GENEALOGY EXPRESS

 

Welcome to
Black
History & Genealogy

The
BLACK PHALANX;

A History of the

NEGRO SOLDIERS OF THE UNITED STATES
in the Wars of
1775-1812, 1861-'65,
By
Joseph T. Wilson
Late of the 2nd Reg't. La. Native Guard Vols. 54th Mass. Vols.
Aide-De-camp to the Commander-In-Chief G. A. R.
Author of
"Emancipation," "Voice of a New Race,"  "Twenty-Two Years of Freedom," etc., etc.
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56 Illustrations
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Hartford, Conn.:
American Publishing Company
1890

CHAPTER X. -
THE BLACK FLAG.
FORT PILLOW - EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS, ETC.
pg. 315 - 376
 

     It was not long after each army received its quota of Phalanx soldiers, before the white troops began regarding them much as Napoleon's troops did the Imperial Guard, their main support.  When a regiment of the Phalanx went into a fight, every white soldier knew what was meant, for the black troops took no ordinary part in a battle.  Where the conflict was hottest; where danger was most imminent, there the Phalanx went; and when victory poised, as it often did, between the contending sides, the weight of the Phalanx was frequently thrown into the balancing scales; if some strong work or dangerous battery had to be taken, whether with the bayonet alone or hand grenade or sabre, the Phalanx was likely to be in the charging column, or formed a part of the storming brigade.
     The confederates were no cowards; braver men never bit cartridge or fired a gun, and when they were to meet ''their slaves," as they believed, in revolt, why, of course, honor forbade them to ask or give quarter.  This fact was known to all, for, as yet, though hundreds had been captured, none had been found on parole, or among the exchanged prisoners.  General Grant's attention was called to this immediately after the fight at Milliken's Bend, where the officers of the Phalanx, as well as soldiers, had been captured and hung.  Grant wrote Gen. Taylor, commanding the confederate forces in Louisiana, as follows:

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     "I feel no inclination to retaliate for offences of irresponsible persons, but, if it is the policy of any general intrusted with the command of troops, to show no quarter, or to punish with death, prisoners taken in battle, will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy to black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced toward white troops.  If so, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States.  The government, and all officers under the government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops."

     General Taylor replied that he would punish all such acts, "disgraceful alike to humanity and the reputation of soldiers," but declared that officers of the "Confederate Army" were required to turn over to the civil authorities, to be dealt with according to the laws of the State wherein such were captured, all negroes taken in arms.
     As early as December, 1862, incensed by General Butler's administration at New Orleans in the arming of negroes, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate Government, issued the following proclamation:

     "FIRST. That all commissioned officers in the command of said Benjamin F. Butler be declared not entitled to be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare, but as robbers and criminals, deserving death; and that they, and each of them, be, whenever captured, reserved for execution.
     "SECOND. That the private soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the army of said Benj. F. Butler, be considered as only instruments used for the commission of crimes, perpetrated by his orders, and not as free agents; that they, therefore, be treated when captured as prisoners of war, with kindness and humanity, and be sent home on the usual parole; that they will in no manner aid or serve the United States in any capacity during the continuance of war, unless duly exchanged.
     "THIRD. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities, of the respective States to which they belong, and to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.
     "FOURTH. 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.
                    Signed and sealed at Richmond, Dec. 23, 1862.
                                                                                          JEFFERSON
DAVIS

     This Proclamation was the hoisting of the black flag against the Phalanx, by which Mr. Davis expected to bring about a war of extermination against the negro soldiers.*
     In his third annual message to the Confederate Congress, Mr. Davis said:

     "We may well leave it to the instincts of that common humanity which a beneficient creator has implanted in the breasts of our fellow

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     * Among the captured rebel flags now in the War Department, Washington, D. C., are several Black Flags. No. 205 was captured near North Mountain, Md., Aug. 1st, 1864.  Another Captured from General Pillow's men at Fort Donelson, is also among the rebel archives in that Department.  Several of them were destroyed by the troops capturing them, as at Pascagoula, Miss., and near Grand Gulf on the Mississippi.

