Samuel Sutton

Samuel Sutton was very young when the Civil War was fought, however he has some recollection. Here, he tells of his experiences interacting with soldiers from both sides.  He goes on to tell about the celebrations that occurred among the formerly enslaved person on July 4 after the Civil War ended.
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The war? Yes ma’am, I saw soldiers, Union Calvary going by dressed fine with gold braid on blue and big boots. But the Rebels now, I recollect they had no uniforms because they were hard up and they came in just common clothes. Old master was a Rebel and he always helped them. Yes ma’am. A pitched battle started right on our place. It didn’t last long, for they were running on to fight in Perryville, where the one big battle to take place in the state of Kentucky took place. 

Most likely story I remember to tell you about was something that made me mad and I always remembered because of that. I had the biggest, finest watermelon, and I was told to sit up on the fence with the watermelon and show them and sell them twenty cents.  Along came a line of soldiers. ‘Hey there boy, how much for the melon?’, one hollered at me.

‘Twenty cents sir!’ I said, just like I had been told to say, and he took that melon right out of my arms and rode off without paying me. I ran after them trying to get my money but I couldn’t keep up with those soldiers on horses, and all of the soldiers just laughed at me. Yes ma’am, they were the finest, biggest melons I ever saw. That was right mean of him, fine looking gentleman he was, at the head of the line. 

Ole Master Ballinger, he was a Rebel, and he harbored Rebels. There were two men hanging around there named [Union General Don Carlos] Buell and [Confederate General Braxton] Bragg. Buell was a northerner, Bragg, he was a Rebel. Buell gave Bragg a chance to get away when he should have found out what the Rebs were doing and taken him prisoner.  I heard tell about that.

There was a lot of spying and riding around there for one thing or another, but I don’t know what it was all about. I do know I feel sorry for those Rebel soldiers I saw that were ragged and tired, all worn out. Master felt pretty bad about everything sometimes, but I reckon there were mean Rebels and southerners that had it coming to them. I always heard till they had it coming to them.

 . . .Yes ma’am, like I told you, the war was over and the colored folks had a big time, with speaking and everything over at Dick Robinson’s camp on the 4th.  Never have I seen such rejoicing on the 4th of July since, no ma’am, I ain’t.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Samuel Sutton1854Miriam LoganBallinger
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Lebanon, OHOhioGarrett, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil WarFirst person, Union troops