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An Instrument of Torture among Missouri Slaveholders

Posted by The Muse (themuse) on Oct 30 2015
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An Instrument of Torture among Missouri SlaveholdersThe following article appeared in the February 15, 1862 issue of Harper's Weeskly:

An Instrument of Torture among Missouri Slaveholders

On this page we publish an illustration of an INSTRUMENT OF TORTURE used among the slave-holders of Missouri. The correspondent who sends us the sketch writes ...

Montgomery City, Montgomery County, Missouri, January 24, 1862.

I send you the sketch of an instrument used by the secession slave-masters of Missouri to punish their Negroes.

Not long since one of these wretched victims came within our lines with an instrument of this description round his neck. It was securely riveted there, and required an hour's filing before it could be removed. This proved to be a very painful operation to the poor "contraband;" for his neck was so snugly incased by the iron band, and the instrument was of such a peculiar shape, as to render the operation difficult of accomplishment. The Negro stated that he had worn it two months, and this statement has been corroborated by reliable Union men at the same county. The form of the instrument prevented him from lying down and taking his rest at night; and its weight and close fit rendered it very burdensome during the day. It consisted of a heavy iron ring, fitting closely round the neck, from which extended three prongs, each two feet in length, with a ring on the end. I suppose the design of the instrument was that a chain should be attached to it, and thus secure the victim beyond all possible hope of escape; but this negro had been running loose, with the thing round his neck, for two months; and finally, ascertaining that Federal soldiers were near, speedily repaired to them for deliverance from his tormentor. Of course he found the deliverance which he sought, and the instrument of torment is preserved by us as a mournful example of the deep degradation to which the soul, tainted by secession, may descend. It is needless to say that we did not send the negro back to his master, but so far as we were concerned, left him perfectly free to do his own will. The name of the person who has thus proved himself destitute of all humanity is Dudley Wells, of Montgomery County, Missouri. He is now a prisoner, held as a traitor to his country, and awaiting the punishment due his crime; and if he does not receive it at an earthly tribunal he certainly will at the tribunal of an outraged conscience.

Sgt. Charles O. Dewey, Dodge's Battery, 4th Iowa Infantry

Last changed: Oct 30 2015 at 12:22 PM