“From the South: Horrible Crime of Negro Soldiers,” New York Evening Express (August 9, 1864)


In this article, dated August 9, 1864, the New York Evening Express reprinted an account of Draper’s raid and reported atrocities from the Richmond Enquirer. It is likely the Express, which had Confederate sympathies, exaggerated what had happened.


From the Richmond Enquirer.

We have received from a correspondent residing in Westmoreland county the following account of recent atrocities perpetrated by the Yankee negro troops in that department. Their recital is enough to make the blood boil with indignation:

It seems that Gen. Butler, about the 10th of last month issued an order that the prisoners and troops at Point Lookout should be fed from the Northern Neck and that portion of Essex lying immediately on the Rappahannock, and has not been stripped by the enemy. In pursuance of said order, the Second Massachusetts negro infantry, 700 strong, Col. Draper, a white man, commanding with one hundred white cavalry, from the 5th and 2d regulars, started for the Northern Neck, landing at Kinsale. Four hundred negroes (with white commissioned officers) and fifty white cavalry proceeded to devastate Westmoreland county, destroying everything in their line of march.

Among others, the gallant Col. Beale, 9th Virginia Cavalry, seemed to be an object of particular spite with them, tearing up everything, shamefully abusing his family, taking off his crop, bacon and other provisions. Hon. Willoughby Newton, near the Hague, was also a great sufferer, losing all his farming implements; the negroes saying they would have farms in Maryland, and would need them.

Among the great sufferers was Mr. Brown, near the Hague. Everything but his house was destroyed. Mr. Ben. English, after having everything destroyed, was stripped, tied up, and given thirty-nine lashes with the cowhide. And, more horrible, but only too true, twenty-five or thirty ladies were violated by this party of negroes. I could give names, bit deem it not best. Neither age nor color was spared by these demons, who were encouraged by their white officers. Is it surely not time to raise the black flag?

The rest of the regiment, 300 strong, with 50 white cavalry, under the immediate command of Col. Draper, marched to Richmond County. On the route six negroes violated the person of Mrs. G. eleven times, she being the wife of a brave soldier of the Ninth Virginia cavalry, being also sick at the time, with an infant six months old at her breast. This is only one instance out of twenty others of a like outrage. Mrs. Dr. Belfield whipped five negroes from her room, thus heroically defending herself. They plundered everybody of everything in their line of march.

APA Citation:
New York Evening Express. “From the South: Horrible Crime of Negro Soldiers,” New York Evening Express (August 9, 1864). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
New York Evening Express. "“From the South: Horrible Crime of Negro Soldiers,” New York Evening Express (August 9, 1864)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 19 May. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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