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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- "Hams Tied to Their Saddles"

The following 1873 testimony is from the case of Henry B. Masters of New Kent before the Southern Claims Commission. The Southern Claims Commission was designed in the early 1870's to ". . .allow Union sympathizers who had lived in the Southern states during the American Civil War . . . to apply for reimbursements for property losses due to US Army confiscations during the war."

This claim brought by Henry B. Masters is actually over the property of his father, Stephen B. Masters, deceased by 1873. Henry Masters was born in the North and according to his testimony spent the entire war there, except for one abortive trip to Virginia in 1861(though he was not so much a Northern man that he ever served in the Union army). Henry Masters being absent at the time of raid  and Stephen Masters dead, the claim relied on the eyewitness testimonies of various of Stephen's "servants." The testimony was given in Richmond, Virginia, before M.F. Pleasants, Clerk of  the United States Circuit Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, April 4, 1873

Thereupon, The said. . . .Joseph Burrell(colored). . . being, about the age of. . . . 48 years, by occupation a . . .farmer. . . .and resident of the. . . .the. . . .county of . . . .New Kent. . . .and State of Virginia, having been by me first cautioned and sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth, in the matter of the claim aforesaid, I did carefully examine, apart from all the other witnesses named in this case, and he did thereupon depose, testify and say, as follows, viz:

I was a slave during the war & hired to Stephen B. Masters the father of the of the claimant from 1862 till the end of the war, & after that till now- I am now living with his son, the claimant- I haven't left the place since 1862- I was living on the place all through the war from the time of McClellan's advance till now. The property was taken in the Spring of the year but I can't tell what year it was- It was towards the end of the war. The soldiers who took the property were all cavalry- they said they were Sheridan's men. They stopped from morning till night but did not camp all night. I saw them take 14 hogs. They killed them all on the place- 6 were full grown & the rest were shoats. I saw them drive away two cows- they were full grown. I did not see the fowls taken or the meat. I was not at the house. But I saw the soldiers have the hams tied to their saddles. I couldn't say how many but I could think at least 20. I saw the corn taken. We had shelled & measured 100 bushels, & put it away in the dwelling house- that was all carried off in bags. We had put away 111 bushels in the ear in the crib. We has used about half of that & it was all taken, every bit. I saw the two guns, a double barreled gun & a rifle after they were broken of their stocks & utterly ruined. I saw a good, new citizens saddle carried off. We had portable steam engine for cutting  wood that was very much damaged. I saw a barrel of apple brandy entirely used up. I think it held 10 barrels. I did not see the things taken out of the house, but I was there just after the soldiers left & I know the sheets & bedding, knives & forks & all such were taken. The house was cleaned out. The potatoes & turnips were under my charge. A large quantity if potatoes were taken but I can't say now how many. I am sure upwards of 50 bushels of Rutabaga turnip were taken. They were all(potatoes & turnips) put away in the cellar.
The soldiers took away everything they wanted. The officers seemed as bad as the men. They did not burn any fences or buildings & they hurt nobody. After they were gone, there was nothing left to eat. This was done by Sheridan's men, in the Spring & it was the last time any soldiers were there.

                      Joseph  Burrell         his  X  mark
                      witness M.F. Pleasants

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