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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

S. J. Quimby, M. D. - affidavit

Personally appeared before me the undersigned S. J. Quimby M. D. And being duly sworn deposes & says:

My name is S. J. Quimby, am a physician. I live on South Street near Main in the city of Memphis. On the 1st day of May 1866 I was standing in my store door. About 4 p.m. there was in the street in front of a grocery near my place of business some one hundred discharged soldiers (col'd), fifty of whom appeared to be drunk, two or three of them were very noisy. At this time a posse of six policemen passed by from the direction of Causey St. Two of them went into the crowd of discharged soldiers and arrested two of them at which time the other colored soldiers began to gather round and cry "kill them, stone them." The two policemen showed no arms, or used any violence. They started back towards Causey St. with their prisoners, the rest of the policemen remaining behind to keep the crowd back. When they reached the Bayou Bridge the soldiers began to discharge their revolvers in the air, about forty of them seemed to be armed with pistols, most of the others with clubs, stones &c. When they began to fire, the policemen seemed to think they were firing at them and turned and fired into the crowd. Then the soldiers began to fire at them and immediately I heard the cry that one of them (meaning the police) was shot. I saw the policeman that was shot carried into a saloon nearby. About one half the crowd continued up towards Causey St., the others quieted down. Soon the cry was raised by a soldier "they have killed one of our men," then the rest of the crowd very much excited, ran down towards Causey St. In about ten minutes I saw the crowd come back, three of their men wounded. One of the crowd had a policeman's club with blood on it and said "they had killed one of the police." After this things were quiet.

In about half an hour I went to tea on Shelby Street. Coming back I saw about fifty discharged soldiers (col'd) chasing the police up Main St., six of them chasing two of the police through Butler to Shelby St., firing at least a dozen shots at them, crying out at that same time "halt, you white son of a bitch, halt," after which they reached Shelby St. One of the Negroes was armed with a Spencer rifle and fired it at one of the policemen. Soon after this I saw the soldiers returning back towards the Fort and that is the last I saw of them during that day or night.

Wednesday the 2nd inst. I was at South St. when a posse of policemen came up between the hours of 9 & 10 a.m. Everything was then and had been quiet all morning. No one was armed and there had not been any soldiers on the street during the morning. The police went up into the Negro settlement and immediately after I heard firing like a skirmish. I went out and saw some Negro bodies dead in the street, two of whom I knew to be unarmed & peaceable men. I was called away soon after to dress the wounds of two col'd men near the same locality. I was called to see a man whom the posse struck and shot twice, once in the head and once in the bowels, and then asked him if he was armed, they then searched his pockets and took his money.

I saw two others who were badly shot, also a girl named Ratchell who was shot in the mouth. The same night they went to the house of John Manson in the same settlement to inquire if he had any arms, he said "no" and they threatened to shoot him, he asked them not to fire as he had not been engaged in the troubles. A white man shot him in the head and then searched his house for valuables. This man he knew by sight. A portion of the posse then went into Callahan's rooms, in his block which was rented to a black man. The room was occupied by a colored woman. One of the policemen placed a pistol at her head and compelled her to strike a light and then searched the room for her husband. Not finding him they fired into a bed where Rhody Jacobs and her child were sleeping, the ball passing through the woman's arm, took off one of her fingers and lodged in her breast.

(signed) S. J. Quimby

Subscribed & sworn to before me at Memphis, Tenn. this 19th day of May 1866.
(sgd) Michl. Walsh
Capt. A. A. A. G.
& P. Mar. Freedmen