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Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, made to the two Houses of Congress February 19, 1872 (Volume 12) online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Joint select committee onReport of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, made to the two Houses of Congress February 19, 1872 (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 106)
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This report consists of thirtecu volumes.

Volume I coutaiiis the repoi-t of the committee and the views of the minority.

Volume II contains the testimony taken by the committee in relation to North Caro-
lina, and the rejiort of the trials in the United .States circuit court held at lialeigh,
North Carolina.

Volumes III, IV, and V contain testimony taken by the committee in relation to
South Carolina, and the report of the trials in«the United States circuit court held at
Columbia, South Carolina. Index to the three A'olumes is contained in volume III.

Volumes VI and VII contain testimony taken by the committee in relation to Geor-
gia. Index is contained in volume VI.

Volumes VIII, IX, and X contain testimony taken by the committee in relation to
Alabama. Index is contained in volume VIII.

Volumes XI and XII contain testimony taken by the committee in relation to Mis-
sissippi. Index is contained in volume XI.

Volume XIII contains miscellaneous testimony taken by the committee, testimony
in relation to Florida, and miscellaneous documents.



Macon, Mississippi, KovetnberS, 1871.
HAMPTON A. EICE sworn and examined.

The Chairman. As this witness is called by the minority. General Blair will please
conduct bis examination.

By Mr. Blair:

Question. Please state your residence and occupation or profession?

Ansn-er. I reside in Bigby Valley, in this county. I am a planter by avocation. I
have been acting as a magistrate and justice of the peace for the Bigby Valley beat,

Qtiestio)'. Was this matter with reference to the assault upon Bridges, and the arrest
and commitment of a negro to his charge, examined before you?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. I want you to state to the committee clearly and distinctly all the evidence
or the purport of the evidence taken before ,\ou in that matter.

Ansiver. This man Sam Nevelle, that was the name of the negro, was brought before
me by C. W. Moore and Jim Moore, a colored man, charged with stealing a horse, the
property of Mr. Moore, and I issued a warrant for Sam Nevelle, as required by our
statute, and proceeded to investigate the case. After asking the usual question'as to
whether he was guilty or not, he replied that he took the mare. I then asked him if
he desired to make a voluntary confession of the matter, and he stated that he ac-
knowledged taking the mare. He went on to explain, giving his reason for taking it;
that he was going to some friend or kinsman, I do not remember which it was, and
that he was going to ride the mare up there. I then examined James Moore, and ho
stated to me that he had caught the man on the mare, and that he was then going
west. He brought him Ijack on the mare to my house.

Question. Did you conmiit him on that evidence?

Answer. Yes, sir ; I issued a mittimus, directed to Mr. Bridges, who had been acting as
a special deputy. I had no regularly commissioned ofdcer there, and I deputized him
as a special constable to convey him to jail. I suppose it was about 4 o'clock in the
evenmg, or half-past 4. Mr. Bridges lived about a mile and a half north of my bouse.
He not being present, I mentioned to Mr. Moore and this man Jim that I would have
to send the boy out there by them to Mr. Bridges, with the mittiuuis, and they started
off with him. That is all I knew about it until next morning. The next morning Mr.
Bridges came ui> to my house very early and reported that this boj' had got awaj'. I
asked him the question then as to how he got away, and he stated to me tliat they had
put him in an out-house which had been a school-house, some twenty or twenty-livo
steps from the house he was living in ; that he had locked a chain around his neck,
and locked the chain around one of the studding of the school-house. The door was
broken down, and the windows were out ; it was an old school-house ; the window-
sash were out.

Question. Broken down when he was put in ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; and most if not all of the sash were out. I asked him then if he
saw any nuuks or traces of any parties having been there, and he said that he had not ;
that he had gone out once or twice during the night ; that he went out at 10, I think,
or about 10, and the man was still there ; and another gentlemen, .a. Mr. Charles Scott,
who was living with him, went out a little while afterwards; and Mr. Bridges went
out again between that and 12 o'clock ; and about 1 o'clock, he supposed, that Mr. Scoit
went out there and found that the boy was gone. The chain was there; I do not ro-

39 m


inoiiilicr whctlipr lie said tlio locks were tlnn-o or not ; he said tbo chain "was there, hut
then- was no jx rsoii in the house at all.

