Thursday, March 7, 2019

Runaway Slave Ad Linked Flight to Wilson-Kautz Raid


The other day, while I was searching for some Confederate newspaper accounts of Union prisoners captured during Grant's Fourth Offensive at Petersburg (August 18-25, 1864), I happened across the above advertisement in the August 28 issue of the Richmond Daily Dispatch.

As you can see it lists nine men and two women who were owned by an E. H. Stokes of Lunenburg County, Virginia. I found a few things about this ad quite interesting.

At first I was not able to locate E. H. Stokes in the 1860 census by using the name search feature on Ancestry.com. I figured he must have moved to Lunenburg County after 1860. So, in attempt to see if I could find more about him I conducted an internet search and found another runaway advertisement from 1855 posted in the Richmond Enquirer (see below).


The 1855 ad also states that Stokes was in Lunenburg County, so I determined to go page by page through the 1860 census for the entire county. Fortunately, it was only 120 pages long, so it didn't take too long to find him, but I did have to go to page 110 to track him down.

Edward H. Stokes is in the household of, I assume, his mother, Jane J. Stokes. Jane was 76 years old, Edward was 35. She is listed as a farmer, his occupation was trader. He claimed his real estate worth was $9000 and his personal property $25,815. Mother Jane had $1200 in real estate and $12,180 in personal property.

Edward H. Stokes's occupation of slave trader makes perfect sense since the 1864 runaway slave advertisement shows his slaves hailing from all across Virginia, and one from North Carolina, and one from Maryland. The 1855 ad is similar. One enslaved man is from Maryland and the other from Warrenton, Virginia. I also found Edward and Jane Stokes in the slave schedules. Edward owned 21 enslaved men, women, boys and girls, who ranged in age from 31 to 1 years old. Jane owned 11 enslaved people.

The Wilson-Kautz Raid kicked off on June 22 and ranged across Southside Virginia, attempting to wreck parts of three different railroads and their bridges in effort to hamper Confederate supply lines. Along the way, and as A. Wilson Greene so ably recounts in his recent A Campaign of Giants, Vol. 1, enslaved men and women like Jordan, Lewis, Joshua, Jack, Jim, William, Elijah, Sally, and Harriet flocked to the Union raiders during the 350 mile trek, which ended up costing the cavalry force over 1,400 casualties. At the end of the raid, on June 29, near where it started, at Reams Station on the Petersburg-Weldon Railroad line, Wade Hampton's and Fitzhugh Lee's Confederate troopers caught up with the raiders and recaptured a number of the supply wagons, some of the Union cavalrymen, and a number of the fugitive slaves. One wonders if Stokes's enslaved men and women were sadly among those reenslaved, or if they found their way to Union lines and freedom.

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