"After the surrender of the Confederate Army, Georgia called a Convention, adopted a new constitution (or amended the old one) elected a Legislature and State House officers. Congress, however, would not recognize this state government and passed a Reconstruction Act, disfranchising the greater part of the best citizens of the state, giving the ballot to the negros and placing the state under military rule …
Election days came in due time with a detachment of Federal soldiers stationed at the polls…The Negros were on hand in force under the leadership of Jacob P. Hutchings and James Devereaux, who formed them in fours and marched them to the polls crowding them to such an extent that no white man had a chance to get in between. The town was full of whites who did all they could to keep down excitement and tried every peaceful means and argument to break up the solid ranks of negros being led by Devereaux and voted by him as if they were solid man. This continued for one day without any real serious trouble.
The same tactics were followed the next day with the negros holding the door and doing the voting; the whites crowded out with no chance to vote. Finally, about eleven o'clock on the second day, Mr. Bill Byrd got tired of waiting when he saw there would be no chance to vote, so long as he submitted to the way things were going. He determined to force his way to the managers and cast his ballot … A fight started in the twinkling of an eye… but the coolness of the leaders of the whites alone prevented a terrible catastrophe."
An excerpt from "An Election in Jones County (GA) Under Bayonet Rule" by S.H. Griswold as contained in "A History of Jones County (GA)" by Carolyn White Williams; pages 533-534)
John Wayne Dobson