Camp George, Vienna, Va, August 7, 1861.
To the Editors of the Dispatch:
In your issue of the 2d instant, under the heading of ‘"The late homicide, followed by an attempt to murder,"’I find an editorial, followed by a letter, purporting to come from a gentleman who received his information from disinterested eye-witnesses, concerning the late most lamentable affair of the murdering of Capt. C. H. Axson
, of Charleston
, S. C. by Arthur B. Davis
, of Georgia
; and knowing many of those statements to be erroneous, and some of them utterly false, and being an eye-witness of the whole affair, from Alpha to Omega
, I feel myself in duty bound to correct some of those statements by telling the plain truth concerning the matter, and I feel as though I can find other men of undoubted veracity who will confirm what I say. --our correspondent admits that Davis
‘"did cut one or more melons"’ belonging to Capt. Axson
, and says that ‘"when taxed for so doing, apologized, stating that he supposed them to be for sale."’ The truth is, he cut six, and remarked while he was at the cutting, that ‘"these are privateering times, and I'll privateer some to night;"’ and when remonstrated with by the gentlemanly conductor, he bluntly requested him to attend to his own business, as the conductor, I am sure, will testify.
After he had cut and wasted six of them, he went out of the car that contained them, remarking, that when the owner wanted pay for them, he ‘"could pay for them,"’ as he had ‘"a brace of splendid pistols and an Arkansas tooth-pick that he could satisfy him with. "’ This part of the affair happened between Kingsville, S. C.
, and Wilmington, N. C.
After arriving at Wilmington
, Capt. Axson
went to Davis
and politely asked him if he was the man who cut his melons, at the same time remarking that he prized them highly, as they were for a lady friend in Virginia
were sober at that time, and after trying to make several excuses, Davis
finally excused himself by saying that he was drunk when he did it, and that he would see Capt. Axson
at the hotel, and they said no more concerning the affair at that time.
then, with several of his men, went out and took several drinks together, and before we left Wilmington
, I noticed that Capt. Axson
was considerably intoxicated.
I saw no more of Davis
until we were on the way from Wilmington
again approached Capt. Axson
, (now sober,) and told him that he would make any apology that was necessary.
to say no more about the affair, as he was entirely satisfied; and asked him, further, to take a drink with him. Davis
said he would not do so unless Axson
would forgive him.--As freely as ever he did any thing in his life, they shook hands, took a drink, and subsequently they took several, and were apparently as friendly as ever I saw two men. During the forenoon I saw them eat some melons together that Davis
Your correspondent says that ‘"a dispute afterwards arose, during which Capt. Axson
to the floor, choking him,’ and ‘"on being released Davis
left the car, and procuring his side-arms returned to his seat."’ Now, the idea about the dispute is erroneous in part, as there was no dispute only in a friendly manner; and as to Axson
, that is literally false, as Davis
only laid his head on Axson
, who was lying down, and Axson
stroked it gently, at the same time begging him to go to sleep, as he knew he must be sleepy, for he had been up the night before.
I think Axson
's remark about sleep was constructed by Davis
as hinting on the affair about the watermelons, and he sprang up and rushed out of the car, remarking as he went, ‘"Wait till I get my pistols."’ He went out and I thought was gone to stay, as he had been running to and fro in the cars, brandishing his knife all day, very annoying to all, and especially the ladies in the cars to the rear of the car he had just left, which fact any lady will testify who was along in the cars at the time.
He returned to the car which I, many others, and Capt. Axson
was in. When he entered the door of our car he had a pistol in his right hand and his ‘"Arkansas
tooth-pick"’ in his left, with the point turned down towards his elbow, and as he entered he said ‘"that he would teach men how to insult him."’ He advanced toward Capt. Axson
with his pistol and knife in the position referred to. When in about four paces of Capt. Axson
, Capt. Axson
arose and advanced toward him, having not the remotest idea that Davis
would shoot, in my opinion, as his actions did not indicate any signs of fear, and he even went toward Davis
with a smile on his countenance, no doubt believing Davis
was only bullying, as usual.
Some one, I know not who, tried to stop Axson
; but he carelessly remarked some incoherent sentences and went on toward Davis
When in about three feet of Axson
levelled his pistol, and putting it against Axson
's breast fired, the ball entering, I think, the lower third of his heart.
fell, his left arm striking my right knee.
I immediately took hold of him and examined the would, finding, as I before stated, that the ball had entered the heart.
He only breathed twice, never spoke again, and died without a single gasp or struggle, in my arms.
never the first time, in my hearing, expressed a single regret, and I saw him occasionally until we reached Weldon
; and before we left Wilson
I heard him say often in a boasting manner, that he was the man that shot him, and he did not regret it; that he would do so again if it was to do over.
I was a stranger to both parties, never having seen either until we got on the cars at Kingsville
I have here given a plain, unvarnished account of the whole affair, as it occurred to me, an eye-witness, and am sure I have done so impartially, and feel sure that other gentlemen will testify nearly verbatim
to the same.
I can, if necessary, enter more minutely into the details; but think I have mentioned all the prominent points of the sad affair.
As to the relations
of either, we think it should have no bearing on the case; but truth and justice should determine its issue, and a man's justice should not be hemmed in by State lines.
If killing a man, after time to reflect, and without provocation, is cold blooded murder, then that was as foul a one as man ever committed; for he went deliberately to another car and got his pistol, and knew at the same time that Capt. Axson
was unarmed, because Capt. Axson
told him, and showed him to his satisfaction and that of all present, that he was not armed; and I examined him myself as soon as he was hopelessly dead, and there was not a sign of arms on him of any kind whatever.
My reasons for thus entering into the details are at once apparent to all, for any man could see that your correspondent of the 2d was decidedly in favor of screening Davis
As to Davis
, I know nothing of him since I saw him leave the cars at Weldon
Hoping you will publish this in behalf of justice, I will close by saying, I can be found with Company D, 3d Reg't S. C. V., now at Vienna, Va.