SUBMITTED BY:  John Jacobs

My ancestor William Jacobs was a mulatto farmer in Richmond County during the Civil War. He was known in the county to be a Union loyalist. His father, Zachariah Jacobs, was a patriot of the Revolutionary War, from Brunswick County, NC, and had fought in the Battle of Brier Creek (GA) and the Battle of Guilford Court House (NC). When Zachariah Jacobs died in 1847, William Jacobs moved his family to Richmond County. Several of his sons received land grants in Wolf Pit near Marks Creek in the early 1850s. I recently downloaded the Southern Claims Commission file for William Jacobs and have transcribed a large portion of it. During the deposition, the answers to standard questions were hand-written by a special commissioner and included in the file. I have included the questions from the standard questionnaire with the answers below. Words or names I was unsure of I have marked with [?].

William Jacobs tells an interesting story of helping 2 Union soldiers escape and then later having much of his property taken by General Sherman’s Army on their march through Richmond County. His claim was eventually approved. The story mentions a Union soldier named Frederick Bell from Clarksville, NY. I have found records of a Union soldier named Frederick Bell who enlisted in Albany, NY, which is about 14 miles from Clarksville and may be the same person. I was also able to find an Edmund Chavers on the 1860 Census in Cumberland County, NC (where Fayetteville is located). Next door to him was a William Allen who lived with a family of Chavers. These 2 men could have been the people that William Jacobs sent the Union soldier to in Fayetteville.

Below, I present my transcript of the deposition of William Jacobs to the Southern Claims Commission (September 1874, Rockingham, NC, Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880;, premium account required).

“The following questions will be put to every person who gives testimony:

1. What is your name, your age, your residence, and how long has it been such, and your occupation?

My name is William Jacobs. My age is about 75 or 76 years. My residence near Rockingham, Richmond County, NC, and has been for about 27 years. My occupation is farming.

2. If you are not the claimant, in what manner, if any, are you related to the claimant or interested in the success of the claim?

I am the claimant.

The following questions will be put to every claimant, except claimants who were slaves at the beginning of the war:

[Note—If the original claimant be dead, these questions are to be answered by each of the heirs or legatees who was not less that sixteen years of age when the war closed.]

3. Where were you born? If not born in the United States, when and where were you naturalized? Produce your naturalization papers if you can.

I was born free in Brunswick County, NC. I never filed a petition in Bankruptcy.

4. Where were you residing and what was your business for six months before the outbreak of the rebellion, and where did you reside and what was your business from the beginning to the end of the war? And if you changed your residence or business, state how many times, and why such changes were made.

At same place I now reside before and since the war. My business was farming all the time.

5. On which side were your sympathies during the war, and were they on the same side from beginning to end?

My sympathies was always on the side of the Union from the beginning to the end of the war.

6. Did you ever do anything or say anything against the Union cause; and if so, what did you do or say, and why?

I never did.

7. Were you at all times during the war willing and ready to do whatever you could in aid of the Union cause?

I was.

8. Did you ever do anything for the Union cause, or its advocates or defenders? If so, state what you did, giving times, places, names of persons aided, and particulars. Were the persons aided your relations?

About 12 month before the close of the war a United States soldier came to my place nearly starved. He had made his escape from a stockade over in South Carolina about 18 miles from my place. I have forgotten his name. He said he was from Tenn. I kept him at my place some 8 or 10 days until he recovered[?] up some. I then sent him to Fayetteville, NC, in a wagon, carried him through Fayetteville in the night. I sent to relations of mine in the neighborhood Fayetteville by the name of Edmond[?] and William Chavers. They put him over Cape River near Fayetteville. He was making his way to the Union lines. The Chavers gave him a map. About one month before the Union army came to this place another United States soldier came to my place by the name of Frederick[?] Bell. He said he was 2nd Lieut. Said he lived in New York State in a village by the name of Clarksville[?]. He remained at my place about 2 weeks in the day time. I kept him in the woods and at night I kept him in my crib in shucks and fodder. A man in my neighborhood by the name of Henry Chilsom[?], another man, had 2 of my boys hired. He sent them to the seashore after salt. I got the soldier to put on some of the worst cloth I could get and go along with my boys. He done so and when he got to the sea shore a colored man took him a boat and carried him out to the United States ships on blockade.

