Friday, August 28, 2009

Battery D, Second U. S. Colored Light Artillery.

In this report John Kennedy gives the accounts on the bravery and the cowards of the men in his regiment at the fight at Fort Pillow.

Numbers 14. Reports of Captain Carl A. Lamberg, Battery D, Second U. S. Colored Light Artillery, of the capture of Fort Pillow.

April 20, 1864.

COLONEL: Not having as yet any statements and facts which would enable me to made on 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 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 bee 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 was 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 was 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 would, 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 by 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 on the 15th instant, when he managed to escape.

Captain Second U. S. Light Arty. (colored), Commanding Batty. D.

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