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Freedmen's Bureau Records - Miscellaneous Records Relating to Murders and Other Criminal Offenses Committed in Texas 1865 - 1868

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M821 Roll 32
"Miscellaneous Records Relating to Murders and Other Criminal Offenses Committed in Texas 1865 - 1868"

Jefferson, August 26, 1868
Hon. E. M. Pease


Last Friday night about 1 O'clock, Albert Browning (a Freedman), one of the quiet inoffensive citizens of our city, was taken out from his bed and in the presence of his wife and little children, his hands tied behind him and after being robbed of his money and many articles of wearing apparel, also a gun, pistol and his horse, was led a short distance from his house and shot through the head, five balls taking effect, evidently simultaneously from different guns or pistols --- as but one report was heard. From there they proceeded to the African church, tied their horses and entered the enclosure and commenced breaking down the door, whereupon some Freedmen who were there guarding their church fired upon them, and they ingloriously fled, and in their confusion they dropped the gun and pistol they had taken from Browning, and some other articles of value --- also Browning's horse was left tied to a stake. Since that time our city has been in a blaze of excitement, not so much on account of the assassination as from the assemblage of Freedmen at their church every night for the purpose of protecting their property, which is certainly their right, since the civil authorities fail to do it. They go to their church, enter the enclosure, fasten their gates and remain very quiet, interrupting no one, not wishing to interfere with any one, provided they are left unmolested ----

On Monday night the excitement became most intense. Mounted men well armed were riding through this city swearing vengeance against the Freedmen at the church. The citizens called a meeting and the crowd was harangued by excited orators. D. B. Culverson, I was informed by a gentleman of undoubted veracity and who was present, attacked D. Campbell, said he had organized the Loyal League here, and that such men were accountable for all this excitement and should be held accountable for anything that might happen, etc., etc., and was generally very bitter against Radicals, and all this in a public harangue to a then infuriated crowd, at a time when Campbell had been compelled to leave his house and come to town and conceal himself as best he could at night to save his life ---- night after night his house was surrounded by armed men, attempted to decoy him out by professions of friendship, assuming the names of his friends, forced Freedmen from their houses and ordered them to entice Campbell out and because they refused, tortured them by putting their heads under corners of fences and keeping them until life was almost extinct. I could give you many other instances of torture for similar purposes. ---- The civil law is a blank here, protection we must have soon or else all Union men ---- I mean loyal men will have to leave this country. Matters are growing worse every day --- hundred of negroes are now preparing to move to Louisiana, and I believe eventually all of them will leave this section. We need a squad of Cavalry --- say 25 or 30, for the men who are committing these deeds of horror are mounted men and Infantry can never overtake them. Two mounted men dashed boldly into town yesterday and robbed a Freedman's horse and was gone in a few minutes. The civil officers started on foot to arrest them but they never ---- saw them ---- Hoping we may have protection soon. I am, Very Respectfully, Your Obedt. Servt., (sgd) W. H. Johnson