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

Affidavit of Philip Joiner: Albany, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 23

author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 23, 1868
extent: 5p
summary: In this affidavit given to Freedmean's Bureau subassistant commissioner O.H. Howard on September 23, 1868, Philip Joiner, one of the Georgia state legislators expelled because of his race earlier in the month, recounts the events in Camilla, Georgia on September 19, 1868, when Republicans and freedmen who came to the town to hold a political rally clashed with townspeople who opposed it . Joiner tells what happened in front of the Mitchell County Courthouse despite peaceful intentions on the part of his group, when James Johns, an inebriated Camilla resident began firing into the bandwagon that accompanied them. When the crowd dispersed, members of the Sheriff's posse pursued them, and Joiner and Murphy narrowly escaped. Though Joiner survived unharmed, he describes how he witnessed one of the white men striking Murphy across the head with his gun.

repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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State of Georgia, - - - - Dougherty County ;

Before me, O. H. HOWARD, Brevet Major United States Army,
2nd Lieut. [Lieutenant] 5th Artillery, S. A. [Sub Assistant] Commissioner Bureau R. F. & A.
L.[Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands], personally came Phillip [Philip] Joiner, a free person of color
who, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is 31 years old, that he has been a member of the present Legislature ,and that he was verbally informed by Messrs Pierce and Murphy, that they would speak at [deleted text: that place] [added text: Camilla] on Saturday the 19th of September, [added text: that he] did not receive any information from Mr Murphey or Mr Pierce to carry arms with [deleted text: [illegible text]] him to Camilla or to inform any other colored people to do so, [added text: that he] had heard from colored people, that threats had been made by the people of Camilla, that no radical speech [deleted text: had] could be made in that town, never heard of any organized body of men going to Camillafor the purpose of raising any disturbance whatever,

Deponent further swears that on Saturday morning he started from Albany, Ga [deleted text: with] to Camilla, that he overtook a waggon [wagon] with a band of drummers + and fifers within four or five miles of Camilla, that about eighteen men from Dougherty County were accompanying the band waggon [wagon], of whom some had pistols and one or two guns, Deponent further deposes that he heard Murphy and Pearce say

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that they did not apprehend any difficulty in Camilla . Deponent states, that about three miles to the best of his knowledge from Camilla, the Sheriff of Mitchel [Mitchell] County [deleted text: the] and five other men from Camilla met the party. Deponent being behind did not hear what the Sheriff first said; but coming up soon afterwards he heard the Sheriff say that [deleted text: [illegible text]] he got a dispatch from Albany by the way of Newton that Murphy was coming to Camilla with an armed body to make a speech in Camilla anyhow. Mr Murphy told the Sheriff that he ordered nobody to bring arms; but to satisfy him, the Sheriff, and the people of Camilla, he would stop at Dr Dashers and [deleted text: make] [added text: have] the speaking there . The Sheriff said that an armed body going into Camilla was against the Governors proclamation; Murphy stated it was not an organised [organized] armed body, that he could not prevent the colored people from carrying arms if they were a mind so to do; but he had not insisted for any of them to bring them, that he would be responsible that they colored people should not hurt anybody; if they were not be interfered with, that not a chicken should be hurt by a colored person, if they were not attacked; but

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that rather then [than] have a disturbance he would prefer speaking [deleted text: [illegible text]] at Dr Dashers place .. Deponent heard of James Johns meeting the crowd before they got to Camilla, but being behind, he did not hear what was said, saw Murphy talking to Dr Dasher ; but did not hear any part of the Conversation, heard Murphy say, that Dr Dasher would not allow them to speak at his plantation, that [added text: Dr Dasher said] the Courthouse, was the place for them to speak, heard Murphy tell the colored people to go in and behave them selves, to be peacable [peaceable] and quiet and there would be no trouble. Deponent says, they proceeded to Camilla and immediately after the band waggon [wagon]got into town, deponent being behind in a lane about 250 yards off in [added text: plain] sight of the waggon [wagon], saw James Johns, running up with a gun in his hand, saw soon afterwards a flash from his gun level with and straight forward towards the waggon [wagon], in which the band was sitting, saw a body of men to the right [deleted text: of [illegible text]] at a Store rushing out with guns and shooting immediately after Johns [deleted text: immediately ] [added text: fired,] after that he saw flashes and smoke about the body of the crowd of colored people and heard firing going

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pretty lively for about one half a minute, if that long; but saw colored people running off immediately after James Johns ' firing the first gun. Deponent and Murphy had been riding together in the latters buggy from about Dr Dashers and during the heavy firing concluded that their presence could not benefit anybody or improve the condition of affairs and therefore turned on the road towards Albany to save their own lives. They, deponent and Murphy were followed by several men in pursuit, drove as fast as the horse could come at the rate of 4 or 5 minutes a mile, driving a very fast horse, heard firing behind, heard balls coming by his head, saw clouds of dust behind; but could not tell exactly wether [whether] there were white or colored people behind them, about nine miles from Camilla deponent saw that the pursuers were going to overtake the buggy, he jumped out of it and made to [deleted text: il] a field by the side of the road, saw Murphy get out of the buggy and run to an empty house by the side of the road, saw four men on horse back coming up, alight off their horses and [deleted text: saw] [added text: heard] them [deleted text: gunning] [deleted text: to] call on Murphy to come out of that house, heard them curse him for a d -- d old Radical and ask where

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that d -- d Phil. Joiner was. Deponent further swears, that he saw Murphy coming out of the house + and saw one white man [deleted text: [illegible text]] strike him acrop across the head with a gun, which he held with both hands, + heard the lick plainly, being hidden about 75 [deleted text: sleps] steps + off in [deleted text: [illegible text]] a corn field; after that deponent [deleted text: [illegible text]] crawled off "on his all fours" and after a while noticing that the white pursuers went off, after having caught their loose horses, tow ards [towards] Camilla, deponent went straight through the woods and [deleted text: [illegible text]] Mr Murphy cought [caught] up with him eight miles from the place + towards Gum pond. Murphy was bloody all over, had a wound about his head ;told him he got off without being killed without explaining how it happened that they did not kill him.

Phillip Philip [added text: his]
[Signed] X
[added text: mark] Joiner

Sworn to and subscribed before me, at Albany,
Ga. [Georgia], this 23d day of September, A. D. 1868 .

[Signed] O. H. Howard

Brevet Major U. S. Army,
2nd Lieut. [Lieutenant] 5th Artillery, S. A. [Sub Assistant] Commissioner,
Bureau Refugees, Freedmen & Ab'd Lands [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands] .

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