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

Affidavit of Peter Hines: Albany, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 23

author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 23, 1868
extent: 6p
summary: This affidavit, taken September 23, 1868 at the Freedmen's Bureau office in Albany, Georgia, is the narrative of Peter Hines, the leader of a band hired to play for a Republican political rally scheduled to be held in Camilla, Georgia on September 19, 1868. Hines gives Freedman' Bureau subassistant commissioner O.H. Howard his account of the riot that occured in Camilla that day, and the events surrounding it. Hines's group left from Albany September 18, and stayed the night at the plantation of William W. Fish and Edwin Flagg. The next morning they set out for Camilla, gathering freedmen, women and children from the nearby plantations as they went along. Hines states that despite rumors circulating amongst the freedmen of the potential violence waiting for them in Camilla, William Pierce advised them that these rumors were false and urged them on. Eventually they proceeded into Camilla where they met townsman James Johns, who issued an order for the music to stop, and when it went unheeded, began firing into the bandwagon. Hines notes that additional shots were then fired, and the freedmen, ill-equipped to return fire with few guns and many of those not loaded, fled the scene. Hines escaped to a nearby swamp, though he saw and heard the whites continuing to pursue others.
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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affidavit of Peter Hines, (Freedman.)

State of Georgia, - - - - Dougherty County ;

Before me, O. H. Howard, Brevet Major United States Army,
x 2nd Lieut. [Lieutenant] 5th Artillery, S. A. [Sub Assistant] Commissioner Bureau R. F. & A.
L. [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands], personally came Peter Hines, a freedman
who, being duly sworn, deposes and says
that he is the leader of the Albany band, that his band has been in the habit of attending and playing at various political meetings in Dougherty & Lee Counties ; that on or about Wednesday the 16" inst Mr John Murphy Republican elector for the 2" Dist of Ga [Second District of Georgia] told him there would be a political meeting of Republicans at Camillaon Saturday the 19" inst & engaged his band to play on the occasion,

States that he [deleted text: did not] had no Idia [Idea] of a general difficulty at Camilla, that Mr Murphy or no one else made such an intimation to him, that no one told him to carry arms with him, that on the evening of the 18" inst he & the members of his band & Eight or ten others left Albany

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en rout [en route] for Camilla, this was all who left Albany save Capt Pierce, Mr. Murphy & Mr Joiner who left Albany next morning, that he does not know what Arms these last named gentlemen had but he knows positively that there were but two shot guns in the crowd which left Albany with him, States that no one of this number who left Albany with him, made mention of having a difficulty at Camilla, he feels satisfied no such occurance [occurrence] was expected, he with these men travelled [traveled] towards Camilla until they reached the plantation of Mr Fish [William W. Fish] that evening, about 6 or 8 miles from Albany . here they stayed all night and started again enrout for Camilla a little after sun up, States that as they travelled [traveled] along the road [deleted text: pa] playing their music, members of freedmen from various plantations joined them on foot & some few on horse back & in buggys [buggies], thus they went along

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the road, the number of freedmen increasing as they went until they reached Camilla the whole number in men women & children then being about one hundred & fifty or two hundred.

This crowd was over taken by Mr Murphy & two or three others in about four or five miles of Camilla, and they went on into Camilla with us.

States that for four or five miles before they reached Camilla rumors obtained from freedmen along the road that they would be attacked at Camilla excited a good many of the negroes in the crowd, but these rumors were not generally believed. and Capt Pierce [deleted text: after having talked] assured the freedmen of the falsity of these rumors and urged on them the necessity of being orderly & quiet when they went into town, When they were in about two miles of town they were met by several gentlemen, who after consulting a few moments with Capt Pierce

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& Mr Murphy rode back towards Camilla, [deleted text: [illegible text]] he does not know the purport of this conversation, when they reached Dr Dashers about one mile from Camilla, Mr Murphy gave notice to the crowd that they would speak there, this gave general dissatisfaction, most of the freedmen saying they would either listen to the speaking in Camilla or go back home. Dr Dasher objecting to the speaking on his place (so deponent was informed) they proceeded into Camilla, Capt Pierce & Mr. Putney in a buggy entered the town in advance about two hundred yards, then come the band wagon the promis cous [promiscuous] crowd of freed -- people were scattered along the road, Capt Pierce & Mr Putney drove to the court house & dismounted and the band wagon was following to the same place, when in about fifty or seventy five yards from the court -- house [illegible text] a man run from

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near a crowd of men at a store close by and ordered The music stoped [stopped] the music failing to stop. This man fired a shot gun which he held in his hand into the band wagon,

Deponent knows this to be true. he saw this man level his gun at the wagon, in a minute afterward the fireing [firing] begun on either side almost simon taneously [simultaneously], The first volley from the democrats appeared to deponent to have been directed at the band, at least one of the members of the band was shot dead & all the ballace [balance] in all directions, wounded, the freedmen (about one half of whom had shot guns, principally loaded with shot & many not loaded at all, Deponent Knows this to be so from the fact that it was a subject of talk among the freedmen when on the road they received the rumor that the democrats

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were not going to let them speak at Camilla,) fled, scatered [scattered] in all directions,

Deponent fled to a cotton patch near by, while fleeing across this patch he saw two men on horseback following up & shooting the freedmen who were runing [running] behind him, Deponent made his escape through a [added text: small] swamp near by, Deponent while escaping through the woods heard firing to his right in the direction of Albany, as far as [added text: about] three miles from town, he had noticed democrats on horseback moving in that direction.

[Signed] P. R. Hines

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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