The full history of the Civil War's most infamous atrocity At the w-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 paramic 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 of the carnage by describing the social conflicts in Federally occupied areas between secessionists and unionists as well as between blacks and whites. Balancing vivid firsthand reports with a judicious narrative and analysis of events, Cimprich shows how Major General Nathan B. Forrest attacked the garrison with a force outnumbering the Federals roughly 1500 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. A case study for several major themes of the Civil War, Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory provides a valuable perspective on the massacre and, through it, on the war and the world in which it occurred.
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.
Louisiana State University Press
Date of Publication
Conflicting Worlds S.: New Dimensions of the American Civil War