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[The following takes place from the perspective of Union troops fighting in defense at the Battle of Fort Pillow during the American Civil War. Context, courtesy of Wikipedia: “The Battle of Fort Pillow, which ended with 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 African-American Union troops and their white officers attempting to surrender, by soldiers under the command of Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Military historian David J. Eicher concluded, "Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history."”]

Nor did Green [Union artillerist Sam Green] emerge unscathed. “While I was serving my gun, I was first struck upon the left foot by a rifle ball that cut off my big toe.” He was subsequently shot through the back of his right hand, and suffered a severe contusion when his gun recoiled and “the butt end of the cannon” struck him in the hip, knocking him to the ground. His comrades carried him to a tent, but remarkably, Green soon shrugged off his injuries and “returned to my duty.”

Green’s valor was by no means unique. Though shot in the forearm, Private Willis Ligon, the former house slave who had waited on Forrest and his brothers during the Wizard’s slave-trading days, now stood by his gun at Fort Pillow. “I had nobody to relieve me,” he recalled, so he “just stood in one place until the fight was over.” Already deaf in his left ear from boyhood infections, he was now nearly deafened in his right by the battery’s pounding roar.

”There were a great many of the negroes wounded,” recalled Sergeant Weaver of 6/C, “because they would keep getting up to shoot, and were where they could be hit.”

”Never did men fight better,” wrote Second Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn of 6/D, “and when the odds against us are considered it is truly miraculous that we should have held the fort an hour. To the colored troops is due the successfully holding out until 4 p.m.,” for they “were constantly at their posts, and in fact through the whole engagement showed a valor not, under the circumstances, to have been expected from troops less than veterans, either white or black.”

According to “the uniform and voluntary testimony of the rebel officers as well as the survivors of the fight,” a correspondent for the Missouri Democrat would write after interviewing various participants the following day, “the negro artillery regiments fought with bravery and coolness of veterans and served the guns with skill and precision.” When a reporter for the Cairo News asked the survivors from the 13th Tennessee Cavalry “about the conduct of the negroes, they gave them great praise, saying they fought as only brave men can fight.”

James Brigham of New York declared that every man, “both black and white, fought manfully. I saw several negroes wounded, with blood running from their bodies, still engaged loading and firing cannon and muskets cheerfully.”

Five or six hundred men “successfully” defended Fort Pillow for eight hours “against 3,500 to 4,000 barbarians.” Brigham would later overhear Confederate officers declare the assault on Fort Pillow “the hardest contested engagement that Forrest had ever been engaged in.”


Source:

Ward, Andrew. “First Fire.” River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War. Viking, 2005. 168-69. Print.

Original Source(s) Listed:

Military, pension, and ration commutation files of Samuel Green.

Reason Barker, Thomas Brown, Morning Clay, Felix Davis, Steven Davis, Wilbur H. Gaylord, Henry Gillespie, Benjamin Jones, Pearson Lee, Henry Meeks, J. C. Shearer, in pension file of Samuel Green.

Samuel Green in pension files of Henry Dix and Jacob Jones.

Missouri Democrat, April 15, 1864.

Cairo News, April 16, 1864.

James Brigham in RJSCW.


Further Reading:

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Battle of Fort Pillow / Fort Pillow Massacre


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[**The following takes place from the perspective of Union troops fighting in defense at the Battle of Fort Pillow during the American Civil War. Context, courtesy of Wikipedia: “The Battle of Fort Pillow, which ended with 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 African-American Union troops and their white officers attempting to surrender, by soldiers under the command of Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Military historian David J. Eicher concluded, "Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history."”**] >Nor did Green [**Union artillerist Sam Green**] emerge unscathed. “While I was serving my gun, I was first struck upon the left foot by a rifle ball that cut off my big toe.” He was subsequently shot through the back of his right hand, and suffered a severe contusion when his gun recoiled and “the butt end of the cannon” struck him in the hip, knocking him to the ground. His comrades carried him to a tent, but remarkably, Green soon shrugged off his injuries and “returned to my duty.” >Green’s valor was by no means unique. Though shot in the forearm, Private Willis Ligon, the former house slave who had waited on [Forrest](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Nathan_B._Forrest_-_LOCc.jpg) and his brothers during the Wizard’s slave-trading days, now stood by his gun at Fort Pillow. “I had nobody to relieve me,” he recalled, so he “just stood in one place until the fight was over.” Already deaf in his left ear from boyhood infections, he was now nearly deafened in his right by the battery’s pounding roar. >”There were a great many of the negroes wounded,” recalled Sergeant Weaver of 6/C, “because they would keep getting up to shoot, and were where they could be hit.” >”Never did men fight better,” wrote Second Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn of 6/D, “and when the odds against us are considered it is truly miraculous that we should have held the fort an hour. To the colored troops is due the successfully holding out until 4 p.m.,” for they “were constantly at their posts, and in fact through the whole engagement showed a valor not, under the circumstances, to have been expected from troops less than veterans, either white or black.” >According to “the uniform and voluntary testimony of the rebel officers as well as the survivors of the fight,” a correspondent for the *Missouri Democrat* would write after interviewing various participants the following day, “the negro artillery regiments fought with bravery and coolness of veterans and served the guns with skill and precision.” When a reporter for the *Cairo News* asked the survivors from the 13th Tennessee Cavalry “about the conduct of the negroes, they gave them great praise, saying they fought as only brave men can fight.” >James Brigham of New York declared that every man, “both black and white, fought manfully. I saw several negroes wounded, with blood running from their bodies, still engaged loading and firing cannon and muskets cheerfully.” >Five or six hundred men “successfully” defended Fort Pillow for eight hours “against 3,500 to 4,000 barbarians.” Brigham would later overhear Confederate officers declare the assault on Fort Pillow “the hardest contested engagement that Forrest had ever been engaged in.” _________________________________ **Source:** Ward, Andrew. “First Fire.” *River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War*. Viking, 2005. 168-69. Print. **Original Source(s) Listed:** Military, pension, and ration commutation files of Samuel Green. Reason Barker, Thomas Brown, Morning Clay, Felix Davis, Steven Davis, Wilbur H. Gaylord, Henry Gillespie, Benjamin Jones, Pearson Lee, Henry Meeks, J. C. Shearer, in pension file of Samuel Green. Samuel Green in pension files of Henry Dix and Jacob Jones. *Missouri Democrat*, April 15, 1864. *Cairo News*, April 16, 1864. James Brigham in *RJSCW*. ________________________________ **Further Reading:** [Nathan Bedford Forrest](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Bedford_Forrest) [Battle of Fort Pillow / Fort Pillow Massacre](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Pillow) ___________________________ **If you enjoy this type of content, please consider donating to my [Patreon](https://www.patreon.com/HistoryLockeBox)!**

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