John Eubanks

The excerpts below provide teachers a unique opportunity to consider perspective and decisions made by an interviewer.  The interviewer Archie Koritz submitted two separate documents for his interview with John Eubanks.  

The first, featured in “Part 1” below is written in the third person.  In the excerpt, Archie Koritz  shares the story of how the enslavers of John Eubanks allowed him to join the Union army during the Civil War, how John Eubanks enlisted, and his experience returning after the war.

The second interview is labeled “Part 2” and is written in the first person.  The excerpt from this interview covers the same content as that in “Part 1” but the details included in this part of the interview do not appear at all in “Part 1.”  The reader can speculate that “Part 2” is similar to a transcript of the interview and “Part 1” is closer to a report of the interview submitted by interviewer Archie Koritz.  
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document

Source Description:

[Part 1: Recorded by the interviewer in the third person.]

Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, when the north seemed to be losing, someone conceived the idea of forming negro regiments and as an inducement to the slaves, they offered them freedom if they would join the Union forces. John’s mistress and master told him that if he wished to join the Union forces, he had their consent and would not have to run away like other slaves were doing. At the beginning of the war, John was twenty-one years of age. When Lincoln freed the slaves by his Emancipation Proclamation, John was promptly given his freedom by his master and mistress.

John decided to join the northern army which was located at Bowling Green, Kentucky, a distance of thirty-five miles from Glasgow where John was living. He had to walk the entire thirty-five miles…

[The interview lists the battle John Eubanks fought in during the Civil War, then describes return home after the Civil War ended.] Upon his return to Glasgow, Ky,  he saw for the first time in six years, his mother and other members of his family who had returned free.

[Part 2: What follows is a different version of the interview, recorded by the same interviewer, but this time in the first person. Below are excerpts that cover the same topics described in Part 1.]  

I was twenty-one when war broke out. Master Eubanks said to me, ‘You all don’t need to run away if you all want to join up with the army.’ He’d say, ‘There would be a fine if slaves ran off. You all don’t have to run off, go right on and I do not pay that fine.’ He said, ‘Enlist in the army but don’t run off.’ 

Now, I walk thirty-five miles from Glasgow to Bowling Green to this place—to the enlisting place—from home for miles—to Glasgow—to Bowling Green, thirty-five miles. On the road I meet up with two boys, so we go on. They ran away from Kentucky, and we go together.  

Then some Bushwackers [during the Civil War, these were people who supported the Confederacy in states that remained in the Union (like Kentucky) and practiced guerilla warfare even though they usually were not in the Confederate army.] come down the road. We were scared and ran to the woods and hid. As we ran through the woods, pretty soon we heard chickens crowing. We filled our pockets with stones. We were going to kill chickens to eat. Pretty soon we heard a man holler, ‘You come ’round outta there’—and I see a white man and come out. He said, ‘What are you all doing here?’  I turn around and say, ‘Well boys, come on boys,’ and the boys come out. The man said, ‘I’m a Union Soldier. What are you all doing here?’ I say, ‘We’re going to enlist in the army.’ He says, ‘That’s fine’ and he says, ‘come along’ He says, ‘get right on white man’s side’—we go to the station. Then he says, ‘You go right down to the station and give your information… 

…When I came back from the army, I went home to Mother and said ‘Don’t you know me?’ She says, ‘No, I don’t know you.’  I say, ‘You don’t know me?’ She says, ‘No, I don’t know you.’  I say, ‘I’m John.’ Then she cried, and said how I’d grown, and she thought I’d been dead this long time. I explained how the many fights I’ve been in with no scratch and she was happy…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John Eubanks1836 or 1839 (approx 98)Archie KoritzEverett Family, Tony Eubanks
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Gary, ININGlasgow, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil War, Family, Emancipation, Enlistment, InterviewerBarron County, First Person, Third Person, Dialect, Whipped, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Union Troops, Veteran or Widow, Notable