William Ball Williams, III

William Ball Williams, III fought for the Union army in the Civil War.  In this excerpt, he describes the experience of being a formerly enslaved person in the Union army and the fear he always lived in.
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I ran away to Louisville to join the Yankees one day. I was scared to death all the time. They put us in front to shield themselves. They said they were fighting for us–for our freedom. Piles of them were killed. I got a flesh wound. I’m scarred up some. We got plenty to eat. I was in two or three hot battles. I wanted to quit but they would catch them and shoot them if they left. I didn’t know how to get out and get away. I mustered out at Jacksonville, Florida and walked every step of the way back. When I got back it was fall of the year. My folks were still at my master’s. I was on picket guard at Jacksonville, Florida. We fought a little at Pensacola, Florida.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
William Ball Williams, III98 years oldIrene RobertsonRobert Ball
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Forrest City, AKArkansasGreensburg, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil WarFirst Person, Union soldiers