Search using this query type:

Advanced Search (Items only)

Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, Testimony of Giles Leitch, July 31, 1871


Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, Testimony of Giles Leitch, July 31, 1871


In this excerpt from the a joint committee investigating the rise of violence of the Ku Klux Klan, there was a long and very detailed discussion regarding the North Carolina outlaw between members of the Joint Committee, and their guest, Giles Leitch. During this discourse, there was a heavy amount of investigating into the political affiliation of the outlaw, how much political influence that the outlaw had within the area of Robeson county, the number of men that were killed, the methods in which these men were killed, and what factors led to the rise and continued success of the outlaw during this time period. It is important to note that the issue of Lowry’s political ideology is not mentioned once, but several times during the course of the questioning of Mr. Leitch.


U.S. Congress


U.S. Congress, Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States (Government Printing Office; Washington, 1872) pg. 283-304






Washington, D.C.
Robeson County, NC

Original Format



GILES LEITCH sworn and examined.

The Chairman, (Mr. Pool.) As this witness was called at the instance of the minority of this committee, Mr. Blair will please commence his examination.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. Where do you reside?

Answer: I reside at Lumberton, Robeson County, North Carolina.

Question. How long have yon resided there?

Answer. I am a native of Robeson county; I was born about twenty-one miles from the county seat, where I now live; I have been living at Lumberton since 1851.

Question. What public positions, if any, have you held in North Carolina ?

Answer. I was elected county registrar in 1853; in 1856 I was elected a member of the house of commons of the State legislature; and I was elected a State senator in 1862, 1864, and 1865, for three terms. I believe I have held some position in relation to public instruction. I think I was on a committee to examine teachers from about 1857 or 1858 to the close of the war.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. You mean teachers for our free-schools?

Answer. Yes, sir. I do not now recollect that I have held any other public position.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. The object of this committee is to ascertain, so far as you have knowledge, or so far as you have information upon which you rely, the condition of your State in reference to the execution of the laws, and the security of life and property. State briefly and in your own way what information you have on that subject.

Answer. Well my personal acquaintance is especially in the counties of Robeson and Richmond. My profession is the practice of law, and my acquaintance is chiefly in those counties.

Question. Well, give us briefly your knowledge and information as to the matters I have indicated, so far as they relate to those two counties.

Answer. The county of Robeson had about one thousand five hundred white voting population before the close of the war. Since then, since the colored population has been enfranchised, there are about three thousand voters in the county; of that one
thousand live hundred additional voting population, about half were formerly slaves, and the other half are composed of a population that existed there and were never slaves, and are not white, but who since 1835 have had no right of suffrage. I am
speaking now from conjecture, but I think that about one-half of that additional one thousand five hundred voters were this old free and not white population; I cannot tell with absolute certainty.

Question. Half of the colored population?
Answer. Yes, sir ; half of the colored population of Robeson county were never slaves at all. In 1835 there was a State convention which disfranchised them; up to that time they had exercised the elective franchise.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool :)
Question. The colored population all over the State had exercised the elective franchise up to 1835?

Answer. The free negroes, yes, sir; but Robeson county contained a larger number of them than most of the other counties.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. What are they; are they negroes?

Answer. Well, sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can; but really I do not know what they are; I think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian. About half of them have straight black hair, and many of the characteristics of the Cherokee Indians in our State; then, as they amalgamate and mix, the hair becomes curly and kinky, and from that down to real woolen hair.

Question. You think they are mixed negroes and Indians?

Answer. I think they are mixed Portuguese, Spaniards and Indians; I mean to class the Spaniards and Portuguese as one class, and the Indians as another class. I do not think that in that class of population there is much negro blood at all; of that half of the colored population that I have attempted to describe all have been always free; I was born among them, and I reckon that I know them perfectly well. They are a thriftless, lazy, thievish and indolent population. They are called "mulattoes;" that is the name they are known by, as contradistinguished from negroes. There is a family of them by the name of Lowry, that seems to have more Indian characteristics than perhaps any of the rest of that population. I have not been able to learn the origin of that family, though for several years I have been endeavoring to do so. I think they are of Indian origin. Before the revolutionary war they were wealthy, and owned slaves. During the revolutionary war they were known in that country as robbers; they were neither whig nor tory particularly; they would rob and plunder and murder
either side.

By the Chairmax, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. Do you have reference now to the Lowry family?

Answer. Yes, sir; I have reference now to the Lowry family. During the revolutionary war of 1776, as I have been informed by persons who had knowledge of what existed at that time, they were robbers; they were neither whigs nor tories, but they plundered all parties. During that war they accumulated and amassed a large fortune and at the close of the war they were rich, their riches consisting mostly in slaves. They were colored themselves, and they owned slaves ; I suppose there were a dozen heads of families, perhaps, to whom I allude particularly. Soon after the close of the revolutionary war, when law and order were reestablished, and they could not carry on their robberies longer, they got into litigation. As a characteristic of these dozen heads of families, so it was said of them, they were intemperate. They had lawsuits, and gradually and eventually, before my recollection, before I can recollect anything much about it, they had wasted their substance in that county in litigation. They had lawsuits among themselves and with their neighbors; they were indicted for violations of the law, and were known as lawless men ; just about thirty years ago, I think, the last of their slaves were sold from them; I do not think they have owned any slaves within about thirty years. Well, then, the men of those families became mechanics; they had a sort of cunning about them that was different from the negro. They had an address about them, so that whenever they went to a trade they became accomplished mechanics, more than ordinarily skilled in whatever branch of business they were taught. That Lowry family are only a part of this half of the fifteen hundred voting population that I spoke of as having been enfranchised by the late enfranchisement, though they are the ruling spirits of that class. During the confederate war these people were called upon to perform duty at the fortifications at the mouth of Cape Fear River. They were classed with ordinary negroes, and they became very much dissatisfied about it, and refused to be classed in that way ; and when summoned to do duty they refused to perform it. During the war there were police regulations in that State that made it the duty of certain officers to obtain the services of these men for the purpose of working upon fortifications. The Lowry family generally, besides some others, refused to obey; and upon the officers requiring them to discharge those duties, they deserted. They were out in the woods;' and when the officers of the law would go out to seek them they could not be found. Now, of the county of Robeson there is a region of about eight or ten miles square, in which this old free colored population lives; it is called Scuffletown; they all live inside of that area. Well, during the war, when they were called upon to work upon the fortifications, they refused to do it, and were lying out in the woods, and they were called deserters at that time. Just a little reflection will show you that that place called Scuffletown is right on the line from Newberne, in North Carolina, which was then in possession of the federal forces, and Florence, in South Carolina, where the confederates had a prison in which they confined federal soldiers.

Question. You mean on the line of travel?

Answer. Yes. Scuffletown is on the direct line of travel from Florence to Newberne, or very nearly direct. A number of the federal prisoners held at Florence escaped at various times, and in passing to the nearest post held by the federal forces they would pass right to Scuffletown; and they fell in with these fellows, several who had escaped from Florence, after having been captured by the confederates and imprisoned there. Just before the close of the war quite a number of t hem got into this place, and there being such a number of deserters from the confederate service, in the persons of these mulattoes, instead of going on to Newberne, they stopped there, quite a number of them, and all banded together. Those federal escaped prisoners and these colored persons together made a formidable force there. The white persons everywhere in the State were in the service. And these persons, so banded together, then commenced to rob and plunder. This was about October or November, 1864. A mixture of these mulattoes and these federal prisoners who had escaped from Florence banded together and had their camps in the swamps and islands about there. They would steal out at night and rob some person living in the neighborhood of all he had—this mixture of mulattoes and escaped prisoners. I suppose that a majority of them were the mulattoes with perhaps prisoners joined in with them to lead them. In the winter of 1864 and 1865 they robbed the wealthiest citizens all the county of everything they had. Well about the time that General Sherman was marching from Savannah through to Raleigh – this again was in the direction—

Question. In the line of march?
Answer. In the line of march. About a week before Sherman marched through Robeson County – I think he marched through there about the 7th or 8th of March, 1865 – just about a week before that time, there were many confederate officers and soldiers home on furlough. There was a police force in North Carolina at that time known as the home guard, who were required to perform semi-military service; just police regulations, however. Well, they were not sufficiently strong in Robeson County to put down this trouble with the mulattoes. Along about the first of March several soldiers who were at home on furlough combined with this home guard.

Question. Confederate soldier?

Answer. Yes, sir. They attacked this band of mulattoes and escaped federal prisoners and killed two or three of their leaders, captured them and shot them. Then soon after that Sherman came along, and that settled everything pretty generally down with us there, and we had very little more trouble right off.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. They did not leave anything for them to do?

Answer. No; not much more to do. After that the General Government established the Freedmen's Bureau, and sent the agents of that Bureau down there to regulate our country. And while those people I am speaking of were never slaves, yet the Bureau agents seemed to take special care of their interests and to protect them. I think they induced them to believe that it was their duty to prosecute those people who had killed the leaders of those robbers in 1864 and 1865. There were about eighteen or twenty men arrested at that instigation, and I defended some of them. I am a practicing lawyer in that section of the country. They were under arrest for about twelve months, and the grand juries failed to find a true bill. I think the political bias of that institution was unfortunate for us.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. What institution?

