Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Gallow's Ball IX- Double Execution

Double Execution To-day.—That two young men, Pat Smith and Julius Christian, who murdered John C. Lacy in New Kent on the 17th of January, will be hanged at New Kent Courthouse to day. They confess their guilt. They have been interviewed by a reporter of The State.  
Christian says that he cut Mr. Lacy's throat with a pocket-knife while Smith held his hands, and Smith says that ha got M. Lacy's hatchet after Christian had used the knife and struck him two or three times on the head with it. Then Christian cut him again, and Smith, to make sure that he was dead, chopped his neck with the hatchet. Smith, according to his own confession, seems to have been the leading spirit in the murder. Christian says that he bad nothing against Mr. Lacy, but assisted Smith because the latter had asked him to do so.  
They seem to have very erroneous ideas about religion. Christian says that he has been a member of the church for a long time: that he was a member at the time of the murder. Smith says that he "got religion" after he was sentenced to death; that he was eight days "getting through." But both of them seem to think that as they have gone through some of the forms of religion there need be no more concern, and their remaining days will be spent in good cheer. When the cell-door was opened the reporter found them talking and laughing together, and when he left they were laughing.

- -Staunton Spectator. 25 March 1879

Execution of Two of the Lacy Murderers New Kent Conrthouse. 
The particulars of the crime for which Julius christian and Patrick Smith paid the death penalty at New Kent Courthouse yesterday are doubtless still fresh in the memory of our readers. On Friday evening, February 17, 1879 John Calvin Lacy, a citizen of New Kent county, while returning from Richmond in a trading-cart, waylaid and murdered on the road. The body of the murdered man remained on the spot where the horrid deed was committed for some time, and when found it was in such a mutilated condition as to arouse intense feeling and active measures were soon taken to discover and arrest the authors of the atrocity.  
Circumstances tending to connect Claiborne Smith, Patrick Smith, Julius Christian, and Andrew Whitney, four negro men living in New Kent, with the crime, they were all soon afterwards arrested and placed in confinement. Claiborne Smith, the youngest of the number made a full confession of his complicity in the crime, bat charged that the deed had been committed by his brother Patrick Smith and Julius Christian.  
Julius Christian and Patrick Smith were tried at the January term of the County Court of New Kent- Judge J.H. Christian presiding.  
The Commonwealth was represented by R.T. Lacy, Esq., and the prisoners were zealously defended by William E. Hart and George Jones, Esqs., counsel assigned them by the court. 
Before the trial the accused had

               CONFESSED THEIR CRIME. 
The circumstantial evidence against them was of such a character that the juries deliberated but a short while before bringing in a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, and the Court sentenced them to be hanged on the 25th day of March, 1879, between the hours of 10 A.M. and 2 P.M., within sight of the court-house. The prisoners were then brought to this city and confined in Henrico county jail. Claiborne Smith was subsequently convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary for eighteen years. Yesterday, the day fixed by the Court for their execution, Julius Christian and Patrick Smith, the prisoners, were taken from the jail about 4 o'clock A.M. by Littleton Royster, sheriff of New Kent, and carried to the York-River Railroad depot, where a reporter for the Dispatch found them, surrounded by a detail of policemen, conversing cheerfully with the bystanders and

                     EATING GINGER CAKES
with evident satisfaction. The train started from the city about 5 o'clock, and all the way down the condemned men manifested be greatest indifference. They replied readily to all statement, which differs but little from their first confession. Julius Cbristian was the spokesman, and his declarations were frequently affirmed by Pat. Smith with "Yes," "Dat's so," "Sure nuff," &c.  
Christian said that about, six weeks before the murder Pat. Smith and himself broke into the store of Major Townsend, at the Forge, and stole a lot of bacon and flour; that on the Tuesday preceding the Friday on which the murder was committed he met Mr. Lacy on the road, who, after some other conversation, asked him if he had seen Pat. and Claiborne Smith lately, and to his reply that he had Lacy, said, "If you don't stop going with them you will get in trouble," and, further, that he (Julius) would have to leave the county for something he had done. Christian said this conversation satisfied him that Lacy knew something about the robbery at Major Townsend's, and as Lacy had made threats against them at Talleysville a short while before, be thought it would be best to tell Smith about it and take some means of 

