William R DeLoach was a Private in Company G, 5th Alabama Infantry when he was wounded at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862. He was a staff officer late in the war and survived a stint as a prisoner at Johnson’s Island, OH to go home to Sumter County, Alabama in 1865.

His 1911 obituary described post-war Sumter County from his and many white residents’ perspective:

But it was after he returned home in 1865 that the real test of manhood came to DeLoach and to the men of his class.

How he met this trial is known only to those who touched shoulders and divided counsel with him at that time. From that day till 1873, when the white people of Sumter came into their own again, was the time that tried men’s souls in the Southland. From the town of Livingston, DeLoach’s home, to the northern boundary of the county the proportion of blacks to whites was larger than in any other county in Alabama. The negroes almost from the first were under the control of aliens and renegades, and the struggle for existence was on in earnest.

Reconstruction, with its deliberate plan to subject the native white people to their former slaves, was an unspeakable horror, to be resisted to the death. If the true story of reconstruction in the Black Belt of Alabama should ever be told, DeLoach’s name would be written high up on the roll of honor.

His judgment and courage were with him under all conditions. When the struggle was over, his kindliness made him resist any cruelty to, or oppression of the negroes, when control was absolutely in the hands of the whites …

An unspeakable horror, indeed, but not so much for Sumter’s white residents.


DeLoach’s obituary, partially quoted here, and his post-war photograph are from the Confederate Veteran magazine, Volume 19, Number 4 (April 1911), pg. 177, online from the Hathi Trust.

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