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The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, roll 34
"Reports of Outrages, Riots and Murders, Jan. 15, 1866 - Aug. 12, 1868"

Affidavits regarding the 1866 Memphis Riot

Before me personally appeared the undersigned Albert Butcher and being duly sworn deposes as follows.

My name is Albert Butcher, I reside in the City of Memphis, Ten.

On the evening of the 1st of May 1866 I was standing near the corner of Causey and South Streets & my attention was called to some colored soldiers (about 30 or 40 in number) who were laughing and shouting and making considerable noise. About this time two buggies came up in one of which was a gentleman whom I was told was recorder Creighton. This man ordered some 3 or 4 policeman to arrest the soldiers. The soldiers refused to be arrested but used no violence towards the Police. They (the Policemen) came by where I stood accompanied by 3 or 4 stout men (colored) who appeared to be aiding the Police. After the Police had gone some distance they fired back into the crowd of Soldiers and they returned the fire. I am not positive who fired first. There was a great deal of firing going on. I came up into the city and seeing a crowd going in the direction of South Memphis. I again went down near Morris Cemetery but the crowd was too far away to see who were engaged in the firing which was going on sharply. As I was leisurely returning up Main Street, I was overtaken by the crowd returning, they were running as fast as they could and in seeing me cried out there is a "Nigger, shoot him."

I ran into an alley to get out of the way and was pursued by one Policeman and perhaps fifteen or sixteen citizens. The Policemen were heading the crowd. Some five or six shots were fired at me.

(signed) Albert Butcher

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 19th day of May 1866.
(signed) F. M. H. Kendrick
Capt. VRC and P. M. Freedmen