                PUTTING LACY OUT OF THE WAY. 
He said Pat. Smith, Claiborne Smith, and himself met together and talked over the plans of accomplishing their object, when it was finally determined to kill Lacy and his body in Toink swamp. That accordingly they met at the swamp Friday evening, and shortly after dark Lacy came up, sitting in the cart with his feet hanging outside. That they did not consider the spot favorable for their purpose, but followed the doomed man some distance up the road. That Patrick Smith, running under the cart, caught Lacy by the feet, and attempted to pull him out, and did succeed in doing so after a struggle, in which Lacy seized a hatchet and attempted to cut.  
Christian said that Lacy fell down in the road on his face, and that as soon as was down  he (Christian) ran forward and, pressing him to the ground.

                    CUT HIM ACROSS THE THROAT
twice with a new pocket-knife. He said that Lacy struggled very hard, and rising on his knees, said: "Boy, don't hart me; take everything in the cart, but don't kill me," and still fighting and crying murder, got up and ran for some distance. Christian said he was frightened because Lacy had recognized him, and held back, but that Smith ran back to the cart and getting the hatchet, pursued Lacy, and exclaiming "Come on, now's your time,"  caught him in the back and struck him a blow in the temple, which rendered him unconscious and followed up the assault by several blows across the throat, which cut the neck almost in two.  
The train arrived at Summit Station at 6 1/2 o'clock, where twenty mounted men had been provided as an armed escort by the vigilant sheriff. 
The prisoners were put in a two-horse wagon in which were seated Deputy-Sheriff Zach. Crump,  Messrs. Waddill and Tinsley, Dr. George W. Richardson and the Dispatch Representative. After some little delay the procession moved on the road to the court-house, fourteen miles distant. 

                ON THE ROAD TO DEATH
many accessions were made to the crowd, and before reaching Talleysville the procession was probably half a mile long. Men, women, and children, white and black, on foot and in all manner of vehicles, made up the procession, and the occupants of the various farm-houses on the line hurried to the roadside to see the strange sight. The prisoners appeared as unconcerned as ever. They munched ginger-bread with great avidity or smoked cigars with as much gusto as if on a holiday Jaunt, and were evidently pleased to see the interest they excited. At Talleysville Julius Christian's mother came up to the wagon, and embracing and calling him her "precious lamb," bade a final farewell to her son. There was something pathetic in her utterances, but Julius was unmoved; and when she besought the sheriff to send the body to her the son replied, "Go 'way; the body ain't no account." When the procession arrived within sight of the gallows, Pat. Smith, looking at the vast crowd in its vicinity, exclaimed: 

              "GREAT LORD! LOOK AT DE PEOPLE. 
Dar dey is sctiin" up iu de trees like turkey buzzards" Arrived at the spot, the condemned men were dismounted and carried in the courtroom, where the shrouds of black cambric were placed upon them. The coffins were then placed in the wagon and the prisoners seated upon them. The gallows, which was erected about one fourth of a mile -south of the court-house, was soon reached, the men placed upon the trap, and the noose adjusted. After reading the death-warrant Sheriff Royster said: "Julius Christian, have you anything to say before the sentence of the law is executed upon you?" Christian replied that he had, and for about fifteen minutes poured out in a singing tone an incoherent exhortation to those present, declaring his readiness to die, and saying that he would soon awake "in Abraham's bosom." He then made a short and unsatisfactory confession of his crime. Pat. Smith also declared his readiness to die. He said, "The Lord had told him nothing should harm him at that hour"; and concluded by saying, "Good-bye, all ! The Lord done spoke peace to my soul. I am prepared to die, and I am gwineto Heaven- I reckon." When the confessions had been made there was some feeling manifested among those present, and 

but Sheriff Royster replied, "No, sir; it is my painful duty to do so." After adjusting the caps Pat. Smith said, "Mr. Royster, send my things home," alluding to a "small bundle of clothing. At 11:40, everything being in readiness, Sheriff Royster and Deputy-Sheriff Crump seized the rope tied to the stake supporting the trap, and, giving a sudden pull, the support fell from beneath them and Julius Christian and Patrick Smith were ushered into eternity. Smith being the heavier of the two died without a struggle; but Christian died of strangulation, and his body swayed back and forth several times before his struggles ceased. At 12 o'clock Dr. L. A. Slater examined the bodies and pronounced life extinct. The bodies were then cut down that of Christian given to his friends and Smith's buried at the foot or the gallows. It is estimated that

