Thomas L. Wilson.

A brief history of the cruelties and atrocities of the rebellion online

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Cruelties a«d *t%*3c«TiVs of i^


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" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."— Peace and
Disunion Platform of the Chicago Copperhead Convention.


The rule formerly was, to slay without mercy, or reduce to a state
of abject bondage, the unfortunate captive of war. The men who
perpetrated such cruel and bloody deeds, even in the darkest age, and
places of the world, have been written in all history as barbarous,
and their memory branded with infamy. Modern civilization and
Christianity, amongst most nations, have induced a better method.
How far their influence has been manifested, under the auspices of
the rebel Government, the brief, well-authenticated statements of
actual occurrences, recorded in the following pages will show :

Surgeon Honiston was taken prisoner at the first battle of Bull
Run. He begged to be allowed to remain upon the field to take care
of our wounded, but in vain. He stated that Dr. Dailey, of South
Carolina, was sent to the field by Gen. Beauregard to take charge of
our wounded, but would not allow us (Federal Surgeons) to perform
operations upon our own men, but had them performed by his Assis-
tants, young men — some of them with no more knowledge of what
they attempted, than an apothecary's clerk; "they performed the
operations in a most horrible manner, some of them absolutely fright-
ful ;" there was no attention paid to the wounded, and, it was impos-
sible for them to get anything to eat ; they lay through a drenching
rain on Monday, the battle having occurred on Sunday, anjl a sultry
sun on Tuesday, until Wednesday, before they were permitted to be
removed, when their "wounds were completely alive with larvce ;"
some lay on the field for five days. Let it be remembered, that this
was at the outset of the contest, before repeated collisions had whetted
the passions of the contending parties.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

Surgeon Swalen testifies, that he was on the battle-field ten or
twelve daj'S after the battle, and saw some of our men still unburied
and entirely . naked, having been robbed of their clothing by the
rebels ; (it seems unnatural that "high-minded gentlemen," chivalry,
would actually steal, unless driven to it by necessity, which could not
have been the case so early in the history of the Confederacy;) some
of our men were buried face downward — an intended disgrace. Some
of the graves had been opened by pushing rails beneath the bodies
to get the tops of the skulls to make driuking cups. One of these
cups was found by a member of a New Jersey regiment, after our
army advanced upon the forts, defended by " wooden guns," and
which had kept McClellan at bay for eighteen months.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities.''

Dr. Ferguson, of New York, was fired upon when attending the



wounded, and after he told them who he was, they brutally, shot him

in the lee When he was carried off the field the jolting of the am-
bulances so hurt him, that he involuntarily groaned, whereupon a
rebel officer rode up to him and threatened to blow his brains out it
he repeated "his noise."

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

General Ricketts testifies that when he. lay on the field wounded

the passing rebels called out, "knock out his brains, the d d

Yankee." He heard of many of the prisoners, who were bayoneted,
and two or three shot after they arrived in Richmond.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities.'"

Senator Sprague, who went to recover the bodies of Col. Slocum
'and Major Ballon, testified that he was told, when searching the bat-
tle-ground, that the Colonel's body had been dug up, his head cut
o£, and his body burned. After thorough and repeated investiga-
tions, the Senator became fully satisfied that both of these gallant
men did indeed suffer this unhallowed and barbarous rite of sepul-
chre at the hands of their own countrymen, who boast themselves
gentlemen, par excellence, their chivalry, and that their's is the only
genuine type of manhood on the face of God's green earth. The
Senator corroborates the statement that many of our men were buried
face downward, and similar outrages unheard of and unthought of,
nave among the unsanctioned rites of pagan and savage -nations.
Heaven save us and the rest of mankind from such Christianity, aud
such civilization, if their's is the only genuine. An official report
of Judge Advocate General Holt, dated March 27, 1863, gives a
heart-rending picture of the barbarities of the rebels upon twenty-
two Federal prisoners, captured near Chattanooga, Tenm One of
them was stripped, tied down to a stone, and whipped until life was
nearly extinct. After whipping him, they brought a rope to hang
him, but his life was finally spared. Eight of these men were hung,
after having been tried by a court-martial and acquitted. But the
authorities at Richmond over-ruled the court, and ordered them
hung. From the breaking of the rope, after being Bometirne sus-
pended, two of these unhappy victims were restored to conscious-
ness ; they begged for one hour for prayer and preparation for death,
which was peremptorily refused, and the execution proceeded. What
better is this than cowardly butchery? The remaining prisoners,
reduced to fourteen, closely confined in jail at Atlanta, accidentally
learned that it was determined by the Richmond government to hang
them, and they laid a plan of cseapc. Eight succeeded, six entered
our lines, two were never heard from. The following brief dispatch
tells the Story of the remaining six: " At the end of eleven months
terminated their pitiless persecutions in the prisons of the South —
persecutions begun and continued amid indignities and sufferings on
their part, and atrocities on the part of the barbarous foe, which il-
lustrates far more faithfully than any human language could express,
the demoniac Bpiril of a revolt, every throb of whose life is a crime
.against th.- wrv race to which we belong."

