Centennial History of Alamance County: 1849 - 1949
by Walter Whitaker
Published by Dowd Press, Inc., Charlotte, NC
(In order that material from this book can be used as widely as
possible, it does not carry a copyright. Proper credit to the source of
information, however, will be appreciated.)
Complete Book is at this address
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ALAMANCE COUNTY
Chapter 12: The Aftermath
The (Civil) 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.
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." (Stockard, Sallie, History of Alamance, 1900).
Murray was captured again near the end of the war, and finding that his Union guard was
unfamiliar with the territory 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.
Chapter 12: Ku Klux Klan Activities in Alamance Co.
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. (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.)
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 South, or of thepeople," 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. At 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 hugh 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 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.
(Descriptions of violence toward Whites and Negroes purposely omitted.)
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
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
RALEIGH, MARCH 17, 1870
HON. J.C. ABBOTT, U.S. SENATOR
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 these people of Alamance who sought peace and
quiet, but soon a louder rumbling echoed over the County.
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