Neigh of the Iron Horse

When the very first train rolled into the newly laid out town of Valdosta, GA, the state newspapers reported the “neigh of the Iron Horse” was heard.  Valdosta was Station No. 15 on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the first train, arriving on July  25, 1860, was pulled by the locomotive “Satilla.” Levi J. Knight, original settler at Ray City, GA, was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Lowndes County. Over time, the trains would bring new economic & tourism opportunities to Wiregrass Georgia, like Henry Bank’s Elixir of Life mineral springs at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA

Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, iron horse

Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, iron horse

The track of the A & G “Main Trunk” Railroad had one month earlier reached Station No. 14, Naylor, GA, sixteen miles east of Valdosta.

The Valdosta (Lowndes Co.) Watchman, on last Tuesday [June 26, 1860], says:
“The ware-house at Naylor Station (No. 14) has been completed, and freight is now regularly received and forwarded. The grading on Section 29 is finished to the eastern boundary of Valdosta, the cross ties are being distributed along the line, and nothing save some unforeseen providential contingency can postpone the arrival of the train at No. 15 longer than 20th July ensuing. The whistle of the Steam Horse has been heard repeatedly in our village the past week.”

The railroad had been built largely by the labor of enslaved African-Americans. The construction had commenced in 1859 at Tebeauville, GA.

For the opening of the tracks to Valdosta, the town invited the A & G railroad executives and prominent citizens of Savannah to a grand celebration of the event. Three thousand people were at Valdosta for the Jubilee held July 31, 1860.

Macon Weekly Georgia Telegraph
August 10, 1860

Railroad Jubilee at Valdosta

The Valdosta Watchman says, the opening of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad to that place was celebrated with a public dinner. A train of seven passenger cars brought numerous guests from Savannah and intermediate places on the road, who arrived at Valdosta at one o’clock, and were welcomed with the heavy booming of a nine pounder.
On the same day the friends of Breckinridge and Lane held a meeting, ratified the nominations, appointed five delegates to Milledgeville and were addressed by Col. Henry R. Jackson and Julian Hartridge, Esq.

 

 

Among the prominent attendees:

  • Reuben Thomas “Thompy” Roberds, Mayor of Valdosta; attorney; owner of 10 enslaved people
  • John Screven, President of both the “Main Trunk” Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad; Mayor of Savannah; State Representative from Chatham County;  a rice planter on the Savannah River; owner of Proctor Plantation, Beaufort, SC; owner of 91 enslaved people.
  • Gaspar J. Fulton, Superintendent of the “Main Trunk” Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad; owner of 11 enslaved people.
  • Julian Hartridge, State Representative; owner of four enslaved people
  • Robert Grant, Savannah attorney
  • Henry Rootes Jackson, prominent attorney and prosecutor of Savannah; former U.S. Minister Resident to the Austrian Empire; owner of 11 enslaved people.
  • Col. E. R. Young, of Brooks County, GA
  • Col. Thomas Marsh Forman, former state senator, wealthy planter of Savannah, owner of Broughton Island, political rival of Julian Hartridge, son-in-law of Governor Troupe, owner of 171 enslaved people in Chatham, Laurens and Glynn County, GA.
  • Young J. Anderson, of Savannah, former Solicitor General of the Eastern Circuit, attorney and owner of 6 enslaved people. One of his slaves was the remarkable Rachel Brownfield, who through her own efforts earned enough to buy her own freedom, but Anderson reneged on the deal.
  • Joseph John “JJ” Goldwire, accountant, resident of Valdosta
  • Dr. Augustus Richard Taylor, resident of Valdosta
  • Benjamin F. Moseley, alumnus of the University of Georgia, resident of Georgia Militia District 662 (Clyattville District); his brother, Augustus Moseley, owned 33 enslaved
  • William Zeigler, wealthy planter of Valdosta and owner of 46 enslaved people.
  • Sumner W. Baker, Troupville, GA attorney residing at Tranquil Hall hotel
  • Rufus Wiley Phillips,  Troupville, GA attorney; owner of three enslaved people; later mayor of Valdosta and a judge of Suwannee County, FL
  • Lenorean DeLyon, editor of the Valdosta Watchman newspaper; his brother, Isaac DeLyon, was the first station agent for the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad at Valdosta. A neice, Lenora DeLyon, was a passenger on the first train to reach the town.
Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

Satilla locomotive, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

Savannah Daily Morning News
Thursday Morning, August 2, 1860

Railroad Celebration at Valdosta.
In response to the invitation of the citizens of Lowndes county to the officers and Directors of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad and the citizens of Savannah, to join with the people of Lowndes and the adjoining counties in celebrating the completion of the Main Trunk to that point, in company with a number of gentlemen we left the city in a special train for Valdosta, at 5 o’clock on Tuesday morning [July 31, 1860]. Not withstanding the extreme heat of the weather, and the dustiness of the track, the trip, over a good road, through a county so recently almost a wilderness, but which is already beginning to exhibit evidences—in its increasing population, rising towns, and growing prosperity and enterprise, of the great benefits which must result to our section of the State from the completion of this great work—was both interesting and pleasant. As the train progressed, and as we neared the point of destination, our party was increased by continual accessions of people, and by the time we reached Valdosta, the cars were filled to the extent of their capacity.

Arriving at Valdosta about two o’clock, we were surprised to find a gathering of some three thousand people, of whom a large proportion were ladies and children—the town surrounded by vehicles of every description, and saddle horses tied to the trees in every direction. The company had just partaken of a most bountiful and well-prepared barbecue, which was spread out upon tables under a shed erected for the purpose. The guests from Savannah were cordially received by the committee, by whom we were invited to the tables, and introduced to many of those present.

John Screven, president of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

John Screven, president of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad

After the company had retired from the tables, a meeting was organized by calling Col. E. R. Young, of Brooks county, to the Chair, and appointing Dr. Folsom, Secretary. The object of the meeting having been stated by the chairman, Capt. John Screven, President of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf and Main Trunk Railroads, responded to the general call in an eloquent and appropriate address, in which he spoke of the interesting event to celebrate which, in a becoming manner, he was happy to see so many of fellow citizens and fair countrywomen of Southwestern Georgia assembled in Valdosta. He alluded to the immense benefits which must result to the people of the interior and the cities of the seaboard from the completion of the great iron link which was to bind them together in bonds of mutual Interest and mutual friendship. Capt. Screven’s address was received with demonstrations of cordial approval.

Henry Rootes Jackson

Henry Rootes Jackson

Brief and appropriate addresses were also delivered in response to the call of the meeting by Hon. Henry R. Jackson, Julian Hartridge, Esq., Col. Thos. M. Forman and Y. J. Anderson, Esq., of Savannah, S. W. Baker,Esq., Chairman of the Committee of arrangements, also addressed the meeting. Other gentlemen were also called by the meeting, among them Robert Grant, Esq., of this city. None of them responding, the meeting was finally adjourned, and the immense crowd, most or whom had many miles to travel to their homes, began to disperse. Some objection having been made to a proposition to reorganize the meeting as a political meeting, notice was given that the friends of Breckinridge and Lane would reassemble at the Court House for the purpose of holding a ratification meeting.

A large portion of those present repaired to the Court-house, where a meeting was organized by calling William B. Zeigler, Esq., to preside., and appointing R. T. Roberds

Reuben Thomas Roberds, first mayor of Valdosta

Reuben Thomas Roberds, first mayor of Valdosta

esq., secretary.

The official proceedings of this meeting, which was a very spirited and enthusiastic demonstration of the prevailing sentiment, not only of Lowndes but of the surrounding counties and throughout that section of the State, in favor of Breckinridge and Lane and sound State Rights principles, will be found in another column or our paper.

Judge Jackson, being Invited to address the meeting, made one of his happiest and most effective  efforts. After a brief history of the action of the Charleston and Baltimore Conventions, and a fair statement or the great Issue before the country, he confined himself mainly to a most searching review of the political record of John Bell, whom he clearly demonstrated had given evidence by his frevuent votes against the South, and with the North, that his ambition is stronger than his patriotism, and that he is utterly unworthy the confidence of the South in a crisis like the present.

Mr. Hartridge, followed Judge Jackson in one of the ablest and most forcible political speeches we have ever heard him deliver.

Col. Forman, In response to the call of the meeting made a brief and pertinent speech which was also well received by the meeting.

Alter the passage of the resolutions and a vote of thanks to the speakers, the meeting adjourned with three hearty cheers for Breckenridge and Lane.

The crowd at Valdosta on Tuesday comprised a full and fair representation of the people of that portion of Georgia, its brave men, its fair women, and bright youth; and was one of the largest as well as most respectable assemblages we have ever seen brought together in the interior and more sparsely populated sections of our State. As we contemplated the vast crowd, and looked upon Valdosta, just emerging from the native pine forest, then echoing the first startling neigh of the Iron horse, who, as he leaps the heretofore impassable barriers that have shut out Southwestern Georgia from the commerce of the world, we endeavored to picture to our mind the great change which a few years must bring to this long neglected and almost unconsidered portion of our noble Slate.

Valdosta, the present terminus of the Main Trunk road, is distant from Savannah 155 miles. The first trees upon its site were felled In February last, and though only a little more than six months old, its present population numbers about five hundred souls. It is handsomely laid out, and though the native trees still obstruct its streets, it has three or four dry goods stores, two grocery stores, two hotels, two steam mills, a court-house, several neat private residences, and last, not least, a printing office and a newspaper.

The Valdosta Hotel, at which we stopped, is well kept by very kind and obliging people, who made up by their willing efforts for whatever they lacked of ability to provide accommodation for a crowd that would have given even our Pulaski House something extra to do. In the emergency of the case we are greatly Indebted to Mr. J. G. Fulton, the worthy Superintendent of the Road, who kindly provided us and many others with excellent sleeping quarters for the night on the cars.

The perfect safety with which the entire trip was made over the road, on a considerable portion of which the rails have been but recently laid, bears testimony alike to the excellence of the road itself and to the carefulness and attention of its employees.

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Breckinridge and Lane Meeting At Valdosta.

There was a barbecue given at the above place on Tuesday, 31st July, to celebrate the arrival or the cars at Valdosta, the friends of Breckinridge and Lane availed themselves of this opportunity to hold a ratification meeting, and assembled, after the close of the exercises pertaining to the railroad celebration, in the Court house at Valdosta, In the afternoon of the same day for that purpose.

On motion of Mr. J. J. Goldwire, Mr. William Zeigler was called to the Chair, and R. T. Roberds requested to set as Secretary.

Mr. Goldwire then introduced the resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

1st, Resolved, That we, the Democracy of Lowndes county, do hereby ratify the nominations of John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane, for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United Slates, and we pledge to them our hearty and undivided support, believing, as we do, that it is high time for the people of the South to be united and vigilant In the recognition and enforcement of their constitutional rights.

2d. Resolved, That the Chairman of this meeting do now appoint five delegates to represent the county of Lowndes in the Democratic Convention to assemble at Mllledgevllle on the 8th of August next, to nominate an electoral ticket to cast the vote of Georgia in the Presidential election.

Rufus Wiley Phillips, Valdosta attorney

Rufus Wiley Phillips, Valdosta attorney

3d. Resolved, That should it be inconvenient for any one of said delegates to attend said convention, that those who do go be instructed to cast their votes for them, having the same power of the original delegates.

The following gentlemen were appointed by the Chair, to wit: Benjamin F. Mosely, R. W. Phillips, J. J. Goldwire, Dr. A. R Taylor, and Col. Leonorean DeLyon.

Col. H R. Jackson being present, was called on to address the meeting, which he did in his usually eloquent and forcible manner, entertaining his audience with satisfaction for a consider able time, notwithstanding they were fatigued with the other exercises of the day, and so situated  as to have to stand to listen at his speech.

Dr. Augustus Richard Taylor, Valdosta physician.

Dr. Augustus Richard Taylor, Valdosta physician.

At the suggestion of Col. Williamson, the privilege was extended to any one who wished to take part in the discussion In behalf of Bell or Douglas. No one responding.

Mr. Julian Hartridge was loudly called for, and addressed the meeting in an able and eloquent manner, clearly defining hit position, and giving a satisfactory account of his conduct as a delegate from Georgia in the recent Democratic Presidential Conventions.

Col. Thomas M. Forman was also called for, and addressed the audience in a few pertinent and entertaining remarks. Col. DeLyon moved that the thanks of the meeting be tendered to the speakers, which was. It was then moved that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Valdosta Watchman, Savannah Morning News and the Georgia Forester.

The meeting then adjourned, with three cheers for Breckinridge and Lane, Jackson, Hartridge and Forman.

Wm. Zeigler, Chairman.
R. T. Roberds, Secretary.

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By 1862, the regularly scheduled trains of the merged Atlantic & Gulf Railroad and the Savannah, Albany & Gulf railroad passed through Valdosta, GA daily.

 

Related Posts:

Tebeauville, Old No. Nine

Previously:

Tebeauville, Old No. Nine

Prior to the Civil War General Levi J. Knight, of present day Ray City, GA, invested in the development of railroads across Wiregrass Georgia.  Two of Knight’s investments were in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, the junction of which was at Tebeauville, GA.   When the Civil War commenced, Knight’s railroads were still being constructed, largely with the labor of enslaved African-Americans. During early part of the war, Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men was transported on these railroads to their posts at the coastal defenses of Georgia.

Depot at Tebeauville

Depot at  station No. Nine, Tebeauville, GA (now Waycross, GA) was the junction point of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.

Although the Brunswick & Florida Railroad had been chartered in 1837, construction did not commence until 1856.  The track was started at Brunswick, GA but by 1857, only 36 miles of rail had been completed.  If completed, the B&F could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.”  And there were plan that the B&F would make connections to bring passenger and freight traffic to Brunswick from as far west as Vicksburg, MS.

The shortline Brunswick & Florida Railroad would run from Brunswick to the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad station number nine, which was also to be a junction with the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.  The Atlantic & Gulf was intended to serve the two coastal railroads as a “Main Trunk” stretching across south Georgia.  At Bainbridge, GA  it was planned to serve the steamboat docks on the Flint River creating a passenger and freight connection to the Gulf of Mexico.

The junction point of the B&F, A&G and the S,A&G, was ninth station to be constructed on the line from Savannah and was situated just south of the Satilla River. The eponymous community which sprang up there was No. Nine.  Blackshear, GA. was No. Eight and Glenmore, GA was No. 10.

Philip Coleman Pendleton, agent for the Lowndes County Immigration Society

Philip Coleman Pendleton, agent for the Lowndes County Immigration Society

In 1857, Philip Coleman Pendleton had settled his family at No. Nine before the tracks of the S, A & G  or the B & F even reached the station. At Tebeauville, Pendleton engaged in farming and timber. He also served as postmaster and stated the first Sunday school in Ware county.   (Pendleton had come from Sandersville, GA where he was co-owner of the Central Georgian newspaper, with O. C. Pope, Sr. )

At that time [1857] a Savannah company headed by James Screven, father of the late John Screven, was building a railroad from Savannah to Thomasville. The western terminus [of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railroad] was then at a point some twelve or fifteen miles east of Blackshear…The laying of the iron reached Mr. Pendleton’s place about a year later…  The old stage road between Thomasville and Brunswick passed here, with a fork running to Burnt Fort, on the Satilla River. There was a post-office at this place called “Yankee Town.” It was so designated because northern people operated the stage coaches and they owned at this place a relay stable; but it passed away with the coming of the railroad, and Screven named the station ‘Pendleton’. The man thus honored took the first train to Savannah and caused the name to be changed to Tebeauville, after his father-in-law, Captain F. E. Tebeau, a member of one of the old Savannah families. Perhaps a year or so later a civil engineer came along surveying the route for the [Brunswick & Florida Railroad]. When he arrived at Tebeauville he made a side proposition to Mr. Pendleton to run the prospective city off in lots and to give him each alternate lot. Mr. Pendleton did not think that the man was authorized thus to approach him, and suggested that he tell the president of the road to see him in regard to the matter. Miffed at this rebuke, the engineer went back three or four miles pulling up the stakes as he went, and made a curve to miss Mr. Pendleton’s land. If one will stand at the crossing near Tebeau Creek, in the heart of Waycross, and look towards Brunswick, he can see the curve in the road [railroad tracks], caused by this effort of the engineer to make something on the side. – Georgia’s Men of Mark

The tracks of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf reached station No. Nine on July 4, 1859.

By 1859,  60 miles of B & F track had been laid stretching from Brunswick north around the headwaters of East River then westward toward Tebeauville. The B&F junction at station No. Nine completed a rail connection between Brunswick and Savannah, and connected Brunswick with the the “Main Trunk” Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

 

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running from Yankee Town (now Waycross), GA to Brunswick, GA - Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running from Yankee Town, the post office at Tebeauville (now Waycross), GA, to Brunswick, GA – Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Construction of the A & G  was progressing westward from Tebeauville toward Lowndes County, GA.  The steel rails were imported from Le Havre, France.  There were 1200 slaves at work building the Atlantic & Gulf, making the railroad perhaps the largest single concentration of enslaved people in Georgia. In 1859,  75 percent of railroads in the south used slave labor and one-third of all southern lines worked 100 or more slaves.

African Americans maintaining a southern railroad. In 1859, 1200 African American slaves labored to build the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad across Wiregrass Georgia, laying a little over a mile of track every week. The first train reached Valdosta, GA on July 30, 1860. Image: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02135/

African Americans maintaining a southern railroad.
In 1859, 1200 African American slaves labored to build the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad across Wiregrass Georgia, laying a little over a mile of track every week. The jubilee train reached Valdosta, GA on July 31,1860. Image: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02135/

The southern railroads were dependent on enslaved black laborers for construction and maintenance, and sometimes operations. Slaves were either owned outright by the railroads or leased from their owners. “Sometimes owners were actually reluctant to hire out their enslaved laborers because of the extreme danger associated with rail construction and train operations; if they did so, they often would take out insurance on their [human] property from working on the riskiest tasks. Of course, those contractual provisions were not always obeyed, leading contractors and slave owners to the courtroom.” – From Here to Equality.

About 20 miles west of Tebeauville, railroad superintendent Gaspar J. Fulton made a side investment in real estate. Fulton purchased land along the tracks from John Smith, of Clinch county. However, no station was established there until the 1880s (now Argyle, GA).

By February 1860, the A & G track had crossed the Alapaha River near Carter’s Bridge about nine miles south of Milltown (now Lakeland, GA).  By March 12, hundreds of bales of cotton were being shipped to Savannah from Station No. 13 at Stockton, GA, which was described as “‘quite a brisk little place, with its hotel and livery stable’ to say nothing of its numerous refreshment saloons.” There were 50 bales of cotton shipped from “Alapaha” on March 10. By about the end of the month at Station No. 13, there were “about 120 bales of cotton for shipment, and the warehouses crowded with western freight.”  The May 1, 1860 annual report of the A & G [inclusive of the S, A&G] stated that in previous 12 months [during which track was extended from Tebeauville, GA to Naylor, GA] there were 4.8 million feet of lumber and timber shipped over the railroad.

The residents at Troupville, GA, then county seat of Lowndes, were hopeful that the town would be the site where the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad spanned the Withlacoochee River.  By July 1860, the Atlantic and Gulf track extended 62 miles to near the Withlacoochee but the route passed four miles southeast of Troupeville and crossed the river eight miles downstream, sorely disappointing the town’s residents.  The many of the town residents packed up and moved to the tracks, some even moving their houses, and founded the city of Valdosta, GA.

The Satilla was the first locomotive to arrive at Valdosta, July 4, 1860. The engines of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad (Savannah, Albany & Gulf) were named for the rivers of South Georgia. The Satilla is on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.

The Satilla was the first locomotive to arrive at Valdosta, July 30, 1860. The engines of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad (Savannah, Albany & Gulf) were named for the rivers of South Georgia. The Satilla is on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.

John Screven, president of the A & R reported that the tracks reached Valdosta on July 25, 1860.

The Augusta Daily Constitutionalist reported the completion of the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to Valdosta, GA

The Augusta Daily Constitutionalist reported the completion of the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to Valdosta, GA

When the Civil War broke out, the completion of the Brunswick & Florida, the Savannah, Albany and Gulf, and the Atlantic & Gulf railroads became strategically important, although the threatening “foreign nation” was the United States.  Troops from all over Wiregrass Georgia were mobilized on the railroads. P. C. Pendleton “was engaged in planting and looking after his splendid timbered lands when the war came on… “Tebeauville, though not a town of much size, at the outbreak of the war in 1861, nevertheless furnished several recruits to Colquitt’s Brigade” … [Pendleton] raised a company of volunteers in Ware county and upon its organization became a major of the 50th Georgia Regiment.  – J. L. Walker, State Historian, DAR

During the war, the Sunday School at Tebeauville was superintended by Mrs. B . F. Williams, wife a Confederate army surgeon. Mrs.Williams lived a few miles from Tebeauville at Sunnyside, near the Satilla River. She also helped to organize a non-denominational church “composed of ‘Hard-Shells,’ Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, that existed and flourished for years in perfect harmony. – J. L. Walker, State Historian, DAR

In 1861 the Berrien Minute Men,  the Confederate infantry company raised by General Knight, traveled on the Brunswick & Florida from Station No. 9, (Tebeauville) to Brunswick.  Per orders,  Captain L. J. Knight took his company of Berrien Minute Men to the Georgia coast where they and other volunteer companies from south Georgia counties were garrisoned at Camp Semmes for the defense of the port at Brunswick, GA (Berrien Minute Men at Brunswick ~ July, 1861).  The Confederate States government compensated the railroads for providing transportation.

