Of The Blacks
the Niles’ Register
shall proceed to lay before the readers of the Register, all the
additional particulars which have reached us since our last, on
the subject of the insurrection of Southampton county, Virginia;
and we are happy to inform them that, through the energetic
measures adopted by the executive, and the prompt and efficient
steps taken by the authorities of the neighboring counties in
that state, those in North Carolina, and by the officers and men
of the army and navy of the United States on the Norfolk
station-the insurrection has been completely put down; and all
of the Negroes engaged in it, with the exception of two or
three, being either killed or captured.
Those who had, up to the latest advices, eluded vigilance
of their pursuers could not much longer escape, and have ere
this doubtless been taken.
seems to be some discrepancies in the several accounts as to the
origin or object of this bloody movement among the blacks. A
letter from Winton, N.C. in the vicinity of the disaffected
district, states that from the bet information then I possession
of the writer, three white men and four slaves, the latter the
property of a gentleman by the name of Travers, rose upon him
about an hour before day on Monday morning, the 22d ult., and
thence proceeded to the residence of Mrs. Catherine Whitehead, a
lady of wealth, and murdered her and all the white members of
her family, in all seven persons. The cries of Mrs. Whitehead and her family brought to their
assistance a near neighbor, Mr. Williams, who found Mrs. W.
butchered with an axe, her son (a minister of the gospel), with
his head severed from his body, and a young lad lying dead in
the fire place of her chamber.
Mr. Williams immediately returned to his own dwelling;
but before her reached it he met one of his own Negro boys
coming with horrible tidings, that the fiends had been there,
and murdered his wife and children in his absence!
Norfolk Herald states that it originated the party of
whites and blacks alluded to above-that they were marauders bent
on plunder; but having steeped their hands in human sacrifice,
became infuriated, like blood hounds, pursued the game of
murder, in mere wanton sport.
As they followed their desolating career from family to
family, they pressed all the Negro men whom they found into
their ranks, and thus accumulated a force of between and two
more recent account from Winton, N.C. states that the
insurrection commenced with, and was arranged by, four Negro
preachers, who had been permitted to hold their meetings by day
and by night, and who sought these opportunities to poison the minds of the slaves. A slave of Mrs. Whitehead, who was one of these preachers,
commanded the blacks at Parker’s old fields, where one of the
skirmishes occurred; and after being repulsed he returned home
and pleaded that he had been pressed into the ranks of the
Negroes; but being recognized by some gentleman from
Southampton, as the leader of the gang mentioned above, a party
of ten mounted militiamen from North Carolina, who repaired to
Mrs. Whitehead’s to view the havoc which the wretched had
made, on being assured of the fact, fired on him, and he fell
dead near the remains of his mistress.
writer of the Winston
letter states that the number of victims had been reduced to 55,
many heretofore supposed to have been murdered, being secreted
in the woods and subsequently found.
troops from Norfolk, Richmond, fortress Monroe and other remote
places, had returned to their respective residences.
The marines and seamen, under commodore Elliot, from the
U.S. ships Natchez and Warren, had also returned to their
vessels. The leaders of the insurrectionary band were nearly all
taken prisoners or killed. The general feeling and conduct of
the slaves in the neighboring states seem to indicate that there
was no concert. A full disclosure had been made by a Negro by
the name of Tom, who was badly wounded and expected to die; he
however, is on the recovery.
editor of the Norfolk Herald, who is a very discreet and
sound judging gentleman, inclines to the opinion that the
insurrection did not rest, on any [previous combination, and
maintains that this is evident from the small number of
adherence which the ringleaders, with all their threats and
persuasions, were enabled to enlist their cause. The slaves, he affirms, throughout the country are generally
well affected and even faithful to their masters.
He relates the following instance of fidelity in the
slaves of one gentleman whose house was attacked; remarks that
he gives the story as it was related to him, and its true,
“great indeed will be the desert of these noble hearted
pleasing instance of this is said to have occurred while the
black demons of slaughter were executing their horrid work.
Before they had received any considerable increase, and
in the early stage of their butcheries, they approached the
dwelling of Dr. Blount, with the full purpose of murdering him
and his family, when they were met by the doctor’s own
servants, who resolutely opposed their entrance, declaring that
they would lose every drop of blood in defence of their master
and family. The brigands, still persisting, a battle ensued in
which they were finally routed, leaving one of their party and
two horses behind them”.
the night of the 23d ult. the Southampton militia had three
skirmishes with a gang of from 40 to 50 negroes, the latter
retreating each time. In one account it is stated that one of
the militia, of the name of Pope, was killed, in another that
the whites sustained no loss whatever.
The Negroes made three attempts to cross the bridge at
Belfield, but were repulsed each time by a party of militia who
were stationed on the opposite side with a piece of artillery.
A party of four militiamen, who had been sent to
reconnoiter the blacks, came up with a party of about 20 of
them, and after a sharp engagement, succeeded in killing three
or four, and taking several prisoners, when the remainder fled.
great object of the Negroes, after rallying with the militia,
appeared to be to reach the Dismal Swamp, but such was the
vigilance of the former that nearly every one was either shot
down or captured. Many
of the blacks were well mounted, and armed with bird and other
guns, and axes. The
roads were strewed with the carcasses of the Negroes killed, and
up to the 25th ult. Neither these nor the corpses of
the unfortunate whites had been buried; arrangements were,
however, made for their internment.
different accounts are conflicting as to the number of Negroes
killed, and indeed, under the circumstances in which they have
been written, it is not to be wondered that they should be so.
gather from letters published in the Richmond Whig of the 29th
ultimo, the following statements.
A letter from the senior editor of that paper, who is on
the spot; states that the number of the insurrectionary Negroes
had been greatly exaggerated, but that it was hardly within the
power of rumor itself to exaggerate their atrocities:
whole families, father, mother, daughters, sons, sucking
babes and school children, were butchered by them, thrown in to
heaps, and left to be devoured by hogs and dogs, or to putrefy
on the spot. A Mr.
Levi Wallers and his wife and ten school children were
murdered-he himself was absent while the dreadful scene was
acting, was pursued and escaped with a difficulty into the
marsh. How or with
whom the resurrection originated, is not certainly known.
prevalent belief is that on Sunday the 14th ult. At
Barnes church near the Cross Keys, the Negroes who were observed
to be disorderly, took offence at something, and that the plan
was conceived and matured in the course of the week.
At Mr. Waller’s one child escaped from the ruthless
fangs of these monsters by concealing her in the fire place, and
another was found alive who was badly wounded and left for dead
by them. He has accompanied this letter with a list of the
killed, amounting to 62, but it is not yet ascertained to be
correct. He thinks that the insurgents never exceeded 60, and that
twelve were well armed and resolute men competent to have
quelled them at any time.
Eppes, who is in command of the troops, reports under date of
the 28th ult. that all insurgents except Nat
Turner, the leader, had been taken or killed. On the 29th
Gen. Broadnax reports to the governor that all was quiet and
free from viable marauders; he thinks all have been killed or
taken except four or five. He states that Nat, the
ringleader, who calls himself general, and pretends to be a
Baptist preacher, declares to his comrades that he is
commissioned by Jesus Christ, and proceeds under his inspired
directions -- that the late singular appearance of the sun was
the sign for him -- he is not taken, and the account of his
being killed at the affair of the bridge is not correct.
general thinks “that there has existed no general concert
among the slaves -- circumstances impossible to have been
feigned, demonstrate the entire ignorance on the subject of all
the slaves in the counties around Southampton, among whom he has
never known more perfect order and quiet to prevail.”
He believes “that at any time 20 resolute men could
have put them down.”
He compliments, in terms of strong approbation,
“the admirable conduct and spirit of the militia, who have
every where turned out with utmost promptitude, and given the
most unquestionable evidence of their ability
instantly and effectually to put down every such attempt.
The families who had sought safety by flight had
generally returned to their homes.
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update 3 May 2009