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Revisiting the Bossier massacre of 1868 according to the Freedmen’s Bureau


February 23, 2015 by elhseven

Synopsis of Murders Committed in Parishes of Caddo and Bossier September and October 1868 according to the Freedmen’s Bureau investigation.

Information has been received that Henry Jones, Freedman, one of the alleged leaders n the intended riot in Bossier Parish on or about September 20th was taken from his home and shot that he was then placed upon a brush pile which was fired and was then left by his intended murderers who supposed him to be dead after their departure he succeeded in crawling off but not before he was badly burnt.

Also under date of September 20th that Freedmen in northern part of Parishes are constantly being taken from their homes by desperadoes and either being killed or forced to leave their homes, crops and everything they possess, that no laws of any kind are enforced, that on Sept. 29th at Shady Grove plantation in Bossier Parish about 8 miles from Shreveport a riot occurred caused by the lawless acts of desperadoes in which (2) two white men were shot and mortally wounded. Thirteen (13) freedmen and one (1) freedwoman killed and (2) two freedmen wounded. Latter advices in regard to the Bossier troubles state that some 8 or 10 freedmen more than the above reported were killed by the Arkansas Desperadoes and that after their departure the citizens of Bossier and the friends of the two murdered white men have been in constant pursuit of all freedmen implicated in the murder of the two whites and have killed all whom they have caught, from all the information that can be gleaned the number of freedmen killed, of which there are various statements, will reach (100) one hundred at least. It would be a matter of impossibility to ascertain the names of the killed or for an investigation to be made. Anyone that would attempt the task would share the fate of the rioting negroes.

At Shreveport on October 16th a colored man named Robert Gray was shot and killed by a white man named Charles Wasson in a store on Texas St. The body of a negro was also found floating in Red River the same day in a far advanced state of decomposition.


National Archives Microfilm Publication, M1027 Roll 34


“Miscellaneous Reports and Lists Relating to Murders and Outrages” Mar. 1867 – Nov. 1868

-August 2nd, 1865 – Lieut. W. B. Stickney, Agent at Shreveport reports the murder in cold blood in the Northern part of the Parish of Caddo of Mary, a colored woman, by John Johnson, the son of the proprietor of the plantation. No action taken by Civil or Military Authorities.

-December 24th, 1865 – Nelson Logan, freedman, complains that a party of about 30 of the Bossier Parish Militia commanded by N. Taylor, came to plantation of John Adams in Bossier Parish in search of arms, took Logan to the woods and hung him by the neck till he was senseless. Only remembered four of the gang (viz., N. Taylor, R. Matthews, G. McAlley & James Carter – all returned Confederate soldiers).

-December 25th, 1865 – A party of men under command of N. Taylor, Bossier Militia, came to plantation of Mrs. Dickson in Bossier Parish, knocked at door of house of Willis Dickson (freedman) employed on place, on his opening door struck him over the head with revolver and on his trying to escape. When he started to run, he was shot by some of the party, from the effects of which he died next day. Reported by Captain Harrigan, Agent at Shreveport. No action taken by Civil Authorities.

-May 27th, 1866 – Lt. Col. Hood, Shreveport, reports Henry Texas, freedman, killed by Asmar Hollingsworth. No action taken by Civil Authorities (see also Case files).

-September 14th, 1866 – Lieut. Col. Martin Hood, Shreveport, reports that a party of freedmen consisting of George Fields, his wife, five children and four other freedmen moving from “Reche” DeSoto Parish to Shreveport, while encamped for the night, were beaten, robbed of their effects consisting of a wagon, four mules and a horse, furniture &c. by Asmar Hollingsworth, Giles Gears, Hammond Scott, Frank Brantley and two other ruffians. After being robbed were beaten & driven along the road. Civil Authorities took no notice of affair (Hollingsworth shot freedmen Tawes, see agents report of May 12th, 1866).

-January 10th, 1867 – Lieut. Col. Martin Flood, Shreveport, reports he is informed that planter’s patrol on the line between their district and Panola County, Texas to prevent freedmen coming into Louisiana, that the freedmen are trying to escape from Texas as if from death, very few have been paid for last years work. Bateman and his gang rob, plunder & kill without molestation. Four freedmen have been reported shot within the last ten days and four times that number robbed. No security for freedmen. Civil Authorities either cannot or does not arrest offenders, if troops are sent it will be useless to send Infantry, requests Cavalry may be sent.



Synopsis of Murder &c. Committed in Parishes of Caddo and Bossier

List of Murders and Other Outrages reported to Headquarters Bu. R. F. and A. Lands, District of Louisiana during the month of November 1868.

When committed On whom committed By whom committed Nature of outrage Remarks
October 31st R. L. Faulknerc Armed white men Violent assault & battery For political reasons, no action reported.
October 31st One Freedman Armed white men Beating, lives threatened &c. For political reasons, no action reported.
October 31st Alfred Hazen Armed white men Killed For political reasons, no action reported.
Other reports state these 3 cases as committed Nov. 2 ’68 near Allen in Natchitoches Parish.
November 5th One Freedman Unknown Murdered About 2 miles from Shreveport
November 5th Teacher, Bureau School Not stated Life threatened Has left parish.
Reported Nov. 10th, That dead bodies continue to float down the river from Bossier Parish.
October 27th Charles Stokes ‘c,
Henry Williams ‘c,
Frank Dupree ‘c
Disguised white men Murdered Were alledged participators in Bossier Riot. Were in charge of civil authorities at the time of them being killed.
October 14th Solomon Thomas ‘c, Charles Wasson ‘w Life attempted At time of murder of Robert Gray ‘c
September 25th William Ewell ‘c Fry ‘w Shot and killed About 2 miles from Shreveport.
October 17th Solomon Thomas ‘c 5 white men Life attempted, house broken open. Has fled from parish.
October 10th Four freedmen. Calhoun, Johnson & about 10 others, ‘w Murdered Were taken from Shreveport in day to Reuben White’s Island and killed.
October 11th Henry Dixons ‘c Peyton Ward, Mr. Cox, Jacob Willard, John Arnold and 4 others. Murdered At Four Mile spring west of Shreveport.
October 12th Forceman ‘c
One freedgirl ‘c
Wright, ex Deputy Sheriff and others (w) Lives attempted. Forceman not killed for fear of recognition as they were identified.
October 14th One Freedman White men Supposed murdered In 4th ward near Shreveport, was tied & taken from home, not heard from since.
Reported November One Freedman Unknown Murdered “Body found 9th inst. about 7 miles from Shreveport, a paper attached to body warning “Death to any person who removes the body—“
Reported November One Freedman Unknown Murdered Found dead in woods near Lawyer Looney’s place in woods apparently shot and dragged off the road.
November 11th Statements in regard to the riot in Bossier Parish corroborated resulting in the murder of fully one hundred freedmen and one freedwoman on Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st. States one instance where 9 freedmen were taken to Parish of Red River and told to swim for their lives, that they plunged and as they rose to the surface were shot not one escaping again. 3 freedmen while engaged in making a coffin for one of their friends who was killed were brutally murdered.
Reported Nov. 20th Squire Jones ‘c Armed white men Life threatened. “Has been in woods since time of riot, has been hunted and pursued by armed white men intending to kill him.”
Reported Nov. 30th That the District Court is in session, that two white men have been found guilty of murder for the killing of two freedmen immediately after the election at about 2 miles from Shreveport. Sentence has not yet been passed upon them.



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