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The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869.
National Archives Microfilm Publication M999 Roll 34
"Affidavits Relating to Outrages Mar. 1866-August 1868"

Before me personally appeared this day Amanda Willis and having been duly sworn deposed and says.

My name is Amanda Willis. I live on the Springfield and Franklin road about six miles from Springfield. On or about the 23rd day of October 1866 I saw three men at mother's house and after putting all of us out of the house and our clothes one of the men got me by the arm and told me to follow him, he brought me down into the woods and had forcible connection with me. They all left immediately afterwards. They burned up father's house.

Signed Amanda (X) Willis

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 26th day of November 1866
(signed) Michl. Walsh
Capt. V. R. C.
Chief Superintendent
Nashville Sub. Dist.

Personally appeared before me this day Henry Willis (col'd) and having been duly sworn deposed as follows.

My name is Henry Willis. I live in Robertson County six miles from Springfield on the Franklin road, on Thomas Willis' plantation. On or about Thursday the 21st of October 1866 three men came to my mother's house and called her out to the fence, she being so scared she did not go further than the door. They commenced cursing her and used the worst obscene language. One of them asked her if she had some connection with a man lately she said she was not in the habit of doing it. He then said Goddamn you I will make you do it. He then placed two pistols across the fence and drew a third pistol to shoot her, he did not fire but leaped across the fence and drawing a sling shot struck her upon the right arm disabling her. They then left and went to a shoemaker's store in order to get shoes but none being there they took a coat from it. They broke the door down. On Sunday following about the 7th inst. at 9 o'clock at night, three men came to mother's house, knocked at the door. Father got up and opened the door, they then asked him if he had any money. He said not. Then one of them spoke up saying Goddamn you-you have got money, don't tell us a lie. They asked him where his pants were, he said they were in the house some place, they then went to hunt the pants, but could not find them. One of them came into the house, went to my brother's bed, said to him Goddamn you do you know me? He replied no sir. He then said this is Colonel Harper. He told him to cover himself up and not look at him any more during the night, he told my mother the same thing. He then commenced picking out of our trunks all the fine things such as clothes, and put them outside the house. He then set fire to the balance of the things in the house when it burned up.

They made my father turn his back to them so that they could shoot, asking him at same time where his money was, he told them he had none. They then took sticks and beat him for a length of time. One of them then took my sister Mandy about 12 years old down into the woods, the other two followed, they kept her there about one half an hour and whilst there ravished her one after the other. They then left and went to my father's sister's house and robbed her of everything. One of them was going to ravish her daughter Elizabeth but one of the other men told him not, and he desisted. They asked my Aunt if she know where Simon Woodhull was, she said yes, they then asked where he lived, she told them, they said that is what we want, we will burn the damned house up, and before many days we will be back and burn yours also. I think these men were the same men as come the first time. John Ashburn living on the road from Springfield told me that if I was a Union Soldier I had better leave for there was a colored man killed the other day for being a soldier. They shot him four times - Lewis Griffin living at Dan Holland's about six miles from Springfield on the Franklin road told me that there was another colored soldier killed after tying him to a horse and running him for about nine miles, they loosed him and shot him and shot him. My father and sister's man Anderson know one of the men and can identify him.

Henry (X) Willis

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23rd day of October 1866.
Sgd. Michl. Walsh
Capt. V. R. C. Chief Superintendent
Nashville Sub. District
Bureau R. F. & A. L.