March 4, 2017
Say the words concentration camps, and most will surmise the topic surrounds World War II and the Nazis; but the hard labor, constant threat of death, and barbarism these microcosmic hells presented weren’t unique to Adolf Hitler — in just one year, around 20,000 freed slaves perished in the Devil’s Punchbowl — in Natchez, Mississippi, U.S.A.
After the Civil War, a massive exodus of former slaves from Southern plantations trekked northward in hopes of reaching a location of true freedom; but embittered soldiers, resentful the people considered property were now free, had other plans.
One tiny town’s population mushroomed twelvefold from the influx, as researcher Paula Westbrook, who has extensively studied Devil’s Punchbowl, noted,
“When the slaves were released from the plantations during the occupation they overran…
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