■ a testation of hostilities."
Lir.r.v PRISON.
At a meeting ma of the United States Army and Navy, a

report was prepared, November 26th, 1863, and sent to the Presi-
dent, which contained the following facts. About one thousand offi-
cers of all grades, and from both branches of the service, are confined
in Libby prison, whose walls are unplastered, thus open to the full
8weep\)f the winter winds, or closed with boards — rendering the

• place dark, dreary, and loathsome in the extreme. None of the pri-
- vate soldiers are furnished with bedding of any kind. Belle Island
1 contains six thousand three hundred prisoners, whose condition is
" wretched beyond all description. An insufficient number of tents to

• protect the men from the cold and rain, no blankets nor bedding
| given them by their captors. Only one Surgeon was assigned to the
^ Island, who makes but one visits day, and then does not enter the
. enclosures of the men. Such as are too sick to walk, never see him-;

they are hurried off to the hospital when their condition is absolutely
helpless. An officer of high standing, who visited the Island, says
•the men followed him in crowds, and in the most eager tones begged
of him for bread; many literally starved to death. Some days as
high as fifty died, and from no other apparent cause. Officers, for
the most trivial offences, were confined for weeks in dark, damp
dungeons. Men were shot by the guards for standing near and look-
ing out of the windows. Some were shot, others wounded, by the
wanton wretches, who stood their guns on the floor beneath and fired
through the floor overhead. To such extremities were these un-
fortunate men driven, that in one instance a dog was killed and
eaten; and the prisoners- on the Island were known to hunt the
gutters for bones, to suck from them nutriment to appease the terri-
ble gnawings of hunger. These are facts, derived from personal
observation, transpiring in a Christian community, among "high-toned
gentlemen," but written right across the rebel Confederacy, dark as
midnight and revolting as despair..

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities. , '

The most revolting of all barbarities was that of Fort Pillow. The
War Committee, after thorough inquiry into the conduct of Forest,
and his murderous associates, report that the atrocities committed
were not the result of passions excited by the heat of the conflict,
but of a policy deliberately decided upon and unhesitatingly an-
nounced. When the women and children were crossing the river by
the aid of the Union gunboats, the rebel sharpshooters, mingled
with and shielded by "them, fired upon the officers and men. Like
incarnate fiends as they are, they placed women in front of their
lines as they moved upon the fort. They rushed into the fort during
the time the flag of truce was flying, which is held sacred even by
Turks and savages, and commenced an indiscriminate slaughter,
sparing neither age nor sex, white nor black, soldier nor civilian,
men, women nor children ; of the latter, those not over ten years of age
were made to face their murderers, and thus shot. The sick and
wounded, while lying in their beds in the hospitals, were dragged
out and butchered without mercy. Numbers of men were collected
into groups or lines, and deliberately shot down, and those of the
wounded near the river bank were brutally kicked into the river,
where they svere drowned, heaping insult and torture upon the vie-

trYns of their diabolical cruelty. No barbarity which the most fiend-
ish malignity could devise, was omitted by these incarnate demons.
A mere child, which an officer had taken up behind him on his horse,
was ordered to be put down and shot, which was done. The tents
where the wounded lay were set on fire, and many of their occupants
were consumed in the flames; those who escaped were shot down or
had their brains beaten out by the cowardly ruffians. One man was
deliberately nailed down to the floor of a tent, the tent fired, and he
perished in the flames. Another was nailed to the side of a build-
ing, and it set on fire, and he also perished in the flames. These
deeds of unutterable cruelty closed at night, only to be renewed next
nmrning, when these brutes, for they cannot be called men, care-
fully sought among the dead in all directions for the wounded that
were still alive.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