                    TWO THOUSAND PERSONS 
were present on the ground, and the day appeared more a holiday than otherwise. A tent had been erected on the green, in which a negro-minstrel entertainment was going on, a patent-medicine man was vending his nostrums, and a good business was done by the vendors of oysters and other edibles. Good order prevailed, however, and Sheriff Royster deserves commendation for the propriety which characterized the conduct of all under his charge, and the careful and skillful manner with which he discharged the unpleasant duties devolving upon him. 

- Daily Dispatch, 26 March 1879

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gallow's Ball VIII - Attempted Departure

Wherein our prisoners attempt to recreate the fiery escape that destroyed the New Kent county jail



About 11 o'clock last night Hoseman Ramsey, of steam Fire Engine Company No. 2, who resides on Main street near the corner of Twenty-first street, was aroused by persons crying "Fire!" he jumped up, put on his uniform and helmet, and ran across the street to the point where the alarm came from, to find the Henrico county jail on fire, he was soon followed by Hoseman William M. Allen, W.D. Cottrell, and one or two others not connected with the Fire Department. They entered the jail, where jailer Fisher was endeavoring to keep the prisoners from escaping and at the same time put out the fire.

The floor of the cell in which the two negroes Julius Christian and Patrick Christian were confined was found to be in flames and the jail filled with smoke well nigh to suffocation. Indeed, the firemen found a difficult duty before them. They went to work, however, and carried blankets and tubs of water up-stairs until the flames had been partly subdued. The windows were then thrown open, and after the jail was partly ventilated a search was made for the prisoners. Pat. Smith had gone down into the yard, having in some way cut off his chains. Julius, however did not go out of the yard, but remained in the cell with a blanket over his head to keep the smoke from suffocating him.

The negroes had set fire to the floor under the stove, where it was dry and would easily burn, but the building being closed, it was impossible for the smoke to get out, and the prisoner named must have died from the effects of the smoke had not speedy aid been rendered. As it was both men were well nigh overcome by it. A prisoner, named Jackson, who occupied the cell below, heard a noise above his head, and called out to know what was the matter. At first he had no reply. Finally he was told that the floor would soon fall in, and that it was on fire, Jackson called Jailer Fisher who took in the situation at once. He very naturally concluded that the object of the prisoners was to rush out by him as soon as he opened the door to put out the fire; but he was too good an officer to be caught in that way; and so he kept the jail-door closed until help arrived. Patrick Christian had muffled his boots by cutting up a blanket and tying pieces around the soles of his boots, hoping, no doubt, that when the door was opened he could pass out through the smoke and crowd unseen down the stairs and escape unheard. In the darkness one of the men, finding that he could not get away, went back to his chains and fastened the locks by means of a string, hoping thereby to avoid detection.

After quiet had been restored and the fire extinguished the prisoners were put back into their cell. Julius Christian and Patrick Smith are the two negroes who are awaiting execution on the 25th instant for the murder of Mr. John C. Lacy in New Kent county a few weeks ago.

  -Daily Dispatch, 11 March 1879

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Gallow's Ball VII - Arrivals

Arrival of Prisoners.
Sheriff Royster and his deputies, Z.T. Crump and Charles Tinsley, arrived here from New Kent county yesterday afternoon, having in their charge the four negroes arrested for the murder or John C. Lacy. Two are to be hanged on the 2-th March, and in the mean time will be confined in Henrico jail. Claiborne Smith, upon whose confession mainly these two were convicted, will be taken to the penitentiary for eighteen years. The fourth accused has elected to be tried in the Circuit Court, which meets on the 25th of May. 

- Daily Dispatch, 21 February 1879

Arrival of the Last of the Lacy Murderers.- Deputy-Sheriff Z.T. Crump, of New Kent, arrived in this city yesterday, having in charge Griffin Bagby (colored), arrested on suspicion of being one of the parties to the Lacy murder. The accused was locked up in the Henrico county jail for safe keeping until the March term of New Kent County Court.

