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

Letter: Atlanta, Georgia, to Major General O[liver] O[tis] Howard, Washington, D.C, 1868 Oct. 12

author: Sibley, Caleb Chase, 1806-1875
date: October 12, 1868
extent: 6p
summary: In his letter from Atlanta to Freedmen's Bureau Commissioner Major General Oliver Otis Howard in Washington, D.C., dated October 12, 1868, Georgia Assistant Commissioner Caleb C. Sibley encloses additional evidence in the recent episodes of violence between whites and freedmen that began at a Republican political rally in Camilla, Georgia on September 19, 1868. This additional evidence includes testimony from freedman Lochran Hunter regarding three deaths in the community related to the incident and corroborates the earlier report filed by Sub-Assistant Commissioner, Brevet Major O.H. Howard. To give Commissioner O.O. Howard an idea of the political climate in the area, Sibley also encloses testimony from an ex-Army officer, Mr. Sherwood, regarding an incident at the polling place on Election Day the previous April. The testimony outlines the obstacles the whites, including legislative candidate W.A. Bird, presented to freedmen who came to vote that day, and the powerlessness of officers and a limited number of soldiers from the Freedmen's Bureau to prevent the harassment, which included gunfire and threats on the lives of the freedmen. Four days after this letter was written, on October 16, 1868, Commissioner O.O. Howard replaced Sibley with John Randolph Lewis as head of the Georgia agency. Sibley became military commander of the district of Georgia.
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands,
Office Assistant Commissioner, State of Georgia .
Atlanta, Georgia October 12th 1868 .
Major. Genl. [Major General] OO Howard
Comr Bureau R F & A L [Commissioner of Bureau of Refugeees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands]
DC [District of Columbia]

I have the honor to forward the enclosed additional evidence in reference to the Camilla Massacre, and respectfully invite your careful attention to it, as fully confirming the first report of of [of] that affair made by Maj [Major] Howard

I also enclose an additional affidavit of Mr Sherwood, an Ex Officer of our Army, as an indication of the spirit that prevails in this State toward all Northern and Union men

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I am General
Very respectfully
Your Obt. Servt. [Obedient Servant]

[Signed] C. C. Sibley Bvt Brig Genl [Brevet Brigadier General]
Asst Com'r [Assistant Commissioner]

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Lochran Hunter (on Barons Plantation ) knows that William Peters from George Jacksons place about 8 miles this way was killed near Camilla and buried in Camilla

Jos Anderson knows of Capt [Captain] Monroe x x from Pohhills to be killed and buried there.

Lochran Hunter says that Robert Baron told all his hands there

Frank Alexander on Garson Holloways Plantation says that Jos x x his brother-in-law died in consequence of a beating he received from James Johns . He was a preacher, preached at Custiffs Plantation, but worked on Seaborn Lockeys plantation

Baron s testimony, Wm [William] Casey (cold) [colored] below Camilla was amongst the people of Camilla before the difficulty. Lives at Bennetts mill & is going to move about Barons.

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W. A Bird, prove by him that the feeling has been hostile to Agent of the Bureau and freedmen. He on the day of registration in Camilla cursed the Congress and all Government officials as a d - d pack of traitors -- see Dasher

On election day in April at 9 oclock a squad of soldiers arrived in Camilla . The freedmen had been voting -- soldiers had been ordered to report to Clark, but had not been put on duty, but was outside of the room where the ballots were received. W. A. Bird, candidate for the Legislature took the responsibility upon himself to take the guard and drive the freedmen away from the ballot box. Clark told Bird that the soldiers were ordered to him and instructed the guard to obey him only, and to make no difference between black and white in admitting them to the polls, told Bird that he would arrest him, if he interrupted the election in any manner, told Clark he would not arrest him in Camilla & walked. [deleted text: The] No effort on the part of the white people to control the election in any manner

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until about 3 ocl. [o'clock] P.M. of the 1st day. Ten to fifteen shots were then fired by parties near Cars store, who, as Clark was afterwards informed were white men firing on freedmen. Five oclock P.M. a freedman came running across the public square crying murder. He was followed by a white man unknown to me. The freedman ran into the room where the ballot boxes were open and I ordered the soldiers to get ready to resist an attack from the crowd just outside, and shoot the first man who attempted to come in. They did not come further than the portico and Hall outside. but I was told that Jas [James] Johns took a position behind one of the posts of the building with his revolver in hand and said just let one soldier come out and he'd kill him. This I did not hear [added text: and about one hour afterwards,] Buddell Neill a freedman sent home for protection saying the mob had threatened his life and made him get on his knees and promise he would vote the Democratic. This he done next morning as soon as the polls were open. I was also informed that these men had assaulted a partner of Neil 's and ran him from town In the evening Burtz sent his son for a guard .

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saying his life was threatened if he did not leave the place He left and went to Atlanta where he is now a member of the Legislature. The number of soldiers was not sufficient to keep the peace, as the civil officials could not assist the soldiers and I felt satisfied that had I undertaken to keep order with the small guard it would only have resulted in a general riot -- (basing my opinion upon the number of citizens who had congregated in and around the Court House) and apparently had no disposition to keep the peace

Brinsberg & Co [Company] know of Johns assaulting a freedman on the day of the election for [deleted text: Delgates] Delegates. [added text: to convention ] Henry Smith the Ex Sheriff can tell you how many of these violators of the law have been arrested

Witnesses B F Brimberg & Heath
H C Dasher
Dr Cox
Thomas Maples
Official A A A General

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