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An Address to the people of the United States, adopted at a conference of colored citizens, held at Columbia, S.C. July 20 and 21st, 1876.

1876SC-State-Columbia_Address_Senate-Documents (6).pdf

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Current Saved Transcription [history]

493

ADDRESS OF A COLORED CONVENTION.

tection to the people of the town, he answered that be did not know; that would depend altogether upon how they behaved themselves.

Immediately after this, General Butler went to Augusta, in company with one Harrison Butler, and returned in about thirty minutes. Another committee called upon him, to whom he said that both the officers and the arms must be given up, and, on being asked by the committee if they could satisfy him by boxing up the arms and sending them to Governor Chamberlain, at Columbia, he replied, "Damn the governor—I am not here to consult him, but am here as Colonel Butler; and this won't stop until after November." He was then asked if he would guarantee that if the arms should be surrendered no one should be hurt, to which be replied, I guarantee nothing."

During the progress of these several interviews, armed white men, to the number of between two and three hundred, (some riding and some dismounted,) had assembled on the main street. But one armed colored man was seen, and he was the marshal of the town, who habitually bore arms. Such members of the militia company as were in town, and some of their friends, in all to the number of thirty-eight, had repaired to the drill-room, and there barricaded themselves for protection. About ten minutes after the last-mentioned interview, the white men were posted around the square upon which the drill-room stood, and along the trestle-work of the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad, which runs obliquely with the south, facing the drill-room, and firing upon the drill-room was begun by the whites. Up to this time not a single shot had been fired by either side. The firing upon the drill-room continued nearly a half hour before a single shot was returned from it. The occupants of the drill-room then fired occasionally, as opportunity presented itself, while the white men kept up an almost continuous fire upon the windows of the building for an hour or more. The occupants of the drill-room heard an order given to bring over cannon from Augusta; whereupon they evacuated the building from the rear, and concealed themselves as best they could in various portions of the yards and outbuildings of the different residences on the square. The cannon, however, was brought and fired three or four times—those serving it being unaware that the room had been vacated. When that fact was discovered a general search by the white armed men through the lots, yards, and streets for the members of the militia company was made. In the course of this two of them were found and killed; twenty-seven others were captured, put under a heavy guard, and after being kept so for nearly two hours, during which time the search for others was continued, private houses were broken into and private property carried off or destroyed. A consultation as to the proper disposition to be made of the prisoners was had. Various suggestions were made in the presence of the prisoners, and it was finally agreed that General Butler should be applied to for instructions. An armed detail left the scene, and, after an absence of a few moments, returned, and, calling out five of the prisoners, individually and successively shot three of them to death and left one for dead. The fifth man who was called out succeeded in effecting his escape before reaching the place of execution, which was but a few yards distant from the ring in which all the prisoners were placed, but received a severe gunshot wound in the knee. The rest of the prisoners were then required to hold up their right hands and swear that they would never bear arms again against the whites, nor bear testimony in reference to this transaction before any court. They were then ordered to march off by twos to the right and set free; but as they marched off they were fired into indiscriminately by the crowd. In this flight some

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