|In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts Madison Bruin’s memories of the Civil War in the first person. After the Civil War was over, Madison Bruin continued to provide free labor on his enslaver’s plantation although he was technically free. In 1872, he finally left the plantation, joined the army and served in a cavalry unit used to fight Native Americans. After his discharge from the army, he worked building a railroad before settling in Texas.
…During the war [Confederate General] John Morgan’s men came and took all the horses. They left two, and Willie [the enslaver’s son] and I took them to hide in the plum thicket, but we just got out the gate when the soldiers came again and they headed us off and took the last two horses.
My mother wore the Yankee flag under her dress like a petticoat when the confederates came raiding. Other times she wore it on top of the dress. When they heard the confederates coming, the white folks made us bury all the gold and the silver spoons out in the garden. Old master was in the Yankee [Union] army, because they conscripted [drafted] him, but his sons, John and Joe, volunteered…
During the war we got whipped many times for playing with shells that we found in the woods. We heard the cannons shooting in Lexington [Kentucky], and lots of them shells dropped in the woods.
What did I think when I saw all those soldiers? I wanted to be one, too. I didn’t care what side, I just wanted a gun and a horse and to be a soldier… When young master joined Woolford’s 11th Kentucky Cavalry, they came to the place and halted before the big house on the turnpike [road]… They were just in regular clothes, but next time they came through they were in blue uniforms. All my white folks came back from the war and didn’t get killed.
Nobody ever told me I was free. I was happy there and never left them till 1872. All the others went before that, but I got all I wanted and I didn’t need money…
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|Jack and Addie Curtis
|Fayette County, KY
|Themes & Keywords
|Civil War, Emancipation
|First Person, Dialect, Whipped, Union Troops, Bound Out After the War, Fayette County