Interview Of Ex-slave And Civil War Veteran
Civil War Veteran of Portsmouth, Virginia
On the outskirts of Portsmouth, Virginia, where one seldom hears of or
goes for sightseeing lives Mr. Albert Jones. In a four room cottage at
726 Lindsey Avenue, the aged Civil War Veteran lives alone with the care
of Mr. Jones' niece, who resides next door to him. He has managed to
survive his ninety-fifth year. It is almost a miracle to see a man at
his age as suple [SP: supple] as he.
On entering a scanty room in the small house, Mr. Jones was nodding in a
chair near the stove. When asked about his early life, he straightened
up [HW struck out: on his spine], crossed his legs and said, "I's perty
old--ninety six. I was born a slave in Souf Hampton county, but my
mastah wuz mighty good to me. He won't ruff; dat is 'f yer done right."
The aged man cleared his throat and chuckled. Then he said, "But you
better never let mastah catch yer wif a book or paper, and yer couldn't
praise God so he could hear yer. If yer done dem things, he sho' would
beat yer. 'Course he wuz good to me, 'cause I never done none of 'em. My
work won't hard neiver. I had to wait on my mastah, open de gates fer
him, drive de wagon and tend de horses. I was sort of a house boy."
"Fer twenty years I stayed wif mastah, and I didn't try to run away.
When I wuz twenty one, me and one of my brothers run away to fight wif
the Yankees. Us left Souf Hampton county and went to Petersburg. Dere we
got some food. Den us went to Fort Hatton where we met some more slaves
who had done run away. When we got in Fort Hatton, us had to cross a
bridge to git to de Yankees. De rebels had torn de bridge down. We all
got together and builded back de bridge, and we went on to de Yankees.
Dey give us food and clothes."
The old man then got up and emptied his mouth of the tobacco juice,
scratched his bald head and continued. "Yer know, I was one of de first
colored cavalry soljers, and I fought in Company 'K'. I fought for three
years and a half. Sometimes I slept out doors, and sometimes I slept in
a tent. De Yankees always give us plenty of blankets."
"During the war some uh us had to always stay up nights and watch fer de
rebels. Plenty of nights I has watched, but de rebels never 'tacked us
when I wuz on."
"Not only wuz dere men slaves dat run to de Yankees, but some uh de
women slaves followed dere husbands. Dey use to help by washing and
"One day when I wuz fighting, de rebels shot at me, and dey sent a
bullet through my hand. I wuz lucky not to be kilt. Look. See how my
The old man held up his right hand, and it was half closed. Due to the
wound he received in the war, that was as far as he could open his hand.
Still looking at his hand Mr. Jones said, "But dat didn't stop me, I had
it bandaged and kept on fighting."
"The uniform dat I wore wuz blue wif brass buttons; a blue cape, lined
wif red flannel, black leather boots and a blue cap. I rode on a bay
color horse--fact every body in Company 'K' had bay color horses. I
tooked my knap-sack and blankets on de horse back. In my knap-sack I had
water, hard tacks and other food."
"When de war ended, I goes back to my mastah and he treated me like his
brother. Guess he wuz scared of me 'cause I had so much ammunition on
me. My brother, who went wif me to de Yankees, caught rheumatism doing
de war. He died after de war ended."
Ike Thomas Interview Of Miss Mary Jane Wilson