Answer. The Freedmen's Bureau. I think it was unfortunate. Well, after that there were four or five men murdered in our county. They were attacked at night in their houses and murdered and robbed of what they had. One of them was named Reuben King, who had been sheriff of my county for about eighteen years previous to that time.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. By whom was he murdered?

Answer. He was murdered by eight or ten of these mulattoes; and I will give the names of them as far as I can. I do not know that I can give the names of all of them.

The Chairman, (Mr. Pool.) I do not know that General Blair would want the names of the murderers.

Mr. Blair: I do not know that I want them, if it was certain that they belonged to that gang.

The Witness. They certainly belonged to that gang. I assisted the State solicitor to prosecute them, and I managed to have four of them arrested.

By the Chairman:
Question. You mean for the murder of King?

Answer. Yes, sir; four of them were arrested. I think about seven were implicated in the murder. The trial was removed from Robeson County to Columbus County, an adjoining county. There was a severance; there were four on trial, and but two were tried, while two had their cases continued; the two who were tried were convicted; the evidence was mainly that of an accomplice.

Question. You mean that the witness was an accomplice?

Answer. Yes, sir. There was some corroborating testimony, but the conviction was upon the testimony of the accomplice. After conviction their counsel appealed to the supreme court for a new trial, and pending the appeal they escaped from jail. And those two men, who are now convicted felons, constitute a part of what is known as the Robeson County outlaws.

Question. Lowry's band?

Answer. There are two; Applewhite and Lowry. George Applewhite and Steven Lowry were convicted and sentenced to be executed, and escaped from prison. There are not a great many in the band, considering the amount of mischief they do. One of them, by the name of Henry Berry Lowry, is the acknowledged leader of this band.

Question. What became of the other two prisoners whose trial was postponed?

Answer. The trial of one is still pending. The other was convicted upon another charge and hanged since that time; he was not convicted of the King murder, but of a different offense. Ho escaped with the convicted men, and then committed a murder after his escape; he was again arrested and convicted of that.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. And executed?

Answer. And executed. One of the two who had severed and did not have a trial, is still awaiting his trial. Steven Lowry and George Applewhite are the two men who were tried and found guilty of the King murder. Henry Berry Lowry is a brother of Steven Lowry, and is the leader of the outlaws, is the chief spirit among them. The first murder that he committed, I think, was about 1863; he murdered a man by the name of James P. Barnes, who was attempting to put him into service upon the fortifications; I think that was about 1863?. And about the same year he murdered a man by the name of James B. Harris. The method of his murdering was always to waylay and to shoot out of the thicket, out of the bushes. He murdered this Harris about
the same time, and a little after he murdered Barnes. His reason for murdering Harris, as was proved. I think, was this: There was a grudge existing between the two men, and it grew out of some woman that both wanted to enjoy; Harris seemed to be successful and Lowry murdered him for it. I think that was it; I do not think there was any politics in it; I mean that I do not think there were any political or other reasons in the existing condition of the country at that time, that caused the murder.
Besides that, James B. Harris was a pretty rough man himself, and had killed two or three of these mulattoes before that time, and was engaged in the killing of the father and brother of Lowry, the chiefs of the band of mulattoes and escaped federal prisoners in 1864 and 1865, to which I have heretofore alluded. After about 1866 or 1867, there were in the band, George Applewhite, Steven Lowry, Henry Berry Lowry, Boss Strong, and Andrew Strong; Henry Berry Lowry married the sister of Boss and Andrew Strong, and those two brothers are in his band. They form a kind of nucleus there. I do not exactly remember the date of their having been outlawed but the magistrates of the county, being empowered to do so by the laws of the State, issued a proclamation of outlawry against those men some three or four years ago.

Question. Against just those men you have named, or those men and others?

Answer. I do not think there were many others except those I have named. I will name them over; I am sure Henry Berry Lowry is one, Steven Lowry is another, George Applewhite is another, that makes three; Boss Strong is another, that makes four Andrew Strong is another, Henry Oxendine was another, and he has been executed since that time; and Calvin Oxendine is still another, and he is in jail. This proclamation of outlawry did not seem to have any effect at all; it did not effect their capture. As I tell you, they lived there among the people of their class, who are in such numbers that any attempt or effort to capture them would always be made known to them before it could be made effectual.

Question. In what part of the county of Robeson is Scuffletown situated?

Answer. Very near about the center.

Question. Near Lumberton?

Answer. Lumberton is not exactly in the center; Scuffletown is some eight or ten miles west of Lumberton. This proclamation of outlawry seemed to have no effect. There was a man by the name of Alfred Thomas, who was an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, and located down there on duty ; he and the sheriff of the county on one occasion waited upon Henry Berry Lowry, and he agreed to surrender to the authorities of the law; they brought him into Lumberton and put him in jail. He staid there some two or three weeks, perhaps ; I do not remember the exact time. I understand that he said the agreement had not been carried out in good faith, and he drew a revolver on the jailer one day and told him to open the door, and the jailer had to let him out.
He has never been tried.

Question. Do all the men of that class cooperate with Lowry in his outrages?

Answer. Well, sir; I think not; I do not think you can put it exactly in that light. But I think that most of them sympathize with him. I think that if a band of men were to go there for the purpose of arresting him, they would advise him of that fact in time for him to escape. I do not think they really approve of his conduct.

Question. Still they aid in sheltering him?

Answer. Yes, sir; they shelter him. Perhaps-it would be well enough for me to describe that country down there, so that you can understand it. I do not know either that my descriptive powers are sufficient to make it intelligible. There is what is known as the Lumber River, which runs right through about the middle of Robeson County; along each side of the river it is almost entirely a bluff; there is very little swamp along the bank of the river. In the upper portion of the county is what is known as Back Swamp, which rises about a half a mile perhaps from the Lumber river and empties into it about fifteen miles below. It does not flow more than about a mile and a half or two miles from Lumber River all the way. That swamp is about three quarters of a mile wide on an average. It is not all swamp, but there are islands in it of an acre, or two acres, or five acres in extent. The swamp is about ten miles in length, of un average width of three-quarters of a mile. Upon those islands they have dens and caves in which they hide. Very few people traverse that swamp; there are very few who know where the islands are, or where their caves and dens are. Some six months ago we called upon the United States authorities to assist our sheriff in executing the laws of that county, we being unable to do it ourselves. There was a company of United States soldiers there about six months; they were quartered at different points contiguous to this swamp, at Lumberton and at other points. Well, Henry Berry Lowry, and his crowd of about seven men, were outlawed, but they were unmolested during the whole time. They shot a man in sight of the camp of the United States soldiers, killed him dead, and escaped with impunity.

Question. Who was killed?

Answer. John Taylor. They shot him in sight of the camp of United States soldiers, and then escaped with impunity.

Question. Without any attempt being made to arrest him?

Answer. O, the soldiers formed into line as soon as they could get all dressed right, and see how to go along. They went, but then it did not amount to anything. It was in the edge of the swamp that they shot their man and left him. He was a man who had been very active in trying to effect their arrest, and whom they had threatened before, whom they had notified that if he did not leave the country they would kill him. I suppose they fixed upon a time and place to be as defiant of the United States authorities as they could; I suppose that was their object. They have killed about seventeen or eighteen men, I think, at different times.

Question. Within what time?

Answer. Since 1863; I think they have killed as many as eight men within the last six months ; and they have notified a great many men that it they do not leave the country they will kill them. Some leave the country; some will not leave, and they kill those who do not leave. I suppose they have driven off as many as twenty men from the country.

Question. Just notify them to quit?

Answer. Just notify them that if they do not leave the country they will kill them.

Question. What class of men are those they kill or notify to leave the country?

Answer. They are generally men who have heretofore exercised influence and authority in the county—men who are influential in making efforts to arrest them.

Question. Have these outlaws any politics? What ticket do they support? To what political party do they adhere?

Answer. I think that Henry Berry Lowry never had much politics. All his relations, all his color, all his kin, all who are associated with him in any way, are republicans. He has been in one or two processions of the republican party; but having been under a ban in consequence of warrants for his arrest, I do not think he has ever voted. I do not know how that is; some say he has, and some say he has not; but I think myself that he has never voted. I think all the balance of the band have voted the republican ticket. They are of that class that forms and makes up that party in that section of the State.

Question. And who are the men he has killed or made to quit the country? Are they democrats or republicans?

Answer. They are all what are known to us as conservatives. I do not think that any who have quit the country are republicans. He has killed eighteen or twenty men. This one man has killed that many, and I think that two of them were republicans—men who were impressed to hunt them as a part of the posse.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. Do you mean that two of them were democrats?

Answer. I mean that two of the men he killed were republicans, I think, though, it was because they were hunting him.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. Because they were in pursuit of him?

