THE war was over. The last charge had been sounded; the last shot had been fired. For four years the men of the South had fought bravely for their causes, had struggled and suffered and died at Bull Run, at Manassas, and at Gettysburg.
Now their cause and their beloved Southland was crushed, and they must return to their farms and homes and try to pick up the broken thread of life. In ones and threes and larger groups, the tired and grimy men straggled homeward from Durham, from Appomatox, from northern prisons. Some came by train and some walked.
They were listless and dejected and beaten, but they were not, nor would they ever be, conquered. They had fought well, and had been beaten honorably. Now they came home to work and strive to play vital roles in the growth and development of their country.
They brought strange and wonderful stories of war with them; stories that would enliven the long evenings for many years to come. Many names and many places were told about-Jackson, and Stuart, Cemetery Ridge, and the Wilderness, and Shiloh- and among these remarkable epics was that of Lucian Murray.
At the outbreak of the war, Lucian Murray was a young man living in Alamance County. In 1862, he enlisted in the first North Carolina troops. During the war, few men were in more battles and had more combat experience than he. He fought at Richmond; at Manassas; at South Mountain; at Charlottesburg; in the Valley of Virginia; at Chancellorsville, where he was wounded; at Spotsylvania Court House, where he was wounded twice; in the Battle of the Wilderness; at Gettysburg; at Fredericksburg, where he again was wounded; at Mine Run; and at Appomattox.
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
The young hero was captured twice but managed both times to escape. He was first taken by the "Yankees" while on a sharp-shooting expedition with a hundred other men near Littletown, Virginia. As the Northern troops were leading their prisoners away, Murray suddenly stepped out of ranks behind a white oak. Here he waited, watching for his chance to run. As he raised his arms to throw off his knapsack, the guards saw him and ordered him to surrender. Instead, he dropped his equipment and ran for his life.
"I always believed I flew," he later told friends. "My toes just lightly hit the ground. The bullets whizzed about me. Every one that burnt me, I ran a little faster. I ran to the Rapidan River, leaving Strawsburg to the right. I was making for the mountains on the other side . . .
"It was dark now. Plunging into the river which was up a foot or two, I waded across. Grasping a bush on the opposite bank to pull up by, I pulled it up by the roots, causing me to fall backwards into the water. As I fell, I heard a Yankee speak . . .
" 'Do you hear that damned muskrat?'
"I fluttered the water just like a muskrat. Changing my mind about landing, I waded down the river two miles, crossed and went up the mountain to its very top. Looking towards the south, I saw the white tents of an army . . . I knew them to be the enemy.
"As I was looking out for a place to lie down, I ran upon three men asleep. They awoke in panic and, throwing up their hands, surrendered.
" 'What command do you belong to?' I asked. " 'To Ripley's brigade,' they answered . . . "How glad I was to see THEM!
"I tramped about the mountain for six days before I got back to my outfit. I lived well-begging my living-and was treated well . . . When I finally rejoined my command at Gordonsville, I found that I had been put on the dead list, reported as killed at Middletown. I soon corrected that. "*
Murray was captured again near the end of the war, and finding that his Union guard was unfamiliar with the territory
* Stockard, Sallie. History of Alamance, Raleigh, 1900.
they were in, the young Confederate led him into a nest of Confederate troops, where the captor in turn was captured. At the surrender at Appomattox, Murray shook hands with his commanding officer and told him goodbye. "I shall not surrender," he said. "I'm going home. I've been captured twice and got loose and I won't surrender now!" Nearby stood General Robert E. Lee. He overheard Murray's declaration.
"Young man," he said, "You'll be taken and sent back!" "I'll risk that, sir," said Murray. "I'm going to walk home!" And he did.
KU KLUX ACTIVITIES IN ALAMANCE
At the close of the war, many qualified office-holders were denied political positions, and corrupt politics descended upon Alamance County, as they did throughout the South.
Out of this atmosphere of fear and unrest rose the Ku Klux Klan. There were three divisions of the Klan, known as the Invisible Empire, the White Brotherhood, and the Constitutional Union Guard, and each of them had chapters in Alamance.
