Subject:  You Wrote
Date: 6/24/2005 10:58:13 EST
From colonel@37thtexas.org
To:  Kevin Levin

You Wrote:

"I am not going to get into a debate about numbers.  What is clearly documented in the primary sources is that some USCT were executed upon surrender.  What is even clearer is the racial animosity expressed by Confederates, which is not surprising.  I argue elsewhere that the presence of black soldiers clarified for many of Lee's men what was at stake in this war. Armed black men represented the undermining of established racial hierarchies throughout the South
(and even in many parts of the North).  This is a salient fact surrounding this battle." -- Kevin

[Sent to Kevin Levin]

"Unfortunately, you misinterpreted the documentation
as follows which clearly shows that the first incidents
of the murder of USCT were perpetrated by White
Union soldiers who bayoneted retreating USCT to try
to get them to resume the advance:

"George L. Kilmer, an officer of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, went into the Crater with the first wave and reported afterward that when the USCT moved forward to charge the fort, some of White soldiers refused to follow them. Pandemonium broke out when the Black soldiers could not continue the assault and started to retreat and come back into the Crater. 'Some colored men came into the Crater and there they found a fate worse than death in the charge . . . It has been positively asserted, that White men [Union] bayoneted Blacks who fell back into the Crater.'" - "The Sable Arm."  Dudley T. Cornish, New York:  Longman, Green & Co., 1956, p 274

There are also other incidents of USCT engaging in organized murder of White Confederate soldiers in Florida and at Ft. Blakelely, Alabama on April 9, 1865, where they shot, bayoneted, and bludgeoned unarmed surrendered Confederate soldiers and shot two of their own White USCT officers who tried to stop them, killing one Union officer and permanently crippling the other.

There were even more incidents of Union forces themselves targeting USCT:

"Sergeant George E. Stephens of Company B described the scene to Captain Emilio: 'Just at the very hottest moment of the struggle, a battalion or regiment charged up to the moat, halted, and did not attempt to join us, but from their position commenced to fire upon us. I was one of the men who shouted from where I stood, 'Don't fire on us. We are the Fifty-fourth.' I have heard it was a Maine Regiment .'" - "A Brave Black Regiment:  History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry," Luis F. Emilio, Boston:  Boston Book Company, 1894; Reprint, Salem:  Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 1990., 93

War is not civilized and there were other documented incidents of White Confederate soldiers murdering surrendered White Union soldiers as well as White Union soldiers murdering surrendered Confederate soldiers and even murdering the slaves they had supposedly come to free.  Custer's men hanged a number of Mosby's men without cause or trial in the field and in retaliation Mosby hanged some of Custer's men with the warning that this could be the last incident of the sort or the first of many.

To isolate the incidents of White Confederate soldiers killing USCT while ignoring incidents of White Union soldiers killing USCT, [USCT killing White Confederates], or the murders of White soldiers by White soldiers on both sides presents incidents of USCT being killed by White Confederates as a false and inflammatory image.  It makes it appear that such incidents were particular and one-sided when they were part of a much wider pattern perpetrated by both sides.

You also fail to understand that Confederate soldiers served side-by-side with Blacks who operated in the Confederate military not only in support functions, but also as armed Confederate combat soldiers.  The evidence of their combat service as contained in the Federal Official Records, Northern newspapers, and the letters and diaries of Union soldiers are so numerous and compelling that the National Park Service has recognized their service undertaken to research those sources and add them to the African-American History Web Project.

Take some time, read, become better informed, and set aside your personal prejudices before you put your foot in your mouth again.

Through painstaking research and thorough, uncommented documentation we celebrate the courage, sacrifice, and heritage of ALL Southerners who had to make agonizing personal choices under impossible circumstances.

"The first law of the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth.  The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true.  Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." - Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

We simply ask that all act upon the facts of history.  We invite your questions."

Your Obedient Servant,

Colonel Michael Kelley, CSA
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell's)
http://www.37thtexas.org
"We are a band of brothers!"

"I came here as a friend...let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment." - LT Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA, Memphis Daily Avalanche, July 6, 1875

"Unfortunately, you misinterpreted the documentation..........."
  Stonewall Camp United Confederate Veteran
Senator William Mahone
"There were five Federal surgeons, prisoners taken not at the Crater, but belonging I think to Wilson's Cavalry Raiders, which Fitz Lee had cornered and cut to pieces, or captured, near Reams Station a few days before.  I approached these doctors and asked them if they would not like to take a hand in some surgery offering them as inducement all the liberty and privileges compatible with the rules of war."

"They said they would be glad to do so and I put them to work in he hospital under Dr. Robert Page, who was the Confederate surgeon."

"I did not visit the hospital until the next day about noon , when I received a message from Mr. George Bolling that "I had better look after matters there."  On reaching the place I was shocked beyond expression to find about a hundred and fifty wounded Negroes who had been brought in since I left and were lying about on the grounds, most of them naked; and with every conceivable form of wounds and mutilation, shrieking, cursing, and praying in their agony and delirium, their wounds undressed and festering under a summer sun. "

"The Federal surgeons whom I had engaged the day before were lounging in front of their quarters, doing nothing.  Pointing to the scene of horror, the result of their neglect, I asked them what it meant, reminding them of their promise to take charge of their wounded and of the essential privileges afforded to them." 

"Their spokesman replied that they "were sick, and tired, and disgusted and that they were prisoners of war, and were not in duty bound to do any work".  "Very well," I replied, "but you should have said this yesterday when I approached you.  As prisoners of war I know very well what to do with you," and asked for a sergeant and a guard to be sent to take away five medical officers." 

"One of them asked, "Major, where are you going to send us?"  "To the prison at Andersonville, Georgia, tomorrow morning," I replied.  "Do not send me", he said, "give me another opportunity", a request which they all joined in."

"The next morning, everything was in ship-shape order and all survivors comfortably bedded in the hospital......"

"The captured surgeons later complained to Major Claiborne about having to eat out of tin cups & dishes and that white & colored soldiers were linked together indiscriminately in adjoining beds.

Claiborne submitted their written complaint to General Lee who sent Major Breckenridge of his staff to investigate.   They were told that the complaint came with bad grace from men who had marauded the surrounding country with Wilson's Raiders, destroying the food of innocent, unarmed people, pillaging  and stealing spoons and table ware and even communion services from churches.

Further, General Lee had ordered that no distinction be shown between white soldiers and colored soldiers, that if they could fight side by side, they could sleep slide by side."

What happend to the wounded USCT soldiers
captured by the Confederates at the Battle of the Crater?:

-- Dr. John Herbert Claiborne, 
  Surgeon