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Churchwell, Peter  

Brian Neumann

was born into slavery in Albemarle County, Virginia, to William and Dicey Churchwell. His owner was lawyer Reuben L. Gordon, who probably brought him to Orange County, Virginia sometime before 1840. On 25 December 1857, he married Maria Grey, who was probably also enslaved. Their daughter Harriet was born soon afterward, and Maria died in childbirth around 1859.

Churchwell escaped from slavery in August 1862 and made his way to Washington, D.C., where he spent the next two years working as a coachman. He enlisted in the Union army there on 13 July 1864 as a substitute for German lumber worker Jacob Leonhardt He mustered in as a private in Company H of the 23rd USCT Infantry Regiment later that day His enlistment records describe him as five feet two and a half inches tall with black hair black eyes and a black complexion After briefly ...