Six months following the war, guerrilla activity and murders of freedmen are common in the South. Less common in the sight of white southerners, and much resented, are “colored troops.”
Today a U.S. Colored Troops officer, Lieutenant J. M. Warren of Company D, 42nd Colored Troops, stationed in Decatur, Alabama, is ordered to take a squad of seven men “and proceed to the scene of the recent murder for the purpose of investigating the circumstances and surroundings of the case and will return as soon as this may be accomplished. He will see that his command conduct themselves in an orderly manner, and that they commit no depredations.”
Such a mission is dangerous to any black soldier, as many white southerners would be quite willing to shoot the troops if the opportunity arose.
Typifying the stubbornness and disdain of white southerners toward blacks are the members of the Houston Factory Baptist Church in Georgia. In defiance of post-war realities, thus far the white members of the congregation have referred to black members as “property.” Finally, this month, church records drop the language of “property” and utilize the appropriate term of “freedmen.”
Sources: “Thursday, 1865 October 12, Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama: “He will see that his command conduct themselves in an orderly manner . . .”, University of Virginia Library collection (link); Bruce T. Gourley, Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War, Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2011, p. 194 (link)