Jacob A. Long headed the ten camps of the White Brotherhood and the Empire in this county, and James A. J. Patterson was chief of the Guard. Each camp of the Brotherhood had its own chief as well; these included Jacob A. Long, Jasper N. Wood, John T. Trollinger, Albert Murray, George Anthony, David Mebane, William Stockard, John Durham, James Bradsher, and Job Faucette. Leaders of the five klans of the Constitutional Union Guard in the county were James A. J. Patterson, Eli Euliss, John T. Fogleman, Jasper N. Wood, Jacob Long, and George Anthony.*
There were said to have been 600 to 700 members of the three klans in the county.
Although the Ku Klux later acquired an infamous reputation, due partially to deeds for which the Klan itself was not responsible, it was formed as an organization to protect the "rights of the
* Hamilton, J. G., Reconstruction in N. C. These names and events are found in official records of the impeachment trial of Governor W. W. Holden.
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
South, or of the people," and to protect the homes of Confederate veterans from "Yankee scalawags and carpetbaggers" who invaded the South at this time to gather the spoils of war.
The Ku Klux adopted a weird and frightening costume. Ac meetings or on raids, the Brotherhood members wore large, loose gowns that covered their whole body and dragged on the ground. These gowns were made of linen, bleached very white, and were starched and ironed so that they glittered and rustled in the moonlight. Over their heads the klansmen wore a hood with eye holes and an artificial nose six or eight inches long which was stuffed with cotton and lapped with red braid half an inch wide. The eye sockets were lined with red braid, and eyebrows were made of it.
The hood was lined with red flannel and a six-inch red flannel tongue hung from the grotesque mouth with its huge teeth. A leather bag hung inside the hood beneath the tongue, and klansmen often forced Negroes to bring them gallons of water which they poured into this bag. There were three horns on top of the hood, each a foot long and lapped with red braid.
The Ku Klux Klan was widespread in Alamance County, and there was a very general sentiment among the people in favor of the movement. However, only one raid was ever made by the Brotherhood or Empire with the official sanction of the county chief.
The quiet little village of Graham was suddenly dignified by the appointment of a night police force. It consisted of three Negroes who were instructed to stop all persons who came on the streets after nine o'clock and ascertain their business. This excited much anger in the town, and Jacob A. Long ordered thirty men in disguise, without arms, to ride through the town with the purpose of frightening the Negro police.
Late one night, thirty-one Klansmen rode into Graham and slowly and silently circled the courthouse. The moonlight gave an eerie glow to their ghostly robes. Wyatt Outlaw and Henry Holt, both Negro policemen, opened fire, and emptied their pistols as the klansmen galloped away from the scene.
Long saw at once the impossibility of controlling the Klan groups, and refused to give his consent to any other demonstration.
He was right; the movement was beyond the control of any man, whatever his authority. In 1869 Long called a meeting of the local chiefs and officially disbanded the White Brotherhood and Invisible Empire. The Constitutional Union Guard was disbanded a year later, but a period of great activity by the individual members followed. Klan orders and laws were ignored, and the organization began to take on a black aura.
In January, 1869, Caswell Holt, a Negro, was severely whipped allegedly for insulting a young white girl. Several suspects were arrested and carried to a Republican magistrate, but all were cleared. About a year later Holt was visited by the Ku Klux, who fired into his house and wounded him severely.
Alonzo Corliss, a man from the North, settled shortly after the war at Company Shops and began teaching a Negro school there. He was president of the local Union League and incurred the wrath of many white citizens by insisting that Negroes go to church and sic among the white people. In the autumn of 1869, the Ku Klux whipped Corliss, shaved one side of his head, and painted one side of his face black. He had four men arrested and examined before a Republican magistrate, but could produce no evidence against them.
Corliss was a cripple, and many Klansmen were angry at his treatment and sympathized with him, but his trials were not over. Soon afterwards a flag trimmed with crepe was set up in the road near his school, and a coffin placed nearby bearing the following inscription:
"Corliss and the Negroes. Let the guilty beware. Don't touch. Hell"
A large number of persons in the county were whipped, some for a particular offense and some for their general mode of life. Insofar as it can be determined, none were lashed for political reasons.
