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I hope that I have been misinformed in regard to the treatment they have received at the battle of Bryce's Cross-roads, and that the accounts received result rather from the excited imaginations of the fugitives than from actual fact.

For the government of the colored troops under my command, I would thank you to inform me, with as little delay as possible, if it is your intention, or the intention of the Confederate government, to murder colored soldiers that may fall into your hands, or treat them as prisoners of war, and subject to be exchanged as other prisoners.

I am, General, respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

C. C. Washburn, Major-General, commanding.

General Washburn to General Forrest.

headquarters District of West Tennessee, Memphis, Tenn., June 19, 1864.
Major-General N. B. Forrest, commanding Confederate Forces:
General: Your communication of the fourteenth instant is received. The letter to Brigadier-General Buford will be forwarded to him.

In regard to that part of your letter which relates to colored troops, I beg to say that I have already sent a communication on the subject to the officer in command of the Confederate forces at Tupelo.

Having understood that Major-General S. D. Lee was in command there, I directed my letter to him — a copy of it I enclose. You say in your letter that it has been reported to you that all the negro troops stationed in Memphis took an oath on their knees, in the presence of Major-General Hurlbut, and other officers of our army, to avenge Fort Pillow, and that they would show your troops no quarter.

I believe it is true that the colored troops did take such an oath, but not in the presence of General Hurlbut. From what I can learn, this act of theirs was not influenced by any white officer, but was the result of their own sense of what was due to themselves and their fellows who had been mercilessly slaughtered.

I have no doubt that they went into the field, as you allege, in the full belief that they would be murdered in case they fell into your hands. The affair of Fort Pillow fully justified that belief. I am not aware as to what they proclaimed on their late march, and it may be, as you say, that they declared that no quarter would be given to any of your men that might fall into their hands.

Your declaration that you have conducted the war, on all occasions, on civilized principles, cannot be accepted; but I receive with satisfaction the intimation in your letter that the recent slaughter of colored troops at the battle of Tishemingo Creek resulted rather from the desperation with which they fought than a predetermined intention to give them no quarter.

You must have learned by this time that the attempt to intimidate the colored troops by indiscriminate slaughter has signally failed, and that, instead of a feeling of terror, you have aroused a spirit of courage and desperation that will not down at your bidding.

I am left in doubt, by your letter, as to the course you and the Confederate Government intend to pursue hereafter in regard to colored troops, and I beg you to advise me, with as little delay as possible, as to your intentions.

If you intend to treat such of them as fall into your hands as prisoners of war, please so state; if you do not so intend, but contemplate either their slaughter or their return to slavery, please state that, so that we may have no misunderstanding hereafter. If the former is your intention, I shall receive the announcement with pleasure, and shall explain the fact to the colored troops at once, and desire that they recall the oath they have taken; if the latter is the case, then let the oath stand, and upon those who have aroused this spirit by their atrocities, and upon the Government and people who sanction it, be the consequences.

In regard to your inquiry relating to prisoners of your command in our hands, I have to state that they have always received the treatment which a great and humane Government extends to its prisoners. What course will be pursued hereafter towards them must, of course, depend on circumstances that may arise. If your command, hereafter, does nothing which should properly exclude them from being treated as prisoners of war, they will be so treated.

I thank you for your offer to exchange wounded officers and men in your hands. If you will send them in, I will exchange man for man, so far as I have the ability to do so.

Before closing this letter, I wish to call your attention to one case of unparalleled outrage and murder that has been brought to my notice, and in regard to which the evidence is overwhelming.

Among the prisoners captured at Fort Pillow was Major Bradford, who had charge of the defence of the fort after the fall of Major Booth.

After being taken prisoner, he was started, with other prisoners of war, in charge of Colonel Duckworth, for Jackson. At Brownsville they rested over night. The following morning two companies were detailed by Colonel Duckworth to proceed to Jackson with the prisoners.

After they had started, and proceeded a very short distance, five soldiers were recalled by Colonel Duckworth, and were conferred with by him; they then rejoined the column, and after proceeding about five miles from Brownsville the column was halted, and Major Bradford taken about fifty yards from the roadside and deliberately shot by the five men who had been recalled by Colonel Duckworth, and his body left unburied upon the ground where he fell.

He now lies buried near the spot, and, if you desire, you can easily satisfy yourself of the truth of what I assert. I beg leave to say to you that

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Duckworth (4)
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