-Daily Dispatch, Feb 27, 1879

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Gallow's Ball VI - "Amid Profound Silence"

The brutal murder or John C. Lacy, which occurred on the 17th of last month, has created a profound sensation and interest in this and surrounding counties At the time of the perpetration of the outrage, as your readers were informed, threats were made and fears were entertained that the alleged murderers would be handled according to the code of Judge Lynch; but Better counsels prevailed, and the persons charged with the crime to wit: Julius Christian, Patrick and Claiborne Smith, and Andrew Whiting- were taken to the Henrico county jail to await trial at the February term of our County Court.  
Accordingly, on Thursday last Sheriff Royster arrived from Richmond in charge of the prisoners. Most of the day was taken up n examination of witnesses by the grand jury, who found true bills against all the parties accused; and it was not until late in the afternoon that a jury was enpanelled(sic) for the trial of Julius Christian, whom it was determined first to try, the accused having elected to sever in their trial.  
The jury was adjourned over until 10 o'clock Friday, when, upon assembling, the Commonwealth proceeded to examine her witnesses. The principal and most important evidence was that of Mr. James W. Stamper, of Richmond, to whom the prisoners had made a confession while in Henrico jail. Mr. Stamper gave in his testimony in a very lucid manner, detailing all the circumstances connected with the murder as confessed by the accused, making up a case of the most shocking and diabolical brutality.  
The Commonwealth was represented by R. T. Lacy, Esq. and the prisoner, at the request of the court, was represented by William E. Hart and George A. Jones, Esq- 
The case was submitted without argument about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and after an absence of ten minutes the jury returned with a verdict of "guilty of murder in the first degree." Judge Christian, amid profound silence on the part of the large crowd assembled, then proceeded, in a most touching and impressive manner, to pass sentence upon the condemned man, who received the same with the stolid indifference of an iceberg, and seemed less moved by the pathetic remarks of the Judge than anyone else present. 
At this writing Patrick Smith is on trial.
 Yours, N. K. 
February 16, 1879.

Since I last, wrote you another of the Lacy murderers- Patrick Smith- has been condemned to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. The accused was defended by Messrs. Hart and Jones, who made the most of the facts in the case for the benefit of their client, while R. T. Lacy. Esq., represented the Commonwealth. After an elaborate argument of the case, the jury retired for a few minutes, when they brought in a verdict as above stated. If possible, the prisoner manifested more dare-devil indifference to his fate than the one previously convicted, and remained perfectly unmoved during the delivery of the affecting sentence of the Court. The interest in the trials remains unabated, and a dense crowd throngs the court-house each day. Owing to the necessary absence of counsel on to-morrow, the Court last night adjourned over to Tuesday the 18th instant, when the remaining two prisoners will be arraigned for trial. I will endeavor to keep you posted as to the result, notwithstanding the tardiness of our mails. The prisoners arc kept under guard, our jail having been burned more than a year ago. 
Yours hastily, N.K.

-Daily Dispatch, 18 February 1879

Friday, October 26, 2018

Gallow's Ball V - Convicted

The New Kent Murder.
We have already given a full account of the shocking murder of Mr. John C. Lacy, of New Kent, county, by four negroes, on the night of the 17th January. The first of the negroes, Julius Christian, was tried on Tuesday, and late in the evening found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to be bung on the 25th March. The jury was sent out between 4 and 5 o'clock, and were away from the courtroom about ten minutes only. 
 The next one of the murderers arraigned was Patrick Smith which was done on Friday evening. The trial was not concluded until Saturday, when the accused was found guilty and sentenced to be hung on the 25th March by Judge Isaac H. Christian. 
No disposition has yet been, made of the other cases.

 -Daily Dispatch, 17 February 1879

Three Murderers Sentenced.
Julius Christian, Patrick Smith, and Claiborne Smith, the negroes who murdered Mr. Lacy in New Kent, have been sentenced by Judge Isaac H. Christian to be hung March 25th. The jury before which the prisoners were tried consisted of eight white and four colored men.