Answer. Because they were in pursuit of him. It has got to be spoken of as a fact that they have never slain a republican. My own impression is that they slay the men who are trying to capture them as outlaws.

By Mr. Buckley:
Question. Without respect to party?

Answer. Well, sir, it is one of those things it is almost impossible for me to decide about. I have heard it remarked in that country that of the eighteen or twenty men they have killed there have been but two republicans, and those they killed accidentally; that is, they did not know they were republicans. But I am inclined to the opinion that they just kill those men who are seeking to arrest them.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. They have killed a great many men who were not seeking to arrest them, have they not? Was Taylor seeking to arrest them when he was killed?

Answer. He was understood by them as being hostile to them, as desiring their arrest. At the time he was killed he was not seeking to arrest them, or making any effort to accomplish their arrest. Now I would like to mention one thing to this committee, and if it would have any effect anywhere in the world I feel a great deal of concern to have anything done that can be done. About the 1st of July—

Question. Of this year?

Answer. Yes, sir, about a month ago the commissioners of that county instructed the sheriff to get a posse to put down these outlaws, to capture them, to secure their arrest. Accordingly he has had about a hundred men for the last month seeking to arrest these outlaws. There are only about seven of the outlaws. The sheriff has put this posse under the lead of a man who was a confederate officer, noted for his coolness and courage. They had headquarters, and I think made some arrangement about it; something like a military arrangement. Provisions were provided for this posse, and their headquarters were up about the center of Scuffletown. I think the sheriff ordered out about a hundred men, about ten men from each township, and there are about ten townships in the county. Well, about the first thing they did after they got together there was this: They concluded to capture the wives of these outlaws, and perhaps their concubines, thinking that it would enable them to get a sight of the outlaws, to find out where they were, so that they could be captured; that in that way they could successfully accomplish their capture. They therefore sent out a guard and brought in their women, and on the way they were waylaid, and three of the guard were killed, among our best men.

By Mr. Buckley :
Question. While they were bringing in their wives?

Answer. Yes, sir; they were ambushed by the robbers, and three were killed. And then it was concluded to send the women to Lumberton, about ten miles from where the headquarters of this posse was. They were sent down there, and the magistrates issued warrants against them for aiding and abetting the outlaws. They were not put in jail, but they were kept under guard. I think the three men were killed about Friday, as near as I can recollect, and there were four others wounded. There were seven men shot by the robbers, four wounded, and three killed straight out dead. There were guards sufficient, though, to keep the women from being retaken by the robbers. The women were sent down to Lumberton, the county-seat. Well, I do not know that I can tell precisely the different dates; but two or three days after that Henry Berry Lowry sent a messenger down to the sheriff of the county demanding the release of those women, or threatening that he would cause blood to flow in Robeson County. The sheriff was unwilling to release them, but there was such a terror among the citizens that they compelled him to do it. Men were apprehensive that their wives and daughters would be taken in place of the wives and daughters of the robbers who were then under arrest, and they brought such a pressure to bear upon the sheriff that he could not resist, and he let them go. A few days before I left home they killed two young men, between their homes and the railroad depot, which was about three-quarters of a mile from where they lived.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. Were those two young men part of the sheriff's posse?

Answer. They were going to join it. They were not acting at that time. Within the last six months they have killed five men.

Question. You mean those two and the three who were killed when the women were captured?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. What were the names of those men who were killed?

Answer. The last two were Mordecai McLean and Hugh McLean. And at the same time there was a man named McCallum, who was in the same buggy with them, who was wounded, but he made his escape. I have understood that Mordecai McLean had been in the sheriff's posse two weeks before, and was supposed to have possession of a long-range gun; but it turned out that he did not have it at the time he was killed.

Question. Do you suppose that his having that gun was any temptation to them to kill him?

Answer. Well, I think that was one inducement. Then I think that he having been active in trying to secure their arrest, that was another inducement. He had been notified by them several times to leave the country or he would be killed.

Question. On account of his activity against them?

Answer. Yes, sir: that was understood to be the reason.
Question. Now I want to ask you the question whether this hand of men in your county have had any political objects in view, and whether, by reason of that, they are shielded by the authorities?

Answer. Well, sir, that is a pretty hard question to answer, but I will answer it just as I understand it.

Question. Answer it exactly as you believe to be the truth about the matter.

Answer. Yes, sir. I believe that the politicians who have established in that county the republican party have got all this class of people into that party by instilling into them a hatred toward the white race. I believe they have been taught to hate the white man as one who was endeavoring to keep away from them what are their rights; I believe that. But, at the same time, I do not believe that the republican party, as an organization down there, would shield those men. I believe that they desire that they should be arrested and punished.

Question. Have they made such efforts for their arrest and punishment as—

Answer. No; I think that if those of their own color, that class of seven hundred or eight hundred men I have mentioned to you, had desired it, or had made the effort, they could have captures those men, and they are the only men who can do it.

Question. I understand you to say that they are not only do not assist in their capture, but they aid them in evading capture?

Answer. I think they give them information of any effort that are being made to arrest them.

Question. Do most of these seven hundred or eight hundred men of whom you speak also live by plunder in the Scuffletown settlement?

Answer. I cannot say they do. These seven or eight men are the only men who are outlaws; the balance of them are subject to arrest, if any precept is issued against them; they submit to the laws.

Question. Do the whole of this class of men, amounting to seven hundred or eight hundred men, vote the republican ticket, according to your belief?

Answer. O, yes, sir.

Question. Those men who are aiding these outlaws to evade capture?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think so.

Question. Is there any other organization in your county, any secret organization, whose purpose it is, and whoso practice it is, to violate the law and to commit outrages upon
person and property?

Answer. I do not think there is any except that.

Question. In your county?

Answer. I think not, sir. I think this: that there is a kind of—I do not know exactly how to express it—a kind of public sentiment among the negroes against one of their race who votes the democratic ticket, a disposition to ostracize him from their society I think there is something like that. There are not many who attempt to vote any other way except the radical ticket.

Question. That is to say, if any negro attempts to vote the democratic ticket, there is an understanding among the other negroes—

Answer. That he is to be drummed out of countenance; that he is not to be countenanced at all.

Question. By them?

Answer. Yes, sir. There is a man in my county who is indicted as a Ku-Klux. He disguised himself, with two or three others, and got after another negro who was said to have voted the democratic ticket. The case has been continued. I do not know that it is a matter of any very great consequence.

Question. What is the name of that negro?

Answer. John Holloway; the constable of the township. He is indicted in that county for going in disguise and frightening another colored man; he and two other men. I do nor know whether the others are indicted or not.

Question. Are the others known?

Answer. Well, I do not know them myself; I do not know whether anybody else knows them but, John Holloway, the constable, who is indicted. I think he just got up a crowd to intimidate that man.

Question. What did they do to the man?

Answer. I think he made his escape; I do not think they hurt him at all.

Question. Did they attempt to whip him or to kill him?

Answer. I think they only attempted to frighten him. It may have been more serious, but I do not know. My impression is that all they attempted to do was to frighten him; well, to make him feel disgraced for not being a good republican. I think that was about the whole purpose of it.

Question. When did that take place?

Answer. That was previous to our last court. I think it was along about February last, as near as I can recollect.

Question. Are the county officers of your county all republicans?

Answer. No, sir; our sheriff is a democrat. A republican was elected sheriff, but he failed to give bond.

Question. This democratic sheriff was appointed?

Answer. Yes, sir; by the commissioners of the county.

Question. If their is any other matter or thing which you know, bearing upon the general question of the good order and peace of your community, you can state it.

Answer. I would like to say this; they have failed to capture or hunt a single outlaw, while on the other hand five of them have been killed and four of them wounded.

Mr. Buckley:
Question. Of the posse?

Answer. Of the posse, yes, sir. We are just in this condition: If we abandon the hunt it will just be giving up that whole country to the outlaws, just admitting that they are victorious. If we continue it, there is not much prospect of its doing any good. We are in a very deplorable condition down there in Robeson County.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. Is there any prospect at all of capturing those men?

Answer. None in the world. I know it must sound strange to men for me to say so. But there they have been for four or five years, during which time they have killed eighteen or twenty men, and not one of their own number has been killed. I do not believe in witchcraft, nor in conjuring, nor in anything of that sort, but the fact of the business is that they are not being captured or killed. They are a terror to our country. Our people, for the last three or four years, of both colors, complexions, and classes, are leaving the county to evade the summons of the sheriff; they are going to Cumberland and to South Carolina. The men are sending off the female members of their families, to avoid their being taken by Henry Berry Lowry and his gang as a sort of hostage. It is a terrible condition, gentlemen; it is, there is no doubt about it.

Question. And they make a great deal more fuss down there about the Ku-KIux than they do about these outlaws?

Answer. O, no, not in our part of the country; there is no Ku-Klux down there.

Question. The State authorities—

Answer. I suppose that down about Logan's district, down about Rutherfordton, they have some.

Question. They have United States troops there?

