General Order 135.

On 14 November 1863, General John Schofield, commander of the Department of Missouri, issued General Order 135 authorizing provost marshals in the department to recruit and enlist black soldiers to serve the Union as U.S. Colored Troops. The Ancestry.com database United States Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteer Army Soldiers, 1864, contains enlistment and muster rolls for colored troops who enlisted in Kentucky.

There is one entry, for Henry Jones, lists a Wilson County birthplace. Jones was 25 years old and had worked as a laborer (i.e. enslaved fieldhand). He enlisted on 29 May 1865  at Piketon, Kentucky, in 1st Lt. George C. Clapp’s Company E, 121st United States Colored Infantry. Jones was 5’9 1/2″ with dark eyes, hair and skin. And “name of owner of a slave”: Jefferson Higginbotham.

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Higginbotham is not a Wilson County name. Jefferson Higginbotham may have been the Thos. J. Higginbotham, 21, listed in the 1860 census of Verona, Boone County, Kentucky, in the household of Abram Wellman. If so, he was fighting for the Confederacy even as his former chattel joined up with the Union Army. In any case, it is likely that Henry Jones ended up in Kentucky after being sold away from his birthplace in Wilson. (Had he been a runaway, he would have reported a Wilson County owner.)

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