9. Had you any near relatives in the Union army or navy? If so, in what company and regiment, or on what vessel, when and where did each one enter service, and when and how did he leave service? If he was a son, produce his discharge paper, in order that its contents may be noted in this deposition, or state why it cannot be produced.

None that I know of.

10. Were you in the service or employment of the United States Government at any time during the war? If so, in what service, when, where, for how long, under what officers, and when and how did you leave such service or employment?

I was not.

11. Did you ever voluntarily contribute money, property, or services to the Union cause; and if so, when, where, to whom, and what did you contribute?

I did not. I never had an opportunity, only what I done for the 2 soldiers.

12. Which side did you take while the insurgent States were seceding from the Union in 1860 and 1861, and what did you do to show on which side you stood?

On the Union side as much as I could. Being a colored man I had no vote or influence.

13. Did you adhere to the Union cause after the States had passed into rebellion, or did you go with your State?

With the Union all the time.

14. What were your feelings concerning the battle of Bull Run or Manassas, the capture of New Orleans, the fall of Vicksburg, and the final surrender of the Confederate forces?

I rejoiced at all the successes of the Union army and especially at the final surrender of the Confederate forces.

15. What favors, privileges, or protections were ever granted you in recognition of your loyalty during the war, and when and by whom granted?

None at all.

16. Have you ever taken the so-called “iron-clad oath” since the war, and when and on what occasions?

I have not.

17. Who were the leading and best known Unionists of your vicinity during the war? Are any of them called to testify to your loyalty; and if not, why not?

General Dockery, R. T. Long, Mial Long (now dead), John Chavers, Eli Smith. I expect to prove my loyalty by R. T. Long and someone else I cannot tell who now. A. Williams is on my application but I cannot get him. He is in South Carolina.

18. Were you ever threatened with damage or injury to your person, family, or property on account of your Union sentiments, or were you actually molested or injured on account of your Union sentiments? If so, when, where, by whom, and in what particular way were you injured or threatened with injury?

I never was that I know of until General Sherman’s army came. Then I was threatened with being taken up by one Joe Bartin[?], a Confederate soldier, for piloting the Union army through the county.

19. Were you ever arrested by any Confederate officer, soldier, sailor, or other person professing to act for the Confederate government, or for any State in rebellion? If so, when, where, by whom, for what cause; how long were you kept under arrest; how did you obtain your release; did you take any oath or give any bond to effect your release; and if so, what was the nature of the oath or the bond?

I never was arrested by any state or Confederate authority.

20. Was any of your property taken by Confederate officers or soldiers, or any rebel authority? If so, what property, when, where, by whom, were you ever paid saltpeter; and did you ever present an account saltpeter to the Confederate government or any rebel officer?

No, none ever taken.

21. Was any of your property ever confiscated by rebel authority, on the ground that you were an enemy to the rebel cause? If so, give all the particulars, and state if the property was subsequently released or compensation made saltpeter.


22. Did you ever do anything for the Confederate cause, or render any aid or comfort to the rebellion? If so, give the times, places, persons, and other particulars connected with each transaction.


23. What force, compulsion, or influence, was used to make you do anything against the Union cause? If any, give all the particulars demanded in the last question.


24. Were you in any service, business, or employment, for the Confederacy, or for any rebel authority? If so, give the same particulars as before required.

I never was in any.

25. Were you in the civil, military, or naval service of the Confederacy, or any rebel State, in any capacity whatsoever? If so, state fully in respect to each occasion and service.

I was not in any.