Answer. The troops were carried from Robeson County up there.

Question. They were in Robeson County?

Answer. Yes, sir, they were in Robeson, but they did not do any good there. There was a force of United States troops there, and two or three of Henry Berry Lowry's friends were arrested and put in jail, and they refused to furnish the sheriff with a guard for the jail; I do not know whether or not it was their duty to furnish one. Henry Berry Lowry came and unlocked the prison-doors and turned his friends out.

Question. After the proper authorities had asked for their assistance, the troops refused to give it?

Answer. Yes; I do not know that it was contumaceous; I think it was a question whether the sheriff had a right to order the soldiers; some little notions about that.

Question. A question of etiquette?

Answer. Yes, a question of etiquette; I think that was it. The result was that the friends of Lowry escaped from jail.

Question. Do you not believe that if any serious effort were made by the authorities of the State, an effort commensurate with the importance of the object, these outlaws could be captured, unless they were shielded by a large portion of the people of the county?

Answer. Just let me reflect a few moments before I answer that question. [After a pause.] Do you mean by "the authorities of the State" the posse comitatus of the county?

Question. I mean the governor and the executive authorities of the State. Those people are declared outlaws by the State authorities, and if one power is not sufficient, then the whole power of the State ought to be brought to bear upon them. 1 mean, is the whole executive power of the State unable to capture those outlaws, if vigor and diligence were used commensurate with the importance of the occasion?

Answer. I think that Henry Berry Lowry and his gang are reckless. I believe that the posse who are attempting to arrest them are demoralized by them. Of course, I cannot say that the whole State of North Carolina could not capture those men. But it has been the duty of the officers of the law, for years past, to do it, and thus far they have failed. Does that answer your question? If not, I do not exactly know how to answer it.

Question. The question was simply, whether the authority of the State, if exerted in good faith, could not capture those outlaws. If such effort had been made to capture those parties as were made last year against the two counties of Alamance and Caswell, which were put under martial law by Governor Holden, do you not think they might have been captured?

Answer. It may be; I am not familiar with the transactions in those two counties.

Question. I believe that in the instance Governor Holden called out two regiment?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Yet the authorities of the State have made no effort in aid in their capture?

Answer. Well, sir, about the first of this month we applied to Governor Caldwell, and he sent down one hundred stands of arms, and some ammunition. I do not know that that would do any good, unless we had some men to use them. I do not think there has been any refusal on the part of Governor Caldwell to extend any aid to us that he can; but there is nobody to exercise it, nobody to exert it effectually.

Question. In the case of the declaration of martial law in Alamance and Caswell, there were bodies of troops raised?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Two regiments of troops, and they were armed and equipped, and the counties were put under martial law?

Answer. Probably that would secure the arrest of these men; I do not know.

Question. That has never been tried there?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. I believe that was done in those two counties, when there never had been the slightest resistance to process has been unremitting for the last four years?

Answer. Yes, sir; by these seven or eight men.

Question. Do you believe, or is it the belief among your people, that it is out of tenderness to those people, on account if their color, and because such an attempt would be unpopular among the black people of your State, thus to make war upon those people?

Answer. I do believe that the existence of this state of affairs in Robeson County is in consequence of the results of the war.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. You mean the rebellion?

Answer. Well, yes; I mean the confederate war?

Question. You mean the late war?

Answer. Yes, sir. I believe if the laws existed now that existed before the close of the rebellion these troubles could be suppressed.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. That is to say, they would be suppressed except that these people are voters?

Answer. Well, yes, that is about what I mean; that is really what I do mean, that these people are voters now.

Question. Do I understand that you mean that because these men have the suffrage, and because a vigorous effort to put down their lawlessness might affect the colored vote of the State, therefore the State authorities decline and refuse to do it?

Answer. Well, I do not think I would like to state it exactly that strong; I do not know exactly how to express it. It is owing to the changed condition of affairs. I do not think it is exactly as you put it. But I think it is because—well, let me reflect a little. [After a pause.] I can hardly say.

Question. State, then, if you please, why, in your opinion, it is that those people are allowed to commit such outrages without a vigorous effort being made by the authorities of the State to put them down. Why do they permit this thing to go on in your county, and make no commensurate effort to put it down? What is the reason of it?

Answer. [After a pause.] Let me state it at my leisure, and I will try and give an answer.

Question. Two or three regiments were called out for the counties of Alamance and Caswell, where there was no resistance to the law. The Government of the United States has been called upon for all its power, and it has been clothed with very questionable authority, on account of outrages that are rumored and spoken of in other parts of the State. But in the county of Robeson, where so many men have been killed and where resistance to law has been going on for so long a time, no commensurate effort has been made by either the State or National Government to put a stop to it. Now, what is the reason of that?

Answer. I do not believe that Governor Caldwell protects those people; I think that the sheriff of Robeson is anxious to use any effort within his power to arrest them. I believe that the officers of the law, if they could, would discharge their duties. I believe that, originally the influence that those men had prevented a strict enforcement of the law; the political influence that those men had prevented the strict enforcement of the law. I do not believe that those considerations exist at present.
Question. I understood you to say that when the Bureau officers went down there, they took these people under their particular charge and protection?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. How long did that continue?

Answer. Well, it continued until after the adoption of the State constitution, in 1868. I believe that was the time, during- the year 1868, that the Bureau expired there. I know it virtually expired with us after the State government went into operation.

Question. Those men were not entitled, by the law, to be taken under the direction of the Bureau, were they?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. They were always free men?

Answer. They had always been free.

Question. And at that time, I believe, they were acting in defiance of the law?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And some had been convicted of high crimes, had they not?

Answer. Steven Lowry and George Applewhite were convicted after that; I believe that Henry Berry Lowry had been arrested and charged under indictment by the grand jury.

Question. That was pending against him prior to that time?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And yet he was protected by the Bureau officers?

Answer. Well, what I meant to say was that the Bureau officers were understood to have encouraged him and his relations to prosecute the home-guard that had killed some of those men for robbing, during the latter part of the war.

Question. They assisted in the prosecution of those men?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And gave countenance to Lowry and his gang?

Answer. Yes, in that way.

Question. Is there m your county, or in the county of Richmond, of which you spoke as one of the counties with which you are familiar, any other cause of disquietude among the people there except the one to which you have alluded?

Answer. I think not. I think that these outlaws—they are known by the name of outlaws; they are men who have been indicted; they are men who live in caves and dens; they are not amenable to justice. There are about seven of them in the county of Robeson. I do not think there are any others who are evading the process of the law; I do not think there are any others but what process could be served on them. There have been one or two homicides in the hunt for these robbers; but I do not know that they were men who were killed because they were supposed to be in complicity with the robbers; they were killed in the hunt to arrest the robbers, and the men who have done that have been prosecuted.

Question. By whom?

Answer. Well, by the grand jury, by the judge of the court.

Question. By the radical authorities?

Answer. Yes, sir. Our judge there, Daniel L. Russell, I believe, is fully in earnest in his desire to bring to punishment these outlaws that are in his district. I do not think there is any complicity with them on his part. At our last court there was a report of a jury of inquest implicating nine men, who had been out for the purpose of arresting these outlaws. The witnesses were sent before the grand jury, and the grand jury decided that the evidence was not sufficient to authorize them to find a true bill. Judge Russell had entered upon the minutes of the court his protest against the action of the grand jury.

Question. Do you remember the facts attending the killing of that man?

Answer. Well, the facts were that he lived in the immediate vicinity of the outlaws, and was supposed to be in complicity with them in their acts ; the sheriff's posse went to arrest the outlaws, and failing to do it some of them took up this colored man and killed him; that is, it is understood that he was killed.

Question. Did they believe—

Answer. I think there is no doubt of the fact that they believed he was really a spy to assist and shield the outlaws.

Question. Do you believe that that conduct of the judge displayed any very great zeal for the capture of those outlaws.

Answer. No, sir, I do not; I do not think that displayed any zeal; I think that in that he acted injudiciously, that he ought not to have done so; I do not think that his official duties required him to do that; I did understand that the grand jury did not have sufficient evidence to find a true bill, and that it was considered officious in the judge to enter any protest at all about their action.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. I understood you to say that these seven or eight hundred person that you designate as mulattoes are not negroes, but are a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, white blood and Indian blood; you think they are not generally negroes?

Answer. I do not think that the negro blood predominates.

Question. The word “mulatto” means a cross between white and negro?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You do not mean the word to be understood in that sense when applied to those people?
Answer. I really do not know exactly how to describe those people. The most of them have bushy kinky hair, and they are about the color of a cross between the white and negro; but they do not exactly partake of the characteristics of such a cross.

Question. You were born and brought up right in that vicinity, were you not?

Answer Yes, sir.

Question. You know these people well?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. The first difficulty that occurred with them was at the time when the confederates undertook to class them with free negroes and to order them to work upon the fortifications?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think so.

Question. The order putting men to work upon the fortifications extended only to negroes, and they raised that question?

