Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Title Page, Copyright
A high bluff in the Fort Pillow State Historic Area gives visitors a panoramic view of the Mississippi River, but thick forest sharply limits the area visible in much of the park. Most of the time only bird calls and the breeze swishing through the foliage break the silence, for the site lays off the beaten path and does not draw many visitors. ...
Map of Mid-Mississippi Valley
Map of Fort Pillow in 1864
Chapter 1. The Fort’s Beginnings
Before the Civil War, Gideon Pillow ranked as Tennessee’s best known war veteran. Pompously, he often reminded listeners about his extensive combat experience in the Mexican War as a major general, a position gained solely through political connections. After that war he earned great wealth as a lawyer, ...
Chapter 2. The Federal Attack
Captain Andrew H. Foote, the career navy man who commanded the Federal Mississippi fleet as its flag officer, worried about the strength of Fort Pillow, as described in fairly accurate reports from spies. Furthermore, the recent death of a son had depressed the spirits of the emotional fifty-five-year-old man ...
Chapter 3. Military Life at the Fort
One of the first Confederates stationed at Fort Pillow wrote that it sat on the Chickasaw Bluff “so high that I have thought many of us would never get nearer to heaven.” The site offered a pleasant campground and beautiful vistas during the warmer part of the year. During winter, though, Private James M. Williams ...
Chapter 4. The First Federal Garrison
A succession of individual gunboats maintained a weak Federal presence at Fort Pillow during the summer of 1862. After the Confederate evacuation, civilians worried about what the change of government would entail. Secessionists insisted that the populace avoid contact with Federals on the grounds that the conquerors ...
Chapter 5. The Last Garrison and the Massacre
Major William F. Bradford led a unionist battalion, the misnamed 13th Tennessee Cavalry, to Fort Pillow on February 8, 1864. This intrepid thirty-six-year-old from a politically prominent family may have led a home guard force in Obion County, the state’s northwest corner, before beginning to organize ...
Chapter 6. The Massacre’s Aftermath
In the morning twilight of April 13, the Silver Cloud, a “tinclad” gunboat similar to the New Era but larger and plated with thin iron armor, traveled toward Fort Pillow. The ship and its interracial crew had left Memphis the previous evening in response to the first report of the attack. A transport loaded with reinforcements ...
Chapter 7. Public Memory and Fort Pillow
By the end of the war the fort resembled a ghost town. The only indication of life at the otherwise empty site was the small group of entrepreneurs once again operating stores at the steamboat landing. Weeds abounded on the fort’s parade ground, and the fl agpole stood unused. Graves, mostly without headboards, lay scattered about the site. ...
Appendix A: Tables
Appendix B: Compiling Data for Table 7
Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War
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