-The (Richmond) State, February 17, 1879

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gallow's Ball IV - "A Spirit of Revenge"

 The Recent Murder in New Kent
Further information relative to the recent murder in New Kent county reveals the fact that up to the time of the arrest of the parties charged with the deed there existed in that portion of the county an organized gang of robbers as desperate as any community was ever afflicted with. It was the intention of the murderers to commit the deed about two miles higher up the road, but the victim having arrived at that point earlier than they expected, they went on down the road with him, chatting in a friendly way, until it became dark enough for their purpose. It is also seated, upon good authority, that this same gang, of which these negroes were members, had planned four other murders, partly for gain and partly to right some fancied wrongs- two of the intended victims being white and the others colored. It is believed that the murder of Lucy was not prompted by gain alone, but that it is now believed was done in a spirit of revenge, as one of the parties implicated had been beard to make threats of violence against him. 
The excitement among the colored portion of the community was intense, and had they received the slightest encouragement from the whites, it is believed that the State would hot have been put to the expense incident to a trial.

-Daily Dispatch, 25 January 1879

Gallow's Ball III - No Jail to Keep Them In

Yesterday's post related how the prisoners from New Kent were being held in the Henrico county jail instead in New Kent " . . . because the jail of that county was burned last summer, and has not since been rebuilt."

The jail at New Kent Courthouse was destroyed by fire on Sunday morning about 2 o'clock under the following circumstances: A colored man, whose name could not be ascertained, was confined in the upper cell on a charge of felony. He set fire to the flooring, and as soon as a space sufficiently large was made descended to the lower cell and made his escape through one of the windows. He doubtless had help from the outside, as the windows were made secure by heavy iron bars. At last accounts he was still at large.

 -The Richmond Whig, 16 January 1878

Another paper has a briefer account that gives the man's name as Fox. There was according to court records of the period a man by that name being held awaiting trial.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Gallow's Ball II - Further Details . . .

 The Lacy Murder
Information received here yesterday fully confirms the account of the brutal murder of John C. Lacy of New Kent county, published in the Dispatch yesterday; and additional details fail to furnish any motive for the perpetration of such a crime other than that of mere petty larceny. From all we can learn, a plan was formed and agreed upon by three young negroes, named Pat. Smitb, Claiborn Smith, and Julius Christian, to waylay and rob Lacy, and, if necessary, to kill him in accomplishing their purpose. As before stated, it was known to two of the negroes who had assisted Lacy in killing his hogs that be had come to this city to dispose of them, and that he would return with the proceeds of the sale on Friday evening. Accordingly about dark on that day the negroes stationed themselves, at a lonely wooded spot on the Forge road about eight miles from New Kent Courthouse to await the coming of their victim. They were not detained long; for soon the old man's cart came rumbling along and passed them. They then set out in pursuit, when Claiborn, who appears to be the youngest and who perhaps was less of a villain than the rest of them, stopped behind, ostensibly to tie his shoe, but really, as he states, to "back out of the job," which, as its execution neared, be did not relish. Claiborn lingered behind, listening eagerly to ascertain what the others would do, and in a short time after they had left him h heard the voice of Lacy crying, "Murder!" "Murder!" in agonized tones, until it became hushed in death. He fled and was soon at home in the house of Andrew Whitney, an old negro aged, about sixty years. On Saturday morning, when the body of Lacy was discovered, suspicion at first fell upon this old man, Whitney, and Claiborn Smith, because they resided nearest the scene of the murder, and probably owing to other circumstances. They were at once arrested, and a search of the premises resulted in the discovery of some of the blood-stained clothing of Pat. Smith and Julius Christian. These discoveries, and the "confession," or rather volunteered statement of Claiborn Smitb, who related the plot of Friday and his connection therewith, led to the arrest of the other two, Pat. Smith and Julius Christian, on Sunday morning, at their home, on the farm of Mr. Alfred Selden. When arrested the hat of Mr. Lacy, four dollars in money, some groceries, calico, and a quantity of matches, also his property, were found in their possession. The inquest took place on Sunday, and a preliminary examination before a bench of magistrates followed on Monday, at which the four negroes, Andrew Whitney, Pat. Smith, Julius Christian, and Claiborn Smith were committed for indictment on the charge of murder. The repeated rumors of attempted lynching could be traced to no authentic source. Citizens in the vicinity, of course, were horrified at such a cold blooded and atrocious murder, but there was neither an attempt at lynching nor even threats to that effect. The people of New Kent are too well known to be law-abiding and peaceable to indulge in such a violation of the laws of the land as lynching. The prisoners, who were expected hereon Monday evening, did not arrive until yesterday morning, and they are now safely locked up in the Henrico-county jail. Their removal here, however, is not clue to any apprehension of lynch-law on the part or the people of New Kent, but simply because the jail of that county was burned last summer, and has not since been rebuilt. The two Smiths are aged respectively about sixteen and eighteen years, are medium sized, and of a light, ginger-bread color. Christian is about twenty years old, and black, and the old man Andrew Whitney is brown skinned, tall, and muscular. The two alleged murderers are notoriously bad characters in New Kent county.

