Digital Library of Georgia > Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

Letter: Albany, Georgia, to Brevet Major O. H. Howard, Atlanta, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 28

author: Raushenberg, Christian
date: September 28, 1868
extent: 7p
summary: On September 28, 1868, Christian Raushenberg, a Freedmen's Bureau agent in southwest Georgia, writes in response to a request for a synopsis of the Camilla incident from Brevet Major O.H. Howard, a sub-assistant commissioner for the Georgia Bureau. Raushenberg provides Howard with the synopsis along with his analysis of the incident, placing emphasis on the determination of the Camilla residents not to have Republican meetings there as a main factor in the conflict. Determining that the purpose of the freedmen attending the event was peaceful, he states that any arms or walking sticks they may have carried was only as was customary for them. He also places some blame for the incident on W.P. Pierce, the Republican congressional candidate and John Murphy, the Republican elector, for allowing the party to continue into Camilla without giving in to Sheriff Mumford S. Poore's request that arms not be brought into the town. The appearance of freedmen with arms, coupled with the strong anti-Republican sentiment in Camilla, Raushenberg concludes, set the stage for the events that followed, beginning with the shots fired by James Johns into the bandwagon that accompanied the freedmen and Republicans. Raushenberg also places some blame on Sheriff Poore for allowing the inebriated Johns to carry his gun into the crowd. Lastly, Raushenberg states that the subsequent hunting down, killing and wounding of freedmen as many as five miles from town, through Monday after the initial incident, was not necessary to preserve peace and order.
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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Personal .

Albany Ga. [Georgia] Sept. 28th 1868

Bvt. [Brevet] Major O Howard USA [United States of America].
Atlanta Ga. [Georgia]
Dear Sir,

In compliance with your wishes, that I should give you privately a synopsis of what I consider from the evidence and facts in the Camilla affair, I have the honor to state that the following seems to me correct conclusions:

(1) that there existed amongst the people of Camilla a fixed determination, that, no Republican meetings should be held, and no Radical speeches should be delivered at that place, that this determination had been expressed by James Johns, a citizen of Camilla repeatedly and very probably by others in town and in the county, occasionally, and that these facts were known to the colored people -- [ Note: see affidavit of Wash. Jones John Davis Sheruff [Sheriff] Poore & William Jones ]

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(2.) that the crowd of people proceeding to Camilla, on Saturday the 19'' inst. [instant] of Sept. [September], was not an organised [organized] armed body; but exhibited the usual character of such assemblages, that is a number of freedmen of which about half had walking sticks of all sizes, the other half shot guns, as is quite usual on all such occasions, that no fixed or preconcerted purpose to disturb the peace, or preperations [preparations] to attack the Citizens of Camilla, existed or had been made by them and that the carrying of arms by [deleted text: these] those people in the larger number of instances was the result of habit, in a smaller number the result of a desire to possess the means of defense in case of attack --
(3) that Pierce, Murphy, Putney & others had not given any orders or instructions to the freedmen to to [to] carry arms to Camilla on that occasion or to do anything whatever calculated to raise a difficulty there; but went solely for the purpose of addressing

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the citizens generally on political subjects with a desire to preserve peace and order: but with a determination to defend themselves, if they should be attacked.
(4) that the conclusion of the people of Camilla not to let the approaching crowd of freedmen enter the Town on Saturday the 19th inst. [instant] because a portion of them were armed, did probably not originate in their minds as late as Saturday morning and was in a greater degree the result of the previously existing determination that such meetings should not be held there, than that of a real fear of violence on the part of the colored people or an honest desire to preserve the peace and prevent bloodshed and loss of life.
(5) that Murphy and Pierce, particutarty [particularly] the latter, acted at least very imprudently to enter the Town of Camilla without complying with the

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Sheriff 's request to stack their arms as under the Governors proclamation, appearances at least, were decidedly against them, that they should have sacrificed their individual reputation for courage and manhood and the success of their party in that county to the maintainance [maintenance] of peace and order and should have explained to the freedmen the great necessity of avoiding a collission [collision] and their fixed determination not to speak to them at Camilla unless they could trust, without arms, to the protection of the Sheriff, and should have explained the necessity of avoiding the place if they did not consider it safe to venture there without arms,
(6) that the riot at Camilla was started by James Johns (White), who fired the first gun, most probably into the wagon containing the band of Music, as his conduct generally on the day and before that day was such as to make it appear unreasonable

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that he should waste his ammunition and expose himself to the shots of the freedmen without accomplishing his purpose or verifying his threats.
(7) that the Sheriff of Mitchell County, knowing so well the spirit of James Johns and his inebriated condition, neglected his duty grossly by not adopting in time means to prevent him from perpetrating one of his accustomed outrages, instead of leaving him remaining in the crowd with a gun, as one of his posse comitatus.
(8) that the long continued pursuit, the killing and wounding of freedmen at some distance from the Town, and of one in his house four or five miles from Town at Dr. Tinsley s and the assault on freedmen's quarters at Catliff's on Sunday, Tinsleys on Monday was not required for the preservation of peace and order under the Governors proclamation nor for the defense

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of Camilla, but indicate well the spirit which prompted and animated the action of the people of that place from the beginning.

I would respectfully state to you in conclusion that I have very strong reasons to believe that the evidence of Robert Bacon (Wh) [white] Dr Dasher (Wh) [white] James Washington (Cold) [Colored] and of all the more intelligent freed people of Camilla, if taken in such a a [a ] way as to insure them, that the nature of the same would not become known to the citizens there, would substantiate by a profusion of proof, [deleted text: [illegible text]] much I have stated as very probable only, and add largely to a knowledge of the true facts in the case --

This Major, contains all the conclusives I can arrive at. [deleted text: if] If any one or more of them are erronious [erroneous] it is not caused by a deficiency of desire on my part to do justice

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towards the parties.

Very truly and sincerely
Your Obd't. Servt [Obedient Servant],
[Signed] Ch. Raushenberg

A True copy
M. Frank Gallagher
Bvt. Capt. [Brevet Captain] U.S.A. [United States of America] - A.A.A.G.

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