Arkansas Planter to the Freedmen's Bureau Superintendent at Memphis, Tennessee

Pecan Point  Mississippi Co. Ark  October the 25th 1865.

The undersigned begs leave to inform you that on the morning of Oct 25th Thomas, Reile a freedman in my employ (evidence accompanying contract) did without the slightest provocation most grossly insult my Brother Dr F G. McGavock–and was ordered to the house to be discharged–whereupon he instigated a revolt and brought the most of my employees with him, stating that if he was discharged they would all leave–  by considerable persuasion all with the exception of four were induced to return to their work–  I then informed him, that I intended making this charge against him–  thereupon he agreed to return to the field and behave himself–which he failed to do–for upon arriving there he continued to use in the Foremans presence blasphemous threats, that has had the effect of badly demoralizing a good set of hands.

The cause if any existed for his bad conduct was that Wm Barnes had been order'd to come to the house, to be sent to you, for cursing the overseer.

My Brother and Col Thurston were witnesses to nearly the entire affair.

Praying that you will give this your early attention, and render me such relief as you may think best, I remain Your Obdt Svt.

John. J. McGavock

John. J. McGavock to the Hon. Supt of Freedman, 25 Oct. 1865, Unregistered Letters Received, series 3522, Memphis TN Subassistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. The contract said to have accompanied the letter is not in the file. A notation on the outside of the letter reads “3 mo confinemt.” William H. Thurston, who witnessed the incident, had been a colonel in the Union army and in December would become a Freedmen's Bureau agent, with headquarters on the McGavock plantation. (W. H. Thurston to Brig Genl Sprague, 25 Dec. 1865, and endorsement of B Gnl. J.WS., [30 Dec. 1865?], T-787 1865, Letters Received, series 231, AR Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.) For his role in obtaining laborers for the McGavocks and other Arkansas planters, see Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 278n., 675n., 676n.

Published in Land and Labor, 1865, pp 564–65.