CHAPTER OR STORY 20 – SHEPHERDSTOWN, VA: NETTA LEE “MEETS” THE 19th U.S.COLORED TROOPS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LJpJeIwFMw#t=1h17m36s Click Here and the link will take you to the beginning of this story at 1:17:36 within the longer video called “Jasper Thompson’s Destiny Day September6, 1906”
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Just when Jasper was leaving Jefferson County, his future comrades at the Crater were combing the area for recruits.
Tuesday, April 5th, 1864: 300 men of the 19th Colored Troops march from Maryland to Shepherdstown to recruit.
“These (negroes) were hailed with much joy by some of our loyal citizens and some five or six negro soldiers were invited to breakfast by Mrs. C__.”
April 12, 1864 – Diarist continues: “Twenty-four black yankees and a white officer passed through, going to Martinsburg.”
Twenty-year-old Netta Lee was living at Bedford outside Shepherdstown at that time with her mother Henrietta, her younger brother, Harry,
and enslaved African-Americans: a worker named Nace; father and daughter, Tom and Keziah Beall;
along with Peggy Washington and her three grand-sons – Thompson, William and George, and her grand-daughter Virginia, also called “Jinny.”
Edmund Lee, Sr., Netta’s father, was away; son/brother Edwin Grey was in the Confederate army and Edmund, another brother, had enlisted the year before.
The United States Colored Troops organization was created by presidential order in May, 1863.
In letters of Henrietta Lee and Tippie Boteler, they write that most able-bodied, enslaved African Americans left the County for good as of May, 1863, . . . posing challenges in household upkeep and crop production for them.
Netta Lee wrote:
(NOTE: Netta Lee in her reminiscences refers to this event as occurring in the second year of the war – the time the USCT troops visited Bedford – when records of Captain James Rickard, commanding the party shows it was in the spring of 1864, or the third year of the war.)
“The months sped by and we were in the second (should be: “third”-JS) year of this terrible war.”
“All of our men, including Edmund, the next to the youngest brother, had gone to join the army, leaving Harry, a boy of about thirteen, as our protector, and seized every opportunity to come home, or as near home as possible when our troops were in the Valley.”
Men of the 19th U.S. Colored Infantry, who fought with Jasper soon at the Crater, visited the Lee’s home, Bedford, in Shepherdstown to find recruits.
“Mother and I were seated on the portico one bright morning, playing a game of chess. So intent were we upon our play that not one word had been spoken, save an occasional monosyllable: ‘Check!’ when Harry came running up the gravel walk toward us. The boy’s eyes seemed black with indignation, his face flushed with anger.’What is it, Harry?’ we both exclaimed in a breath. ‘What has happened – another battle? Tell us quickly!’
TITLE: These accounts are taken from Netta Lee’s diary, maintained during the war. The prejudicial sentiments were common to the time and place, but are properly censured today. They are included for historical accuracy and to promote a greater understanding of racism.
‘. . . The white yankees, who were quartered here at the river to picket the town have been removed, and Heaven knows they were bad enough, but now a negro regiment has replaced them and will be here tonight!’
“Our Mother’s face grew pale. She arose and placed her hands on Harry’s and my shoulders as we stood beside her, saying: ‘Through Captain Cole’s reign, our Father in Heaven has guarded us, my children: I do not believe the negroes can be worse than Captain Cole’s men were. . .”
(Netta to Harry): ‘A regiment of them, did you say, Harry?’ I asked. ‘Yes, And we hear they are going to draft all the able-bodied men under forty-five years.’
‘Have they white or black officers? Oh, white officers, all of them. And what is worse, I hear they are going to camp out of town in this lot of ours next to the meadow. Oh, that is too outrageous,’ exclaimed Mother.”
“Just at this moment was seen approaching from one of the servant’s cottages, a stately elderly black woman with a tall turban on her gray head and a red kerchief crossed over her chest. She was walking briskly and talking to herself.”
‘There comes Aunt Peggy (Washington),’ I said. ‘Mother, she must have heard the bad news.’
‘Yes,’ continued Harry, ‘for George was in town with me.’
“Then Peggy Washington said: ‘Miss Netta, is that so about the soldiers coming to this town and drafting everybody they can?'”
