John W. Fields

John W. Fields lived in enslavement and gained freedom shortly before the Civil War ended.  In this excerpt, he describes an example of extreme cruelty, in which an enslaved person was whipped severely, and the other enslaved people were forced to pour salt water on her wounds.
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My Mistress had separated me from all my family but one brother with sweet words, but that pose was dropped after she reached her place. Shortly after I had been there, she married a northern man by the name of David Hill. At first he was very nice to us, but he gradually acquired a mean and overbearing manner toward us. I remember one incident that I don’t like to remember. One of the women slaves had been very sick and she was unable to work just as fast as he thought she ought to. He had driven her all day with no results. That night after completing our work he called us all together. He made me hold a light, while he whipped her and then made one of the slaves pour salt water on her bleeding back. My innards turn yet at that sight.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
John W. Fields1848 (89)Cecil C. MillerDavid Hill
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Lafayette, INIndianaOwensboro, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
ViolenceFirst person, witnessed extreme cruelty, hired out