Robert E. Lee visited Tebeauville, GA in 1861

Robert E. Lee visited Tebeauville, GA in 1861

Robert E. Lee stopped for a few hours in Tebeauville in 1861 while making a general survey of the Confederate coastal defenses. In a letter to his wife, transcribed in Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, he referenced the Battle of Port Royal, in which the 29th GA regiment was engaged,  and mentioned plans to visit Brunswick:

“Savannah, November 18, 1861.

“My Dear Mary: This is the first moment I have had to write to you, and now am waiting the call to breakfast, on my way to Brunswick, Fernandina, etc. This is my second visit to Savannah. Night before last, I returned to Coosawhatchie, South Carolina, from Charleston, where I have placed my headquarters, and last night came here, arriving after midnight. I received in Charleston your letter from Shirley. It was a grievous disappointment to me not to have seen you, but better times will come, I hope…. You probably have seen the operations of the enemy’s fleet. Since their first attack they have been quiescent apparently, confining themselves to Hilton Head, where they are apparently fortifying.

“I have no time for more. Love to all.

“Yours very affectionately and truly,

“R. E. Lee.”

In his 1914 Georgia’s Men of Mark, historian Lucian Lamar Knight included:

It is one of the local traditions, to which the old residents point with great pride, that when in command of the coast defense, at the outbreak of the war, General Robert E. Lee stopped for a short while in Tebeauville. Many of the people who lived here then remember to have seen this Man of the Hour who still lives in the hearts of the people today. Among the the citizens who resided here then were the Tebeaus, the Reppards, the Remsharts, the Parkers, the Grovensteins, the Millers, the Behlottes, the Sweats, the Smiths and the Cottinghams.  To this day many old timers refer to the section of [Waycross] where the Tebeauville station was located as “Old Nine”. 

At the time of General Lee’s survey, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men were made at garrisons defending Darien, GA, the next port north of Brunswick. “As a result of [General Lee’s] coastal survey, upon his return to Savannah 3 days later, he notified the War Department in Richmond of the confirmation of his previous opinion that the ‘entrance to Cumberland Sound and Brunswick and the water approaches to Savannah [including Fort Pulaski] and Charleston are the only points which it is proposed to defend.'”  National Park Service 

The defenses of Georgia’s sea islands were abandoned, their guns and men redeployed to defend the three southern ports. The Berrien Minute Men were moved to garrisons around the port of Savannah.

Ultimately, Levi J. Knight’s investment in the B&F railroad became another casualty of the Civil War.  “The Brunswick and Florida Railroad was in operation up to the fall of 1863, when the Confederate Government seized it under the Impressment Act, tore up the rails, and distributed the property of the Company among other railroads, which were considered as leading military lines. The line of the B&F had become a liability as U.S forces had occupied Brunswick in early 1862.

P. C. Pendleton moved his family to Valdosta, GA in 1862 where after the war he established the South Georgia Times newspaper. His former business partner, O. C. Pope moved to Milltown in 1866 where he taught in the Milltown Academy.

In late 1867 Major Philip Coleman Pendleton again passed through Tebeauville as a passenger on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad from Valdosta to Savannah, where he was sailing for Scotland.  He was on a mission for the Lowndes Immigration Society to recruit Scottish immigrants to settle at Valdosta, GA, and work the cotton, as Wiregrass planters had an aversion to hiring and paying freed slaves to do the work.

The town of Tebeauville was incorporated in 1866. “In 1869, the State of Georgia provided about $6 million in bonds to rebuild [the tracks from Tebeauville to Brunswick]. The railroad was then reorganized as the Brunswick and Albany Railroad.”  Tebeauville was designated county seat of Ware County in 1873. It was incorporated as “Way Cross” on March 3, 1874. Waycross gets its name from the city’s location at key railroad junctions; lines from six directions meet at the city.

Tebeauville Historic Marker, Waycross, GA

Tebeauville Historic Marker in Bertha Street Park, Waycross, GA,  “On this site stood the old town of Tebeauville. Erected by the Lyman Hall Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Waycross, GA.

The B&A went bankrupt in 1872 after a bond was nullified by the Georgia General Assembly. It was reorganized in 1882 and was then named the Brunswick and Western Railroad.

The name Tebeauville remained in use for the station at Waycross at least as late as 1889, as evidenced in railroad schedules and newspaper references.

(See source citations below)

Related Posts:

Sources:

Georgia.1836. Acts of the General Assembly of the state of Georgia passed in Milledgeville at an annual session in November and December, 1835. An act to incorporate the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.pg 187.

United States. (1851). The statutes at large and treaties of the United States of America from. Boston: C.C. Little and J. Brown. pg 146

Dozier, Howard Douglas. 1920. A history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Houghton Mifflin. pg 79.

Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell. 1908. A history of transportation in the eastern cotton belt to 1860. pg 358.

Georgia Telegraph. Dec 20, 1853. From Milledgeville. Macon, GA. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. June 13, 1854. Minutes of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Macon, GA. Pg 3

Southern Recorder, May 15, 1855. Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. Apr 8, 1856. Minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company, First Meeting, Wednesday, Feb 27, 1856. Macon, GA. Pg 3

United States. 1857. Appendix to the Congressional Globe containing speeches, important state papers, laws, etc., of the third session, Thirty-fourth Congress. Naval Depot at Brunswick, Georgia: Speech of Hon. A. Iverson of Georgia in the Senate, January 20, 1957. pg 270-275.

Poor, H. V. (1869). Poor’s manual of railroads. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor; [etc., etc.. Pg. 337.

Loyless, T. W. (1902). Georgia’s public men 1902-1904. Atlanta, Ga: Byrd Print. Pp 166.
Miller, S.F. 1858. The bench and bar of Georgia : memoirs and sketches, with an appendix, containing a court roll from 1790 to 1857, etc. (1858). J. B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia. Pg 170

Milledgeville Federal Union, Nov. 18, 1856. Commercial Convention at Savannah. page 3. Milledgeville, GA.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.Census Place: , Berrien, Georgia; Roll: M653_111; Page: 362; Image: 363.

Mitchell, S. Augustus. 1855. Mitchell’s new traveller’s guide through the United States and Canada. pg 87

Swayze, J. C., & H.P. Hill & Co. (1862). Hill & Swayze’s Confederate States rail-road & steam-boat guide: Containing the time-tables, fares, connections and distances on all the rail-roads of the Confederate States, also, the connecting lines of rail-roads, steamboats and stages, and will be accompanied by a complete guide to the principal hotels, with a large variety of valuable information. Griffin, Ga: Hill & Swayze.

Railga.com. Brunswick & Florida Railroad. https://railga.com/brunfl.html

Walker, J. L. (1911, Nov 11). Tabeauville. Waycross Evening Herald.

The Berrien Minute Men and the 1861 Expedition Hurricane

The Expedition Hurricane 1861

Two companies of men sent forth in the Civil War from Berrien County, Georgia were known as the Berrien Minute Men. For the most part, both companies of Berrien Minute Men traveled with the 29th Georgia Regiment and kept the same campfires, although occasionally they had different stations. They made their campfires most of 1861 at coastal defenses of Georgia, at Brunswick, GA, on Sapelo Island and then around Savannah, GA.

The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo Island around October 1, 1861 just a month before the final storm of the 1861 hurricane season.  Undoubtedly they experienced a gale on the night of October 31, 1861 as the hurricane, later known as the Expedition Hurricane, passed about 120 miles east of the Island. This hurricane had formed in the Gulf of Mexico and traversed south Florida before moving up the eastern seaboard. By the morning of November 1, 1861, the hurricane passed about 255 miles east of Savannah; the outer bands of the storm were already reaching Savannah with “driving clouds and heavy falling rain.”  The USS Savannah and USS Monticello, blockading the port of Savannah, GA were forced to move away from the Savannah Bar and proceed to seas as a measure necessary to their preservation.

USS Savannah. On Nov 1, 1861 the Savannah was stationed off Tybee Island, blockading the port of Savannah.

USS Savannah. On Nov 1, 1861 the Savannah was stationed off Tybee Island, blockading the port of Savannah.

On the Monticello, the storm damage disabled the engine forcing the ship to make for a safe harbor. That night the storm provided cover for the Confederate blockade runner CSS Bermuda escape from Savannah.

On November 2, 1861, following the 1861 Expedition Hurricane, the Confederate blockade runner CSS Bermuda escaped from the Savannah River bound for England. On the return trip it was captured by the US Navy & renamed the USS General Meade.

On November 2, 1861, following the 1861 Expedition Hurricane, the Confederate blockade runner CSS Bermuda escaped from the Savannah River bound for England. On the return trip it was captured by the US Navy & renamed the USS General Meade.

In the direct path of the hurricane was the largest fleet of ships that had ever been assembled by the United States Navy. It had been widely reported in newspapers that the  great fleet had assembled at New York, and that General Sherman’s forces had embarked at Annapolis, MD. Among the “Expedition Corps” was the Forty-Sixth New York Volunteer Regiment, Colonel Rudolph Rosa commanding, aboard the steamship USS Daniel Webster.  Later in the war the 46th NY Regiment would occupy Tybee Island, GA opposite the Berrien Minute Men garrisoning Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA

USS Daniel Webster, 1861, transported the 46th NY Regiment through the Expedition Hurricane to the Battle of Port Royal.

USS Daniel Webster, 1861, transported the 46th NY Regiment through the Expedition Hurricane to the Battle of Port Royal.

This was the largest naval expedition that had ever sailed under the U.S. flag. Its destination was “supposedly a military secret.” Reporters aboard the USS Atlantic in the Expedition fleet provided various cover stories:  a demonstration would be made upon Sewell’s Point or the fleet would practice an amphibious assault on Fort Monroe.  In Savannah, and probably on Sapelo Island, it was expected the expedition would make an assault on the Confederate shores.  After sailing on sealed orders it was speculated that the squadron would attack New Orleans, Charleston, Pensacola, Wilmington, Beaufort, Galveston or James River.

The expedition did practice an amphibious landing on the Virginia Peninsula at Fort Monroe, where it also expected to embark a contingent of Africa-Americans – escaped slaves – to be employed as support for the mission.

It was believed by the War Department that there were at least 1,000 slaves, or ‘”contrabands,”’ at Fortress Monroe, able to perform a certain sort of labor necessary to the accomplishment of the purpose of the expedition — such work as throwing up entrenchments and adding to the comfort of the officers. Six hundred of these negroes were to have accompanied us, but there is scarcely that number at the fortress, and Gen. Wool has plenty of employment for all of them there. We therefore do not take any. – New York Times Correspondent aboard USS Atlantic

After the exercises at Fort Monroe, the fleet continued on to its unstated destination.

The Great Lincoln Naval Expedition.
FULL PARTICULARS OF ITS STRENGTH.
Rumored theft of its Maps, Charts, and Sealed Orders.

Richmond, Nov. 2.—A special order for the Lincoln fleet, dated on board the steamer Atlantic, Oct. 28, says the expedition will be under command of Commodore Dupont, that it is intended to make a descent on the enemy’s coast, and probably under circumstances demanding the utmost vigilance, coolness and intrepidity on the part of every man in the expedition.
The surf boats and other means of debarkation are believed to be capable of landing at once from three to four thousand men. Some of them carry a hundred men.
The expedition consists of three brigades commanded by Generals Wright, Stephens, and Viele, each with artillery. Full orders are given as to the mode of landing. They have to conquer the ground and succeed. They are directed not to go beyond supporting distance from shore.

Fortress Monroe, Oct. 28.—The fleet will sail to-morrow. One hundred thousand rations have been distributed among the fleet, and sealed orders have been given to the Captains of the several transports. The men and horses are on board. Several of the transports have suffered greatly from the gale during the last few days.
The New York Herald of the 29th says the objects to be accomplished by the expedition are as follows :
First, to carry the war into the Cotton states, which are chiefly responsible for the rebellion, and produce a disorganisation of the disposition of the Immense Confederate army in Virginia.
Second, to secure winter quarters for the Federal troops, and harbors for the refuge the Federal naval and commercial marine.
Third, To open our Southern ports to commerce, and thus satisfy all the demands and obviate all difficulties about the supply of cotton and the efficiency of the blockade.
Fourth, to form a nucleus in the Confederate States near which the long suppressed loyalty and good sense of the people may find a safe expression and encouragement, and to stimulate this reactionary feeling, of which we have seen such remarkable and encouraging manifestations in North Carolina. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, in a letter to the expedition, gives them authority to employ negroes in the Federal service, but assures all loyal masters that Congress will provide a just compensation for all losses thus incurred by them.
The New York Tribune says one of its correspondents on board the Federal expedition writes from Hampton Roads that the Private Secretary to Commodore Dupont had absconded, carrying off with him the maps, charts, and even the sealed orders of the Expedition.

The Naval Expedition.—Our telegraphic column contains important information. There is no doubt that the whole composition, plan, and private instructions of the expedition are now in Richmond, else how should the information given and the Tribune’s report of the absconding Secretary tally so squarely? Say no more of Yankee shrewdness! 

 

 

A Naval Expedition Sails for Port Royal, S. C.

October 29, 1861, the great naval expedition, which had been fitting out for several weeks, sailed for the southern coast. It consisted of seventy-five vessels of various sizes and descriptions, and 15,000 troops; the former under command of Commodore Dupont; the latter under command of General William Tecumpseh “Cump” Sherman.

The Great Expedition, in Lat. 34 degrees, 37 minutes N., Long. 75 degrees, 50 minutes W., on the way to Port Royal Inlet. – Sketched at noon on 31st October, 1861, from the deck of the Steamer “Matanzas.” At the time, the fleet was 600 miles north of a tropical storm passing over Florida. Image Source: House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/33007.

The Savannah papers noted with glee that the storm would likely strike the US Fleet which had departed NY on October 30 on its mission to attack Confederate force.

“The season is not very propitious for their enterprise…they will be scattered to the four winds, and many of them sunk or stranded…We imagined the “nice time” the Yankees were having in their heavy laden and crowded ships and thought of their chances between treacherous waves and the inhospitable shores to which they were coming and if we indulged a wish that they might all be blown to Davy Jones’ locker, it was only that they might be spared the fate that awaits them whenever they land upon our southern shore.”

That evening, the U.S. Navy expedition encountered the  tropical hurricane—which wreaked havoc on the organization of the fleet.

A Union soldier at sea on board the steamer  USS Atlantic in the Expedition fleet wrote in his journal on November 1, 1861

Wind continued to rise till at 11PM it blew almost a gale. Went on deck at 11 1/2 PM. The scene was fearful, but magnificent. The ship was tossing and pitching in a manner not at all pleasant. The waves were rolling at least 20 feet high and as far as the eye could reach seemed to be capped with silver, while in the track of our wheels millions of stars were dancing and flashing…

Nov 2nd
Last night was the worst I ever saw. I could not sleep, for I had as much as I could do to hold myself in my bunk. Reynolds got thrown out of his and he had a top one too…8AM Our quarters presented a sorry sight. Window in stern got stove in the night. before it could be stopped the water was 3 or 4 inches deep. Shoes, guns, knapsacks, shirts, etc floating round in fine style. Went on deck…10A.M. Wind going down some. Struck green water at 4P.M.

John Call Dalton, M.D., rode out the 1861 Expedition Hurricane aboard the troopship USS Oriental.

On board the USS Oriental, John Call Dalton, Medical officer, rode out the storm with the 7th New York Militia. He vividly recalled the storm in his memoir:

On Friday, November 1st it began to get rough. The sky was overcast, the ship rolled and pitched, and the wind howled in a way that gave warning of worse to come. As the day wore on, there was no improvement, and before nightfall it was a blowing gale…All that evening the wind increased in violence. Every hour it blew harder, and the waves came faster and bigger than before. The see was no longer a highway; it was a tossing chaos of hills and valleys, sweeping toward us from the southeast with the force of the tornado, and reeling and plunging about us on every side. The ship was acting well and showed no signs of distress thus far; but by midnight it seemed as though she had about as much as she could do. The officers and crew did their work in steady, seamanlike fashion, and among the soldiers there was no panic or bustle. Once in a while I would get up out of my berth, to look at the ship from the head of the companion way, or to go forward between decks and listen to the pounding of the sea against her bows. At one o’clock, for the first time, things were no longer growing worse; and in another hour or two it was certain that the gale had reached its height. Then I turned in for sleep, wedged myself into the berth with blankets, and made no more inspection tours that night.

The SS Governor was overwhelmed by the storm and foundering with a battalion of 385 marines on board, Major John George Reynolds commanding, and 15 crew.  In the gale, the  gunboats USS Young Rover and USS Isaac Smith, both damaged by the storm, were unable to take the Governor effectively in tow. Finally the frigate USS Sabine arrived and a daring rescue ensued at the height of the raging hurricane.  Before the SS Governor sank, the entire complement of the ship were saved with the exception of one corporal and six privates who, attempting to jump from the deck of the Governor to the Sabine were drowned or crushed  between the decks of the two vessels. The reports of the captains of the USS Sabine, USS Isaac Smith, USS Young Rover, and the acting master of the SS Governor were published in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies.

Expedition Hurricane. Rescue of Major Reynolds's Battalion of Marines From The Foundering Steamer "Governor."

1861 Expedition Hurricane. Rescue of Major Reynolds’s Battalion of Marines From The Foundering Steamer “Governor.”

The awesome force with which this hurricane struck the fleet is evident in Major John G. Reynolds’ report to Commodore Samuel F. Du Pont.

Flag-Officer Saml. F. Du Pont,
Commanding U. S. Naval Expedition, Southern Coast.

