Denmark Vesey Plans a Revolt
The Confession of John Enslow
Plan was that every Black man who was attached to them was to
come out and assemble where the Beat companies meet.
Others had their positions assigned to them, to push for
the different magazines and Guard Houses.
The House servants were to Kill their Masters, with
whatever instruments they had or could obtain, it was thought
that the House servants would do most mischief at the
was to be no signal, because Denmark and the principal leaders
said it would excite alarm, but at 12 O’Clock at Night, they
must take their stations & act their part.
The people up the road to take the Magazine then push for
Town, and spare nothing that obstructed them.
The Country people was to push for Meys Wharf & take
the U States Navy Yd. on Meys Wharf (to be commanded by Gullah
Bennett, to command the Country people who cross the Bridge on
Ashly River. Ned Bennet, to meet in Mr. Elias Horry’s house and collect
a number (assisted by John Horry & push for the Guard House)
the corner of Meeting & Broad Streets, and join those from
the road. Negroes
would be supplied with arms, from this source, (who had not been
provided) if successful, — Monday & Denmark to have
strongest force, and come to town, when they had succeeded up
town, and Peter Poyas was to have command along East & South
Bay and try to capture the shipping.
This was considered the most active station, as he would
prevent the escape of the whites if they conquered.
Resolve was if they did not succeed in town they would fire it
and retreat to the Lines and there fight man for man and if
defeated go to the woods and do all the harm they could.
I have spoken myself to Denmark & Peter about the
people in the Country and know they went into the country often
and told me they had communications in all the Islands—also in
Columbia, Santee, and different places, in that direction.
also heard them say they were well informed in Georgetown.
That they would let the principal Men know the time of
attack, being a short distance from Charleston would commence a
day or two before. Kill
all the whites between there and Charleston, make their way
thro’ the woods and be in time to assist their people in town.
It is also said by them that the Population in Georgetown
could be killed in one half hour.
They would capture all the Boats &c and get a great
many arms, from that place.
I tell you candidly the thing was general and known.
read at the meeting different Chapters from the Old Testament,
but most generally read the whole of 21 Chap. Exodus & spoke
and exhorted from 16 Verse the words “and He that stealeth a
man” &c. He read frequently in a Book about the complexion
of people and said it was the climate of Africa made them Black
but were not inferior to Whites on that account.
Gell also wrote letters to St. Domingo by the steward of a Brig
lying at Gibbes & Harpers Wharf.
It was understood that they would obtain assistance from
St. Domingo and the North—because Monday Gell read several
speeches, and pamphlets, and said that the Northern Brothers
would assist them and if they failed would be no disgrace. Monday Gell is the first person who spoke to me, and told me
to expected a number at that time (Feby) to join him for he had
spoken to be a considerable number.
Peter Poyas, Rolla, Ned, Garner, John Vincent & others have
spoken to many particularly the first six who were hung; but in
consequence of their deaths the names of a number remain a
secret as they spoke to them individually.
Billy Palmer was also considered an active man.
I was not at the last meeting but understood they had
determined to Kill Men, Women & Children.
I believe the report true for at the Meeting before the
last, Denmark & Peter Poyas said if you Kill the Lice,
you must Kill the Nits.
Master having read this over to me I do swear it is
true and some facts left out, of which I will remind him
(because I was at all their meetings,) and was considered an
active man. there was a quantity of Arms, of different Kinds furnished,
for Denmark told me in March, he was getting Arms fast, about
150 to 200 pikes made, and there was a great deal of money
placed in his hands for the purpose.
they must have been sent in the Country by Rolla, Ned,
Peter, Denmark, and Batteau.
Source: Robert S. Starobin, editor. Denmark
Vesey: The Slave Conspiracy of 1822. Englwood Cliffs, N.J.:
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970.
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update 3 May 2009