‘I am a Bitter Enemy to Slavery’: An Amherst College Student Goes to War


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Christopher Pennell was a sophomore at Amherst College when the Civil War began in the spring of 1861, writing to his mother “I am a bitter enemy to slavery. I will not live in a country where treason is unpunished, and where slavery rules. If I must die in trying to uphold what honor there is left to our flag, I believe I am ready.” A year later, Pennell left college and joined a Massachusetts infantry regiment, then later was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 19th United States Colored Troops, a regiment formed from formerly enslaved Blacks from the Eastern Shore region of Maryland. While in college, Christopher had come to know Sabra Snell, daughter of an Amherst College professor and, far away from Amherst in Virginia, in front of Petersburg, at the “Battle of the Crater”, Christopher carried with him romantic thoughts about Sabra. This is a story of youth and love and loss during the time of terrible war.

Weight 1.01 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in

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