Aaron Fentis
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Slave, Soldier
Military Branch: United States Army
Turtledove Appearances:
Fort Pillow
Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct

Aaron Fentis was a member of the Sixth U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery during the American Civil War. He was a former slave who participated in the defense of Fort Pillow. After Confederate troops poured into the fort, he, Sgt. Benjamin Robinson, Sandy Cole, Nathan Hunter, and Charlie Key formed a small cluster of resistance within the fort.[1] For a time, they were able to beat back attackers. Fentis nearly lost his life when a Confederate soldier attempted to bayonet him. Robinson was able to knock the rifle out of the Confederate's hand, and Fentis bludgeoned the Confederate.[2]

It soon became clear that the fort could not hold out for long. The group fled to the banks of the Mississippi River, while Fentis vented his spleen against the stupidity of the fort's officer.[3] They found stores of ammunition placed on the river by Major William Bradford before the battle began in earnest. As the group began reloading their weapons, they saw Confederate troops were firing on the USS New Era, a ship that had been providing artillery cover during the battle, and was supposed to be covering the retreat of the garrison. Confederate sharpshooters were not letting the gunners open up their hatches. Finally, the New Era steamed up-river.[4]

Things went from bad to worse for the group, as each were injured in turn, although none were fatally so. Fentis himself was shot in both legs.[5] He survived those wounds, and was among the soldiers evacuated to Mound City general hospital.[6]


  1. Fort Pillow, pg. 146.
  2. Id.
  3. Id., pgs. 156-57.
  4. Id. at 158-159.
  5. Id. at 181.
  6. Id. at 312.

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