Camp Van Dorn: Haunted Memories

Written by: Darren Dedo
Case Filed: 08/15/01 - Centreville, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner
Part 2 of 4

Is it possible that the United States Army could kill their own men? The Army says no, but others say the massacre of black soldiers did happen at Camp Van Dorn in Centreville, Mississippi.

"I believe there was a massive cover-up by the United States Army," says Malcolm LaPlace, a former member of the 364th Infantry. He was Regimental Headquarters Clerk, responsible for typing the day's journal. He says he came across an important piece of evidence.

"And I read the entire text before typing it. About midway down, I read this: 20 enlisted men of the 364th Infantry Regiment were found murdered in Centreville, Mississippi last investigation is underway."

Moments later, his superior, Colonel John Goodman, made LaPlace change his entry.

"He came back out, handed me it and said, 'Re-type this, Sergeant. And I got down to the 20 enlisted men of the 364th Infantry Regiment were reported AWOL last night in Centreville, investigation underway."

LaPlace says he was told to change records three other times about black soldiers being AWOL, instead of murdered. This is how he came up with 36 black soldiers being murdered. The Army says journal entries aren't a credible source of information.

"The regimental journal isn't the most important record that would have reflected change in status like that," says Lt. Col. Charles Graul. "That would have been reflected in our morning reports and we saw nothing of the kind."

LaPlace response: "The colonel is wrong! The journal entries reflected dates and times and occurrences in that regiment at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi. He is lying, period!"

The Army knows that LaPlace was a member of the 364th. According to LaPlace, they have documents he signed in 1942. LaPlace says those documents are falsified. "How do you use my signature over a document in 1942 when I did not enter the service until March 3rd, 1943?"

LaPlace believes the Army's inaccuracy's prove their investigation has holes in it. Congressman Benny Thompson agrees, "The fact that reports were submitted in the name of a clerk who was not even in the Army at that time raises questions."

Thompson has been skeptical about the Army's investigation since the beginning. One part of the Army's investigation was based on the testimony of former 364th soldiers. Another soldier they didn't speak with was Corporal Anthony J. Snively.

Snively spoke with us off camera. He told us that a mass shooting did not happen, but he says the black soldiers were treated harshly. In 1943, Snively wrote several letters to a black newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, talking about violence against black soldiers. These letters were documents used in Carroll Case's book "The Slaughter."

Here is where the story takes a twist. Mr. Snively told us, "The first and last paragraph's I wrote, the middle ones I did not."

He goes on to say, "I wrote the letters in pencil, not on a type writer...the middle paragraph's are a fabrication."

Also, Snively's name is spelled incorrectly as "Smirley."

Since these letters were declassified documents, Snively wonders if the Army confiscated them, and they never made it to Philadelphia.

Author Carroll Case says down a gravel road on what used to Camp Van Dorn property is a man-made lake. Below the waters of that lake, is the final resting place for 1,227 black soldiers.

We'll talk with the family that owns this mystery spot and find out what they know about having the dead bodies of black soldiers allegedly under their lake.

Additional Resources:

"Betty" Full Video Interview

Malcolm LaPlace Full Video Interview

"Mister X" Full Video Interview

Lt. Col. Charles Graul: Full Video Interview

Author Carroll Case: Full Video Interview

Ron Caulfield: Full Video Interview

Paige Cothren: Full Video Interview

Dr. Lucius Lampton: Full Video Interview

Edythe Lensing: Full Video Interview

Theodore Bullock: Full Video Interview

NEW Congressman Bennie Thompson Letter