Georgians, like all Americans, were deeply divided by the Civil War. On August 22, 1864, four men were executed in Brooks County for conspiring to plot a slave insurrection.
The conspirators were a local white man, John Vickery, and three slaves: Nelson, George and Sam. They planned to seize weapons, secure the county seat, Quitman, and hold it for the U.S. Army in Florida. They also intended to murder some of the county's wealthier planters. But local authorities discovered the plot. The conspirators were convicted of insurrection, and hanged on the courthouse square.
Historians estimate that at least a half million white Southerners remained loyal to the United States during the war. Many actively worked to undermine the Confederacy. Four million enslaved black Southerners also seized whatever opportunities they could to support the United States. What happened in Brooks County is a stark reminder that our history is more complex than we might think.
During the Civil War, Southern did not always mean Confederate, as Brooks County authorities understood all too well on August 22, 1864, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.