- Daily Dispatch, 22 January 1879

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Gallow's Ball I - Brutally Butchered



John C. Lacy, a citizen of New, Kent count, who lived on his farm, near the Williamsburg road, twenty-four miles from this city, was brutally murdered by four negroes on Friday night a short distance from his home.

On Thursday Mr. Lacy killed his hogs at his place, six miles, from Tunstall's station on the Richmond, York River and Chesapeake road, and then put them into his cart and brought the pork to Richmond to sell. After making sale, and buying a number of articles which were needed on the farm, he started home with the balance of the money in his pocket. When he had gotten to Cedar-Grove Cemetery, near Emmaus church, or in that vicinity, he was met by four negroes, who commenced a conversation with him and finally requested that they be allowed to ride home with him. This was refused by Mr. Lacy, because the roads were bad, his team was tired, and he was anxious to get home. Finding that they could not get at their victim in this way, they determined to take possession of his cart by force. It was Mr. Lacy's habit to always carry a hatchet with him, and knowing this they determined to get possession of it- thus disarm him, and if necessary use it in carrying off their plan to rob him. So they stopped the cart, got possession the hatchet after some resistance, and not being able to get his money without killing him went to work and well nigh chopped his head off. Rifling his pockets and taking such of his purchases as they desired, they drove on toward the farm-house of the murdered man, opened the gate, and turned his horse and cart into the yard.

One of the negroes, it is states becoming alarmed at what his associates were doing, left the party, went on ahead, and gave notice of the murders and probably mentioned names of those who were engaged in the horrid crime.

On Saturday a coroner's jury was summoned, an inquest held, and a verdict rendered in accordance with the facts above storied.

On Sunday the body of the deceased was buried at Emmaus church, near where he was murdered.

Mr. Lacy, it is said, raised one of the negroes who murdered him- all four of whom have been arrested. The man whom he raised, as well as one or two of the others, were with Mr. Lacy on Thursday when he killed his hogs, and were cognizant of his visit to Richmond. The two men first arrested seemed to have been innocent of the crime, and they are believed to have been let off. A negro woman who lived in the neighborhood had been employed by the other two to wash for them, and in her possession a pair of pantaloons was found. that had been washed but which were not dry. On these breeches were many blood stains. These two men were arrested- Sunday morning about 10 o'clock. The men first arrested gave the names of the others. In the possession of one of the latter the sum of eight dollars was found, and from the pocket of the other man was Mr. Lacy's hat taken. 
The men were arrested by Sheriff Royster and Constable Higgins and were taken to Talleysville, four miles from Tunstall's station. There is no jail in New Kent county, the jail having been destroyed by fire some time ago.

It is supposed that the men will be brought to the Henrico county jail for safe-keeping.

The citizens of -Sew Kent are indignant at the crime, and much excitement prevails in the neighborhood of Mr. Lacy's former residence.

