Prologue Magazine

Voices of Emancipation: Deposition of Charles Washington

Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4

Document 2a
Deposition of Charles Washington to a Special Examiner

December 18, 1905, Lake Providence, Louisiana

Source: Civil War Pension File of Charles Washington, Co. E, 47th U.S. Colored Infantry, Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

I am 89 years old. My post office address is Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, La., Occupation farming. I am the same Charles Washington who enlisted some time in May 1863, at Stoneman's plantation, near Lake Providence, La., in Co. E 47th U.S.C. Inf., and served until the regiment was mustered out at Baton Rouge, La., in 1866. Do not remember what month I was mustered out, but it was when the whole regiment was mustered out. I am now an applicant for a pension, but do not know under what law my claim is filed All I know about what grounds that I am claiming a pension, because I understand that all old soldiers are entitled to a pension. I was born in the state of Florida, and lived there until I was quite a lad of a boy and then I was sold to a man by the name of Randolph, and was then put into the traders yard at New Orleans, La., and there a man by the name of Dr. Vincent, who lived on Joe's Bayou, who lived eighteen miles from Lake Providence, and he owned me for a long time, until I was a grown man, and had a wife and three children, and the then Dr. Vincent, or Dr. Vinson, sold me to Mr. James Berry, who livnd on the Mississippi River, up Lake Providence, not far from Longwood plantation. He lived there, but he owned the Vincent plantation. I never lived on the place where Mr. Berry lived. I was there on the place sometimes, would go there to take his wife home when she would come down to the plantation, and would occasionally drive his carriage home, when he would be on the plantation. I had been the slave of Mr. Berry for about four years when I went into the service, and he was my owner when I enlisted. Mr. Berry bought Dr. Vinson's plantation and all of his slaves. Did not any one of his slaves who went into the army with me. After I left home to go into the army, Mr. Berry carried all of his slaves who had remained at home, to the state of Texas, and I have never heard of any of them. I was a married man, and had three children and he carried them to Texas, and I have never heard of them since. My wife was called Julia Ruffin all the time, but my boys went by the name Washington. When I enlisted I did not personally know any member of my company before I enlisted. I was not asked how old I was when I enlisted, if they did I have forgotten it. They asked me who owned me. They did not tell me how tall was when they measured me, and do not know how tall I was. Do not know what year I was born. Question. How then do you arrive at your age. Answer. My mother told me one Christmas, that I was twelve years old, and I have been trying to keep my age as near as I could ever since. Do not know how long I had been married before I went into the service, but had been married long enough to be the father of three children when I left home. Have no idea how old I was when I was married. I think I was a slave of Dr. Vinson about thrity or forty years, and he bought me as a boy eleven years old. No sir, I did not have any peculiar marks about me. My color was light brown. When I enlisted I had a little mustache, and some chin whiskers but they had not "growed" to do any good, "they have growed out since." I have never shaved but one time, and never had shaved when I enlisted. No sir, I have not got a photograph or picture of myself. Do not know of any one who knew me before I went into the service. The colonel of my regiment was Schofield, Peeples was Lt. Col. Crump was Major, Summer Green was Adjutant. Think that when I enlisted the surgeon was Adams, but when I was mustered out the doctor we had then was called Fitts. My captain was Hathaway, who was a spare made, of ordinary size, and his hair was dark. He did not wear a muotasce [mustache], or whiskers. Do not know where he was from. The First Lt., of the company, was Lt. Lymons who was a small man, and had a brownish colored mustasc [mustache]. Weightman was 2nd Lt. He was tolerably tall, and did not have any whiskers at all. My orderly sergeant at first was a man by the name of Fish, who was a white man, and they removed him, and put William Foreman as orderly sergeant. He was a small, dark brown colored man, and did not have any mustache, or whiskers. Robert Anderson was the first duty sergeant. He belonged to Mr. Berry and lived on the upper place, he never lived on the place he bought of Dr. Vinson. Yes sir, he had a wife. Her name was Emiline. She was with the regiment at times. Yes sir, she knew me before I enlisted. She lived on Mr. Berry's upper place an belonged to him before he bought the Vinson place. I heard he was shot and killed at Vicksburg, Miss. I was next duty sergeant. No sir, I did not have any wife with me. A young fellow by the name of James Nish was a sergeant, but they took his stripes off of him, and put him back in the ranks but do not know why they did that. Do not think they put any one in his place. I bunked alone. There