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

Letter: Freedman's Bureau, Subdistrict Headquarters, Albany, Georgia, to Colonel John Randolph Lewis, Atlanta, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 20

author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 20, 1868
extent: 7p
summary: Writing on September 20, 1868 to Colonel John Randolph Lewis, assistant inspector general for the Georgia Freedman's Bureau in Atlanta, Albany agent Brevet Major O.H. Howard details the ongoing incidents that began the afternoon before at a Republican political rally in front of the courthouse in Camilla. He retells several freedmen's accounts of violence perpetrated against themselves and others by whites, and includes in his letter a list of names of those killed and wounded, both freedmen and whites. Adding a personal tone to the letter, Howard describes the disheartening effect that the events have had on him, and his feelings about the inadequacy of his office in dealing with such matters. He says that Dr. Christian Raushenberg has attended to the wounded, states his intention to collect affidavits the next day, and finally, requests that an additional officer be sent to assist.
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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Hd Qrs Sub Dis't [Head Quarters Sub District] of Albany, Bureau R. F. & A. L. [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands]
Albany, Ga. [Georgia] , Sept [September] 20. '68 [1868]
Col [Colonel] J. R. Lewis
U. S. [United States] Army
Atlanta. Ga. [Georgia]
Col, [Colonel]

The affair at Camilla seems to have been a massacre. I enclose an accurate list of the killed & wounded so far as known.

A freedman who was a prisoner at Camilla, but who escaped during the night, states that he helped to remove one dead freedwoman, & four wounded freedmen from road within a hundred yards of the Court House. The white men, his captors, boasted, to new comers, of twelve freedmen killed in one pond near Dr Dasher's, two miles from Camilla
(con) [continued]

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Another freedman took refuge in a swamp where he lay concealed all last night, with four others near him. He heard, during all the earlier part of the night, the white men scouring the woods, shouting, cursing, and shooting the freedmen. The pursuers, he says were accompanied by Bloodhounds, he heard the cries and shrieks of the fugitives as they were shot, and as they were pulled down by the dogs. Two of the men, near him, becoming frightened, endeavored to escape, and both were shot within his hearing.

It was reported to me as late as 4 this P.M. that, up to 8. O'clock this morning, when my informant left, they were still pursuing the freedmen with horses & dogs.

There has been an intense excitement in town all day.

The town has been filled with freed men, they have swarmed about my office

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by hundreds. It has been difficult to restrain them from proceeding " en masse " to Camilla, I have addressed them counselling [counseling] peace and order, I have told them that the offenders shall be punished, and that their lives should be protected, but, I have no heart for my work. I felt no assurance that my promises would ever be fulfilled.

The Mayor addressed them, as did some citizens, but the freed people scoffed at them, would not listen to them, & I had the whole burden to bear, at this hour (midnight) all is quiet.

How long I shall have the heart to deceive these freedmen by false promises, & how long I shall be able to deceive them by such promises, I cannot say, but I imagine that it is not long, & when they

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have no confidence in my fair promises, what then? Dr Raushenberg has returned from Fisher & Flaggs plantation, nine miles below here, where he has been all day caring for the wounded.

I will tomorrow take affidavits of wounded men, & others, & prepare an official report.

Please instruct me & inform me what action will be taken, Military or Civil Authorities.

Very respectfully
(signed) O. H. Howard
Bt. Maj [Brevet Major] & S. A. C [Sub Assistant Commissioner]
Can you not send an officer to assist in the investigation.
A true copy M Frank Gallagher Bt. Capt. [Brevet Captain] U.S.A. [United States of America] A.A.A.G.

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List of killed & wounded in the affair at Camilla .
Sept [September] 19." [nineteenth] 1868 12 '' Twelve freedmen -- names unknown at pond near Dr Dasher's two miles from Camilla.

13 . . . Doc Polkiss (freed) shot dead
14 . . . Peter Hines (freed) shot in leg, wrist & neck.
15 . . . Unknown (freed) shot through bowels & in the head, mortally wounded
16 . . . Jas [James] Ingraham (freed) killed shot repeatedly while lying wounded on the ground
17 . . . Wm [William] Dessan (freed) shot in shoulder
18 . . . Unknown Freedman shot in thigh

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19 . . . Unknown freedman shot in knee & breast
20 . . . Sam Dickersen (freed) shot in arm
21 . . . Wesley Chatham (") [ditto] " [ditto] " [ditto] back
22 . . . Unknown (") [ditto] " [ditto] " [ditto] " [ditto]
23 . . . Freedwoman shot dead
24 . . . A. B. Collins (freed) killed, shot repeatedly while lying wounded on ground
25 . . . Wm [William] Landsey (freed) head cut by blow with clubbed musket.
26 . . . Randolph (freed) shot in leg
27 . . . Burrill Johnson (freed) shot in shoulder
28 . . . Squire Acre (freed) shot in shoulder.
29 . . . Ben Lumly (") [ditto] shot, thigh & leg below the knee
30 . . .Howard Bunce (freed) six gun shot wounds. head, ear, shoulder, arm, elbow, & side dangerously.
31 . . . Handy Robinson (freed) shot in both legs
32 John Murphy (white) lacerated & contused wound of head, by blow with musket barrel.
33 Wm [William] P. Pierce (white) shot in leg
34 F. F. Putney (") [ditto] shot in shoulder

[deleted text: of] Of the attacking party only two are reported wounded, James Johns, the ringleader, pistol ball in forehead & two in his back -- said to be mortally wounded.

-- Collins, slight wound.

It is estimated that at least fifty freedmen were killed & wounded.

Respectfully Submitted
[Signed] O. H. Howard

Bt. Maj. [Brevet Major] U.S.A. [United States of America]
S. A. Com'r [Sub Assistant Commissioner]
A true copy
M Frank Gallagher
Bt. Capt. [Brevet Captain] U.S.A. [United States of America]

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