Sharing the Crater With Loved Ones

A friend of mine is currently working in an archive in South Carolina and came across a reference to the Crater from a soldier who served in the 18th South Carolina Infantry:

The Negro troops were slaughtered without mercy, we not allowing them to surrender, they huddled together in the pit formed by the explosion and our men deliberately capped down on them and beat out their brains and bayoneted them until worn out with exhaustion.  We took the other prisoners, a number however were shot or hung after brought to the rear- this may seem cruel and heartless to those at home but let them come to  VA and see the sights we have seen and they will no longer say so.  Kill, kill every negro soldier is my motto.

I have files and files of Confederate accounts that reflect this mindset, but what I find so interesting about this particular account is the explicit reference to the home front.  It is tempting to speculate as to the “sights” that this particular soldier is referring to, but it seems reasonable to suggest that it was specifically the presence of black men with guns that so impressed him.  It must have been a challenge for soldiers to depict the sight of large numbers of black men with guns to loved ones back home, especially in South Carolina.

2 comments… add one
  • Emmanuel Dabney Jul 11, 2010 @ 16:57

    I just ran across this comment online on an auction site for a SC sword being sold which belonged to another guy in the same unit as this guy.

    There are some non-Crater things that are interesting (like he says anything can be had for a price in Richmond and Petersburg and drinking mint juleps with Beauregard’s staff) but this comment of “Kill, kill every negro soldier is my motto” is still shocking nearly 150 years after the war’s end.

    It’s not shocking in the sense of “Oh can’t believe he said it” versus shocking as in “Wow, you’re crazy!”

  • The History Chef! Jul 10, 2010 @ 15:04

    Hi there! My name is Suzanne Evans and I just found your blog. I received my Ph.D. in history from UC Berkeley in 2008 and began an American history/food history blog last year while writing a book about the presidents’ favorite foods.

    As an academic historian, the goal of the blog is to help parents and kids learn how to cook together, learn about history together, and hopefully help them create many great memories and meals together. If you would like to forward this to your students and fellow teachers and post a link to it on your blog, here it is:

    All the best,
    Suzanne Evans, J.D., Ph.D.

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