Brig. General H. E. Davies:
"I moved out from camp under instructions to make a reconnaissance on the enemy's rear and ascertain the position of his trains. Passing through Amelia Springs I moved to Paineville and there learned that General Lee's wagon train was passing a point about four miles from that town. I immediately moved down at the trot, sending the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, my advance, ahead at the gallop, and they succeeded in striking the train just as a piece of artillery had been placed in position to repel my advance. Before the piece could be loaded my men, charging through a deep swamp, were upon them and at once captured the artillery and men belonging to the battery and scattered the train guard at that point, of about 400 men, in all directions. I sent two regiments (First Pennsylvania and Twenty-fourth New York) at once to the right, along the length of the train, directing them to capture all animals and prisoners and destroy all wagons, as owing to the condition of the road and the exhausted state of the teams I did not deem it practicable to bring off the wagons....The commanding officers of these regiments each executed the orders given them with fidelity and zeal, and in a short time I was on my return to Jetersville with 5 guns, 11 flags, 320 white prisoners, and equal number of colored teamsters, and over 400 animals, captured from the enemy, leaving behind me 200 blazing ammunition had headquarters wagons, caissons, and ambulances. Shortly after leaving Paineville, on my return, Gary's brigade of rebel cavalry, acting as esort to the train, attacked my rear guard and kept up a running fight with my command as far as Amelia Springs, where I formed my brigade and held the enemy in check until relieved by the Second Brigade of the division."
War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 46, part 1, p.1145
Col. Hampton S. Thomas, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry:
"About one o'clock that night, as we lay to horse, the First Pennsylvania Cavalry was ordered to mount and report to General Sheridan at once. Under Sheridan's fly I found General Crook (who was now in command of Gregg's old division) and General Davies looking over a map. I was shown the position where the enemy were supposed to be, near Amelia Court-House, and was instructed to proceed with my regiment about two or three miles in advance of our brigade, press through all small detachments, and attack the enemy's wagon-train at daylight. We reached some high ground just as the sun was rising, and below at our feet lay the whole rebel army in line of battle, apparently sound asleep.
It was a beautiful sight to look upon. Here instructions were given to the men that when the charge was sounded by the bugles they should yell like demons and tell all the rebels they met, particularly the officers, that Sheridan and all his cavalry corps were upon them. This regiment with its three hundred veterans charged through a number of outlying commands, destroying about three hundred wagons, cutting out twelve hundred head of horses and mules, capturing eight hundred prisoners, eleven rebel battle-flags, and a bright, new spick-and-span battery of Armstrong field-guns, which shortly before had been presented by the ladies of Liverpool to the corporation of the city of Richmond. We held our ground and captures until General Davies came to our relief, which he did very promptly....
The First Pennsylvania Cavalry joined the brigade and resumed the fighting, for the rebels were very sore over the captures and were trying hard to retake their guns, but we succeeded in getting back to Jetersville safely."
"Some Personal Reminiscences of Service in the Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac," The United Service: A Monthly Review of Military and Naval Affairs, Volume 1 (Jan. 1889), pp.24-25
New York Times, April 14, 1865:
"Jetersville, Amelia County, Va., Wednesday Evening, April 5.
This morning, Davies' brigade, of the Second, moved out to Painesville, and two miles from that place, on the Amelia Court-house road, ran into the head of a rebel wagon train, ten miles long. A dash was at once made, and without much difficulty the following captures were made:
Five Whitworth field guns and caissons complete.
320 prisoners, besides three Colonels and ten other officers. Col. Hare, formerly Chief of Artillery on Van Dorn's Staff, and more recently on Bragg's, was one of the Colonels.
Robert E. Lee's headquarter wagon:
Longstreet's headquarter wagon and flag.
9 flags of different kinds.
250 wagons destroyed, and several hundred negroes were brought in. The rebel infantry coming up, Davies was forced to retire, leaving the balance of the train."
