JCCW Barbarities – Dr. William F. Swalm

2 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 472 – 474

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

Dr. WILLIAM F. SWALM sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. No. 28 East Warren street, Brooklyn.

Question. What is your position in the army?

Answer. Assistant surgeon of the 14th regiment, New York State militia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was.

Question. Were you made prisoner there?

Answer. Yes, sir; at Sudley church.

Question. Will you state what you know in reference to the treatment of those of our soldiers who were taken prisoners?

Answer. I was there attending to the wounded when some cavalry rode up and took myself and eight or nine other surgeons prisoners. We remained there until Monday afternoon at 5 o’clock, when we were removed from the church and taken to Manassas. There were some 300 wounded men in the church and on the ground outside. When we got to Manassas we were told that it was unintentional the taking us there and keeping us from the wounded. On Tuesday morning we were ordered to be taken back. On the way back I was detailed to the old Lewis house, and I attended to the wounded there in conjunction with Dr. Norval, of the 79th New York. On Wednesday morning I was told by a captain, as I judged from the uniform he wore, there were two of our men alive, but wounded, still on the field. He pointed up towards the Henry house, and told me that I had better go and get them down. I asked him if I was allowed to do so. He said I was, and gave me a guard of two men. I went up there, and there I saw the most of our men buried. I was there surrounded by some civilians, who were very insulting, until a chaplain came to my rescue and told me that I must go to Manassas again. I was then placed behind a cavalry soldier and taken to Manassas, where I was taken before General Beauregard again. I arrived there at, perhaps, 12 o’clock on Wednesday. He kept me there until, perhaps, 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and then gave me a pass to go and attend to the wounded again. On my way back I was fortunate enough to get into a wagon. It turned off towards the other Lewis house, and I went in there, and saw Dr. Homiston. On Thursday Dr. Homiston was sent off with Colonel Wood, and I did not see him again until I saw him in Richmond. The rebels removed all their wounded, and left me alone entirely with several of our wounded—Captain Ricketts, Captain Withington, and others. The food we had was very scanty, consisting principally of hard crackers, and hardly enough of them to subsist upon. There was a Major Creecy there, who was a relative of Mrs. Ricketts or some of her family, and through him we got something for our wounded men. He was stationed behind the last house on the field. It was in that house that the operations on Prescott and others were performed. The time arrived for us to go to Manassas and from there to Richmond. We went on—Captain and Mrs. Ricketts, Dr. Lewis, and myself. Corporal Prescott, Colonel Wilcox, and others had gone on previously. Upon arriving at Manassas we remained there until evening, and then proceeded to Richmond—being twenty-four hours on the way. There was one death occurred on the way while in the cars from inattention, and was thrown from the cars while they were in motion. It is true they said they would see the body buried. We arrived in Richmond at ten o’clock at night, under charge of a second lieutenant, who took us before Adjutant General Cooper. General Cooper told us to go where we pleased, and to report ourselves to him on Monday at 9 o’clock. We left, and could not get into any of the hotels, they were so crowded. I found my way down to a tobacco warehouse at the foot of Main street. I went in there and made arrangements to remain there altogether, and attended to the wounded there on Sunday. On Monday morning, after some little trouble, I managed to get to see General Cooper, who told me to come again on Tuesday. I did not, however, go there again on Tuesday, but went to the prison and remained there. During my sojourn in the prison there, I was sitting one day leaning back with my feet upon the window sill, when the sentry outside called out to me to take them in; I got up and looked out of the window, and saw the sentry with his musket cocked and pointed towards me. Being cautioned by some one there to get out of the way lest I should be shot, I left the window. The commissary and quartermaster—one person, Mr. Warner, acting as both— who used to feed our men, did as well as he could; but the quality of the soup given their men and that given ours was very different. The soup was made of good enough meat, generally, but they put no vegetables in it. After from the first to the third week they stopped giving us coffee altogether. After some four or five days I was removed from the tobacco warehouse, by order of General Winder, to the general hospital, which was in charge of Dr. Gibson, surgeon general. The nurses there were sisters of charity. The left portion of the building, as you entered it, was set apart for our wounded, the right for theirs, and the main body of the building was used as as an operating room. I noticed that they used to bring in for their wounded nice biscuit, game, soft-boiled eggs, toast with eggs upon it, &c. This was done by the sisters of charity. I asked them to bring in some for our men, and was told that they had none. Of course, seeing what I did, I knew how much to believe of that. As to the way in which their operations were performed, I would mention the instance of Captain McQuade, of the 38th New York. He received a wound in the lower part of the left leg, which rendered amputation necessary. The operation was performed in Richmond, by a surgeon of the name of Peachy, I think. The flap was a very good one, but, in consequence of inattention, the inside flap entirely mortified, so that they had to cut it completely off, leaving the bone protruding from one and a half to two inches. Inflammation set in, and extended up the limb, and in this condition he was taken down to the tobacco warehouse at mid-day, his face exposed to the hot sun, and the result was, what might have been look for, his death.

Question. How long were you on the battle field after the battle?

 Answer. I was at the Lewis house from fourteen to eighteen days. One afternoon Captain Withington and myself concluded we would take a walk over the battle field. This was some ten or twelve days after the battle. As we walked around I saw some of our men still unburied, and some of them entirely naked—shoes, stockings, everything they had had on stripped from them, and their bodies left exposed, naked, on the field. Yet I saw a great many women, ladies I suppose they would call themselves—walking about the field at that time, apparently entirely unmoved. I should judge that I saw ten or twelve of the 14th regiment unburied, many of the 71st regiment, and a number of others whose regiments I did not recognize.

Question. You spoke of going on the field at one time to get two wounded men of the 14th regiment; did you find them?

Answer. No, sir; as I have stated, I was surrounded by some civilians, and not allowed to go up there.

Question. Do you know anything of the manner in which they buried our dead?

