June 3-5, 1862.-evacuation of Fort Pillow, Tenn., by the Confederates and its occupation by the Union forces.
Reports, etc.No. 1.-Col. Graham N. Fitch, Forty-sixth Indiana Infantry. No. 2.-Col. Charles Ellet, jr., with congratulatory letter from the Secretary of War. No. 3.-L. D. McKissick. No. 4.-Brig. Gen. J. B. Villepigue, C. S. Army, with instructions and congratulatory orders from General Beauregard.
No. 1.-reports of Col. Graham N. Fitch, Forty-sixth Indiana Infantry.
Fort Pillow, Tenn., June 5, 1862-4.30 a. m.Arrangements were completed for a combined assault on the fort at 7 a. m. at a weak and accessible point, but the works were abandoned  last night, and the guns and commissary stores destroyed. We are in possession, but propose proceeding to-day toward Memphis. I report by mail.
Fort Pillow, Tenn., June 5, 1862-4.30 a. m.On June 1 a laborious reconnaissance was made, which developed the fact that behind Flower Island, parallel with the chute between that island and the main shore, an approach to Fort Pillow could be made by infantry to Cole Creek, within 30 yards of the enemy's outer works and near the junction of the creek and Flower Island chute. At this point nothing but the creek offered any obstacle of moment, the earthworks of the Confederates being only from 2 to 4 feet high, they apparently relying upon the creek and adjacent swamp for protection. The following morning this reconnaissance was renewed and its results verified, and it was also ascertained that at the point where Cole Creek could be crossed not a gun from the batteries could be brought to bear, while the ridges in the rear of and overlooking the fortifications would enable our infantry to approach and command them. On the third morning three companies of this command, under Major Bringhurst, of the Forty-sixth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, was ordered to open a road parallel with the chute, secreted from observation by the timber on Flower Island and the main-land. He was likewise instructed to make and launch into the chute, 2 or 3 miles from the fort, a rude bridge, in sections, of cypress logs, taken from a cabin convenient. The orders were to complete the work and encamp on the ground, with a view of removing the remainder of the command that night toward the fort. Unfortunately, four of Colonel Ellet's rams, not knowing this detail had been sent forward, dropped around Craighead's Point, for the purpose of observation, and were fired upon by the enemy, and the shot, overreaching the boats, fell in the vicinity of the working party in the woods, whereupon the major commanding deemed it prudent to retire and abandon the work. It being too late after this unfortunate movement to do anything more that day, Captain Schermerhorn, of the Forty-sixth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, was ordered the next morning, with a detail from that regiment and the Forty-third Indiana Volunteers, to finish the contemplated works. This he promptly accomplished undiscovered by the enemy, constructing the bridge and laying out a substantial road to within 200 or 300 yards of the enemy's intrenchments. All the troops were ordered on board the transports the same evening, with the intention of surprising and storming the fort, and all arrangements perfected for having a combined attack between the land forces and the gunboats last evening; but appearances, as well as the statement of a deserter last evening, made us apprehend that the enemy was evacuating. Therefore, instead of marching by the contemplated route, I dropped down at 3 a. m. with a small party on one of the transports (the Hetty Gilmore), preceded by open row-boats, containing Captain Sill and Lieutenant Troxell, with a few men. We dropped directly but cautiously toward the fort, and found our apprehensions verified. The  enemy was gone, having left at about 1 or 2 o'clock this morning. We found they had destroyed or carried away nearly all the property of the fort; the gun-carriages were burned and burning, and many of the guns that could not be removed were burst. The Hetty Gilmore, in passing the ram fleet and Benton, gave notice what her signal would be if the enemy had left and what if they remained, and was followed very soon by Colonel Ellets rams, and after an interval by the gunboats and the other transports, the signal that there was no enemy in sight having been given. I am not able to state at this time the amount of property in the fort, but my impression is that it cannot be properly garrisoned without a new armament and a corps of artillerists. For all practical purposes one or two gunboats would be more effective than my command of infantry. I propose, therefore, to proceed directly toward Memphis this p. m., leaving one company here to collect the property. Captain Davis, commanding flotilla, leaves also one gunboat. I await orders. Yours, respectfully,
No. 2.-reports of Col. Charles Ellet, jr., commanding Ram flotilla.