The marine battalion under my command left Hampton Roads on transport steamboat Governor on the morning of Tuesday, the 29th of October, with the other vessels of the fleet, and continued with them near the flagship Wabash until Friday, the 1st of November. On Friday morning about 10 o’clock the wind began to freshen, and by 12 or l blew so violently we were obliged to keep her head directly to the wind, and thereby leave the squadron, which apparently stood its course.
Throughout the afternoon the gale continued to increase, though the Governor stood it well until about 4 o’clock. About this time we were struck by two or three very heavy seas, which broke the port hog brace in two places, the brace tending inward. This was immediately followed by the breaking of the hog brace on the starboard side. By great exertions on the part of the officers and men of the battalion these braces were so well stayed and supported that no immediate danger was apprehended from them.
Up to this time the engine worked well. Soon after the brace chains [guys] which supported the smokestack parted, and it went overboard. Some 3 feet of it above the hurricane deck remained, which enabled us to keep up the fires. Soon after the loss of the smokestack the steam pipe burst. After this occurrence we were unable to make more than 14 pounds of steam, which was reduced as soon as the engine commenced working to from 3 to 5 pounds. The consequence was we had to stop the engine frequently in order to increase the head of steam. At this period the steamer was making water freely, but was easily kept clear by the pumps of the engine whenever it could be worked. About 5 o’clock we discovered a steamer with a ship in tow, which we supposed to be the Ocean Queen. To attract attention we sent up rockets, which signals she answered. When our rockets, six in all, were gone, we kept up a fire of musketry for a long time, but, the sea running high and the wind being violent, she could render us no assistance. She continued on her course, in sight the greater part of the night. About 3 o’clock Saturday morning the packing round the cylinder head blew out, rendering the engine totally useless for some time. The engine was finally put in running order, although it went very slowly. The rudder chain was carried away during the night, the water gaining constantly on us and the boat laboring violently. At every lurch we apprehended the hog braces would be carried away, the effect of which would have been to tear out the entire starboard side of the boat, collapse the boiler, and carry away the wheelhouse. Early in the morning the rudderhead broke, the engine was of very little use, the water still gaining on us rapidly, and we entirely at the mercy of the wind. It was only by the untiring exertions of our men that we were kept afloat. Nearly one hundred of them were kept constantly pumping and bailing, and the rest were holding fast the ropes which supported the hog braces.
Toward morning the weather, which during the night had been dark and rainy, seemed to brighten and the wind to lull. At daybreak two vessels were seen on our starboard bow, one of which proved to be the U.S.S. Isaac Smith, commanded by Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson, of the Navy. She descried our signal of distress, which was ensign halfmast, union down, and stood for us. About 10 o’clock we were hailed by the Smith and given to understand that if possible we should all be taken on board. A boat was lowered from her and we were enabled to take a hawser. This, through the carelessness of Captain [C. L.] Litchfield, of the Governor, was soon cast off or unavoidably let go. The water was still gaining on us. The engine could be worked but little, and it appeared that our only hope of safety was gone.
The Smith now stood off, but soon returned, and by 1 o’clock we had another hawser from her and were again in tow. A sail (the propeller bark Young Rover) which had been discovered on our starboard bow during the morning was soon within hailing distance.
The captain proffered all the assistance he could give, though at the time he could do nothing, owing to the severity of the weather. The hawser from the Smith again parted, and we were once more adrift.
The Young Rover now stood for us again, and the captain said he would stand by us till the last, for which encouragement he received a heartfelt cheer from the men. He also informed us [that] a large frigate was ahead standing for us. He then stood for the frigate, made signals of distress and returned. The frigate soon came into view and hope once more cheered the hearts of all on board the transport. Between 2 and 3 o’clock the U.8. frigate Sabine (Captain Ringgold) was within hail, and the assurance given that all hands would be taken on board. After a little delay the Sabine came to anchor. We followed her example, and a hawser was passed to us. It was now late in the day and there were no signs of an abatement of the gale. It was evident that whatever was to be done for our safety must be done without delay. About 8 or 9 o’clock the Sabme had paid out enough chain to bring, her stern close to our bow. Spars were rigged out over the stern of the frigate and every arrangement made for whipping our men on board, and some thirty men were rescued by this means. Three or four hawsers and an iron stream cable were parted by the plunging of the vessels. The Governor at this time had 3 feet water, which was rapidly increasing. It was evidently intended by the commanding officer of the Sabine to get the Governor alongside and let our men jump from the boat to the frigate. In our condition this appeared extremely hazardous. It seemed impossible for us to strike the frigate without instantly going to pieces. We were, however, brought alongside and some forty men succeeded in getting on board the frigate. One was crushed to death between the frigate and the steamer in attempting to gain a foothold on the frigate.
Shortly after being brought alongside the frigate the starboard quarter of the Sabine struck the port bow of the Governor, and carried away about 20 feet of the hurricane deck from the stem to the wheelhouse. The sea was running so high, and we being tossed so violently, it was deemed prudent to slack up the hawser and let the Governor fall astern of the frigate with the faint hope of weathering the gale till morning.
All our provisions and other stores, indeed every movable article, were thrown overboard, and the water casks started to lighten the vessel. From half past 3 until daybreak the Governor floated in comparative safety, notwithstanding the water was rapidly gaining on her. At daybreak preparations were made for sending boats to our relief, although the sea was running high, and it being exceedingly dangerous for a boat to approach the guards of the steamer. In cpnsequence the boats laid off and the men were obliged to jump into the sea, and were then hauled into the boats. All hands were thus providentially rescued from the wreck with the exception, I am pained to say, of 1 corporal and 6 privates, who were drowned or killed by the crush or contact of the vessels. Those drowned were lost through their disobedience of orders in leaving the ranks, or abandoning their posts. After the troops were safely reembarked every exertion was directed to securing the arms, accouterments, ammunition, and other property which might have been saved after lightening the wreck. I am gratified in being able to say nearly all the arms were saved and about half the accouterments. The knapsacks, haversacks, and canteens were nearly all lost. About 10,000 round of cartridges were fortunately saved, and 9,000 lost. Since being on board of this ship every attention has been bestowed by Captain Ringgold and his officers toward recruiting the strength of our men and restoring them to such a condition as will enable us to take the field at the earliest possible moment. Too much praise can not be bestowed upon the officers and men under any command. All did nobly. The firmness with which they performed their duty is beyond all praise. For forty eight hours they stood at ropes and passed water to keep the ship afloat. Refreshments in both eating and drinking were passed to them at their posts by noncommissioned officers. It is impossible for troops to have conducted themselves better under such trying circumstances. The transport continued to float some three hours after she was abandoned, carrying with her when she sunk, I am grieved to say, company books and staff returns. In order to complete the personnel of the battalion, I have requested Captain Ringgold to meet a requisition for several privates, to which he has readily assented. I considered this requisition in order, as I have been informed by Captain Ringgold it is his intention, as orders were given for his ship to repair to a Northern port; in which event he can easily be supplied, and my command by the accommodation rendered complete, in order to meet any demand you make for our services.
Under God, we owe our preservation to Captain Ringgold and the officers of the Sabine, to whom we tender our heartfelt thanks for their untiring labors while we were in danger and their unceasing kindness since we have been on board the frigate.
This report is respectfully submitted.
I am, commodore, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Jno. Geo. Reynolds,
Commanding Battalion Marines, Southern Division.

P. S.—List of noncommissioned officers and privates drowned and
injured by attempting to leave the U. S. transport steamer Governor
without orders:
Corporal Thomas McKeown, Privates Manus Brown, Timothy Lacy, Lawrence Gorman, Thomas Walker, Robert Campbell, drowned; Private Edward H. Miller, cut in two by collision with Sabine; Private Gustave Smith, arm broken by collision with Sabine.
Jno. Geo. Reynolds,
Major, Commanding Battalion.

On Hatteras the storm surge was so high the entire island was inundated.  Fort Hatteras was the only thing that remained above water. Federal troops evacuated the island and withdrew to Fort Monroe. USS Union went ashore about 13 miles south of Fort Macon.  USS Osceola went on the rocks near Georgetown during the storm. The USS Peerless went down after a collision with the Star of the South.  The confederate press reported that USS Winfield Scott had gone down with two Federal regiments, but that was wishful thinking; the Winfield Scott was badly damaged but remained afloat.

After ripping through the fleet, the hurricane made landfall on November 2, 1861 at 10:00 am at Morehead City, NC with sustained winds estimated at 70 mph, and proceeded up the coast.

When the fleet arrived at Port Royal “many showed the marks of their rough treatment at sea. The big sidewheel steam, Winfield Scott, came in dismasted, and with a great patch of canvas over her bows, looking like a man with a broken head. Other had lost smoke-stacks, or stove bulwarks or wheel-houses.”John Call Dalton

 

USS Winfield Scott, dismasted in the Expedition Hurricane of 1861, made port at Port Royal, SC.

USS Winfield Scott, dismasted in the Expedition Hurricane of 1861, made port at Port Royal, SC.

Some of the other ships were forced to return home for repairs, but the majority rode out the storm successfully.

The expedition proceeded onward to Port Royal Sound for the Battle of Port Royal.  Among the ships joining the rendezvous at Port Royal Sound was the USS St Lawrence. The St. Lawrence had come from blockade duty off St. Simons Island, GA.

USS St Lawrence, US Southern Blockade Squadron, was stationed off St. Simons Island, GA

USS St Lawrence, US Southern Blockade Squadron, was stationed off St. Simons Island, GA

 

The expedition arrived at Port Royal, South Carolina, November 4th, when it was greeted by Commodore Tattnall and his mosquito fleet; which soon withdrew in disgust. On the following day, Commodore Tattnall renewed his “attack,” but a few shots from our big guns effectually disposed of him. The 6th, the weather being stormy, nothing was done.

Surrender of Forts Walker and Beauregard.

On the morning of November 7th, Commodore Dupont engaged the Confederate forts, Beauregard, of 32 guns, and Walker, of 15 guns; the Wabash leading the way, and the other war ships and gunboats following. The batteries from the shore replied with spirit. The action commenced at twenty minutes past nine, A. M., and lasted until half-past two, P. M., when the batteries were silenced, the forts evacuated, and the Stars and Stripes planted on South Carolina soil. Soon after, the Seventh Connecticut regiment landed and took possession of Fort Walker; and on the following morning our flag waved over Fort Beauregard. Beaufort was also temporarily occupied, the whole white population, with the exception of one man, having fled. The Confederate troops, estimated at full 5,000, retreated before the Federal troops could land, leaving arms, baggage, and personal valuables behind. The Federal loss was 8 killed and 23 wounded  –Edgar Albert Werner

The cannonade was so intense the sounds of the Battle of Port Royal could be heard by the 29th Georgia Regiment 60 miles away on Sapelo Island.

The hurricane of November 1-2, 1861 which preceded the battle is known as the Expedition Hurricane because of its influence on the fleet.

Related Posts

Ships of the Great Naval Expedition

New York Times
October 26, 1861

THE GUNBOAT FLEET.

We are now enabled to give the names of all the vessels engaged in this great expedition. The gunboats are all well armed and manned. Vessels like the Unadilla, Seneca, Pembina and Ottawa, each carry one 11-inch Dahlgren, one Parrott rifled gun, and two 24-pound howitzers. The names of the gunboats are:

Vessel, Commander.

      1. USS Seminole ………………..J.P. Gillies.
      2. USS Mohican …………………Godon.
      3. USS Florida …………………..Gildsborough.
      4. USS Pocahontas ……………….Drayton.
      5. USS James Adger ……………..Marchand.
      6. USS Augusta ………………….Parrott.
      7. USS Alabama………………….Lanier.
      8. USS Unadilla ………………….N. Collins.
      9. USS Ottawa …………………..Thos. H. Stevens.
      10. USS Seneca ………………….Daniel Aminen.
      11. USS Pawnee ………………….R.H. Wyman.
      12. USS Pembina ………………….Bankhead.
      13. USS Isaac Smith ……………….Nicholson.
      14. USS R.B. Forbes ………………Newcomb.
      15. USS Curlew ……………………Watmough.
      16. USS Penguin ………………….Budd.

      In addition to these vessels, all of which are steamers, there are now on the station, and to join the squadron,
      Vessel, tonnage, Commander, station
      <

      1. USS Sabine ……………………………(50,) Capt. RINGGOLD, at present blockading Charleston;
      2. USS Susquehannah……………. (15,) Capt. LARDNER;
      3. USS Flag………………………….. Commander RODGERS; off Savannah
      4. USS Savannah……………. (24,) Commander MISSRGOM, off Savannah
      5. USS St. Lawrence……………. (50.) Capt. PURVIANCE, off St. Simon’s Island, GA
      6. USS Dale…………….(16,) Commander YARD, off Fernandina, FL
      7. Vandalia……………. (20,) Commander HAGGERTY, recently off Bale’s Bay, S.C., but just returned to Hampton Roads;
      8. Governor……………. (transport,) Capt. C.L. LITCHFIELD, with Major REYNOLDS’ Battalion of Marines.
        The entire armament of the fleet is about 400 guns.

THE TRANSPORT FLEET
STEAMSHIPS.

Vessel. Tonnage. Commander.

 

  1. Baltic………………2,723……………Comstock.
  2. Ocean Queen……….2,802……………Seabury.
  3. Vanderbilt…………..3,360……………La Favre.
  4. Illinois…………….2,123……………Rathburn.
  5. Star of the South…… 960……………Kearnly.
  6. Marion…………….. 860……………Phillips.
  7. Parkersburgh………. 715……………Hoffman.
  8. Matanzas………….. 875……………Leesburg.
  9. Cahawba…………..1,643……………Baker.
  10. Empire City………..1,751……………Baxter.
  11. Ariel……………….1,295……………Terry.
  12. Daniel Webster……..1,035……………Johnston.
  13. Coatzacoalcos………1,953……………Botcock.
  14. Roanoke……………1,071……………Conch.
  15. Ericsson……………1,902……………Cowles.
  16. Oriental……………. — ……………Tuzo.
  17. Potomac…………… 448……………Hilliard.
  18. Locust Point……….. 462……………French.
  19. Philadelphia………..1,236……………Barton.
  20. Spalding…………… — …………… —
  21. Winfield Scott……… — …………… —
  22. Atlantic…………….2,815…………… —
  23. Belvidere………….. — ……………Phillips.
  24. Ben. Deford…………1,080…………… —
  25. Mayflower, (ferryboat.)
  26. Philadelphia, (ferryboat.)
  27. Baltimore, (ferryboat.)
  28. Eagle, (ferryboat.)
  29. Star, (ferryboat.)
  30. Pocahontas, (ferryboat.)
  31. Commodore Perry, (ferryboat.)

SAILING VESSELS.

Vessel. Tonnage.

  1. Great Republic….. 3,356
  2. Zenas Coffin…….. 338
  3. Ocean Express…..1,697
  4. Golden Eagle…… 1,128All these transport vessels are armed. They carry ordnance and Quartermaster’s stores, two houses in frame work, bricks in large quantity, about 1,500 shovels, the same number of picks, sand bags, horses, boats for landing men and guns through the surf, and every other article likely to be required for a campaign.

A Jim Crow Comb

Georgia Telfair, born into slavery on a Georgia plantation about 1864, was interviewed in 1938 as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA).  She talked about African-American folk life in the period after the war. In one passage she mentions how enslaved people cared for their hair,

“Ma combed our hair with a Jim Crow comb, or card, as some folks called ’em. If our hair was bad nappy she put some cotton in the comb to keep it from pulling so bad, ’cause it was awful hard to comb.”  – Georgia Telfair

The most common tool slaves relied on for combing out their hair were the cards used in carding wool. – Reenact This

Wool cards were used by African-Americans to comb out tangled hair. In this use they came to be known as Jim Crow combs. Image source: http://reenactthis.blogspot.com/2013/10/african-american-hair-wrapping-and-hair.html

Wool cards were used by African-Americans to comb out tangled hair. In this use they came to be known as Jim Crow combs. Image source: http://reenactthis.blogspot.com/2013/10/african-american-hair-wrapping-and-hair.html

Historical context and empirical findings on skin tone

In American history, slavery constituted a strict caste system that distinguished Black slaves by their skin tones. Lighter-skinned slaves were usually mixed-raced and favored by White slave-owners. These lighter-skinned slaves were frequently fathered by White slave-owners (typically from nonconsensual sexual relations with female slaves) and were, therefore, privileged (; ); unlike dark slaves, lighter-skinned slaves were spared physically strenuous, outdoor work and instead held domestic indoor jobs like housekeeping in closer contact to Whites. Over time, these privileges in the antebellum period allowed lighter-skinned Blacks to become more educated () and to own more property (). Furthermore, to maintain their elite status and privileges, lighter-skinned men engaged in social practices to exclude darker-skinned Blacks from entering their social circles; these practices included the “Paper Bag Test,” (which banned Blacks from joining fraternities if their skin tones were darker than a brown paper bag), the “Comb test,” (which banned Blacks with coarse, nappy African hair if combs could not glide through it) and the “Blue veins” society (which banned Blacks whose skin tones were too dark to see the blue veins on their arms) (). These findings consistently indicated that light skin tone resulted in clear social and economic advantages.

According to historians Shane White and Graham White,

Interviews with former slaves also frequently describe African American hair-styling practices and reveal something of what those practices meant. African-American women’s hair, though probably shorter than in the previous century, could soon become tangled and unmanageable if uncared for. This problem must have particularly affected field slaves, whose typical labor regime, stretching each day from “can see” to can’t see” and often involving cooking and mending duties as well, made adequate care of the hair difficult, if not impossible. Only on Sundays, their day off, could slaves find the time for grooming and styling, with whatever implements they could locate. Former slave James Williams recalled for his W.P.A. interviewer how the “old folks” used continually to talk about how much harder the life had been before freedom came. “Said the only time the slaves had to comb their hair was on Sunday. They would comb and roll each others hair and the men cut each others hair. That all the time they got. The would roll the children’s hair or keep it cut short.” Removing tangles must have been a painful process. Jane Morgan explained that “we carded our hair ’cause we never had no combs, but the cards they worked better. We used the cards to card wool with also, and we just wet our hair then card it. The cards they had wooden handles and strong steel wire teeth.” (The cards referred to here were implements used to prepare washed fleece for spinning, to make the fibers lie evenly in one direction.) Recalling his childhood on a large South Carolina plantation, Jacob Stroyer told how, before each inspection of the slave children by the plantation owner and his wife, attempts were made “to straighten out our unruly wools with some small cards, or Jim-crows,” as they were called. On one such occasion, and old woman had attempted to comb his hair straight, but “as she hitched the teeth of the instrument in my unyielding wool with her great masculine hand, of course I was jerked flat on my back. This was the common fate of most of my associates.” Aunt Tildy Collins’ account of the preparation of slave children for Sunday school is equally graphic: ” Us children hate to see Sunday come, cause Mammy and Granmammy they wash us and near about rub the skin off getting us clean for Sunday school, and they comb our heads with a jim crow. You ain’t never seed a jim crow? It most like a card what you card wool with. What a card look like? Humph! Missy, where you been raise – ain’t never seed a card? That jim crow sure did hurt, but us had to stand it, and sometimes after all that, mammy she wrap our kinky hair with thread and twist so tight us’s eyes couldn’t hardly shut.” – Stylin’: African American Expressive Culture from Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit

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A Log Rolling in Old Lowndes County, GA

When Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte arrived at Franklinville, GA in the fall of 1836, he became perhaps the first surgeon in Lowndes County, GA, which then encompassed a vast area including most of present day Lowndes, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Lanier and Echols counties. Motte was the first of the medical men anywhere in the vicinity of the pioneer homesteaders at the settlement now known as Ray City, GA. Dr. Motte, a U.S. Army surgeon detailed to serve under the command of Major Greenleaf Dearborn, had come to Franklinville, GA at the onset of the Second Seminole War.

1836 map showing relative location of Franklinville, Camp Townsend, Camp Clyatt, Squire Swilley's, Warner's Ferry and other locations. Source: A Journey into Wilderness

1836 map showing relative location of Franklinville, Camp Townsend, Camp Clyatt, Squire Swilley’s, Warner’s Ferry and other locations. Source: A Journey into Wilderness

While encamped at Camp Townsend, Lowndes County, GA in 1836, Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte recorded many details of local folk life, which continued despite the threat of Indian attacks. In the fall of 1836 Dr. Motte  and Major Thomas Staniford were invited to a log rolling event held at the home of an unnamed Lowndes County resident.

A log rolling. Pioneers clearing the land.

A log rolling. Pioneers clearing the land.

Log Rolling was, according to Ward’s History of Coffee County, GA,

When a farmer decided to clear up a piece of land he split every tree on the land that would split into fence rails. The logs that would not split were cut up into pieces twelve or fifteen feet long to be burned at some convenient time in the fall or winter. The farmer gave a “log rolling, quilting and a frolic.” The neighbors were invited to a big dinner and a “log rolling.” The wives and daughters came to sew and to quilt.

As with many southern narratives, historical accounts of log rollings tend to ignore the role of enslaved African-Americans in the settlement of the southern frontier. Dr. Motte’s journal does not acknowledge the presence of slaves.  But slave narratives from Alabama recorded by the Works Project Administration relate, “When they had a log rolling on a plantation, the Negroes from the neighboring plantations came and worked together until all the jobs were completed.” After the log rolling the slaves were given “molasses to make candy and have a big folic.” For slaves, log rolling:

was great times, cause if some of the neighboring plantations wanted to get up a house, they would invite all the slaves, men and women to come with their masters. The women would help with the cooking and you may be sure they had something to cook. They would kill a cow, or three or four hogs, and then have peas, cabbage, and everything that grows on the farm. And if there was any meat or food left they would give that to the slaves to take home, and just before dark the overseer or Ol’ Master would give the slaves all the whiskey they wanted to drink. Sometimes after the days work, they would have a frolic, such as dancing, and old time games.

Cordelia Thomas, born into slavery on a Georgia plantation, shared the following memories of log rolling:

On our place they spent about two whole days cookin’ and gittin’ ready. Master asked everybody from far and nigh, and they always come ’cause they know he was going to give ’em a good old time. The way they rolled them logs was a sight, and the more good corn liquor Master passed ’round, the faster them logs rolled. Come night time, Master had a big bonfire built up and set lots of pitch-pine torches ’round so as there would be plenty of light for ’em to see how to eat that fine supper what had done been set out for ’em. After supper, they danced nigh all the rest of the night. Mammy used to tell us ’bout the frolics next day, ’cause us children was made to go to bed at sundown.

Irving Lowery, born into slavery on Puddin Swamp plantation, South Carolina, described the significance of log rolling in slave life:

A day was set on which the log-rolling was to take place, and then invitations were sent out to the neighboring planters, and each sent a hand. This work was returned when the others had their log-rolling. A log-rolling always meant a good dinner of the best, and lots of fun, as well as a testing of manhood. This testing of manhood was something that everybody was interested in. The masters were concerned, and consequently they selected and sent to the log-rolling their ablest-bodied men; the slave women were concerned: for they wanted their husbands and sweethearts to be considered the best men of the community. Then, too, the men took great pride in the development of their muscles. They took delight in rolling up their shirt sleeves, and displaying the largeness of their arms. In some cases, their muscles presented the appearance of John L. Sullivan–the American pugilist.

The woodlands of the South were covered with a variety of trees and undergrowth. Among the trees, were to be found the majestic pine, the sturdy oak, the sweet maple, the lovely dogwood, and the fruitful and useful hickory. When a piece of woodland was cleared up, and made ready for planting, it was called “new ground.” In clearing up new ground, the undergrowth was grubbed up and burned; the oaks, maples, dogwood, and hickories were cut down, split up, and hauled to the house for firewood; and the pines were belted or cut round, and left to die. After these pines had died and partially decayed, the winter’s storms, from year to year, would blow them down: hence the necessity for the annual log-rolling. These log-rollings usually took place in the spring of the year. They formed an important part of the preparations for the new crop.