Answer. At the time I went up for the two wounded men, on the Wednesday morning after the battle, I saw them digging some trenches, and saw some two or three buried. They paid no attention as to how they put them in, but put them in face downwards or in any other way, just as it happened. They buried a number in a ravine that had been washed out by the rains—throwing the bodies into the ravine, and covering them up with earth. In going over the battle field lately I noticed where some of the graves had been opened by pushing rails down under the bodies and prying them up. Many of the negroes said they had seen the soldiers doing that.

Question. What was their object?

Answer. As I was informed, it was to make drinking cups of the tops of the skulls and rings of the bones, sawing pieces off for that purpose.

Question. You sum it all up as very inhuman treatment.

Answer. Yes, sir; I do. I will tell you how Doctor Ferguson, of New York, was treated. He was taking his ambulance for the wounded when he was fired into. He took of his green sash, to show his calling, and his hankerchief, as a sort of flag of truce, and waved them. A party rode up to him, and asked him who he was. He told them that he was a surgeon of the New York State militia. They said they would take a parting shot at him, any way. They fired at him, and shot him in the leg. He was taken prisoner, and laid in the ambulance. He had his boots on, and his spurs on his boots; and as they drove along his spurs would catch in the tail-board, causing him such agony that he screamed out. One of their officers rode up to him, and placed his pistol at his head, and threatened if he screamed again he would shoot him.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. When was this?

Answer. On Sunday, the day of the battle.





JCCW Barbarities – J. M. Homiston

1 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 468 – 472

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

Dr. J. M. HOMISTON sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. No. 83 Sands street, Brooklyn.

Question. What is your position in the army?

Answer. Surgeon.

Question. What position did you occupy at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was the surgeon of the 14th New York (Brooklyn) regiment.

Question. Were you present during that engagement?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you taken prisoner there?

Answer. I was.

Question. We have been directed to inquire into the treatment our wounded and dead received from the enemy there after the battle. Will you, in your own way, give us a statement of what you observed there?

Answer. The place where we first commenced attending to our wounded, whether through accident or some other cause, was fired into and became such a dangerous place that we had to stop bringing the wounded there. I believe there have been some reports about the hospitals being fired into. I have never been able to satisfy myself whether that was done intentionally or hot. I was made prisoner on the field, and immediately taken inside the enemy’s lines. I told them that my wish was to attend to the wounded men, there were so many of them wounded and crippled; that I had remained voluntarily with them for that purpose; I asked as a privilege that I should be permitted to attend to them. Two of the surgeons there permitted me to go to wash and attend to the wounded; I did so until just at dark, when a guard came up and said that I must accompany them. I told them that it was my wish to remain on the field; that I desired to remain all night with the wounded men, as there were so many who needed attention, and some of them in a very helpless and painful condition and suffering for water. I protested against being sent away from the field at that time. They became very rude and talked in a very ugly way, and insisted on my going with them. They marched me with a party of prisoners, mostly privates, to Manassas; they did not offer us even water, let alone anything in the shape of food; we stood in the streets of Manassas about an hour with a guard around us; a crowd collected about us, hooting and threatening in a very boisterous way what they would do with us. We were finally put into an old building and left to sleep on the floor there without anything in the shape of food being given to us. In the morning those of us who were surgeons were brought up before the medical director, as he was called, who took our names and then sent us back to the battle-field; there were three of us in that party; we told them we were already faint and exhausted, having been without food for twenty-four hours. They gave us some cold bacon and sent us back to the battle-field. When we reached the battlefield they took us to the Lewis house, as it is called; they had commenced bringing the wounded in there, mostly their own. They finally allowed us to have an ambulance, and we commenced picking up our wounded and bringing them in ourselves, a guard all the while accompanying us; we were then ordered to report ourselves to a secession surgeon, a Dr. Darby, of South Carolina. He said he had been sent there by General Beauregard to take charge of the wounded. He would not allow us to perform operations upon our own men, but had them performed by his assistants, young men, some of them with no more knowledge of what they attempted to do than an apothecary’s clerk. They performed the operations upon our men in a most horrible manner; some of them were absolutely frightful. I asked Dr. Darby to allow me to amputate the leg of Corporal Prescott, of our regiment. I told him the man must die if it was not done. He told me that it should be done, and that I should be allowed to do it. I told him that there were some things I would like to have; that I had not the proper instruments to perform the operation. He said he would furnish me with the instruments, and told me to sit down and wait a few moments; while I was sitting there, with another of our surgeons, one of their men came through and said, “They are operating on one of the Yankee’s legs up stairs.” I turned to the doctor, who was sitting there with me, and said, “I am sure that is Prescott they are operating upon.” I went up stairs and found that they had cut off Prescott’s leg, and the assistants were pulling on the flesh on each side, trying to get flap enough to cover the bone. They had sawed off the bone without leaving any of the flesh to form the flaps to cover it. With all the force they could use they could not get flap enough to cover the bone. They were obliged to saw off about an inch more of the bone, and even then, when they came to put in the sutures, the stitches, they could not approximate the edges within less than an inch and a half of each other; of course as soon as there was any swelling the stitches tore out and the bone stuck through again. Dr. Swalm tried afterwards to remedy it by performing another operation; but Prescott had become so debilitated that he did not survive.

Question. What kind of a man was Prescott? What was his character and standing?

Answer. He was a very fine young man, and had received a very liberal education. It was almost impossible for us to get anything for our wounded men there to eat; they paid no attention to us whatever. We suffered very much on account of the want of any kind of food for our men. They would not even bring water to us. On the Monday night after the battle all the wounded in that old house were lying there on the floor. They kept bringing in the wounded until they were lying upon the floor as thickly as they could be laid. There was not a particle of light of any kind in the house to enable us to move about among the wounded. They were suffering very much for water; but with all the persuasion I could use they would not bring us any water, and the guard stationed about the house prevented us from going after any. Fortunately, I might say, it rained that night, and through the open windows the rain beat in and run down the floor among the wounded, wetting and chilling them; still I was enabled, by setting some cups under the eaves, to catch a little water for our poor soldiers to drink, and in that way I spent all the night, catching water from the eaves of the house and carrying it to our wounded to drink. As there was no light in the house, being perfectly dark, I was obliged to crawl on my hands and knees to avoid stepping on their wounded limbs. It is not a matter of wonder that the next morning we found that several had died there during the night. They seemed to be perfectly indifferent to the sufferings of our men – entirely so. There was occasionally a man here and there, who seemed to have no connexion with the army at all, who appeared desirous to extend some kindly assistance to our wounded; but those connected in any way with their army seemed to try to do everything to show their perfect indifference.

