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The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1869

National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, Roll 34
"Reports of Outrages, Riots and Murders, Jan. 15, 1866 - Aug. 12, 1868"

Office R. F. & A. L.
LaGrange, Tenn. Jany 17, 1866

Lieut. J. T. Alden
A. D. C.


In reply to your circular letter (confidential) of Jany. 5th mailed 10th inst. I have the honor to report the following known outrages occurring in this vicinity:

Dec. - During the "insurrection" excitement at Tippah Co., Miss. one "Porter" shot at and killed a Freedman because he did not stop when ordered to do so - he fired twice at him.

Dec. 11 - Stephen Lane, freedman, was robbed of his gun, costing $40, & his ammunition by Capt. R. H. Bomier, commanding Militia in Marshall Co., Miss. About the same time there were some 20 cases of similar character & in Tippah Co. as many more that I know of. Only one shot gun has been returned so far, although I have done all I could except send soldiers after them.

Edmund McNeil, freedman, was arrested & put in jail at Bolivar & then hired to a man in Miss. who took him on the cars, but he jumped off on the way. He swears he knows of no reason for this except he went to the Supt. at Bolivar to learn about his contract.

Dec. 28 - Julia Wilson, freedwoman, assaulted by Steve & Jerry Bull & cut with a knife while they were intoxicated.

Jany. 6 - Jane Simmons, freedwoman, assaulted by Pinckney Stafford while intoxicated & badly beaten over the head.

Dec. - Ben Graves, freedman, Fayette Co., Tenn. was robbed at night of his gun &c. valued at $40, by supposed Tippah Co., Miss. Militia.

In making a report of this kind I am just now unprepared as my appointment is so recent that most of my time has been occupied in making contracts. A great many cases have been reported but have not yet been investigated. The most frequent outrage is the refusal to settle with freed persons for their last years service & getting a settlement before witnesses for a mere trifle. I have disregarded such settlements in very marked cases.

The cases of real assault are not very numerous, and are growing less so since they find there is someone here to protect the freedmen. I want an example or two made in Tippah & Marshall Co., Miss. and if any squad of soldiers should ever come this way it might be well to use them. The Mississippians now have a large number of shotguns, pistols &c., which they have robbed the freedmen of and which they are using for their own private purposes.

They have also selected the children in many families that are able to work and had them bound to them in accordance with the late laws of the state, leaving the younger & more helpless to be taken care of by their parents.

The case of "Archie" vs. Bartlett Kyle in a letter to the Genl. is one of the worst in the county. The only let up in the case is it occurred a year before the Bureau was organized. I think it should however be punished to the utmost.

The case of Dr. Patterson shooting at and cutting "Sing" & alleged murder of "Carter" will be investigated as soon as possible.

The feeling of the people is very much against the Bureau but they have a wholesome dread of the Military; yet were there no agent here I am certain outrages & abuses would be frequent.

My opinion is that it will not do to remove the Bureau or the troops from this State & particularly Miss. for some time, and I think Miss. should be under Genl. Fisk's control at least so much of the state as naturally comes to the State of Tenn. in a commercial point of view. If this report is not sufficiently full inform me & I will try it again.

Very Truly
S. H. Melcher