Emory & Henry College hosts inaugural Day of Remembrance for the Massacre at Emory & Henry

Posted by Allison Galloway
On Wednesday, October 7, Emory & Henry will recognize and share the history of the Massacre at Emory & Henry with two virtual events.

In the Battle of Saltville during the Civil War, the 5th and 6th U.S. Colored Cavalries were fighting alongside other Union soldiers against a Confederate force. The Union lost the battle. Emory & Henry’s Wiley Hall had been turned into a Confederate hospital, where a few wounded Black Union soldiers were brought to heal (the numbers are not confirmed). Five days after the Battle of Saltville, Champ Ferguson and his gang of fellow Confederate soldiers found the Black soldiers and killed them while they lay in their hospital beds.

The purpose of the presentation is to highlight the history of these killings, understand the events and make sure it is recorded and acknowledged. Many stories of Black Civil War soldiers have been overlooked in history. This is an opportunity to tell this story, which was researched and documented as a student project by Tyler Pierce, who received his M.A. Ed. In American History from Emory & Henry in 2020.

The morning event will begin at 10 am and open with a message from John Holloway, E&H Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and College President Dr. John Wells. During the event honoring the soldiers, artwork commissioned from a local artist William Fields will be announced. In addition, a proclamation to continue research into Black history on the Emory & Henry campus, which has been started by fellow scholars, will be presented.

At 7:30 pm, Pierce will discuss his research and its implications. He will also discuss history, memory, mourning and future action in the context of the massacre. A native of Chilhowie, Virginia, Pierce received a B.A. in History and Education from King University in addition to his M.A. Ed., American History from Emory & Henry. His areas of interest include local Antebellum and Civil War history, slavery, Free Black communities, and manumission in Southwest Virginia. He has co-authored a paper exploring these areas with E&H history professor Dr. Thomas Little. Pierce teaches and coaches at Chilhowie Middle School.

The evening presentation is a lyceum event.

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