Question. Did these young men—these assistants you speak of—perform any operations upon their wounded?

Answer. I think not much; there were other surgeons there attending to their wounded; in fact, a great many of their wounded were taken away from there, those who could be moved with safety, so that we had not the chance of knowing so much what their treatment was. Dr. Swalm could tell you more of what their treatment was while he was in their general hospital in Richmond. Many of our men were left lying upon the field until Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Question. Our wounded men?

Answer. Yes, sir; some of them lay there upon the field until the Wednesday after the battle. Men were brought in Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with their wounds completely alive with larvae deposited there by flies. They had lain out there through all the rain-storm of Monday, and the hot, sultry sunshine of Tuesday, and their wounds were completely alive with larvae when they were brought in on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Our dead lay upon the field unburied, to my own knowledge, for five days, and I understood that many of them were left there much longer. But I can speak knowingly up to the time I left, that our dead were left unburied for five days. I was sent away with Colonel Wood to Charlottesville, Virginia, by permission of General Beauregard.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. You mean that some of the dead were not buried for that length of time?

Answer. Yes, sir; our men.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. You mean your own regiment?

Answer. Yes, sir; the 14th regiment. I do not think any of them were buried at the end of five days after the battle.

Question. Were any other of our dead of other regiments left unburied?

Answer. Yes, sir; a great many were not buried at the end of that time. There were some that died Monday night in the Lewis house that were taken out and buried on the premises there the next morning.

Question. Do you know anything about the manner in which they were buried?

Answer. I could see from the house how they buried two or three of them; they dug a hole and put them in just as they had died and were carried out of the house, and then covered them up as they were.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. How deep did they bury them?

Answer. Those who were buried about the house were buried in holes not dug over three feet deep. They buried those because their own safety required it.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did they bury their own dead at once after the battle?

Answer. Some were buried down about Manassas, generally; if there were any friends there, their dead were taken away from the field and buried elsewhere.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were they destitute themselves of medical supplies that they refused to assist you?

Answer. They could not have been destitute, for they took all our supplies. Even if they had had none of their own they could not have been destitute. They even took our instruments away from us at last. They allowed us to keep them for the time being, but gave us to understand that they belonged to them. There were many individual instances of kindness extended to our wounded. I know of one instance where one of our officers made himself known to one of their officers as a free-mason, and that officer interested himself in procuring permission from General Beauregard to send this officer to a private house, with one of our surgeons detailed to attend to him. I was not a mason then, but I have become one since I returned. As an instance of the manner in which the surgeons of our army were treated there, I will state that though I was left on the field with only the clothes I had on, I received none of the attentions from those of the profession on their side which I should have deemed it my duty to have shown them had our positions been reversed. I had but one shirt (the one I had on when I was taken prisoner) for a month; and I used to wash that in the morning and go without it during the day that I might have something clean to sleep in at night. The one pair of socks I had on when I was captured I would wash myself until they were completely worn out, when I wore my boots without socks, my feet and ancles becoming so chafed that it was exceedingly painful for me to walk. Yet not one of their surgeons ever offered me any article of clothing to enable me to keep myself clean and decent, though I had to go this way for a month. It was not until some time after I got to Charlottesville that I had the opportunity of purchasing some of these articles with my own money, and while purchasing them a crowd collected about the store, making threats against ” the damned Yankee,” though I had a parole from Beauregard himself. And when I came out I should probably have been killed, for one ruffian there attacked me with a large bowie knife, when I had forced my way nearly through the crowd, and I had but the bundle in my hand to ward off his blows, when an officer seeing my situation came to my aid and drove him off after he had made several passes at me, and enabled me to reach my room in safety. For the first three days after the battle we suffered the most for the want of food. Even Captain Ricketts and Colonel Wilcox, who were in the house, had not enough to eat; and had it not been for Mr. Lewis, who owned the house, we should have suffered more than we did. On several occasions he rode six or seven miles from where he was living to this house and brought us food, which was about all we had to eat.





JCCW Barbarities – Frederick Scholes

30 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 466 – 468

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

FREDERICK SCHOLES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. City of Brooklyn, New York.

Question. What do you know in relation to the burial of our dead at Bull Bun, and the treatment of those of our soldiers who fell there?

Answer. I proceeded to the battle field of Bull Run on Friday last, the 4th of this month. We passed across the battle field, and proceeded to the place where I supposed my brother’s body was buried, which was on a knoll on Chinn’s farm. We found a trench there where bodies had evidently been buried. I then proceeded to a stone house on Young’s branch. The owner of that house told me that on the Tuesday after the battle he saw two men sitting by a stone fence, both of them wounded. One of them opened his waistcoat and showed him a gash down the whole of his breast, and begged him for some water. The other one was also badly wounded, and he wanted some water. He could not tell me how the men were dressed, as he was very much excited from what he had passed through. He told me about the number buried, and pointed out the locality of several bodies buried in the yard of his house and in the vicinity. We then proceeded over to the house of a free negro, named Simon or Simons, and had a long conversation with him. He said he was a sutler, or rather kept a little store, and supplied the rebel soldiers with eatables. He said the rebel soldiers would come in his store with bones in their hands, which they showed to him, and said they were bones of Yankees which they had dug up. He said it was a common thing for the soldiers to exhibit the bones of “the Yankees.” From there we proceeded to the portion of the battle-field where Ricketts’s battery was. Near there I found a part of what I supposed, from the description I had heard, to be the uniform of one of Ricketts’s men. The ball had gone through the left breast. On examining it I found a piece of the shirt sleeve, and there was still some flesh in the sleeve. I found portions of the uniforms of the Ellsworth Zouaves in the same state. In the bushes in the neighborhood I found a part of a Zouave uniform with a sleeve sticking out of the grave, and a portion of the pantaloons sticking out. On attempting to pull it up I found that the two ends of the grave were still unopened, but the middle had been pried up, pulling up the extremities of the uniform in some places, and pulling up the sleeves of the shirts and a portion of the pantaloons. There were portions of flesh, as I found, remaining there. I found likewise the remains of one of the 14th New York regiment in the same condition, the grave having been pried open. There were pieces of the backbone and some of the ribs sticking up in the middle of the grave, where the centre had been pried up, the two ends of the grave being unopened. Back in the bushes we found some appearances of where bodies had been buried and washed out by the rains. But those I have been speaking of had evidently been dug up. Doctor Swalm, who was with me, pointed out the trenches where the secessionists had buried their own dead, almost immediately adjoining where our dead had been buried. Their remains had not been disturbed at all. After examining there I went over to the house of a free negro named Hampton, as I understood he had assisted in burying some of our dead. He told me he had buried the bodies on the Chinn farm, in the trenches that we first found. He had been notified by a man named Benjamin Franklin Lewis to proceed over there and bury the bodies there. They were buried on the Tuesday after the battle. I spoke to him about the manner in which these bodies had been dug up. He said he knew it had been done, and said it was most shameful. He said the rebels had commenced digging up the bodies two or three days after they were buried for the purpose, at first, of obtaining the buttons on their uniforms; afterwards they dug them up as they decayed to get their bones. I asked him how they had dug up the bodies. He said they had taken rails and pushed the ends down in the centre under the middle of the bodies and then pried them up in that way. He said that Lewis’s men also knew about it. I went over where some of Lewis’s negro men were and inquired of them. Their information corroborated fully the statement of this man Hampton. They also stated that a great many of the bodies had been stripped naked on the field before they were buried, and some were buried naked; others were buried with their clothes on. They said that numbers of them had been dug up through the winter, and even shortly after they had been buried. I went to Mr. Lewis’s house, and after waiting some time he came in. I spoke to him about the manner in which the bodies had been dug up. He said that their whole army should not be blamed for that. He admitted it was infamous, but said a few men had done it who could not be controlled.

Question. Did he say what soldiers they were who had treated the bodies of our dead in this way?

Answer. He condemned principally the New Orleans Tigers, of General Wheat’s division; the Louisiana Tigers, I believe they were called. He said they were the men who had done the principal part of it. He said that after the battle the men went over the field and robbed all indiscriminately, both friend and foe. He said they had all along been the cause of a great deal of trouble, and that two or three of them had been shot during the winter for mutiny. He said that the most of them had deserted their cause and were over on our side now. He said our wounded had been very badly treated; and Doctor Swalm told me about the unnecessary amputations that had been performed by the rebel surgeons. He said that limbs had been taken off unnecessarily and in a very bad manner; that, after the confederates had taken possession of the hospital, they would not allow our surgeons to use the knife at all, but used it themselves, and that some of the men had died in consequence of their bad treatment, and from want of the necessary nourishment. He mentioned a number of instances of men who had been actually murdered by bad treatment. I spoke to Mr. Lewis about that, and he admitted that it was so. He spoke of doctors on their own side who had spoken about the manner in which the wounded had been cut and neglected and treated badly after the battle. He said that he had become afraid that a pestilence would break out there in the neighborhood, in consequence of the dead being left unburied. And accordingly, on the Tuesday following the battle, finding the dead still unburied, he had gone out and warned out the neighborhood and had them buried, sending his own men to assist in doing so. On Sunday morning (yesterday) I collected a party of men and went to the trench where I supposed my brother might have been buried, and dug down to the bodies. We found them covered by some eighteen inches to two feet of earth, just tumbled in any way, some on their sides and some on their backs. I found one body entirely naked. Upon digging at one end of the trench we found, not more than two inches below the surface, the thigh-bone of a man that had evidently been dug up after burial; and in digging at the other end of the trench, in throwing out the first shovelful of earth, we found the detached shin-bone of a man, which had been struck by a musket ball and split; a part of the thigh-bone was still attached to it. The bodies at the ends had been pried up, the clothing at each end of the body still in the ground, where the middle of the body had been pried up. The other bodies were perfect. While we were digging there a party of soldiers came up and showed us a part of a shin-bone five or six inches long, which had the end sawed off. They said they had found it among many other pieces in one of the cabins that the rebels had deserted. From the appearance of it, pieces had been sawed off, out of which to make finger-rings. As soon as the negroes saw it, they said that the rebels had had rings made of the bones of our dead that they had dug up; that they had had them for sale in their camps. As soon as Doctor Swalm saw the piece of bone the soldier had, he said that it was a part of a shin-bone of a man; and I compared it with the detached shin-bone we had dug up—the one split by a musket ball—and they corresponded exactly. The soldiers said there were lots of these bones scattered all through the rebel huts, sawed into rings, &c. One of the men said he had been looking for the body of his lieutenant, and had found where it had been left in the bushes unburied. He had found the bones and portions of the clothing scattered around by the hogs. They had buried the remains that they gathered up on Sunday last, together with other remains that they had collected. Mr. Lewis and the negroes all spoke of Colonel Cameron’s body, and knew about its being stripped, and where it had been buried. They said that General Johnston, I think, had sent around and collected some of the things taken from the body; among others, a locket, and had endeavored to find his coat. Some of the things had been found. He knew exactly where Colonel Cameron’s body had been buried. All the negroes and those in the neighborhood seemed to know all about it. I talked in the presence of the ladies in Mr. Lewis’s house of the manner in which our dead had been treated. Some of them denied it; it seemed to be well understood in the neighborhood that these things had been done.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you find your brother’s remains?

