Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brown Raider Newby's Brother Killed at Petersburg

A name the sticks out among John Brown's raiders is that of Dangerfield Newby (pictured above). Newby was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, around 1820, to his white master father, Henry, and enslaved mother, Elsey. In 1858, Henry freed his slaves and they all moved together to Bridgeport, Ohio. In the intervening years, and while still in Virginia, Dangerfield had started his own family with an enslaved woman named Harriet, who first lived in Warrenton, and then Prince William County. 

In Ohio, Dangerfield saved money in attempt to purchase Harriet, but his offer of $1000 was rejected. It was probably partly out of that frustration that Dangerfield joined up with John Brown and his men to affect a change in the social system that separated Newby from his wife and children. Dangerfield was cut down early in the fight at Harpers Ferry, shot through the neck. His body's wounds were probed by his killers and his remains rooted on by the town's hogs. 

One wonders if William Newby's motivation for joining the Union army was in part to continue the fight for freedom his brother started at Harpers Ferry with John Brown. 

William joined Company C of the 5th United States Colored Infantry at Athens, Ohio on September 10, 1863. His service records indicate that he was twenty-two years old and was six feet two and a half inches tall, and is noted with the occupation of farmer. William, a free man of color, was officially mustered in on September 22, 1863, at Camp Delaware, Ohio. Each of William's service record cards note him as always being faithfully present.  

The 5th USCI was moved to Norfolk, Virginia, early in their service. They then took part in expeditions in North Carolina, before being transferred to Yorktown, Virginia, and made part of the XVIII Corps. They then helped secure City Point in May, 1864, and participated in the early attempts (June 15-18) to capture the important railroad hub city of Petersburg.

William Newby was wounded in the left arm and left side while fighting "before Petersburg" on July 3, 1864. One of William's records shows that he arrived at a hospital on July 13. I was unable to determine if he had received significant medical attention before that date. William died of "pyemia" (blood poisoning) on July 26 as a result of his battle wounds. Unfortunately, William's place of burial was not noted in his service records.

Image of Dangerfield Newby courtesy of the Kansas Historical Socitey

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