Answer. The first difficulty was with James P. Barnes; I think that difficulty arose from his accusing the Lowry family of having appropriated some of his cattle; and he got out of a search-warrant and took the officers of the law to search for his beef-cattle.

Question. When was that?

Answer. That was along about 1863; about the same time, I think there were troubles from their refusing to go to work on the fortifications.

Question. Trouble with the mulattoes, as you call them?

Answer. Yes, sir. They killed Barnes because he prosecuted them for stealing his beef-cattle.

Question. You say that this Lowry family shielded Federal prisoners escaping from some place in South Carolina, while on their way to Newberne; and that after a time some of these Federal soldiers remained with them. What has become of those Federal soldiers? Have they left there since the war closed?

Answer. I think they left there before the war closed. When this raid on them was made by the home guard I think they scattered; there was one or two of them wounded in that encounter. When General Sherman's army marched through that county, I think they went off with the Federal Army.

Question. Will you state what outrages, if any, were committed on Lowry, or on any member of his family, by the white people, by any white men, along during the war? Do you recollect whether his father was killed by them?

Answer. Yes, sir; I have stated about that; that was by the home guard, just immediately preceding the march of the Union army through there.

Question. Do you recollect whether his brother was killed?

Answer. Yes, sir; his father and brother were shot by the home guards.

Question. You mean by the confederates?

Answer. By the State authorities.

Question. There were present in that home guard some furloughed confederate soldiers, who were then resident in the county?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you recollect whether any outrages were committed upon any of the women of the Lowry family?

Answer. I do not recollect that I ever heard there was any.

Question. Do you recollect whether any white men of the county have had any difficulty with Lowry and his gang, in regard to some of the women of the families of Lowry's gang?

Answer. I never heard about that. I did hear this: That Lowry's mother was arrested about the time her husband and son were shot. I do not think that I heard that she was really punished in any way; but she was under arrest, and perhaps they frightened her; I do not remember to have heard that she was ever punished. I do remember that at the time her husband and son were executed she was under arrest; I recollect
hearing about that.

Question. You mean when her husband and son were killed by the home guard?

Answer. Yes. If there was any indignity offered to her, or any punishment indicted upon her, or anything of that sort, I do not recollect anything about it now.

Question. Is there any white blood in that Lowry family?

Answer: I really do not know. I think that the father was Indian; I think the family has about the characteristics of the Cherokees of our State. The mother was named Cunibo, and I think it is likely that there may have been some white blood in the Cumbo family; I do not know that certainly, but I think it is likely.
Question. Was not Henry Berry Lowry induced to undertaken retaliation because of
the outrages committed during war times upon the members of his family; is not that
the origin of this trouble ?

Answer. I cannot undertake to say what he thinks does justify his acts.

Question. I want to get at the fact.

Answer. I state the facts. You know about what really did occur.

Question. You have a right to state what is the general understanding in the community,
or what you believe to be the truth.

Answer. His father and brother were killed by the home guards, about the close of the war.

Question. Do you recollect whether any houses were burned ?

Answer. I do not think there were any houses burned. His father and brother were killed by a company of home guards. He is said to have killed James P. Barnes and James B. Harris during the war.

Question. That was a private feud ?

Answer. Well, I do not know. James B. Harris was a home guard officer to take the crowd to the fortifications, and there was a private feud about some woman; but I do not know exactly how much influence that had.

Question. I understood you to say that Lowry and Barnes were after the same woman?

Answer. Barnes got out a search warrant for some beef cattle that he alleged had been stolen from him; and it was said that it was for that reason that he was waylaid by Lowry.

Question. When these Federal prisoners were with them you say they were in the habit of going out and robbing wealthy people in the neighborhood ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did they rob them of anything but provisions?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Of what else?

Answer. Of money, jewelry, and clothing.

Question. Did they injure any of the persons they robbed?

Answer. I think that generally there was no resistance to them. There was resistance at Dr. McNair's, and there was firing by both parties, and some of the gang were wounded ; there was a United States soldier wounded.

Question. Is there a considerable portion of territory in the western part of North Carolina set apart for the Cherokee Indians? You have been a member of the legislature, and perhaps you know how that is.

Answer. Yes, sir ; I believe there is.

Question. Do you recollect whether, by law, white men are excluded from purchasing land in that territory set apart for the Cherokee Indians ?

Answer. I do not remember about that.

Question. You recollect that the Cherokee Indians are congregated within a certain territory of country in the western part of the State, and that with the permission of the State they occupy that territory?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was this ten or twelve miles square of territory in Robeson County, by common consent, left somewhat in the same way to this Lowry set of people?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Are they the main portion of the inhabitants in that section of country ?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. They are not ?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Who lives in Scuffletown besides them?

Answer. The Lowry family is Indian; then there are Locklaers, Oxendines, Hunts, Joneses, and Grayboy ; I do not recollect how many other negro names there are. There are a dozen different families there. Some of the Lowry and Oxendine families
are related by marriage. But Lowry is Indian ; the balance of them are not understood to be Indian—they are mulatto; I mean colored people.

Question. Do any white persons live in Scuffletown?

Answer. Yes, sir; but not many now ; they are about all scared off, about all run out.

Question. You spoke of Reuben King having been killed by this Lowry gang; and you said that several others were killed?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were all those persons men who had taken an active part against Lowry?

Answer. No, sir. Barnes was about the first one that Henry Berry Lowry killed; the next one was James B. Harris; those were private feuds. Then among the first that were killed after the close of the war was Reuben King. He was a man reputed to be wealthy, and they went to his house and robbed him; he resisted their efforts to rob him, and they killed him.
Question. What had been the relations existing before between King and those men?

Answer. I do not think there was any consideration in the world except for the purpose of getting his money. However, he had been sheriff for some considerable time, and at one time he had his this Henry Berry Lowry arrested, and he put him in confinement in Columbus County, the jail of Robeson County having been destroyed before that time. I do not know whether there was any animosity on account of that or not.

Question. Was he the man who went with the Freedmen’s Bureau man to get Lowry to give him up?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Was Mr. King with the gang that killed the father and brother of Lowry?

Answer. No, sir; he had nothing in the world to do with it.
Question. Who were those two young men you said were killed while on their way to join sheriff’s posse? Do you recollect whether they had killed any of Lowry’s men?

Answer. Do you mean Mordecai McLean and Hugh McLean?

Question. Yes. sir.

Answer. I do not think they had ever killed any of Lowry’s men. Perhaps it would be appropriate for me to say that there is a reward has been offered for four or five of them.

Question. For each of them?

Answer. Yes, sir; a reward offered by the governor. That has induced a company of young men of about equal numbers to ambush themselves in that Scuffletown district for the purpose of capturing them.

Question. How long has that been going on?

Answer. I think it has been going on for four or five months. A young man of the name of McCallum was of that company, and he was with the two McLeans when they were murdered. The three were in a buggy together; they were halted and immediately fired on. The two McLeans were killed outright; but McCallum seemed to be protected on the off side. He jumped out of the buggy, and was shot in two or three places, but escaped. McCallum was one of some seven or eight men who had made up their minds to capture this gang, for the reward perhaps, I suppose; and also for the consideration that it was their duty to do so. In addition to that one of the McLeans had a long-range gun that it was understood the Lowrys wanted. They have given notice to all those six or eight men that they must leave the country, or death will be their portion.
Question. The men who undertook to capture them for the reward?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Are there any considerable portion of your people who justify the conduct
of Lowry and his gang?

Answer. I think not.

Question. Do the colored people there justify it?

Answer. I think not as a class; I do not think they do. It is just this way: in that immediate section of country, of about seven or eight miles square, neither a white man nor a colored man must oppose Henry Berry Lowry at all, or he will be shot down.

Question. Shot down by Lowry or his gang?

Answer. Yes, sir. I think that while really they do not like to uphold his conduct, there are a great many people there, white as well as colored, who are afraid to abuse him.

Question. Has politics anything in the world to do with that?

Answer. Well, I do not know that it has; they are all of the same politics.

Question. Do you suppose anybody fails to oppose Henry Berry Lowry or his gang because he is understood to be a republican?

Answer. [After a pause.] I think that the republicans as a party in that county do not justify his conduct. But yet I think that every person in that county who is not white is a republican. I cannot undertake to say on my oath how much I believe his being a republican protects him.

Question. You are yourself a democrat, or a conservative, as you call it?

Answer. Yes, sir; I am a conservative.

Question. Is Henry Berry Lowry's gang, or its operations, of any manner of service
to the republican party in that county ?

Answer. [After a pause.] That is a pretty hard question to answer.

Question. If it is of any service to them, in what way is it of service?

Answer. I hardly know how to answer your question exactly. [After a pause.] I do not think that I can answer that question; I do not know.

Question. If Henry Berry Lowry's gang of seven men should all be arrested and cuted, would that injure the republican party in that county?

Answer. I do not see that it would.

Question. If they should be arrested and executed, would it injure the republican party in the State in any way?

Answer. I think it ought to benefit the republican party?