Answer. I do not know that they were in either of the trenches that we examined, unless it was the body that was naked and could not be recognized. I am not certain that he is dead. I know that he was wounded.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you see any difference in the manner in which the confederates had buried our dead and their own?

Answer. I saw where one of their dead had been buried in a box, and afterwards his remains taken up and removed. A portion of the box was still there. I saw a number of the graves of the confederate soldiers that had little headboards placed at the head and marked. None of them have any appearance of having been disturbed. I noticed in one of the graves where the body had been pried up a shoe with some of the remains still in it.





JCCW Rebel Barbarities – Gen. James B. Ricketts

27 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 461 – 465

WASHINGTON, April 3, 1862.

General JAMES B. RICKETTS sworn and examined.

[See Bull Run testimony.]

By the chairman:

Question. Did you observe any barbarous treatment on the part of the enemy towards our prisoners and wounded soldiers

Answer. On the field?

Question. On the field or elsewhere.

Answer. A party of rebels passed by where I was lying, and called out. “Knock out his brains, the damned Yankee,” referring to me. I said nothing to them. When we were taken to this house there was a general want of everything for our men. Of course I was on my back and could not see much.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. The house to which you were taken was what is known as the Lewis House?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was taken there in a blanket, and on the way I met General Beauregard. Some one asked who that was, and the reply was that it was Captain Ricketts. When General Beauregard heard my name he jumped off his horse and spoke to me. He was an old acquaintance, but a. year my senior at the Military Academy. I had been a great deal at the south-—in New Orleans, Texas, and other places-—and had been thrown a number of times in his company. He told me my treatment would depend upon the treatment that their privateers should receive.

Question. He told you that at that early period?

Answer. Yes, sir. I was much struck with what he said. I asked him where we were to be taken, and what they were going to do with us. He said: “Your treatment will depend upon that of the privateers,” and then directed me to be taken to the Lewis House.

By the chairman:

Question. How long were you a prisoner in the hands of the rebels?
Answer. I was two weeks at the Lewis House, and then I was in Richmond up to the 18th of December.

Question. It has been said that the rebels mutilated our dead and killed our wounded prisoners. Do you know anything about that?

Answer. I know this: that Lieutenant Ramsay, my first lieutenant, who was killed at my battery, was entirely stripped. The first one of the rebels who asked my name was a Lieutenant Colonel Harman. He was a lieutenant in the Mexican war, where I had known him very well. As soon as he heard my name he asked me if I knew him; and when he mentioned his name, of course I knew him. He said to the men with him, “Respect the captain’s person; he is an old friend of mine; don’t take anything from him.” And I had nothing taken from me, on account of Harman, I suppose.

Question. But your lieutenant was stripped?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What do you mean by that—stripped of his clothing?

Answer. Yes, sir; he had nothing left on him but his socks, so one of our surgeons who saw him told me.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Do you know anything about their method of burying our dead?

Answer. I know nothing except about their manner of burial in Richmond. I could from my room overlook the place where they buried our dead. I know they were buried in the negro burying-ground among the negroes. They had no funeral service over them, but they were just taken out and put in the ground in the most unfeeling manner. At the Lewis House there was a great want of everything in the way of supplies, medicines, bandages, &c.

By the chairman:

Question. That may have been the case with their own men as well as ours.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was their general treatment of prisoners in Richmond?

Answer. The general treatment of the prisoners there, I thought, was very bad, indeed. We were very much crowded. Our diet was very meagre, indeed. I subsisted mainly upon what I purchased with my own money, which my wife brought me. That is the way I got along, and I assisted the others all I could. For instance, we had at times what they called bacon soup, soup made from boiled bacon, the bacon being a little rancid, which you could not possibly eat, and the bacon was served with the soup; and that for a man whose system is being drained by a wound is no diet at all. Then we had some thin beef soup, so thin that we were induced to ask one of the assistants how it happened to be so, and we were told that it was first served to their own people in the hospitals, and afterwards it was watered for us. They stopped giving us tea and coffee, and we had to buy them for ourselves. We had to buy our butter and eggs, and everything of that sort, beyond the mere prison fare that they gave us.

Question. It has been said that they shot some of our prisoners while looking out of the windows?

Answer. I was not in the prison. I was too lame to be taken to the tobacco factory. I was in the hospital all the time.

Question. Did you hear anything about that while you were there?

Answer. Yes, sir; there were a number of our men shot. On one occasion there were two shot, one was killed and the other wounded, by a man on the outside, who rested his gun on the window-sill while he capped it; while drawing back the hammer, in this position, it escaped from his fingers, came down upon the cap, and the gun went off.

Question. That was an accident, was it?

Answer. Well, sir, it was a very singular accident. If I should point a gun towards you, instead of towards the ceiling, when I went to put a cap on, and it should go off, it would, to say the least, be regarded as a very unpardonable accident.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question: You thought it was intentional?

Answer. Yes, sir; I did think so.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Do you know whether that man received any punishment?

Answer. The man was taken up, but he made some explanation and was let go again. I considered it very bad treatment, also, to be selected as a hostage for the privateers, when I was so lame I could not walk; while my wounds were still open and unhealed. General Winder came to see me. He had been an officer in my regiment, and I had known him for twenty-odd years. He came to see me on the 9th of November; he saw my wounds, that they were still unhealed; he saw my condition. He that very day received an order to select hostages for the privateers; and, notwithstanding he knew what my condition was, the next day, on Sunday, the 10th of November, I was selected as one of the hostages. I heard of a great many of our prisoners who had been bayonetted and shot. I saw three of them, two of them had been bayonetted and one of them had been shot. One of them was named Lewis Francis, of the New York 14th. He had received fourteen bayonet wounds, one through his privates, by which he lost one of his testicles. And he had one wound, very much like mine, on the knee, in consequence of which his leg was amputated after some twelve weeks had passed. And I would state here that, in regard to his case, when it was determined to amputate his leg, I heard Dr. Peachy, the surgeon, remark to one of his young assistants, “I won’t be greedy, you may do it;” and the young man did it.