26. Did you ever take any oath to the so-called Confederate States while in any rebel service or employment?


27. Did you ever have charge of any stores, or other property, for the Confederacy; or did you ever sell or furnish any supplies to the so-called Confederate States, or any State in rebellion; or did you have any share or interest in contracts or manufactures in aid of the rebellion?

None at all.

28. Were you engaged in blockade running, or running through the lines, or interested in the risks or profits of such ventures?


29. Were you in any way interested in any vessel navigating the waters of the Confederacy, or entering or leaving any Confederate port? If so, what vessel, when and where employed, in what business, and had any rebel authority any direct or indirect interest in vessel or cargo?


30. Did you ever subscribe to any loan of the so-called Confederate States, or of any rebel State; or own Confederate bonds or securities, or the bonds or securities of any rebel State issued between 1861 and 1865? Did you sell, or agree to sell, cotton or produce to the Confederate Government, or to any rebel State, or to any rebel officer or agent, and if so, did you receive or agree to receive Confederate or State bonds or securities in payment; and if so, to what amount, and for what kind and amount of property?

No, nothing of the kind.

31. Did you contribute to the raising, equipment or support of troops, or the building of gunboats in aid of the rebellion; or to military hospitals or invalids, or to relief funds or subscriptions for the families of persons serving against the United States?

I never did any of these things mentioned in the question.

32. Did you ever give information to any person in aid of military or naval operations against the United States?


33. Were you at any time a member of any society or organization for equipping volunteers or conscripts, or for aiding the rebellion in any other manner?


34. Did you ever take an oath of allegiance to the so-called Confederate States? If so, state how often, when, where, for what purpose, and the nature of the oath or affirmation.


35. Did you ever receive a pass from rebel authority? If so, state when, where, for what purpose, on what conditions, and how the pass was used.


36. Had you any near relatives in the Confederate army, or in any military or naval service hostile to the United States? If so, give names, ages on entering service, present residence, if living, what influence you exerted, if any, against their entering the service, and in what way you contributed to their outfit and support.


37. Have you been under the disabilities imposed by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution? Have your disabilities been removed by Congress?


38. Have you been specially pardoned by the President for participation in the rebellion?


39. Did you take any amnesty oath during the war, or after its close? If so, when, where, and why did you take it?

I took the amnesty oath soon after the close of the war at Rockingham, NC. I took voluntarily and of choice.

40. Were you ever a prisoner to the United States authorities, or on parole, or under bonds to do nothing against the Union cause? If so, state all the particulars.


41. Were you ever arrested by the authorities of the United States during the war? If so, when, where, by whom, on what grounds, and when and how did you obtain your release?


42. Were any fines or assessments levied upon you by the authorities of the United States because of your supposed sympathy for the rebellion? If so, state all the facts.


43. Was any of your property taken into possession or sold by the United States under the laws relating to confiscation, or to captured and abandoned property?


The following questions will be put to all male claimants or beneficiaries who were not less than sixteen years of age when the war closed:

44. After the Presidential election of 1860, if of age, did you vote for any candidates, or on any questions, during the war, and how did you vote? Did you vote for or against candidates favoring secession? Did you vote for or against the ratification of the ordinance of secession, or for or against separation in your State?

I could not vote at all on any subject.

45. Did you belong to any vigilance committee, or committee of safety, homeguard, or any other form of organization or combination designed to suppress Union sentiment in your vicinity?

No, none at all.

46. Were you in the Confederate army, State militia, or any military or naval organization hostile to the United States? If so, state when, where, in what organizations, how and why you entered, how long you remained each time, and when and how you left. If you claim that you were conscripted, when and where was it, how did you receive notice, and from whom, and what was the precise manner in which the conscription was enforced against you? If you were never in the rebel army or other hostile organization, explain how you escaped service. If you furnished a substitute, when and why did you furnish one, and what is his name, and his present address, if living?

No, none at all.