IJidnlion. ]>id lie say that he heard any person there, or had reason to hclievo that
the niau was taken out by any other ])ersons, or liad got away?

Aiifiici): 1 asked him if he heard, or if lie saw any traces of any persons having been
there, or heard any noise. I recollect that I asked him that. I asked him if he heard
his dog bark. He said he did not. lie made the' I'emark to me, " If any jjcrson took
him away it was some j)erson wjio acted very (piietly or I woidd have heard them." lie
■was on the lookout lor the ])risoner, lest he should get away.

(Jiicstion. State what furtlier transpired in reference to tins matter.

JiinHer. lIl^ asked me what he should do about it. I told him to go to work and
start some runners out, and try to lind out what had become of this man ; that he had
])robal)ly made Iiis escajjc ; that some ])erson had assisted him in making his esca])e,
and tliat he liad better uiakt^ all the in((uiries tliat ho could ; that lie had accepted the
prisoner, and of course I looked to him to make every elfort he could to rescue him.

Quentiott. To capture him?

Anxicer. Yes, sir; to capture him ; and he stated that he would do so, and started off.
I understand that he made a good deal of inquiry for several days alterwards, but could
liear nothing of him. Shortly after that — a very few days after that — the father of
this boy came to my house. I was not at home. He came back again the next day,
and asked me if I knew anytliing about him, and wanted to learu about him. He
said he understood the Ku-Klux had got him.

By Mr. Bucklky :

Question. This was the father of the boy who was taken as a j)risoner and dis-
npiieared ?

.l)isiccr. Yes, sir. I stated to him about what Mr. Bridges had stated to me in regard
to him, and asked him if he had heard anything of him. He said no; he had heard
nothing of him at all. I asked him if he had heard of any Ku-Klux having been
there and tak(,'n him out, and he said no; only that some people had told him that
the Ku-Klux were in the neighborhood in Alabama. He said he had understood
that there was a good many over there ; that he was gone; but if he had gotten away
he would have come to his house. I then sent him olf — or he went awaj\ In a few
days after that he came back again, and I think his son-in-law was with him at that
time. He came back again, and asked me to have Mr. Bridges arrested ; that he was
satisfied that Bridges knew about this boy getting away. I told him, very well. I
said, '• I shall require you to make au affidavit that you have good reason to believe
that j\Ir. Bridges is implicated in his escape." He asked me if I was going to swear
him. I told him certainlj^ I was. He went on then and stated his reason — that he
had heard some people say that there was Ku-Klux around there. I told him he was
running some risk in niakiug such an affidavit against a party; that he had better
inquire more into it. He declined making the afhtlavit, and went olf. I saw or heard
no more of him for several days afterwards; I think it was on the Sunday following
This was on Monday or Tuesday, at the trial, that wc investigated the case ; and on
the Sunday following there was preaching down at the valley, at the church close to
Mr. Bridges's Louse — in sight of it. This is all hearsay now that I am stating in
regard to that affair on Sunday.

By Mr. Blaih :

Question. Did you derive it from information that you think reliable?

Ansica-. I derived it from information on oath.

Question. Well, give it to us.

Answer. On Sunday there were four or five went over to Mr. Bridges's house and de-
manded of him

Qite.sdon. Four or five negroes?

Answer. Yes, sir. Went from the church over to the house and told him they wanted
liim to tell what had become of that man ; that they knew he knew something about
it. Mr. Bridges stated to them that he did not know anything about it; that the first
ho knew of it was w hen he went out that night, and he was gone ; or w hen Mr. Scott
went out that he was gone. A man by the name of Tom Barnett and Bol) Lash, and
another one, I do not remember his name, but Tom Barnett tlien made some threats
.about th(! Ku-Klux, saying that this thing of killing people and taking them away had
to be stopped, and that the people thought he (Bridges) knew what had become of
Sam Nevelle, and that he had to tell what had become of him.

By Mr. Buckley :

Question. Was Sam Nevelle the prisoner ?

