A letter to the assistant inspector general of the Georgia Freedman's Bureau, 1868.
The letter describes violence against freedmen by whites at a Republican political rally later called the The Camilla Massacre.
Hd Qrs Sub Dis't [[object Object]] of Albany, Bureau R. F. & A. L. [[object Object]]
Albany, Ga. [[object Object]] , Sept [[object Object]] 20. '68 [[object Object]]
Col [[object Object]] J. R. Lewis
U. S. [[object Object]] Army
Atlanta. Ga. [[object Object]]
Col, [[object Object]]
The affair at Camilla seems to have been a massacre. I enclose an accurate list of the killed & wounded so far as known.
A freedman who was a prisoner at Camilla, but who escaped during the night, states that he helped to remove one dead freedwoman, & four wounded freedmen from road within a hundred yards of the Court House. The white men, his captors, boasted, to new comers, of twelve freedmen killed in one pond near Dr Dasher's, two miles from Camilla
(con) [[object Object]]
Another freedman took refuge in a swamp where he lay concealed all last night, with four others near him. He heard, during all the earlier part of the night, the white men scouring the woods, shouting, cursing, and shooting the freedmen. The pursuers, he says were accompanied by Bloodhounds, he heard the cries and shrieks of the fugitives as they were shot, and as they were pulled down by the dogs. Two of the men, near him, becoming frightened, endeavored to escape, and both were shot within his hearing.
It was reported to me as late as 4 this P.M. that, up to 8. O'clock this morning, when my informant left, they were still pursuing the freedmen with horses & dogs.
There has been an intense excitement in town all day.
The town has been filled with freed men, they have swarmed about my office
by hundreds. It has been difficult to restrain them from proceeding " en masse " to Camilla, I have addressed them counselling [[object Object]] peace and order, I have told them that the offenders shall be punished, and that their lives should be protected, but, I have no heart for my work. I felt no assurance that my promises would ever be fulfilled.
The Mayor addressed them, as did some citizens, but the freed people scoffed at them, would not listen to them, & I had the whole burden to bear, at this hour (midnight) all is quiet.
How long I shall have the heart to deceive these freedmen by false promises, & how long I shall be able to deceive them by such promises, I cannot say, but I imagine that it is not long, & when they
have no confidence in my fair promises, what then? Dr Raushenberg has returned from Fisher & Flaggs plantation, nine miles below here, where he has been all day caring for the wounded.
I will tomorrow take affidavits of wounded men, & others, & prepare an official report.
Please instruct me & inform me what action will be taken, Military or Civil Authorities.
(signed) O. H. Howard
Bt. Maj [[object Object]] & S. A. C [[object Object]]
Can you not send an officer to assist in the investigation.
A true copy M Frank Gallagher Bt. Capt. [[object Object]] U.S.A. [[object Object]] A.A.A.G.