River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War

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9780143037866: River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War

The fullest account ever written on the Civil War tragedy that stunned a nation

On April 12, 1864, 3,000 Confederate cavalrymen under General Nathan Bedford Forrest stormed the much smaller garrison of Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River, slaughtering hundreds of white Unionists and re-enslaving some sixty former slaves in uniform. Andrew Ward vividly recounts, as never before, the horrors of guerrilla warfare and the pent-up bigotry and rage that found release that bloody April day, producing a detailed and complex portrait of an event that continues to spark controversy.

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About the Author:

Andrew Ward is the author of numerous books, including the award-winning Dark Midnight When I Rise. He is a commentator for National Public Radio and columnist for the Washington Post.

From Publishers Weekly:

This massive narrative painstakingly recounts the notorious—and much-disputed—massacre of the Union garrison at Fort Pillow, Tenn., by Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate cavalry on April 12, 1864. The outnumbered garrison, containing an artillery regiment of 300 freed slaves and a cavalry regiment of 350 white Tennessee Unionists, asked for a truce but various errors on both sides led the Confederates to believe that the Union soldiers were refusing Forrest's call to surrender. The ensuing attack left approximately two-thirds of the garrison dead or taken prisoner. Ward (Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee Singers) details overwhelming evidence that many were killed while surrendering or wounded, and that the rebels slaughtered fleeing African-American civilians as well. A congressional investigation resulted, but Forrest returned to civilian life and reputedly went on to found the KKK. The author vividly builds his case, portraying a wide range of the actors in the drama as well as the broader context—western Tennessee's unhappy history of slavery meant that the Union garrison was riven from within while assaulted from without. Ward's story of this notorious "collision of Southerners—white and black" makes an outstanding addition to Civil War literature. (Sept.)
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