Sunday, July 25, 2021

Col. William C. Oates Offers Reward for Enslaved Man

Today, while working on some research about a different topic, I came across the above advertisement in the August 6, 1864, edition of the Richmond Daily Dispatch.  

In it Col. William C. Oates offered a $500 reward for the capture of his enslaved body servant William. Oates was the colonel of the 15th Alabama, which is probably known best as one of the regiments of Gen. Evander Law's Brigade that assaulted the famous 20th Maine at Gettysburg's Little Round Top on July 2, 1863. The repulse of the 15th Alabama and Law's Brigade eventually made the 20th Maine's colonel, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain a well known name.  

According the advertisement, the enslaved William, at about 20 years of age, was on his third owner. Raised in Richmond, but sold to a Thomas A. Powell of Montgomery, Alabama, one assumes that Oates purchased William from Powell. 

One wonders if William made successful on his bid for freedom. If he made it to the Federal lines, did the young man join a United States Colored Troops regiment and fight to end slavery and claim his right to citizenship?  

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