Netta: “Yes, Peggy. Harry says they really are to be here tonight. I was just going to send for you and tell you to fix up something up to eat for the boys, Bill, Thompson and George, and send them out to the farm (Oak Hill on the Kearneysville Pike) before sun-up tomorrow morning. They must stay there all day tomorrow. Be sure they start very early.”
Peggy: “Yes, that’s so. I’ll get them off in time. The nasty trash. They aren’t going to get my grandsons, all the children I’ve got left, and make them fight against the ones they they played with all their lives.”
Netta: “Well, you see, Peggy, we don’t know what these new men will do; but the boys will be safe at Oak Hill.”
Peggy: “Yes, that’s so. I’ll get them off in time.”
Henrietta: “They must hide during the day and return home at night for food; and none of them must go to town tonight,” said Mother.
Peggy: “No m’am! They won’t want to go to town tonight!”
Netta Lee wrote: “Sure enough, it was well. Peggy got her boys off early to Oak Hill for the report was true, and next day, negro troops encamped in our fields;
“and Harry called to me: ‘Just come and see how they are shooting down all the hogs in sight.’
“Mother added: ‘I’m glad I made the boys lock up all the sheep, which are quieter animals than these hogs, though, no doubt they will soon follow, except (they will) love hog meat better than anything unless it is chickens.’
“. . . (As he looked through a field-glass, his mother asked Harry): ‘What are they doing now, Harry? A squad of them seems to be coming this way.’
“Mother hastily turned to the door, saying: ‘Come, let us go in. I don’t want them to see us looking at them.’
“We went into the library, where I busied myself buckling the belt of my little six-shooter around my waist, taking care that its bright silver mounting could be seen.
“On a table near her was Mother’s larger one, similarly mounted. She was just about to lay her hands upon it
“when Jinny, her old Granny’s (Peggy Washington) favorite, came bursting into the room . . . ‘Oh Mistiss, Granny says come down in the kitchen quick, please ma’am. Those soldiers are down there.’
Hastily Mother placed her pistol in her pocket, keeping her hand upon it. Then all of us started to the kitchen.
“There we found a party of six or seven stalwart negro soldiers insolent and swaggering. None however were actually inside the door; but two were on the threshold and swearing at Peggy, who had thus far kept them at bay with a large butcher knife and her tongue – the latter weapon being the sharper of the two. She was arguing manfully with them, saying: ‘I’m not afraid of yankees!’”
“What does all this mean?” asked Mother, who met the two of them as they succeeded in pushing past Peggy, starting to come up the basement stairs. ‘What are you here for; who sent you?’ asked Mother.”
“We were sent here for your three young colored men,” the man replied. “We’re gathering up recruits.”
(NOTE: William, Thompson and George were all draftable age in their late teens. – JS)
“Peggy broke in with: ‘I told them, Miss Netta, that there weren’t any men here. Then they told me they were going to search my room and the house and see if I didn’t hide them.’”
“Well,” said mother, “. . . and tell your officers there are only young boys. Go now, and don’t dare to come to this house and try to steal our young servants.”
“We’re only doing what we’ve been sent and ordered to do. We have to obey orders or get shot,” (replied the spokesman).
“Well, now you obey my orders and go to your officers and tell them what I have told you: “There are no men here; and also tell them that Southern women know how to shoot as well as their men do. Go!” said Mother.
(Netta wrote): “I was not slow to let them see the hilt of my pistol, and Mother kept her hand on hers. Harry, too kept around, with his military belt and Confederate buckle, showing that he also might be carrying arms, as he was, for, in that belt was hidden a sharp, two-edged dagger.”
The recruiting party made their muddy return to Harper’s Ferry – and soon central Virginia.
Only for a short time were the negro soldiers encamped near Bedford; they seemed to have been sent here to gather up negro recruits, and having accomplished their purpose, were soon replaced by a company of white men under the command of Captain Teeters.
According to Netta Lee’s diary, George, Thompson, and Bill had kept well out of sight of the African-American soldiers and Harry had kept his chickens in close confinement, too, up to the day of their departure. So the day the soldiers marched across the Potomac, Harry came in saying: “Mother, I think I may as well let all those fowl out.” Those two game roosters have fought every day since I penned them in the chicken house and have killed each other. Bill and I have named them Abe and Jeff. “Well,” said Mother, “put one of them in the cellar and tell Peggy she can kill him tomorrow.” “All right!” says Harry, “I will imprison Abe.”
