1864 LIBERTY HEAD $20 MS61

Grading Service: PCGS
SKU: 142457
Cert Number: 45184633

The American Civil War was a highly controversial and deadly war in itself, but some of its singular events certainly topped the charts. One such event occurred on April 12, 1864 when General Nathan Bedford Forrest descended upon Fort Pillow in Tennessee. Some may question the seriousness of the fort, thanks to its name, but it was in fact a crucial part of the Confederate river defense when it was constructed in 1861. Named after a Tennessee native, General Gideon Johnson Pillow, the fort overlooked a vast portion of the Mississippi river. Unfortunately, one year later federal troops captured this crucial fort from the South and filled it with a large garrison of men, half of whom were African-American. Years later, during General Forrest’s raid on western Tennessee and Kentucky, he set his sights on the captured fort. Though it wasn’t an important structure to Forrest, he aimed to capture federal troops and cut off Union supplies with his plan. On the morning of April 12, 1864 Forrest and his two-thousand plus men surrounded the fort and quickly overran it. The six hundred troops inside the fort were simply no match for Forrest’s men, so many surrendered hoping to be treated as traditional prisoners of war. Unfortunately, and perhaps due to the fact that so many of the soldiers were black, the Confederate troops killed over three hundred men that day despite their surrender. When news of the inhuman treatment of their men got back to the North they became infuriated and refused to engage in any future prisoner swaps. For years this controversial maneuver by General Forrest’s men remained a topic for hot debate and was even picked up as a federal investigation years later. During the investigation those who survived the massacre acted as a voice for the fallen soldiers who had died despite their surrender. The investigation concluded that this was in fact a violent war crime but several Southern accounts contested the decision. Regardless, the amount of lives taken that day remains a fact despite the hotly debated cause that is still a controversial topic to this day.

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