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men of all countries to pass judgment on a measure by which several millions of human beings of an inferior race peaceful and contented laborers in their sphere are doomed to extermination, while at the same time they are encouraged to a general assassination of their masters by the insiduous recommendation to abstain from violence unless in necessary defence.  Our own detestation of those who have attempted the most execrable measures recorded in the history of guilty man is tempered by profound contempt for the impotent rage which it discloses.  So far as regards the action of this government on such criminals as may attempt its execution, I confine myself to informing you that I shall unless in your wisdom you deem some other course expedient deliver to the several State authorities all commissioned officers of the United States that may hereafter be captured by our forces in any of the States embraced in the Proclamation, that they may be dealt with in accordance with the laws of those States providing for the punishment of criminals engaged in exciting servile insurrection.   The enlisted soldiers I shall continue to treat as unwilling instruments in the commission of these crimes, and shall direct their discharge and return to their homes on the proper and usual parole."

     The confederate Congress soon took up the subject, and after a protracted consideration passed the following:

     "Resolved, By the Congress of the Confederate States of America, in response to the message of the President, transmitted to Congress at the commencement of the present session.  That, in the opinion of Congress, the commissioned officers of the enemy ought not to be delivered to the authorities of the respective States, as suggested in the said message,
but all captives taken by the confederate forces, ought to be dealt with and disposed of by the Confederate Government.
     "SEC. 2. That in the judgment of Congress, the Proclamations of the President of the United States, dated respectively September 22nd, 1862, and January 1st, 1863, and other measures of the Government of the United States, and of its authorities, commanders and forces, designed or intended to emancipate slaves in the Confederate States, or to
abduct such slaves, or to incite them to insurrection, or to employ negroes in war against the Confederate States, or to overthrow the institution of African slavery and bring on a servile war in these States, would, if successful, produce atrocious consequences, and they are inconsistent with the spirit of those usages which, in modern warfare, prevail among the civilized nations; they may therefore be lawfully suppressed by retaliation.
     "SEC. 3. That in every case wherein, during the war, any violation of the laws and usages of war among civilized nations shall be. or has been done and perpetrated by those acting under the authority of the United States, on the persons or property of citizens of the Confederate States, or of those under the protection or in the land or naval service of the Confederate States, or of any State of the Confederacy, the Presi-


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dent of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to cause full and and ample retaliation to be made for every such violation, in such manner and to such extent as he may think proper.
     "SEC. 4. That every white person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who during the present war shall command negroes or mulattoes in arms against the Confederate States, or who shall arm, train, organize or prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against the Confederate States, or who shall voluntarily use negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprise, attack or conflict, in such service, shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection, and shall, if captured, be put to death, or to be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court.
     "SEC. 5. Every person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such in the service of the enemy, who shall during the present war, excite, attempt to excite, or cause to be excited a servile insurrection, or who shall incite, or cause to be incited a slave to rebel, shall, if captured, be put to death, or otherwise punished at the discretion of the court."
     "SEC. 6. Every person charged with an offence punishable under the preceeding resolutions shall, during the present war, be tried before the military court, attached to the army or corps by the troops of which he shall have been captured, or by such other military court as the President may direct, and in such manner and under such regulations as the President shall prescribe; and after conviction, the President may commute the punishment in such manner and on such terms as he may deem proper.
     SEC. 7. All negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war, or be taken in arms against the Confederate States, or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States, shall, where captured in the Confederate States, be delivered to authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured, to be dealt with according to such present or future laws of such State or States."

     In March, 1863, this same Confederate Congress enacted the following order to regulate the impressment of negroes for army purposes:

     "SEC. 9. Where slaves are impressed by the Confederate Government, to labor on fortifications, or other public works, the impressment shall be made by said Government according to the rules and regulations provided in the laws of the States wherein they are impressed; and, in the absence of such law, in accordance with such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, as the Secretary of War shall from time to time prescribe; Provided, That no impressment of slaves shall be made, when they can be hired or procured by the owner or agent.
     "SEC. 10. That, previous to the 1st day of December next, no slave laboring on a farm or plantation, exclusively devoted to the production of grain and provisions, shall be taken for the public use, without the consent of the owner, except in case of urgent necessity."

