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Civil War Trust

The Aftermath of the Carnage at Fort Fisher

In this selection, Chaplain Henry Turner of the 1st U.S.C.T. describes what he saw at the Battle of Fort Fisher

The land forces on our [right]...in no instance broke nor exhibited any cowardice...

At one time I thought they could never stand it, neither do I believe they would have stood, but for the fact that they knew the black troops were in the rear, and if [the white troops] failed, the colored troops would take the fort and claim the honor.  Indeed, the white troops told the rebels that if they did not surrender they would let the negroes loose on them...

The battle raged amid the terrific fire of deadly missiles until after dark...I retired some distance from the scene of the conflict and lay down until about 10 o'clock, when the news spread that Fort Fisher had surrendered...At this news I jumped up and went to survey the fort and behold the results of our conquest.

The fort had been ploughed by our shells until everything looked like a heap of destruction...Several rebels had been utterly buried by our shells...The soldiers were ransacking every nook and corner in search of trophies and other memorials...

After walking around the fort for some time, viewing it by the light of the moon, I found myself shot at from some unknown quarter.  This led me to believe there were rebels still secreted in some undiscovered spot whom we had not found...

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.

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