Statement of a Louisiana Freedman

[Bienville Parish, La.]  Aug 18th 66.

Green Jones colored man lives on the plantation of John Reagans six miles south of Ringold makes the following statement of outrages committed on him and others on Monday night (Aug 13th) by men unknown to him.

On Monday night I was waked up by some men shooting into my house.  I jumped up and tried to get away but they caught me and threatened to blow my brains out if I moved an inch.  They took John Gordon and Henry Clay with me   Felix Dixon got under the floor and made his escape.  they took us about twenty yards from my house and whipped Gordon first then they pulled my shirt over my head and made me lay down on the ground   two of them stood on my head and arms and they whipped me with a leather strap fastened to a stick.  they must have given me about 300 lashes   the cut me up badly and kicked me in the face (bruises and wounds exhibited)   When they were through they asked me if I could be obedient to every little white child and could call every white man and woman Master and Mistress and raise my hat to every white man I met and never to leave home without a pass.  They then told me I had to sell my horses, that they would not allow negroes to have horses. that must get into some white man's yard for protection.  That they would not allow negroes to live off to themselves.  They said they would be round once a week.  I can't say that I knew any of them, but believe Rob't. and John Carr were among them almost certain they were.  Henry Clay got away they fired two shots but did not hit him   I have rented part of Mr Reagers place and have cultivated it on my own account.  There was eight or ten men   I can't say whether Mr Reagers had any hand in whipping us or not. had a difficulty with Mr Reagers some time ago but thaught that was settled.  My house is about 300 yards from his.

Statement of Green Jones, 18 Aug. 1866, enclosed in Capt N B Blanton to Capt A F. Hayden, 31 Aug. 1866, B-58 1866, Letters Received, series 1756, Department of the Gulf, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. Captain Napoleon B. Blanton, Freedmen's Bureau agent for Bienville Parish, certified that the statement accurately represented what Jones had said, and an adjutant at the headquarters of the Department of the Gulf attested to the fidelity of this copy. In the same file is a statement by John Gordon, another of the victims, who explained that he, Henry Clay, and Felix Dixon all worked for Green Jones, who “is carrying on a plantation on his own account”; Gordon was employed at $12 per month. The attackers “gave me about 300 lashes,” Gordon declared. “They said after they was done whipping me, to go back to my old master, and mind him and not to leave home without a pass, that we would have to be made slaves of again and that they would kill me if I ever reported them to that d—d Yankee Captain at Sparta.” Although he did not know any of his attackers, he believed John Reager “was the cause and knew all about the whipping of us.” Jones's house, he noted, was only 300 yards from that of Reager, who “could not help but hear us hollow for we were heard two miles.” (Statement of John Gordan, 18 Aug. 1866.) In his covering letter to the headquarters of the Freedmen's Bureau assistant commissioner for Louisiana, Captain Blanton reported that “cruelties of all kinds inflicted on the Freedmen are greatly on the increase in the Parish” and “[p]ublic opinion is against inforcing the laws against the whites for the protection of the colored people.” These developments he attributed “to some extent to the almost total failure of the crops and to a great extent to the large number of low bad and wicked disposed men” who, “[s]eeing that they are making nothing commence to abuse the Freedmen and finally make them leave . . . frequently without pay.” On October 1, 1866, Blanton's letter and its enclosures (together with a number of reports from bureau agents in other parts of the state) were forwarded to General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of the Department of the Gulf, who, retaining a copy, referred the originals to the post commander at Shreveport, Louisiana, with instructions to “investigate the circumstances complained of herein, and if the statements are found correct,” to “cause the guilty parties to be arrested and confined in case the civil authorities fail, neglect, or are unable to arrest and bring them to trial.” (Endorsement of [George] Lee, 15 Oct. 1866, on letter of Capt N. B. Blanton, [31 Aug. 1866], vol. 258/549 DG, p. 99, Endorsements Sent, series 4485, Department of the Gulf, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives.)

Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, pp. 926–28.