47. Were you in any way connected with or employed in the Confederate quartermaster, commissary, ordnance, engineer, or medical department, or any other department, or employed on any railroad transporting troops or supplies for the Confederacy, or otherwise engaged in transportation of men and supplies for the Confederacy? If so, state how employed, when, where , or for how long, under whose direction, and why such employment was not given “aid and comfort” to the rebellion?

I never was in any employment of the Confederate States or state departments in any way whatsoever.

48. Did you at any time have charge of trains, teams, wagons, vessels, boats, or military supplies or property of any kind for the Confederate government? If so, give all the facts as in previous questions.

I never had anything to do with or for anything connected with the Confederacy.

49. Were you employed in saltpeter works, in tanning or milling for the Confederate government, or making clothing, boots, shoes, saddles, harness, arms, ammunition, accoutrements, or any other kind of munitions of war for the Confederacy? If so, give all the particulars of time, place and nature of service or supplies.

I had nothing to do with anything of the kind.

50. Were you ever engaged in holding in custody, directly or indirectly, any persons taken by the rebel government as prisoners of war, or any persons imprisoned or confined by the Confederate government, or the authorities of any rebel State, for political causes? If so, when, where, under what circumstances, in what capacity were you engaged, and what was the name and rank of your principal?

I never was engaged in anything of the kind.

51. Were you ever in the Union army or navy, or in any service connected therewith? If so, when, where, in what capacity, under whose command or authority, for what period of time, and when and how did you leave service? Produce your discharge papers, so that their contents may be noted herein.

I never was.

The following questions concerning the ownership of property charged in claims will be put to all claimants, or the representatives of deceased claimants:

66. Who was the owner of the property charged in this claim when it was taken, and how did such person become owner?

I was.

67. If any of the property was taken from a farm or plantation, where was such farm or plantation situated, what was its size, how much was cultivated, how much was woodland, and how much was waste land?

My farm is about 5 miles from Rockingham, Richmond County, NC. I own 110 acres. About 15 acres cultivated. About 40 acres woodland. The balance waste land.

68. Has the person who owned the property when taken since filed a petition in bankruptcy, or been declared a bankrupt?

I have never filed a petition in Bankruptcy.

The following questions will be put to colored claimants:

70. Were you a slave or free at the beginning of the war? If ever a slave, when did you become free? What business did you follow after obtaining your freedom? Did you own this property before or after you became free? When did you get it? How did you become owner, and from whom did you obtain it? Where did you get the means to pay for it? What was the name and residence of your master, and is he still living? Is he a witness for you, and if not, why not? Are you in his employ now, or do you live on his land or on land bought from him? Are you in his debt? What other person besides yourself has any interest in this claim?

I was born free. My grandfather was free.

The following questions will be put to claimants and witnesses who testify to the taking of property, omitting in the case of each claimant or witness any questions that are clearly unnecessary:

72. Were you present when any of the property charged in this claim was taken? Did you actually see any taken? If so, specify what you saw taken.

I was. I saw taken corn, peas, fodder, fat hogs, bacon.

73. Was any of the property taken in the night time, or was any taken secretly, so that you did not know of it at the time?

My property was all taken in the day time. Nothing taken secretly, or so that I did not know of it when taken.

74. Was any complaint made to any officer of the taking of any of the property? If so, give the name, rank and regiment of the officer, and state who made the complaint to him, what he said and did in consequence, and what was the result of the complaint.

I complained to an officer, did not know his name. He ordered a guard to be put to my crib. He went to the crib, but it was near all gone that I told him it was not worthwhile to stay there.

75. Were any vouchers or receipts asked for or given? If given, where are the vouchers or receipts? If lost, state fully how lost. If asked and not given, by whom were they asked, who was asked to give them, and why were they refused or not given? State very fully in regard to the failure to ask or obtain receipts.

I did not receive any voucher or receipt. I did [not?] ask for any. There was nothing said about any the next morning. The General gave the papers here attached.

