previous next
[344] through the stream, and joined the cavalry in the vicinity of the battle-field, near the little house to the left of the church where Slocum and Ballou died, and in the garden of which they were interred. Mr. Richardson at once recognised the spot, and pointed out the graves of the heroes, and the preparations for exhuming were at once commenced, under the direction of Mr. Coleman.

During this time, the Governor, accompanied by Mr. Clark and the remainder of his staff, rode in search of the place where poor Tower lay. And now occurs an incident which I am almost afraid to pen. It causes a shudder to hear or to relate. But it is true — alas! too true.

The party had but just commenced digging, the troopers had lifted out but one or two shovelsful of earth, when a negro girl came down through the woods from a house near by on the hill, and watched the proceedings. Suddenly she came up by the side of the grave, and asked if they were not digging for Col. Slocum's body. On being answered in the affirmative, she said: “You're too late. The Georgia regiment have dug him up a good many weeks ago to procure his bones for trophies. [It sickens me to write the revolting account. ] That his body had been burnt for this purpose, and finding the bones consume with the flesh, and the stench intolerable, they had thrown dirt on the fire to extinguish it.”

She pointed out the place where the cannibal rites occurred, and there, in the midst of coal and cinders, the horror-stricken party saw verified the woman's almost incredible narration. She also guided the party to a spot a little farther down on the banks of the brook, and in the water, stopped by a little clump of bushes, the blanket and shirt stripped from the body were floating in the current. The calico shirt, from its pattern and figure, was at once pronounced by Mr. Richardson, who nursed him in his last moments, to be that of Major Ballou, and not of Col. Slocum. After circumstances also proved that the ghouls had mistaken the object of their vengeance, and that the fate intended for the remains of Col. Slocum was received by those of the heroic and unfortunate Major Ballou.

I write this with a trembling hand and a burning heart. I would have spared you the pain of such a narration, but a calm, clear version of this fiendish outrage must be given, and sensibility laid aside for the moment.

The ashes and bones were gathered with scrupulous care, and, wrapped in the blanket, were with the clothes laid carefully in the coffin.

The body of Col. Slocum was discovered to be unmutilated. It was enveloped in his blanket, and had been contained in a rude box. So well-defined were the distinguishing traits, that none of the party failed to recognise instantly and with certainty the identity of the remains.

With uncovered heads, the body was laid in the burial-case, which in each case was marked with the name and date of disinterment.

For the purpose of gleaning further intelligence about this horrible affair, the Governor and Col. Arnold visited the house from whence the colored girl had issued, and there conversed with the occupants, who corroborated every word the girl had said. Mr. Coleman also made inquiries at another house in the neighborhood, and held a long conversation with a white woman on the premises, who had nursed our sick and wounded at Sudley Church. She assured him that she herself had witnessed the whole affair, and had expostulated, begged and entreated that the dead should be held sacred, but the savages mocked at her; and then, finding all endeavors useless, she had saved a lock of his hair, and preserved it for his friends, who she was confident some day would appear, and this lock of hair she gave to Mr. Coleman. The men who performed this hellish deed were members of the Twenty-first Georgia regiment; and it will be remembered that it was the Georgia regiments that the Second Rhode Island had met and vanquished on the battle-field.

On through the woods again, across brooks the horses waded and floundered, the mire was deep, and night had set in, but on went the little band, until the cavalcade emerged on the battle-ground of Bull Run. The tired horses, shivering and trembling, were picketed to the fences, and by the flaring candles, for no lanterns were to be obtained, the search was commenced for Capt. Tower at eight o'clock in the evening. Mr. Clark, by looking from a window in the house where he lay wounded on the day of the battle, and now occupied by Mr. Mathews, pointed out the spot where the Captain was interred.

The ground was wet and marshy, and as often as a spadeful of earth was thrown from the grave the water would trickle in.

The work was therefore reluctantly deferred until the morrow, and the party, tired and mournful, clustered in the little white hospital-building in which our wounded men were carried on the twenty-first of July. All wrapped themselves in their blankets, and, with saddles for pillows, sought repose on the hard floor.

On the morning of Saturday the water stood in pools on the surface of the ground, for it had rained heavily in the night, and a ditch was dug around the graves to facilitate digging, and the bodies were again uncovered.

The dead were all found buried with their faces downward, as a mark of foul indignity, and thus lay in “one red burial blent.” Poor fellows! the tears gushed from the eyes of the troopers as they reverently gazed upon their dead comrades in arms.

The body of Capt. Tower was identified by Col. Arnold, who stood by the side of the grave, and who was one of the most earnest among all the saddened group in his endeavors to recognise his remains. It is a matter of congratulation that, guided by the directions of Messrs. Richardson and Clark, the precise locality of each of the remains recovered was satisfactorily determined, and it is to be regretted that the party who, as I am informed, left Rhode Island for the purpose of identifying the remains of Lieut. Prescott, failed

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Rhode Island (Rhode Island, United States) (1)
Bull Run, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Slocum (5)
Tower (3)
Richardson (3)
W. Coleman (3)
John Clark (3)
Ballou (3)
James Arnold (2)
Prescott (1)
William Mathews (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 21st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: