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Richmond (Virginia) Enquirer,

August 26, 1831


Extract of a letter from one of the Richmond Dragoons, dated Petersburg, Tuesday Night, 11 o’clock


      “I have been diligent in my inquires to obtain information that can be relied on. The result is, about 250 negroes from a Camp Meeting about the Dismal Swamp, set out on a marauding excursion, and have, for the sake of plunder, murdered about 60 persons, some of the families much known. We shall start in the morning at daybreak for Southampton, and will, I suppose, to back in 2 or 3 days.”



Extract of a letter from Lawrenceville (Brunswick County) Aug. 23.


      “We are all here under arms, having been informed of an insurrection broken out in Southampton by negroes, who are said to headed by some few whites. They were yesterday and last night just below Hicks Ford, as we were informed. Videttes are places between this place and Hicks Ford.”




      A letter was received from Col. Jas. H. Gholson of Brunswick County, addressed to the Governor, dated Lawrenceville (Brunswick Court House) August 23rd, which states that it was reported there, that thirty families had been destroyed, that the blacks numbered from 3 to 400, and were within 4 or 5 miles of Belfield; that many families through alarm had flocked into Lawrenceville for safety. Col. Gholson writes to the Governor for arms; which have been promptly sent on.


      We suspect the report about the agency of some few whites is a mistake—Belfield and Hick’s Ford are about half a mile apart—in Greensville, contigious to the lower South West part of Southampton.





      We have later accounts, but they are all rumors, still deficient in authenticity. It is said that the leader of the blacks had been shot at the bridge at Jerusalem—that about 20 negroes were on [p. 47] their march to their rendezvous, and attacked by 4 whites—6 killed and several prisoners taken. . . .One of the last expresses states, that most, if not all, the blacks were runaways, who had broken out of the swamps, to rob and do mischief—that few, if any, of the plantation hands had joined them—and in one case he heard of a master of one of the estates turning out with his slaves, to meet a party coming to attack him!—that two of the assailants had been killed, a third wounded, and the rest ran off.—But it is extremely difficult to get at the difficulty of all such cases. . . .


      These events have burst unexpectedly upon us. Everything is quiet here—Never more so—And indeed it is the same case, in every quarter from which we have heard—No one had dreamed of any such event happening in any part of Virginia.—A patrol turns our [sic] in our city every night—Our tranquility is perfectly unruffled—no disturbances, no suspicion, no panic—not even any excitement, except on account of our brethren of Southampton.—A temporary company of horse is organizing for a patrol, until our two Volunteer Companies return.



Henry Irving Tragle, The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1971), 46-7.


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