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1864 April 23: A “Fiendish Sentiment” on the Massacre at Fort Pillow

April 25, 2014

The following editorial is from the April 23, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  It denounced the stand taken by the La Crosse Democrat on the recent Fort Pillow battle and massacre.  The Democrat was written and published by M. M. “Brick” Pomeroy, who by this time in the Civil War had become a Copperhead.

The Battle of Fort Pillow, also known as the Fort Pillow Massacre, was fought on April 12, 1864, at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River in Tennessee.  The battle ended with a massacre of African-American Union soldiers—some while attempting to surrender.  They were killed by Confederate soldiers under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

A Fiendish Sentiment.

The La Crosse Democrat in speaking of the recent massacre at Fort Pillow—a massacre so brutal and horrid that the whole nation shuddered at the recital, has no word of condemnation for this atrocious barbarity, but coolly applauds the murderers, and says : “Placed in their situation, we all would do likewise,” and adds :

“The quicker the negroes, and the white men who have no more self respect than to accept commissions in nigger regiments, are killed off, the better it will be for all parties.”

Words fail to characterize the infamy of this sentiment.  The black regiments are mainly officered by our noblest men—men of culture and social position—with heroic virtues and gentle blood.  At Milliken’s Bend, at Wagner, and many other places, the blacks have shown how terribly a down-trodden race can fight.—They aid in upholding the banner of our safety, our pride, and our hope, and every one of them who wears the uniform takes the place of some white woman’s husband, son or brother—every one spares another white man to home and its endearments, to labor and its rewards.

And yet, an editor is found in Wisconsin to say that the sooner these men and their officers are killed, the better.—Such a man should be spurned from the fellowship of humanity ;  he should be harnessed to a dray by the side of a jackass, and the jackass should kick him to death and bray in derision over him.

Fort Pillow Massacre, from "Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War"

Fort Pillow Massacre, from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War”¹

1. “The Fort Pillow Massacre,” from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden (Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68):573; available in the UWRF Archives (E 468.7 .G87 1866).

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