The History Of Kinston Hangings

Satisfactory Essays
Dylan Kippola
Feb, 2014
Kinston Hangings
In the early hours of February 2, 1864, fifty-three North Carolina men were captured by Confederate forces under the command of Major General Pickett. Within four months of their capture, most would be dead. Most would fall victim to the diseases acquired in Southern P.O.W camps in Richmond, Virginia, and Andersonville, Georgia. However, twenty-two were publicly hanged in Kinston, North Carolina. The wives, neighbors, friends, and former brothers in arms in the Confederate army were forced to watch the executions. From the Confederacies point of view, the executed men were Union soldiers because they deserted. Once captured, they deserved to be treated as prisoners of war. President Abraham Lincoln mentioned this on July 31, 1863. He ordered retaliation on the enemy prisoners in the North’s possession. His response was to kill a Southern P.O.W for every P.O.W the Confederacy killed. The Confederates argued that the men were simply deserters and therefore execution was a legitimate punishment for them.
Desertion was most apparent in North Carolina. North Carolina was contradictory in both providing more soldiers to the Confederate army than any other state and of having more deserters from the army than other states. Although North Carolinian disloyalty to the Confederacy was not any worse than other Southern states, it was more publicly pronounced. North Carolina was the last to secede and did so only after a statewide vote of the people. Because desertion was not a crime in the state, citizens who housed and protected deserters felt safe from arrest for hiding them. It was said that the deserters could band together and defy the officers of the law who came after them because of t...

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...e placed over the heads of the condemned and they were hanged. Joining their other deserters. The thirteen remaining condemned men had four days to sit in the jail's dungeon to think about their deaths that would take place on Monday, February 15th. Chaplain Paris described the scene in a letter that appeared shortly afterward in the North Carolina Presbyterian and the Wilmington Journal:
"I made my first visit to them as chaplain on Sunday morning. The scene beggars all description. Some of them were comparatively young men. But they made the fatal mistake. They had only twenty-four hours to live.... Here was a wife to say farewell to a husband forever. Here a mother to take the last look at her ruined son, and then a sister who had come to embrace for the last time the brother who had brought disgrace upon the very name she bore by his treason to his country."
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