Question. You say the governor has offered for the arrest of these men a reward of $1,000 each.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You spoke of their having been outlawed several years ago?

Answer. It has been within a year, I think; they were outlawed by the magistrates, under the statute?

Question. Does not the outlawry have to be proclaimed by the governor? Did not Governor Holden issue a proclamation outlawing them?

Answer. I do not recollect that. It seems to me that under our statutes the magistrates issued a proclamation of outlawry, and the legislature authorized the governor to offer a reward for all who had been outlawed; that is my recollection of it.

Question. The magistrates of the county might ask the governor to do it?

Answer. I think cur laws now contain a statute that makes it the duty of the magistrates, upon the affidavit of an officer that he has a precept that he cannot execute, to issue a proclamation to all citizens to arrest the person.

Question. I find in a letter written to the governor of the State by your present sheriff, Mr. McMillan, the following: That these parties have been outlawed by your excellency, and your predecessor in office, and whom the sheriff of the county has been specially enjoined by proclamation from the executive department to pursue and take dead or alive.

Answer. If you will excuse me from deciding exactly how the law is, I will be very much obliged. I think it authorized the magistrates to issue the proclamation of outlawry; it may be that only the governor is authorized to issue it.

Question. Do you not know of two separate and distinct proclamations having been issued by Governor Holden and Governor Caldwell outlawing those men?

Answer. I know that Governor Caldwell issued his proclamation, and I think Holden did, but I am not certain. I think the rewards offered were authorized by an act of the legislature.

Question. Do you recollect that the sheriff was especially enjoined by a proclamation from the governor to call out a posse to arrest those men, or kill them ; that is, to take them dead or alive?

Answer. That is, if it was the governor that issued the proclamation. I know the proclamation was to halt them, and if they did not submit then, to proceed to kill them if necessary.

Question. Are the magistrates of your county republicans?

Answer. They are mixed; in some of the townships they are republicans, and in some they are democrats.

Question. Are the majority of them republicans?

Answer. I hardly know how that is.

Question. You say that the governor of the State has only sent down a hundred stand of arms and some ammunition for the sheriff's posse ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you not know that the governor of the State has gone in person to that county?

Answer. He had not gone there when I left home.

Question. Has he not gone there since?

Answer. I have not seen any account of it if he has; it 'may be so; there is a terrible state of affairs down there. But he had not gone down there when I left home.

Question. The only trouble you have is that seven or eight men, who have been outlawed, have got into an inaccessible swamp, in which it is dangerous for men to pursue them, and where it is almost impracticable to pursue them.

Answer. Well, that does not state it exactly.

Question. How is it, then?

Answer. It is just this way: These men have all forfeited their lives; they are entirely reckless. If you get a squad of men from the country, who have been impressed into that kind of service, when Henry Berry Lowry and his crowd shoot down two or three of them, you cannot get the rest to come up well.

Question. To go into the swamp?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Is that swamp dense and inaccessible?

Answer. Let me explain to you how that is. There is a dense swamp about 1 mile in width and about eight miles long. In that swamp there are a number of islands. Then, there is all through that country, perhaps, tracts of fifty, seventy-five, or a hundred acres of what we call “bays,” just a swamp-growth of bay-trees. Sometimes there is a estuary that goes into a creek and drains that spot, some kind of little branch or “slab”, as we call it. Those “bays” are numerous; sometimes they do not cover more than one or two acres, sometimes they cover seventy-five or a hundred acres; but they are all about in that country there. Now Lumber River runs through about the center of the country. What we call the Black Swamp has its source in the western part of the country, from one of these “bays” that I have been describing; and it extends parallel with Lumber River for about eight or ten miles, at no point more than two to three miles from the river. Then there are “bays” and branches that come in between the river and this swamp. I do not know that I can describe it so as to give you an exact understanding of it.

Question. The growth is a thick jungle?

Answer. In the swamp it is; but out on the islands all over the swamps it is pine land.

Question. But when you get into the swamp you cannot see a man any considerable distance?

Answer. No; you cannot see a man far.

Question. The difficulty is to get these six or eight desperate men out of that swamp?

Answer. Well, the difficulty is to kill them; that is it.

Question. You have either to get them out or to kill them?

Answer. Yes, sir; to capture them or to kill them. I have really never read of or learned—

Question. Do you know Henry Berry Lowry personally?

Answer. I do not know him; I know all the rest of them; I knew his father, his brothers and all the rest of the family.

Question. You say that the governor procured a full company of United States troops to be sent there six months ago?

Answer. Yes, sir; and they said there four or five months.

Question. Did they make proper exertions to get these men out of the swamp?

Answer. I do not like to set myself up as a judge of what are proper exertions. Whatever exertions they made were unsuccessful.

Question. Could they have got them out?

Answer. I think they could.

Question.. Do you think that the sheriff's posse of one hundred men, which he now
has, could do it ?

Answer. Well, they have failed to do it.

Question. Do they not understand the country and the localities there better than the
United States troops did?

Answer. They understand the localities better, but they do not seem to act with the
proper disposition to catch them.

Question. How could the troops have done any better than those one hundred men
which the sheriff' now has in his posse, and who are well armed and have plenty of ammunition?

Answer. I think that the soldiers are trained to that sort of duty; they are better
armed, and they are in discipline. I think that generally they ought to be more efficient
than the set of men the sheriff calls out to assist him.

Question. Do you think that the training and discipline of a soldier would make him any more efficient for hunting seven or eight felons in an almost inaccessible jungle of that sort than a man who knows the country and is well enough armed?

Answer. I think that trained soldiers ought to be more efficient than a posse of men whom the sheriff summons promiscuously, and who are not well armed; I think the soldiers should be more efficient.

Question. Do you think there was any lack of diligence on the part of the officers who commanded those soldiers?

Answer. I do not know that the officers disobeyed any commands from their superior officer ; but I did think that in four or live months a hundred men ought to have been able to capture seven.

Question. What officer was in command of those soldiers?

Answer. Major Thomas; General Morgan is in command of the district, I believe.

Question. Has there been any lack of diligence on the part of the civil officers of the State to pursue and capture those men?

Answer. I think so.

Question. On the part of what officers?

Answer. I think that it is ridiculous to say that the whole State of North Carolina and the whole force of the Army of the United States cannot capture seven men, though they may be in a dense swamp.

Question. Cannot a hundred men capture them as well as two hundred men?

Answer. They have failed to do so in this instance.
Question. Would two hundred men be more efficient than one hundred men, in pursuing those seven men?

Answer. They could better accomplish the surrounding of them. It seems to me that a hundred men ought to be sufficient to capture seven; but the more there are the more easily the seven men could be surrounded.

Question. When you speak of the whole State of North Carolina, and the whole Army of the United States is, would you have the whole force of the State and the whole Army of the United States sent down there to do what a hundred citizens might do as well?

Answer. We have had a hundred citizens on duty there for a mouth, and they have not succeeded in doing anything at all.

Question. Except to get killed, some of them?

Answer. Except that five of them have been killed, and four of them wounded. I would have those men captured whatever may be the proper and necessary method of doing it; that is what I would have.

Question. What officers of the government. State or Federal, have been guilty of neglect in this matter, do you think? Have the officers of your county been guilty of laches?

Answer. I think it sometimes happens that warrants are issued by magistrates for the purpose of gratifying those classes, that men are arrested and tried for some offenses. I do not know that I could exactly call it persecution; but I think that but for the influence of this baud some arrests would not have taken place.

By Mr. Buckley:
Question. Do you say that warrants have been issued to gratify the seven or eight
men of that band?

Answer. Well, them and their friends. I do not know that I can make myself understood.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool:)
Question. In these efforts to arrest Lowry and his gang, how many have been killed of his friends and those who are supposed to have given him some aid?

Answer. Well, his father and brother were killed during the war. There was a freedman by the name of Bethea killed by the nine men to whom I alluded in connection with Judge Russell; and there was a man killed by the name of Saunders. Those are
the only men killed that I ever had any knowledge of.

Question. Has not the present posse of the sheriff' killed some of them?

Answer. I have not been informed of that.

Question. Have you heard of the posse which the sheriff has called out taking some of these colored men, who are presumed to know something of Lowry's whereabouts, and subjecting them to rough treatment, and on some occasions hanging them up by the thumbs or the neck to make them tell?

Answer. I do not know that I ever heard of more than one instance of that sort.

Question. Do you think there has been any laches or dereliction of duty on the part of your county officers to arrest Lowry and his gang of seven men ? Have your county officers done their duty in the premises, or have they not?

Answer. [After a pause.] I think that the sheriff, with the right to call a posse of the county, where there are three thousand voters, ought to be able to arrest seven men. I believe that there is a terror of those men on account of the certainty with
which they aim ; they seldom ever fail to kill whenever they shoot. I believe that that mainly is the reason why they are not captured or killed.

Question. You mean that the people generally are afraid of them?

Answer. The people generally are afraid of them. That is about the truth of it. I do not like to give it a harsher name than that.