4nswer. Yes, sir; he was the prisoner. Bridges replied to him that he had better go
slow. I thudc tluit was the exact language — that he had better go slow ; that he had
told him that he kuaw nothing about it. These men then told him thej' had been
going slow too long already ; and there were several other harsh things mentioned


■whicli I have forgotten now, but it had ^jiowii to its higliest. Si-viTal of the negroes
c.ime up there, rather as i^eace-nuikers, I sui)ii()se, and they all went otf. That matter
was (|iiit'te(l then nntil the next day or Tuesday, I do not reincndier which, now — no,
that iii;;iit, .Sunday night ; in the night this iumii Ih'idgcs — orlns wife— stated in hert<!sti-
uiouy belbienie — and so (lid Bridges in his statement — that about 12 o'clock, he siipposed
it was, his dog commenced harking verj' vigorously, and he went out, or stepped to the
door, and when he opened the door he saw several men out in front of the house, and he
then ran to the other door — ran hack. He did not discover any persons on the other side,
and he ran hack and got his gun and started out without his (dothes on. After he crossed
the fence — there is a little fence between the school-house and the house in winch ho re-
8ided,I suppose ten steps from the house and about the same distance from t he scliool-houso
— just after he crossed the fence ho discovered that there was a line of nun around the
house, and be then started in a dirt'erent direction — in an :ingling direction — from what
be was going then, and saw some objects which he supposed were some cattle that
were lying around there at niiibt. lie said that wlien he got up within a few steps of
them they hollooed to him, " Halt," and lie tired his gun at th(!m, and turned back,
antl ran around the corner of the school-house, and just as he passi;d the corner of the
school-house some fifteen or twenty, or probably thirty, guns tired almost simultane-
ously. He then ran out. The swamp was very near there, and he ran out to the
swamp, and they fired a few scattering shots after he had passed tlie rear of the school-
house. He went from there over to a neighbor's house, some ndles off, and secured
some clothing to put on, and went across the river into Alabama. The next day —
Monday or Tuesday, I do not remember now which it was — there was a company of
negroes went to Bigby Valley, and ct)llectcd as thi!y went along, going down in search
of this boy. They had heard the news of a negro being found drowned in the river,
and that he was buried down somewhere near the Alabama line. Tiiey went there,
and as they went along they gathered up one and another, until there were some
twenty or twenty-five in the company. They all had guns. They went down to the
river, or near there, and stated as they went along, to different individuals, who testi-
fied before me, that they were going to hunt the dead body of Sam Neville ; that they
■were satisfied, from what they had heard, that he was killed, and buried on the banks
of the Bigby river, and they were going to search for him. They went down there,
but found no body. They dispersed, and came back, and the next day ilr. Bridges
came to Macon. I do not know that he came; to Macon, but some xnirties came to Ma-
con and made an affidavit before Justice Ames here, of the facts that I have just
spoken of, and he issued a warrant for several of them that had gone there on Sunday.
The deputy sheriff, Mr. Lucas, came to me the next day, and stated that he had heard
of several other parties that were engaged in the assault on Mr. Bridges's house on Sun-
day night, for all of whom I issued warrants, and as many as could be caught were
arrested and Itronght before me.

Qufsfion. How many were arrested?

Atisurr. I think there were twelve that were arrested for the assault on Sunday
night. There were some thirty that were arrested for unlawful assembly, on Monday
or Tuesday, whatever it was ; I forget the day. It was either ^Monday or Tuesday
after the Sunday. I issued a warrant for some thirty or forty, I do not remember ex-
actly how many, but some twenty-odd, were committed to jail in default of bond or
bail, twelve of whom true bills Avere found against at the last sitting of the grand
jury. Those engaged in the unlawful assembly, I understand, were all released ; that
is, there was nothing found against them by the grand jury.

By the Chairman :

Question. What did these indictments charge them with ?
Answer. With assault with intent to kill, I think.
Question. How many are in Jail now connected with that affiiir?
Answer. I think they are all out of jail. There are twelve ; there are indictments
pending against twelve, and I think they are all out of jail.
Question. The rest were all discharged ?
Answer. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Buckley :
Question. Do you know what their bail was fixed at?

Answer. No, sir. I fixed the bail of those who made the assault at $.500. Those who
•were in the unlawful assembly at $2U0, and two or three were fixed at .$200, I think.

By Mr. Blair :

Question. Now what was the testimony, if there was any before you, going to iden-
tify the body that was found in Bigby River as the body of Sam Nevelle ?

Answer. There never was any direct testimony in regard to that before me. That
case was tried before Judge Orr, on a writ of habeas vorims, some few weeks since,
where Bridges was arrested.

