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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

Personally appeared before me the undersigned Dr. J. W. Sharpe and being duly sworn deposes as follows.

My name is J. W. Sharpe. I reside in Memphis, Tenn. on Elliot St. I saw a crowd of white men principally Police & Irish on the corner of ?Vance & Causey Sts. They started on the run up Causey towards South St. I saw them shoot a Negro in the bayou & one on the bayou bridge.

I dressed the wounds of colored men some of whom I knew had just come to town and were peaceable and had got mixed up with the crowd unawares. The same night (May 1) I had a Negro carried home and dressed his wounds. Returning home I called at Dr. McGowan's Drug Store on the corner of South & Causey streets. Dr. McGowan & myself were deprecating the conduct of the police when a crowd of police & citizens came in, they cursed McGowan and said he was a damned scoundrel who had harbored Negroes. They denounced "Yankees" and said not a damned one should live here. I started to go when they put a pistol to my head and said they were not through with me. Two policemen took hold of me and one, Quitman, put a pistol to my heart and said he would take my life. Just then someone called for the Captain of Police who came in and released me.

Before this I saw a policeman draw his pistol & shoot a little Negro boy through both hips.

Leaving Dr. McGowan's I went home. I dressed the wounds of a colored woman who said some policemen came to her house about midnight & kicked the door in and asked her to get a light. While doing so she was stabbed twice, as her daughter says, by the police. I dressed the wound of another colored man who said he was shot by a policeman while walking quietly in the street. This man had just come to the city.

(signed) J. W. Sharpe

Subscribed & sworn to before me this 19th day of May 1866.
(signed) Michl. Walsh
Capt. & A. A. A. G.
Prov. Mar. Freedmen