Question. Have your magistrates clothed your sheriff with full authority?

Answer. I think that the sheriff and everybody has authority—that any man would be protected who should kill one of them after he had ordered him to surrender.

Question. They have been outlawed by the magistrates of the county. The sheriff has been specially enjoined by the executive authorities to take them, dead or alive. Now, if there is any laches anywhere is it elsewhere than with the sheriff himself?

Answer. I do not think there is any laches with the sheriff. I think he has been doing as well as ho could.

Question. You mean to say that the trouble is with the people who compose the sheriff's posse?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Is there any trouble anywhere else?

Answer. Well, sir, it is mighty hard to answer that question exactly conscientiously. But it seems to me that, .besides the terror that Lowry and his gang inspire, there is a little of sympathy, too. I think that among his class and color there is a little pride that who have been unable to take them ; that he and his men can conquer and whip all who go after them.

By Mr. Buckley:
Question. Among the 800 of his own class?

Answer. Yes, sir, with that class of people.

By the Chairman (Mr. Pool:)
Question. Would you not express it by saying that they had a little admiration for his bold conduct and his success?

Answer. Yes; well, admiration does not exactly strike it, either. But it is just that way. It is a feeling inspired to his benefit.

Question. Do I understand you to mean that that is the feeling on the part of the colored people toward him because he is a man of color?

Answer: I think so.

Question. That is what you mean?

Answer. I think they feel more pride in it than they would if he were a white man.

Question. You do not think it is connected with politics?

Answer. Well, not that. It is Just this way: he and all of those men who are of the same complex. the whole class of them, those .seven or eight hundred men I speak of, are republicans. And there is one thing about it, they have not killed any that
were republicans, except once, by accident. Their murders have been of the other party.

By Mr. Buckley:
Question. Did I not understand you to say that they had killed two republicans?

Answer. Yes, sir; but they were killed by accident.' They were expecting the sheriff along, and they waylaid him and the sheriff had .sent .some other men along who were republicans, and they mistook them, and killed them. But they have never killed any
other republicans. And I think another thing: I honestly believe that they are of the opinion that as long as they do not kill any but democrats, the Government will not be so hard with them.

By the Chairman (Mr. Pool :)
Question. That is the impression among the gang?

Answer. Yes, I think that is the impression among the gang. I believe they think if they confine their shooting and slaying to persons who are not republicans, the Government will not come in and punish them.

Question. How many effective white men have you in your county that arc able to do duty on the .sheriff's posse—able-bodied men?

Answer. Well, sir, I think there are about three thousand voters in that county, and I think that about half of them are white men.

Question. Have you as many as one thousand men in that county who arc active men and healthy, who would be able to do duty on the sheriff 's posse?

Answer. I suppose that we have.

Question. Why does not the sheriff call out a thousand men instead of a hundred, if that many is necessary?

Answer. Well, sir, if you will excuse me, you asked me a while ago if one hundred men would not do as well as two hundred. I think that is about the reason of it. I think it is considered that one hundred men would do just as much service as any other number.

Question. Would you have men called in from some other county in the State to do what men in your county might just as well do, as a sheriff's posse?

Answer. I would have those men captured by any help from any source, I do not care where it comes from.

Question. Would a thousand men, that the sheriff could call out in your county, need any help if he were to call them out?

Answer. These seven men have been murdering for several years. I want to stop that. I do not care to reason about how many men it would take to capture them or kill them; I want the thing stopped.

Question. That is the reason that I asked why the sheriff does not call out all the people that are necessary.

Answer. He has had out a hundred for some time, and a good many of the balance have gone to other counties. They do not like to come in contact with those fellows.

Question. Do you know how many militia Governor Holden called out last summer for Caswell and Alamance?

Answer. I do not.

Question. Do you know whether it exceeded three hundred men?

Answer. I do not know the number.

Question. Did it appear in evidence before the proper tribunal that there were in the county of Alamance alone three hundred men who were banded together to commit these outrages and to protect one another, and bound by oaths?

Answer. I do not think I can answer that question.

Question. Do you recollect seeing that it was disclosed by evidence taken before the supreme court justices that there were forty thousand confederates of these Alamance
and Caswell Ku-Klux in the State of South Carolina?

Answer. I did not see that.

Question. Well, suppose that fact does appear, and also the fact that there were three hundred of these men banded together in the county of Alamance, and that several murders and outrages had been committed by them, would you not consider that a
more serious matter than seven men who had been outlawed, and were in the swamps of Robeson County?

Answer. I do not think there is any community in North Carolina that is afflicted worse than Robeson County at present ; I do not know anything about Caswell and Alamance personally; but I believe that the terror to the law-abiding citizens of Robeson
County is greater at the present time than it has been in Alamance or Caswell; my answer may not be responsive to your question.

Question. Have you ever known of Lowry and his gang attempting to influence the votes of men?

Answer. I have very little communication with Lowry's gang: I think they all, including Henry Berry Lowry, have marched in political processions, and that far they have attempted to exercise a political influence; I think all bat Henry Berry Lowry
have voted.

Question. Have they marched in those processions since they were outlawed?

Asnwer. I think not.

Question. Does this Lowry gang go in disguise?

Answer. They do when they go to commit a robbery; the evidence upon the trial for the murder of Reuben King was that they were disguised.

Question. Have they ever taken men out of their houses and whipped them?

Answer. I do not recollect any instance of that sort; they just kill whenever they attack; I do not think they bother with slight whippings; they, however, do go and caution both men and women about talking about them, and threaten that if they
speak of them in any disrespectful way they will kill them; I do not think they threaten any punishment short of death.

Question. You stated that on one occasion the troops refused to guard the jail; has the sheriff power to summon a posse of citizens to guard the jail, if he deems the prisoners
there insecure?

Answer. I suppose he would have.

Question. And the troops declined to guard the jail; you say Lowry went afterward and released the prisoners?

Answer. In the presence of the troops, within a hundred yards of them, he went in and broke into the jail.

Question. Broke into the jail?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In the daytime?

Answer. No, sir; at night.

Question. Was it known to the troops?

Answer. I suppose not.

Question. Was it known to any of the citizens?

Answer. I suppose not.

Question. Do you know how many men Lowry had with him on that occasion?

Answer. I do not; I heard there were some four of them.

Question. You stated that the sheriff's posse on one occasion had killed a colored man; how many of the posse took part in the killing?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Where was the colored man when he was killed?

Answer. Well, sir, he was in Scuffletown, in that region of the county.

Question. Was he not in his own house?

Answer. I do not know; I think I heard that his body was not found in his house, but found not far from the house.

Question. Had they any authority to kill that man?

Answer. I do not think they had.

Question. Were the men who killed him the men that the grand jury refused to find a bill against, when Judge Russell expressed his disapprobation upon the records of the court?

Answer. Well, I do not know who did kill him.

Question. Was that the case?

Answer. I would not like to have that stated exactly in that way. There were some nine men that Judge Russell issued a bench warrant for.

Question. Charged with what?

Answer. Charged with the murder of this colored man. And the facts were submitted, under a bill of indictment, before the grand jury, and they found it not a true bill. Now, I am inclined to think, from all that I have heard about it, that there was not sufficient testimony before the grand jury to justify them in finding; a true bill. And I further heard that the testimony that was before Judge Russell was not before the grand jury.

Question. You heard that there was testimony before him which the grand jury did not have?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you understand that the judge supposed that all the testimony had been given to the grand jury?

Answer. I reckon so, or he would not have put his protest on record.

Question. You say that if the laws existed now that existed before the war, you think this thing could be suppressed. What law was there before the war which does not now exist, and which would aid in the suppression of this gang of men?

Answer: I think that the statutes are as efficient in letter now as they were before the war.

Question. Did we have patrol laws before the war?

Answer. Those patrol laws did not affect this class of men. But I do not think it is practicable, in the present condition of the country, to execute the laws as efficiently as they were executed before the war.

Question. I merely wanted to know if there had been any statute repealed; I do not recollect of any statue repealed.

Answer. I do not remember; I do not think there is any. I will just finish out my answer, if you will allow me. There is this now which was not before the war: the use of fire-arms has been allowed to that class of people ; their right to use fire-arms
did not exist before the war.

Question. You mean the use of fire-arms by colored people?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. They are now allowed to use fire-arms?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And you think that is one reason why you cannot so efficiently make these arrests?

Answer. I think it is one reason why they can so efficiently resist the officers of the law; yes, that is it.

Question. Does the fact that colored men have been permitted, since the war, to testify in the courts, affect your ability to have this gang of men arrested?

Answer. I certainly cannot say ; but I do not see that it does.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. Colored men could have testified before the war against these men?

Answer. Against each other, yes.

By Mr. Buckley :
Question. I want to know about what time this resistance to law and authority commenced on the part of these seven or eight men ; at what period of the war?

Answer. I think that Henry Berry Lowry killed James P. Barnes about 1863; I think that William Lowry commenced robbing about 1SC4. He was the captain of a band, and he and his father were killed. After that, I suppose they did not hold themselves amenable to law; they did not permit themselves to be arrested after that time.

