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Interviewer: Elizabeth Watson
Person Interviewed: Alice Battle
Date of Interview: 1936
Location: Hawkinsville, Georgia
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”.
Since the early ’70’s, Alice has “drifted around” quite a bit. She and her husband are now too old and feeble to work. They live with one of their sons, and are objects of charity.