Question. What is the evidence, if you know it or have heard it ?


Answer. Well. sir. I do not know tliitt I can .t;i\'« a very perfect statement of tlie evi-
dence. 1 will stale tliis: at tiie iImk' of the in\c.sl iyatiou of this ease thai [ have just
alluded to, the l)ody of this man had not been foiiiul that was »lio\vned in the rivor.
The body that I alluded to that they were going in search of on that day, turned out to
be all a mere rumor. There was nothing of it. There was no body of anj' jiersou
ever found at that time. But about a week after that a party of negroes, some ten or
twehe in number, came to me for me to issue a writ of iiKjuest, and sunniion a jury to
sit upon the body of this man that was found hanging in some willows in the Cigby
River. 1 issued the writ, and directed it to a special deinity constable, but when he
■\veut in search ot the body lie discovered that it was in thi^ .State of Alabama. I then
seut 11 copy of th(! writ, and also wrote, to Mr. I'arker, who is acting magistrate in Al-
abama, at Memphis

By Mr. Bucklkv :

Question. In what county ?

Answer. That is in Pickens County. Mr. Justice Parker summoned a jury, so I was
told, and the inquest was held upon that body. I have it from pretty good authority
that Doctor Morehead, from Pickensville, Alabama, was there, and saw that body, and
he stated in his aflidavit which he made before the magistrate, or mayor, in Pickens
County, that there was a body of a man found theie, but it looked as though it had
been dead some three mouths; that his teeth had fallen out, or were held so loosely
that he piiUed some of them out with his lingers.

Question. At what time of the year was this °!

Answer. It was about the 20th of June that these parties made the attack upon
Bridges's house.

Question. Do you think it probable that a body could have remained three months,
at this season of the year, in the river, without decomposition ?

Answer. I do not know enough about it to have a correct opinion. I would not sup-
pose it could.

By Mr. Blaiu :
Quesiion. Was Doctor Morehead a practicing physician ?
Answer Yes, sir.

Question. Do you suppose his judgment in regard to the matter would be better,
probably, than yours, or any other person who was not a professional ?
' Answer. Yes, sir ; better than mine.

By the Chaikmax :

Question. Did yon hear this from Doctor Morehead ?

Answer. No, sir; I got it. I have seen his affidavit and read it, and that was about
the substance of it. I have heard several other parties si)eak about Doctor Morehead's
Btatemeut in regard to it. It was substantially the same.

By Mr. Blaik :

Question. l''ou, yourself, never saw the body ?

Answer. No, sir ; I never saw the body.

Ouestion. Did vou ever hear that the body was recognized by any one as the body of
Sam Nevelle ?

Answer. Yes, sir; I heard that the father of this man when he went down there be-
fore the body was taken out of the river, stated that that was his sou ; that he knew
it by his shirt.

Question. Was the body disfigured, as you understood, in any w'ay except by decom-
2)ositiou ?

Ansicer. No, sir. The flesh had fallen from the bones almost entirely, except around
the abdomen. That was Doctor Morehead's statement in his affidavit, which I have

Question. Do you suppose that even at that season of the year, in a week's time, a
body would have decomposed to that extent in the water ?

Answer. Well, I do not know, sir. I could not say, never having had any experience
at all. I could not give much idea how long it would take for the body of a person to
decompose; my judgment would only be based on the judgment of others.

Question. Did you give any credit to the statement of Doctor Morehead in that re-
spect ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; I know him to be a very reliable man. He is so considered in the
community in which he lives.

Question. From all that came before you in the way of evidence and otherwise, was
It your imiiressiou that this man was foully dealt with ?

Answer. I never thought he was, sir, from the circumstances.

Question. You thought he had made his escape ?

Answe): I thought he had made his escape. I always thought he was assisted in
niakiug his escape by some parties.


Qticslioii. And tlic fact that he lias not boon soon or lioai-fl of since is no evirlence in
your niiiul that ho has been foully doalt with, as ho had suUicient motive to kcei) out
of tho \v:iy, for loar of boinj>- punished for the stoaling of tlio horse ?