Many negroes were whipped for the purpose of intimidation, with eighteen of them suffering this abuse in one section in one night. During one such case, a child was trampled and later died from its injuries. In another case, a Negro woman used an axe to such effect that one of the visitors carried its mark across his face
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
for the rest of his life. One white man who had been talking loudly against the Klan found a coffin at his door with the inscription across its head, "Hold your tongue, or this will be your home." and down its length, "Alive today, but dead tomorrow." 'K.K.K.'
Negroes and whites were visited and made to grasp skeleton hands or bring buckets of water for the thirsty spirit who "hadn't had a drink of water since he was killed at Shiloh." One old man, Benjamin Cable, burst into the office of the Clerk of Court the day after one such experience, crying, "God, Albright, the Ku Klux don't hurt anybody but they scare a man 'most to death. They made me bring six buckets of water . . .
Those who occupied state offices were not idle during this period. State officials condemned the Ku Klux severely, but would not or could not stop its activities. When the Legislature met in the autumn of 1869, Gov. W. W. Holden urged the passage of a law that would give him greater power to control the situation. T. M. Shoffner, a resident of Alamance County, introduced a bill granting sweeping powers to the governor "for a better protection of life and property," one power being that of declaring a county in a state of insurrection. The bill was passed and became law in January, 1870.
During the same session, Holden sent a company of militia commanded by a Raleigh saloonkeeper to Alamance County to investigate the whipping of Caswell Holt. Nothing was accomplished in the county, but the expedition did much to secure the immediate passage of a law which made going masked, painted, or disguised a misdemeanor, and made any act of trespass, force, or violence committed while so disguised, a felony.
Early in 1870, the Orange County Ku Klux voted for the death of T. M. Shoffner, who had introduced the "for better protection" bill, and started into Alamance to carry out the deed. The news had preceded them, though, and a group of Alamance Klansmen turned back the visitors. Eli Euliss, head of the Constitutional Union Guard, personally escorted Shoffner to Greensboro. Shoffner was terribly alarmed by the incident, and soon moved to Indiana.
Wyatt Outlaw, the negro police officer who had fired upon the Klansmen at their first appearance in the county, was head
of the Union League, an anti-Ku Klux Group in the County. His death had been determined by certain members of one of the Klan orders. A party of them rode into Graham on the night of February 26, 1870, seized Outlaw in his home, and carried him to a tree in the courthouse square. There they hanged him, leaving on his breast the inscription: "Beware, ye guilty, both black and white." As the raiders went home, a semi-idiotic Negro named William Puryear saw some of them and reported the fact. He disappeared that night and was found dead some weeks later in a neighboring pond. All attempts to discover the perpetrators of these two murders were unsuccessful. Though public sentiment in the county strongly condemned the hanging of Outlaw, many believed that the Ku Klux Klan had nothing to do with Puryear's death.
Shortly thereafter, Governor Holden declared Alamance County in a state of insurrection, but sent no troops, despite his threats. A few days later, the governor notified the President of his action affecting Alamance, and asked for Federal Troops. He suggested that Congress authorize the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in order that criminals might be arrested and, after trial by military tribunal, shot. He also notified the senators and representatives from North Carolina of his action:
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT RALEIGH, MARCH 17, 1870
HON. J. C. ABBOTT, U. S. SENATOR WASHINGTON, D. C.
What is being done to protect good citizens in Alamance County? We have Federal troops, but we want power to act. Is it possible the government will abandon its loyal people to be whipped and hanged? The habeas corpus should be at once suspended. Will write you tomorrow.
W. W. HOLDEN, Governor.
These were anxious times, indeed, for those people of Alamance who sought peace and quiet, but soon a louder rumbling echoed over the County.
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
THE KIRK - HOLDEN WAR
As the time of state election approached in 1870, Governor Holden decided to make a bold move against the Ku Klux, thus strengthening his chances of re-election. He prepared to raise two regiments of troops and to send them into the Ku Klux territory.