On the appointed day, the hands came together at the yard, and all necessary arrangements were made, the most important of which was the pairing or matching of the men for the day’s work. In doing this, regard was had to the height and weight of the men. They were to lift in pairs, therefore, it was necessary that they should be as nearly the same height and weight as possible. The logs have all been cut about twenty feet in length, and several good, strong hand sticks have been made. Now, everything is ready, and away to the fields they go. See them as they put six hand-sticks under a great big log. This means twelve men–one at each end of the hand-stick. It is going to be a mighty testing of manhood. Every man is ordered to his place. The captain gives the order, “Ready,” and every man bows to his burden, with one hand on the end of the handstick, and the other on the log to keep it from rolling. The next command given by the captain is, “Altogether!” and up comes the big log. As they walk and stagger toward the heap, they utter a whoop like what is known as the “Rebel yell.” If one fails to lift his part, he is said to have been “pulled down,” and therefore becomes the butt of ridicule for the balance of the day. When the women folks learn of his misfortune, they forever scorn him as a weakling.

At 12 o’clock the horn blows for dinner, and they all knock off, and go, and enjoy a good dinner. After a rest, for possibly two hours, they go to the field again, and finish up the work for the day. Such was the log-rolling in the “days before the war.”

At a subsequent day the women and children gather up the bark and limbs of these fallen trees and throw or pile them on these log heaps and burn them. When fifty or seventy-five log heaps would be fully ablaze in the deepening of the evening twilight, the glare reflected from the heavens made it appear that the world was on fire. To even the benighted and uneducated slave, the sight was magnificent, and one of awe-inspiring beauty.

As an urbanite, Dr. Motte was unfamiliar with the frontier traditions of log rolling. According to Encyclopedia.Com,

A farmer chopped enough logs for a log rolling only when he had to clear acreage, so chopping frolics and log rollings primarily took place on the frontier. Work frolics derived from similar European and African traditions of communal agricultural labor. An individual, family, or community confronted with a task too large to complete on its own invited neighbors to help them. In return, the host provided refreshments and revelry. Work frolics composed a vital segment of the rural economy in America until the late nineteenth century. For over 200 years, the relatively low cost of renting or owning land in America resulted in a shortage of rural wage laborers. Faced with scarce labor and high wages for the few laborers available, farmers relied on the work frolic as a means for exchanging labor. Attendance at a work frolic granted neighbors the right to call on the host when they needed help. Besides meeting economic realities, work frolics contributed to the formation of communities by tying people into local networks of obligation.

Farmers called work frolics to accomplish a range of tasks, including corn husking, house (or barn) raising, quilting, sewing, apple butter making, chopping wood, log rolling, sugar (or syrup) making, spinning, hunting, and nut cracking. These events required planning and preparation [and followed] seasonal cycles of agriculture…To ensure farmers did not deplete their labor force by planning frolics on the same day, families collaborated to produce a frolic schedule. Hosts also finished preliminary tasks to allow visitors to focus on the large projects that the host family could not complete alone… Competition drove workers to accomplish their tasks quickly… Log-rolling teams strove to move the most wood. Obligatory reciprocity promised hosts that their neighbors would show up, but the party after the work served as a secondary lure. Most workers felt short-changed when hosts did not meet traditional expectations of decent food and alcohol. Entertainment at the parties consisted of music and dancing.

Ward’s History explains how the task was done in a competitive spirit.

The method of rolling logs was to take hand spikes, prize up the log, and put about three hand spikes under the log with two men to each stick, one on each side of the log. Many a contest in strength was made in lifting logs. If the log was very heavy, the men had to be very strong in their arms, legs and backs to lift. If the man at the other end of the stick was not likewise a very strong man, he could not come up with his end of the log and so he became the laughing stock of the crowd. It often happened that a small man was much stronger than a big man. I knew one little man who could lift as heavy a log as any man; the harder he pulled at his hand spike, redder and redder his face got, the veins in his neck bulged larger and larger. When a man claimed he was very much of a man and then wanted the light end of the load he would bluff the crowd by saying, ” I can carry this and then some. Jump on my end of the log and take a ride.”

While the men were busy rolling logs in the fields, the women and girls at home were busy making quilts and cooking dinner. One of the main dishes for dinner was a sixty-gallon sugar boiler full of rice and chicken and backbones. The largest dinner pot was full of greens and dumplings. When the greens were served on the largest dish a boiled ham was placed on top, while sweet potatoes, cracklin bread, potatoes, mudgen [lard] and cakes, two-story biscuits which were served in large quantities. When dinner time comes some one blows a big cow horn loud and long. All hands took a drink and went to dinner. All sorts of dishes are used on the table, broken cups, cracked plates, knives without handles, forks with but one prong, but they all had a good dinner and a bushel of fun while they ate.  When the log rolling and quilting is over and the sun sets into the West, old Bill Mundy, the colored man, came in with his fiddle. A lot of sand was put on the floor and everything is cleared for the dance. The dancers get on the floor with their partners, the fiddler starts up “the One-eyed Gopher,” and the frolic is on. The tune “One-eyed Gopher played by the fiddler was a repetition of the words, “Oh, the one-eyed gopher, he fell down and couldn’t turn over,” etc. He would play it high, play it fast, and play it slow. When the dancing was over, “They got Sandy Moore to beat the strings while he played “Squirrel Gravy,” and thus the frolic ended.

Dr. Motte wrote in his journal about the Lowndes County log rolling, which was held about six miles from Camp Townsend:

“[The host] and candidate for the legislature having given out that on a particular day he intended to have a log-rolling, quilting, and dancing frolic, and having sent an especial message to Major Staniford and myself to attend; our curiosity was excited to witness the originality of such an affair of which we had heard, but never witnessed; so we determined to go.

Thomas Staniford, major of the Regiment stationed near Franklinville, GA in 1836.

Thomas Staniford, major of the Regiment stationed near Franklinville, GA in 1836.

We had to ride six miles and arrived there about sun-set not caring much to participate in the log-rolling part of the entertainment; the [host] was busily engaged erecting a long table out of rough boards in the open air; while his wife was as busily engaged in cooking pork and cabbage in the kitchen, into which we were invited, being informed that it was the reception room. We there found the company assembled, and on entering would have removed our hats, to show our breeding in the presence of the fairer sex; on looking round, however, we noticed that such a procedure would not have been in conformity with the rules or customs of the company, and being decidedly outré would only have exposed us to their ridicule; so quaker-fashion we remained; and the fair angels whose gaze were fixed upon us, seemed by their approving smiles not to take our conduct amiss, – probably liked us the better for appearing to disregard their presence. The pork and cabbage were in due time dispatched, and a few of the gentlemen put to bed, in consideration of not being able to use their legs from a too free use of our host’s whiskey.

Then began preparations for the double-shuffle. There were three fiddlers; but unfortunately for the exercise of their united talents, only one fiddle; and that deficient in some of its strings. The three votaries of Apollo therefore exercised their functions successively upon the cracked instrument, and did not fail to produce such sounds as would have attracted the admiration of even the mighty goddess of Discord herself. Their chief merit seemed to consist in all producing a similar concatenation of sounds, which they persisted in dignifying with the appellation of tune; the name of which, however, was more that the brightest faculties could call.

The Major could not be induced to venture his carcase in the violent exercise of double-shuffle and cross-fling; so I had to support the credit of our camp by my own exertions; and so successfully, that the [host] was in raptures, and made an attempt to exhibit his admiration by embracing me before the whole company; but I could not stand such a flattering display, so bolted.

The intervals of the dance were filled up by the gentlemen handing round in a tumbler, what I thought was whisky and water, but which the Major asserted, from closer in inspection, was unadulterated whiskey; the younger ladies were generally satisfied with one or two mouthfuls from each tumbler, but as the same ceremony was to be gone through with each gentleman in rapid succession, the fairest of creation did not lose their proper allowance. The old ladies, who were veterans in the business, never loosened their grasp of the tumblers until their lips had drained the last drop of the precious liquid. As a necessary consequence it was impossible for them to sit up long, and soon all the beds were occupied by these ancient dames; the gentlemen who afterwards got into a similar predicament were compelled to lie wherever they fell.

At one o’clock fighting commenced, when the Major and myself, not being ambitious of distinguishing ourselves in the pugilistic art, made a retreat; and at two in the morning we were in our tents, after a bitter cold ride.

 

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Ray City Blues

John Guthrie

During the 1920s and 30s in Ray City, GA the emergence of the Blues music genre in the local African-American community reflected its birth in the Mississippi Delta.  Folk musician, John Guthrie (1911-1985), was just a young white kid with a keen interest in music when he developed deep admiration for the talent of black musicians performing in the turpentine “Quarters” of Ray City, GA.

 

John Elwood Guthrie (1911-1985) , folk musician and merchant of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

John Elwood Guthrie (1911-1985) , folk musician and merchant of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

According to Allaboutjazz.com, “The Blues has deep roots in American history, particularly African-American history. The blues originated on Southern plantations in the 19th century. Its inventors were slaves, ex-slaves and the descendants of slaves – African-American sharecroppers who sang as they toiled in the cotton and vegetable fields. It’s generally accepted that he music evolved from African spirituals, African chants, work songs, field hollers, rural fife and drum music, revivalist hymns, and country dance music.

Then, “The African American music combined with the folk music of white European settlers to produce new styles of music.

In a 1977 recording, Guthrie talks of local African-American pioneers of glass slides and crying strings, and plays a brief medley of Rocking Chair Blues, “a traditional oral formular that has been used in any number of songs” according to Brian Hoskin,  and Jimmie Rodgers 1929 “Blue Yodel #6 (Blues Like Midnight).  As a young man during the Great Depression, John Guthrie sometimes impersonated Jimmie Rodgers in hopes of obtaining a free meal.

John Guthrie (recorded 1977

Folks, I’d like to go back a little bit through ages. When I was just a kid and bought my first guitar I used to go down to a place they called the “Quarters.”

Now, I want to explain that a little bit further – the Quarters. We used to have turpentine stills in this part of the country. The man that owned turpentine stills, he would build shacks or shanties down for the black people to live in. Down in those shanties or shacks they would have a little place down there where they sold soda pop…well, the colored people called it ‘soady waters.’

I’d go down there and they’d have a guitar player down there and he’d have a bottle neck on the end of his finger and he’d be playing these old black tunes. There is no white man that can play a tune just like that black man could play one.

At this time I’m going to do the best I can about the way them guys used to play guitar. They’d pull the strings and it would whine and they call it ‘cryin’ strings, now if you know what I mean.

I’m going down to the river
I’m going to take me a rocking chair
I’m going down to the river
I’m going to take me a rocking chair
And if the blues don’t leave me,
Lord I’ll rock on away from here

I got the blues like midnight
Moon shinin’ bright as day
I got the blues like midnight
Moon shinin’ bright as day
I wish a tornado would come
and blow my blues away.

Folk musician Jimmy Rodgers recorded a series of Blue Yodel songs from 1927 to his death in 1933. “Rogers’ background in blackface minstrel shows and as a railroad worker enabled him to develop a unique musical hybridization drawing from both black and white traditions, as exemplified in the Blue Yodel sounds. In his recordings Rodgers and his producer, Ralph Peer, achieved a “vernacular combination of blues, jazz, and traditional folk” to produce a style of music then called ‘hillbilly.” Rodgers’ Blue Yodel #6, also known as Blues Like Midnight, was recorded in 1929 and has been covered by Wanda Jackson, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Allman Brothers, among others.

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Causton’s Bluff Part 2:  Challenge from Tybee

Causton’s Bluff Part 2:  Challenge from Tybee

In the spring and summer of 1862, the Berrien Minute Men, Company D (Company K after reorganization), 29th Georgia Infantry were garrisoned at stations defending Savannah, GA.  Since mustering into service a year earlier, the Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  had been made along the Georgia coast, with the 13th Regiment at Brunswick,  then at Sapelo Island, and Darien, GA.  By early 1862 The Berrien Minute Men,  having gotten “regulated” into the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment  were sent to the Savannah, GA area to garrison Camp Wilson and Camp Tattnall.

On February 21, 1862 Berrien Minute Men, Company C, were detached to serve on the Savannah River Batteries. In early April 1862 Federal incursions on Whitemarsh Island below Causton’s Bluff would precipitate the transfer of Berrien Minute Men, Company D and other companies of the  29th Georgia Regiment from Camp Tattnall to the bluff to reinforce the Confederate position there.  (Company A, Captain Billopp’s Georgia Foresters, were sent to Hutchinson’s Island. The Alapaha Guards (Company E) and 17th Patriots (Company K) were on picket duty at Screven’s Ferry, SC on the Savannah River just opposite Fort Jackson. On May 14th they captured seven federal soldiers who were released to federal authorities a few days later according to communications in the Savannah Daily Morning News, May 19, 1862.)

  1. Causton’s Bluff Part 1: The Key to Savannah
  2. Causton’s Bluff Part 2: Challenge from Tybee
  3. Causton’s Bluff Part 3: War on Whitemarsh Island
  4. Causton’s Bluff Part 4: Arrival of the 29th Georgia Regiment

Prior to the arrival of the Berrien Minute Men at Causton’s Bluff, the position was garrisoned by the 13th Georgia Regiment which experienced frequent night-time alerts.  Some of these were false alarms, but many were in response to Federal incursions on the creeks and islands below the bluff.

Commanding officers of the 46th NY Regiment garrisoned on Tybee Island east of Savannah were well aware that Confederate gun batteries were being placed around the city.

Officers of the 46th New York Infantry Regiment

Officers of the 46th New York Infantry Regiment.  The 46th NY garrisoned Tybee Island, GA in 1862. Image Source: New York State Military Museum

The 46th New York volunteers made the Tybee Light Station their Headquarters and it was “the base of operations for the seige of Fort Pulaski… Temporary barracks were built on the lighthouse grounds and defensive positions were taken up around the Martello Tower, which was refortified with earthwork batteries.” – Tybee Island: The Long Branch of the South.

The Federals on Tybee Island also welcomed escaped enslaved people who managed to find their way to the Island.

Following the capture of Port Royal, SC [and Tybee Island, GA] by Union Naval forces in November of 1861… escaping enslaved people began seeking asylum from naval vessels that were conducting reconnaissance along the coastal islands in March and April of 1862. Not having quarters for those who flocked to the boats, the US Navy established “contraband” camps at Otter Island, South Carolina and at the Naval post for Tybee Island in Georgia. – International African American Museum

1862 enumeration of escaped enslaved peoples living in "contraband" camp on Tybee Island, GA

1862 enumeration of escaped enslaved peoples living in “contraband” camp on Tybee Island, GA

The inventory records of the Union Provost Marshal give the names, age, height, former “occupation,” names, residence and “character” of former masters, date of arrival and present employment of those settled at the contraband camp.  The former slaves were employed as “officers servant,” laborers, boatmen, and oarsmen. These records have been transcribed at the International African American Museum

Tybee Island Light Station circa 1862

Tybee Island Light Station circa 1862

By February, 1862 the 46th NY Regiment was joined on Tybee by seven companies of the 7th Connecticut Regiment, a detachment of New York engineers and two companies of Rhode Island artillery.

Soldiers of the 1st New York Engineers

Soldiers of the 1st New York Engineers

Company F, 1st New York Engineers participated in the bombardment of Fort Pulaski

Company F, 1st New York Engineers participated in the bombardment of Fort Pulaski

Federal soldiers at the Martello Tower, Tybee Island, GA

Federal soldiers at the Martello Tower, Tybee Island, GA. Image source: Boston Athenaeum

The landing of [Federal] troops on Tybee Island greatly excited the Georgians. In a printed address sent out to the people of the State, signed by Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, Thomass R. R. Cobb and M. J. Crawford, we find the following language:

“The foot of the oppressor is on the soil of Georgia. He comes with lust in his eye, poverty in his purse, and hell in his heart. He comes a robber and a murderer. How shall you meet him? With the sword at the threshold! With death for him and yourself! But more than this – let every woman have a torch, every child a fire-brand – let the loved homes of youth be made ashes, and the fields of our heritage be made desolate. Let blackness and ruin mark your departing steps if depart you must, and let a desert more terrible the Sahara welcome the vandals. Let every city be leveled by the flames and every village be lost in ashes. Let your faithful slaves share your fortune and your crust. Trust wife and children to the sure refuge and protection of God – preferring even for these loved ones the charrnel-house as a home that loathsome vassalage to a nation already sunk below the contempt of the civilized world. This may be your terrible choice, and determine at once and without dissent, as honor and patriotism and duty to God require.

For the Berrien Minute Men, the strengthening Federal positions on Tybee Island would mean re-deployment from their present positions. Captain Thomas S. Wylly’s company of Berrien Minute Men (Company C) on the night of February 21, 1862  were ordered from Camp Wilson to Fort Jackson to relieve the Savannah Republican Blues, and were soon ordered to Lawton Battery on Smith’s Island in the Savannah River.  Berrien Minute Men Company D, under command of Captain Lamb, remained at Camp Tattnall with Major Levi J. Knight, Sr. and the rest of the 29th Georgia Regiment until April of 1862.

On Tybee Island, the Federals prepared gun emplacements to bombard Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island, and simultaneously they worked to cut off all supplies to the fort. The last remaining supply route to the fort was by way of Lazaretto Creek, which the Federals blockaded with the USS Montezuma.   The US Navy purchased Montezuma, a former whaling ship, at New London, CT on  November 29, 1861 originally intending to sink her as part of the second “stone fleet” of harbor obstructions on the Confederate coast.  Instead the Navy placed her in Lazaretto Creek, Georgia, in February 1862.

The fleet anchored the old wreck, Montezuma, at a point of three miles south of the fort [Pulaski] in the Lazaretto Creek. The Montezuma had been intended as a barrier to keep out steam ships. But when the traffic continued with small boats, Captain Anton Hinckel received orders to occupy the wreck with three guns and two companies of the 46th New York Infantry. The Montezuma was loaded with stones and had originally been intended to be sunk in the river along with 25 other worn-out ships to block the way to Savannah. Captain Hinckel and his troops spent the next eight weeks on the Montezuma. Regular patrols with row boats guarded the entrances and many of the nightly smugglers were caught. One of them was a slave who showed the Federal soldiers many secret connections to the fort, and thus it was possible to catch three more Rebels on the island of Wilmington. Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

A Federal map created December 31, 1861 showing the relative positions of the USS Montezuma (labeled "Hulk Scow" on Lazaretto Creek, Wilmington Island, Federal batteries on Tybee Island, and Fort Pulaski. To the west of Wilmington Islands are Whitemarsh Island, Oatland Island and Causton's Bluff [not shown].

An 1862 Federal map showing the relative positions of the USS Montezuma (labeled “Hulk Scow”) on Lazaretto Creek, Wilmington Island, Federal batteries on Tybee Island, and Fort Pulaski. To the west of Wilmington Islands are Whitemarsh Island, Oatland Island and Causton’s Bluff [not shown].

On February 17, 1862 Robert E. Lee wrote to Col. Olmestead at Fort Pulaski with recommendations on repositioning the cannon placements and strengthening defenses against cannonfire from Tybee Island. General Lee also advised, “For the present your communication with the city will have to be by light boats over the marsh and through Wilmington Narrows to Causton’s Bluff…”  The obstruction of Lazaretto Creek by the hulk USS Montezuma on February 22, 1862 cut off the last possible resupply route to the Confederate garrison at  Fort Pulaski.  Perhaps as a signal, the Federals also demonstrated against the fort. At Fort Pulaski, Lt. Theodorick W. Montfort, Oglethorpe Light Infantry, wrote the following day,

“On yesterday Morning, [February 22, 1862] the Yankees opened fire on our Garrison & fired several shots, none of which done any harm. On yesterday evening on Dress Parade while our men were formed in the yard they fired a rifle shell, which passed near us. There was considerable merriment at the expense of those who ran or dodged. I did not do either, yet I assure you to hear a large shell or ball whistling through the air which you can hear for three miles is not a very pleasant sound. Yet I find that men will soon become accustomed to danger as they will to any & evry thing else. Yet to us it is all excitement & amusement. It is good we have something to excite & amuse us.”

Coincidentally,  February 22, 1862 was the date that the Constitution of the Confederate States of America went into effect, assuring to white southern citizens the “right of property in negro slaves.”

For a while, couriers on foot were still able to sneak mail in and out of Fort Pulaski, although many were captured by Federal patrols.  “Several of our men & mails have been captured either in getting to or returning from Savannah. They have to select some dark night & walk some five miles through a marsh from one to three feet deep in mud before they pass the Yankees that are spread over the Marsh day & night to watch & capture our men.” On the night of February 25, Federal boats patrolled around Cockspur Island and fired on Confederate pickets causing a general alarm. The garrison was again aroused and under arms on the night of the 26th, when anxious Pulaski pickets mistakenly shot a horse.

Fort Pulaski was expected to hold out for quite some time against a Federal siege, but the Confederates were immediately prompted  to further strengthen the remaining Savannah defenses. The battery at Causton’s Bluff was manned as critical link in the inner chain of Savannah defensive works immediately around the city.

