Rebel Atrocities

May 21, 1864, pages 328, 329

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The picture on pages 328 and 329 illustrative of the atrocities committed by the rebels upon Union troops, white and black, is of particular interest at this time. The scenes presented represent only a few of the sad facts which rebel inhumanity has forced into the history of the time, but they are significant types of the whole, while the design of the central scene most happily presents the origin of the black flag policy and the persons responsible for its adoption. All these butcheries are the result of the proclamation of Jefferson Davis, issued December 23, 1862, in which he declared, "That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the Executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the laws of said States. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United States when found serving in company with said slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy." Under this proclamation the rebels proceeded to act at the first opportunity.  At Galveston, January 1, 1863, part of a Massachusetts regiment was captured, and the rebels took two negroes, free-born citizens of Massachusetts, residents of Norfolk county in that State, and sold them into Slavery. Near the end of that month, twenty teamsters driving a wagon train of General Rosecrans's were captured near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, tied to the trees by the road-side, and shot. In May, two negroes in the service and uniform of the United States were captured on picket at Port Hudson and forthwith hanged. On the 27th of May, the first assault on Port Hudson was delivered, and many of the negro troops fighting with great courage were wounded and fell into rebel hands. Of these, some were murdered on the spot in the sight of their comrades. On the 6th of June there was an engagement at Milliken's Bend between about 200 negro troops and an overpowering force of rebels. A large number of the negroes were murdered on the field after they had surrendered.  Some of them were shot. Some were put to death by the bayonet. Some were crucified and burned.  Of those whom this last fate befell, several were white officers in command of the negro troops. And so at all points the work of butchery went on, culminating finally in the wholesale massacre at Fort Pillow, which is still fresh in the public recollection. The incident presented in one of our sketches -- General Forest murdering the servant of a Union officer -- occurred about two years since, and is thus stated by Major-General Stanley:

About the middle of the summer of 1862, Forrest surprised the post of Murfreesboro, commanded by Brigadier-General T. T. Crittenden, of Indiana. The garrison was composed mostly of the Ninth Michigan and Second Minnesota Infantry and the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.  After some little fighting the troops were surrendered.  A mulatto man, who was a servant of one of the officers of the Union forces, was brought to Forrest on horseback.  The latter inquired of him, with many oaths, "what he was doing there?" The mulatto answered that he was a free man, and came out as a servant to an officer -- naming the officer. Forrest, who was on horseback, deliberately put his hand to his holster, drew his pistol, and blew the man's brains out. The rebel officer stated that the mulatto man came from Pennsylvania, and the same officer denounced the act as one of cold-blooded murder, and declared he would never again serve under Forrest.

The treatment of our prisoners at Belle Isle and in Southern prisons is well known to the public, and need not be referred to here. 

There was a tendency for the Confederates to treat black soldiers and their white officers more harshly than other Union personnel. The Confederacy refused to acknowledge captured black servicemen as legitimate prisoners of war, an attitude that undermined prisoner-of-war exchanges.


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