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

Affidavit of Davis Sneed: Albany, Georgia, 1868 Sept. 25


author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 25, 1868
extent: 4p
summary: Davis Sneed, a thirty-five-year-old laborer, gives his testimony of the events of the Camilla Riot, an episode of violence that occurred on September 19, 1868, when Republicans together with freedmen came to Camilla, Georgia to hold a political rally and were met by the armed townspeople of Camilla in opposition to the Republicans meeting there. In his affidavit given to Freedman's Bureau subassistant commissioner O.H. Howard in Albany, Georgia on September 25, 1868, Sneed states that he was told to "go in peace and come in peace," by the men who informed him of the meeting, and that of approximately 300 men, women and children who joined in the procession to Camilla that day only 40 carried guns and those were loaded with birdshot. Sneed tells of how Dr. Dasher declined to let them hold the meeting at his place and the group proceeded into Camilla, where they were met by the inebriated Camilla resident James Johns, who fired the first shots into the bandwagon. According to Sneed, those shots were immediately followed by shots fired from white men standing in front of the stores and he "distinctly saw these men, after firing, step to the door of a store and seizing guns ready loaded fire again." Sneed fled to the nearby woods with the other freedmen, who, even in retreat were pursued and fired on by the whites. In closing, Sneed restates that the Republicans' and freedmen's intentions in coming to Camilla were peaceful, even though it had been known amongst the freedmen for a number of weeks prior to the incident that they would be meet with "armed resistance" by the townspeople of Camilla if they attempted to go through with holding their rally there.
subjects:
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 Davis Sneed, (Colored) who, being duly sworn, deposes and says, that he is 35 years of age, that he is by occupation a laborer, that on Tuesday Sep't [September], 15th 1868 he received notice of a political meeting to be held at Camilla Mitchell County Georgia, on Saturday Sep [September], 19 1868, which meeting was to be addressed by Capt. Wm. P. Pierce, and others and that he was told by gentlemen who notified him of the meeting, to "go in peace and come in peace," that he went to Camilla to "hear the speeches". that when within a few miles of Camilla, they were met by a man named James Johns, but deponent did not hear what this man said, that after meeting this man they were met by some men in buggies, and afterward by a man said to be the Sheriff of the County,

That Mr Murphy, addressed the freedmen from his buggy, and said "I


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am for peace in everything, and we must go and come quietly and peacefully," that then they (the freedmen,), proposed to hold their meeting at the place of Dr Dasher, but that when Mr Pierce and Mr Murphy, asked said Dr Dasher, if he had any objection to the meeting being held on his place Dr Dasher replied that he was afraid the people would be "down on him", and refused the request, that the company then numbered about 300 men, women and children, that about 40 men of this company had guns, that to the personal knowledge of deponent, many of these guns were not loaded, and most of those which had loads were charged with bird shot,

Deponent further swears that as the procession entered town James Johns white ordered the music stopped and said "if you dont stop that music, damn my soul to hell if I dont shoot you," and as the music continued playing, Johns raised his gun, and taking


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aim at the musicians, fired; that deponent was about 20 feet from this man when he fired, that this shot was instantly followed by a volley from the whites, who at this fire killed and wounded a number of the freedpeople, that the whites had freshly loaded guns standing inside the stores in the town, as he distinctly saw these men, after firing, step to the door of a store and seizing guns ready loaded fire again; that deponent escaped to the woods, and that he saw the whites pursuing and killing the flying negroes, as fast as overtaken,

Deponent further swears that he has heard Mr Murphy speak in public at least Eight or ten times, and that he, Murphy, has always counseled peace, and quiet behavior on the part of the freedmen. Deponent further swears that it has been currently reported among the freedmen, for a number of weeks that, any attempt to hold a meeting




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at Camilla by the republicans, would be met by an armed resistance from the citizens, and that some of the whitemen had sworn to kill Messrs Pierce and Murphy if they attempted to speak there,

Davis [added text: his] X [added text: mark] Sneed
Sworn to and subscribed before me, at Albany,
Ga., this 25th 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].

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