September 18, 1863, twenty or thirty rebels went in the night to the
house of Marshal Glaze, a loyal man of Spring Creek, Virginia, and
murdered John McMullen, Marshal Glaze, and a discharged Union sol-
dier while asleep, three others making their escape. The same gang
then visited the dwelling of a Mr. Noyes, a Union man near by, and
attempted to pursuade, finally to force, a young girl to accompany them
for a vile purpose ; upon refusal, they immediately shot her dead. —
Authority, Mr. McWater, Member House of .Delegates, West Va., 1861.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

In January, 1863, James Keith, with the 65th N. C. regiment, was
ordered to arrest some men at Laurel Hill for seizing salt at Marshal,
N. C. Before the regiment arrived, these engaged in the seizure fled,
and the innocent had to suffer. Twelve persons were arrested, varying
in their ages from seven to sixty, who protested their innocence and
plead for a trial, which was promised. They were marched off, but had
proceeded but a few miles when they were taken into a mountain gorge,
and five of them ordered to kneel ; a file of soldiers was drawn up in
front of them, when, deaf to the agonizing cries for mercy, the protesta-
tions of their perfect innocence, of the promise of trial, and entreaties
for a brief time for prayer and preparation for death, the order was
given to " fire," which the soldiers hesitated to obey. Keith told them
peremptorily to obey or he would exchange places with the prisoners.
Again the order was given, and five men fell ; five others were ordered
to kneel, and of the number a little boy of twelve years, who plead with
his executioners, " You shot my father in the face, please don't shoot me
in the face," and covered his face with his hands. Five more fell at tlie
order to fire, and among them was this child, wounded in both arms, and
three of his brothers, dead ; the little hero, at the feet of the inhuman
officer, implored to be spared to his mother, who was deprived of a
husband and three sons at his hands, but in vain. He was dragged
back to the place of execution, and was sacrificed, pierced with eight
balls ; those in whom life was not extinct, were dispatched with pistols;
the bodies were tumbled into one grave or hole, into which they were
jammed by the feet of these godless wretches, who danced and shouted
hi their sacrilegious work as if at a carnival of devils. They then re-
turned to Laurel Hill, and commenced torturing the wives of loyal men
in order to discover where the salt was concealed. Mrs. S. Skelton and


Mrs. E. Skelton were whipped until the blood ran down their persons
to the ground, then hung until life was almost extinct, then taken down.
Martha White, an idiotic girl, was whipped, then tied to a tree by the
neck, and left all day. Mrs. Riddle, aged eighty-five years, was inhu-
manly whipped, then robbed. Mrs. Sallie More, aged seventy, was
whipped until blood ran to the ground. One woman, name forgotten,
who had a child five or six weeks old, was tied to a tree in the snow,
and her child placed in the open door in her sight, and she was told they
both should perish. — On the authority of Col. Urawford, Tenn.

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

After the battle of Gettysburg, the Unionists of North Carolina began
to speak more freely, and revolt was feared ; in consequence, a regiment
of soldiers was sent to Randolph county to preserve order. The kind
of order thai was preserved may be known by the following atrocity,
one of many committed upon the unprotected loyalists of that region :
These soldiers decoyed a one-armed man, under pretence of employing
him as a guide, into a piece of woodland, where his body was found
several days after, completely riddled with bullets ; he was heard a long-
distance begging and imploring for his life ; from the marks of blood
and foot-prints, it was believed that he was compelled to run round his
tormentors, they shooting at him as he ran to see how many times they
hit and not kill him. — Authority, Bryan Tyson, Esq., author of " Bay
of Lights

"Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

Champ Ferguson, the prince of fiends, and his gang, captured three
white men and a negro in Fentress County, Tennessee, and tieing them
together, drove them to Wolf Run. On the way, these wretches grati-
fied their savage propensities by thrusting sharpened splinters* of wood
into the flesh of their helpless victims, and cutting them off close to their
bodies. To make them travel faster they pitched their bowie knives
into them. When arrived at the run, the unfortunate men were put to
slow torture by bayonets stuck into them, and cutting off pieces of their
flesh, until the work of death was well nigh complete. Finally, gorged
with "this disgusting work, Ferguson dispatched one of the men by actu-
ally hacking him into pieces with his knife, and his comrades in guilt put
an end to the torments of the remainder by the same means. This same
man, Ferguson declared in a speech at Sparta, Tennessee, that he had
already killed sixteen Lincoluites, and intended to kill enough to make
twenty-five, then he was willing to die. — Authority, Gen. J. B. Bogers,

" Immediate efforts be made fur a cessation of hostilities."

In April, 1862, a man named Bright, sixty years old, living in Johnson
County, Tennessee, with two sons and two nephews, was arrested by Col.
Foulke's cavalry and marched into Ash County. There a grocery-keep-
er, a brother murderer, proposed to treat this band of " chivalry " with
eight gallons of brandy, if they would hang the prisoners without trial.
The proposal was eagerly accepted, and the company of five were hung to
the first tree without ceremony. — By authority of Col. Cratvford, Tenn.

In the later part of 1802, and early in I860, the rebels in Mississippi
conscripted all the men they could find between the ages of 18 and 60 :
the Unionists fled to the woods to escape the conscription, and the fiends
set blood hounds on their track ; by this inhuman method, many were
captured and many nearly torn in pieces by these dogs before they could
be rescued.

In Alabama the conscription was prosecuted with still greater sever-
ity. During the winter of 1862, a young girl, while carrying food to her
father, hidden in a cave, was attacked by one of these dogs, and literally
torn to pieces. Also two women, who were making their way to Tus-
cumbia, Franklin County, Alabama, were torn to pieces in the same way.
In reference to the outrages committed in the above named States, Gen-
eral Dodge, in a letter to a friend, says : " That while their leaders, from
the President down, boast of their carrying on this war in accordance
with the laws that 'govern nations, a few simple facts will put them to
the blush. Men and women are hung and shot, and hunted down and
captured by blood hounds ; fathers and husbands in the presence, and in
spite of the tears and prayers of their wives and daughters, and many
times with them, are hung or shot. Houses were burned over the heads
of their inmates, and women and children turned out of doors, and the
community solemnly warned not to receive or harbor fliem, at their
peril." The General says that "hundreds of men, women, and children,
gray haired men, and cripples on crutches, were constantly fleeing from
the tender mercies of these 'high-toned gentlemen' into his lines — Cor-
inth, Mississippi — for life and protection, simply and only for opinion's
sake." Will " sympathizers" any longer doubt, or dare deny, that Union
men, under the conscription, were hunted or captured and mangled by
blood hounds ! Talk about " arbitrary arrest" and "illegal imprison-
ment !"

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

In May. 1861, a rebel command under Debrell and Jenkins, natives of
Tenn., went from Austin, Texas, to destroy a German settlement near
El Paso, of that State, consisting of two hundred and fifty souls. From
eighty to one hundred of these ruffians, without the slightest provoca-
tion, attacked this peaceful, prosperous, and thoroughly loyal communi-
ty, and it is not known that three persons escaped. Fathers, mothers,
sisters, brothers, and helpless infants constituted one common scene of
indiscriminate carnage, and houses, barns, and crops were burned and
trampled from the face of the earth. Authority, Gen. J. B. Rogers.
''Sympathizers" are horrified at any attempt to stop such work by
" coercion." Will the American public endorse such doctrines, and their
application ?