George W. Kirk, a 33-year-old Tennessean who had been a Colonel in the North Carolina Volunteers during the recent war, was given the command of the special troops. Kirk immediately raised 670 men and marched them to Company Shops. On July 15, 1870, Colonel Stephan A. Douglas, Jr., acting Adjutant General and aide to the Governor and son of the famed Illinois senator, went to Company Shops and mustered the troops into the service of the state.
On the same day, George B. Bergen, a New Jersian who was Kirk's aide, arrested James S. Scott, a Graham merchant, James E. Boyd, the Conservative candidate for the House, and Adolphus G. Moore, also of Graham. Without giving them a reason for their arrest, Bergen placed the prisoners in confinement. Several prominent citizens went before Chief Justice Pearson of the State Supreme Court the following day and petitioned for the freedom of the arrested men. Justice Pearson granted a writ of habeas corpus, but Kirk refused to honor it. He said he was holding the prisoners on Governor Holden's orders.
When Judge Pearson communicated with the Governor, he received a reply which stated:
"No one goes before me in respect for the civil law, or for those whose duty it is to enforce it, but the condition of Alamance County, and some other parts of the state has been . . . such that . . . I have been forced to declare them in a state of insurrection.
"For months past there has been maturing in these localities under the guidance of bad and disloyal men, a dangerous secret insurrection . . .
"To the majority of the people in these sections the approach of night is like the entrance into the valley of the shadow of death. "*
Holden charged that "not less than 100 persons" had been
* Hamilton, op. cit.
taken from their homes in Alamance County and whipped in the preceding twelve months, and that the Ku Kluxers controlled the government in this county and refused to investigate Klan activities or to turn guilty parties over to the State. The Governor was well aware that most of these charges were untrue, but the political campaign was in full swing.
Meanwhile, Kirk's men occupied the courthouse at Graham and at Yanceyville in Caswell County. They terrorized the section, robbing, and plundering without hindrance. It became their custom to undress and bathe in full sight of the town, and women did not appear on the streets for fear of insult.
Eighty-two men were arrested, confined, and treated with great brutality and cruelty. Several men, including Lucian Murray, the Confederate veteran, were threatened with hanging unless they revealed secrets of the Ku Klux activities in the county. Jacob A. Long was arrested for the murder of Wyatt Outlaw, but a grand jury could find no evidence that he had taken part in this crime, and he was released.
Citizens of the county appealed to President Grant, but he replied that he would use Federal troops to aid Holden if he were resisted. Most of the Northern newspapers bitterly criticized Governor Holden for his actions. On August 2, 1870, the New York. Times editorialized:
"The people of North Carolina are not wholly unknown, and they are known NOT to be either thieves or assassins, or the aiders and abettors in robbery and murder . . . "
Holden was defeated in the elections of 1870, but he continued his purge until the time his successor was to take office.
Kirk's men were sent to Hillsboro to arrest Jacob A. Long once again, but Long, who was studying law there, learned that they were coming, and left town on the same train which brought his would-be captors. Josiah Turner, Jr., editor of the Raleigh Sentinel, in which he had severely criticized Holden, was less fortunate. He was brought under guard to Company Shops and absurdly charged with being King of the Ku Klux, and was later confined in a dingy cell at Yanceyville.
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
At last the courts stepped into the conflict. Judge George W. Brooks of the U. S. District Court went over the Governor's head and issued a writ of habeas corpus commanding Colonel Kirk to bring his prisoners before the civil courts. Holden appealed to President Grant for a reversal of the ruling, but Grant now refused to intervene. The prisoners were brought into court, and when insufficient evidence was presented against them, they were released.
Kirk, Bergen and several others were also tried, but were released. Then, on November 10, 1870, Governor Holden attempted to retire gracefully by issuing a proclamation declaring that the insurrection in Alamance and Caswell was at an end.
The Kirk-Holden War was over, and now the citizens of Alamance County could live peacefully for the first time in a decade.