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“rocked In The Cradle Of Consternation”
A black chaplain in the Union Army reports on the struggle to take Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in the winter of 1864–65
October/november 1980 | Volume 31, Issue 6
I asked several rebel officers if they killed the colored prisoners they took. They told me they did not. They also told me if they were free men from the North, or even from any slave State in our lines, they were treated as other Yankee prisoners are; but if they were slaves, whose owners were in the Confederate States, and such colored men could be identified, they were treated as house-burners and robbers. And as for you, said they, you would get the same treatment as other Yankee officers.
I learn General Butler has been removed because he failed to land his troops and attack Ft. Fisher on Christmas day. The wisdom of Gen. Butler in that case was admirable, because I have been told by quite a number of rebels, as well as by a large number of colored persons, that twelve or fifteen thousand rebels were here that day, and waiting for the Union troops to land, so as to capture the whole expedition. They all say if the Union forces had landed that day not a man would have escaped. Besides that, when we landed and went back in the woods, we found tents enough—made of boards and brush—to hold at least ten thousand troops. A colored woman told me that the rebel soldiers were so thick that day that they nearly smothered her waiting for our troops to land, but that they were not expecting us at this time. Will the Government see it’s wrong and replace Gen. Butler and beg his pardon? If they don’t do it, some judgement will surely follow. I believe the removal of General Butler is a harbinger of some national calamity, as firmly as I believe I am alive today. I would be afraid to publish the indignant expressions I have heard uttered by the colored troops about the removal of General Butler; but some are willing to lay down their arms.
With the port of Wilmington closed, Richmond could not long stand. In a few weeks, when Lee surrendered, Turner’s regiment had pushed inland and taken Raleigh, North Carolina. After the war Turner settled in Georgia as a missionary to the freed slaves. He served in the state legislature during Reconstruction but later urged blacks to leave the United States and settle in Africa. Later he became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He died in 1915.