Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory

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Overview

At the now-peaceful spot of Tennessee's Fort Pillow State Historic Area, a horrific incident in the nation's bloodiest war occurred on April 12, 1864. Just as a high bluff in the park offers visitors a panoramic view of the Mississippi River, John Cimprich's absorbing book affords readers a new vantage on the American Civil War as viewed through the lens of the Confederate massacre of unionist and black Federal soldiers at Fort Pillow.

Cimprich covers the entire history of Fort Pillow, including its construction by Confederates, its capture and occupation by federals, the massacre, and ongoing debates surrounding that affair. He sets the scene for the carnage by describing the social conflicts in federally occupied areas between secessionists and unionists as well as between blacks and whites. In a careful reconstruction of the assault itself, Cimprich balances vivid firsthand reports with a judicious narrative and analysis of events. He shows how Major General Nathan B. Forrest attacked the garrison with a force outnumbering the Federals roughly 1,500 to 600, and a breakdown of Confederate discipline resulted. The 65 percent death toll for black unionists was approximately twice that for white unionists, and Cimprich concludes that racism was at the heart of the Fort Pillow massacre.

Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory serves as a case study for several major themes of the Civil War: the great impact of military experience on campaigns, the hardships of military life, and the trend toward a more ruthless conduct of war. The first book to treat the fort's history in full, it provides a valuable perspective on the massacre and, through it, on the war and the world in which it occurred.

LSU Press

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

"This is a thorough, well-researched, and balanced book. Cimprich's exhaustive analysisof the entire documentary record should end debate on the historical reality of the Fort Pillow Massacre. But the author is at his most innovative when he uses social and cultural history methods to reveal intriguing new facets of a topic some might have thought exhausted. This work is not only a study of a battlefield atrocity but is also a significant addition to the growing literature on the Civil War at the community level." -- Journal of Southern History

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807131107
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Series: Conflicting Worlds Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Cimprich, the author of Slavery's End in Tennessee, 1861--1865, is a professor of history at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Map of Mid-Mississippi Valley 1

Map of Fort Pillow in 1864 2

Chapter 1 The Fort's Beginnings 3

Chapter 2 The Federal Attack 14

Chapter 3 Military Life at the Fort 38

Chapter 4 The First Federal Garrison 49

Chapter 5 The Last Garrison and the Massacre 70

Chapter 6 The Massacre's Aftermath 86

Chapter 7 Public Memory and Fort Pillow 108

Appendix A Tables 125

Appendix B Compiling Data for Table 7 130

Notes 133

Bibliography 167

Index 185

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