When we left yrmama’s first cousin eight times removed, William Henry Clopton, in 1862 he was seeking recompense for the seven male slaves who escaped from Selwood plantation to join the Union Army. I first read about the incident below in the Clopton Chronicles, (which contains a wealth of information) but also reads with a distinct editorial point of view. Then I found this article, “Poetic Justice: the Whipping of William H. Clopton, by Leonne M. Hudson, published in the Negro History Bulletin, v. 64, no. 1/4 2001. Of course it has an editorial point of view too, but it’s one yrmama is more comfortable with.
William Clopton had a reputation as the cruelest master in Charles City County, and in 1864 enslaved fifteen people at Selwood. Some of the white neighbors, especially ladies I think, were waiting out the war at a safe distance but William Clopton was at his plantation
On May 5 General Edward Augustus Wild, a zealous abolitionist, landed nearby at Wilson’s Landing with his brigade of black soldiers. One of the first days there they met a civilian while they were out foraging and killed him. A few days later they captured William Clopton and brought him back to camp because he was “actively disloyal.” General Wild ordered soldier William Harris to strip Clopton to the waist, tie him to a tree and flog him with a horsewhip. After a while the whip was passed to three women formerly enslaved by Clopton who Wild had invited for the occasion. The women then took turns whipping their former master. Afterwards, Clopton as taken to Fortress Monroe and held as a prisoner of war.
General Wild was court-martialed for murdering the white civilian and for whipping William Clopton. However, the decision was overturned to avoid the appearance of issuing stricter penalties to black brigades.