Our youth Died Defending Petersburg,
while yankee artillery rained down on Southern women children!
The Union’s huge mortar known as the Dictator, as well as numerous other cannon, hurled shells into the city day and night on hungry women and children! October, 1864
In July Petersburger Charles Campbell wrote, We have the same hot sun, same drought, same dust, same war circumstances, same shellings to-day as on every day.
To escape the terrifying missiles, some people dug bomb shelters, known as bomb proofs, in their back yards. Others fortified their basements with sandbags and bales of cotton.
Eventually, the shelling became just another hardship the citizens had to endure and try to ignore. The Confederate artillery commander, Brigadier General William Nelson Pendleton, wrote, The people of the place, ladies and all, bear this outrage upon their pleasant homes with great fortitude and dignity. Brown wrote to his wife in September, You have doubtless heard of the severe shelling to which the city has recently been exposed. The severest of all took plase last Sabbath night, lasting just one hour, from half past eleven to half past twelve…. Several [shells] passed over my church and our house and garden…. A shell entered the house of Brother Paul and providentialy exploded in his only unoccupied chamber…. Dr. Clayborn [John Claiborne] came near being killed. He had just gotten up to light a candle when a shell entered his room passing through his [bed] where he had been laying a minute or two before…. The people were all very much excited…. But all of this did not disturb my sweet slumbers....
SWR's Brock Townsand