From History New Network by Alan Singer author of New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee:
April 12 is the 154th anniversary of the Civil War battle and massacre at Fort Pillow, located on the Mississippi River near Henning, Tennessee. It was a strategic location, held by United States (Union) forces just north of Memphis and controlling river access to and from St. Louis and the Ohio River Valley.
On April 16, 1864, the New York Times reported that rebel forces under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, after twice using a “flag of truce” to maneuver prior to attack, overwhelmed defenders. After taking the fort, “the Confederates commenced an indiscriminate butchery of the whites and blacks, including those of both colors who had been previously wounded.” Black women and children in the fort were also slaughtered. “Out of the garrison of six hundred, only two hundred remained alive.” In the same issue, the Times published an account of events from a “correspondent of the Union, who was on board the steamer Platte Valley at Fort Pillow.” This correspondent “gives even a more appalling description of the fiendishness of the rebels.”
“On the morning after the battle the rebels went over the field, and shot the negroes who had not died from their wounds . . . . Many of those who had escaped from the works and hospital, who desired to be treated as prisoners of war, as the rebels said, were ordered to fall into line, and when they had formed, were inhumanly shot down. Of 350 colored troops not more than 56 escaped the massacre, and not one officer that commanded them survives.”