were two or three fellows in the tent with me but do not remember their names. I did not have any special bunk mate, when we were on a march we had dog tents and two men would join together. Did not have any special one. Question. Name every member of your company, whose name you can recall. Answer. Adam Shepherd, Henderson Stevens. No sir, he was not called Henson Stevenson, or Stevens. The captain always called him Henderson Stevens. A fellow by the name of Nat, do not remember the other part of his name, another fellow by the name of Julius—one by the name of Sampson. Another one they called Abram. Ross Thompson, Nelson Owens, Asberry Lee, Eli Piles, Lawrence Brown, and those [illegible] dead. Do not know where Nelson Owens lives, but he lives somewhere up the Mississippi River. Adam Shepherd, Henderson Stevens and Ross Thompson all live in this parish and all know me well and they know that I am the same Charles Washington who served in Co. E, 47th U.S.C. Inf., If my regiment was ever called anything but the 47th U.S.C. Inf, I do not remember it. The first year after I was discharged, I lived up on the Davis place up Lake Providence, near old river I have lived witin three miles of the first place I lived after coming home ever since the war. The regiment was near Lake Providence when I enlisted and we went from there to Goodrich Landing, was there a month or more, and then we went to Vicksburg, and was there two or three weeks, and from there we went to Haynes' Bluff, Miss., was there about a month and then we went up White River, and from there we came back to Vicksburg, and was there for two or three days, and then we took a boat, name forgotten, and went to New Orleans, was there a week, and then we went to a place called Brancas, Fla., think that was what they called it. We then went to Ft. Blakeley, Ala., where we had a fight, and that was the last battle we had. We had a little battle at Yazoo City. A fellow by the name of Jo was the only member of my company who was killed. Robert Anderson got a scratch on his thigh in that battle. That and the battle of Ft. Blakeley were the only two battles we had, but we were in some skirmishes. We h d a skirmish at Grand Gulf, Miss. One or two white cavalrymen were killed. But no one of my regiment, that I know of. There was not a member of my company killed in battle of Fort Blakeley, nor was any one wounded. Several in the regiment were wounded and some killed but I did not know of them. From Ft. Blakeley we went to Mobile, Ala., and from there to Selma, Ala., nd from there back to Mobile, and from there to Pineville, on Red River, and from there to Baton Rouge, La. where we were mustered out. I can prove by Adam Shepherd, Henderson Stevens and Ross Thompson that I am the same man who served under the name of Charley Washington. I was called Charles Washington while a soldier. No sir I have not got my certificate of discharge. I sent it to Mr. Fletcher of Washington, and he has not returned it. I have heard you read the list of comrades with the papers in this case. I remember Lawrence Brown , Wince Herndon, Capt Hataway, but did not remember his given name. Adam Shepherd Ross Thompson and Charles Wheeler, but do not remember the others on that list. Lawrence Brown was a dark brown colored man, or darker than I am. Charles Wheeler was a low chunky brown colored man. No sir, I have never at Pilcher's Point, No sir, I have never claimed that as my post office address. Yes sir, I know a Minister by the name of Powell. His name is Henry Powell. He is the first man, who ever did anything in my pension claim. Yes sir, I had my mail sent in his care, but I do not know where his post office was. If I ever had a man by the name of Wills for my Attorney I do not remember him. Since you have asked me about it, I remember I have a claim before Mr. Gilmore. Do not remember his given name. Do not remember now who were witnesses for me. The next claim I filed I went before Mr. Hamley, Elder Bell wrote the papers for me. Do not remember who witnessed my mark. No sir, I did not tell Mr. Hamley that I belonged to Dr. Vincent when I enlisted, but I told him that I was living on the Vincent plantation. I want Adam Shepherd and Henderson Stevens examined to prove that I am the same Charles Washington who served in Co. E 47th U.S.C. Inf. They are the only two I want examined. Question. There was not any one in your company, who was borne on the rolls, under the name of Henderson Stevens, what have you to say to that. Answer. That is what the captain called him. No sir he did not call him Henson Stevens, he called him Henderson Stevens. No sir, I do not care to be present or represented by attorney, either here or elsewhere during the further examination of my claim. The first woman I had for a wife after I came home from the army was Cherry Green. We were married in this parish in 1870 by Mr. Goff, who an officer of some kind. She is living yet. Yes sir, she is the only one I have had for a wife or lived with since I was a soldier. . . . Have not got any child living. This deposition has been read to me. I thoroughly understood your questions and my answers thereto are correctly recorded.

Charles X Washington

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