Reports of Capt. Carl A. Lamberg, Battery D, Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, of the capture of Fort Pillow.
MARCH 16-APRIL 14, 1864.--Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee and Kentucky.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXII/1 [S# 57]
NEAR MEMPHIS, TENN.,
April 20, 1864.
Col. I. G. KAPPNER.
COLONEL: Not having as yet any statements and facts which would enable me to make an official report, but considering the interest you have always shown for my battery, it becomes my duty to write you this letter and give a statement of what I have heard about the section of the battery which was on detached service at Fort Pillow, Tenn., and took part in the fight of the 12th instant:
Private John Kennedy, of said section, returned here wounded last Thursday. He informs me that the garrison fought well, repulsed two attacks, and were in good spirits and hopes that they would be able to hold the fort against the overwhelming forces against them. He says it was considered among our men that if the troops had remained in the rifle-pits (from where they were drawn to the inner fort after Major Booth was killed) they may have held their ground and defeated the enemy.
During the last attack, when the rebels entered the works, I heard Major Bradford give the command, "Boys, save your lives." He heard Lieutenant Bischoff, of the Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery (colored troops), object to this, saying to Major Bradford: "Do not let the men leave their pieces; let us fight yet;" but the major, turning around and seeing the rebels coming in from all sides, said, "It is of no use any more;" whereupon the men left their pieces and tried to escape in different directions and manners. He himself ran down to the creek, but within 2 feet of the same he was shot through both legs and fell down. He saw Lieutenant Hunter (commanding officer of the section of my battery), with several others, jump in the river, the rebels firing at them, but he does not know with what effect, for at the same moment he was taken by the rebels, who searched him, turning his pockets inside out, requesting him to give up his greenbacks, &c. He saw some rebels go in a tent where Sergeant Mills and Privates Lewis Ingraham, Peter Lake, and Anderson Smith, all of my battery, were lying on their beds wounded and kill them, shooting them through their heads and bodies, notwithstanding their cries for mercy. He then was forced to give up his jacket and put on a rebel coat, whereupon he was brought to a place about a mile in the rear of the fort and put under guard, together with, as he believes, 50 other prisoners, black and white. He saw among them Lieutenant Bischoff, Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery(colored), and First Sergt. J. D. Fox, with 5 men of my battery. He, unable to move around on account of his wound, was tied up to a tree and lashed with a gun-sling. He saw the rebels kill several (to him unknown) colored soldiers after the surrender. Some of them were shot, others knocked on their heads with muskets until they died. Some few of the rebel officers and men objected to these cruelties and outrages, but could not prevent it. He says he saw several wounded, but does not know more than one of my men killed during the fight. Mr. A. Alexander, a citizen of Memphis and sutler in my battery, was bravely fighting the rebels notwithstanding his age (over 50 years). He is reported to have been killed during the fight and afterward seen dead, still holding in his hand the musket he used so well. He leaves a destitute widow with two small children. He was a poor, but honest man.
The above are the main points of Private John Kennedy's report, who was prisoner with the rebels to the forenoon of the 15th instant, when he managed to escape.
I have the honor to be, colonel, your most obedient servant,
CARL ADOLF LAMBERG,
Capt. Second U. S. Light Arty. (colored), Comdg. Batty. D.
HDQRS. BATTY. D, 2d U.S. LIGHT ARTILLERY (COLORED),
Near Memphis, Tenn., April 27, 1864.
Lieut. Col. T. H. HARRIS,
Asst. Adjt. Gen.. Sixteenth Army Corps, Memphis, Tenn.
COLONEL: I hereby have the honor to submit the following report with regard to the section of my battery which was on detached service at Fort Pillow, Tenn., and took part in the action at said place on the 12th instant:
The most reliable information I have been able to gain is the report of John Kennedy, a private of my battery, who returned, wounded, to this place two days after the engagement.
The section consisted of 1 commissioned officer and 34 enlisted men. Only 2 enlisted men have as yet returned to this place.
Private Kennedy informs me that the garrison fought well, repulsed two attacks, and were in good hopes to be able to hold the fort. The fight continued for eight hours. He saw 6 men killed of my battery, 5 of whom were killed after the surrender, having been previously wounded during the action, and lying in their tents. He heard them ask for mercy, but the rebels did not listen to them but shot some of them through their heads and bodies, knocking others to death with their muskets. He saw a black woman, who was wounded during the action, shot through the head and killed by one of the rebels. During the last attack, when the rebels were climbing the works and entering the fort, he heard Major Bradford give the command, "Boys, save your lives." To this he heard Lieutenant Bischoff, of the Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery (colored), object, saying to the major to order the men to remain at their guns and continue to fight the enemy, but the major, turning around and seeing the enemy coming in from all sides in overwhelming numbers, replied that it was useless. Kennedy then, together with some others, ran for the river, but within 2 feet of the same he was shot through both legs and fell down. He saw Lieut. A. M. Hunter, the commanding officer of the section, with others, in the river; he saw the rebels fire at them, but he does not know with what effect, for he was captured at same moment and dragged away. The rebels turned his pockets inside out, and robbed him of what little valuables he had. He was then brought to the rear about a mile from the fort and kept there over night, together with some other prisoners, about 50, as he believes, black and white. Unable to move on account of his wound, he was tied to a tree and lashed with a gun-sling. He saw 3 colored soldiers butchered to death by the rebels. They were knocked on their heads with muskets until they expired. He saw :some few rebels, officers and privates, who tried to prevent these outrages. He saw only one officer whom he knew among the prisoners, Lieutenant Bischoff, of the Sixth U. S. Heavy Artillery (colored). He states that after Major Booth was killed the troops were drawn from the rifle-pits to the inner works by Major Bradford, and that the thought was prevailing among the prisoners that if they had remained at the rifle-pits our troops would have been able to hold the fort. Kennedy was held as a prisoner to the day after the fight, when he managed to escape.
The detached section from my battery consisted of 1 commissioned officer and 34 enlisted men, and the casualties are the following, viz: Killed, enlisted men, 6; wounded, enlisted men, 3, (hospital in Cairo); wounded, enlisted men, 1 (hospital in Memphis); escaped, enlisted men, I (with the battery); prisoners, enlisted men, 5; total accounted for, 16. One commissioned officer (First Lieut. A.M. Hunter) and 18 enlisted men missing, with no information about their fate.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
CARL ADOLF LAMBERG,
Capt. Comdg. Batty. D, 2d U.S. Light Artillery (colored).
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