Supervision of the construction of Confederate batteries at Causton’s Bluff and placement of obstructions on St. Augustine Creek  was assigned by General Robert E. Lee to Captain Josiah Tattnall, senior flag officer of the Navy of Georgia.  At the bluff, the gun battery was in a position to protect the back of Fort Lee which was across the marsh on the south bank of the Savannah River. Captain Miller Bond Grant, of the Engineer Corps, had immediate charge of the construction at Causton’s Bluff and also of a considerable portion of the defensive works around Savannah.

Work on construction of fortifications at Causton’s Bluff Battery began in earnest that same month, along with construction of breastworks and batteries near Fort Jackson. At the behest of General Robert E. Lee, the Savannah City Council furnished “from two to three hundred negro laborers ‘for the purpose of throwing up breastworks.'”  The Confederates were already using slave labor to construct and support defenses. At Fort Pulaski, slaves were used to clear out the moat and put the fort in fighting order. There, wrote Charles Olmstead, “[In the summer of 1861] our cooks were all Negroes and it goes without saying that strong measures had to be used to keep them up to the mark. If a kitchen did not meet the requirements of Authority of the Cook was promptly laid over a brass drum and a good paddling administered with a shingle while his associates stood grinning around. The efficaciousness of this plan is shown by the fact that it had to be resorted to only twice that I can remember; it broke no bones but ensured clean kitchens. I recommend the method to housekeepers with inefficient or careless servants.” On December 2, 1861, Edward Clifford Anderson, supervisor of armaments for the river batteries, wrote in his diary, “Four of my negroes from the plantation were drafted by the Engineering Dept and sent to work on Skidaway Island” and on January 3, 1862 Confederate engineer Dr. Cheves was on a small mud island in the Savannah River above Fort Jackson, “with a gang of negroes was at work establishing a foundation, preliminary to throwing up breastworks – This point was known as the “Naval Battery.

Captain Miller Bond Grant received a letter from his cousin Hugh Fraser Grant, rice planter of Elizafield Plantation on the Altamaha River, that Elizafield could provide slaves to work on the Savannah fortifications (Elizafield Plantation Record).

Dear Miller,
Fraser [Grant, Jr] informs me the Govmt is desirous of twenty hands to work on the fortifications about Savh &ct. That they offer $45 per month for each man & to furnish them with food tools & medical attend to & the only expense I am to bear is the clothing. That you are to have them especially under your superintendence & for your care and attention you are to receive $5 per month for each man. All of which I am satisfied with & can furnish 15 or 16 men upon their terms – At present 2 or 3 of the men are hired out by the month & soon as the time is out can be sent on to you.
When Dr. [Daniel H. B.] Troup & my hands were then some time since under the charge of Mr [Landsell?], they were very badly fed . This Mr. [Landsell?] assured me was the case. If my Negroes go on now I wish them to be fed agreeable to the contract. Do you wish a driver for the gang and do you they allow extra for him. Hope I may hear from you this evening whether they require women as I can send a few of them & what price for the women. I should suppose they will require one woman to at least to cook & wash your mess. Does the Govmt furnish transportation both ways?

Carpenter

Grant enslaved some 124 African American people on his Elizafield Plantation. His son-in-law, Daniel H. B. Troup, was a signer of the Georgia Ordinance of Secession, along with John Carroll Lamb, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men.

Over the summer of 1862, military leaders would call for thousands more slaves to build defensive works around Savannah.

The Confederate States Army ran want ads for slaves to build defensive works around Savannah. Slave owners were assured they would be compensated for the work of their slaves and that the slaves would be well cared for.

The Confederate States Army ran want ads for slaves to build defensive works around Savannah. Slave owners were assured they would be compensated for the work of their slaves and that the slaves would be well cared for.

Savannah Republican
July 3, 1862

Negroes Wanted

C. S. Engineer’s Office
Savannah, June 24, 1862

      One Thousand Negroes are wanted for the completion of important works in the neighborhood of Savannah.
      By order of Brigadier General Mercer, commanding, the undersigned appeals to the Planters of Georgia to furnish this force without delay.
      The value of each negro entrusted to this Department will be appraised immediately and recorded. A receipt will be given for the negro, containing his value, certified by the appraisers. Should he in any way fall into the hands of the enemy, his value so appraised will be refunded to the owner or owners.
      The following terms are offered:
      Field Hand – $11.00 per month, with food, quarters, and medical attendance.
      Carpenters – $17.00 per month, with food, quarters, and medical attendance.
      Plantation Drivers – $20.00 per month, with food, quarters and medical attendance.
      Transportation, by railroad, also furnished.
      N. B – Dr. Thomas A. Parsons, of Burke county, Ga., is appointed Agent of this office, to procure laborers, according to the above advertisement.
By order Brig, Gen. Mercer.
                                      JNO. McCRADY
                                     Capt. C.S.P. Engineers, in charge.
***Macon, Augusta, Milledgeville, Thomasville, and Sandersville papers will publish weekly for one month and send bills to this office.

By order of Brigadier General Hugh Weedon Mercer each county was to contribute 20 percent of its slave labor force to build the defenses of Savannah. Only 10 percent of the slaves could be women. For every lot of 100 slaves, the counties could provide their own overseer, to be paid by the Army. The Army would resort to forcible seizure in any county where planters failed to contribute their quota of slaves.

The War in America: Negroes at Work on the Fortifications at Savannah.--From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.; Illustrated London News. vol.42, no.1199, p. 433. April 18, 1863

The War in America: Negroes at Work on the Fortifications at Savannah.–From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.; Illustrated London News. vol.42, no.1199, p. 433. April 18, 1863

“But some close, narrow-minded planters,” wrote Captain Mercer,  “evinced great opposition to this necessary order, denouncing it as tyrannical &c, they would rather subject our white Georgians to hard work in this terrible weather than spare a few of their slaves.”  Mercer, a native of Savannah, was a son of General Hugh Weedon Mercer and great grandson of Cyrus Griffin, who in 1788 was President of the Continental Congress.  Lt. Mercer was educated at Russell Military Academy, New Haven, CT;  took preparatory study under Dr. William T. Feay, a professor of Chemistry and Pharmacy at Oglethorpe Medical College; received a Master of Arts from Princeton College; and studied law at the University of Virginia.  Mercer’s  diary of Civil War experiences also relates his  disgust with profiteering by Confederate civilians: “A greedy desire to get rich seems to pervade all. One of the most agravated cases I have heard of consist in the charge of $3.50 per day for the use of an old Flat not worth $300; this Flat is used by the picket at Causton’s Bluff as a means of crossing the river, and belongs to Dickerson.”

The headquarters at the bluff was in a house that had served as the home of the overseer  of Habersham family’s rice plantation at Causton’s Bluff.  At the time the overseer’s home was built, about 1852, Robert Habersham owned at least 89 slaves who worked the plantation. “The overseer had objected to living all year at the plantation, because the miasma made the summer months unhealthful on rice plantations; so a new house was built for the overseer on the southern extremity of the plantation, some distance from the rice fields under cultivation.”

On February 28, 1862 units of 13th Georgia Regiment from Causton’s Bluff  encountered sentries from the Montezuma  who were patrolling the creeks around Wilmington Island in a small boat.

 A wild shootout followed in which one of the Rebels was killed along with two Union soldiers Johann Müller and Louis Herweg. Corporal Anton Mayer and his entire crew of 18 men were taken prisoner by the Rebels. Some of them had been wounded and Franz Etzold, a soldier, died a week later from his injuries. 

A second Federal patrol boat went undetected by the Confederates.

First Lieutenant Alphons Servière was with the second boat. He and his entire crew had to conceal themselves in the thick underbrush of the island. After two days they managed to return to the Montezuma – Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

 

Another night alert occurred on Tuesday, March 11, 1862 when the Confederate pickets on Whitemarch Island made contact with Federal Scouts. At Battery Beaulieu (pronounced “Bewly”) twelve miles below Savannah on the sea-island cotton plantation of John Schley,  “...at 1 Oclock in the knight we was ordered out on the perade ground and we loded our guns to go to Whitmarsh Island [where] the Yanks made an attack on our men,” wrote Isaiah Smith, a private of Company K, 31st Georgia Regiment, “but we did not get to go before the fight was over so we went to bed again.

Two weeks later, on Tuesday, March 25, 1862 a Federal detail from the Montezuma made another raid on Wilmington Island, taking one civilian prisoner and returning to their base without making any contact with Confederate forces. The captured Georgian was Jacob Dannenfelser who, like the soldiers of the 46th NY Regiment, was a German immigrant.

Dannenfelser told Captain Hinckel of a force of Germans stationed at Fort Pulaski. He noted later that it was a full company of the 1st Georgia Regiment under the command of Captain John H. Stegin. “At that time we were very interested to learn something about the situation over there at the fort,” recalled Captain Horace Porter. “One of our men suggested that the regimental band should play German music. When the Germans at Fort Pulaski hear this, they may want to come over to us. The proposal was quickly accepted. And indeed, on a particularly dark night, the first one came rowing across on a tree trunk. We received a lot of very important information from him.” Colonel Rosa reported this incident to General Sherman. In his letter to the general he wrote, “The defector from Fort Pulaski was named John Hirth. He immediately became a member of the 46th New York Regiment.” – Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

Regimental Band of the 48th NY Infantry

Regimental Band of the 48th NY Infantry

At Fort Pulaski Lt. Theodorick W. Montfort, of the Oglthorpe Light Infantry, wrote, “I think & fear that our heretofore limited means of communication is now effectually cut off. Two men (Germans) from this for Fort deserted …and have doubtless posted the enemy with our ways, means & time of getting a mail.”

The Confederate troops at Causton’s Bluff had their regimental bands as well, although their music was by no means an enticement to deserters from the enemy. Colonel Marcellus Douglass was advertising for “musicians for the Brass Band of Thirteenth Regiment Georgia Volunteers C. S. A., now stationed at Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, Georgia. The Instruments vacant are one Bb Bass Tuba, one Bb Trombone, one Bb Tenor, two Bb Altos, and two Eb Altos.”  Later, Lacey E. Lastinger, of the Berrien Minute Men, would serve as a drummer and musician for the 29th Georgia Regiment at Causton’s Bluff.

About March 27, Confederate pickets from Causton’s Bluff while patrolling Whitemarsh Island encountered the USS Montezuma anchored in Lazaretto Creek  and fired on Captain Hinckel’s men, forcing them to briefly abandon the guns. But the Federals quickly rallied their forces and in the face of superior numbers, the Confederate pickets backed away and withdrew across Whitemarsh Island. The Federals pursued in an armed barge, but were unable to catch up with the Confederate soldiers.

Colonel Rudolph Rosa, post commander at Tybee Island, was ordered to take a detachment from Tybee to the Montezuma reconnoiter the situation on Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands. His purpose was to assess the threat of a Confederate approach to the gun batteries being constructed for the reduction of Fort Pulaski.  Rosa had also learned from the Confederate German Jacob Dannenfelser and a captured African-American that a reward of $12,000 was offered to effect the evacuation of the Confederate soldiers from Fort Pulaski. He speculated, “perhaps an organized great patrol of row-boats lays in Turner’s Creek” for that purpose. Turners Creek divided Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands.

Rosa wrote, “On Sunday I made a reconnaissance on Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands, pushing in both cases out to Thunderbolt and Saint Augustine Creeks, opposite to Thunderbolt and Carston Bluff batteries. Nothing remarkable occurred, excepting that the small stern-wheel steamer did show herself near to our boats left at Gibson’s in the Oatland Creek, which is not spiked, and turned back after receiving three of our musket shots from a point of land.

While Col. Rosa was on this reconnaissance, the Confederate German Jacob Dannenfelser appealed to the lieutenant in command of the Montezuma to allow him to check on his family back on Wilmington Island. In what Rosa called an “unaccountable hallucination” but perhaps seeking Dannenfelser’s collaboration, the Union lieutenant consented; on Sunday morning, March 30, 1862, two Union soldiers were detailed to escort Dannenfelser by boat to visit his home.  But a patrol of Confederate scouts from Causton’s Bluff discovered the Federal party upon the return trip and effected a capture.

The affair was recorded in the official report of Colonel Rudolph Rosa:

MARCH 30-31, 1862.—Affairs on Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands, Ga.

Report of Col. Rudolph Rosa, Forty-sixth New York Infantry.

Tybee Island, Ga., April 3, 1862.
General: In accordance with your orders I arrived at the swimming battery, Montezuma, near Decent Island, on the evening of March 29, 1862, with a detachment of two commissioned officers and thirty men of the Forty-sixth New York. Shortly after my arrival Lieutenant Serviere, having effected the relief of the men in the guard boat near Hunter’s farm, reported that he had been shot at repeatedly by about thirty rebels near Gibson’s farm, without the shot taking effect. On the following day [Sunday, March 30, 1862], with four commissioned officers and seventy-five men, I made a reconnaissance on Whitemarsh Island, landing at Gibson’s and marching thence on land to Turner’s farm. From there we were recalled by shots, and found that the small stern wheel steamer [probably CSS Ida] had shown herself near to our boats in Oatland Creek, and had returned after being fired at by the boat’s guard. I then went again across the island to MacDonald’s farm, and returned without meeting the enemy. The topographical results will be embodied in a little sketch.

In returning I heard that by the lieutenant left in command of the Montezuma, leave had been given to Dannenfelser and two men to go with a boat to Wilmington Island, that they had been last seen going into Turner’s Creek, and were now missing. The guard boat was left at the usual place opposite Hunter’s farm over night.

At dawn on the 31st the guard were revised and partly relieved by Captain Hinckel, who then made a patrol to Dannenfelser’s house, and was told that Dannenfelser and the two men had been there for half an hour the previous day, and then had departed. Captain Hinckel also captured a negro in the act of entertaining communication between the fort and Savannah. The guard was instructed to keep a sharp lookout along the shore for our missing men. At noon Lieutenant Serviere was sent to relieve the guard, and with the instruction to search at the same time Gibson’s and Screven’s farms for the missing and for interlopers, but not to proceed farther. At 4 o’clock Captain Hinckel went with the captured negro for verifying his description at the cuts used for smuggling. He came back at 8 o’clock and reported that no trace of the guard and relief boats was to be found….

 

On the Confederate side, Lieutenant George Anderson Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General, 1st Georgia Infantry, was impressed with the action.

George Anderson Mercer, son of Hugh W. Mercer, journaled about the 1861-62 time period when the Berrien Minute Men were stationed at coastal defenses near Savannah.  Image source: <a href="https://archive.org/details/universitiesthei04cham/page/105" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Universities and Their Sons, Vol. 4</a>.

George Anderson Mercer, son of Hugh W. Mercer, journaled about the 1861-62 time period when the Berrien Minute Men were stationed at coastal defenses near Savannah.  Image source: Universities and Their Sons, Vol. 4.

 

Pickets from the 13th Regt captured two German soldiers who were carrying off a German Gardener from his place on Wilmington Island. The Yankees were in a boat 700 yards distant; our men fired seven shots with enfield rifles; three passed through the boat and two struck the unfortunate man the enemy were taking off. This was good shooting. – George A Mercer

Excerpt from the Civil War diary of George Anderson Mercer describing actions of 13th GA Infantry Regiment stationed at Causton's Bluff near Savannah, GA

Excerpt from the Civil War diary of George Anderson Mercer describing actions of 13th GA Infantry Regiment stationed at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA

The return of the victorious scouts to Causton’s Bluff with their prisoners and the liberated Dannenfelser in tow was also noted by Private Jenkins  in his diary,

…17 scouts under Adutant [Adjutant] Hill Sent to Whitemarsh Island, who have returned 3, oclock  with two captured prisners yankees and a dutchman citizan of Wilmington Island, who had previously been taken by the yanks, Companies B. C. & G. ordered to prepare immediately under command of Capt Crawford of Co G. -Pvt Cyrus Jenkins

Word of the capture quickly reached Savannah, and the following day a report of events to this point was published in The Savannah Republican of March 31, 1862:

Capture of Yankees.
         Two Yankees, belonging to the Forty-sixth New York Regiment were captured by our pickets yesterday [Sunday, March 30, 1862] under the following circumstances:
        Tuesday last [March 25, 1862] Jacob Dannenfelser, a German, residing on Wilmington Island was at work in his garden, when some thirty Yankees suddenly leaped the fence. He hailed them and asked who they were and what they were about. They replied that they were friends. They had with them a negro man named Sam, the property of Mr. Pinder, whom they released and then laid violent hands on Dannenfelser. They took him to an old hulk lying near Decent Island and there kept him until yesterday. The hulk is armed with a long rifle gun, which the Yankees call their “Field Snake.”
        Yesterday morning Dannenfelser prevailed on his captors to allow him to visit his family with a guard, for the purpose of seeing them and procuring some clothing. He was despatched to Wilmington in a boat with two men. Having procured his clothing, the boat was returning to to the hulk when our pickets on Whitmarsh opened a heavy fire upon the party. The Yankees were unhurt, though their prisoner did not come off so well. He was shot in three places, through the hand, one through the arm above the elbow, and a third across the bridge of the nose, the last mentioned being a very slight one.
         The Yankees, finding the fire rather warm, gave up and rowed to the island in the direction of our pickets, who took them in charge and forwarded them, together with Dannenfelser, to our camp at Causton Bluff. The latter was immediately brought to town to receive medical attention. The prisoners will be brought to town this morning.
        Dannenfelser said that whilst he was on the hulk, a party of Federals were fired upon by our pickets, when they retired and in a short time brought a force of some one hundred men in a barge with a heavy gun in the bow, to attack the pickets. The party were under command of Colonel Rose [Rudolph Rosa], of the 46th New York Regiment. No engagement occurred. The Pickets had retired from Whitmarsh. Being disappointed and not a little aggravated by the annoyance of our pickets, they threatened to burn the houses on Colonel Gibson’s plantation, but retired without executing the threat.

Being alarmed of the presence of Federal patrols on Whitemarsh Island, on that same Sunday afternoon, March 30, 1862, three companies of men were dispatched from Causton’s Bluff; Private Jenkins was among them.

We left the camp about dark, crossed Augustine creek upon oakland Island [Oatland Island], at Caustin Bluff battery. While passing a cross this Island along a narrow path enclosed by thick underwood, all at once all were silent & still as death.! a moment more & the gunlocks began to rattle like fire in a cainbrake! Two seconds & all was again still! A human form was seen! The Capt demanded his countersign. There were two who proved to be pickets for a squad of the 13th left by Adutant Hill [John Dawson Hill] in the evening.

We passed along to the old bridge 2 1/2 miles from Caustins Bluff & crossed the creek on Whitemarsh Island. While here waiting for the other two companies that we had left crossing Augustine creek, A noise was heard in the marsh, mistaken for the tread of human footsteps. All was again hushed. The Capt ordered us to divide on either side of the path that led through the marsh to the high land, & He with two others advanced to the wood. All were now in suspense. I did not like our position. I went to the wood, but before I got there I was releaved by the hissing, & familiar noise of an Alligator.

We now became tired waiting for the rear party & determined to wait no longer. After leaving a picket at our little boat, we proceeded a mile to an old house, but found nothing here. Then from thence to the Gibson place 1 1/2 miles farther with like success, & from thence to the Turner place 2 miles farther. On nearing this place. (It being now 2, oc [o’clock] at night) we perceived that a brillant light in one of the cabins.

The advance guard (of which I was one) had surrounded the house before the party came up. The men on seeing the light smelt a mice, or a yank and began backing scattering out, & cocking their guns. I could not imagine for a time the cause. I first thought they had seen some one in the diriction they were going then I saw their faces & guns all turn to the cabins. I then knew they expected danger from there, I now felt rather in a critical position, for I was near the house & in their full view. I knew I was no yankee but did they know it. I was afraid to speak or move for fear of being fired upon, for a yankee. I stood for a moment & stept cautiously behind the house.

The occupants of the house were negroes left upon the Island. We found no boats here to pass across to Wilmington, & returned to the Gibson Place.

As we neared the place, low depressed coughing was heard. We expected our rear scout, but crept up noiselessly within full view, when Capt demanded who comes there.  A reply came, Friend with the counter sign (all else was perfect silence).  Capt: Advance and give the countersign. All again still for a moment, then rapid cocking of firelocks was heard in every direction, in two seconds more all again silent. Capt again in his usual firm calm voice demanded the countersign. Then a trembling voice: Capt McCallay [James McCauley]. I know your voice, Lieut [William R] Redding Co E [13] th.

We here lay in ambush around the landing untill day (It being now 3, oc [o’clock] ). An hour by sun we, with exception of a small scout party under Adutant  [John Dawson] Hill. went to the Turner place to take our boats for Wilmington, (they were to meet us there).  Just as the boats came Hill sent a messenger for us to go to his assistance, They are coming. We now quicked it back but found when we got there they had turned back.

17 were left under command of Lieut [Bolling H.] Robinson to guard this & the remainder of us went over up on Wilmington. We then started out into two parties, Capt McCallay with, co B, were to go to the Hunter place & from there to the Scriven place & attack the yanks first, while the other party were to go to the Scriven place & there lay in at ambush untill the commencement & then come up in thier rear. But before we had got to the Scriven place we heard sharp firing in the direction. We went double quick (a mile) untill we came in sight, when we saw co G. quickening towards us. Capt [Joel T.] Crawford with his co G. were ordered by Hill back to our fleet of skiffs to prevent being cut off.

