Wednesday, December 18, 2019

"The Colored Pickets of the 9th Corps"

While searching through some Northern newspapers to find how they covered the Battle of New Market Heights (of which I found very little mention), I came across the short notice above. It was printed in the October 1, 1864 edition of Cleveland Morning Leader, a Republican newspaper.

United States Colored Troops (USCT) in the trenches ringing Petersburg by this point in the campaign experienced almost constant harassment from their Confederate adversaries, Often located within hailing distance of each other, contemptuous exclamations were offer and returned in full and shots from both rifles and artillery flew hot and fast.

Gen. Edward Ferrro's USCT Division of the IX Corps, positioned southeast of Petersburg, had full knowledge of their enemies. They had battled them tooth and nail at the Battle of the Crater about two months before this article was printed. And in the time in between, as mentioned above, heavy firing between the pickets and men in the earthwork trenches kept their heads down but their tempers up.

This particular mention though claims that things had cooled somewhat between the foes. Its writer contends that now Confederates did not fire on black soldiers "any more promptly than white [Union] soldiers". It even says that "Deserters are also willing to accept food from colored soldiers, and will sit and chat with them."

Confederate deserters were a different kind of prisoner, and one I have honestly not given much consideration to in my research. It stands to reason that those soldiers who willingly gave themselves up rather than being captured in the heat, passion, and confusion of battle would receive more kind treatment than otherwise. And it is not had to believe that those who were hungry at the time of their capture would accept food, wherever it came from, perceived inferiors or not. I will be keeping my eyes open for future mentions by soldiers on both sides who found themselves in these situations. 

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