Confederate Treatment Of A Black Union Soldier

Return to Mississippi Soldiers in the Civil War


Head Quarters Post
Vidalia La. July, 29, 1964
Commanding Officer
Confederate Forces
Trinity La.


In the skirmish on the 22nd inst. a colored soldier by the name of Wilson Woods, Corporal A. Company 6th U. S. C. Arty. was captured by the Confederate forces. I have since learned that he was seriously wounded.

Those of your command who fell into our hands have had the best medical treatment. I shall expect this soldier to be held as a prisoner of war and treated as such and I truly hope that an exchange for like grade may soon be expected.

(Signed) H. A. McCaleb
Lt. Col. Comdg.
Hd. Qrs. U. S. Forces
Natchez, Miss.

Head Quarters Trinity La.
July 30th, 1864
Lieut. Col. H. A. McCaleb
Com’dg. U. S. Forces
(Vidalia La.)


In the skirmish of the 22nd July 1864 a negro man named Wilson was captured by the Confederate forces. He is wounded in the calf of the leg (Flesh wound) and is receiving such medical attention as we have. When he is well if his owner lives in the Confederate lines he will be delivered to him, if not he will be held to slavery by the Government. I have to inform you that negroes are not considered prisoners of war, but all who surrender to us are treated as property and either delivered to their original owner or put at labor by the Government.

I am very respectfully
Your obedient Servant
(Signed) Wm. P. Hardeman
Col. Com’dg. Post

Head Quarters United States Forces,
Natchez, Miss., July 31st, 1864.
Lieut. Col. H. A. McCaleb
Com’dg Vidalia, La.


I have through you this day the communication of Col. Wm. P. Hardeman, Com’dg rebel forces at Trinity La. in reply to your enquiry concerning the treatment of Private Wilson of your command, captured by the enemy on the 22nd instant.

Please advise him in reply that when the Government of the United States made negroes soldiers, it assumed towards them the same obligations as were due to any others who might wear its uniform and bear its flag.

The honest, patriotic negro, who though of an oppressed race, and lowly condition, with few memories of past blessings to inspire him, gives his service and offers his life in defence of good government is in the judgement of God and humanity, more than the peer of the man who, while enjoying the protection of that Government and crowned with its benefactions, would destroy it.

As the matter is understood by me, the government will, for every black soldier reduced to slavery, put a rebel soldier in like condition and will, for every violation of the usages of war respecting these men, exact ample retaliation.

Yours &c.
(signed) J. M. Braymen
Brig. Genl. Com’dg

Head Quarters United States Forces
Vidalia, La., Sept. 2nd, 1864
Lieut. C. B. Smith
A. A. A. Genl
Natchez Miss


Enclosed find copies of communication between Col. Hardeman U. S. Army and myself approved by Genl Brayman. Also affidavit of Nathaniel Hunter (Rebel Genl. Major’s “body Servant”) to the effect that Wilson Woods, together with another Colored Soldier, was shot by the rebels while a prisoner of war, on, or about the 14th day of July 1864.

I have the honor to request that a rebel soldier of same rank be turned over to me. To wear ball and chain and put at hard labor on fortifications on bread and water, at this Post, until positive information of the assassination of Wilson Woods can be obtained, at which time said Confederate Soldier to be executed. I would have made this request prior to this time if I had believed this Soldier would not escape as soon as put in slavery. He made an attempt soon after his capture, but was recaptured while crossing Black River.

Since learning of his assassination which was in direct violation of Col. Hardeman’s reply to my communication. I feel it my duty as commanding officer of this man to make the above request.

Hoping it may be granted.

I am Sir
Your Obdt. Servant
H. A. McCaleb
Lieut. Col. Commanding.

Wilson Wood, Co. A, 6 U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, Personnel Papers,
National Archives and Records Service, Washington DC.