Statement by a Tennessee Black Sergeant

Memphis, Tenn., [September 11] 1865

Sergt Joe. Brown. Co. D. 3d US [Colored Artillery] (H[eav]y) states I was sitting in my own door on Sunday night the 10″ of Sept., about dark. And a policeman who lives opposite to me on corner Brown-Avenue and Causey Streets Named Sweatt. said to me I wish I could get a chance to kill all the Damned Nigger Soldiers. and I said you cant kill me–  he then stepped back a few paces and ran up and struck me with his club, on the head–  at that time another Policeman came up and he struck me several times. and they thru me down and stamped me in the back while lying on the ground.  My shirt was torn off and I was badly bruised.  The man who I rent of saw this and knows the Policeman–  Thy tried to take me to the station House and [I] told them I would not go–and about this time the Patrol came along and took me to Irving Block.–

I had commited no offence at the time the Policeman came for which to be arrested.  I was sitting in the door with this man Tom talking quitly.

Statement by Sergt. Joe Brown, [11 Sept.] 1865, Affidavits & Statements, series 3545, Memphis TN Provost Marshal of Freedmen, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.

Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 743–44, and in Free at Last, pp. 514–15.