Monday, September 2, 2013

Todd County Citizens Petition for Compensation and Credit for Runaways

A few days ago I shared a petition by Christian County, Kentucky citizens to Governor Bramlette seeking help in stopping the flow of runaways to Clarksville and Fort Donelson in Tennessee. That request was drafted in January 1864 - before African Americans began being enlisted in Kentucky. Six months later, their neighbors in Todd County wrote to Gen. Lorenzo Thomas (adjutant general and special recruiter of the Bureau of Colored Troops) with a similar, yet different request:

"The undersigned loyal Citizen of Todd County in the State of Kentucky respectfully represent: that they reside on the borders of the State of Tennessee and about twenty five miles from Clarksville Tennessee.

That within tweleve months past several hundred slaves have left their owners in the Co[unty] and gone to Clarksville where a part of them have enlisted as Soldiers in the Army of the United States. but a large number are still lounging about Clarksville in idleness or are on the [Cumberland] river engaged at intervals on trade boats. The owners have received no compensation for the slaves and the State no credit for such as have been enlisted in the army. The owners cannot recover them nor can they enlist them because the slaves object

They are still going in large numbers. Some to avoid the draft & other we suppose to live in idleness. They will not enlist while they know they can so easily avoid Military duty and labor at home:

These facts result in great hardships to Our people. are prejudicial tot he interest of the Government: We therefore Respectfully request that you will publish and order or extend order No. 25 so as to direct that such slaves be seized by the provo.[st] Marshals in Tennessee at the requst of the owner. & deliver to the proper authorities in Kentucky to be enlisted. that Kentucky may receive her proper credits for those remaining to be enlisted
H. G. Petree
J. G. Hollingworth
J. H. Lowry
S. Black
E. B. Edwards
J. G. Roach
J. R. Penick"

Gen. Thomas eventually endorsed the petition and ordered that all runaways in Clarksville be put to work. Col. Reuben Mussey, who directed black recruitment in that part of Tennessee replied that all African Americans had been put to work or enlisted in the army already. No mention was apparently made about the issue of Kentucky being credited for their black enlistments so white Kentuckians would not have to serve in a war they were finding less and less friendly to their slaveholding interests.

No comments:

Post a Comment