38th Congress, 1st Session.
Report No. 65.

CAIRO, ILLINOIS, April 24, 1864. John Penwell, sworn and examined.
By the chairman:

Question. Where do you reside?
Answer. Detroit, Michigan.
Question. Do you belong to the army?
Answer. I do not.
Question. Were you at Fort Pillow when it was attacked?
Answer. Yes, sir; this last time.
Question. In what capacity were you there?
Answer. As a volunteer for the occasion.
Question. Will you tell us, in your own way, what you saw there?
Answer. Nothing occurred of much account - only the fighting part of it - until after they sent the last flag of truce there. They kept on fighting, but the fort was not surrendered. While the flag of truce was outside the fort, and they were conferring together, I noticed and spoke about seeing men going around behind the fort. They who were out with the flag of truce came back and said they were not going to surrender, and commenced fighting again. I had just fired my musket off, and heard a shot behind me. I saw the rebels coming running right up to us. I was just feeling for a cartridge. They were as close as from here to the window, (about 10 feet.) I threw my musket down. A fellow who was ahead asked "if I surrendered." I said, "Yes." He said, "Die, then, you damned Yankee son of a bitch," and shot me, and I fell. More passed by me, and commenced hallooing "Shoot him down," and three or four stopped where I was and jumped on me and stripped me, taking my boots and coat and hat, and $45 or $50 in greenbacks.
Question. Where did they shoot you?
Answer. In the breast, and the ball passed right through.
Question. Did you see other men shot after they had surrendered?
Answer. I did not see any after I laid down, but I heard the hallooing around me, and begging them "Not to shoot," and then I heard them say "Shoot them down, shoot them down!" In fact, when they stripped me, one of them said "He ain't dead," and they jerked me up and took off my coat. It hurt me pretty bad, and I cried out to them "Kill me, out and out." One of them said "Hit him a crack on the head," but another said "Let the poor fellow be, and get well, if he can. He has nothing more left now." I fainted then. After I revived I crawled into a tent near where I was. A captain of artillery was in there very badly wounded. Some one had thrown an overcoat over us after I got in there. In the night they roused us up, and wanted to know "If we wanted to be burned up." I said "No." They said "They were going to fire the tent, and we had better get out," and wanted to know if we could walk. I said "I could not." They helped me out and made me walk some, but carried the officer out. They took us to a house and left us there. They would not give us any water, but told us to get it for ourselves. There were other wounded men there. Some petty officer came in there and looked at us, and wanted to know how badly we were hurt. I said, "Pretty bad," and asked him for water, and he made some of the men fetch us some. We lay there until the gunboat came up and commenced shelling, when they made us get out of that - help ourselves out the best way we could. Three of our own men were helping the wounded out of the houses, when they commenced burning them. As soon as they saw I could walk a little, they started me up to headquarters with a party. When we got to the gully the gunboat threw a shell, which kind of flurried them, and we got out of sight of them. I got alongside of a log, and laid there until a party from the boat came along picking up the wounded.
Question. Did they have a hospital there that the wounded were put in?
Answer. There were four or five huts there together which they put them in. That was all the hospital I saw.
Question. Do you know whether they burned anybody in there?
Answer. I do not know, but they hallooed to us to "Get out, if we did not want to get burned to death." I told an officer there, who was ordering the houses to be burned, to let some of the men go in there, as there were some eight or nine wounded men in there, and a negro who had his hip broken. He said "The white men can help themselves out, the damned nigger shan't come out of that." I do not know whether they got the wounded out or not. I got out, because I could manage to walk a little. It was very painful for me to walk, but I could bear the pain better than run the risk of being burned up.
Question. Do you know anything about rebel officers being on the boat, and our officers asking them to drink?
Answer. Yes, sir. There were several rebel officers on board the Platte Valley. I went on board the boat, and took my seat right in front of the saloon. I knew the bar-tender, and wanted to get a chance to get some wine, as I was very weak. I was just going to step up to the bar, when one of our officers, a lieutenant or a captain, I don't know which, stepped in front of me and almost shoved me away, and called up one of the rebel officers and took a drink with him; and I saw our officers drinking with the rebel officers several times.


Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War be, and they are hereby, instructed to inquire into the truth of the rumored slaughter of the Union troops, after their surrender, at the recent attack of the rebel forces upon Fort Pillow, Tennessee; as, also, whether Fort Pillow could have been sufficiently re-enforced or evacuated, and if so, why it was not done; and that they report the facts to Congress as soon as possible. Approved April 21, 1864. Pages 82-83