- Daily Dispatch, 21 January 1879

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Gallow's Ball - Prologue

For the Halloween season this website will present an extended series on the Lacy murder of the winter of 1879 and the subsequent trial, executions, and, . . .well,  . . .strange occurrences that followed.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Reuben Burrell and the Champagne, Sep- Oct 1918 - II

More on Reuben Burrell

In addition to the 369th Infantry Regiment (old New York Fifteenth) and the 370th (old Eighth Illinois), the 371st and 372nd Regiments, also composed of colored troops, were brigaded with the French during their active service overseas. It had been first decided by the United States War Department that these four colored regiments should form the nucleus of the 93rd Division (Provisional), but it was finally decided not to organize the 93rd Division, but to brigade these four regiments with French troops.
The 371st Infantry was organized August 31, 1917, at Camp Jackson, South Carolina, in compliance with War Department General Order No. 109, of August 16, 1917, as the First Provisional Infantry Regiment (colored). Col. Perry L. Miles assumed' command of the regiment September 1, 1917. All the officers of the 371st regiment were white. On September 5, 1917, fourteen colored men from Pensacola, Florida, were received as the first recruits for the regiment. The time of arrival of recruits for the regiment was delayed by the War Department for about a month, because of the shortage of labor in moving the 1917 cotton crop. It was not until early in October that the first considerable body of recruits was received. By November 20, 1917, however, 3,380 men had been received by the regiment. These men were not all received at once, but in varying sized draft increments at different times. Of this number, 1,680 men were transferred to labor organizations and 500 to a combat organization at Camp Upton.

Under a staff of French officer instructors and interpreters the 371st Infantry was reorganized on the French plan, soon after its arrival in France (April 23, 1918), with 194 men to the company and three machine gun companies to the regiment instead of one as on the American plan. All the American equipment was turned in, and the men were given the French rifles, bayonets, helmets, packs, and other equipment of the French soldier. Only the American khaki uniform remained. After a few weeks' instruction in this new equipment and in French tactics, the regiment went into the trenches as part of the 157th French Division under General Goybet. It remained in line for over three months, holding first the Avocourt and later the Verrières. subsectors (northwest of Verdun). The regiment, with its division, was then taken out of line and thrown into the great September offensive in the Champagne. It took Cote 188, Bussy Ferme, Ardeuil, Montfauxelles, and Trieres Ferme near Monthois, and captured a number of prisoners, 47 machine guns, 8 trench engines, 3 field pieces (77s), a munition depot, a number of railroad cars, and enormous quantities of lumber, hay, and other supplies. It shot down three German airplanes by rifle and machine-gun fire during the advance. 

Flag of the 157

During the fighting between September 28 and October 6, 1918, its losses---which were mostly in the first three days---were 1,065 out of 2,384 actually engaged. The regiment was the apex of the attacking salient in this great battle. The percentage of both dead and wounded among the officers was rather greater than among the enlisted men. Realizing their great responsibilities, the wounded officers continued to lead their men until they dropped from exhaustion and lack of blood. The men were devoted to their, leaders and as a result stood up against-a most gruelling fire, bringing the regiment its well deserved fame.

-Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War- Emmett J. Scott, A.M., LL.D.
Secretary of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. (Eighteen years Private Secretary to the Late Booker T. Washington )

For its extraordinary service in the Champagne offensive, the entire regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.  In addition, three of the officers of the 371st were awarded the French Legion of Honor, 123 men won the Croix de Guerre and 26 earned the Distinguished Service Cross.  Corporal Freddie Stowers won the Medal of Honor.

"I grappled the Boche at the throat and made him yell for mercy. Our glorious comrades who died are well avenged. ”- General Goybet, commander of the 157th Division

General Mariano Francisco Julio Goybet

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reuben Burrell and the Champagne, Sep- Oct 1918 - I

Private, U.S. Army
Machine-Gun Company, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Division, A.E.F. 
Date of Action: September 30, 1918 
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Reuben Burrell, Private, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in the Champagne Sector, France, September 30, 1918. Private Burrell, although painfully wounded in the knee, refused to be evacuated, stating that if he went to the rear there would not be enough left for his group to function.
General Orders No. 46, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Conshohocken, PA

 His birthplace is listed as New Kent, Virginia.
This would be the same Reuben Burrell listed in the Census of 1910 as part of the household of Nathan Burrell in Cumberland District

Head Nathan W Burrell M 65  
Son         Rebedee Burrell M 23  
Daughter Ada Burrell F 21 
Daughter Josephine Burrell F 26  
Son         Ruben Burrell M 16  
Son         James H Burrell M 14  
Son         Clarence Burrell M 12

Some of the Burrells went to the Philadelphia area (Conshohocken is between Philadelphia and King of Prussia) around the time of first World War. 

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