He now told Capt McCallay that Hill had ordered him McCalley back. The firing we heard was upon Whitemarsh, between our pickets there & the yanks. After a warm contest wounding one of our m[en] of Co G. they put to water & oarred toward Wilmington near the Scriven place. Company B now doubled quickening back to the boats. We soon after this heard sharp shooting at Scriven place. A few moments more & another volley & all was over. The enemy surrendered 16 in number. One killed three wounded with but two scattering shots from them.

An eight oared barge boat with a six pound field Piece upon its bow, together with their small arms, the prisners were sent on immediately. But some of us were here delayed untill about ten OC  at night when we started for Thunderbolt and after very heavy oaring against the tide we arrived at 3 oc in the morning of Tuesday. (some of the boats however reached Thunderbolt several hours in advance of us).  Here we remained untill morning where I lay upon the ground & Slept untill sun rise, when we again put out for camps and reached them at 9 oc in the morning

The Union account of the engagement was continued in Col. Rosa’s report of the actions of the 46th NY Regiment:

On the evening of the 1st of April we received promptly a re-enforcement of two officers and thirty men of the Forty-sixth New York, and one 6 pounder at the Montezuma. At 10 o’clock in the same night Lieutenants Serviere and Rettig and fifteen men in the relief boat returned and reported as follows: When the relief boat met the guard boat at Hunter’s farm they both proceeded to Gibson’s house, the relief boat in advance, the guard boat (with the small old iron 6-pounder, private property of the subscriber) bringing up the rear. At Gibson’s they saw two men; then Lieutenant Serviere with fifteen men landed and found himself soon engaged in a skirmishing fight with about thirty rebels, whom he successfully drove out of the houses and the farm, killing at least one of them. When the guard boat neared the landing Lieutenant Rettig also jumped ashore, but the helmsman, a canal boatman promoted to a sergeant’s position since two days, suddenly lost his self-possession entirely, backed the boat off, and dropped back with the tide. Lieutenant Serviere then took to the relief boat, which during the time had filled with water, and had to be bailed out, and set afloat again under cover of a chain of skirmishers. They left without any loss, though fired at repeatedly, and then saw in the distance that the guard boat had drifted on the flats between Screven’s and Hunter’s Place; that a fire was opened against it at about fifty paces distance, by, at the least estimation, about sixty men; that the men laid themselves flat on the bottom of the boat and waved their caps as sign of surrender. The relief boat then took to the small creek and swamps between Oatland Creek and Wilmington Narrows, was fast aground over night, and succeeded in coming back late the next evening by way of the narrows and the stockade. The total loss, therefore, consists of eighteen enlisted men, the man Dannenfelser, and about twelve rounds of ammunition. Two boats and one small iron 6-pounder were also lost, being prizes of the Forty-sixth Regiment New York State Volunteers, and not belonging to the United States. There seems to be a determination to keep up at all events the communication to the fort by way of Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands and the very numerous creeks running through McQueen’s marshes. I most respectfully propose to keep a small armed steam-boat there.
Your most obedient servant,
RUDOLPH ROSA,
Colonel, Comdg. Forty-sixth Regiment New York State Vols.
General Q. A. Gillmore, Commanding.

 

Again, Lt. Mercer was impressed with the work of the Georgian’s at Causton’s Bluff.

These Georgians of the 13th are rough fellows, but full of fight and reckless of life; after the taking of the fifteen Yankees volunteers were called for for Picket duty; the whole regiment volunteered. There is no disposition to avoid a fight among our troops; they covet one only too anxiously — sick and all turn out for it. – George A Mercer

Steven Thomas Beasley, Assistant Surgeon, 13th Georgia Regiment, was one of the men scouting Whitemarsh and Wilmington Island.

Shot by his own men.
Steven Thomas Beasley, Assistant Surgeon, 13th Georgia Regiment, was one of the men scouting Whitemarsh and Wilmington Island. Image source: Billie Nichols Bennett

Report of Brigadier General Alexander R. Lawton, Confederate States Army
Headquarters Department, District of Georgia
Savannah, Ga. April 5, 1862

Capt. J. R. Waddy
Assistant Adjutant-General

Captain: I have the honor to report that on two successive nights, March 30 and 31, scouting parties were sent to Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands from the Thirteenth Georgia Regiment, Colonel Douglass, which were entirely successful, killing 1 and capturing 18 of the enemy, 2 of whom have since died. They also captured a barge with a 6-pounder. The scouting party was under the immediate command of Captain Crawford, Thirteenth Georgia Regiment, who conducted it with skill and gallantry, and all the officers and men under his command exhibited the most commendable courage and enterprise.
I regret further to report that on the occasion of a subsequent expedition to Wilmington Island, for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the enemy and attacking him if there, Assistant Surgeon Beasly was shot through the leg by a mistake of our own men and had both bones broken. There is reason to hope, however, that he will recover with as little injury as possible.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. R. Lawton
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

William B. Beasley, Henry Harrison Towns, Steven Thomas Beasley,

William B. Beasley, Henry Harrison Towns, Steven Thomas Beasley,

 

By March 31, 1862 the battery at Causton’s Bluff had been re-fortified.  “There was ferry dock on the river below the fort [Fort Bartow, Causton’s Bluff], since troops crossed the river at this point. This may have been the point where the Confederate ironclads Atlanta and Savannah, and the steamer Ida tied up when they came to Causton’s Bluff.”

The CSS Ida served Fort Pulaski, Fort Jackson, Causton's Bluff and the Savannah River batteries. The Ida made her last trip to Fort Pulaski on February 13, 1862. - <a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/files/47493/47493-h/47493-h.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Fort Pulaski National Monument</a>

The CSS Ida served Fort Pulaski, Fort Jackson, Causton’s Bluff and the Savannah River batteries. The Ida made her last trip to Fort Pulaski on February 13, 1862. – Fort Pulaski National Monument

Also at the bluff was the steamer Leesburg, kept at the disposition of the commanding officer.

On April 5, 1862, Lieutenant William Dixon, of the Republican Blues stationed at Fort Jackson about a mile and a half north of Caustons Bluff, noted in his journal, “Misquitoes and sandflies in abundance…” On the 8th he recorded, “A large rifled gun bursted at Caustins Bluff this afternoon and severely injured 2 men. It is one of three guns made at Richmond all of which have bursted.”

On April 9, 1862 the federal troops on Tybee were further reinforced by the 8th Michigan Infantry, arriving from Port Royal, SC aboard the U.S.S. Benjamin Deford.

USS Benjamin Deford brought the 8th Michigan Infantry to Tybee Island, GA on April 9, 1862

USS Benjamin Deford brought the 8th Michigan Infantry to Tybee Island, GA on April 9, 1862

Finally, on April 10, 1862 the anticipated Federal bombardment of Fort Pulaski commenced.  At Lawton Battery and Camp Tattnall, the Berrien Minute Men were about seven or eight miles from Pulaski, more than close enough for a front row view of the artillery barrage.  Witnessing the thunderous, up close barrage, did the Berrien Minute Men hark back to their time the previous fall on Sapelo Island, when atmospheric conditions caused them to hear the cannons bombarding Port Royal from a distance of 60 miles?  From one tenth the distance, how hellish the shelling of Pulaski must have seemed in comparison.

Bombardment of Fort Pulaski. Currier & Ives.

Bombardment of Fort Pulaski. Currier & Ives.

Assistant Adjutant General  George A. Mercer observing the bombardment from Skidaway Island about six miles distant, reported the scene.

“The earth shakes with a tremendous cannonade. The bombardment of Fort Pulaski commenced early yesterday morning, and still continues with unabated fury. At half past nine oclock yesterday morning I roade over to Skidaway to witness the grand but terrible scene; I remained until after twelve; again in the afternoon I rode over and returned some time after dark. We were six miles off, but we could distinctly see the heavy columns of white smoke shooting up from the mortars on Tybee, and then see the immense shells bursting over the Fort. The enemy fired four and five times every minute, while the Fort replied slowly and coolly. The flag staff was shot away about noon. At the night the sight was grand. The tongue of flame was seen to leap from the mortars and then the flash of the bursting shell appeared just above the Fort.

During the bombardment all lines of direct communication were cut off with the Confederate garrison stationed at Pulaski.  But after dark the Federals ceased the shelling, continuing with just one shot every five minutes to disrupt the Confederates.  In the night on April 10, 1862, Corporal Charles T. Law escorted a signal man to the fort. Law was stationed at Thunderbolt Battery with the Phoenix Riflemen, 63rd Georgia Regiment, and had made the dangerous trip in and out of the besieged Fort Pulaski several times.  Colonel Charles H. Olmstead, commanding at Fort Pulaski, said Law “was a perfect duck in the water.”  Fort Pulaski was within line of sight of Causton’s Bluff and on the morning of Friday, April 11, Olmstead’s new signal man, “attempted to signalize to Causton’s Bluff…but such was the fire that no human being could stand on the ramparts for even a moment. Nearly a thousand shell, of the largest size, were thrown into the fort from the Federal batteries.” -Savannah Republican, April 12, 1862

After 30 hours of bombardment the walls of the fort were breached and Olmstead lowered the flag at Fort Pulaski at 2:00 p.m. on April 11, 1862 signalling capitulation.  With the cessation of the bombardment Corporal Law made an exit from the fort and carried the news to Savannah.

 At the close of the fight all the parapet guns were dismounted except three, two 10-inch columbiads, known as ‘Beauregard’ and ‘Jeff Davis’ (but one of which bore on the island), and a rifle cannon. Every casemate gun in the southeast section of the fort, from No. 7 to No. 13, including all that could be brought to bear upon the enemy’s batteries except one, was dismounted, and the casemate walls breached in almost every instance to the top of the arch, say between five and six feet in width. The moat outside was so filled with brick and mortar that one could have passed over dry shod. The officers’ quarters were torn to pieces, the bomb-proof timbers scattered in every [90] direction over the yard, and the gates to the entrance knocked off. The parapet walls on the Tybee side were all gone, in many places down to the level of the earth on the casemates. The protection to the magazine in the northwest angle of the fort had all been shot away; the entire corner of the magazine next to the passageway was shot off, and the powder exposed, while three shots had actually penetrated the chamber. Such was the condition of affairs when Colonel Olmstead called a council of officers in a casemate; and without a dissenting voice they acquiesced in the necessity of a capitulation, in order to save the garrison from utter destruction by an explosion, which was momentarily threatened. Accordingly, at 2 o’clock p. m. the men were called from the guns and the flag was lowered.

The loss of Fort Pulaski in the spring of that year was so disheartening that Governor Brown issued a proclamation setting apart a certain day for “fasting, humiliation and prayer.”…In Atlanta and in other cities, and towns throughout the state, the citizens assembled in the churches to hear sermons suited to the occasion. All business was suspended and the day was solemnly observed. – The Jackson Argus, December 2, 1898

On April 13, 1862, a portion of the Confederates surrendered at Fort Pulaski were loaded on the USS Ben Deford as prisoners of war for transportation to Fort Columbus, in New York Harbor.  Others of the Confederate garrison, including Colonel Olmstead, the commander of the fort,  were taken away as POWs by the steamship Oriental.

Steamship Oriental transported Colonel Olmstead and other POWs to a federal prison after the capture of Fort Pulaski

Steamship Oriental transported Colonel Olmstead and other POWs to a federal prison after the capture of Fort Pulaski

After the fall of Fort Pulaski, Savannah became even more vulnerable to an approach to across Whitemarsh Island and St. Augustine Creek, and an assault on Causton’s Bluff.  In a letter to his father , Lt. Charles C. Jones Jr. [Chatham Artillery at Isle of Hope,] expressed the thoughts on everyone’s mind that April when the news of Fort Pulaski’s fall reached Savannah: “If the heavy masonry walls of Pulaski were of no avail against the concentrated fire of those Parrott guns posted at a distance of more than a mile, what shall we expect from our sand batteries along the river?” – Robert S. Durham

Historian Craig Swain observed“St. Augustine Creek, which connects the Wilmington and Savannah Rivers… also lead back east to the waters behind Tybee Island, in close proximity to Fort Pulaski.” 

Soon the 29th Georgia Regiment would be sent to reinforce the 13th Regiment at Causton’s Bluff.

Related Posts:

Freedmen of Lowndes County: 662 Georgia Militia District

Tax Records of Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA as listed in the 1870 Tax Digest

Freedmen listed in the 1870 Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662 tax digest

Freedmen listed in the 1870 Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662 tax digest

“Emancipation is a small evil compared with that arising from the attempt on the part of Congress to regulate the social, civil and political status of the freedmen in the several states.” – Herschel Vespian Johnson, former Governor of Georgia ~ September 12, 1868

Freedmen of Lowndes County:

  •   658 Georgia Militia District
  •   661 Georgia Militia District
  •   662 Georgia Militia District
  •   663 Georgia Militia District
  • 1246 Georgia Militia District

The 662nd Georgia Militia District, also known as the Clyattville District, occupied the southwest corner of Lowndes County.  Following the Civil War and Emancipation there were 200 African-American freedmen living in this district. Of these, only three had achieved land ownership by 1870; Harvey Pemberton, age 50 ; Buck Jones, age 59; and William Jones. Only 152 white men are listed In the 1870 tax records of 662nd GMD .

Some of the men in these rolls may have been present at the Booby Clift Affair, when a group of young white men attempted to bomb a gathering of freedmen attending a political rally at the Valdosta Courthouse on Saturday, April 4, 1868.

Several African-American men in this district immigrated with their families to Liberia in 1872, including Andrew Turkett, Jefferson Bracewell, Eli Ponder, Lewis Hart, Henry Jones, Caesar White. Also immigrating to Liberia from the Freedmen of the 658 Georgia Militia District of Lowndes County were Jordan Lemmon, Aaron Miller, London Wright, and Andrew “Anderson” Obey, and their families.

As a finding aid, the tables presented here are organized alphabetically by Name of Freedman. Images of the original pages are provided below.

Name Employer County District
Abe James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Abram H. C. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Alford R. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Anderson J. ——– Lowndes 662 GMD
Claborn B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Daniel R. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Dennis F. Swilley Lowndes 662 GMD
Ellic G. Cornwall Lowndes 662 GMD
George Studstill Lowndes 662 GMD
Jinks B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Lamb F. M. Gaston Lowndes 662 GMD
Mead R. Y. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Peter A. D. Boon Lowndes 662 GMD
Rufus R. Y. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Thomas G. Cornwall Lowndes 662 GMD
Tim G. Cornwall Lowndes 662 GMD
Wally James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
James Adams D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Doctor Ameson L. H. G. Hunter Lowndes 662 GMD
Drew Anderson C. F. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Ned Anderson D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Isom Austin H. C. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Luke Baker G. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Thomas Banks J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Reuben Bee V. F. Dasher Lowndes 662 GMD
Josh Black G. Cornwall Lowndes 662 GMD
Prince Blake David Peter Gibson Lowndes 662 GMD
Luke Boring J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Manuel Boston Mrs. M. A. B. Zeigler Lowndes 662 GMD
Peter Boston Mrs. M. A. B. Zeigler Lowndes 662 GMD
Moses Bowen J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Lewis Bowling D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Scot Boyd B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
James Boykin James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Jefferson Bracewell self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
George Bradwell B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Martin Brown B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Jackson Bryan B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Ennies Burk D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Bob Campbell Lowndes 662 GMD
Joseph Carbit T. E. Lanier Lowndes 662 GMD
Lafayet Catching Lowndes 662 GMD
Jerry Clayton S. B. Smith Lowndes 662 GMD
Ned Clemons G. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Iverson Collins D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Cox Dr. J. J. Cox Lowndes 662 GMD
Corbet Crocket self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Stephen Crumned Lowndes 662 GMD
Robert Darsey J. M. ——— Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Davis B. J. Sicinger Lowndes 662 GMD
Milton Davis self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Handy Dawson B. Harvey Lowndes 662 GMD
William Dennard J. N. ——– Lowndes 662 GMD
Nelson Dickson J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
William Elling James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Frank Fillmore R. J. Hinely Lowndes 662 GMD
Harrison Flint E. Outlaw Lowndes 662 GMD
Ike Floyd M. T. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Jack Fort D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Jack Fort James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Richard Fort G. Cornwall Lowndes 662 GMD
Jack Gilmore D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Moses Godfrey J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Chick Gordan D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Charles Griffin J. A. Hardie Lowndes 662 GMD
Isom Hall J. N. Strickland Lowndes 662 GMD
David Hamilton B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Robert Harper self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Will Harris J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
C Harrisson A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
William Harrison J. S. Swilley Lowndes 662 GMD
Lewis Hart self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Amus Heart D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Tobey Heart F. Swilley Lowndes 662 GMD
John Henry D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Reuben Horn H. M. Horn Lowndes 662 GMD
Jesse Howell B. L. Zeigler Lowndes 662 GMD
Sol Howell J. A. Howell Lowndes 662 GMD
R Irwin A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
John Jackson J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Henry Jackson B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Ben Jinkins R. Y. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Jack Jinkins self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Bob Johnson self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Boyd Johnson D. P. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Johnson D. P. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Jerry Johnson James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Ned Johnson self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Sam Johnson J. N. Strickland Lowndes 662 GMD
Aaron Jones J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Anthy Jones E. Outlaw Lowndes 662 GMD
Boston Jones B. J. Sicinger Lowndes 662 GMD
Buck Jones J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Dick Jones J. W. Perry Lowndes 662 GMD
Fain Jones J. B. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Handy Jones J. W. Perry Lowndes 662 GMD
Henry Jones self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Jones J. T. ——– Lowndes 662 GMD
Mud Jones B. J. Sicinger Lowndes 662 GMD
Reddin Jones J. W. Perry Lowndes 662 GMD
William Jones J. F. Arnold Lowndes 662 GMD
Henry Kee D. P. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Sam King B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
David Kinsley J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Joe Knight M. T. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Lank Knight M. T. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Abe Lambe W. R. Peterson Lowndes 662 GMD
Jim Lee J. S. Swilley Lowndes 662 GMD
Sesar Lester D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Peter Manor M. A. Lineberger Lowndes 662 GMD
Moses Marell D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Demsey Marshall James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Glasco Marshall R. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Handy Marshel F. M. Peacock Lowndes 662 GMD
Solomon Marshel F. M. Peacock Lowndes 662 GMD
Fayett Massey R. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Joseph McCraney D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Jacob Mckinney self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
James Mckinney self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Ishmal Mckinney self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Paterson Mckinney self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Miles McLeod D. McLeod Lowndes 662 GMD
Joe Miller J. F. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Peter Mincy J. N. ——- Lowndes 662 GMD
Frank Mitchell B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
George Mitchell D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Isam Mobly D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Chashall Mood self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Sabe Moore R. Y. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Monday Morell F. Hinely Lowndes 662 GMD
John Morgan D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Jack Moses D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Kelley Moses A. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Daniel Nelson J. H. —–ey Lowndes 662 GMD
Lewis Nelson J. F. Arnold Lowndes 662 GMD
Solomon Newton C. W. Stokes Lowndes 662 GMD
George Packick D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
R Paton A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
Harvey Pembleton self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Daniel Person D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Eli Ponder self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Jacob Preston B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Lovless Peterson W. R. Peterson Lowndes 662 GMD
Joseph Phillips William Phillips Lowndes 662 GMD
Sippio Prichard D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Hamp Reed Lowndes 662 GMD
Stephen Richards James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
Aaron Richardson R. H. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Jim Richardson M. T. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Tomb Riley E. A. Thompson Lowndes 662 GMD
John Roe D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Russel D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
C Shanks A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
Samuel Shelton E. Outlaw Lowndes 662 GMD
Andrew Simmons James Thompson Beville Lowndes 662 GMD
William Simmons L. H. G. Hunter Lowndes 662 GMD
Aurlander Simpson J. A. Wisenbaker Lowndes 662 GMD
Jim Simson B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Jacob Smith H. C. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Wiley Smith M. T. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Nelson Snell D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Elbert Spain J. W. Perry Lowndes 662 GMD
Elias Spell D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
John Spell D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
William Stanfild Lowndes 662 GMD
Fayet Staw D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Ely Strickland T. E. Lanier Lowndes 662 GMD
I Terrell A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
Allen Thomas D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Berry Thomas R. Y. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
George Thomas H. C. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Lewis Thomas D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Samuel Thomas D. McSwain Lowndes 662 GMD
Ceasar Tison self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
George Townsend self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Andrew Turkett self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
C Vandross A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
Henry Warren B. F. Lane Lowndes 662 GMD
Oren Welch E. A. Thompson Lowndes 662 GMD
Chadwick Wheeler self-employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Caesar White self employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Jeremiah White W. Lineberger Lowndes 662 GMD
Richard White self employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Dan Williams D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
William Dickerson self employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Edgar Williams E. Outlaw Lowndes 662 GMD
Fill Williams D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Frank Williams D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
George Williams B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Isaac Williams B. Harvey Lowndes 662 GMD
Joseph Williams R. J. Hinely Lowndes 662 GMD
Toney Williams W. L. Rogers Lowndes 662 GMD
Ivens Wilson D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Jerry Wilson B. F. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Samuel Winters self employed Lowndes 662 GMD
Moses Witherspoon A. Everitt Lowndes 662 GMD
Sidney Witherspoon D. J. Jones Lowndes 662 GMD
Larry Zeigler B. L. Zeigler Lowndes 662 GMD
Fed Zeigler Mrs. M. A. B. Zeigler Lowndes 662 GMD
Andrew Zitterower J. N. —— Lowndes 662 GMD
Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [2 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [2 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [3 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [3 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [4 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [4 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [5 of 5]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 662, 1870 Tax Digest [5 of 5]

 

Related Posts:

Freedmen of Lowndes County: 658 Georgia Militia District

Tax Records of Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA as listed in the 1870 Tax Digest

The 1870 Property Tax Digest for Lowndes County, GA was a tax roll of adult male residents. The rolls were organized by militia district.

