Camilla massacre

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Camilla massacre
DateSeptember 19, 1868
Caused byAfrican Americans gained the right to vote under the 15th Amendment
GoalsSuppressing voting by African Americans
Parties to the civil conflict
African-Americans, Southern white Republican sympathizers (scalawags) (Republicans)
Sheriff's Department, Mitchell County, Georgia
Casualties and losses
Reconstruction Era conflict

The Camilla massacre took place in Camilla, Georgia on Saturday, September 19, 1868. It followed the expulsion of the Original 33 black members of the Georgia General Assembly earlier that month. Among those expelled was southwest Georgia representative Philip Joiner. On September 19, Joiner led a twenty-five-mile march of several hundred blacks (freedmen), and a few whites, from Albany, Georgia to Camilla, the Mitchell County seat, to attend a Republican political rally on the courthouse square.[1] Estimates of the number of participants range from 150[2] to 300.[3] The local sheriff and "citizens committee" in the majority-white town warned the black and white activists that they would be met with violence, and demanded that they surrender their guns, even though carrying weapons was legal and customary at the time.[3] The marchers refused to give up their guns and continued to the courthouse square, where a group of local whites, quickly deputized by the sheriff, fired upon them. This assault forced the Republicans and freedmen to retreat into the swamps as locals gave chase, killing an estimated nine to fifteen of the black rally participants while wounding forty others. "Whites proceeded through the countryside over the next two weeks, beating and warning Negroes that they would be killed if they tried to vote in the coming election."[3] The Camilla Massacre was the culmination of smaller acts of violence committed by white inhabitants that had plagued southwest Georgia since the end of the Civil War.[2]:1–2

The massacre received national publicity, prompted Congress to return Georgia to military occupation, and was a factor in the 1868 presidential election.[1][4]

"The Camilla Massacre remained part of southwest Georgia's hidden past until 1998, when Camilla residents publicly acknowledged the massacre for the first time and commemorated its victims."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Formwalt, Lee W. (September 5, 2002). "Camilla Massacre". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Butler, Joshua (2012). 'Almost too Terrible to Believe': The Camilla, Georgia Race Riot and Massacre, September 1868. M.A. thesis, Valdosta State University. pp. 17–18.
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, Nicholas (2014). Negroes and The Gun: the black tradition of arms. Amherst, New York: Prometheus. pp. 90–92. ISBN 978-1-61614-839-3.
  4. ^ "The Camilla Massacre". Today in Georgia History. Georgia Historical Society. 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2018.