Queen of the West and try to reach a rebel steamer lying around Craighead's Point, under the guns of Fort Pillow. The captain, two out of the three pilots, the first mate, and all the engineers, and nearly all the crew declined the service and were allowed to go off with their baggage to a barge. Hastily forming a new crew of volunteers, I took command of the boat, and directed Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet to follow in the Monarch at supporting distance. The captain, David M. Dryden, and all the crew of the Monarch, stood at their post. The rebel steamer slipped lines and escaped before I could reach her. The firing of the fort was at short range and quite brisk, but I think only revealed about seven or eight guns, corresponding with the count previously made in two land reconnaissances by Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet. My boat was not hit. While the strength ofthe rebel batteries seems to be greatly overrated, their fleet of rams and gunboats is much larger than mine. It consists of eight gunboats, which usually lie just below the fort, and four others at Randolph, a few miles farther down. Commodore Davis will not join me in a movement against them nor contribute a gunboat to my expedition, nor allow any of his men to volunteer, so as to stimulate the pride and emulation of my own. I shall therefore first weed out some bad material, and then go without him. Respectfully,
Fort Pillow last night. They carried away or destroyed everything of value. Early this morning Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet and a few men in a yawl went ashore, followed immediately by Colonel Fitch and a part of his command. The gunboats then came down and anchored across the channel. I proceeded with three rams 12 miles below the fort to a point opposite Randolph, and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet ashore, with a flag of truce, to demand the surrender of the place. Their forces had all lefttwo of their gunboats only an hour or two before we approached. The people seemed to respect the flag which Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet planted. The guns had been dismantled and some piles of cotton were burning. I shall leave Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet here in the advance, and return immediately to Fort Pillow to bring on my entire force. The people attribute the suddenness of the evacuation to the attempt made night before last to sink one of their gunboats at Fort Pillow. Randolph, like Fort Pillow, is weak, and could not have held out long against a vigorous attack. The people express a desire for the restoration of the old order of things, though still professing to be secessionists.
Washington, June 7, 1862.Your several dispatches have been received and your proceedings cordially approved. The Department regrets that you have had to encounter so much opposition in the employment of your force, and hopes that the obstacles will give way before your energetic purpose. You will return the thanks of the Department to the gallant volunteers and soldiers of your command, of whose patriotic and generous courage honorable public notice will be given. You will please report the names and residence of those who exhibit special merit, in order that they may receive due honor and reward, and also of those who shrunk from their duty. In your discretion and conduct the Department feels every confidence, and will not fail to support you and your command.
Col. Charles Ellet, Jr.,
Commander of Ram Fleet on the Mississippi (via Cairo):
Col. Charles Ellet, Jr.,
Commander of Ram Fleet on the Mississippi (via Cairo):
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
Report of L. D. McKissick.
Memphis, June 3, 1862.I telegraphed General Villepigue to-day, asking him if he could hold Fort Pillow three days, until we could get telegraph wire and instruments down. Just received following reply: Will endeavor to do so, but fear disaster; have sent off all ma troops. Cavalhy  from above have not arrived as ordered. A great number of desertions; and the enemy captured 4 men this morning, and of course know everything.
No. 4.-report of Brig. Gen. John B. Villepigue, C. S. Army, with instructions and congratulatory orders from General Beauregard.
Fort Pillow, June 3, 1862.Sir: Am ordered to Grenada, to take command, organize, fortify, &c. My troops have all left; am remaining behind to cover their retreat. My cavalry have not yet arrived from above. Enemy captured 4 men this morning; fear they understand my situation.
headquarters Western Department, Corinth, May 28, 1862.General: Wishing to take the enemy farther into the interior, where I hope to be able to strike him a severe blow, which cannot be done here, where he is so close to his supplies, I have concluded to withdraw on the 30th instant from this place for the present before he can compel me to do so by his superiority of numbers. The evacuation of this place necessarily involves that of your present position, which you have so long and gallantly defended; hence I have this day telegraphed you that whenever the enemy shall have crossed the Hatchie River, at Pocahontas or elsewhere, on their way westward, you will immediately evacuate Fort Pillow for Grenada by the best and shortest route. Should you, however, consider it necessary for the safety of your command to evacuate Fort Pillow before the enemy shall have crossed the Hatchie, you are left at liberty to do so, having entire confidence in your judgment and ability, not being able to judge from here of your facilities for reaching Grenada. I am of opinion, however, that he will venture slowly and cautiously westward so long as I shall remain within striking distance of him on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at or about Baldwin. It may be well for you to know that the telegraph communication from there to Memphis will not be completed before a week or ten days. Whenever you shall be about to abandon the fort you will telegraph the commanding officer at Memphis to burn all the cotton, sugar, &c., in the vicinity of that city, as per my instructions already communicated to him. Yoi will necessarily destroy all Government property-arms, guns,  &c.-that you will not be able to carry off with you; and on arriving at Grenada you will assume immediate command of all troops there assembled, to organize and discipline them. Arms will be furnished you from the depot at Columbus, Miss., should there be any there. You might also throw up some light works (batteries and rifle pits) for the defense of that important position against a small force of the enemy. I have thought it advisable to give you the above instructions in view of the probability that I may not be able shortly to communicate with you. Hoping you may continue to meet with success in the defense of our cause and country, I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
General orders, no. 67.
Hdqrs. Western Department, Tupelo, Miss., June 11, 1862.The commander of the forces calls the attention of the army to the prolonged defense of Fort Pillow by Brig. Gen. John B. Villepigue and the gallant soldiers under his command. The defense was conducted with skill, vigor, and intrepidity. Week after week he and his resolute comrades in arms in open batteries kept back the enemy's superior land and naval forces, and when the purposes and designs of the campaign had been accomplished, under circumstances of difficulty which also attest the ability of the general, he brought off his command in the face of superior numbers with a success equaled only by the brilliancy of his defense. Such devotion to duty is worthy of appreciation and the approval of the country. By command of General Beauregard:
Geo. Wm. Brent, Acting Chief of Staff.