Early Tuesday morning, August 23, Virginia Governor John Floyd received word from Southampton County officials that the slaves in their county were in rebellion. As soon as possible, Governor Floyd called up militias from Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Petersburg to march to Southampton and suppress the revolt. He put Brigadier General Richard Eppes of Sussex County in charge of the units that arrived on the scene.
Meanwhile, Southampton officials began arresting suspected slave rebels. The first trials took place on August 31, less than ten days after the revolt had begun. Newspapers, official documents, and the governor’s personal diary outline the course of events and reveal whites’ reactions as they attempted to put down the rebellion, find and punish the perpetrators, and restore order to their society.