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     Thus it is apparent that while the Confederate Government was holding aloft the black flag, even against the Northern Phalanx regiments composed of men who were never slaves, it was at the same time engaged in enrolling and conscripting slaves to work on fortifications and in trenches, in support of their rebellion against the United States, and at a period when negro troops were not accepted in the army of the United States.
     Soon after the admission of negroes into the Union army, it was reported to Secretary Stanton that three negro soldiers, captured with the gunboat "Isaac Smith,"  on Stone river, were placed in close confinement, whereupon he ordered three confederate prisoners belonging to South Carolina to be placed in close confinement, and informed the Confederate Government of the action.  The Richmond Examiner becoming cognizant of this said:

     "It is not merely the pretension of a regular Government affecting to deal with 'rebels,' but it is a deadly stab which they are aiming at our institutions themselves; because they know that, if we were insane enough to yield this point, to treat black men as the equals of white, and insurgent slaves as equivalent to our brave white soldiers, the very foundation of slavery would be fatally wounded."

     Several black soldiers were captured in an engagement before Charleston, and when it came to an exchange of prisoners, though an immediate exchange of all captured in the engagement had been agreed upon, the confederates would not exchange the negro troops.  To this the President's attention was called, whereupon he issued the following order:

                                            "EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, July 30th, 1863.

     "It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever color, class, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service.  The law of nations and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war, as public enemies.  To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color, and for no offense against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism, and a crime against the civilization of the age.  The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers; and if the enemy shall enslave or sell any one because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in 

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our possession.  It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed, and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on public works, and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.
                                                                                    "ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
     "By order of Secretary of War.
                                              "E. D. TOWNSEND, Ass't. Adjt. General."

     However, this order did not prevent the carrying out of the intentions of the confederate President and Congress.
     The saddest and blackest chapter of the history of the war of the Rebellion, is that which relates to the treatment of Union prisoners in the rebel prison pens, at Macon, Ga., Belle Island, Castle Thunder, Pemberton, Libby, at and near Richmond and Danville, Va., Cahawba, Ala., Salisbury, N. C., Tyler, Texas, Florida, Columbia, S. C., Millen and Andersonville, Ga.  It is not the purpose to attempt a general description of the modern charnel houses, or to enter into a detailed statement of the treatment of the Union soldiers who were unfortunate enough to escape death upon the battle-field and then fall captive to the confederates.  When we consider the fact that the white men who were engaged in the war upon both sides, belonged to one nation, and were Americans, many of whom had been educated at the same schools, and many very many of them members of the same religious denominations, and church; not a few springing from the same stock and loins, the atrocities committed by the confederates against the Union soldiers, while in their custody as prisoners of war, makes their deeds more shocking and inhuman than if the contestants had been of a different nationality.
     The English soldiers who lashed the Sepoys to the mouths of their cannon, and then fired the pieces, thus cruelly murdering the captured rebels, offered the plea, in mitigation of their crime, and as an excuse for violating the rules of war, that their subjects were not of a civilized nation, and did not themselves adhere to the laws govern-

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Terrible Fight With Bloodhounds.
The first South Carolina Regiment was attacked by the Confederates with bloodhounds, at Pocatalago Bridge, Oct. 23rd, 1862.  The hounds rushed fiercely upon the troops, who quickly shot or bayoneted them and exultingly held ____ (missing)

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ing civilized nations at war with each other.  But no such plea can be entered in the case of the confederates, who starved, shot and murdered 80,000 of their brethren in prison pens, white prisoners of war.  If such treatment was meted to those of their own color and race, as is related by an investigating committee of Senators, what must have been the treatment of those of another race. - whom they had held in slavery, and whom they regarded the same as sheep and horses, to be bought and sold at will, - when captured in battle, fighting against them for the Union and their own freedom?
     The report of the Congressional Committed furnishes ample proof of the barbarities:

38TH CONGRESS,
1st Session
}   { REP. COM.
No. 68

==========================================================

"IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
___________

"Report of the Joint Committed on the Conduct and Expenditures of the war.

