National Archives Microfilm Publications Microcopy No. 666
Letters received by the office of the Adjutant General
(Record Group 94)
(MAIN SERIES) 1871 -1880
Roll 67, 1872
Papers relating to crimes committed by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, 1869 – 1879
Hd. Qrs. Post of Huntsville
March 3rd, 1870
P. H. Flood 1st Lieut. 2nd Infty. U. S. Army
Reports in reference to disturbance in the neighborhood of Stephenson, Ala. That upon investigation he finds the chief cause to be a Negro living with a white woman, but thinks it only a pretext for the disturbance. Gives full report in reference to the same.
Hd. Qrs. Post of Huntsville
Huntsville, Ala. March 3rd, 1870
1st Lieut. James M. Ingalls
In obedience to verbal orders from the Post Commander of date March 1, I proceeded to Stephenson, Ala. for the purpose of investigating the trouble in that neighborhood.
I found on my arrival by confirming with the Mayor of the town, the Probate Judge, the Sheriff, the Marshall and reliable citizens that the animus which culminated in the late disturbance, and is said to be the chief cause of the difficulties in that vicinity, arose from the fact of a Negro man living in marital relation with a woman thought to be of the white race. But my own opinion is this is only a mere pretext for maltreating the colored people, against whom a disguised party of men, known and commonly called “Ku Klux Klan,” appear to have a special animosity, with the determination of driving them away. In consequence of the feeling against this Negro man, whose name is Prior, a mob of these disguised men proceeded from the town to the Negro settlement, about ¾ of a mile distant on last Friday night the 25th of February, fired into the settlement, and wounded one colored man. The next day, Saturday, the settlement was again visited by these men and the arms of the Negroes were taken away. It is supposed that in retaliation for this outrage a party of colored men fired into the house of Messrs. Burm and Mac Mahon, two merchants of the town, on the following Sunday night, though neither were injured. On last Monday the 1st of March, a warrant was issued by the proper Civil Officer and three colored men, Prior, Jackson and Daniels were arrested on suspicion of being guilty of this last act and confined in a log stockade adjacent to the town.
The same evening the Marshall summoned every available citizen of the town to guard the prisoners and protect them from an anticipated forcible liberation and violence by this disguised band of men before referred to. About 9 p.m. that night these men did appear, and in numbers estimated between thirty and fifty and not withstanding the remonstrance’s of those on guard, liberated the prisoners, though in doing so, the principal object of this vengeance (Prior) made good his escape. The two remaining prisoners were turned over a short time thereafter to the guard of soldiers sent up from Huntsville by the Post Commander on Monday night and this guard had the men in custody on my arrival the following day at 4:15 p.m.
I detained the guard for the purpose of giving protection to the prisoners at the request of the Civil Authorities and then used my best efforts to hasten an immediate trial or examination, which was effected, and the prisoners released on Wednesday morning for the want of evidence to convict them. It seems to be the opinion of the town Civil officers that as soon as Prior the colored man leaves the settlement all undue excitement will subside. If this were all that is needed, quiet might soon be restored, for the colored people have received shock by the outrage committed, that all are resolved to remain no longer where they are cruelly prosecuted.
On my departure many of them were selling their little effects preparatory to removing elsewhere, one of the two female teachers together with several families leaving on the same train with myself for Huntsville.
I wish to add that the Sheriff states that he was in no manner apprised of the disturbance, and seems to be quite confident of his ability and power to act whenever called upon so to do.
P. H. Flood
1st Lieut. 2nd Infty. USA
A True Copy
1st Lieut. 2nd Infty.