Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/197
Gen. N. B. Forrest Captures Memphis, 181
affair at Fort Pillow justified that belief; and I believe it is true, as you say, they proclaimed on their late march that no quarter would be shown your men. * * * Your statement that you have always conducted the war on civilized principles is not borne out by the recent indiscriminate slaughter of colored troops at Br ice's Crossroads. * * * I am left in doubt by your letter as to the course you and the Confederate government intend to pursue hereafter in regard to colored troops. If you do not intend to treat such of them as fall into your hands as prisoners of war, but contemplate their slaughter on their re- turn to slavery, please so state, that we may have an under- standing hereafter. If the latter is the case, then let the oath stand."
General Washburn also wrote to General S. D. Lee, the de- partment commander, a letter in which he stated that he had been told by colored soldiers who were fortunate enough to es- cape, that the massacre of Fort Pillow had been reproduced at Brice's Crossroads, and that, "if true, the consequences would be fearful to contemplate," and asked "to be informed without delay if it was the intention of the Confederate government to murder colored soldiers."
This letter was referred to Forrest, who wrote an answer to General Washburne on June 23, in which he said, in part :
"I regard your letter as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department and grossly insulting to myself. You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer, on the testimony of your friends, the enemies of myself and country. I shall not enter into the discussion of any of the questions involved, nor under- take any refutation of the charges you make. Nevertheless, as a matter of personal privilege alone, I say that they are un- founded and unwarranted by the facts, but whether true or false, the questions you ask are matters which the governments of the United States and the Confederate States are to decide, and not their subordinate officers.
"It is not the policy of the south to destroy the negro; on the contrary, to preserve and protect him, and all who have sur- rendered to us have received kind and humane treatment. You