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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, Palzy Tolliver and being duly sworn deposes and says as follows.

My name is Palsy Tolliver, I live on South Street in the city of Memphis, Tenn. About a week before the beginning of the late riot a colored soldier was standing near a house had been burned on South St. A policeman said to him "that is all you are good for, burning houses." The soldier replied that he was not guilty of burning houses. This enraged the police and he beat the soldier with his club and took him to the Station House. On the evening of the 1st of May 1866 I saw some 25 or 30 soldiers who were making a loud noise. Some 3 or 4 policemen came up to arrest them. I saw Recorder Creighton in a buggy nearby. The police attempted to arrest the soldiers and they refused to be arrested. Soon after shooting commenced but I could not say which party began first. On Sunday evening before the riot began, a policeman was passing near the corner of South & Main street and stumbled. A soldier standing nearby laughed and the policeman knocked him down with a brick. The soldier then knocked the policeman down with his fist. Some other soldiers came up and took the soldier to the Fort.

On Monday before the riot commenced a couple of colored soldiers were walking on Causey St. and were pushed off the sidewalk by two white men. Some words passed between them and two policemen came up to arrest the soldiers, they refused to be arrested and one of the policemen struck one of the soldiers over the head with his pistol, breaking it in pieces.

Palzy (X) Tolliver

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 9th day of May 1866.
F. M. H. Kendrick
Capt. & Asst. Insp. Genl.