Question. So these difficulties commenced in your State before the war closed, and before there was any political influence in the State, one way or the other, on the part of the colored people?

Answer. Yes, sir; they were felons evading arrest for their crimes before that time.

Question. You spoke about some of the officers in your county who were republicans, and some of them who were democrats; but you did not mention particularly who were republicans and who were democrats. I think you said the sheriff was a democrat?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. The commissioners of whom you spoke, are they republicans or democrats?

Answer. They are democrats.

Question. Did I understand you correctly to say that the commissioners had given the sheriff authority to raise a posse as large as bethought necessary, to arrest these people?

Answer. I do not think the commissioners could do that; I think begets his authority by virtue of his office. I think they have made arrangements to feed the men called out as a posse.

Question. To pay the expenses on the part of the county?

.Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You spoke about Lowry being in jail at one time, and you said that he drew a pistol on the jailer and made him open the door?

Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Was he not disarmed before he was put in jail?

Answer. It seems not. That was before the present sheriff had control of it.

Question. Well, do you think polities has anything to do with this resistance to authority of law one way or the other, commencing away back in 1863, and continuing up to the present time, on the part of these six or seven men.

Answer. I do not think that the republican party, as a party, in that county, or in the State, countenance the conduct of these men. But I do think that if we had the same right, if we had the same ability to control that class that we used to have, we could put this thing down.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool :)
Question. What class?

Answer. This very Lowry, mulatto, robber class which wo have there. I think that if there had been such a band of them before the war that there is now, we could have arrested them.

By Mr. Buckley :
Question. But during the war you found it more difficult?

Answer. No; during the war we did arrest two or three of the wrong-doers, and they were punished.

Question. But still they kept up their resistance to law and authority, from 1863

Answer. Yes, sir; that is about the fact.

By Mr. Blair:
Question. Would it be possible for them to keep up that resistance except for sympathy and assistance that the large class of men of their own race and color in that region give them?

Answer. My answer must be a matter of opinion, of course.

Question. I expect that.

Answer. I think that if there were no mulattoes there in that county they could not carry on their depredations.

Question. Do you remember the case of the declaration of martial law in Alamance and Caswell?

Answer. I remember that martial law was declared there.

Question. Do you remember that there was no instance of resistance to the process of law in those counties?

Answer. That was published and believed; my understanding was that the precepts of the court could be executed by the officers on any and every person in those counties.

Question. Now, I want to put this question to you: In those counties, where there was no resistance to the precepts of the courts, none alleged, yet martial law was declared, and selected troops were levied, with officers selected for their fitness for that particular purpose. In the case of Robeson County there has been a continued resistance to the law for four years; yet there has been no declaration of martial law there, no calling out of selected troops by the State government to put it down, has there been?

Answer. There has been a continued resistance for four years; well, ever since 1863, more than four years ; it was universally known that process could not be executed on those seven men. This act under which Kirk and Bergen operated in Alamance and
Caswell Counties was never enforced in Robeson ; there were no officers appointed, no military sent there for the purpose of enforcing the law in that county. The only exception was that we had a company of United States troops.

Question. In whose presence some of these crimes were committed without the offenders being captured?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Now, I want to ask you this question: If Holden and the radical administration of the State of North Carolina had selected troops, selected militia, adapted to this purpose, had sent for men that were eminently ht, as they supposed Kirk and Bergen were, for the Alamance raid, and had authorized them to tie these Scuttletown negroes up by the thumbs until they would tell where this band was. would not those measures have proved efficient in the case, or quite as efficient as they proved in Caswell and Alamance Counties, where there was no resistance offered to them?

Answer. Well, sir, it is generally supposed that authority to compel information would lead to the detection of these outlaws ; I suppose that it would be efficient : but that is a matter of opinion with me. I think if the military bill passed in North Carolina had been enforced in Robeson County, instead of in Caswell and Alamance Counties, it would have been productive of good results.

Question. I understand you to testily that Judge Russell, who presides in your circuit or district, instead of countenancing measures that were practiced by Kirk and Bergen to elicit information, protested when the grand jury refused to indict men for murder, or for an outrage upon a person who refused to give them information?

Answer. At our last superior court I was informed that upon an affidavit made before him, Judge Russell had issued ii bench warrant against nine nun who were accused of having been instrumental in the homicide of a person of color, while they were engaged with a sheriff’s posse in attempting to arrest these robbers. I was further informed that a bill of indictment was sent before the grand jury against these same men, and that the grand jury returned it, not a true bill. I was informed, however, that some evidence that was testified before Judge Russell was not before the grand jury. At the close of the court Judge Russell spread upon the minutes of the court a paper protesting against the action of the grand jury in failing to find a true bill.

Question. If I understand it, the law is still in existence in your State which gives the governor the right to select militia and the commanders of the militia, for the purpose of executing the law, when there is resistance to process; or did that bill apply simply to Alamance and Caswell Counties?

Answer. My recollection is, that tin; last legislature repealed that act. I was not a member of that legislature, and I have not seen the acts published; but I think I have seen some account that that act was repealed.

Question. This disturbance existed in Robeson County at the time that the disturbances were going on in Caswell and Alamance Counties?

Answer. Yes, sir. I think that theses disturbances existed in Robeson County at the same time the military force was called out for Alamance and Caswell.

Question. Was that law one particularly applicable to Alamance and Caswell?

Answer. I think it was a general law, embracing the whole State.

Question. And it would have authorized the governor to have put the county of Robeson under martial law, and to have exercised there the same authority, and at the same lime, that he exercised in Alamance and Caswell?

Answer. Yes, sir; there is no doubt about that, I think.

Question. Did you ever hear of this band of Lowry inflicting any injuries upon negroes, or robbing them?

Answer. I never did.

By the Chairman, (Mr. Pool :)
Question. Is there any authority under any law in North Carolina, or was there in the bill which you say has been repealed, for the governor to direct that men should be hung up by their thumbs, or used Toughly in any other way, to elicit testimony from them?

Answer. I do not recollect the provisions of the act which has been repealed; I do not think it did confer that authority. It was said to have been practiced by the militia, however.

Question. Was it said to have been practiced by any one except Bergen?

Answer. My information is entirely from newspaper reports, and I would not like to say. I am not certain that it has been reported to have been done by any one else.

Question. Do you know that the governor ordered Bergen's arrest as soon as it was reported that he had done that, and that he was arrested and placed in jail in the city of Raleigh upon that charge?

Answer. I heard that he was arrested and in jail: but I did not know at whose instance or upon what charge.

Question. In your judgment, did Judge Russell act properly, and in accordance with his duty, when he issued a bench warrant for the arrest of those men who were charged with murdering that colored man ?

Answer. I think it was his duty to have issued a bench warrant upon the proper affidavit made before him of the commission of a homicide. I think that he exceeded his duty in entering a protest upon the minutes of the court as to the action of the grand
jury, because I believe that unless they had proper testimony they ought not to find a true bill; and that was a matter for their judgment and conscience, and not for his.

By Mr. Buckley:
Question. In speaking of the republican party in your State, can you state about what time it was organized?

Answer. What time it was organized?

Question. Yes; at what time did you first hear of it there?

Answer. Well, I think that the party that advocated the adoption of the present constitution of North Carolina in 1668 was the first real, thorough organization of the republican party in the State.

Question. These troubles had been going on for some two years previous to that time, from the close of the war up to that time?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And the same resistance to law and authority had continued during those two previous years ?

Answer. They were arrested twice, but they escaped each time.

Question. A few moments ago you spoke of the amount of sympathy and support this band of outlaws received from their friends the colored people. I wish to ask you if you do not think the same degree of support and sympathy was given to those men by their friends before the organization of the republican party there that has been given to them since that time?
Answer. I think that since the formation of the republican party in the county and in the State, the colored people, who are most all members of it, have acquired an importance in consequence of their political influence that they did not have. Does not that answer your question?

Question. I think that is not responsive to my question. Does Lowry and his band get any more support now, or have they had within the last two years, than they had for the two years preceding 1868?

Answer. I do not think that Henry Berry Lowry has any local political influence, more than being a member of a class all of whom have the same political bias and entertain the same political views.

Question. Do you think that a posse of men engaged in the attempt to arrest Lowry and his band would be equally in danger irrespective of party affiliations?

Answer. I can only answer that by the past. They have, with two exceptions, killed those of the opposite party.

Question. Is it not true that a majority of the posse summoned to arrest Lowry and his band were of the opposite party?

Answer. I think they were summoned promiscuously, regardless of color or political bias.

Question. And all turned out willingly to help make the arrest ?

Answer. Well, there is not much willingness with any of them; they go because the law requires them to.

Question. But those that kept away did so from a feeling of danger affecting all alike?

Answer. Yes, sir.


Copy the code below into your web page




U.S. Congress, Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, Testimony of Giles Leitch, July 31, 1871, Civil War Era NC, accessed April 19, 2024,