     "On the 4th inst., your committee received a communication of that date from the Secretary of War, enclosing the report of Colonel Hoffman commissary general of prisoners, dated May 3, calling the attention of the committee to the condition of returned Union prisoners, with the request that the committee would immediately proceed to Annapolis and examine with their own eyes the condition of those who have been
returned from rebel captivity.  The committee resolved that they would comply with the request of the Secretary of War on the first opportunity.  The 5th of May was devoted by the committee to concluding their
labors upon the investigation of the Fort Pillow massacre.  On the 6th of May, however, the committee proceeded to Annapolis and Baltimore, and examined the condition of our returned soldiers, and took the testimony of several of them, together with the testimony of surgeons and other persons in attendance upon the hospitals.  That testimony, with the communication of the Secretary of War, and the report of Colonel
Hoffman, is herewith transmitted.
     "The evidence proves, beyond all manner of doubt, a determination on the part of the rebel authorities, deliberately and persistently practiced for a long time past, to subject those of our soldiers who have been so unfortunate as to fall in their hands to a system of treatment which has resulted in reducing many of those who have survived and been permitted to return to us in a condition, both physically and mentally, which no language we can use can adequately describe.  Though nearly all the patients now in the Naval Academy hospital at Annapolis, and in

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the West hospital, in Baltimore, have been under the kindest and most intelligent treatment for about three weeks past, and many of them for a greater length of time, still they present literally the appearance of living skeletons, many of them being nothing but skin and bone; some of them are maimed for life, having been frozen while exposed to the inclemency of the winter season on Belle Isle, being compelled to lie on the bare ground, without tents or blankets, some of them without overcoats or even coats, with but little fire to mitigate the severity of the winds and storms to which they were exposed.
     "The testimony shows that the general practice of their captors was to rob them, as soon as they were taken prisoners, of all their money, valuables, blankets, and good clothing, for which they received nothing in exchange except, perhaps, some old worn-out rebel clothing hardly better than none at all.  Upon their arrival at Richmond they have been confined, without blankets or other covering, in buildings without fire, or upon Belle Isle with, in many cases, no shelter, and in others with nothing but old discarded army tents, so injured by rents and holes as to present but little barrier to the wind and storms; on several occasions, the witnesses say, they have arisen in the morning from their resting places upon the bare earth, and found several of their comrades frozen to death during the night, and that many others would have met the same fate had they not walked rapidly back and forth, during the hours which should have been devoted to sleep, for the purpose of retaining sufficient warmth to preserve life.
     "In respect to the food furnished to our men by the rebel authorities, the testimony proves that the ration of each man was totally insufficient in quantity to preserve the health of a child, even had it been of proper quality, which it was not.  It consisted usually, at the most, of two small pieces of corn-bread, made in many instances, as the witnesses state, of corn and cobs ground together, and badly prepared and cooked, of, at times, about two ounces of meat, usually of poor quality, and unfit to be eaten, and occasionally a few black worm-eaten beans, or something of that kind.  Many of your men were compelled to sell to their guards, and others, for what price they could get, such clothing and blankets as they were permitted to receive of that forwarded for their use by our government, in order to obtain additional food sufficient to sustain life; thus, by endeavoring to avoid one privation reducing themselves to the same destitute condition in respect to clothing and covering that they were in before they received any from our government.  When they became sick and diseased in consequence of this exposure and privation, and were admitted into the hospitals, their treatment was little if any, improved as to food, though they, doubtless, suffered less from exposure to cold than before.  Their food still remained insufficient in quantity and altogether unfit in quality.  Their diseases and wounds did not receive the treatment which the commonest dictates of humanity would have prompted.  One witness, whom your committee examined, who had lost all the toes of one foot from being frozen while on

