Virginia: Preserving African American Civil War History in Tidewater, Virginia

Due to the impending landfall of Hurricane Florence, we’re not sure how long we’ll have access to the internet (or power for that matter), and when those services will be restored. However, we’re happy to report that two of the thirteen remaining replacement headstones for local African American Civil War veterans have finally been installed. Most of the headstones were delivered between July and September of 2017, with the installations delayed due to extended periods of rain in the Mid-Atlantic region, and other factors.


Pvt. Richard Reddick (ca. 1847-1896*)
Company F, 1st Regiment, United States Colored Cavalry
Mount Calvary Cemetery (Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex, est. 1879)


Original gravestone of Pvt. Richard Reddick. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, October 11, 2010.

Replacement gravestone, installed August, 2018. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 1, 2018


Pvt. Richard Reddick (sometimes spelled “Riddick”), was born enslaved in Perquimans County, North Carolina (some documents note Camden County). He escaped slavery and enlisted in the Union Army on February 22, 1864, at Norfolk, Virginia. He mustered out on February 4, 1866, at Brazos Santiago, Texas. According to military records, Pvt. Reddick passed away on July 10, 1896, though Portsmouth City death records note his date of death as July 10, 1895. His wife, Mary, passed away in 1940, and may be buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery along with several of their children.


Pvt. Austin Smallwood (ca. 1845-1894)
Company I, 14th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery
Mount Calvary Cemetery (Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex, est. 1879)


Austin Smallwood USCT Copyright Nadia K. Orton

Original gravestone of Pvt. Austin Smallwood. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, October 11 , 2010

Austin Smallwood replacement gravestone Copyright 2018 Nadia Orton

Replacement gravestone, installed August, 2018. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 1, 2018


Pvt. Austin Smallwood was born enslaved about 1845 in Bertie County, North Carolina. In 1863, Austin’s owners vowed to shoot and kill any of their slaves that “ran away to the Yankees.” Cognizant of the deadly threat, Austin remained on the plantation to look after his mother, Nancy, and three younger brothers. However, in early 1865, he escaped, and made his way to New Bern, North Carolina, where he enlisted in the Union Army on February 23rd. After his discharge in December, 1865 at Fort Macon, North Carolina, Austin moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, where he soon became an influential member of his community, a devoted husband, and a loving father of four. Although he’d made Portsmouth his new home, Austin never forgot his roots, and kept in close contact with his family in North Carolina. Pvt. Austin Smallwood passed away in 1894 at his home on Columbia St., Portsmouth, from complications of “phthisis pulmonalis,” a term once used to describe the debilitating effects of tuberculosis. His wife, Martha Brown Smallwood, a Franklin, Virginia native, passed away in 1932, and is most likely buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Portsmouth.♥


In Remembrance of Juneteenth…

Emancipation Day Celebration Band, June 19, 1900. “East Woods,” East 24th St., Austin, Texas. Source: Austin Public Library


“Advices from Galveston to the 20th, state that Weitzel’s corps arrived there several days before. Galveston is occupied

Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 8, 1865

by colored troops, constituting a provost guard for the enforcement of law and order.

Gen. Gordon Granger left Galveston on the 20th June for Houston, with a sufficient force to occupy the city and protect the citizens in the vicinity.

The following general order was issued at Galveston by General Granger on the 19th:

‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free.’ This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.’

‘The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness wither there or elsewhere.’

‘All acts of the governor and legislature of Texas, since the ordinance of succession, are hereby declared illegitimate.’

‘All civil and military officers and agents of the so-called Confederate States government, or of the state of Texas, and all persons formerly connected with the Confederate States army, in Texas, will at once report for parole.

‘All lawless persons committing acts of violence, such as banditti, guerrillas, jay-hawkers, horse thieves, etc., etc., are hereby declared out-laws and enemies of the human race, and will be dealt with accordingly.”

(Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 8, 1865)


Galveston Daily News, June 23, 1865

“General Orders, No. 3 – The freedmen in and around the City of Houston are hereby directed to remain for the time being with their former owners. They are assured that by so doing they forfeit none of their rights of freedom. An Agent of the Government, whose business it is to superintend the making of contracts between the Freedmen and those who desire to employ them, is expected to be here soon. In the meantime, the Freedmen are advised to be patient and industrious.

No encouragement or protection will be given those who abandon their present homes for the purposes of idleness. If found in this city, without employment, or visible means of support, they will be put at labor, cleaning the streets, without compensation.

The Provost Marshal is charged with the enforcement of this Order.

By order of

Colonel G. W. Clark

Chas. F. Loshe, Post Adj’t”

(Galveston Daily News, June 23, 1865)



Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900. “East Woods,” East 24th St., Austin, Texas. Source: Austin Public Library



Circular – Office of Provost Marshal General, District of Texas, Galveston, June 28, 1865


All persons formerly slaves are earnestly enjoined to remain with their former masters, under such contracts as may be

Galveston Daily News, July 7, 1865

made for the present time. Their own interest as well as that of their former masters, or other parties requiring their services, renders such a course necessary and of vital importance, until permanent arrangements are made under the auspices of the Freedman’s Bureau. It must be borne in mind, in this connection, that cruel treatment or improper use of the authority given to employers will not be permitted, whilst both parties to the contract are made, will be equally bound to its fulfillment on their part.

No persons formerly slaves will be permitted to travel on the public thoroughfares without passes or permits from their employers, or to congregate in buildings or camps at or adjacent to any military post or town. They will not be subsisted in idleness, or in any way except as employees of the Government, on in cases of extreme destitution or sickness, and in such cases the officers authorized to order the issues, shall be the judge as to the justice of the claim for such subsistence. Idleness is sure to be productive of vice, and humanity dictates that employment be furnished these people, while the interest of the commonwealth imperatively demands it, in order that the present crop may be secured. No person, white or black, and who are able to labor, will be subsisted by the Government in idleness, and this hand as a dead weight upon those who are disposed to bear their full share of the public burdens. Provost Marshals and their assistants throughout the District are charged with using every means in their power to carry out the instructions in letter and spirit.

By order of Major-General Granger

(Signed) R. G. Laughlin,

Lt. Col. and Provost Marshal, Dist. of Texas.

All Texas papers will copy the above circular one month and send bills to the office of the Provost Marshal General, Galveston.”

(Galveston Daily News, July 7, 1865)


Texas natives interred in the Mount Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879) Portsmouth, Virginia


Mark (Mack) McFarland

Born about 1896, Texas. Son of Kid and Mary McFarland, both of Texas.

Died, February 7, 1920. Interment, Mt. Calvary Cemetery

Gravestone not found


William Thorn

Born about 1870, Texas. Son of Billie and Jennie Thorn, both of Texas.

Died, April 18, 1919. Interment, Mt. Calvary Cemetery

Gravestone not found


Mary White

Born about 1884, Houston, Texas. Daughter of Mary Alston.

Died March 15, 1927. Interment, Mt. Olive Cemetery.

Gravestone not found