[The following takes place during the Battle of Fort Pillow which, after the Confederate attackers had successfully swarmed the Union garrison, quickly turned into perhaps the most infamous massacre of the American Civil War. A little more 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."]
A significant number of disarmed [Union] men were apparently shot down after capture as they obeyed rebel orders to climb the bluff and return to the fort. The teamster Davy Harrison of 13/D had run down under the bluff and huddled with two other men “close under a log.”
The rebels began to fire at everyone, black and white, killing one of Harrison’s companions. Harrison threw up his hands and cried, “Don’t shoot me! I surrender!”
”Go on up the hill,” a rebel commanded.
According to a reporter who interviewed him the next day, Harrison asked the rebel to walk in front of him for fear “he would be shot by others.” The rebel told him to go along, but he had not proceeded more than a few steps before he met another trooper who raised his pistol and aimed it at him. Harrison begged the rebel not to fire, but, “paying no attention to his request,” the trooper shot him first through the shoulder and a second time through his leg.
”I fell,” Harrison testified, “and, while I was undertaking to get up again, I was hit in the body; and this arm that was hit fell over behind me.” In fact, the shot had shattered the head of his humerus, nearly amputating his arm.
As he lay bleeding, Harrison asked a passing rebel to share some water from his canteen.
”Damn you,” the rebel replied, “I have nothing for you fellows. You Tennesseans pretend to be men, and you fight side by side with niggers. I have nothing for you.”
Another rebel approached with his pistol drawn “and asked if I had any money. I told him I had a little, and he told me to give it to him,” but Harrison “told him my shoulder was hurt, and he must take it himself. He turned me over and took about $90 and my watch.”
Ward, Andrew. “River Run Red.” River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War. Viking, 2005. 208. Print.
Original Source(s) Listed:
David W. Harrison in RJSCW.
Missouri Democrat, April 15, 1864.