On this day in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was discovered unconscious and dangerously ill inside a Baltimore tavern. The former University of Virginia student had been in Richmond reading his poetry when he reunited with his one-time fiancée, Elmira Shelton. Ms. Shelton was now widowed and wealthy, and Poe naturally decided to marry her. With this plan in mind, late in September he set off for New York to gather up his aunt and ship her down to Virginia—except that somehow he got waylaid in Baltimore. And, well, you know the rest. The end came on October 7.
Fifteen years later, meanwhile, on this day the so-called Saltville Massacre occurred at Emory and Henry College during the Civil War. According to some accounts, Confederate soldiers entered a hospital and killed from five to seven wounded prisoners who were members of the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry, along with a white lieutenant. One wounded Ohio trooper remembered “watch[ing] in horror as a Confederate guerrilla, the notorious Champ Ferguson, calmly walked about the battlefield killing white prisoners as well as blacks.” Ferguson was hanged for war crimes on October 20, 1865.
A version of this post was originally published on October 3, 2011.
IMAGE: Detail from colored Poe daguerreotype by artwarriors