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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 8, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
Page 693 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Private Harrison Woodson, Company G. One hundred and twenty-second U. S. Colored Troops, testified that he went on post on the night of the 7th of May, 1865, to stand from 9 until 11; that about half an hour after he was posted the prisoners came down, nine or ten together, and wanted to sell him rings and breastpins; that some of them said now that Abraham was dead, if Johnson was also dead they would get out. They said they wanted money to buy postage stamps, when the witness told them to catch Jefferson Davis and they would have money.

A sergeant and corporal then came and told me not to let any person go on the gallery. I did not receive any instructions from the former guard. this was about fifteen minutes after I had been put on guard, and whilst these men were talking I halted one man four times and told him I had instructions to shoot. He said be wanted tomake water, and commenced doing so, when fired at him. The cap burst; the gun did not go off and I took it down, and then it went off. The bullet passed over the man's head. I went back and loaded my gun; put in two charges of powder. By that time Liutenant Harold, the officer of the guard, came down and asked my what was the matter; asked me who it was that fired. I told him it was me. By that time another man went on the platform where I had shot at the other man. I halted him two or three times. Lieutenant Harold told me: "There is a man; who is he?" I told him I reckoned there was one of the men making water again. I understood Lieutenant harold to say that if they did not stop whe they were halted three times to put a bayonet in them, and then I put the bayonet in him, and he ran into the privy and fell. One rebel sasid to me: "You have killed him dead;" and I said: "Yes, by God! They buried us alive at Fort Pillow."

The Board were of the opinion that although the ssentinel acted hastily, yet he was justifiable. In answer to a question of the Commissary-General of Prisoners, Colonel Davidson reports that:

All prisoners were forbidden to go on the gallery after night. Sentinels were instructed by my orders, after halting prisoners three times (if they still disregarded sentinel's orders), to fire upon them.

Brevet Brigadier-General Hoffman, Commissary-GEneral of Prisoners, remarks in submitting this report:

A resort to extreme measures, except when necessary, is prohibited by instructions from this office, and in this case it is plain that the prisoner might have been punished by other means than by taking his life.

The autopsy shows that the wound was inflicted by the bayonet entering the back about two inches below the lowest part of the shoulder blade nad passing donward and to the left of the base of the heart. The case is not so perfectly presented as could be desired; but as presented, it is not believed by this Bureau torequire that furhter action should be taken against eithre the sentinel, who does not appear to have exceeded his instructions, or the officer, whose orders are not shown to have bee unwarranted by necessity or proper authority.

J. HOLT,

Judge-Advocate-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 3, 1865.

Bvt. Major General J. K. BARNES, Surgeon-General U. S. Army:

GENERAL: By direction of the Secretary of War, the prisoners of war who remain in hospital at Newport News will be transferred to the Hampton general hospital, and those at Elmira, Camp Chase, amp Douglas, and Rock Island to the post hospital at these several stations.

They will be placed in charge of the surgeon of the hospital, who will discharge them as soon as they are sufficiently recovered to travel to their homes. Blanks and the necessary instructions will be furnished, so that these prisoners may be properly accounted for to this office.


Page 693 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION AND CONFEDERATE.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 8, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
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