top of page

Norfolk (Virginia) Herald,

November 4, 1831




        We have been politely favored with the perusal of a letter from Southampton, to a gentlemen in this place, from which we are enabled to give the following statement, corroborting the one published in our last, with some interesting additions:


        Nat was shot at by Mr. Francis (as stated in our last) on Thursday (yesterday week), near a fodder stack in his field, but happening to fall at the moment of discharge, the contents of the pistol passed through the crown of his hat. He had the hat on his head when he was taken, with the shot holes in it, which he exhibited to show how narrowly he had escaped being shot…. He was taken about a mile and a half from the house of Mr. Travis, the man he served, and whose family, including himself, were the first victims of this cruel fanatic, and his besotted followers. He had made himself sort of a den in the top of a fallen tree, which had covered over with pine brush. His head was protruded through this covering, as if he was in the act of reconnoitering, when Mr. Phipps (who had that morning for the first time turned out in pursuit of him), came suddenly upon him. Mr. Phipps not knowing him demanded “Who are you?” and was answered, “I am Nat Turner.” Mr. Phipps then ordered him to hand out his arms, and he delivered up a sword which was the only weapon he had.


        Mr. Phipps then took him to Mr. Edwards’ whence the news of his capture spread so rapidly, that in less than an hour a hundred persons had collected at the place, whose feelings on beholding the blood-stained monster, were so much excited, that it was with difficulty he could be conveyed alive to Jerusalem.


        He is said to be very free in his confession which, however, are of no further important [sic] than showing that he was instigated by the wildest superstition and fanaticism, and was not connected with any organized plan of conspiracy beyond the circle of the few ignorant wretches whom he had seduced by his [p. 135] artifices to join him. He still pretends that he is a prophet, and relates a number of revelations which he had said he had, from which he was induced to believe that he could succeed in conquoring [sic] the county of Southampton (what miserable ignorance!) as the white people did in the revolution.


        He says the idea of an insurrection never crossed his mind until a few months before he started with it; and he considered the dark appearance of the sun as a signal for him to commence! His profanity in comparing his pretended prophecies with passages in the Holy Scriptures should not be mentioned, if it did not afford proof of his insanity. Yet it was by that means he obtained the complete control of his followers, which led them to the perpetration of the horrible deeds of the 22d August.



Henry Irving Tragle, The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material (Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1971), 134-135.

bottom of page