Saturday, July 28, 2012

Uncle Ned Hawkins & William Johnson ( Colored )

Uncle Ned Hawkins.
Push pietures to enlarge.
Living on the banks of the Rappahannock, in the county of Culpeper, is a venerable old colored man, known by all near him as "Uncle Ned." His fidelity to his old mistress, his loyalty to the Confederacy, and his devotion to our soldiers were truly remarkable.  He risked his liberty and his life more than once for the safety of our citizens and soldiers. On one occasion some of our scouts called at the house of his mistress knowing they were ahvays welcome there and while she and her sister, assisted, of course, by "Uncle Ned," were busily engaged in preparing for them a much needed breakfast, the dreaded cry was heard : "The Yankees are coming!'' They were guided by the ever faithful "Uncle Ned" to the pines near by, and he returned to the house, after the Yankees left, he took the breakfast in an old haversack, with a few ears of corn on top, and told our scouts if all was right when approaching them he would raise his hat and scratch his head, and if not, his hat would remain on his head: and should he meet the Yanks, with those ears of corn, his excuse would be that he was hunting his sheep. Many, many such acts he did for the safety of our soldiers, and now he and his aged companion are struggling hard for a living; and -O that some brave Confederate could assist them in their good old age! He is certainly worthy of notice.

William Johnson.

William Johnson (colored) lives by Nolensville, Tenn., near liis birthplace. He was a slave, and the property of Mr. Ben Johnson, as was also his mother.  In 1862 a part of the army commanded by Gen. Forrest was stationed at Nolensville, and- young William Johnson (fifteen years old) drove one of the wagons with provisions for the army. Capt. B. F. White, who had been assistant adjutant general on the staff of Gen. Forrest, had been detached, and was in command of a battery of artillery captured at Murfreesboro. Seeing the boy William, he liked him, and proposed to buy liim. Mv. Johnson sold him to Capt. White for $1,200, and he went with Cajit. White in the regular field service.

Soon after his purchase of Willianl, the great battle of Murfrcesboro was fought ; and while on the battlefield, during the battle Capt. White was attacked suddenly with inflammatory rheumatism. His servant William was with the wagon train, and did not reach him until the next day. The day
following, the Confederates retreated, and the Federals, who also had been falling back, retraced their movements and Occupied the area in which Capt. White was left in that painful and awful predicament, attended  only by his servant William. For three months Capt. Wliite was guarded by the Federals in a house on Thomas Butler's jilantation. near the village of Salem. One bitter cold night the guard went to his camp some distance away, when the Captain asked William if he couldn't get him away from there.  It was soon arranged for him to take a spring wagon and a broken down army horse on the Butier farm.

He put his charge in the wagon, and by a circuitous route got away without apprehension. Late in the night the horse so nearly gave out that William walked in water and ice over his boots, and would lift the \yhecls of the vehicle out of the mire, and moved on until they were safe in the Confederate lines. A better horse was procured, and the afflicted officer was taken to Shelbyville, and from there he was permitted to visit Mobile, where he recuperated, William of  course going with him. This faithful servant remained with Capt. White, who went back into field service, but his health failed, and when his constitution gave down he was put on post duty, and at the end of the war he was paroled at Albany, Ga. He brought William back to Nashville, leaving him with an uncle when he left to reside in Memphis. He afterwards moved to California. They never met again.

When the notice of Capt. White's death appeared in the December Veteran for 1899, William saw it,and asked to pay tribute to his memory. That desire becomes the occasion for the Veteran to pav just and well merited tribute to William Johnson. He resumed his original name after the war.

William has lived all these years in the neighborhood of his birthiilacc, and has maintained a eputation as an honest, upright man such as will ever have the devoted friendship of the white people, and who wiII prove it if later in life misfortunes sliould render him unable to support himself.

During the time of Capt. White's confinement in the Federal lines he allowed William to carry three young ladies through the lines to Shelbwille. They were Misses Sallie J. McLean and Lizzie and Julia Lillard. After his return from that trip, Capt. White gave him permission to visit his mother, at Nolensville, before they escaped to the South.

Comrade James W. Hill writes of these ladies going to .Shelbyville, and that Miss McLean was his "best girl," that "she was and is the fairest rose that ever bloomed in Tennessee."

No comments: