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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Inside Out


Doves the color of dust.
Dust scattered with seed.
Birds eat as though
nothing has changed.
continue unabated.


Movements have disturbed
old dust 
that settled, quiet
over time
on unmoving things until
we'd almost stopped seeing them.
after the roar.


In the aftermath I wait,
wincing at the insistent sun,
and fear the naked air.
Turn away, look back as
this rusted truck takes
roads long denied.
Dust lingers in its wake.

    ~ Elodie Pritchartt, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The King versus James Armstrong, Part VI

* I have edited the testimony for clarity as the original is almost all one complete, run-on sentence.

At the Fort on the same day and year before-written (17 Aug 1786), appeared William Brocus who headed one of the parties detached to take the troup of robbers commanded by James Armstrong in this District and the said Brocus, placing his hand on the Bible according to the custom of his religion and promised to answer truly such questions that should be put to him by the interpreter on the part of the King, to relate circumstantially every occurence that took place from the time the party left the Fort until their return.

On the road to Cole's Creek they joined another party who set out on the same expedition under command of Samuel Gibson.  It was agreed to keep together until they obtained some encouragement of Armstrong but about three leagues from the place of meeting they discovered footsteps and tracks of horses leading towards said Armstrong's plantation.

They followed until within 500 paces of the house where they dismounted and left one-half  of the company with the horses. The other half proceeded to within 200 paces of the house from whence they perceived the wife of Armstrong in the cowpen, who, seeing them immediately, left off milking. Finding that Armstrong had likewise perceived, they separated a second time, one-half passing through a tobacco field to the rear of the house and the other half approaching in the front.

Calling to him to surrender to the King, [Armstrong] answered that he should surrender with his rifle, and at the same time going into the house to get it. [Once inside], he encouraged the men in the house to stand to their arms and defend themselves, and appearing at a window of the house in front of us, called out to come on and try it.  [Then] we approached still calling on him to surrender.

When close upon him he determined to go out by a back window, which they effected and perceiving his troop ready to fire upon the party, I ordered one-half of the men to fire, which charge the said Armstrong fell dead and his son was badly wounded in the forehead.  One ball [appeared] to pass through his head and one lodged therein.  Likewise a ball in the right side.

By the same discharge another of the troop was wounded who however escaped with the others.  With whom we found it impracticable to come up with although we followed them by their tracks all day until they crossed Stoney Creek where we lost them.

The party under command of Samuel Gibson remained at the house to collect the arms of the dead and the wounded and some horses which they had stolen and took an inventory of everything in the house and on the plantation.  When done, they conveyed hither together with the wounded and the wife and the rest of the family of the deceased.

[That] is all that occurred within the knowledge of the deponent, upon the oath which he has taken and, not knowing how to write he has made the mark of the cross, in the presence of those in preceding.

See also:

The King vs James Armstrong, Part V

The King vs James Armstrong, Part IV

The King vs James Armstrong, Part III

The King vs James Armstrong, Part II

The King vs James Armstrong

McBee, May Wilson.  The Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805. Greenwood, MS: 1953.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The King versus James Armstrong, Part V

Drawing of Fort Panmure, date unknown.  The site is now known as Fort Rosalie.
*  In order to make this easier to read, I have taken the liberty of putting it into a question-and-answer format.  The original is all one long paragraph without the Q-and-A notations.

At Fort Panmur at Natchez, 17 August 1786, I, Don Carlos de Grand-Pre, in order to take the confession of James Armstrong, who is badly wounded, in Hospital to which he was brought by one of the parties detached to arrest him and in danger from dying from one moment to another, wherefore it is necessary to examine him without loss of time, I have appointed Juan Careras to act as Clerk, which he has accepted and promised faithfully to discharge the same, and has signed with the King's Solicitator, Carlos de Grand-Pre, Juan Carreras.  It being necessary to appoint an Interpreter to translate the confession of the criminal, James Armstrong, and the declarations of the witnesses in the case, all of whom speak the English language, I have appointed Mr. George Fitzgerald, who, being informed of said appointment, has accepted thereof, in witness whereof he has signed, with the King's Attorney and the Clerk.

Witnesses also present:  Don Antonio Soler, Lieut. of the Artillery, and Don Joaquim de Ossorno, Lieut. of the Grenadiers.  All of whom have repaired to the Royal Hospital where the said James Armstrong lay wounded and inquired if he would swear before God truly to answer such questions as should be put to him on the part of the King, to which he answered, laying his hand on the Bible according to form and rites of his religion that he would declare the truth.

Q:  What is your name?
A:   James Armstrong.

Q:  What religion?
A:  Protestant.

Q:  Where were you born?
A:  In South Carolina.

Q:  By whom were you wounded, and with whom?
A:  He does not know exactly who shot him but he is certain it was one of the party who came to take him, and he was in the company of his father, his younger brother and John and James Lovel.

Q:  How long had he been in that company?
A:  They joined company about seven days before.

Q:  What had they been doing?
A:  Robbing.

Q:  State truly how many robberies they committed and on whom.
A:  John and James Lovel and his father, himself and his father's negro went to the house of Manuel Texada and by force of arms robbed him of two horses, a saddle, two bridles, and a cloth great coat, and the same night they went to the house of John Cable, whom they robbed of a bag, two blankets, a horse, a saddle and bridle, from whence they went to the house of Jeremiah Routh to supper.

Q:  Did they commit any violence in these robberies?
A:  Threatened that if any resistance was made they would take the property by force and shoot them.

Q:  Did they go to the houses of any other person?
A:  They went to the house of David Odom, whom they robbed of a rifle and from thence they were to the house of Jeremiah Routh from whence they took a barrel of whiskey.

Q:  To whom did the barrel of whiskey belong?
A:  It belonged to George Blair.

Q:  Name all of the other inhabitants whom they robbed.
A:  The same night they robbed the house of Stephen de Alva and James Cole, from each of whom they took a rifle, with the same violence as before mentioned.

Q:  Who furnished them provisions?
A:  They concealed themselves in the house of Jeremiah Routh who furnished them provisions.

Q:  How many persons were in the troup where they first met together and for what purpose?
A:  The troup consisted of his father, his father's negro, the brothers Lovel, George Blair and himself, and the manner of their meeting was as follows:

The two Lovels and George Blair, hearing his father was about to set out to the Indian Nation,k came to the house and dissuaded him from going to the Indian Nation but rather to join with them in robbing in the District, and they accordingly robbed the houses before mentioned as also those of Douglas and Sinclair, at each of whom they took a rifle.

Q:  If he had any knowledge of a seditious letter found in the District, bearing the signature of Davvid Smith and addressed to Tacitus Gaillard?
A:  That letter was written by George Blair who counterfeited the signature of Smith.

Q:  If he knows for what purpose the said Blair fabricated the said letter.
A:  With the intention of ruining Smith and his family.

Q:  If he knew any other persons who intended to join the troup.
A:  None.

Q:  If his brother was concerned in their robberies.
A:  No, he was too young, and never left home.

Q:  If they intended to leave the District and at what time and where did they intend to go?
A:  They intended to leave the District in two days and go to the State of Georgia.

Q:  Where was his brother?
A:  When the party appeared he flew to the woods.

Q:  Where were the rest of the troup?
A:  Also in the woods.

Q:  Where is the negro, before-mentioned?
A:  It would appear that he was wounded?

Q:  And was he armed?
A:  He was near the house and had his rifle.

Q:  Why did he not surrender to the party when ordered to do so?
A:  He was not at liberty to do so, being under the orders of his father.  And Lovel and his brother threatened to kill him in the house if he did not go out with his rifle and defend himself.

Q:  I his father stood on the defensive when ordered to surrender?
A:  He did.

Q:  Where was his father killed by the party?
A:  In the same tobacco field, distant about an acre from the house.

Q:  If he had not concerted a projct of robbing the stores in Natchez?
A:  He never concerted any project, but being under his father's command was bound to obey his orders.  He did hear the Lovels one day propose to rob the stores of Natchez but his father objected going so near the Fort.

Q:  If he has anything more to say and how old is he?
A:  At present, he doesn't remember anything more except he heard the Lovels say that they intended to kill Joseph Duncan; and he is eighteen years old.

And the foregoing confession being read to him by the interpreter, he acknowledged it to bethe same he has made, ratifying and confirming the same on the oath which he has taken, and not knowing how to write has made the mark of a cross, in the presence of the King's Attorney, the Interpreter, the Clerk, and the witnesses assisting.

Signed:  Carlos de Grand-Pre, George Fitzgerald, Antonio Soler, Joaquim de Ossorno and Juan Carreras.

See also:

The King vs James Armstron, Part IV

The King vs James Armstrong, Part III

The King vs James Armstrong, Part II

The King vs James Armstrong

McBee, May Wilson.  The Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805. Greenwood, MS: 1953.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The King versus James Armstrong, Part IV

p. 109

I the undersigned, Surgeon of the Hospital of Natchez certify that on the 16th day of August, 1786, a certain James Armstrong was brought to the Hospital wounded in the right eye by a ball which penetrated and came out about an inch above the eye-brow.  I also found another ball in his head which lodged upon the skull.  The wounded man continues to be attended daily by order of His Excellency, Don Carlos de Grand-Pre, Commandant of the Fort and Post.  In testimony, whereof, I have gven these presents, to serve when need be.

Signed, Louis Faure.

See also:

The King vs James Armstrong, Part III

The King vs James Armstrong, Part II

McBee, May Wilson.  The Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805. Greenwood, MS: 1953.The King vs James Armstrong