First with the Most Forrest

By Robert Selph Henry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
A SWORD AGAINST SHERMAN'S LIFE LINE*
April 14, 1864-June 9, 1864

The direct military consequences of the storming of Fort Pillow were small, outside a great flurry among the gunboats all along the Mississippi and its tributaries. Three boats were sent down from above and six ordered up from below, from points as far away as Fort De Russy up the Red River in Louisiana, 1 to be followed in a few days by two more, ordered from the mouth of White River on the rumor that Forrest was about to attack Memphis. 2 While Forrest's men were marching back inland to Jackson the wooded hills about Fort Pillow felt the crash of heavy shell thrown from the patrolling gunboats at small bodies of men or sometimes, apparently, just on rumor or general suspicion of rebels about.

On the way back from Fort Pillow, Major Bradford, the unfortunate commander of the ill-fated post, was killed by his Confederate captors. The circumstances are obscure and the testimony contradictory, but it appears that Bradford, whether by violation of parole or otherwise, escaped and was making his way to Memphis in civilian clothing, when he was gathered up in the conscription dragnet which Forrest was spreading through that part of West Tennessee, 3 was recognized and was sent on toward Jackson, to be sent south with other prisoners. In the vicinity of Brownsville he either attempted to escape and was shot, according to one story, or, according to another, was taken into the woods by a small party of his captors and shot. "I knew nothing of the matter until eight or ten days afterward," Forrest wrote the Federal commander at Memphis, adding that "if he was improperly killed nothing would afford me more pleasure than to punish the perpetrators to the full of the law." 4 There is no record of any such action, however, any more than there is record of action by the Federal authorities against Colonel Fielding Hurst on like complaints and charges made by Forrest.

Back in Jackson, Forrest received an order from General Polk to move promptly back to Okolona to meet, in conjunction with Stephen Lee,

____________________
*
The field of operations covered in this chapter is shown on the map on page 218.

-269-

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