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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Battles

Old Wars Versus New Meetings. Is There a Choice?

We'll be spending Friday through Sunday this week at Pickwick Landing State Park for a District 12-L Lions Convention.  Hope to find time to visit a few Civil War sites in the area as well.  Here are some of the places I really want to see more of.  In Corinth, Mississippi, there is a wonderful museum, with an outdoor water feature depicting the disruptions the Civil War caused to the development of the United States.















































And then, of course, there's the Shiloh Battleground and Museum.


Fort Pillow

What fascinated me in Sunday's Civil War notes was the mention of a fight at Fort Pillow. The remains of the fort are just a few miles up the road from my house, but I was unaware of the actions that took place there in 1862.  Here's a summary of what I learned.

At the start of 1862 the line that separated Union and Confederate territory ran along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, reaching the Mississippi at Columbus. However, after the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson by U. S. Grant in February 1862, the Confederates had to abandon that line in favor of one that that ran through Tennessee. The western end of that line was located at New Madrid and Island No. 10. However, even these new positions were dangerously exposed to Union attack. At the end of February a force of over 20,000 men under General John Pope marched overland to capture the two strongholds. On 3 March Pope began a siege of New Madrid, on the northern bank of the river. On 13 March the Confederate defenders of the town pulled back to Island No. 10, abandoning the town.
 
Pope, with 20,000 troops launched his attack on 7 April. Two gunboats bombarded the Confederate positions at Watson’s Landing, south of New Madrid, and west of Island No. 10. Pope’s troops landed soon after. Trapped by greatly superior forces, the Confederate defenders of Island No. 10 had no choice but to surrender.

The capture of Island No. 10 was a key moment in opening of the Mississippi. Only one more position, Fort Pillow, a Confederate fort on the Tennessee bank of the Mississippi River. remained between the Union fleets and Memphis. On the same day that Island No. 10 fell, U.S. Grant launched his counterattack at Shiloh, forcing General Beauregard to retreat to Corinth and destroying any chances that Fort Pillow might be held. After a Union army expedition against the fort was abandoned, the burden of capturing the position fell to the Western Flotilla, a collection of ironclads and gunboats.
 
The Confederate defenders of the Mississippi had constructed their own fleet of rams. On 10 May, those rams launched a surprise attack on the Union fleet attacking Fort Pillow. The Union fleet’s response was not well coordinated. Two of their ironclads were badly damaged by ramming attacks, before the Confederate fleet retreated into the shelter of Fort Pillow’s guns.

The Confederates soon evacuated Fort Pillow itself. The main Confederate army had been forced to retreat from Corinth. This left the fort exposed to an attack from the rear, and so Gen. Beauregard ordered the garrison to leave, after destroying the fort. During the night of 4 June they carried out that order, before withdrawing towards Memphis. The next morning the Union fleet occupied the site of the fort.

After the evacuation of Fort Pillow, the next Union target was Memphis. On 6 June, the Union’s Western Flotilla, reinforced by their own rams, fought and defeated the Confederate fleet at Memphis, and captured the city. Fort Pillow remained in use. It returned to prominence later in the war, when Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest captured the fort, and massacred dozens of black soldiers (Fort Pillow Massacre, 12 April 1864).

This is a summary of two articles found at http://www.historyofwar.org/americancivilwar/index.html:
   Rickard, J (14 August 2007), Battle of Island No. 10, 7 April 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_island_10.html
   Rickard, J (23 February 2007), Battle of Fort Pillow, 10 May 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_fort_pillow_1862.html