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[14] it was our safest. Besides this, a backward movement, by even as few as two men, might have started others, perhaps the whole line, to falling back. So we concluded to remain where we were. Had we attempted to fall back, we would have gone from a position in which we were comparatively safe (unless our whole line had been beaten back) to one of great danger, and would probably have lost our lives.

Both of us now fired several shots from this place—probably four or five. I then thought I would take an enfilading fire at the enemy in the trench to my right, who were in plain view, there being an angle in the breastworks to our right, the recess in which Comrade Turner and myself stood being so located as to enable us, when on tip-toe, to look southeastwardly down the trench towards the Crater, some seventy-five yards to our right. When taking a survey of this part of the trench I saw men struggling there, which indicated that some of our men opposite that part of the breastworks had effected an entrance therein. Seeing this I determined to withhold my proposed shot down the trench. Just at this time, looking to my left, I saw Federal soldiers coming out of, and many of our men passing into, the trench along the little ditch by which Comrade Turner and myself had entered; whereupon I went at once into the trench into which the Confederates were now entering in numbers from the little ditches up and down the line.

Casting my eyes up the line towards the Crater I saw Confederates beating and shooting at the negro soldiers, as the latter, terror-stricken, rushed away from them. I saw one negro running down the trench towards the place where several of us stood and a Confederate soldier just in his rear drawing a bead on him as he ran. The Confederate fired at the poor creature, seemingly heedless of the fact that his bullet might have pierced his victim and struck some of the many Confederates immediately in its range.

A minute later I witnessed another deed which made my blood run cold. Just about the outer end of the ditch by which I had entered stood a negro soldier—a non-commissioned officer (I noticed distinctly his chevrons)—begging for his life of two Confederate soldiers, who stood by him, one of them striking the poor wretch with a steel ramrod, the other holding a gun in his hand with which he seemed to be trying to get a shot at the negro. The man with the gun fired it at the negro, but did not seem to seriously injure him, as he only clapped his hand to his hip, where he appeared to have been shot, and continued to beg for his life. The man with the ramrod continued

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John R. Turner (2)
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