Service records indicate enlistments into the U.S. Colored Troops by two men with the names of 56-year old (1864) Peggy Washington’s grandsons, both enlistees also born in Jefferson County. It should be noted that the Lees refer to likely enlisted men in their households as “boys,” creating a wrong impression of their age.
There is a record of a Jefferson County-born African American named William H. Washington, who was born in 1834 who enlisted in 1864 in the 32nd USCT Infantry at Chambersburg, PA. He was at least the same generation of the Lee’s butler named “Bill.”
His service record:
William H. Washington – age 30 and a 5’9” laborer. In 1864, he enlisted at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in Co. B the 32nd USCT infantry regiment. Mustered out in 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Ms. Washington had two other grandsons, named George and Thompson. There are no records of Thompson serving in the USCT, but a 35-year old African-American by that name appears in the 1870 Census in the adjacent Loudoun County, Va.
Service Records also show a Jefferson County-born African-American named George Washington, enlisting September 12, 1864 at Harper’s Ferry into the 37th U.S. Colored Troops in Company K. He deserted October 1, 1864.
Some of the men who were active in Co. G. of the 19th U.S. Colored Troop in April, 1865, at the time the company participated in recruiting in Jefferson County and in Shepherdstown were:
39-year-old James Alexander enlisted in Frederick, Maryland;
30-year-old Jenkins Banks enlisted in Dorcester, Maryland and died of that disease on September 7, 1865 at Galveston, Texas.
30-year-old John Bond enlisted in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and died of pneumonia five months later.
18-year-old James Briscoe was a slave of Edward Wilkens of Kent County, Maryland, served with his regiment throughout the war, and died in the Post Hospital at Brownsville, Texas on July 31, 1865 of chronic diarrhea.
23-year-old John F. Butler enlisted in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, was wounded by a minie ball at Petersburg, Virginia on September 30, 1864 and died of erysipelas on March 20, 1865.
Some of the other men present were 20-year-old Samuel Chambers; 30-year-old Lewis Cooper; 26-year-old Emery Demby; 23-year-old Thomas Hackett; 18-year-old Thomas King; 24-year-old Charles Kinnard Lindsey, 21-year-old Stephen Lindsey and 30-year-old Henry Murray.
Of these additional eight men, all died during while in the service from wounds or illness.
Captain Rickard wrote his widow of Henry Murray:
To all whom it may concern:
Camp in the field near Petersburg VA
June 19, 1864
I have to announce to you the sad intelligence that your husband “Henry Murray,” a Corporal in my Company died this morning. He has not been well for some time & yesterday he accidentally fell into a small stream which we crossed on a march. He was brought along in an ambulance & died this morning. He was a good & faithful soldier. I regret his loss & sympathize with you in your bereavement.
Capt., 19th U.S.C. Troops
Comd’g Co. G
It should also be noted that thirty-year-old free African-American William Spellman in Charlestown enlisted in the 19th USCT regiment in Frederick, MD, May 24th that same year, fought at the “Mine” and Petersburg and was mustered out January 15, 1867 in Brownsville, Texas.
Two other enlisting African—Americans from Jefferson County who, according to Tippie Boteler’s 1864 diary and Alexander Boteler’s farm records as written in Charles Adams’ biography of ARB, had also worked for the Botelers and or Pendletons. They were William Bunkins who enlisted July 13, 1864 into the 23rd USCT Infantry Regiment when he was about 24-years-old, and Randolph Thornton, who enlisted into the 3rd USCT Infantry Regiment on July 3rd, 1863, when he was twenty-three-years old.
William, who served as a hospital steward at Camp Casey in Virginia throughout the war and lived in Jefferson County in 1880, is a likely relation to a Wilson or Nelson Bunkins, who was born in 1841 and was the husband of Margaret Bunkins, a servant, along with their daughter Fanny, for the Botelers on the fateful day in July, 1864 when Fountain Rock burned.
Randolph Thornton, who mustered out in Jacksonville, Florida in 1865 and was living with his family in Charlestown in 1880, may have been a relation to the only African-American Thornton family in the County in the 1850s, a large enslaved family that worked for both the Pendletons and the Botelers, and some of whom emigrated to Liberia in 1855.
