Frightful Tragedy

    Source citation
    "Frightful Tragedy," Memphis (TN) Appeal, June 19, 1857, p. 2.
    Newspaper: Publication
    Memphis (TN) Appeal
    Newspaper: Headline
    Frightful Tragedy
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Date Certainty
    Michael Blake
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
    Frightful Tragedy

    United States Deputy Marshal Stabbed.


    Remanding of the Slaves to Kentucky by Commissioner Newhall

    One of the Editors of the Commercial an Underground Railroad Operator - A warrant issued for the Editor's Arrest - the Escape.

    Yesterday morning at 10 o'clock, the vicinity of the corner of Vine and Fourth streets was the scene of intense excitement.   A most bloody affair took place, which resulted in United States Deputy Marshal John C. Elliot being mortally stabbed by a runaway slave from Kentucky, and the slave being shot.


    The particulars of the affair are as follows:

    About seven years ago Col. C. A. Withers, of Covington, Ky., (Superintendent of the Covington and Lexington Railroad,) purchased from his nephew a slave woman, whose husband was owned by a gentleman in the immediate neighborhood.  The purchase was made solely with a view of preventing the separation of the slaves, as the Colonel's nephew was about to relocate to Missouri.  Two years afterward the owner of the slave man died, and his son, becoming heir to the estate, decided to dispose of the man by sending him to the South and ordering him for sale.  Col. Withers again came forward and prevented the separation of man and wife by purchasing the husband.

    He located the pair in a good house, well and conveniently furnished, and treated them in the most kind manner, as every one acquainted with the Colonel will testify that nothing but the "milk of human kindness flows through his veins."  Recently the managers and agents of the Underground Railroad have been tampering with the slaves, and on Saturday evening, June 19th, they made their escape.
    It is well known that there is a regularly organized vigilance committee of the Underground Railroad directors in this city, and, in fact, in all the Northern and most of the Southern cities.  A member of their lawless institution, becoming no doubt, disgusted with his unenviable position, exposed the affair of the running off of Co. Wither's slaves, and gave the necessary information last week as to their whereabouts.  A meeting of the Vigilance Committee was held on Friday, and money raised to run the slaves off at twelve o'clock last night.


    From the information obtained, it was ascertained that the slaves of Col. Withers, whose names are Irwin Broadus and Angelina Broadus, were secreted in room No. 18, in Taft's building, on Vine street, just above Fourth, adjourning the Gazette office.  This room was occupied by Wm. A. Conolly, one of the editors of the Cincinnati Daily Commercial.

    Conolly resided with his family a few miles from the city on the line of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, but his business in the city required his attention at night, and this room was his headquarters.  He formerly published a little seven by the sheet of rank Abolition character, but it died from a lack of patronage, after a short existence.  It was devoted to scurrility and the abuse of respectable citizens.  Recently Conolly has occupied his time in pointing out thieves to our Policemen, and in every instance he has proved himself an expert in the business.  During the Railroad Celebration he had three thieves arrested, and his testimony in the Police Court convicted them.


    The room of Conolly was closely watched during Friday night, and at ten o'clock yesterday morning United States Deputy Marshals [illegible] R Anderson, B. P. Churchill, John C. Elliot, J. N. Lowe, Jas. Woodward and E. R. Carty, having the proper official documents, proceeded to make the arrest.  In order to prevent the escape of the slaves over the roof of the adjoining buildings, Mr. Woodward was stationed on the roof of the house at the trapdoor, having gained access from a house two doors off.  The officers went up stairs to the room and one of them knocked at the door; no response being given, Mr. Elliot clambered up to the transom window over the door, and, looking in, remarked that "they were there, for he saw their dinner."  Forcing his body partially through the transom, he saw the parties in  small room adjoining and exclaimed, "here they are."  He then endeavored to get into the room, but instantly fell back on the door, upon his feet, and said he was stabbed.  Marshal Anderson then endeavored to kick the door in, but not succeeding, grasped an old bedpost near by and burst it open.  At this moment a hot was fired at the negro, who was standing fronting the door, knife in hand. He fell to the floor, and after a short scuffle, in which he fought desperately, the knife was wrenched from his hands and he was pinioned.

    In the meantime Mr. Elliot had gone down stairs, and was assisted to the office of the United States Marshal, on the opposite corner, when it was discovered that he had received two wounds; one a most serious puncture  in the left breast near the shoulder, and a slash cut upon the inside of the left arm, at the elbow.

    The slaves were conveyed to the Marshal's office also, and on examination the negro Irwin was found to be shot in the abdomen.  Medical assistance was immediately procured, Dr. Blackman attending Mr. Elliot and Dr. Dandefolge the slave.

    The would made upon Mr. Elliot were inflicted by the dirk of a cane, and owing to its narrow breadth, it was an impossibility to probe the wound to any extent.  The blade of the dirk was found to be covered with blood to the length of over eight inches.  Internal hemorrhage issued from the breast wound; but Dr. Blackman expressed the opinion that it was not necessarily fatal, although of a very dangerous character, and depending upon the extent of the hemorrhage and the direction of the dirk as to its fatality.  Every care and attention was paid to Mr. Elliot to tender him comfortable. 
    The wound of the negro was in the cavity of the stomach, but the locality and direction of the ball could not be discovered.  In all probability it will prove fatal.


    Owing to last night's excitement prevailing, and the great crowd constantly accumulating in front of the customhouse, it was deemed advisable to have an immediate hearing of the fugitives.
    United States Commissioner E. R. Newhall headed the case, and the ownership of the slaves being clearly, exposed, they were remained, by order of the Commissioner back to their owner.

    The woman very quietly accompanied Col. Withers, and was conveyed in an [illegible] to the ferry boat. But two Deputy Marshals rendered assistance in escorting her to the river.

    The man was carried down stairs and comfortably placed in an express wagon, and carried over the river, accompanied by the Marshal’s posse, consisting of three. Notwithstanding the great gathering of people, and the excitement that pervaded, the return of the slaves to their master was not impeded, and no expression of the disturbance manifested, except deep and determined feeling to support the laws of the United States and its administrative officers.


    Yesterday afternoon, United States Commissioner Newhall issued a warrant for the arrest of Conolly, one of the editors of the Commercial, under the act punishing the offense of harboring fugitive slaves; the penalty of which is punishment by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for six months, and a fine of one thousand dollars.  Conolly, however ,was not to be found in the city, but information was obtained that he had left on the morning train of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad.  The Marshals went in pursuit of him last evening on the six o'clock train, and it is to be sincerely hoped that he will be captured and made to answer for this offense.


    At then o'clock last night, the condition of Mr. Elliot was more comfortable and easy.  He was unable to converse, but his physician expressed the opinion that the chances of his recovery were somewhat favorable.

    The slave was at the residence of Colonel Withers, in Covington, well provided fro, but no change had taken place. 

    How to Cite This Page: "Frightful Tragedy," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,