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Refugees Hiding In The Woods

"The Story Of The Wilmington, North Carolina, Race Riots" Raleigh <em>News and Observer,</em> November 27, 1898

As the Committee of Twenty-Five consolidated their hold on the city and Red Shirts were terrorizing the population, hundreds of African American fled the city for the surrounding woods.

            On November 27, 1898, the News and Observer published an article titled “The Committee of Twenty-Five”  originally published in Collier’s Weekly reported that “in the woods and swamps innocent hundreds of terrified men, women and children were wandering about, fearing the vengeance of the whites.” In an effort to show Waddell in the most favorable light, it claims that his first order of business once the new government had taken power was to “send searching parties out …and bring them back to safety and comfort” that Waddell’s was “torn with knowledge of the miseries which the revolution has necessarily caused to the poor ignorant blacks.”[1]

Furthermore, the “Committee of Twenty-Five” places the blame for the intimidation felt by the African American citizenry squarely on Rough Riders shoulders.’[2] This is obviously an attempt to separate Waddell and his revolutionary government from the actions that left hundreds of people in the cold November woods. The Collier’s Weekly’s article claims the Rough Riders caused the misery by the “indiscriminate way they went about ‘banishing’ objectionable persons—as Coronel Waddell remarked—to gratify personal spite in some cases.”[3]

On November 19, 1898, the Planet published an article titled “Horrible Butcheries At Wilmington” that dealt with the refugees from the Wilmington revolution.  The Planet states that the mob drove “hundreds to the wood to starve and die”[4] who were “inoffensive and unarmed.”[5] It is worth noting that nowhere do they report on the search Waddell’s search parties.

On December 10, 1898 the Planet published “Register Lyon’s Ringing Letter” that originally appeared in the New York Herald. Lyons claimed that thousands were driven to the woods and about a dozen infants were born and died of exposure, the direct result of the cruelty of “people who call themselves Democrats and patriots.”

[1] “Committee Of Twenty-Five,” Raleigh News and Observer, November 27, 1898

[2] Ibid

[3] “Committee Of Twenty-Five,” Raleigh News and Observer, November 27, 1898

[4] “Horrible Butcheries At Wilmington,” Richmond Planet, November 19, 1898

[5] Ibid