loss to be large, and that no more severely contested battle was ever fought.

[To the Associated Press.]

CAIRO, April 14. – As stated in a dispatch yesterday, the rebels attacked Fort Pillow with six thousand men on the morning of Tuesday, the 12th. Forrest, soon after the attack began, sent in a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the fort and garrison, and in the meantime disposed his troops so that he gained a decided advantage.

Major Booth, of the 13th Tennessee cavalry, was in command of the fort, having under him about 400 of that regiment and 200 of the 1st battalion of the 6th United States heavy artillery, formerly the 1st Alabama (colored) cavalry. The flag of truce was refused and returned to the rebel headquarters, and the fighting was resumed. Afterwards a second flag of truce came in, and this also was refused. Both flags gave the rebels in advantage in gaining new positions.

The battle was kept up until about three o’clock in the evening when, Major Booth being killed, the rebels followed up their last flag of truce in swarms, overpowering our forces and compelling their surrender.

Immediately upon the surrender ensued a scene which baffles description. Up to that time comparatively few of our men were killed, but insatiate as fiends, and blood thirsty as devils incarnate, the Confederates commenced an indiscriminate butchery of whites and blacks, even those of both colors who had been previously wounded.

The black soldiers became demoralized and rushed to the rear of their white officers, having all thrown down their arms, became defenseless. Both white and colored were either bayoneted or sabered, even the dead bodies were horribly mutilated. Children of seven or eight years and several negro women were killed in cold blood.

This all occurred after the surrender. Soldiers unable to speak from wounds through up their arms and were shot dead, and their bodies in many cases were rolled remorselessly down the high banked into the river. Dead and wounded Negroes were piled up in huts and burned, and several citizens who had joined our forces for protection were killed or wounded.

When it came to collecting the living men, it was found that all out of 600 that could be found was about 200. The most of these were killed after the surrender. Among our dead commissioned officers are Captain Bradford, of the 13th Tennessee cavalry; Lieutenant Barr, Lieutenant J. C. Akerstorm, Lieutenant Wilson, Lieutenant Revel and Major Booth, of the same command; Lieutenant N. D. Logan, 13th Tennessee cavalry; Captain John C. Young, 24th Missouri, acting as Provost Marshal, and Captain J. H. Poston, 13th Tennessee cavalry, were taken prisoners. Major Bradford was also captured, but is said to have made his escape. It is feared, however, that he has been killed.

The steamer Platte Valley came up about half past three, and was hailed by the rebels under a flag of truce, and men were sent ashore to bury the dead, and bring on board such wounded as the rebels had allowed to live: fifty-seven were taken on, in all, including seven or eight colored men. Eight died on the passage.

The steamer arrived here late this P.M., and was immediately sent to Mound City Hospital to discharge her suffering cargo. Of the number known to be wounded in the 6th regular heavy artillery are Lieutenant Libberts, company A; Captain John A. Porter and Adjutant Leming.

Six guns were taken by the rebels and carried off. Two 10-pound Parrots and two 12-pound howitzers were among them. A large lot of valuable stores were destroyed or carried away. The intention of the rebels seemed to be to evacuate Fort Pillow and go on towards Memphis.

CAIRO, April 14. – Another demand is been made this afternoon for the surrender of Paducah, and one hour given for the removal of the women and children. Colonel Hicks refused to surrender, and prepared to meet the anticipated attack.