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[724] this transaction hardly justifies your remark, that your operations have been conducted on civilized principles; and until you take some steps to bring the perpetrators of this outrage to justice, the world will not fail to believe that it had your sanction.

I am, General,

Your obedient servant,

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


General Forrest to General Washburn.

headquarters Forrest's cavalry, Tupelo, June 20, 1864.
Major-General C. C. Washburn, commanding U. S. Forces, Memphis, Tenn.:
General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt (per flag of truce) of your letter of the seventeenth instant, addressed to Majbr-General S. D. Lee, or Officer commanding Confederate forces near Tupelo. I have forwarded it to General Lee, with a copy of this letter.

I regard your letter as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department, and grossly insulting to myself.

You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer and as guilty of the wholesale slaughter of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and found your assertion upon the exparte testimony of (your friends) the enemies of myself and country. I shall not enter into the discussion, therefore, of any of the questions involved, nor undertake any refutation of the charges made by you against myself; nevertheless, as a matter of personal privilege alone, I unhesitatingly say that they are unfounded and unwarranted by the facts. But whether those charges are true or false, they, with the question you ask as to whether negro troops, when captured, will be recognized and treated as prisoners of war, subject to exchange, etc., are matters which the Governments of the United States and Confederate States are to decide and adjust, not their subordinate officers. I regard captured negroes as I do other captured property, and not as captured soldiers; but as to how regarded by my government, and the disposition which has been and will hereafter be made of them, I respectfully refer you, through the proper channel, to the authorities at Richmond. It is not the policy or the interest of the South to destroy the negro, on the contrary to preserve and protect him, and all who have surrendered to us have received kind and humane treatment.

Since the war began I have captured many thousand Federal prisoners, and they, including the survivors of the “Fort Pillow massacre,” “black and white,” are living witnesses of the fact that, with my knowledge or consent, or by my order, not one of them has ever been insulted or in any way maltreated.

You speak of your forbearance in not giving your negro troops instructions and orders as to the course they should pursue in regard to Confederate soldiers that might fall into their (your) hands, which clearly conveys to my mind two very distinct impressions. The first is, that in not giving them instructions and orders you have left the matter entirely to the discretion of the negroes as to how they should dispose of prisoners. Second, an implied threat to give such orders as will lead to “consequences too fearful” for contemplation. In confirmation of the correctness of the first impression (which your language now fully develops), I refer most respectfully to my letter from the battle-field, Tishemingo Creek, and forwarded you by flag of truce on the fourteenth instant. As to the second impression, you seem disposed to take into your own hands the settlements which belong to, and can only be settled by, your government; but if you are prepared to take upon yourself the responsibility of inaugurating a system of warfare contrary to civilized usages, the onus as well as the consequences will be chargeable to yourself.

Deprecating, as I should do, such a state of affairs; determined, as I am, not to be instrumental in bringing it about; feeling and knowing, as I do, that I have the approval of my government, my people, and my conscience as to the past, and with the firm belief that I will be sustained by them in my future policy, it is left with you to determine what that policy shall be, whether in accordance with the laws of civilized nations or in violation of them.

I am, General, yours,

Very respectfully,

N. B. Forrest, Major-General.


General Forrest to General Washburn.

headquarters Forrest's cavalry, in the field, June 23, 1864.
Major-General C. C. Washburn, commanding District of West Tennessee, Memphis, Tenn.:
Your communication of the nineteenth inst. is received, in which you say “you are left in doubt as to the course the Confederate government intends to pursue hereafter in regard to colored troops.”

Allow me to say that this is a subject upon which I did not and do not propose to enlighten you. It is a matter to be settled by our governments through their proper officers, and I respectfully refer you to them for a solution of your doubts.

You ask me to state whether “I contemplate either their slaughter or their return to slavery.” I answer that I slaughter no man except in open warfare, and that my prisoners, both white and black, are turned over to my government to be dealt with as it may direct. My government is in possession of all the facts as regards my official conduct, and the operations of my command since I entered the service, and if you desire a proper discussion and decision, I refer you again to the President of the Confederate States. I would not have you understand, however, that in a matter of so much importance I am indisposed to place at your command and


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