Mr. Odell: I would state here that he has just had his leg amputated the second time in consequence of the faulty manner in which it was done the first time.

The witness: It is surprising how that man lived through it all, old as he was. I should take him to be over forty years of age.

Mr. Odell: He is over fifty years of age; fifty-three or four, I should think.

The witness: I did not think he was as old as that. That only renders his recovery the more surprising. I saw him, and my wife was with him, down where he was, doing what she could for him; she gave him some of my clothes. Then there was a man named Briggs, of a Michigan regiment, who has a scar on his hand now from a bayonet wound. He says he saw the rebels coming, bayonetting our men and pillaging their pockets. He had a little portmonnaie, with about eight dollars in it. He put it inside his shirt, and let it fall down his back, and laid down on it. He was wounded, shot below the knee somewhere. When they came to him they asked for his money, and commenced thrusting a bayonet at him. He caught it in his hand, and as they withdrew it his hand was cut by it.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Did this man who received so many bayonet wounds receive them after he was a prisoner?

Answer. He was not wounded at all at first. That was their method of taking him prisoner, piercing him as much as possible. He was in their power entirely; there was no necessity for their doing any such thing, as there was one man against several.

Question. Instead of demanding his surrender they bayonetted him?

Answer. Yes, sir; it was entirely wanton on their part.

By Mr. Julian:

Question. And they supposed they had killed him?

Answer. Yes, sir. Another man was shot through the body, and he fell, and they supposed he was killed. Many of those men came into my room, and I saw them there and talked with them; and many of our men were badly amputated; the laps over the stump were drawn too tight, and soon the bones protruded. A man by the name of Prescott was amputated twice, and was then moved to Richmond before the laps were healed. He died from lockjaw after he reached Richmond, and always said that it was the railroad that killed him.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Do you know anything more about the treatment of our prisoners?

Answer. I heard a doctor on the steps below my room say that he wished he could take out the hearts of the damned Yankees as easily as he could take off their legs. Those little things show exactly the state of feeling on their part.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What was their treatment of you, personally?

Answer. I had no particular consideration shown me personally, excepting from some persons whom I knew. I had a great many acquaintances in Richmond, and a great many among those in the field, for I had been a great deal in the south. I had met many at Newport, a great many from South Carolina. Those Charleston gentlemen treated me very handsomely. Wade Hampton, who was opposed to my battery, came to see me, and behaved towards me as a generous enemy should. He brought me a couple of bottles of ale, riding seven miles to bring it to me.

By Mr. Odell: Question. The papers have criticised their treatment of your lady, alleging that they evinced a lack of respect towards the sex.

Answer. My wife, in the first place, joined me while I was at the Lewis House, on the field of battle. The first rumor she had heard was that I was killed. When she heard that I was alive, but wounded, she started with her carriage and horses to come to me. She almost had to fight her way out there, but succeeded finally in reaching me on the fourth day after the battle. There were eight persons in the Lewis house in the room where I lay, and my wife for two weeks slept in that room on the floor by my side without a bed. When we got to Richmond there were six of us in a room, among them Colonel Wilcox, who remained with us until he was taken to Charleston. There we were, all in that one room. There was no door to it. It was very much as it would be here if you should take away the door of this committee room, and then fill up the passage with wounded soldiers. And in the hot summer months the stench from their wounds and from the utensils they used was fearful. There was no privacy at all, because there being no door the room could not be closed. The hospital was an unfinished building, one half the windows being out of it; and there we were, a common show. There was a general interest to see Colonel Wilcox and myself, as though they expected to see a couple of savages.

Question. Did not the officers of the southern army protect you from that sort of indignity?

Answer. They made some attempt to do it.

Question. But they did not use the means they might have used?

Answer. No, sir; and the people would come in there and say all sorts of things to us and about us. In fact, people that I knew would come in and commence discussions, until I was obliged to tell them that I was a prisoner, and had nothing to say. When we went down to Richmond in the cars from Manassas, wherever we stopped crowds of people would gather around and stare at us. At Gordonsville, particularly, crowds of women came around there to see the prisoners and the Yankee woman. They would ask my wife if she cooked, if she washed, and how she got there. Finally, Mrs. Ricketts appealed to the officer in charge, and told him that it was not the intention that we should be subjected to this treatment, and that if it was continued she would make it known to the authorities. He then said he would stop it. General Johnston took my wife’s carriage and horses away from her at Manassas, and kept them, and has them yet, for aught I know. When we got down to Richmond I spoke to several gentlemen about it, and so did Mrs. Ricketts. They said that of course the carriage and horses would be returned. But they never were. Instead of that, when I was exchanged, and we were about to leave, they refused Mrs. Ricketts a transportation ticket to Norfolk, obliging her to purchase it. Dr. Gibson, who was in charge of the hospital, when he heard of it, said that such a thing was very extraordinary in General Winder, and that he would speak to him about it. I said that it made no difference, though I thought as General Johnston had taken her carriage and horses and left her on foot, it would be nothing more than fair to give her a ticket to Norfolk. Our prisoners were treated very badly there, and I am surprised that some of them lived through it, like that man Lewis Francis.

Mr. Odell. He is recovering, and though he has lost one leg, he is very anxious to get back into the field again.

The witness. I must say that I have a debt that I desire very much to pay, and nothing troubles me so much now as the fact that my wounds prevent me from entering upon active service again at once.





JCCW Rebel Barbarities – Reverend Frederic Denison

26 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 460 – 461

WASHINGTON, April 2, 1862.

Reverend FREDERIC DENISON sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Have you heard the testimony of Dr. Greeley just given to the committee?

Answer. I have.

Question. Will you state whether you were with him during the examination he has referred to, and whether you concur in what he has stated?

Answer. So far as he has stated any matters of which I was a witness, I concur entirely. I accompanied Governor Sprague as a member of his staff; we left here on Wednesday, the 19th of March, and returned here on Sunday morning following. It was on the 21st of March that we went on the battle-field.