An enthusiastic meeting of citizens, held in Mobile, February 19, 1865, declared that the war must be prosecuted 'to victory or death,' and that 100,000 negroes should be placed in the field. - Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama (1905) by Walter Fleming, p.86
The article Al takes issue with cites April 3, 1865 as the date of the story, with the Tri-Weekly Herald publishing it on April 11.
"Mobile papers of the latest dates state that the negroes are enlisting in large numbers and with great enthusiasm in that city."
Now look at the dates on this series of orders: April 4 and 5. The commanders are actively discussing the use of black soldiers, and were clearly aware of the debate in Richmond, if not the outcome or orders related to the outcome.
Meridian, April 4, 1865. Demopolis, Ala.:
By direction of the lieutenant-general commanding, at present, necessarily absent from headquarters, I have the honor to acknowledge through you the receipt of a proposition from certain citizens of Marengo and adjoining counties to furnish negroes for military service. General Taylor tenders to these gentlemen his thanks and his high appreciation of the patriotic motives which have thus promptly induced this offer of assistance. No orders from the proper authorities at Richmond have as yet reached him on the subject of the late legislation with regard to the employment of negroes as soldiers, but this would not prove an obstacle with the commanding general in the acceptance of this proposition could the department furnish the requisite arms, which, unfortunately, is impracticable at the present moment. He would be gratified, however, if the gentlemen who have affixed their names to the application would take steps to ascertain definitely the number of negroes that could be furnished at short notice, together with the names of officers to whom owners would be willing to intrust them. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, E. SURRGET, Assistant Adjutant- General.
April 5, 1865 (From Spanish Fort) 1:30 PM (ORA, Vol. 49, Pt. 2, p. 1204)
General Randall L. Gibson [commanding Spanish Fort] to General Maury: “Have you any negro troops? I would be glad to get some.”
April 5, 1865 (From Spanish Fort) 3:00 PM (ORA, Vol. 49, Pt. 2, p. 1205)
General Randall L. Gibson to General Maury: “If I can’t get howitzers I will take mountain howitzers. I will make good soldiers of all the negroes you send me, provided I have axes and spades. I am economizing all ammunition and secure all the enemy gives. All’s well. Hope to see you tomorrow.” [NOTE – All the men of the garrison were working laboriously around the clock to strengthen the earthworks]
From the after action report by General Randall L. Gibson:
“The guns were ordered to be spiked, and time was allowed for this purpose; the few remaining stores were issued; the sick and wounded were carefully removed; the infirmary corps and several hundred negroes who arrived that evening to be employed in the defense, and, finally, in good order, the whole garrison was withdrawn.”
- there was a proposition from "certain citizens" to arm slaves, given that there is talk of their owners
- the commanding general has not received instructions yet from Richmond (meaning he knew about the debate, but not the final decision, or else that he knew the enlistment law passed, but does not have orders yet) but "that would not prove an obstacle" in accepting black troops
- if the problem is lack of suitable arms, that along with the mention of the Richmond law indicates the intent to arm them for combat
- he wants to know who is available on short notice
- General Gibson would be "glad" to get black troops
- He would make "good soldiers" of them, and put them to work with the others in strengthening the defenses
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Before Blakely, Ala., April 9, 1865.
Captain F. W. EMERY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Thirteenth Army Corps:
CAPTAIN: The prisoners captured by my command that have been thus far reported number 255 white and 34 colored, 19 of whom are commissioned officers, ranking as follows: One colonel, 2 lieutenant-colonels, 1 regimental adjutant, 1 adjutant-general (General Cockrell's staff), 1 inspector-general, 1 ordnance officer, 12 captains and subalterns.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES C. VEATCH,
Don Dixon link
I am unable to verify this information.
"At the end of the war, Brigadier General Randall Lee Gibson of Louisiana commanded Confederate forces at Spanish Fort during the Mobile Campaign. He began asking his headquarters that 200 Negroes be assigned to the fort on 3 April 1865. On 5 April he wrote “I will make good soldiers of all the negroes [sic.] you send me…” At a time when he did not have enough small arms for all of his white troops, he wrote that he had armed “all the Negro servants of the officers [, who] participated in the defense of the works – one or two of whom were wounded,” capitalizing the word Negro in that report. He considered the blacks more reliable than the white Alabama militia who constituted half of his force. That a man was wounded while armed would tend to indicate that he was a combatant.
