Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/337
Lieu't-Geril N. B. Forrest, C. S. Army. 331
It is not my intention to enter here into the much-vexed question of Forrest's dealing with the garrison of Fort Pillow. He reached that place at 9 A. M., the I5th of April, 1864, after a ride of about seventy-two miles since 6 P. M., the previous evening, and having surrounded the place, he duly summoned the commandant to sur- render with his garrison as prisoners of war. Negotiations followed, which occupied some time, but led to no result. The signal for assault being then given, the place was quickly taken. There was a heavy loss on both sides, but all things considered, including the intense ill-feeling then existing between the men of Tennessee who fought on one side and those on the other, I do not think the fact that about one-half of the small garrison of a place taken by assault was either killed or wounded evinced any very unusual bloodthirstiness on the part of the assailants. The unexpectedness of this blow, and the heavy loss in killed and wounded it entailed, served much to increase Forrest's reputation as a daring cavalry leader, and to intensify the dread in which his name was held far and near among his enemies.
An officer who knew Forrest well gives me the following descrip- tion of the force under his command about this time : The two friends had breakfasted together on the every-day food of the negro corn meal and treacle as they sat side by side on the bank of the Ten- nessee to watch Forrest's troops pass over that great river. His command then consisted of about ten thousand mounted men, well provided with blankets, shoes and other equipment, everything being legibly siamped with "U.S.," showing whence he had obtained them. His artillery consisted of sixteen field pieces also taken from the Northern army each drawn by eight horses. The train num- bered two hundred and fifty wagons, with six mules or horses each, besides fifty four-horse ambulances. He had himself enlisted, equipped, armed, fed, and supplied with ammunition all this force, without any help from his own government. For the two previous years he had drawn absolutely nothing from the quartermasters' or commissariat departments of.the Confederate States. Every gun, rifle, wagon and ambulance, and all the clothing, equipment, ammu- nition and other supplies then with his command he had taken from the Northern armies opposed to him.
His was, indeed, a freebooter's force on a large scale, and his motto was borrowed from the old raiders on the Scottish border: " I shall never want as long as my neighbor has."
His defeat of General Sturgis in June, 1864, was a most remark- able achievement, well worth attention by the military student. He