Question. If there is anything in addition to what he has stated that you deem of importance you will please state it.

Answer. I would state, in addition to what he has stated in regard to the grave of Major Ballou, that I accompanied the governor up through some pine woods to a house where resided an old gentleman of the name of Newman, a man I should judge to be sixty years of age. The colored girl had told us her story, the lad had told us the same story, and we wanted to learn what we could from others. This old gentleman seemed to be a man highly esteemed by all who knew him, and we went to him and asked him what he knew about the matter. He stated that the Georgia regiment, as he had understood, had suffered severely from the Rhode Island soldiers in the battle of Bull Run, and that through revenge they had exhumed this body, beheaded it and burned it. He said he was not present when it was done, and had not seen it, but that every one who had talked about it had said it was so. But he said that three or four days after it was done he went down there, and saw the fire and the bones, and the coffin, and that the coffin had been afterwards used to bury a colored pauper in. I asked him to go to the spot and show it to me, and he did so; went with me directly to the spot and pointed it out to me, and also showed me where the coffin lay when he saw it last, before it was used for the purpose of burying the negro pauper in.

Question. Did you understand what they did with the head after they cut it off the body?

Answer. This Mr. Newman, or else the colored woman, I cannot recollect which, said it was understood that the head was carried off south. They were not witnesses of the fact. I guess they heard it was so. I looked particularly among the ashes, but saw nothing that to my eye looked like any portion of the skull. In regard to the place where Captain Tower was buried, which was up on the battle-field, I counted eight bodies, as they were laid bare. They were buried in a pit, or a kind of a square hole, into which they had been thrown, with the earth thrown in perhaps two feet deep over them. On top we found an unexploded shell, which I brought with me. What it meant I cannot say — whether a matter of accident or a mark of indignity. It hardly seemed to me that it could be a mere accident.

Question. Did you observe whether they had been buried with their faces down?

Answer. Yes, sir; all of them.

Question. Did you make examination of other graves?

Answer. We opened no graves except those containing the bodies of the dead for whom we were seeking. There was another pit, not far from the one from which we took Captain Tower. We did not open it, not knowing positively that it contained any of our dead, though we suspected it contained the body of Lieutenant Prescott. Mr. Newman spoke a great deal of this matter of exhuming, beheading, and burning the body of Major Ballou. He called it Colonel Slocum, as that was what he had all along understood. He was very emphatic in his declarations that it could not have been done by Virginians. He seemed to think it a very barbaric thing, and wished to exculpate Virginians.

Question. Do you think of anything further that you desire to state?

Answer. In the pit from which we took the body of Captain Tower I counted eight bodies. There may have been more there. We began at one end, and uncovered until we came to the body of Captain Tower, and then opened it no further. There was one body lying right across the feet of the others, and to all appearance must have been trodden down very compactly, as there seemed to be hardly room for a body there. There seemed to have been no attempt to bury the bodies in any orderly, decent, or respectful manner. In regard to the mistaking of the body of Major Ballou for that of Colonel Slocum by the Georgians, it resulted from this, I have no doubt: Colonel Slocum was buried in an oblong box—a square box; Major Ballou was buried in a coffin, or a box which was coffin-shaped; and it is supposed (of course we know nothing about that) that they exhumed both coffins, and supposing the superior officer was in the coffin, and not in the box, which was the one they meant to take, they took the body of Major Ballou. Rumor accordingly stated that they had taken the body of Colonel Slocum. But his body we found. It was the body of Major Ballou that they took.





JCCW Rebel Barbarities – Dr. James B. Greeley

25 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 458 – 460

WASHINGTON, April 2, 1862.

Dr. JAMES B. GREELEY sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. This committee have been directed by the Senate to collect evidence with regard to the barbarous practices of the rebels in disturbing the graves of our dead at Bull Bun, &c; will you please state to the committee, in your own way, what you know about that matter?

Answer. I, with others, accompanied Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, to the battle-field of Bull Run, to endeavor to recover the bodies of Colonel Slocum, Major Ballou, Captain Tower, and others.

Question. About what time was that?

Answer. I think it was the 20th of March; either the 19th or 20th. We took with us, as a guide, a Mr. Richardson, I forget his first name, who assisted at the burial of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou, to identify the spot where they were buried. We arrived at the place of burial on the 21st, I think. The hospital in which Colonel Slocum died had been burned, and we passed it. As we were passing I saw a negro girl at a spring; I questioned her about the way to the battle-field, and she directed us. We made some mistake, which we very soon discovered, when we turned back. Some of our party had been left behind, and when we returned we met Major Anthony, who commanded the escort. He informed us that they had commenced digging at a grave, and, while digging, this colored girl came down where they were and asked them what they were digging for. Said she, “if you are digging for the body of Colonel Sloke—,” she hesitated about the name, saying two or three times, “Colonel Sloke, Sloke.” One of the party said “Colonel Slocum.” “Yes, sir,” said she, “that is the name; you won’t find him ; the Georgia regiment men dug him up some weeks ago, and first cut off his head and then burned his body in the little hollow there,” pointing it out to us. She told us that his shirts were down in a place that she pointed out, and that his coffin had been left in the stream, and afterwards used to bury a colored pauper in. We went to the place she had pointed out to us, and found where there had been a fire, evidently for the purpose of burning the body, as she stated. In raking over the ashes we found a femur, or thigh bone, partly burned, some of the vertebras, or back bone, and portions of the pelvis bones. We also found, in a stream near by, two shirts, both of them still buttoned together at the neck, partially torn open in the centre, and with the wrists unbuttoned.

Question. How did they get the shirts off without unbuttoning at the neck?