76. Has any payment ever been made for any property charged in this claim? Has any payment been made for any property taken at the same times as the property charged in this claim? Has any payment been made for any property taken from the same claimant during the war, and if so, when, by whom, for what property and to what amount? Has this property, or any part of it, been included in any claim heretofore presented to Congress, or any court, department or officer of the United States, or to any board of survey, military commission, State commission or officer, or any other authority? If so, when and to what tribunal or officers was the claim presented; was it larger or smaller in amount than this claim, and how is the difference explained, and what was the decision, if any, of the tribunal to which it was presented?

I have never received any pay for any part of this claim. I never lost anything at any other time. I have never presented this claim to Congress or to any other branch of the government except the Southern Claims Commission.

77. Was the property charged in this claim taken by troops encamped in the vicinity, or were they on the march, or were they on a raid or expedition, or had there been any recent battle or skirmish?

My property was taken by a part of General Sherman’s army as they passed through the county.

78. You will please listen attentively while the list of items, but not the quantities, is read to you, and as each kind of property is called off, say whether you saw any such property taken.

I saw taken horses, pork, geese, chickens, corn, beef, shoes, fodder, bacon, potatoes, box tobacco.

79. Begin now with the first item of property you have just said you saw taken, and give the following information about it. 1st. Describe its exact condition, as for instance, if corn, whether green or ripe, standing or harvested, in shuck, or husked, or shelled; if lumber, whether new or old, in buildings or piled; if grain, whether growing or cut. 2d. State where it was. 3d. What was the quantity; explain fully how you know the quantity, and if estimated, describe your method of making the estimate. 4th. Describe the quality to your best judgment. 5th. State as nearly as you can the market value of such property at the time in United States money. 6th. Say when the property was taken. 7th. Give the name of the detachment, regiment, brigade, division, corps, or army, taking the property, and the names of any officers belonging to the command. 8th. Describe the precise manner in which the property was taken into possession by the troops, and the manner in which it was removed. 9th. State as closely as you can how many men, animals, wagons, or other means of transport, were engaged in the removal, how long they were occupied, and to what place they removed the property. 10th. State if any officers were present; how you knew them to be officers; what they said or did in relation to the property, and give the names of any, if you can. 11th. Give any reasons that you may have for believing that the taking of the property was authorized by the proper officers or that it was for the necessary use of the army.

I had one horse and one mare taken. The horse was of medium size, about 12 or 13 years old in good working order and worth $50. The mare was medium size bay, about 12 or 15 years old. Good work animal and worth $50. The property was taken about the 7 day of March 1865. I cannot tell what command only it was a part of General Sherman’s army. The soldiers took the horses from the lot and rode them off. I think there was was about 20 men present when the horses was taken. I cannot say whether there was any officers present. I believe my property was taken for the use of the army because it was taken by a part of the army and carried off. They killed a number of hogs, do not recollect now how many but I think as much as 400 or 500 pound. It was good pork and worth 7 cents per pound. It was taken after the horses. Do not recollect whether on the 7 or 8 day of March 1865, but they were taken by a part of General Sherman’s army. 5 head of geese taken at the same time and worth 50 cents each. 15 chickens taken at the same and worth 25 cents each. 20 bush corn taken. It was in the crib. I have forgotten how I made the estimate now. It was taken when the pork was and by the same men. It was good corn and worth $1.25 per bush. Some beef taken. I cannot now recollect the amount. It was good beef and worth about 7 cents per pound. It was taken at the same time and by the same men. Some fodder taken. I cannot now remember how much it was in the crib left, taken at the same time and worth $1.25 per hundred pounds. About 50 pounds bacon taken. I think it was in the smoke house. Good dry bacon and worth at that time I think about 12 1/2 cents per pound. Some potatoes taken. I cannot say how many bush. They were at that time worth about 75 cents per bush. One box of tobacco taken. I cannot remember how many pounds. I do not remember what it was worth at that time. A pair of men’s shoes taken, new worth $2.

[signed] Wm Jacobs

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Rockingham, Richmond County, NC, on this 28 day September 1874.

John J. Minor

Special Comm.”

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