Answer. Yes, sir. I made a statement in his prosonco and Mr. Moore's, (this man I
have mentioned, when they came to earry him down to this sehool-house,) which 1
learned afterward had considerable eftoet iTjiou him. It was this: I told them to be
very particular ; that if he was guilty it was a penitentiary offense. They thou ])ro-
posed that they tie him, which they did. They tied his hands behind him and carried
him down there tied.

(JticHtioH. Did yon learn that he had been very securely fastened in the school-house ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; he was locked around his neck or one leg and the other end chained
around the studding ; it is a frame house.

Question. There was no violence done to the studding ?

Ausivcr. No, sir.

Question. You think from that that he must have been released by some one ?

Answer. That is my reason for thinking he must have been released. There was no
evidence before me which showed any violence at all, and the evidence was that the
locks were not injured.

By Mr, Buckley :
Question. Ordinary padlocks through the links of the chain?
Anstver. Yes, sir. I never saw the locks myself.

By Mr. Blair :

Question. Was the evidence that they must have been unlocked ?

Answer. There was no evidence in regard to that. The only evidence was that the
locks were not injured at all; that they were not broken or mashed at all.

Question. Was it in evidence that it was possible Sir him to have released himself
without assistance ?

Atiswer. No, sir; I do not remember that there was any evidence in regard to th,it .
if there was I do not remember it now.

Question. Is there evidence that he has ever been seen anywhere since ?

Answer. None, only hearsay evidence.

Question. W^ho does that hearsay come from ?

Answer. I have understood from the deputy sheriflf here, Mr. Lucas, that Mr. Robert
O. Ware, of this county, had either seen him, or seen some person that did see him,
near West Point a few days after this occurrence at Bigby Valley.

Question. West Point, in Alabama ?

Answer. No, sir; in this State.

Question. Where is West Point situated?

Answer. It is about fifteen miles west of Columbus. It is on the Mobile and Ohio

Question. Mr. Ware told that to the deputy sheriff of this county?

Answer. The deputy sheriff told me that Mr. Ware had said so.

Question. Is that all that there is in connection with this aftair that you desire to
state to the committee ?

Answer. I believe I have stated, sir, about all that I know, of my own knowledge,
and about aJl that was stated before me in evidence ; all I remember of now.

Question. You are not confined to what was stated before you in evidence, but any
other reliable information in regard to this matter you are at libery to state.

Answer. There has been some controversy in regard to the clothing that this boy,
Sam, had on. The pieces of clothing which were exhibited before the grand jury iu
this county for my inspection did not correspond with my recollection of the clothing
that this man had on at the time of his commitment or at the time he was tried before

Question. The clothing exhibited before the grand jury was taken from the body of
the man found iu the river ?

Answer. Yes, sir. It was a blue checked cloth, what we term cotton stripe. My re-
collection of the shirt of this boy is, that it was a very dirty white Osuaburgh shirt.
His coat, I think, had been a colored coat of some kind, but had faded until it was
almost white. It was a dirty white and a long-tailed coat ; I remember that distinctly,
and that was the maiu reason I doubted that this boy that was found iu the river was
the same one that was tried before me.

Question. What sort of a coat was on the hoy found in the river ?

Answer. It was said to have been a jacket and roundabout and a cotton check

Question. Does your recollection of his clothing correspond with that of Mr. Moore,
who took him down to Bridges's house ?

Answer. I do iiot know, sir. I do not know what Mr. Moore's recollection of it in.

Question. Have you ever asked either Mr. Moore, or the negro that was with Mr. Moore,
what they recollected about it?


Aiisirn: No, sii-. I recollect that Mr. Moore asked mo one day if I recollected whether
lie had ou a lout:; eoat or a short one, and I told liini my I'ecoUi'ctioii was that it was a
k)n<; eoat, and he remarked that was Ins recoUcetiou of it. That is all that I <>ver said
to him, or Mr. Moore ever said to me, with re;rard to it. Now, I learned from Mr. Fitz-
gerald, who lives near riekeiisville, in this State, that Dr. Mtnehead told him that his
hat was in the waisthand of his jiants. 1 have heard that from several jiarties, but
not iVoin anybody who had seen him.

Qm.stion. The hat with the body Ibnnd in the river was in the waistband of the
pants ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; I have beard that from several parties, but never directly from
a!iy person who had seen it. It is the general understanding, I believe, in my section

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Joint select committee onReport of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, made to the two Houses of Congress February 19, 1872 (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 106)