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Doc. 166.-military riots at Raleigh, N. C.

Official correspondence.

Raleigh, September 10, 1863.
President Davis, Richmond:
A Georgia regiment, of Benning's brigade, entered this city last night at ten o'clock, and destroyed the office of the Standard newspaper. This morning a mob of citizens destroyed the office of the State Journal in retaliation. Please order immediately that troops passing through here shall not enter the city. If this is not done, the most frightful consequences may ensue.


Richmond, September 10, 1863.
Governor Z. B. Vance:
Your despatch of this date received. I deeply regret the occurrence you announce, and have sent by telegraph the following order to Major W. W. Pierce, Quartermaster: “You will not allow the troops in transit to be detained at Raleigh, and will communicate to the commanding officer of each detachment passing there that he is instructed not to permit his men to enter the city, but if transportation is not furnished to enable the detachment to proceed by railroad, will march, without halting, to an encampment at a safe distance from Raleigh.”

State of North-Carolina, Executive Department, Raleigh, September 11, 1863.
His Excellency Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Va.:
my dear sir: You have received by telegraph before this information of the riots occurring in this city. . . I am now anxious about the effects upon the country, though I am greatly in hopes that the mob of citizens which destroyed the office of the State Journal will act as a counter-irritant, and help to allay excitement, the damage being equal to both parties . . . . The soldiers who originated the mob belonged to Benning's brigade, and were apparently led by their officers, several of whom I saw in the crowd; but I heard none of their names, except a Major Shepherd. I have also reason for believing that it was done with the knowledge and consent of General Benning, as he remarked to a gentleman an hour or two previous that his men had threatened it. During its continuance he could not be found.

A messenger sent by me to his supposed quarters at the depot was refused admission to him; and, although he had ample opportunity after the occurrence to have seen or written to me, disclaiming the outrage upon the honor and peace of North-Carolina, he did not do so. As it is my intention to enforce the laws rigidly against all citizens who participated in the second mob, so I feel it my duty to demand that punishment may be inflicted on the officers who assisted or countenanced the first. Should this not be done, I shall feel it my duty to demand the persons of these officers of the State of Georgia to answer the demands of justice. I feel very sad in the contemplation of these outrages. The distance is quite short to either anarchy or despotism when armed soldiers, led by their officers, can, with impunity, outrage the laws of a State. . . . I pray you to see that it does not occur again. Should any newspaper in the State commit treason, I would have its editor arrested and tried by laws, which many of us yet respect. I thank you for your prompt orders telegraphed to Major Pierce concerning the passage of troops through this city. They are now being enforced, and peace can be preserved if they are rigidly obeyed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A second letter, dated September eleventh, from Governor Vance to President Davis, is omitted by the Standard for the present.

my dear sir: Your two communications of the eleventh instant have been received. Upon the receipt of your telegram, informing me that measures, taken to put an end to the disturbances in Raleigh, had not proved effective, orders were issued, which, it is hoped, will be sufficient to prevent further disorders. I have referred to the Secretary of War your statement respecting particular officers alleged to have been concerned in the riot, and the matter will receive proper inquiry.

Very respectfully and truly yours,

General Benning, being written to by General Cooper, A. G., replied, showing that he had not been absent from the depot while his troops were going through, and asserting that he was utterly ignorant of any intention on the part of his men to mob the printing-office. He adds:

The true explanation of the affair I take to be this: When my brigade arrived at Weldon we found there a party of North-Carolinians, commanded by a lieutenant, who informed me that he was ordered to the vicinity of Salisbury, I think, to arrest some deserters, and urged me to let his party go along with my brigade for the sake of despatch. I said yes, if he could find room in the train for his party. He replied that he could take the tops of the cars. I told him then that he might do so. Accordingly, he and his party took the tops of the cars and went with my brigade through Raleigh. After we left Raleigh, this party freely avowed themselves the authors of the deed, and claimed credit for it. They said they led some of my men into it with them, and I have no doubt they did, but, I think, not many, and these merely unorganized individuals, each acting for and by himself. These things I learned from officers and men who heard the talk of the North-Carolinians on the train, after it left Raleigh. I learned them first at Charlotte, when the train stopped there; but the North-Carolinians were then off the cars, so that I had no opportunity to question [500] them myself. Thus, sir, you have such an account of this affair as it is in my power to give you. I am, sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Henry L. Benning, Brigadier-General.

To S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, Richmond, Va.:

Lieutenant-Colonel Shepherd, who was mentioned in Governor Vance's letter as Major Shepherd, writes a letter to the Adjutant-General, in which the following statement is made:

My first knowledge of the disturbance was derived from Governor Vance calling upon me for this purpose at the hotel, inquiring first for General Benning, and, in his absence, for the commander of the Second Georgia regiment. Accompanying Governor Vance, I proceeded promptly to the Standard office, where a number of soldiers were engaged in the disturbance — some within the building and others without — many of whom I recognized as belonging to different regiments of Benning's brigade. It is to be marked that not one officer was seen by me in the midst of this outbreak. I experienced no difficulty whatever in restoring order; immediately after which Governor Vance addressed the crowd, who listened with respectful attention, and dispersed in a body. Allow me only to add than Governor Vance publicly thanked me for my timely interposition, and that many of the officers and men of the brigade were invited to share the hospitalities of the executive mansion. I have this day written to Governor Vance, requesting him to write to the department in my further vindication.

I have the honor to be yours, very respectfully,

W. S. Shepherd, Lieut.-Col. Second Georgia Regiment, Benning's Brigade.

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