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[620] couched in this unequivocal language:

To the Commander of the United States forces, Columbus, Ky.:
Fully capable of taking Columbus and its garrison by force, I desire to avoid shedding blood. I therefore demand the unconditional surrender of the forces under your command. Should you surrender, the negroes now in arms will be returned to their masters. Should I be compelled to take the place by force, no quarter will be shown negro troops whatever; White troops will be treated as prisoners of war.

I am, Sir, yours,

A. Buford, Brig.-Gen.

It is in vain, in the face of these documents, that Forrest — giving his loss at 20 killed ant 60 wounded, and claiming to have buried 228 of our men on the evening of the assault, beside “quite a number” next day — pretends that all these were killed in fair fight, or “by a destructive fire into the rear of the retreating and panic-stricken garrison ;” and that his superior Lee, thus pettifogs the case of the subordinate assassin:

The garrison was summoned in the usual manner, and its commanding officer assumed the responsibility of refusing to surrender, after having been informed by Gen. Forrest of his ability to take the fort, and of his fears as to what the result would be in case the demand was not complied with. The assault was made under a heavy fire, and with considerable loss to the attacking party. Your colors were never lowered, and your garrison never surrendered, but retreated under cover of a gunboat, with arms in their hands and constantly using them. This was true particularly of your colored troops, who had been firmly convinced by your teachings of the certainty of slaughter in case of capture. Even under these circumstances, many of your men — White and Black — were taken prisoners. I respectfully refer you to history for numerous cases of indiscriminate slaughter after successful assault, even under less aggravated circumstances. It is generally conceded, by all military precedent, that where the issue had been fairly presented and the ability displayed, fearful results are expected to follow a refusal to surrender. The case under consideration is almost an extreme one. You had a servile race armed against their masters, and in a country which had been desolated by almost unprecedented outrages.

I assert that our officers, with all the circumstances against them, endeavored to prevent the effusion of blood; and, as an evidence of this, I refer you to the fact that both White and Colored prisoners were taken, and are now in our hands.

All this can not weigh against the solemn oaths of scores of unimpeached witnesses, several of whom were themselves shot and left for dead long after the fighting had utterly ceased, when they were known to have surrendered, and several of whom testify that they saw prisoners thus butchered next day. And the evidence1 of Whites and Blacks proves that the murderers a hundred times declared that they shot the Blacks because they were “niggers,” and the Whites for “fighting with niggers.” If human testimony ever did or can establish any thing, then this is proved a case of deliberate, wholesale massacre of prisoners of war after they had surrendered — many of them long after — and for the naked reason that some of them were Black, and others were fighting in Black company.

Forrest retreated rapidly from the scene of this achievement into Mississippi, and was not effectively pursued; there being no adequate cavalry force at hand for the purpose.

Gen. S. D. Sturgis, with 12,000 men, was sent after2 Forrest; advancing from Memphis to Bolivar; but of course did not come near him: in fact, there was no chance of over-taking him after he had passed Wolf river and the forces guarding our lines in that quarter.

1 Special Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War (House No. 65), 38th Congress, 1st session. The testimony is there given in full.

2 April 30.

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