The Alabama in the Civil War Message Board - Archive

Outrages of a Federal Commander in Alabama--Horrib

I have a new blog in which I post interesting articles from period newspapers, and found this one about Turchin in Alabama very interesting.

The (Richmond) Daily Dispatch: July 21, 1862.

Outrages of a Federal Commander in Alabama--Horrible Barbarities.
Gen. O. M. Mitchell, who has been in command of the division of United States troops in North Alabama, has been summoned to Washington, to answer charges against him for allowing brutality towards the people by his troops. Gen. Turchin, one of his subordinates, is now being tried by court-martial at Huntsville, Ala. The Louisville Democrat (Yankee) says:
Gen. Turchin said to his soldiers that he would shut his eyes for two hours, and let them loose upon the town and citizens of Athens — the very same citizens who, when all the rest of their State was disloyal, nailed the national colors to the highest pinnacle of their Court-House cupola — these citizens yet to a wonderful degree true to their allegiance, had their houses and stores broken open and robbed of everything valuable, and what was too unwieldy to be transported easily, broken or otherwise ruined; safes were forced open and rifled of thousands of dollars — wives and mothers insulted, and husbands and fathers arrested if they dared to murmur — horses and negroes taken in large numbers — ladies were robbed of all their wearing apparel except what they had on — in a word, every outrage committed and every excess indulged in that ever was heard of by a most savage and brutal soldiery towards a defenceless and alarmed population. All, too, by those who pretend to represent the United States Government. This is an everlasting disgrace, that can never be wiped from the page of history, but which demands immediate and prompt action, and the execration of all lovers of law and good government.
I am responsible for these statements. I have no more doubt that they occurred just as stated than I have of my own existence. I know similar acts disgraced the same brigade of our army when we occupied Bowling Green, Ky., and the matter was hushed up to save the credit of our army, hoping it would occur no more; but this leniency failed to have its proper effect, and it is no longer endurable. The good of the service and the character of every Union soldier cries for the punishment, with out mercy, of such disgraceful conduct.
In republishing the above, the St. Louis Republican says:
We could hardly give credence to the above story, but are told that it is even worse than this correspondent relates. The conduct of some of these men was the worst a licentious and brutal soldiery could inflict upon defenceless women; so vile, indeed, that an officer of the army who regards the honor of his cloth has determined to lay the matter before the Government. We do not doubt that the men who have committed the horrible crimes alleged, as well as those, who winked at it, will meet with swift and retributive justice. The honor of the army calls for it, and humanity demands it.
The Louisville Journal states that Gen. M. has arrived in Washington, and loudly demands an investigation of his case. It says:
General Mitchell and a portion of his command have perpetrated in North Alabama deeds of cruelty and of guilt, the bare narration of which makes the heart sick. The particulars in the case will be laid before the authorities at Washington, in the course of a few days, when, we take it for granted, the honor of the nation and the welfare of the national cause will be promptly vindicated. The case will not brook delay. It cries out for investigation and determination. Let it be investigated and determined at once. We at present forbear to go into the heart-sickening particulars of the case, but, if necessary, we will not hesitate to do so hereafter. Meanwhile, we invoke the authorities, as they value the national honor and cherish the national cause, to visit swift justice upon the epauletted miscreant who has recklessly set both at defiance.
General Mitchell is now in Washington, and can answer the charges against him, if they are answerable, without delay. We hope, for the country's sake, there will be in the matter no delay, and no clemency. The matter justly admits of neither. Feeling deeply, we speak strongly, but not certainly without the keenest sorrow. General Mitchell's villainous misconduct is a national calamity. It must pierce with sorrow the heart of every patriot as of every man.

Messages In This Thread

Outrages of a Federal Commander in Alabama--Horrib
Re: Outrages of a Federal Commander in Alabama--Ho