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

In March, 1863, Capt. Montgomery was kidnapped, and taken to a
rebel camp on the Rio Grande, Texas. Here he was informed that he
was to be hung, and mockingly ordered to say his prayers ; a rope was
placed about his neck, and he commanded to tell what he knew of the
Federal forces. He refused — whereupon, he was hung up to a branch
of a tree until nearly dead, then let down ; when consciousness was re-
stored, the same question was put, with the same result. He was then
hung, where he remained until taken down, and buried by a friendly
Mexican. When these cowardly murderers found # it out, they
disinterred the body, declaring that it should lay unburied, and
thus rot. Capt. Bruin, of S. C, commanded this band of outlaws, and
for this act of " bravery ajid good conduct," in hanging a defenceless
man, was promoted, and now rejoices in the title of Major of the 1st
Texas Cavalry. Why not call upon such men and their friends to guide
the destinies of this great country for the next four years, and for all
time ? Why not ? — Colonel Stanley, of Texas.

A letter dated Monterey, Mexico, Nov. 18G2, from Vice Consul M.
M. M. Kenimey, states, on the authority of an eye-witness, that twelve
Unionists of Western Texas, provided with passports from the rebel
Provost Marshal, were all massacred on the Nences river, by a body of
Texas rangers, but a short time previous to the above date. Also, a
party of Germans were all killed, with one' exception, who escaped
wounded, by the same party. The Consul remarks— u You cannot
imagine how Union men are treated in Texas; they are hung on the
slightest suspicion."

"Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

An official letter from Maj. Gen. Blunt, Oct. 7th, 1863, in reference-
to the massacre at Baxter Springs, Mo., says : " The. body of Major Cur-
tis, the son of Maj. Gen. Curtis, was found where thrown from his horse,
shot through the head, evidently having been murdered after being taken
prisoner." The same was the case with all the wounded, the members
of the bantl, the officers' clerks and tlie teamsters. The murderers were
a portion of Coppey's and Quantrell's command, disguised by Federal
uniforms. About seventy were thus butchered by these worse than

"Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities.'''

An official letter from Col. W. R. Penick, dated Independence, Mo.,
January 11th, 1863, says: ''Private Johnson, of the artillery, was brought
in dead to-day, the fifth murdered the last week. They were all wound-
ed and killed afterwards, in the most horrible manner that fiends could
devise. ' All were shot in the head, several had their faces fearfully cut,
evidently with boot-heels; powder was exploded in one man's ear, and
both ears cut off close to the head."

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

In April, 1862, a party of rebel soldiers — if highwaymen can be thus
dignified — on a tour of collecting conscripts, shot and instantly killed
a poor deranged woman, Mrs. Ruth A. Rhea, on Lick Creek, in Green
County, Tenn., because she attempted to drive them from her premises
with a stick, when conscripting her only son and support. — Authority of
Col. Crawford*

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

Ill a letter to the Mayor of New Orleans, April 26th, 1862, Admiral
Farragut says : " I shall speedily and severely punish any person or
persons who shall commit such outrages as were witnessed yesterday —
armed men firing upon helpless women and children, for giving expres-
sion to their pleasure at witnessing the old flag." These are the
" gentlemen " soldiers we read of, formed out of the raw material called
" chivalry."

" Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."

Mr. St. Clair, mate of the steamboat McRay, states that " in August,
1850, while his vessel was lying at the wharf near New Orleans, a
German pedlar, who could scarcely understand or utter a sentence in
English, was caught and hung to a lamp-post by a mob, for simply
having in his possession photographs of Mr. Lincoln, then candidate for
the Presidency, and not the least opposition was made by the police, nor
any notice taken of it by the city authorities."'

"Immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities."'

During the engagement between the Federal gunboats and the rebel

batteries on White River, in Arkansas, a shot from one of their Latteries
exploded the boiler of the Mound City. To avoid death by scalding,
the crew leaped overboard, for whose rescue small boats were imme-
diately, sent. The rebels fired large guns and musketry upon the strug-
gling, drowning men, and upon the crews of the boats sent to their aid,
as they did under similar circumstances in the harbor of Mobile., upon
the crew and officers of the unfortunate Tecumseh. This was done
under the eye of Admiral Davis, who distinctly saw the cowardly act,-
and remarks in his report, " that the country will contrast these barbar-
ities of a savage enemy with the hundred efforts made by our own


Online LibraryThomas L. WilsonA brief history of the cruelties and atrocities of the rebellion → online text (page 1 of 2)