Fort Pillow, fortification on the Mississippi River, N of Memphis, Tenn.; built by Confederate Gen. Gideon Pillow in 1862. Evacuated by the Confederates after the fall of Island No. 10 to the north, the fort was occupied by Union troops on June 6, 1862. Confederate Gen. Nathan Forrest stormed and captured Fort Pillow on Apr. 12, 1864, killing many African-American defenders. Often called the Fort Pillow Massacre, it became one of the greatest atrocity stories of the Civil War. Charged with ruthless killing, Forrest argued that the soldiers had been killed trying to escape; however, racial animosity on the part of his troops was undoubtedly a factor.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.