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This is taken from  Wharton J. Green: "RECOLLECTIONS  AND  REFLECTIONS AN AUTO OF HALF A CENTURY AND MORE": Presses of Edward and Broughton Printing Company, 1906.

It is the heartwarming story of one of Warren County's early leading citizens and his former slave and lifelong friend, identified here only as  Guilford. It is also the beginning of what we hope will become a major source for African-American family history in Warren Co.

The anecdote begins after Wharton J. Green has been captured and finds himself as a prisoner of war. We would love to hear from any of Guilford's descendants who might add to this story.

 

 

"Just before leaving the camp a laughable incident occurred at my expense. My body-servant Guilford, who had belonged to me for years before, and has been with me ever since, began blubbering on a high key. In reply to the question of some of the Federal officers: "What are you crying about?" he said: "You are taking Marse Wharton off to jail where he will have to take care of himself, and the Lord knows that he never did know how to take care of himself." A few days after that he was a party to an exchange, probably the first and last in which two of his race participated. Burnside coming on board one day, sent for me, remarking: "Colonel, your negro man is bothering me to death to let him go with you to prison, and to get rid of him I have brought him over with me and turn him over to you. I will take it as a favor if you will induce your War Secretary to give me up mine, who was captured at Bull Run." The arrangement was duly effected. I venture to give another anecdote of this faithful servant and devoted friend, who was afterwards captured with me in the wounded train on the retreat from Gettysburg. After General Burnside had returned to shore, Guilford requested me to move to the rear of the vessel out of earshot of others, which was done. Coming up, he looked around suspiciously to see that no one was near by, and then began mysteriously: "Marse Wharton, I have a piece of information that might be of great service to our folks if you are exchanged before going to prison." He then proceeded to tell me that the day before, on his daily visit to the Commanding General to press his request to be allowed to go to prison with me, the latter said he couldn't see him then as he was busy, but to come back later and we would hear what he had to say. Then the following: "As it was rather warm I took a seat on the ground, at the back of his headquarters,  and soon saw a number of big generals coming up and, as I supposed, entering. My curiosity was aroused to know what was going on, so, shutting my eyes as if asleep, I kept my ears open and on the stretch, for I soon gathered that it was a counsel of war, as I believe they call it, and were talking about where to strike us next. General Foster, as I took him to be, was for moving on Norfolk at once and taking it on the land side, while their ships should make a pretense by water from Old Point. All the small-fry generals thought that a good plan, but General Burnside upset it, when he up and spoke and said: 'Gentlemen, we have got to starve these people into submission, and here's how I think it can be done. Eastern North Carolina is the corn-crib of the so-called Confederacy, and if we hold the key, they cannot get into it. Therefore, my advice is, let us take Newbern and hold it as the base of operations.' It is needless to say his counsel prevailed." Commending him for his connected story, I told him that when we were sent home on parole, as was now pretty well settled would be the case, my hands and tongue would be tied, but that his would not, and gave him this command: "When you get to Norfolk, call on our old Colonel, Sol Williams, of the Twelfth, and repeat to him in confidence what you have told me, and ask him to take you to General Huger and vouch for your reliability; or if he is not there, to our old Captain, Ben Wade, of the Warren Guards." This was done, and General Huger praised him highly for his report, saying that he would send it at once by special messenger to the War Office. I am unadvised if this was ever done, but do know that the battles at Newbern and above were fought a few days later on. .."

"He passed into my possession by purchase from my cousin, General M. W. Ransom, who he has ever believed, and will die believing, was the biggest man that ever set foot in our State, "always excepting Marse General Jackson, who everybody knows was the best judge of good horses, good  hounds, game cocks and game men, that ever lived, Marse Jeff Davis, Marse Robert Lee, and General Forrest, coming next." Such was the report given long afterwards by one of the best men that ever lived in the world, Dr. Frank Patterson, as the two old night owls would sit over the midnight camp fire discussing men, measures, and metaphysics, when the rest of the camp would be wrapped in slumber. It is needless to say that his pre-eminent hero was not he of the foot cavalry, but the one of the cotton bales, both being of kindred taste and proclivities, that is, he and Guilford. .."

"To recur to the transfer of ownership, let it be said that it was the outcome of simple charity on both sides. He had, inadvertently, fallen in love with Melissa, my wife's dressing maid and needle woman, and as the two plantations lay in separate counties, it was a more difficult feat than Leander's for man and maid to get a glimpse of each other until the Gordian knot was cut in manner stated, and eight or ten grown up and well-to-do children attest the honesty and sincerity of their devotion through near half a century. By such change of proprietary possession, a faithful servitor and devoted friend fell to my lot, while my honored kinsman could but feel well content that he had received as equivalent the biggest purchase money in all probability ever paid for 'the brother in black' in our State, if not in any other... "

 


Copyright 2002 -2006 by Nola Duffy, Ginger Christmas Beattie and/or individual contributors as shown.  No portion of the data found herein is to be used for anything other than your personal family research.  No portion of anything found herein is to used for any commercial purpose. It is not to be  reprinted, redistributed, republished or reposted in any manner without express written consent of the owner of the data.
 

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