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Mr. George L. Kilmer, of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, in his article entitled ‘The Dash into the Crater,’ published in the same number (September number, 1887) of the Century, makes some striking statements. He says:

Some few declared that they would never follow ‘niggers’ or be caught in their company, and started back to our own lines, but were promptly driven forward. Then the colored troops broke and scattered, and pandemonium began. The bravest lost heart, and men who distrusted the negroes vented their feelings freely. Some colored men came into the Crater, and there they found a worse fate than death on the charge. It was believed among the whites that the enemy would give no quarter to negroes, or to whites taken with them, and so to be shut up with blacks in the Crater was equal to a doom of death. * * * It has been positively asserted that white men bayoneted blacks who fell back into the crater. This was in order to preserve the whites from Confederate vengeance. Men boasted in my presence that blacks had been thus disposed of, particularly when the Confederates came up.

It will be asked what was the number of Federal soldiers who were actually in possession of our works at the time of the charge made by Mahone's brigade.

As the expression, ‘an effective force of not less than 3,000 men,’ used in General Mahone's congratulatory order to the three brigades, Mahone's, Wright's, and Saunders', embraced not only the force of about 800 men of Mahone's brigade who made the charge a little before nine o'clock in the morning, but also the forces engaged in the several unsuccessful charges made by Wright's brigade and the final successful charge made about one o'clock in the afternoon by Saunders' brigade, and probably the co-operating artillery and other infantry, so the statement made by General Mahone in this order that ‘the enemy had massed against us three of his corps and two divisions of another,’ and Captain McCabe's statement that ‘Meade had massed’ for the assault ‘65,000 troops,’ must be understood as embracing not only those who were actually in possession of our works but those immediately in, or massed a short distance behind, the Federal works near by, who were taking part or ready to take part in the affair.

But we are not without data by which to ascertain the probable number of men that occupied the Confederate works when the Virginia

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William Mahone (5)
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