Daily Mississippi Pilot clipping

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Smith, George C., active 1874-1878; Friars Point (Miss.); Alcorn, J. L. (James Lusk), 1816-1894; Chalmers, James R. (James Ronald), 1831-1898; Pease, H. R. (Henry Roberts), 1835-1907

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How the Difficulty Commenced - A Lucid Statement by George C. Smith.

Senator George C. Smith, who arrived in Jackson on Saturday morning, from the scene of the troubles near Friar's Point, Coahoma county, makes a very clear statement concerning the origin of the difficulties there. In a conversation with a PILOT representative, Mr. Smith relates a narrative in substance as follows:

On Saturday night, the 2d inst., a Democratic meeting was called at Friar's Point by Senator Alcorn, during the progress of which Senator Alcorn made a speech in which he made accusations against Sheriff Brown. He also said in the same connection, in a Democratic meeting held on the Monday following, "that Brown and his crowd must be put down," and hearing that Sheriff Brown intended to reply to the strictures made upon him by Alcorn, Senator Alcorn said, "that if Brown attempted to reply to what he had said, he never would reply to any other man," or words to the same effect. Mr. Smith says that Senator Alcorn was overheard to say, in conversation, "that if Brown made any such attempt, he (Alcorn) would blow the top of his head off." Arrangements had been made to hold a Republican meeting on Monday, and invitations had been spread pretty generally through the county for the colored people to be in attendance. In the meanwhile, a compromise had been effected, whereby Sheriff Brown concluded to give up the project of replying to Senator Alcorn's charges in an open meeting, simply contenting himself with publishing a card in the local newspaper. The colored people, however, were not advised of this determination of Sheriff Brown and so headed by General Peace they were marching into town to attend the meeting. A force of three hundred armed white men, however, had assembled at Friar's Point under the leadership of Senator Alcorn, Gen. Chalmers and Parson White, an ex-gambler from Memphis. These men were clamorous for a fight and the colored men getting wind of this armed force took the precaution of arming themselves, in order to better protect the interests of Sheriff Brown. Mr. Smith says, he went out to meet the colored men, it being Brown's desire to disperse them before entering the town, and thus prevent a hostile meeting which he felt sure the armed white men would provoke, if the colored people attempted to enter Friar's Point. About a mile from town Mr. Smith met the colored people, headed by Gen. Pease, and told them to halt. Shortly afterward, Sheriff Brown joined them and told the men, on no account to go to town, as there would be no meeting. In leaving Friar's Point Brown's life was in danger, and he saw that a fight would ensue if the colored people advanced any farther. Mr. Smith says Brown was covered by weapons which were in the hands of Senator Alcorn, Parson White and others, and had not Judge Reid stepped in between, he would have been shot.

The colored people were discussing the best course to pursue, when Gen. Chalmers and Judge Reid came up and ordered them to move further off. Their intention seemed to be pacific, and the colored men accordingly withdrew to about 2 1/2 miles from town. About two hours was then consumed in negotiating peaceful measures in which Gen. Chalmers and Judge Reid acted for Senator Alcorn, and Major M. S. Alcorn (Senator Alcorn's son) and Sheriff Brown acted for Gen. Pease. Smith says he was considerably in advance of Pease's command, in the direction of Friar's Point, when he saw about 300 armed white men advancing, led by Senator Alcorn, Gen. Chalmers and Parson White. He saw at once that a fight could not be avoided, and he made for a place of safety, knowing he stood about the same chances for his life as Brown. He took shelter in a neighboring house, and in about an hour's time he heard firing. He at once knew by the length of time that had elapsed, that either the colored men had proceeded on toward their homes, or had been surrounded by the armed whites. The latter conjecture proved correct, as before the colored men were met, Senator Alcorn had sent on a detachment to cut off Pease's retreat, which led through a narrow lane. It was the execution of this flank movement which caused the delay. Pease had been warned that possibly his retreat might be cut off, and when he attempted to proceed with his men, through this narrow lane he was fired upon, but succeeded in forcing a passage and put to rout the detachment. The colored men then proceeded as fast as possible toward home trying to avoid a fight, but the main body of whites soon were in full pursuit and the fight was continued, the colored men continuing in full retreat. The Associated Press reports show how far this has been kept up. Mr. Smith relates very graphically how he made his escape, being compelled to hide in the canebrake all Tuesday night, and on Wednesday he found refuge in a colored man's house. The roads to Austin were patrolled by armed men and for awhile escape seemed impossible. At one time he was so near his pursuers that he overheard their conversation, but from that he could gather no intelligence of Brown, and could only ascertain that they knew he was in that locality and were looking for him. Finally after many vicissitudes, under the friendly shades of night, he procured a skiff above Delta and crossed over to the Arkansas side, about eight or nine miles below Helena. On arriving at Helena on Wednesday night, he found Brown there, who had made his escape in a similar manner, and had crossed the river above. Mr. Smith tells all the details of the affair in a very connected manner, from which it will appear that the whites precipitated the difficulty and were the cause of all the trouble.




Daily Mississippi Pilot, “Daily Mississippi Pilot clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed March 2, 2024, https://msstate-exhibits.libraryhost.com/items/show/940.

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