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On April 13th, 1864 Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Union held Fort Pillow in western Tennessee. The event would later be known as the Fort Pillow Massacre where a number of African American soldiers were killed while trying to surrender to Confederate forces.
Forrest was one who had not been a graduate of a military academy, nor had any military experience. He had simply been a Memphis slave trader turned Confederate sympathizer who enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army on June 14th of 1861. However, he eventually financed and organized his own cavalry unit through his riches made by the selling of slaves. He quickly rose through the ranks based on his determination and his excellent horsemanship.
Through his cavalry exploits Forrest would wreak havoc across portions of Tennessee and Western Kentucky, which historians continue to speak of today. Forrest had a number of skirmishes and raids in towns all across these two states from Paducah, Kentucky to Chattanooga, Tennessee. However, it wasn’t until the massacre at Fort Pillow did his name become known across the country as a force to be reckoned with.
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Valentine, Austin and Valentine, Austin, "A Modern-day Review of The Fort Pillow Massacre - Act of War or Genocide" (2019). Student Scholarship & Creative Works. 10.