  •   658 Georgia Militia District
  •   661 Georgia Militia District
  •   662 Georgia Militia District
  •   663 Georgia Militia District
  • 1246 Georgia Militia District

For white citizens, the tax records were organized alphabetically and include fields on taxable professions, dentists, auctioneers, photographers, bowling alleys, billiard tables, game tables, race tracks, children, disabled children, hands employed, real estate, and personal estate.

The tax records of African-American “Freedmen” were segregated from those of whites and placed in the very back pages of the digest. They were organized by ‘Names Of Employer” rather than by “Names Of Freedmen.” The only fields included on the form for Freedmen were for real estate and personal estate. Of the 500 “Colored” men on the 1870 tax rolls of Lowndes County, only 22 were reported with taxable personal property and only 11 owned any real estate.

Some of the men in these rolls were undoubtedly present at the Booby Clift Affair,  which occurred at the Valdosta Courthouse on Saturday, April 4, 1868.  In Valdosta, a group of young white men attempted to detonate an 18 lb keg of gunpowder to disrupt a gathering of freedmen attending a political rally. The speaker, Joseph Wales Clift (derisively called Booby in the southern press), was a Radical candidate for the U.S. Senate seeking the vote of former slaves.

Illustration of Freedmen in Georgia, 1866. The South: A Tour of Its Battlefields and Ruined Cities, a Journey Through the Desolated States, and Talks with the People

Illustration of Freedmen in Georgia, 1866. The South: A Tour of Its Battlefields and Ruined Cities, a Journey Through the Desolated States, and Talks with the People

As a finding aid, the tables presented here are organized alphabetically by Name of Freedman. Images of the original pages are provided below.

Several African-American men in this district immigrated with their families to Liberia in 1872, including Jordan Lemmon, Aaron Miller, London Wright, and Andrew “Anderson” Obey.

658 Georgia Militia District, Lowdnes County, GA, 1870

Name of Freedman Name of Employer County District
Ples Alexander T. Strickland Lowndes 658 GMD
Simon Baalem James Rountree Lowndes 658 GMD
Andrew Baily Land owner, Self-employed Lowndes 658 GMD
Evis Baker J. J. Hutchinson Lowndes 658 GMD
Sam Bevill T. Strickland Lowndes 658 GMD
Morris Brice R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Alford Brown R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Elick Brown I. H. Tillman Lowndes 658 GMD
Aaron Carter W.J. Nelson Lowndes 658 GMD
Moses Davis R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Richard Drayton B. A. Edmondson Lowndes 658 GMD
Daniel Folsome R. Folsome Lowndes 658 GMD
Randal Folsome H. R. Sharpe Lowndes 658 GMD
Caleb Franklin E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Jacob Gayfield W. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Thomas Godin H. B. Heel Lowndes 658 GMD
Charles Green James Rountree Lowndes 658 GMD
Berry Hall T. Strickland Lowndes 658 GMD
Ike Inman J. T. Webb Lowndes 658 GMD
Simon Inman W. Rountree Lowndes 658 GMD
Ned Johnson R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Nelson Johnson L. Cokers Lowndes 658 GMD
Oscar Johnson R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Charles Jones E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Bunch King L.M. Ayer Lowndes 658 GMD
Jef King L.M. Ayer Lowndes 658 GMD
Aaron Kirkling L.M. Ayer Lowndes 658 GMD
Umphrey Law E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Jordan Lemons B. Wells Lowndes 658 GMD
Jack Lukas E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Robert Lukas E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Richard Manor John Hodges, Sr. Lowndes 658 GMD
Green Martin I. H. Tillman Lowndes 658 GMD
William Martin R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Elbert McKennon R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Alexander McLevan W. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Joseph Miley R. Folsome Lowndes 658 GMD
Primus Miley R. Folsome Lowndes 658 GMD
Aaron Miller Land owner, Self-employed Lowndes 658 GMD
Albert Miller R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
John Miller Land owner, Self-employed, Represented by Aaron Miller Lowndes 658 GMD
Sam Mincy R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Wilson Mincy R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Simon Mobley Represented by Aaron Miller Lowndes 658 GMD
Dave Moore R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Jerry Nails L. Cokers Lowndes 658 GMD
Andrew Obea H. R. Sharpe Lowndes 658 GMD
Lorenzo Powers I. H. Tillman Lowndes 658 GMD
Moses Powers M. Nelson Lowndes 658 GMD
Richard Rafe B. A. Edmondson Lowndes 658 GMD
Aaron Roberts Represented by Aaron Miller Lowndes 658 GMD
Bill Rountree W. Rountree Lowndes 658 GMD
Josiah Rountree W. Rountree Lowndes 658 GMD
John Scruggs Represented by Aaron Miller Lowndes 658 GMD
Frank Sharp H. R. Sharpe Lowndes 658 GMD
Ned Sharp R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Henry Sirmons John Folsome Lowndes 658 GMD
Jack Smith M. Nelson Lowndes 658 GMD
Handy Smith M. Nelson Lowndes 658 GMD
Dennis Stafford R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Hamp Stafford R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Ike Stafford R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
Joseph Swain L. Cokers, Sr. Lowndes 658 GMD
Ben Syrmans R. Young Lowndes 658 GMD
William Thompson B. Wells Lowndes 658 GMD
Daniel Vickers William Cokers Lowndes 658 GMD
Simon Vickers A. H. Ennis Lowndes 658 GMD
London Wright Eli D. Webb Lowndes 658 GMD
Wright T Wright John Webb Lowndes 658 GMD
Allen Williams E. L. McRee Lowndes 658 GMD
Williams G. M. Borrew Lowndes 658 GMD
Lee Williams I. H. Tillman Lowndes 658 GMD
Peter Williams J. F. Barefield Lowndes 658 GMD
Peter Williams J. M. Lewis Lowndes 658 GMD

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 658, 1870 Tax Digest [1 of 2]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 658, 1870 Tax Digest [1 of 2]

Freedmen of Lowndes County, GA Militia District 658, 1870 Tax Digest [2 of 2]

The Booby Clift Affair in Valdosta

The Clift Affair occurred at the Valdosta Courthouse on Saturday, April 4, 1868.   The courthouse was then located on the southeast corner of what is now Central Avenue and Ashley Street.

Much of what has been written about the incident at Valdosta has minimized what would today undoubtedly be categorized as a terrorist attack.

The Clift Affair occurred just days after the Georgia Ku Klux Klan, probably under the leadership of former Confederate General John B. Gordon, began its reign of political terrorism in this state with the murder of Radical organizer George Ashburn at Columbus, GA. (Georgia would later name its largest military training base of WWI and WWII Camp Gordon in honor of General Gordon).     In Valdosta,  group of young white men attempted to detonate an 18 lb keg of gunpowder to disrupt a gathering of freedmen attending a political rally. The speaker, Joseph Wales Clift (derisively referred to as Booby in the southern press), was a Radical candidate for the U.S. Senate seeking the vote of former slaves.  Local public outcry over the Clift Affair in Valdosta, condemning equally the actions of the candidate and the bombers, was led by Richard A. Peeples, a prominent Confederate veteran and lawyer of Valdosta, and former Clerk of the Court of Berrien County, GA.

 

Joseph Wales Clift, circa 1861-1865. Source: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, National Archives.

Joseph Wales Clift, circa 1861-1865. Source: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, National Archives.

Joseph Wales Clift was born in North Marshfield, Plymouth County, MA. on September 30, 1837. He attended the common schools and Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH. He graduated from the medical school of Harvard University in 1862. He entered the Union Army and was acting surgeon from July 13, 1862, to August 7, 1865, then served in the Army of the Potomac until November 18, 1866. Afterwards he moved to Savannah, GA with his brother, Walter Lovell Clift.  J. W. Clift established a medical practice and Walter L. Clift practiced law.  J. W. Clift joined the Georgia Medical Society and was elected Librarian of the organization in January, 1867. The brothers became activists encouraging freedmen to exercise their right to vote which had been granted in the Sherman Military Bill.  J.W. Clift spoke at a Savannah gathering of several thousand freedmen on March 18, 1867.  On May 25, 1867 the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer announced J. W. Clift  had been appointed to the board of voter registration for the city of Savannah by order of Major General Pope under the Reconstruction Acts. Of the 5,330 voters registered in Savannah that year, 3,061 were African-American. At a meeting for the organization of the Republican Party in Chatham County, J. W. Clift was elected as a delegate to the Republican State Convention to be held July 4, 1867 in Atlanta, GA. Both brothers spoke at the Savannah Republican rally October 21, 1867, attended by about 4000 freedmen according to the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer. W. L. Clift was a delegate to the state constitutional convention.  In early 1868, Dr. J. W. Clift was considered as a Radical candidate for mayor of Savannah, but at a mass meeting of freedmen on March 16. 1868 he was nominated as the Radical candidate for the U. S. Congress.

Hitting the campaign trail, J. W. Clift came to Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA. In Pines and Pioneers, J. Shelton described Cliff’s event here:

A candidate for Congress, J. W. Clift arrived in Valdosta to make a campaign speech. Clift sought the Negro vote, and he scheduled an address for Saturday night, April 4, 1868. Without bothering to secure from the authorities the required permission to speak publicly, Clift began his talk to an audience at the courthouse. There was an explosion, for a group of young Confederate veterans had placed a keg containing a “small modicum of powder” beneath the building. No one was hurt, but the young men succeeded in breaking up the meeting.

Primary sources on the Valdosta bombing attack,  the Valdosta Times and Savannah Daily News and Herald, ensconced the event in a shared language that derides the victims and excuses the perpetrators. language that many references have maintained up to the most recent years.

The political candidate, Dr. J. W. Clift was constantly referred to as a “prowling, sniveling booby,” “vagrant scalawag, ” or “carpet bagger.” The terms scalawag and carpetbagger have sometimes been redefined in the modern narrative as neutral;  scalawags were “southerners who supported Reconstruction” and Carpetbaggers were “northerners who came south after the war to seek their fortune through politics.”  But in 1868, these terms were unquestionably pejorative; carpetbaggers were unscrupulous Yankee profiteers and scalawags were the white southern traitors who collaborated with them and the freedmen.  In a clipping from the South Georgia Times reprinted August 20, 1868 in the Atlanta Constitution, Berrien County bragged that it had no scalawags:   “NO SCALLAWAGS IN BERRIEN! No scalawags in Irwin and Telfair, and that’s the reason no election is ordered for those counties. Y.M.D.C. is organized here, but there is not enough radicalism to keep it lively.” (The Young Men’s Democratic Club was the public political wing of the KKK,) Dr. Clift’s brother, Walter L. Clift, a lawyer and delegate to the state constitutional convention, was referred to as a “little cheese-eyed man” and both the Clift brothers were alternately tagged with the description as “a sour little fellow, with weak, wicked eyes…[and] industrious imbecility.” In an extended tirade, the Thomasville Enterprise referred to Dr. Clift as “a silly, overweening school boy, about to be elevated above his capacity…we were never more astonished at the extreme feebleness and want of prestige and capacity in a candidate for so high an office…Such is the contemptible creature who has the effrontery to ask the colored citizens of this district for their votes to send him to Congress of the United States… an unknown adventurer, destitute of talents, character, courage and every manly attribute – an ignorant, insolent upstart, who in the face of an outraged and indignant community, meanly seeks by falsehood and misrepresentation, by appeals to the prejudices and passions of their newly enfranchised race – by hypocrisy and deceit and every base and contemptible artifice, to obtain a position for which he is neither intellectually, morally, legally or socially qualified. 

White Valdostans asserted that by holding the meeting, Dr. Clift himself precipitated the incident  – that he was acting”illegally” since he did not have the approval of civil authorities, although the entire state was then under military rule and Clift was exercising free speech to address a peaceable assembly.  The Valdosta Times even suggested that J. W. Clift planted the bomb himself, in a diabolical plot to implicate “the poor rebs,”  widen the divide between the “good men” of Lowndes county and the “Negroes,” and create a sensation among his black supporters.

Valdosta Times referred to Clift’s audience as “ a mass of villainy, ignorance and vagabondism,” and the “ignorant and credulous classes.” The Valdosta Times wrote that the gullibility of the freedmen was illustrated in their naive belief of Clift’s statements that “white men would have to pay the tax to educate negro children.

The conspirators were just “some of the boys [who] concluded to have a little fun.”  They only “intended to create a ‘big scare’.

The bomb was just a “prank“…“a small modicum of powder, enough to make a little fume with the aid of fire.” Further, it couldn’t have been a real bomb because it was preposterous that any white man would have risked accidentally blowing himself up in the company of “negroes.

Subsequent reports suggest that the conspirators and their allies, having failed in the full destructive effects of the explosion, further broke up and dispersed the crowd of freedmen by force of arms, surrounding the Courthouse building and holding it throughout the night. At the time of the bombing on Saturday April 4, 1868, Valdosta and all of Georgia was still under the  federal military occupation of Reconstruction, and Federal officers viewed the civil unrest as a collapse of local authority. Albert B. Clark,  Freeman’s Bureau agent at Quitman,  “quickly reported to military headquarters at Thomasville that a riot had occurred and that local authorities were ‘powerless’ to do anything about it.

By Monday, April 6, newspapers all over the country were mentioning the Clift Affair in Valdosta, many attributing the violence to the KKK.

The Philadelphia Age
April 6, 1868
At a Republican meeting at Valdosta, Georgia, Saturday night, a disturbance was caused by the discovery of a keg of powder under the speaker’s desk. The meeting dispersed amid general excitement.

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Janesville, Wisconsin Gazette
April 6, 1868

The Tribune’s special Savannah of the 5th says the Republican meeting at Valdosta yesterday was broken up by a band of regulators of Ku klux Klan. Powder was placed under the building in which Dr. J. W. Cliff, the Republican candidate for Congress was to speak.

A New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Reconstruction violence in Georgia notes   “It is impossible to untangle local vigilante violence from political terrorism by the organized Klan, but it is clear that attacks on blacks became common during 1868. Freedmen’s Bureau agents reported 336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill on freedmen across the state from January 1 through November 15 of 1868.”

At Valdosta, a number of concerned white residents of  met to discuss the bombing and attorney Richard A. Peeples, was called to the Chair.  Peeples was a former Clerk of the Berrien County Courts.  R. T. Myddleton was appointed Secretary. Following a motion by Col. A. J. Little, Peeples appointed a committee to draft a resolution expressing condemnation of the actions.  The committee, consisting of Henry Burroughs Holliday, Col. A. J. Little, B. F. Moseley, G. T. Hammond,  and M. C. Morgan quickly composed the following:

Whereas one J. W. Clift a candidate for Congress came to this place on Saturday last, and without giving to the civil authorities the notice required by military orders – so as to enable said authorities to have a police in readiness to preserve order – did at night hold a meeting composed of a large number of negroes, many of whom were armed and standing as guard around the house.

And whereas, certain irresponsible parties did, in a most irregular and disgraceful manner disperse and break up said meeting – thereby endangering the lives of many persons – much to the regret of all good citizens,

We the citizens in meeting assembled, do hereby, express our condemnation and dissapproval of said riotous conduct.

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On the evening of Monday, April 6, the civil authorities at Valdosta moved to preempt military intervention in the case. The Mayor M. J. Griffin, of Valdosta, ordered the arrest of  five  suspected conspirators in the bombing: A. H. Darnell, J. D. Calhoun. Iverson L. Griffin, B. L. Smith and J. J. Rambo.

A slightly more detailed version of the events in Valdosta, highly sympathetic to “the boys,” was published in the Savannah newspapers.

Savannah Daily News and Herald
April 10, 1868

The Booby Clift Affair in Valdosta

        Our readers have had rumors of a muss of some sort got up by the vagrant scalawag who aspires to represent the negro constituency of this District in Congress. We have heard various statements in regard to the affair, but nothing authentic until we met the following in the Valdosta Times of the 8th inst. The editor says:
        On Saturday night last there was quite a stir in our town. One Clift, surnamed booby, was here to make a speech, to induce the colored people to vote for him. He went illegally to work, having no fear of the military before his eyes, called his meeting, went to speaking, sans ceremonie, without so much as saying “by your leave, Mr. Mayor.” Having placed himself in the wrong by his lawless course, it is not to be wondered that there was as little sympathy for him as for his cause. Some of the boys concluded to have a little fun, and placed under the building a keg in which it was said there was a small modicum of powder, enough to make a little fume with the aid of fire.
        Another version of it is, that it was placed there with the cognizance of the said Clift, surnamed as above, for the purpose of making a finishing stroke to the poor rebs, as thereby and therein they were to be demolished indirectly by the gunpowder, but directly by his masterly strategy. It is idle to suppose that there was any intention on the part of the boys, if they did it, to blow up their friends and relations, some of whom were in the building. They intended a “big scare” and carried out their purpose quite effectively.
        We condemn in the strongest terms we can use, all such proceedings. They are both unlawful and unjustifiable. They tend to harm the cause they would subserve. The negroes will, of course, be inclined to listen to those who will endeavor to persuade them that it was really the intention to blow them up, and thus the breach be widened that good men are endeavoring to close up as far as may be practicable and right. And so far as this goes Clift has been partially successful, if his is the strategy that laid the explosive train.
        Our citizens have had a meeting and condemned this procedure in unqualified terms of disapproval.
        The strong presumption is that this diabolical gunpowder plot was “a weak invention of the enemy” – a resort of the prowling, sniveling Booby to create a sensation and to increase his electioneering capital with his ignorant and credulous classes.
         The idea that the young men of Valdosta would attempt with a handful of powder to blow up such a mass of villainy, ignorance and vagabondism as must have composed Booby’s auditory, is perfectly absurd – especially when it is considered that the Guy Fawkes of the enterprise in exploding the powder, to which no train or fuse was set, must necessarily have blown himself up with the rest. However fearless and self sacrificing the projector of such a plot might be, it is utterly preposterous to suppose that any white man would be willing to be blown to Ballahack or anywhere else, in such company.

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Valdosta Times
April 8, 1868

We are sorry that the Radicals have not sent a man of sense to run as a candidate for Congressional honors in the First Congressional District. The negroes yesterday “damned” Clift “with faint praise.” His speech was a feeble, sickly tirade against somebody or something, or nobody or nothing. Not one of his hearers could tell to-day what he said or what he meant. Some of them seemed to arouse when he said that white men would have to pay the tax to educate negro children. The response of one was “Bress God, brodder, let us pray.’’ The more sensible among them know how to estimate such a pretender. They are not quite so senseless as he took them to be.
Valdosta Times April 8th.

About the accused, this much is known:

  • IVERSON L. GRIFFIN
    Eighteen-year-old Iverson L. Griffin was the son of a wealthy planter and merchant of Valdosta. His father, Thomas B. Griffin, had served as a Confederate state senator of Georgia from 1861-1863 and was therefore disallowed from taking the Oath of Allegiance to restore his U.S. citizenship. His father had been the owner of 12 slaves, including 4 mulatto children under the age of 4. It is also noteworthy that the Mayor of Valdosta at the time was M. J. Griffin; the only M. J. Griffin that appears in the Lowndes County census records of that period is Iverson Griffin’s brother, Marcus J. Griffin.
  • JOHN DANIEL CALHOUN
    At the time of the Clift Affair, 24-year-old John Daniel Calhoun was a deputy sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. Census records suggest he may have been orphaned at an early age. His early childhood was in the household of Harmon Sapp. In the 1860 census, he was enumerated as a teenager in the household of William Bradford, working as a laborer. Also in the Bradford household was Richard Ault, who would later serve as blacksmith for the Berrien Minute Men. By the 1880s Calhoun would move to Berrien County, GA where he farmed in the 1145 Georgia Militia District. In 1905 he was serving as Postmaster in Crossland, GA.
  • ALEXANDER H. DARNELL
    Darnell was a young merchant of Valdosta. He was native of Kentucky and the first record of his presence in Lowndes County is his signature on the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, signed October 18, 1867. He was 25 years old at the time of the Clift incident. He died in Lowndes County in October 1869 from an “abscess of the liver”.
  • JOHN JAMES RAMBO
    Rambo, age 17 at the time of the Clift Affair, was an orphan of Confederate veteran Dr. John Rambo and Mary Ark Ryals. According to The Rambo Family Tree, his parents were both born in England and immigrated to Georgia. His father received his medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia in Atlanta, graduating in 1847. John J. Rambo was born January 18, 1851 in Perrys Mill, Tatnall County, Georgia. After his mother died of brain fever in 1859, his father married a second time to Maria Clifton.    His father was enumerated in 1860 as the owner of 7 enslaved people. During the Civil War, his father served as a surgeon in the 47th Georgia Infantry Regiment, rising to the rank of Major.  His step-mother died on March 14, 1862 His father left the army on September 17, 1862 because of a physical disability. Some time during or prior to 1863, John J. Rambo came with his father to live in Valdosta, leaving his half-brother William in the custody of his Clifton grandparents.  John’s father died in Valdosta about August 28 1864 at the age of 34.  After the Clift Affair in Valdosta,  John and some of his Ryals relatives kidnapped his younger step-brother, William Rambo, and traveled by boat to New York.  There, John J. Rambo studied to become a doctor and took up medical practice in Brooklyn, NY for the remainder of his life.