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Belle Isle, states that for days at a time his wounds were not dressed, and they had not been dressed for four days when he was taken from the hospital and carried on the flag-of-truce boat for Fortress Monroe.
     "In reference fco the condition to which our men were reduced by cold and hunger, your committee would call attention to the following ex-extracts
from the testimony. One witness testifies:
     " 'I had no blankets until our Government sent us some.
     " 'Question. How did you sleep before you received those blankets?
     " 'Answer. We used to get together just as close as we could, and sleep spoon-fashion, so that when one turned over we all had to turn over.
     " 'Another witness testifies:
     " 'Question. Were you hungry all the time?
     " 'Answer. Hungry! I could eat anything that came before us; some of the boys would get boxes from the North with meat of different kinds in them; and, after they had picked the meat off, they would throw the
bones away into the spit-boxes, and we would pick the bones out of the spit-boxes and gnaw them over again.'
     " In addition to this insufficient supply of food, clothing and shelter, our soldiers, while prisoners, have been subjected to the most cruel treatment from those placed over them.  They have been abused and shamefully treated on almost every opportunity.  Many have been mercilessly shot and killed when they failed to comply with all the demands of their jailors, sometimes for violating rules of which they had not been informed.  Crowded in great numbers in buildings, they have been fired at and killed by the sentinels outside when they appeared at the windows for the purpose of obtaining a little fresh air.  One man, whose comrade in the service, in battle and in captivity, had been so fortunate as to be among those released from further torments, was shot dead as he was waving with his hand a last adieu to his friend; and other instances of equally unprovoked murder are disclosed by the testimony.
     "The condition of our returned soldiers as regards personal cleanliness, has been filthy almost beyond description.  Their clothes have been so dirty and so covered with vermin, that those who received them have been compelled to destroy their clothing and re-clothe them with new and clean raiment.  Their bodies and heads have been so infested with vermin that, in some instances, repeated washings have failed to remove them; and those who have received them in charge have been compelled to cut all the hair from their heads, and make applications to destroy the vermin.  Some have been received with no clothing but shirts and drawers and a piece of blanket or other outside covering, entirely destitute of coats, hats, shoes or stockings; and the bodies of those better supplied with clothing have been equally dirty and filthy with the others, many who have been sick and in the hospital having had no opportunity to wash their bodies for weeks and months before they were released from captivity.
     "Your committee are unable to convey any adequate idea of the sad and deplorable condition of the men they saw in the hospitals they

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visited; and the testimony they have taken cannot convey to the reader the impressions which your committee there received.  The persons we saw, as we were assured by those in charge of them, have greatly improved since they have been received in the hospitals.  Yet they are now dying daily, one of them being in the very throes of death as your committee stood by his bed-side and witnessed the sad spectacle there presented.  All those whom your committee examined stated that they have been thus reduced and emaciated entirely in consequence of the merciless treatment they received while prisoners from their enemies; and the physicians in charge of them, the men best fitted by their profession and experience to express an opinion upon the subject, all say that they have no doubt that the statements of their patients are entirely correct.
     "It will be observed from the testimony, that all the witnesses who testify upon that point state that the treatment they received while confined at Columbia, South Carolina, Dalton, Georgia, and other places,  was far more humane than that they received at Richmond, where the authorities of the so-called confederacy were congregated, and where the power existed, had the inclination not been wanting, to reform those abuses and secure to the prisoners they held some treatment that would bear a public comparison to that accorded by our authorities to the prisoners in our custody.  Your committee, therefore, are constrained to say that they can hardly avoid the conclusion, expressed by so many of our released soldiers, that the inhuman practices herein referred to are the result of a determination on the part of the rebel authorities to reduce our soldiers in their power, by privation of food and clothing, and by exposure, to such a condition that those who may survive shall never recover so as to be able to render any effective service in the field.  And your committee accordingly ask that this report, with the accompanying testimony be printed with the report and testimony [which was accordingly done] in relation to the massacre of Fort Pillow, the one being, in their opinion, no less than the other, the result of a predetermined policy.  As regards the assertions of some of the rebel newspapers, that our prisoners have received at their hands the same treatment that their own soldiers in the field have received, they are evidently but the most glaring and unblushing falsehoods.  No one can for a moment be deceived by such statements, who will reflect that our soldiers, who, when taken prisoners, have been stout, healthy men, in the prime and vigor of life, yet have died by hundreds under the treatment they have received, although required to perform no duties of the camp or the march; while the rebel soldiers are able to make long and rapid marches, and to offer a stubborn resistance in the field.
     "Your committee, finding it impossible to describe in words the deplorable condition of these returned prisoners, have caused photographs to be taken of a number of them, and a fair sample to be lithographed and appended to their report, that their exact condition may be known by all who examine it. Some of them have since died.
     "There is one feature connected with this investigation, to which

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Massacre at Fort Pillow.

