The Devil’s Punchbowl is an area located in Natchez, Mississippi where in the 1800s during and after the Civil War, thousands of freed Black slaves were interred – and where, allegedly, 20,000 of them perished. The Devil’s Punchbowl is also the title of a novel by Greg Iles and he doesn’t mention one word about this supposed atrocity, at least from what I recall, and he’s one of those (very rare) White writers who often crafts an entire novel based upon a racial incident involving Blacks and Whites.

When you Google the Devil’s Punchbowl, you see article after article from such reputable sources as the Atlanta Black Star, Black Then, Melanoid Nation, African America, and Black Main Street. There are absolutely no scholarly sources for the information, which leads me to believe that this so-called concentration camp for freed slaves did not ever exist. It is one of the many stories of falsehood that Blackey, in his ignorance and eagerness to blame Whitey for every spite, recklessly believe in.

The main person responsible for this story being ‘uncovered’ in the first place is a (gasp) paranormal researcher by the name of Paula Westbrook.  According to this highly regarded source –

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a place located in Natchez, Mississippi where during the Civil War; authorities forced tens of thousands of freed slaves to live into concentration camps.  Westbrook adds that, “The union army did not allow them to remove the bodies from the camp. They just gave ’em shovels and said bury ’em where they drop.”

According to researcher Paula Westbrook, she researched through Adams County Sheriff’s reports from the time.

“When the slaves were released from the plantations during the occupation they overran Natchez. And the population went from about 10,000 to 120,000 overnight,” Westbrook said.

I am not certain what makes the writers of the articles on the above sites nor Ms. Westbrook believe that a concentration camp for freed slaves existed with that name, I’m not sure how the myth came about. According to MS News, the reason for the lore surrounding the Devil’s Punchbowl is buried treasure from pirates, not the deaths of thousands of Blacks at the hands of the Union Army. The tale of pirate treasure sounds far more plausible than that of the Yankees killing off a bunch of emancipated slaves simply because they hated seeing them free.


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