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

Affidavit of Lewis Smith: Albany, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 24

author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 24, 1868
extent: 4p
summary: On September 24, 1868, Lewis Smith, a twenty-four-year-old laborer, gives this affidavit to O.H. Howard, subassistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau at Howard's office in Albany, Georgia. In his affidavit, Smith recounts the events of September 19, 1868, when freedman and Republicans were fired on by townspeople in Camilla who were in opposition to the Republican political rally to be held there. Smith also notes that this was not the first incidence of violence against freedmen in Camilla and cites an earlier episode in April 1868 when Camilla residents fired at freedmen despite the presence of government troops.
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868

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Affidavit of Lewis Smith, (Colored,)

State of Georgia, -- -- -- Dougherty County ;

[added text: 2X] 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 Lewis Smith, (Colored) who, being duly sworn, deposes and [added text: [] says that he is 24 years of age, that he is by occupation a laborer, that on or about the 16th day of September, 1868, he received a notice of a political meeting, to be held in Camilla Mitchell County Georgia, on Saturday Sept. 19th 1868, which meeting was to be addressed by Capt. Wm. P. Pierce, and athers [others] . that he, deponent, in company with several other freedmen, started for Camilla, and soon joined a party of about Sixty men, women and children, that a portion of these freedmen had arms, but that these few guns were generally loaded with bird shot, and that there was little or no ammunition among them except such as was in the guns

Deponent further swears positively, that he never rec'd [received] orders

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or instruction of any kind, to take arms with him, and that he knows of no one who had received any such instructions: that at [deleted text: a political] [added text: the] election in Camilla, in April 1868, the freedmen were fired on by [deleted text: the] people living at Camilla, although they, the freedmen, were at that time by Gen'l Meades [Meade's] orders, not allowed to carry arms, that although there was a squad of soldiers in the town, the inhabitants declared that Camilla was their town, and no damned man either white or black, could rule it, and defied the troops; that under these circumstances the freedmen did not dare to go to the town entirely unarmed, as they did at that time; that when the pracession [procession], or Company had neared Camilla they were met by a man named James Johns (white), who said "Come on, by God, we'll meet you"! and immediately turned & rode into town; that as they, the

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freedmen entered the town, this man James Johns, walked toward the band wagon and said something, not heard by deponent, that Johns then raised a double barrelled shot gun, that he held in his hands, and taking aim at the musicians, fired; that deponent was at this time about 10 yards from him and saw it distinctly. that immediately after this shot, about 20 or 30 whites fired upon the freedmen, and not until after this, did the negroes return the fire; that deponent fled with the rest of the freedmen, to the woods adjoining the town, that they were pursued by mounted whites, who shot down the fugitives as they overtook them, that to the best of the knowledge and belief of deponent, not one half of the freedmen in the procession, had guns, and that no serious trouble was anticipated by them, nor

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were any of them prepared for a fight,

Lewis [added text: his] X [added text: mark] Smith
Sworn to and subscribed before me, at Albany,
Ga. [Georgia], this 24th day of September, A. D. 1868 .

[Signed] O. H. Howard

Brevet Major U. S. Army,
2nd Lieut. [Lieutenant] 5th Artillery, S. A. [Sub Assistant] Commisioner [Commissioner], Bureau Refugees, Freedmen & Ab'd Lands [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands] .
G341 RF&AL [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands] [unclear text: Oct] 13, 1868

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