Attack on Our Soldiers by Armed Negroes
A member of the Indiana Twentieth Regiment, now encamped near Fortress Monroe, writes to the Indianapolis Journal on the 23rd.
Yesterday morning General Mansfield with Drake de Kay, Aide-de-Camp in command of seven companies of the 20th New York, German Riffles, left Newport News on a reconnaissance. Just after passing Newmarket Bridge, seven miles from camp, they detached one company as an advance, and soon after their advance was attacked by 600 of the enemy's cavalry.
The company formed to receive cavalry, but the CAVALRY ADVANCING deployed to the right and left when within musket range and unmasked a body of SEVEN HUNDRED negro infantry, all armed with muskets, who opened fire on our men, wounding two lieutenants and two privates, and rushing forward surrounded the company of Germans who cut their way through killing six of the negroes and wounding several more. The main body, hearing the firing, advanced at a double-quick in time to recover their wounded, and drive the enemy back, but did not succeed in taking any prisoners. The wounded men TESTIFY POSITIVELY that they were shot by Negroes, and that not less than seven hundred were present, armed with muskets.
This is, indeed, a new feature in the war. We have heard of a regiment of Negroes at Manassas, and another at Memphis, and still another at New Orleans but did not believe it till it came so near home, and attacked our men. THERE IS NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT. The 20th German were actually attacked and fired on and wounded by Negroes.
It is time that this thing was understood, and if they fight us with Negroes, why should not we fight them with Negroes too? We have disbelieved these reports too long, and now let us fight the devil with fire. The feeling is intense among the men. They want to know if they came here to fight Negroes, and if they did, they would like to know it. The wounded men swear they will kill any Negro they see, so excited are they at the dastardly act. It remains to be seen how long the Government will now hesitate, when they learn these facts. One of the Lieutenants was shot in the back part of the neck, and is not expected to live.
Sandusky Ohio Register
December 31, 1861
Indianapolis Journal December 23, 1861