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

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


author: Howard, O. H.
date: September 25, 1868
extent: 3p
summary: Lewis Davis, a twenty-five-year-old laborer, gives this affidavit in Albany, Georgia on September 25, 1868, to Freedman's Bureau subassistant commissioner O.H. Howard. Davis recounts the Camilla Riot, an outbreak of violence in Camilla, Georgia that occurred on September 19, 1868 when Republicans and freedmen who came to the town to hold a political rally met with opposition from the townspeople. When James Johns, an inebriated Camilla resident who Davis clearly recalls firing the shots that began the incident, and white men from surrounding stores joined in firing on the crowd, Davis, who had come to the rally to care for the mules accompanying the bandwagon, was shot in the arm. He escaped to the nearby woods along with other freedmen and hid in a tree until about 6 P.M., however, when he left his hiding spot and attempted to cross the road, he was assaulted by a group of white men who struck him on the head with a gun. Following the attack he hid in the swamp until Sunday morning when he was finally able to return home. In closing Davis says "that he never received instructions of any kind to carry arms to the meeting and that not over forty of the freedmen had guns and that these were nearly all loaded with bird shot."
subjects:
repository: DeSoto Trail Regional Library (Camilla, Ga.)
collection: Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868




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Affidavit of Lewis Davis, (Colored)
State of Georgia, -- -- -- Dougherty County ;

[added text: 12X] 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 Davis (colored) who, being duly sworn, deposes and says, that he is 25 years old, that he is by occupation a laborer, that he heard that there was to be a meeting at Camilla . Mitchell Co, Ga, for political purposes, on the 19th day of September 1868, that he was first informed of the meeting . about two weeks before the day appointed for the meeting, Deponent positively swears that he anticipated no trouble of any kind, that Mr F. F. Putney employed him to go with the band-wagon, and to see that the mules which drew it, were not too heavy loaded, that deponent rode into Camilla with and in the band wagon, that before starting, Mr Putney told deponent and all the freedmen on his, Putney's, place to go to the meeting quietly, to


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be civil, and to listen to the speeches and come home, Deponent further states that Mr Putney told them all to make no disturbance of any kind while in Camilla, or on the road, That when the band wagon got into Camilla, a man named James Johns, went toward the band wagon and said, "Stop beating them drums God damn you or I will shoot you", that as the music continued [deleted text: e] playing, Johns, then being "about 25 or 30 steps" from the wagon, raised a double barrelled gun that he held in his hand. and fired [added text: [] at the musicians, that deponent, being in the wagon, saw this distinctly, and saw Johns aiming at the band, that this shot was instantly followed by a volley, from a body of whites standing in front of a store, that not till then did the negroes return the fire,

Deponent was shot in the


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arm, that he then took to the woods, and after running about 3 miles from Camilla, climbed a gum tree, and remained in it until about 6 o'clock P.M. that he then came down and attempted to cross the road but was attacked by 4 whites with empty guns, one of these white men struck him on the head with the butt of a gun, that deponent then broke loose, and sprang into a swamp, where he lay until Sunday morning, and then went to his home,

Deponent further swears that he never received instructions of any kind, to carry arms, to the meeting that not over forty of the freedmen had guns, & that these were nearly all loaded with bird shot,

Lewis [added text: his] X [added text: mark ] Davis
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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