The Kinston (North Carolina) Hangings

I’d like to thank Richard Phillips for his contributions (comments made to this post) regarding North Carolina Unionists and Union soldiers. He has quite the database in the works. His mention of the “Kinston hangings” has triggered a memory that I have regarding the same event.

In the course of writing the book The Richmond Fayette, Hampden, Thomas, and Blount’s Lynchburg Artillery (1991) for the Virginia Regimental Histories Series, I ran across some information directly related to the incident. In fact, three of the above mentioned units were part of Gen. George Pickett’s 38th Battalion Virginia Light Artillery and were operating with Confederate forces in North Carolina when the Kinston hangings took place.

Lt. William I. Clopton of the Richmond Fayette Artillery was one of the Confederate officers to sit on the court-martial to try the captured “buffaloes” (Confederate deseeters who had joined the Union army). Elijah W. Gaines of the same battery recalled the events that took place after the “buffaloes” were found guilty

The jail was near the Neuse river, and back of it lay a flat country. On this plateau was erected a large scaffold of rude material, and around it was built a platform with triggers, with ropes attached. The fatal day arrived, the military was marched to the scaffold, the men detailed to pull the ropes and thus spring the triggers. Twenty-five men were placed on the platform at one time, the noose adjusted around their necks, their heads covered with corn sacks in lieu of black caps, which could not be obtained, the command given, the ropes pulled, the triggers sprung, and twenty-five men launched into eternity. This was followed later by five other executions, and then two, the latter being brothers of the same build and stature, about six feet tall and well built. They were baptized in the Neuse river, taken to the jail to change their clothing, and from thense to the scaffold, where they paid the penalty of cruel war’s demand.

See this link for more information. Also see Justice or Atrocity: Gen. George Pickett and the Kinston, N.C. Hangings.

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