"The 3 and 5 April requests are contained in the O.R. Two versions of Gibson’s report on his defense of Spanish Fort exist. The handwritten version contained in his papers at LSU, mentions his arming the "public and private" Negroes present at Spanish Fort. I would infer that the "public" Negroes were slaves either owned or leased by the Confederacy. Curiously, the published version contained in the O.R. at - 49, Part I, 313-8 – does not. After the war the editors of the O.R. asked ex-Confederte officers to provide copies of their official papers for use in the O.R. What I don't know is if Gibson edited out the paragraph on his arming the Negroes during the defense of Spanish Fort before providing the report to the editors of the O.R., or if the editors of the O.R. took it out. The reports are precisely the same [word for word] except for the missing papragraph.
"Given the situation at Spanish Fort, and given the collapse of the Confederacy, I suspect that it is unlikely that any of the Negroes Gibson armed are listed on anyone's morning report or that compiled service records (CSR) exist for them."
Unknown work or page number.
Attached is an interesting excerpt from General Richard Taylor's autiobiography. Taylor was son of Zachary Taylor and commanded the Department of East Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
evidently regard the Yankees as at least Semi Gods. But the funniest of all was the prayer of one old darkie: "Lor, bress the damned Yankees." He had evidently heard his masters use this adjective so often in connection with the term Yankee that he thought it was part of their name! . . . Our army is too busy in the pursuit of Gen. Lee to stop to count the wounded, or dead. "Let the dead bury their dead " is its motto for the present. Still the wounded are all cared for by the proper departments and the two commissions. The dead are all buried too, but they are only just covered with earth. I saw them buried where the box was even with the top of the ground. And many were buried without even a rough box. Their blankets were their winding sheets. Of course we could have no religious ceremony. Our losses were not heavy, nothing like the losses last summer. Still many are dead, and many more mutilated for life . . . April 10th 1865 Dear Mary: . . . Ten thousand prisoners are to pass here to day on the way North. A salute of 100 guns was fired this morning at Peters- burg and Richmond. It is rumored that the cause was the surrender of Gen. Lees whole army. You will hear long before this letter arrives . . . We are now living on soldiers' fare, and not very plenty of that. Still we do not suffer. We have plenty of molasses made of Schorgum. It is good, having a pleasant tart taste. We break up the hard tack, and cover it with molasses. For dinner to day we are to have two confiscated chickens. The boys stole them, and the officers put the boys in the guard house, and are going to eat the spoils. "The partaker is as bad, etc." But the good book says, "Ask no questions for conscience sake." I suppose I shall have to eat whatever is set before me. For two days our mess chest was empty, and we had to buy our meals as best we could. To day we sent a cart to Petersburg to get grub. There were plenty of fresh shad in the city the day 1 was there, selling at one dollar per pair . . . Dinner over. Bill of fare —Chicken, hard tack cooked with chicken, and dry hard tack. It was designed as a superb meal, and was good. Have just filled my "rose wood " with confiscated " Zephyr puff," and will now go out and take the air. The rain has ceased. The first instalment of Rebel prisoners, numbering seventeen hundred and seventy, have just passed, under a strong guard. They are dirty, filthy, lousy, ragged, chapfallen, and wretched. Other thousands will pass before night. In the squad were many negroes recently armed by Jef. Davis. Among others were Gen. Lees headquarter guards. Twenty of Sheridan's calvery captured two miles of wagons. It is said that 14000 Johnnies will pass this afternoon. It is again raining, and the mud is horrible, yet the prisoners will be 24
Was Burgwyn the one who raised troops in North Carolina? There was a lot of letter writing. In the last one, the War Dept. and A&IGO make note as having received it on April 8 (CSA government was at Danville, VA, at the time) but was authority ever granted?-