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miles from Ripley; issued five days' rations (at previous camp.)  Rained two hours in the evening.
     "'Friday, June 10th. - Encountered the enemy at Brice's Cross-Roads, 23 miles from Ripley and six miles from Guntown.
     "At Ripley it became a serious question in my mind as to whether or not I should proceed any farther. The rain still fell in torrents; the artillery and wagons were literally mired down, and the starved and exhausted animals could with difficulty drag them along.  Under these circumstances, I called together my division commanders and placed before them my views of our condition.  At this interview, one brigade commander and two members of my staff were, incidentally, present also.  I called their attention to the great delay we had undergone on account of the continuous rain and consequent bad condition of the roads; the exhausted condition of our animals; the great probability that the enemy would avail himself of the time thus afforded him to concentrate an overwhelming force against us in the vicinity of Tupelo and the utter hopelessness of saving our train or artillery in case of defeat, on account of the narrowness and general bad condition of the roads and the impossibility of procuring supplies of forage for the animals; all agreed with me in the probable consequences of defeat.  Some thought our only safety lay in retracing our steps and abandoning the expedition.  It was urged, however, (and with some propriety, too,) that inasmuch as I had abandoned a similar expedition only a few weeks before and given as my reasons for so doing, the "utter and entire destitution of the country," and that in the face of this we were again sent through the same country, it would be ruinous on all sides to return again without first meeting the enemy.  Moreover, from all the information General Washburn had acquired, there could be no considerable force in our front and all my own information led to the same conclusion.  To be sure my information was exceedingly meagre and unsatisfactory and had I returned I would have been totally unable to present any facts to justify my cause, or to show why the expedition might not have been successfully carried forward.  All I could have presented would have been my conjectures as to what the enemy would naturally do under the circumstances and these would have availed but little against the idea that the enemy was scattered and had no considerable force in our front.
     "Under these circumstances," and with a sad forboding of the consequences, I determined to move forward; keeping my force as compact as possible and ready for action at all times; hoping that we might succeed, and feeling that if we did not, yet our losses might at most be insignificant in comparison with the great benefits which might accrue to General Sherman by the depletion of Johnson's army to so large an extent.
     "On the evening of the 8th, one day beyond Ripley, I assembled the commanders of infantry brigades at the headquarters of Colonel McMillen, and cautioned them as to the necessity of enforcing rigid discipline in

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their camps; keeping their troops always in hand and ready to act on a moment's notice.  That it was impossible to gain any accurate or reliable information of the enemy, and that it behooved us to move and act constantly as though in his presence.  That we were now where we might encounter him at any moment, and that we must under no circumstances allow ourselves to be surprised.  On the morning of the 10th, the cavalry marched at half-past 5 o'clock and the infantry at seven, thus allowing the infantry to follow immediately in rear of the cavalry as it would take the cavalry a full hour and a half to clear their camp.  The habitual order of march was as follows, viz: Cavalry with its artillery in advance; infantry with its artillery; next, and lastly, the supply train, guarded by the rear brigade with one of its regiments at the head, one near the middle and one with a section of artillery in the rear.  A company of pioneers preceded the infantry for the purpose of repairing the roads, building bridges, &c., &c.
     "On this morning, I had preceded the head of the infantry column and arrived at a point some five miles from camp, when I found an unusually bad place in the road and one that would require considerable time and labor to render practicable.  While halted here to await the head of the column, I received a message from General Grierson that he had encountered a portion of the enemy's cavalry. In a few minutes more I received another message from him, saying the enemy numbered some 600 and were on the Baldwyn road.  That he was himself at Brice's Cross-Roads and that his position was a good one and he would hold it.  He was then directed to leave 600 or 700 men at the crossroads, to precede the infantry on its arrival, on its march towards Guntown, and with the remainder of his forces to drive the enemy toward Baldwyn and there rejoin the main body by way of the line of the railroad, as I did not intend being drawn from my main purpose.  Colonel McMillen arrived at this time and I rode forward toward the cross-roads.  Before proceeding far, however, I sent a staff officer back directing Colonel McMillen to move up his advance brigade as rapidly as possible without distressing his troops.  When I reached the cross-roads, found nearly all the cavalry engaged and the battle growing warm, but no artillery had yet opened on either side.  We had four pieces of artillery at the cross-roads, but they had not been placed in position, owing to the dense woods on all sides and the apparent impossibility of using them to advantage.  Finding, however, that our troops were being hotly pressed, I ordered one section to open on the enemy's reserves.  The enemy's artillery soon replied, and with great accuracy, every shell bursting over and in the immediate vicinity of our guns.
     "Frequent calls were now made for re-enforcements, but until the infantry should arrive, I had none to give Colonel Winslow, 4th Iowa Cavalry, commanding a brigade and occupying a position on the Guntown road a little in advance of the cross-roads, was especially clamorous to be relieved and permitted to carry his brigade to the rear.  Fearing that Colonel Winslow might abandon his position without authority,

