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Impressment of Free Blacks During the Civil War

Free Blacks Ordered to Serve the Confederacy

In this document, dated February 13, 1864, court officials instruct the Franklin County sheriff to notify ten free black men in the county that they are being impressed into service as laborers for the Confederacy. If they fail to report for duty to Major J. G. Green in Salem, Roanoke County, on or before February 25, 1864, they will be "liable to the penalties of desertion." These ten were chosen from a list compiled of the able-bodied free black men between the ages of eighteen and fifty who lived in Franklin County. Among those forced to serve were Peachagrew Fry, a farmer who had a free wife and no children; John Green, a farmer; Lewis Radford, whose occupation was not listed; Jack Walton, a farmer whose family was enslaved; John Nelson, a one-eyed farmer and blacksmith whose family was enslaved; Burwell Murphy, whose occupation was not listed; George Williams, a farmer with a wife and two children; Henry Foley, who had no free family; Washington Goin, a millwright; and Addison Davis, who had a wife and several children.

Original Author: Franklin County Officials

Created: February 13, 1864

Medium: Handwritten government document

Courtesy of Library of Virginia

List of Free Negroes in Franklin County

This is a list drawn up in 1864 of all the able-bodied free black men between the ages of eighteen and fifty in Franklin County. Of the fifteen men listed here, ten were "enrolled," or impressed, into serving the Confederate cause as laborers. The work usually consisted of building fortifications or other defense structures.

Original Author: Government officials

Created: February 13, 1864

Medium: Handwritten government document

Courtesy of Library of Virginia

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  • Free Blacks Ordered to Serve the Confederacy

    In this document, dated February 13, 1864, court officials instruct the Franklin County sheriff to notify ten free black men in the county that they are being impressed into service as laborers for the Confederacy. If they fail to report for duty to Major J. G. Green in Salem, Roanoke County, on or before February 25, 1864, they will be "liable to the penalties of desertion." These ten were chosen from a list compiled of the able-bodied free black men between the ages of eighteen and fifty who lived in Franklin County. Among those forced to serve were Peachagrew Fry, a farmer who had a free wife and no children; John Green, a farmer; Lewis Radford, whose occupation was not listed; Jack Walton, a farmer whose family was enslaved; John Nelson, a one-eyed farmer and blacksmith whose family was enslaved; Burwell Murphy, whose occupation was not listed; George Williams, a farmer with a wife and two children; Henry Foley, who had no free family; Washington Goin, a millwright; and Addison Davis, who had a wife and several children.

    Original Author: Franklin County Officials

    Created: February 13, 1864

    Medium: Handwritten government document

    Courtesy of Library of Virginia

  • List of Free Negroes in Franklin County

    This is a list drawn up in 1864 of all the able-bodied free black men between the ages of eighteen and fifty in Franklin County. Of the fifteen men listed here, ten were "enrolled," or impressed, into serving the Confederate cause as laborers. The work usually consisted of building fortifications or other defense structures.

    Original Author: Government officials

    Created: February 13, 1864

    Medium: Handwritten government document

    Courtesy of Library of Virginia