Mayor Griffin’s quick action was temporarily effective in preventing military intervention. By the time Lt. Bard and Corporal John Murray arrived in Valdosta with a detail of federal soldiers the five suspects were already in civil custody. For the time being the U. S. soldiers took no action. But a week later, after the alleged bombers were released on bond, the soldiers moved over night to arrest them and transported them to Savannah for confinement in the federal barracks. Valdosta Mayor M. J. Griffin protested the military arrests and Thomas B. Griffin, father of Iverson L. Griffin, traveled to Savannah to visit the accused in jail.  The South Georgia Times report of the arrest was reprinted in the Savannah Daily News and Herald, along with an exchange of telegrams between Mayor Griffin and military authorities.

Savannah Daily News and Herald
April 10, 1868

The Military Arrests in Valdosta.
{From the South Georgia Times}
         We are sorry to have to state that Monday night last some of our young men were taken from their beds and immediately hurried off to Savannah by United States troops, we presume to undergo military trial. It is alleged that they were engaged in the gunpowder sport referred to in — last. They have already given bond – the four are under arrest – to appear and answer before the civil tribunals. Our Mayor and Sheriff promptly discharged their duty in the premises. The hardship of the case is, that civil law has but a name. The iron is —ering in into the soil, and liberty and law is fast passing away. These young men are to be tried where perhaps their case is already prejudged, far away from their homes and sympathy and kindness of friends. Time was when such an act would have fired the great heart of the country from one end of is bounds to the other. They should have been tried by their peers of the vicin– — age, and if guilty of the violation of law, punished as that law would punish them, and not at the behest of prejudiced strangers.
        Our Mayor sent the following telegram to Gen. Meade relative to what had been done here. General Meade’s reply is appended. Alas! for the rights for which our fathers fought, and of which we have so much boasted.
         A telegram was received by Mr. M. J. Griffin, at 6 o’clock yesterday, from Mr. T. B. Griffin that “the boys were all comfortably quartered in the barracks, and well cared for.”

Valdosta, April 14, 1868
Major Gen. Meade, Atlanta, Ga.
Sir: – At a late hour last night, without my knowledge, a party of U. S. soldiers arrived here and carried away the following persons, viz. A. H. Darnell, Iverson Griffin, John Calhoun, Ben Smith, John Rambo – who are alleged to have been concerned in a riot at this place on the 4th inst. These men, as Mayor, I had arrested and bound to appear at the Superior Court of this county to answer for the same. I respectfully request to be informed if they were arrested by your order, and if not, that they be released and take their trial before the civil tribunals of the county.
I have the honor to be,
Your Obedient Serv’t
M. J. Griffin,
Mayor Valdosta

Atlanta, GA., April 14th, 1868
M. J. Griffin, Mayor Valdosta:
The persons named in your telegram were arrested by General Meade’s order, and will be held for trial by Military Commission.
R. C. Drum, A. A. G.

In subsequent days state and national newspapers provided additional details.

The Macon Georgia Weekly Telegraph
April 24,1868

The Clift Electioneering Trick At Valdosta.
Yesterday, Lieutenant Bard, United States Army, arrived in this city on the train from Valdosta, having in charge five young men, whom he had arrested there the day previous, on a charge of having been the originators of the disturbance which occurred at that place on last Saturday night week. –
This is the general supposition, as nothing was said by the arresting officer of the why and the wherefore of their being taken into custody. Their names are Alexander H. Darrell, John Calhoun, John Rambo, Benjamin L. Smith and Iverson L. Griffin. They are all young men of good family, and entirely innocent of all blame in the matter. Mr. Calhoun was Deputy Sheriff of Lowndes County, and a faithful and efficient officer.- Mr. Griffin was not present at the Court House on the night in question, and in no way connected with the affair. Thus are innocent men torn from their families and thrust into prison by the strong arm of military power, and made to suffer by the rascality of a Radical carpet-bag adventurer. [Sav. Rep., 15th.

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Indianapolis Journal
April 30, 1868

ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP A REPUBLICAN MEETING – Information has reached the Congressional Committee rooms that on Tuesday last [Saturday, April 4, 1868] an attempt was made to blow up the Court House at Valdosta, Georgia, where a Republican meeting, composed mostly of colored people, was being addressed by Dr. J. W. Clift (white). A keg containing eighteen pounds of powder had been purchased at a store in the place, and a portion take out to make a train, and the remainder of the powder was placed under the Court House. Fortunately the cask was discovered and removed in season, but the train [fuse] was fired, and in an attempt of the persons present to escape, they were fired upon by a gang of white men outside, who had surrounded the building. This party held possession of the place that night, but on the next day they were dispossessed by the military, and the meeting was held.

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Bedford Inquirer
April 17, 1868

Terrorism In The South

      Our Democratic brethern would have the people believe that the South would be a perfect paradise if such men as Meade, Pope, Sickles, Sheridan, &c., were kept away. General Hancock has had several months control of the Southwest trying to carry out a different policy from that of the before-mentioned heroes with what results is indicated in the following article from the Pittsburg Chronicle of a few days ago:
      The dispatches which we published in yesterday’s issue, relative to the brutal murder of Hon. George W. Ashburn, of Columbus, Georgia, by a gang of villains in disguise, and the breaking up of a Republican meeting at Valdosta, Georgia, by a band of regulators of the Ku-Klux Klan, come at the heels of much similar information through letters and newspapers, and show that in portions of the South, a reign of terrorism is in actual operation. It verily seems that these ill-fated people are moved by some malignant fatality to thwart all efforts which look towards their gradual restoration to order and prosperous enterprise. Not satisfied with opposing every political measure that has been devised to enable them to get out of the dreadful slough in which they were left upon the suppression of the rebellion, they are actually engaged in the suicidal business of convulsing society so utterly by lawlessness, as to put a complete quietus upon the views and schemes of all those adventurous Northern capitalists, who had begun seriously to meditate risking their families and fortunes in the South…It is not pleasant for us to be compelled to state that at present, in many Southern States, it would he unsafe for a Northern man to buy property and attempt to carry on any farming or manufacturing enterprise. We have never gone out of our way to give added circulation to the prejudicial stories that are periodically current about the South. Whenever we could, consistently with the truth, present the bright side of the picture, we have cheerfully done so .But it is, in our judgment, perfectly clear from the accumulated information which pours in upon us, that, notwithstanding the cheerful fancies of such military optimists as General Hancock, there is an immense amount of crime perpetrated in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and portions of Arkansas and Missouri. How far it would be possible to curb these excesses by military power we cannot determine. It is probably impossible to keep perfect order over so wide an area and amongst a population so thoroughly demoralized by a long and unsuccessful war. Years will elapse before anything bearing the faintest semblance to the orderly and regulated institutions of the North will prevail. Then will slowly set in a desirable immigration, and the wasted and cursed South will begin to recover, to get strength,to enjoy the blessings of law, and to reap the fruits of sensibly directed industry.

The citizens of Lowndes county presented a bond for the release of the alleged bombers to the military authorities in Savannah, but this offer was rejected.

STILL IN CUSTODY – The young men who were arrested by the military at Valdosta, because Dr. Clift attempted to blow himself up with gunpowder, for political capital, are still held in custody at the United States Barracks in this city, awaiting the orders of General Mead.

The men were kept incarcerated through the election of 1868, and for a couple of weeks afterward.  After about a month of confinement, the suspects were finally released on bail secured by citizens of Savannah.

May 8, 1868

Release or the Valdosta Prisoners on Bail.
—Yesterday Messrs. A. H. Darnell, J. D. Calhoun. Iverson L. Griffin, B. L. Smith and J. J. Rambo, who, it will be remembered, were arrested on suspicion of being implicated in the supposed attempt to blowup a Radical meeting at Valdosta, previous to the election, while one Clift was addressing it, were released on bail in the sum of $10,000 each, to appear for trial when summoned by the military authorities. This was done by order of General Meade. Captain J. L. Moseley brought to the city a bond of $60,000 of the citizens of Lowndes county, which Col. Maloney would not accept, and six citizens of Savannah, representing nearly $200,000, offered themselves as security, were accepted and the prisoners released. The late prisoners requested us to publish the following:

Savannah, Ga., May 8, 1868.
Editors News and Herald: We, the Valdosta prisoners, who have been confined in the United States Barracks at this place, wish, through your paper, to render our thanks to Col. Maurice Maloney and his command, for their kind treatment, both to us and to our friends who visited us.
Yours Respectfully,
A. H. Darnell, Iverson L. Griffin, J D. Calhoun, B. L. Smith, J. J. Rambo, Savannah, GA, May 8,1868.

To the Citizens of Savannah: We wish to return our thanks for their kind attention and hospitality while we were in confinement at this place in the United States Barracks, and to the noble-minded merchants who have so generously stood our most unreasonable bail required by the military authorities. We trust we may at some future time be in such a position as to repay the many obligations under which we have been placed.
A. H. Darnell, Iverson L. Griffin, J D. Calhoun, B. L. Smith, J. J. Rambo,

The Georgia Election of April, 1868

The election of 1868 was a four day affair which commenced on April 20. Throughout the voting period, the southern newspapers maintained a cacophony of allegations of voter fraud, corruption, official vote rigging, coercion, voter ignorance, and other irregularities.  By 1867, the conditions of Reconstruction required an Oath of Allegiance to the United States in order to be listed in the register of qualified voters.  White southern men whose national citizenship had been renounced by way of the Ordinance of Secession, oaths of  abjuration of national citizenship, oaths of allegiance to Confederate states,  or acceptance of Confederate citizenship were required to swear a new oath of allegiance to the United States in order to have their national citizenship restored and to qualify for the right to vote. Some whites who had held posts in the Confederate government or the governments of Confederate states were disqualified from having their citizenship restored through the oath of allegiance.

The April 1868 election in Georgia was a vote for state officers and U.S. congressmen and a vote on ratification of of a new state constitution.  When the votes were counted, the new constitution  was approved by a vote of 88,172 to 70,200. In the race for governor Rufus Bullock, defeated Confederate General John B. Gordon 83,527 to 76,356. In the elections for state representatives, Radicals won 84 of the 172 House seats (29 of them black) and came within three seats of taking control of the House. In the state senate, however, the Radicals (3 of them black)  carried a solid majority, with 27 seats to the Democrats’ 17 seats. The Radical believed blacks were entitled to the same political rights and opportunities as whites.

Clift Wins Seat in House of Representatives

Under Reconstruction, the results of the election were subject to certification by the military authorities. In the announcement made by General Meade, Dr. J. W. Clift was declared the winner in the First Congressional District of Georgia.

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
July 7, 1868

Headq’rs Third Military District, Department of Ga., Fla. and Ala.,
Atlanta, Ga., June 30, 1868.

General Orders No. 93,

From the returns made to these Headquarters by the Boards of Registration, of the election held in the State of Georgia for civil officers of said State and for members of Congress, under the provisions of General Orders No. 40, (Paragraph III,) issued from these Headquarters, which election commenced on the 20th day of April, 1868, and continued four days, it appears that in said election the following named persons were elected Representatives to the Congress of the United States from the Congressional

Districts to their names respectively attached, viz :
             First District—J. W. Clift.
             Second District—Nelson Tift, Sr.
             Third District—W. P. Edwards.
             Fourth District–Samuel Gove.
             Fifth District—C. H. Prince.
             Sixth District—John H. Christy.
             Seventh District—P. M. B. Young.

By order of Major General Meade.
R. C. Drum,
Assistant Adjutant General.

Following the ratification of the 14th Amendment by the newly elected General Assembly, the US Congress initially readmitted Georgia to the Union in July 1868.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment.

Joseph Wales Clift served in the Fortieth U.S. Congress from July 25, 1868, to March 3, 1869.  

Second Valdosta Attack on Representative Clift

Representative Clift did not enjoy a triumphant return to Valdosta. While passing through the “notorious” town in October 1868, he and his brother, Walter Lovell Clift, were again assaulted and their lives threatened.

Manitowoc Tribune
October 8, 1868

      We are informed that about ten days ago Joseph W. Clift, M. C. [Member of Congress] from Southern Georgia, while riding in the cars on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, with his brother was treated in a manner which shows conclusively that free speech is not tolerated in that section of the country.
     When the train stopped at Valdosta a town of one thousand inhabitants, distant from Savannah about one hundred and twenty miles, a large crowd surrounded the cars, and some fifteen or twenty ruffians, armed with heavy sticks, entered the car with the avowed purpose of taking them out and lynching them.
They were only prevented from doing this by the urgent entreaties of several prominent men, one of whom was an elector on the democratic ticket. The argument of the gentleman was, that the ‘boys mustn’t do it because it would injure the party and town!’ The crowd outside becoming weary of waiting for the sport to commence, hooted and yelled ‘Bring the d—-d Radical out!’ and again the roughs seemed determined to accomplish their purpose but were again met by the same objections on the part of their friends and after heaping all manner of insults on them offensive gentlemen were quietly passing through their town, reluctantly relinquished their purpose and left the train. This town Valdosta enjoys an unenviable notoriety as the scene of a Ku-Klux monstralation last April when a band of forty or fifty armed men first placed eighteen pounds of powder under the Court house where Dr. Clift was about to address a Republican meeting and when by accident the infernal plot was discovered just in season to prevent their drunken tool from firing the train [fuse] and hurling three hundred people into eternity, the meeting was broken up by violence, and the mob took and held the town all night threatening to assassinate prominent Republicans and rendering it necessary to send for military aid before the meeting could proceed.
       Several person prominent actors in the April affair, and now under bonds of $10,000 each for their participation in the same were leaders in the recent attack.

Returning to Washington, DC, Clift presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-first Congress but during the recess period actions in Georgia,  including the expulsion of black legislators from the state Assembly and the Camilla Massacre, had resulting in the re-imposition of Reconstruction and federal military jurisdiction for the state under the command of General Alfred H. Terry.  With Georgia’s return to un-reconstructed status, Clift and the other representatives and senators of  Georgia were not allowed to take their seats in the U.S. Congress.  

Thomas Nast sketch from a montage on Reconstruction violence entitled "Southern Justice," Harpers Weekly, March 23, 1867

“Southern Justice,” Thomas Nast sketch of Reconstruction violence, Harpers Weekly, March 23, 1867  depicted a scene in Texas but aptly portrayed the events of the Camilla Massacre which occurred September 19, 1868.

In January 1870, General Terry  removed ex-Confederates from the Georgia General Assembly, replaced them with the Radical runners-up, and then reinstated the expelled black legislators. “Terry’s Purge”established a solid Radical majority in the Georgia legislature, which ratified the Fifteenth Amendment  in February 1870 and chose new senators to send to Washington.

 The 15th Amendment to the Constitution established voting rights for African American men by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote

On July 15, 1870, Georgia became the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union.

Upon the withdrawal of federal military rule from Georgia, the rise of KKK terrorism quickly suppressed the newly gained civil and political rights of southern blacks.  When the midterm election put white supremacists back in control of the state senate, Governor Bullock resigned and fled the state rather than face impeachment by a hostile legislature.

Speaking from the steps of the Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. on November 29, 1871, Dr. Joseph W. Clift made an impassioned appeal to the Radicals of Georgia, which was printed and circulated in a political leaflet.

 

 An address to the Republicans of Georgia .... Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

An address to the Republicans of Georgia …. Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

 

 An address to the Republicans of Georgia .... Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

An address to the Republicans of Georgia …. Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

AN ADDRESS TO THE REPUBLICANS OF GEORGIA.

Governor Bullock having resigned, and the duly elected Representatives of the people having decided by an overwhelming majority that a Governor should be elected for the unexpired term, on the 19th of December, 1871, leaving only twenty days to organize a campaign under peculiar circumstances, and understanding that prominent Republicans, whom I honor and respect, have discussed the advisability of sustaining the veto of Governor Conley, by refusing to nominate or vote for any person for Governor, on that day, thereby letting the election go by default, I am prompted to write this letter and advocate, with such vigor as I may, exactly the opposite course of action.

I admit the arguments of my friends:

First . That there is little time to prepare for such a contest.

Second . That Governor Conley’s action, together with the silence of the Republican Representatives, who apparently acquiesced in it, have some force.

Third . Some minds may also be influenced by the depressing influences which still remain as the result of the election last December; and by the additional reason, that challenging for non-payment of the poll-tax, will prevent many colored Republicans from voting.

It has been said to me, let Governor Conley’s position be legal or illegal, it furnishes the Republican party an excellent excuse for not voting, and being badly beaten, the conditions being so unfavorable to their success in the contest. To many, these reasons, with other reasons, may be conclusive against our party running a candidate, and voting December 19; to my mind, they are not good reasons for such a course of action, and I sincerely hope our friends will immediately reconsider the question , and so far from letting the election “go by default,” make the above reasons alleged as sufficient to deter us from contesting the election with our Democratic friends, reasons for putting forth the most earnest and vigorous efforts to organize the party and meet the old enemies of Equal Rights, and exact justice to the colored man fairly and squarely in the teeth, and do brave battle for some pure-minded, honest Republican, who, if elected, will serve out the term with credit to himself and benefit to the State.

I am thoroughly convinced that this is the very best course for us to pursue. The contrary course seems to my mind neither wise, brave, patriotic, or just. We have as much time to work for the election as our opponents.

Governor Conley’s position is at least of doubtful legality, and even if it were technically correct, the voice of the people, speaking through their Representatives, speaks in thunder tones, and most emphatically—and as I think wisely—construes the language of the Constitution of Georgia to mean that a new Governor must be elected next month.

Neither brief time for preparation, Governor Conley’s position, the result of the last election, or the inability of our friends to pay their taxes, should for one instant shut our ears to this call of the people. It must, will, and ought to be obeyed at any cost.

The wishes of the people are entitled to respect, and the individuals, or party, who fail to heed them when so plainly expressed, and on so important a question as the one pending, will do itself great wrong, and suffer in the end accordingly.

I never did, and do not now believe in shirking a fight with Democracy under any pretext however specious, and circumstances however discouraging.

We ought to be ready and willing to meet them whenever and wherever duty calls, and defend the great principles advocated by our party since ’56, and by many good men long before.

These principles are as good and true to-day as ever they were, and the bitter and relentless warfare waged by our unscrupulous opponents against everything which tends to unshackle the hands of the honest laborer of Georgia—and everywhere else—should only nerve every man of us to “gird up his loins” and fight like heroes for the education and elevation of the masses, and the defeat of the cardinal principles of Democracy.

Instead of giving up the fight, let it be continued, and give them no quarter, till the last stronghold of the greatest foe of Liberty, and Equal Rights in this country, shall be carried, and they shall surrender to the cohorts of Freedom, and to the Civilization of the nineteenth Century.

If we would save our “Common School System,” in Georgia, and preserve the liberties of the people, we must fight it out with them, if we all go to our graves before the cause is finally triumphant. But triumphant it will be, and that at no distant time, as sure as a merciful God exists.

The wrongs of our poor people call loudly for redress, and the cry must be heeded, and responded to by all true hearts.

We must play no cowardly part in this fight, nor bow our neck to the Democratic yoke, otherwise we are not worthy the blessings we seek.

Let them, all the leading Republicans now in Atlanta, take Counsel together immediately, and prevail on Gov. Conley, Hon. J. S. Bigby, Ex-Gov. James Johnson, or one of a half dozen other pure and true Republicans of ability, and prominence, to allow the Party to make an effort to place them in the Gubernatorial chair.

Let Governor Conley reconsider his determination, and contest his right to his position before the PEOPLE, that Mighty Tribunal , higher than all courts.

Let us pay our poll taxes , rapidly organize our party in every county, and poll every vote we can; then , if we are ever so badly beaten, we shall have at least the satisfaction of meeting our old enemy face to face, and doing battle valiantly for the right.

It will put us in harness for the greater battle of ’72, in which the principles of justice will surely triumph over oppression and wrong, and the result be perfect Peace.

JOSEPH W. CLIFT.

Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C., Nov. 29, 1871.

 

Joseph Wales Clift died in Rock City Falls, Saratoga County, NY on May 2, 1908; He was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Clift estate, North Marshfield, MA.

 

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