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and men who deserve mention, but will respectfully refer you for these to the reports of division and brigade commanders, yet I cannot refrain from expressing my high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by that excellent and dashing officer, Col.  Joseph Karge, of the 2nd New Jersey Vols., in his reconnoissance to Corinth and his subsequent management of the rear-guard, during a part of the retreat, fighting and defending the rear during one whole afternoon and throughout the entire night following.
     "To the officers of my staff, Lieut. Col. J. C. Hess, 19th Pa. Cavalry, commanding escort, Capt. W. C. Rawolle, A. D. C. and A. A. A. G.; Capt. W. C. Belden, 2nd Iowa Cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieut. E. Caulkins 7th Indiana Cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieut. Samuel (name illegible) 19th' Penn. Cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieut. Dement, A. A. Q. M.; Lieut. W. H. Stratton, 7th Ills. Cavalry, A. A. C. S.,  whose names appear in no other report, I am especially grateful, for the promptness and zeal with which my orders were executed at all times and often under trying and hazardous circumstances.
     "I am, major, very respectfully your obedient servant,
                                                                                            
S. D. STURGIS

     MAJ. W. H. MORGAN, A. A. G.,
          Hdqrs. Dist. West Tenn., Memphis, Tenn.

     "Amid these scenes we noted the arrival of 95 more men; those who had belonged to a raid sent from Memphis, Tenn., under command of General Sturgis, and were attacked and badly defeated by the rebel
General Forrest, at a place in Mississippi.  General Sturgis is said to have been intoxicated during the engagement, and that just as soon as he saw things were likely to go against him, he turned away with a portion of his cavalry, and sought to save himself from capture. - 'Life and Death in Rebel Prisons.'"

     Notwithstanding the arrangements usually and speedily entered into by two belligerent powers for the exchange of prisoners of war, it proved a most difficult task for the Federal Government to consummate an arrangement with the confederates, and much suffering was caused among the prisoners in the hands of the latter while negotiations were in progress.  The agreement entered into by the commissioners, after a long delay, did not anticipate there being any black soldiers to exchange; nor would the confederate authorities thereafter allow the terms of the cartel to apply to the blacks, because Jefferson Davis and the confederate Congress regarded it as an outrage against humanity, and the rules of civilized warfare to arm the negroes against their masters.

[Pg. 374]
     It was a year after the black soldiers had become a part of the Union forces before even a quasi acknowledgment of their rights as prisoners was noted in Richmond.  The grounds upon which the greatest difficulty lingered was the refusal of the Federal government at first to accord belligerent rights to the confederates but this difficulty was finally overcome in July, 1862, and the exchange of prisoners proceeded with until the confederate authorities refused to count the black soldiers captured in the interpretation of the cartel. But the time arrived when Grant assumed command of the armies, when it was no longer an open question, for the confederate Congress began devising plans for arming the slaves.
     However, the inhuman treatment did not cease with "irresponsible parties," whose conduct was doubtless approved by the rebel authorities, Jefferson Davis having declared General Butler an outlaw, and committed him and his officers and black soldiers to the mercy of a chivalry which affected to regard them as mercenaries.  With this spirit infused in the confederate army, what else than
barbarity could be expected?

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[Pg. 376]


PHALANX REGIMENT RECEIVING ITS FLAGS.
Presentation of colors to the 26 United States Colored Infantry, Col. Bertram, in N. Y., March 5th, 1864.
 

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