Answer. The head had been cut off. We called the attention of every person present to that fact. We supposed that this body thus burned was that of Colonel Slocum. But when we found these shirts, Governor Sprague said Colonel Slocum never wore such a shirt as that. One of the shirts was a silk shirt, and the other was a striped shirt of some kind, I think. We had proceeded with the full conviction that the body thus burned had been that of Colonel Slocum; and when Governor Sprague said those shirts were not those of Major Ballou, we could not believe it possible, and went back to the graves to examine them. Before we had arrived there, Mr. Richardson had described to us the relative position of the graves of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou. While we were down examining the ashes, men were engaged in digging out one of the graves—the upper grave; and when we returned there they had dug down nearly a foot, and had discovered nothing. Mr. Richardson was positive the coffins had not been buried more than two feet beneath the surface. It was very hard digging, and having discovered nothing after digging clown a foot, I suggested taking a sabre and running it down, by which we could very easily discover if there was a coffin there. I took a sabre myself and thrust it in the ground at least two feet, but could discover nothing. We then thrust it in the place where Mr. Richardson said the other officer was buried, and we struck a coffin not more than two feet below the surface. The coffin was taken out, and the top taken off, when Colonel Slocum’s friends recognized him at once, by his uniform, and also by his countenance, his moustache, &c. Major Ballou’s body was not found in the grave. We then went to a house on the battle-field which had been used as a hospital, in the yard of which Captain Tower had been buried. We exhumed there at least seven bodies, which had been buried in their garments, apparently just as they fell. They were buried with their faces downward. Among them we found the body of Captain Tower. His orderly was positive that when Captain Tower died he had on a very fine pair of boots; they were not on his body when we found him.

Question. Did you make any further search to ascertain whether there had been any further mutilation of the bodies or barbarities practised upon the dead?

Answer. No, sir. We made inquiries of the inhabitants there, and they all corroborated the girl’s story. There was a lad there, about fourteen years of age, I should judge, and he was questioned very closely about it. Colonel Sayles was with us, and was very skeptical about the burning of this body. He questioned the boy very closely, but the boy stood the examination very well. . The boy said that it was the 21st Georgia regiment who came there, and he saw the body burned. He said they put the fire out afterwards, because it made such a horrible stench. He said that he knew, several days before, that they were going to do it. After they did it, it was talked of a great deal in the neighborhood, and they all condemned it.

By Mr. Wright :

Question. What could have been the object of digging up this body, after it had been buried several months, and then burning it?

Answer. I could think of no object.

By the chairman:

Question. You spoke of seven or eight bodies being buried with their faces downward. What did you consider the significance of that?
 
Answer. I did not know. My impression was that it was intended as a mark of indignity; it seemed so to me. Every one we exhumed was found buried with the face downward, no matter in what position they lay. Sometimes they would lie crosswise of each other, four or five packed in together, sometimes with their legs sticking out of the ground, and all with their faces downward.

Question. Did you make any inquiries of the inhabitants to ascertain any further than you have already stated?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. State it, if you please.

Answer. They spoke of this burning of Major Ballou’s body particularly, and several of them said they knew of the fact, supposing, however, that it was Colonel Slocum’s body. One man told me that the Georgia regiment was very bitter against Colonel Slocum, because his regiment had been instrumental in cutting them up very badly. I examined the remains in the ashes very carefully. We brought them all home, and I examined them through my own hands. I examined especially for teeth, for I knew if the head had been there, the teeth would have been the last to have been destroyed. I found the femur, or thigh-bone, which must have been that of a man over thirty years of age. The angle at the neck of it indicated a man at least thirty years of age. The body was proved to be that of a man by the pelvis-bone that was found; but we found no portion of the skull.

Question. You have stated that you found that the shirts were buttoned at the neck?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. The wristbands, however, were not buttoned?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What inference did you draw from that?

Answer. The shirts could not have been taken off from the body without the head had been taken off, unless they had been unbuttoned.

Question. You understood that the head had been taken off?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Did you hear anything said about the skulls of our dead being used for drinking-cups, &c.?

Answer. The negro girl and the young boy I have referred to said that the Georgia regiment carried the skull of what they considered Colonel Slocum home with them.

Question. You are satisfied that it was Major Ballou’s body they had thus treated?

Answer. Yes, sir; and another reason was that we knew Major Ballou had lost a limb.





JCCW Rebel Barbarities – Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer

24 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, p. 457

WASHINGTON, February 18, 1862.

NATHANIEL F. PALMER sworn and examined.

[See Bull Run testimony.]

By Mr. Covode :

Question. How were you treated while you were a prisoner in Richmond?

Answer. Our fare was pretty rough; we were kept closely confined, and had no exercise except what we could get all huddled up in a room. Our food was bread and beef only; nothing else. Sometimes they would take the water the beef was boiled in and put a little corn meal in it to thicken it, and give us that for soup.

Question. Did you have any coffee?

Answer. No, sir; no coffee or tea, or anything of that kind. I believe some of the wounded had a little coffee at first, but not long.

Question. How were the wounded treated there—the wounded prisoners?

Answer. I suppose they were treated about as well as they could be. Their statement was that they had no medicines; but what facilities they had for taking care of them was perhaps as good as could be had. But a great many of them died who could have been saved if they had been at home where they could have had proper treatment.
 
Question. Were there any men shot or abused there while in prison?

Answer. Yes, sir; five were shot.

Question. Under what circumstances?

Answer. One was shot, I was told, as he was hanging his blanket out of the window to air. Three others were shot while looking out of the window, and one was shot in the room where I was. He had been to the sink, near the window, where we all had to go to get water to drink, and was coming back to his bed. As he came back, the light being in the middle of the room, he was just in range between the window and the light; and as he was on his way back, when he was about ten feet from the window, he was shot, the bullet going in his back and coming out of his breast and lodging in another man’s arm.

Question. Who was he?

Answer. His name was Tibbetts, of the New York 27th regiment. He was shot in the evening of the 8th of November and died on the 12th. I do not remember exactly when the others were shot, because they were not in our room.

Question. Did you find out why he was shot?

Answer. No, sir; only that the fellow could say he had killed a Yankee.

Question. What did they do with the man who shot him?

Answer. He was taken and put in the jail or guard-house for four or five days, and then they took him out and promoted him—made a corporal of him.








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