“Whilst Marse Alec was President or somepin, he got sick and had to come back home, and it wern’t long atter dat ’fore de surrender. Allen was ’pinted to watch for de blue coats. When dey come to take Marse Alec off, dey was all over the place wid deir guns. Us Niggers hollered and cried and tuk on pow’ful ’cause us sho thought dey was gwine to kill him on account of his bein’ such a high up man on de side what dey was fightin’. All de Niggers followed ’em to de depot when dey tuk Marse Alec and Uncle Pierce away. Dey kept Marse Alec in prison off somewhar a long time but dey sont Pierce back home ’fore long.
“I seed Jeff Davis when dey brung him through Crawfordville on de train. Dey had him all fastened up wid chains. Dey told me dat a Nigger ’oman put pizen in Jeff Davis’ somepin t’eat and dat was what kilt him. One thing sho, our Marse Alec warn’t pizened by nobody. He was comin’ from de field one day when a big old heavy gate fell down on him, and even if he did live a long time atterwards dat was what was de cause of his death.
“I seed Uncle Pierce ’fore he died and us sot and talked and cried ’bout Marse Alec. Yessum, us sho did have de best Marster in de world. If ever a man went to Heaven, Marse Alec did. I sho does wish our good old Marster was livin’ now. Now, Miss, I done told you all I can ricollec’ ’bout dem days. I thanks you a lot for dat purty yaller dress, and I hopes you comes back to see me again sometime.”
(Interviewed By Elizabeth Watson—1936)
[Jul 20, 1937]
During the 1840’s, Emanuel Caldwell—born in North Carolina, and Neal Anne Caldwell—born in South Carolina, were brought to Macon by “speculators” and sold to Mr. Ed Marshal of Bibb County. Some time thereafter, this couple married on Mr. Marshal’s plantation, and their second child, born about 1850, was Alice Battle. From her birth until freedom, Alice was a chattel of this Mr. Marshal, whom she refers to as a humane man, though inclined to use the whip when occasion demanded.
Followed to its conclusion, Alice’s life history is void of thrills and simply an average ex-slave’s story. As a slave, she was well fed, well clothed, and well treated, as were her brother and sister slaves. Her mother was a weaver, her father—a field hand, and she did both housework and plantation labor.
Alice saw the Yankee pass her ex-master’s home with their famous prisoner, Jeff Davis, after his capture, in ’65. The Yankee band, says she, was playing “We’ll hang Jeff Davis on a Sour Apple Tree”. Some of the soldiers “took time out” to rob the Marshal smokehouse. The Whites and Negroes were all badly frightened, but the “damyankees didn’t harm nobody”.
After freedom, Alice remained with the Marshals until Christmas, when she moved away. Later, she and her family moved back to the Marshal plantation for a few years. A few years still later, Alice married a Battle “Nigger”.