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In Their Own Words

September 17, 1863

Civil War Soldier Wrote of Horrible Accident

A Georgia soldier stationed in South Carolina wrote home to his mother with news of a gruesome accident.

“…We were seated, Henry and I. on a pine log about seven or eight paces from the magazine, conversing about sundry things, when suddenly something fell on my shoulders. This caused me to turn my head, when there fell upon my astonished gaze a most appalling sight. Everything behind me was as dark as night, and the sand began to literally pour down upon me. … The magazine had exploded! At first I could hardly believe it, but it was indeed so. There lay the magazine before me, one vast heap of ruins. The next thought was how many killed. We began the search and succeeded in collecting the remains of the four men who were in the magazine at the time. It was a horrible sight to look at. Here and there were scattered portions of a body, a foot all black[en]ed and torn, a hand or finger, portions of entrails, an arm or a piece of skin with flesh hanging to it. The largest portion found was of man from waist to foot. This was so badly torn and otherwise mutilated that it appeared almost a shapeless mass. …”

Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 269-270.