Fort Pillow State Historic Park is rich in both historic and archaeological importance. The well-preserved Civil War earthworks on the Chickasaw Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River mark the site of the Confederate Army’s extensive fortifications, built in 1861.
The fort bears the name of General Gideon J. Pillow of Maury County, although he never commanded there. The Confederates abandoned the fortifications soon after they were built and regrouped with other forces in Shiloh and Corinth, Mississippi. The Union Army moved in these empty fortifications shortly afterward and occupied the fort until April 12, 1864. Then followed one of the most controversial battles of the Civil War, called by many the Massacre of Fort Pillow. Confederate General Nathan Bedford had received information that the Union Army at Fort Pillow was harassing the local community. Bedford took 1,600 troops to take back the fort. Approximately 267 Union black soldiers were killed during this battle, and only a few Confederate soldiers wounded, with an ongoing controversy over the terms of surrender and the ensuing actions.
Visitors come to Fort Pillow for the 20 miles of trails, which cover almost all of the 1,650 acres. The trails lead to the restored fortification, the inner forts and the outer breastworks that make up Fort Pillow. Several cannons are on display throughout the museum, along with Civil War artifacts such as bullets, muskets and cannonballs. The park includes a 25-acre lake and borders the Anderson-Tully Wildlife Management Area and provides sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife.
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