Documents are from the 1864 Military Investigation
Edward B. Benton
Edward B. Benton is related to Senator Thomas Hart Benton's family and to John C. Fremont’s family. Thomas Hart Benton’s daughter Jesse, married John C. Fremont. At the time of the attack on the Educational Center at Fort Pillow, Edward had 215 acres under cultivation. Forrest had put a bounty on his head. Why did he want to kill Edward Benton? The crime Edward committed was his hiring and paying slaves to work cotton. (Edward was out to prove that a profit could be made by paying ex-slaves for the work they did.) Edward reports: "On Tuesday morning, the 12th of this month, I was awakened about five o'clock, or half past five, by a little ... boy, who came up to my room and says: "Oh, Mr. Benton, all fo Forrest's men have come, ... What will I do!" I got out of bed and looked out of the window ... someone was making a speech, ... which was answered by cheering." Edward had a large two story home about a mile from the docks and less than a mile from the outer fortifications of the fort. The Confederate Officer in charge was General Chalmers. They had destroyed the Educational Center, and were happy about that. Now, they were going to attack the fort.
Though the Educational Center existed, there is little interest in reporting what happened to it.
Benton reported that the blacks words were more reliable than the words of the white southerner.
What was their words? They reported to Benton that there were charred bodies in the buildings that the rebels had set on fire. (This proves that people were trapped inside when the buildings were burned.)