Sending Office: Rush, Bobby L.
From 1861 to 1865, the bloody American Civil War pitted the Union against the Confederate States of America. The many battles that took place during the war saw both heroic actions and acts of brutality, culminating with the surrender of the Confederacy
at Appomattox Court House. Today we are knowledgeable about these events due to the many studies and the abundance of research that has been done surrounding the Civil War. However, the experiences and contributions of black soldiers have often been overlooked
in the wider narrative surrounding the Civil War.
One such experience is the massacre of surrendering black Union soldiers and their white commanding officers by Confederate troops at the Battle of Fort Pillow. The Battle of Fort Pillow was fought on April 12, 1864, in Henning, Tennessee. Of the 535 troops
garrisoned at Fort Pillow, 262 were African-American. Confederate forces perpetrated the massacre after violating a temporary truce and looting government buildings and private storefronts surrounding the fort. 300 people were murdered in cold blood after
the post was taken over by rebels. However, it is estimated that, in total, there could have been nearly 400 casualties during the Confederate onslaught. The massacre of Fort Pillow demonstrated to all U.S. African-American troops that surrender was not
an option. It became a battle cry and motivation for an estimated 209,000 U.S. African-American troops who fundamentally contributed to the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy.
This tragic incident is among those that are often forgotten by the American people, and they ought to be brought to the public’s attention. It is for this reason that I was proud to introduce
H.R. 1130, the Fort Pillow National Battlefield Park Study Act. This bill directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a study of Fort Pillow to determine if the
area would qualify as a unit of the National Park Service. This recognition will not only bolster knowledge of an important moment in American history but will also encourage tourism and attract individuals from around the country to visit the Civil War museum,
hiking trail, camping ground, and picnic area with the intent of learning about and acknowledging these patriots.
I invite you to join me in cosponsoring the Fort Pillow National Battlefield Park Study Act. To learn more or to cosponsor, please contact Jourdan Lewis in my office at
Bobby L. Rush
Member of Congress
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