Lee, Henrietta Edmonia. (1925). “The Recollections of Netta Lee,” Alexandria, VA: The Society of the Lees of Virginia. Print. (by permission)
Society of the Lees of Virginia @ at the Alexandria, Virginia Library
Box 2641 Series: Family Papers. 10. Bedinger Family; 38. Goldsborough Family
Leeland Collection Box 264AA (Originals) Box 264BB(Transcriptions) Henrietta Bedinger Lee Letters; Box 264CC (Originals) Henrietta Bedinger Lee Letters; Box 264DD Henrietta Lee (“Netta”) Goldsborough Diaries 1864-1921; Letters (NOTE No. 16 Goldsborough, Henrietta Lee (“Netta”): Netta’s Reminiscences, draft, 1861-1865);
Box 264EE: Misc. Box 264FF Great variety of letters;
alexlibraryva.org 2 September 2016 Web. 20 January 2017.
Rickard, James H. (1894) “Services with Colored Troops in Burnside’s Corps.”
from Personal Narratives of events in the War of the Rebellion, being papers read before the Rhode island Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society. Fifth Series – No. 1(1894). Providence, RI: The Providence Press. books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 20 February 2017.
Full published account from the perspective of Captain James H. Rickard regards the 19th U.S. Colored Troops recruiting party into the Shenandoah Valley, including Shepherdstown in March, April, 1864.
After serving nearly two years in this regiment, I made application to be examined for a position with colored troops, which were now being organized, and was ordered to Washington, before the board of which General Casey was chairman, for examination, and was commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln captain in the Nineteenth Regiment United States Colored Troops, March 12, 1864, and was ordered to report to Colonel Bowman at Baltimore, Md., for muster. The regiment, which had been recruited mostly from the eastern shore of Maryland, and composed entirely of slaves, was rendezvoused there and making final preparations to take the field. The officers had been assigned and rapid progress had been made in drill and discipline.
Soon after joining my regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Perkins, in command, obtained permission to take the regiment up the Shenandoah Valley recruiting. Arrived at Harper’s Ferry, with much difficulty we obtained a four-mule bag age wagon and started up the Valley for Winchester.
Col. Perkins was a peculiar individual, and seemed bent on making some kind of a demonstration with his regiment of colored men. When about half way from Berryville to Winchester our advance guard were fired upon, and returned the fire; for a moment some confusion prevailed, as it was expected we were intercepted by a rebel force. After forming line to the left of the road in a rocky piece of woods, an officer was sent forward to ascertain the cause of the firing. It was found that a company of our scouts, dressed in grey, had opened fire on our men to see how they would stand. Our men returned the fire and did not flinch. One colored man was struck on the forehead by a minie ball, and a piece of his skull as large as a silver half dollar knocked out, but it did not knock him down. He was assisted by his comrades, and when the wagon came up he was put in, and when after several days we returned, he was sent to the hospital, and came back healed, and did good service afterward. Our expedition continued to Winchester, where the colonel intended to pass the night, but having served in this valley previously and knowing the danger of remaining there, I prevailed upon him to move on to Bunker Hill, where we might be within supporting distance from Martinsburg should we be attacked; and I had information that a superior mounted force of the enemy were near.
On the way to Bunker Hill that night we met about eight hundred of our cavalry passing up the valley from Martinsburg; they were attacked the next morning and entirely routed, proving the wisdom of my insisting that we move on and not stop over night there with our small force of less than 750 men, untrained and untried.
From Martinsburg we passed over into Maryland to Shepherdstown and back to Harper’s Ferry. I was then ordered to proceed with my company to Charlestown with three days rations, and “recruit vigorously.”
My men had only five rounds of ammunition. I asked for forty and was refused. I went under protest, as I knew that with less than one hundred colored men, ten miles away from any assistance, with only five rounds of ammunition, it was a foolhardy adventure, as Mosby with his guerrillas was scouring that country continually, and there were probably more Confederate soldiers in Charlestown at that time, well armed, than my company numbered.
