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

Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868
Players and Places

  • Albany. Twenty-five miles North of Camilla in Dougherty County. This is where the core of the group, the band and the Republican organizers, set out from when they headed for the rally they had scheduled in Camilla.

  • Broadnax, Crawford. Mentioned only in the affidavit of Sherrif Poore, Crawford Broadnax, an active member of the newly formed Colored Democratic Club of Dougherty County, was probably the writer of the letter Poore cites as warning him that "a party of black Republicans had left town on Friday heading for Camilla." Broadnax's letter added to the mounting hysteria amongst the fearful Camilla residents.

  • Bullock, Rufus. Georgia Governor (1869-1871) and Republican ally of John Randolph Lewis. Bullock was governor when Georgia was re-admitted to the Union in July 1868. Requested that troops be moved to Camilla but was that request was denied by General G. Meade.

  • Bunts, Howard. Nineteen-year-old freedman. Carpenter and fife player in Peter Hines' band. In 1877 he was elected to the Georgia State Legislature.

  • Bureau of R.F. and A. L. The Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned lands. See Freedmen's Bureau.

  • Camilla. Seat of Mitchell County, in Southwest Georgia. Albany, in Dougherty County and twenty-five miles from Camilla, is the nearest town.

  • Fish and Flaggs Plantation. Plantation owned by Edwin Flagg and William W. Fish, both staunch Republicans. The band spent Friday night there as it journeyed to Camilla. The plantation neighbored that of Francis F. Putney and Varnum H. Flagg.

  • Freedmen's Bureau. The Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned lands. Usually referred to as The Freedmen's Bureau. In the letters and on some letterheads it may be abbreviated as Bureau of R.F. and A. L. The bureau was a War Department agency staffed primarily by army officers and was fully operational only from about June 1865 through December 1868, though it remained operational until 1870. Its official demise, however, was not until June 1872. Organized hierarchically, it was headed by a commissioner in Washington, the same man throughout the five years of its operation, Oliver Otis Howard, or O.O. Howard as he is referred to in many of the letters. There were assistant commissioners in charge of operations in the former Confederate states, the Border States, and the District of Columbia. For most of the time period we are concerned with in the Camilla documents, the assistant commissioner for Georgia was Caleb Sibley. Officers subordinate to the assistant commissioners, known as sub-assistant commissioners, field agents and officers performed the actual work of the bureau.

  • Gallagher, M. Frank. Brevet Captain M. Frank Gallagher, an adjutant to Caleb Sibley. His name and signature frequently appear at the bottom of documents for which at some point he served as a witness, along with the words "a true copy."

  • Hines, Peter. Leader of an Albany band that played at political meetings in the area. The band included fife player Howard Bunts and drummer William Outlaw.

  • Howard, Brevet Major O.H. Union Army veteran, subassistant commissioner for the fifteen counties in the Albany area, his assignment included Albany and Camilla, Mitchell and Dougherty counties. Reported to the State Headquarters in Atlanta, but worked out of the office in Albany.

  • Howard, O.O. Major General Oliver Otis Howard, the commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau for the nation, headquartered in Washington D.C. He held the office for its five years of operation. Howard was one of the founders of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and it was named after him in recognition of his work in the bureau and for the university. From 1869-1874, he was the university's third president (1869-74).

  • Johns, James. Also referred to as Jimmy. The drunken Camilla resident who fired the first shots into the bandwagon that started the Camilla Riot.

  • Joiner, Philip. Also known as Phillip Joiner. Born in Virginia, he had lived as a slave in Dougherty County for more than a decade before becoming a freedman. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1868 but was one of the 32 blacks expelled from the legislature in early September. In 1869 during Georgia's third Reconstruction, under military rule, Joiner returned to Atlanta with the rest of the reinstated black legislators to represent Dougherty County, particularly its black majority. Philip Joiner was the only representative to serve more than one term in the House.

