In early 1864, Spotswood Rice, a former slave from Missouri, enlisted in the Union Army. Later that year, he came through his former home with 1,600 other soldiers. When he was still on the way, he sent this confident and angry letter ahead to his former owner, Kittey Diggs…

(I left his spelling as is, but I added punctuation to make it easier to read.)

I received a leteter from Cariline telling me that you say I tried to steal…my child away from you. Now I want you to understand that mary is my Child and she is a God given rite of my own. And you may hold on to hear as long as you can, but I want you to remembor this one thing — that the longor you keep my Child from me, the longor you will have to burn in hell and the qwicer youll get their…

I want you to understand, kittey diggs, that where ever you and I meets we are enmays to each orthere. I offered once to pay you forty dollers for my own Child, but I am glad now that you did not accept it….

My Children is my own and I expect to get them, and when I get ready to come after mary I will have…powrer and autherity to bring hear away and to exacute vengencens on them that holds my Child. You will then know how to talke to me — I will assure that — and you will know how to talk rite, too….

I have no fears about geting mary out of your hands this whole Government gives chear to me and you cannot help your self.

Unfortunately, there’s no record of how this tale ended.

Read the unabridged and unpunctuated version. Read more of Spotswood Rice’s letters.

RelatedA former slave writes to his former owner requesting his backpay

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