It was a cold stormy night, about the first of April, when I arrived there. I quartered my men in a church, situated on the south of a square, the country to the south of the church being open toward a knoll where John Brown was hung. After seeing that the men were comfortably cared for, I found quarters near by in a cottage. The woman, whose husband was in the rebel army, was violently loyal to the Confederate cause. After much bantering and my offer to pay, I got a good supper, and a feather bed on the floor in front of a good fire. I was very anxious, and placed four or five pickets out and a sentinel in front of my door, with orders to report to me immediately any noise like the tramp of cavalry. I was just getting into a doze, between one and two o’clock. The sentinel knocked on the door and said, “I .hear cavalry. Having removed only my sword and boots, I was outside in an instant. I could hear the heavy tramp of a large force of horsemen apparently entering the place from the northwest. I had the men quietly aroused, and knapsacks packed without lights, and held a hasty consultation with my lieutenant (Raymore) and decided that ” discretion was the better part of valor.” It was raining and intensely dark. I moved down the macadamized pike towards Harper’s Ferry, where if attacked I might be within reach of assistance if necessary. We continued our march about four miles, when we reached a cavalry vidette, thrown out from Harper’s Ferry. I ascertained from him that a force of cavalry of our own troops had gone up the valley on a reconnoitering expedition, and on account of the muddy condition of the roads had gone up the road to the north, and entered the place from the northwest. Knowing now that there were troops between me and the enemy I was relieved of my anxiety, retraced my steps, and went back to the same quarters and slept soundly.
The negroes had become scared and kept out of sight, as the report had spread that we were pressing them into the service. In a few days the regiment returned to Baltimore without any recruits.
About the 20th day of April, 1864, we were ordered to embark on boats and proceed to Annapolis, Md. The impression made by these troops was voiced as follows by the Baltimore American the day of our departure: ” The three regiments of colored troops recruited in this city and State, nearly three thousand men, under the auspices of Colonel Bowman, made a dress parade through our streets this morning previous to their departure for the scene of—it is to be hoped—active operations. No man desiring the speedy overthrow of the rebellion, and its proper termination, could have looked upon the spectacle with other than feelings of satisfaction. Only one of the regiments was armed (the Nineteenth), the other two were fully equipped except arms. A splendid brass band was on the right of the line, and a full drum corps accompanied each regiment. The men all marched proudly and soldierly, and nothing could have been more perfect than their movement, evidencing a great deal of care in their management and drill. Magnificent working and fighting material was in that column. Sturdy, stalwart, able-bodied and healthy men, well disciplined by careful training, proud of their new and novel position, they looked every inch the soldier.
Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Vol. 62. Fragments of a Diary of Shepherdstown – Events During the War 1861-5
Eby, Cecil D. editor. pp. 83-96. Publish Date: 1996
“Fragments of a Diary of Shepherdstown. Events During the War of 1861-5.” Contributed by D. C. Gallaher, Shepherdstown Register, April 23, 1925.
wvgeohistory.org 5 October 2010 Web. 10 January 2017.
http://wvgeohistory.org/Search-database (Then: “Search” for “Author”: “GALLAHER” RETURN
Gallaher, D.C. Fragments of a Diary of Shepherdstown. Events During the War of 1861-5. Contributed by D.C. Gallaher. Shepherdstown Register, 4/23/1925
William Spellman, 30 years drafted into Co. K. 19th U.S. Colored Troops Frederick, MD, May 24, 1864 from Charlestown, WV. He was in the action July 30th at the Mine near Petersburg, Va. Mustered out January 15, 1867 at Brownsville, Tx by Captain Lockwood.
fold3.com 16 September 2011 Web. 20 January 2017.
William Spellman, freed African-American in the 1860 Census for Charlestown, Va.
1860 Census Jefferson County, Va. Charlestown p. 171.
fold3.com 16 September 2011 Web. 20 January 2017.
29-year old Albert Cook of Shepherdstown also enlisted on Co. F of the 28th U.S. Colored Troops drowned June 20, 1864 at White House Landing.
fold3.com 16 September 2011 Web. 20 January 2017.
“Thy Will” (20) – April, 1864 – U.S. Colored Troops Stop at The Lees’ Home
civilwarscholars.com 10 June 2011 Web. 10 January 2017.
CHAPTER OR STORY 20a CLICK HERE https://civilwarscholars.com/uncategorized/chapter-20a-a-boy-remembers-shepherdstown-in-the-1850s-then-during-wartime/