  • Kendrick, Goliath. A 24-year-old Mitchell County worker on the Orr plantation, fled Camilla with five friends as whites chased them. Kendrick broke away from his friends and made it back to the Orr place by sunset. Three of his friends never made it home.

  • Lewis, J.R. Colonel John Randolph Lewis. Assigned by O.O. Howard to the position of assistant inspector general for the Georgia Freedman's Bureau. He served in that role (including the period of the Camilla incident) until he took over the position of assisstant commissioner from Caleb Sibley on October 16, 1868. He was Georgia's last Bureau assistant commissioner.

  • Lonon, Ishmael. A freedman, Lonon witnessed Joiner and Murphy's narrow escape from member's of Sheriff Poore's posse. Ishmael Lonon was elected to the Georgia State legislature in 1880.

  • Meade, G.G. General George Gordon Meade. Civil war hero who came to work for the Bureau, by January 1868 he had assumed military command of the Third Military District in Georgia.

  • Mills, Captain William. Bureau agent who filed a report on the Camilla riot to General Meade.

  • Murphy, John. Republican party candidate for elector. Organized the rally in Camilla along with W.P. Pierce and Francis Flagg (F.F.) Putney.

  • Pierce, W.P. A Republican party congressional candidate from the second district that included Camilla. Pierce was formerly a Union Officer from Kentucky. He came to Lee County after the war and from late 1867 to September of the next year worked as an agent in the Freedmen's Bureau.

  • Poore, Mumford S. Sheriff of Mitchell County.

  • Putney, F.F. Francis Flagg Putney. Putney, a Union veteran, had moved to neighboring Dougherty County in 1865 and was a successful planter. He accompanied the freedmen to Camilla for the rally.

  • Raushenberg, Christian. Dr. Christian Raushenberg. Served with the Bureau for around two and a half years, doubling as a bureau surgeon and agent in southwest Georgia. For a time he was stationed in Cuthbert in Randolph County, which may or may not have been his home at the time of the incident.

  • Schofield, John McAllister. Union General during the Civil War; U.S. Secretary of War during the Camilla riot.

  • Schlotfeldt, George. Assistant to O.H. Howard. He went to Governor Bullock and Caleb Sibley with details of the Camilla incident.

  • Sibley, C.C. Colonel Caleb C. Sibley, an assistant commissioner for the state of Georgia for the federal agency, the Freedmen's Bureau, or what is more formally known as the Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. He was Davis Tillson's successor. Tillson retired Jan 14, 1867 and Sibley served from that point until shortly after the incident at Camilla, October 16, 1868, when Commissioner O.O.Howard put John Randolph Lewis in charge of the state agency, and Sibley assumed exclusively the duties of military commander of the district of Georgia.

  • "True Copy". The correspondence of bureau officials was handled in accordance with typical 19th-century recordkeeping practices. Outgoing letters and telegrams were recorded in letter books. These volumes of letters sent are either fair or press copies. The fair copies are handwritten duplicates of the originals. They are clear and easy to read. The press copies were obtained by wetting a piece of thin paper and pressing it on the original letter through the use of a press-copying machine that caused the image to be transferred to the moistened paper. Because of the relative crudeness of the press copy method, many of these are difficult to read and some are virtually illegible. Enclosures to letters generally were not copied into the volumes.

  • Vason, Judge David A. Traveled from Albany to Camilla with three other white men to secure a statement from Sheriff Poore and eight other "men of good character" which laid the blame for the previous day's "disturbance" on armed blacks, "led by the wicked white men, Murphy, Pierce and Putney."

  • Washington, James. One of the last freedmen to leave the scene at the courthouse, he ran and hid in the creek. Two others hiding with him decided to make a break for it, but he stayed put. Four whites shot those men down. Washington remained most of the night in his hiding place.


    Players and Places List by Jeanette Morgan with the assistance of Lee W. Formwalt, OAH, Indiana University


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