To “Serve this Long Term at Home”: Robert Buffum, Mental Illness, and the Prison Trap

CWGK Project Director Patrick Lewis writes a new piece in Nursing Clio about troubled Civil War veteran Robert Buffum.

[I]f some veterans can never escape the battlefield, Robert Buffum could never leave his cell. He spent more time behind bars of one sort or the other than he did as a free man after leaving the army. … The man continually reached out for help. And even when his society tried to do right by him, those treatments had the unintentional effect of moving him from one subconscious nightmare to another, lived one.

What does his experience in asylums and prisons mean for contemporary American veterans? Visit Nursing Clio for the full story and check out the CWGK reader and discussion packet, “Where I Now Stand” to bring the conversation to your classroom or community group.

“But I don’t Regret My Service to My Country”: The Trials of Lt. Robert Buffum

Robert Buffum served his government bravely and received his nation’s highest military honor. Then he reached out to it for help when the burden of that service became too much for him to handle. But he received none, and that was a tragedy for him. And his family. And that of his victim.

Read more about this compelling and relevant story of military service, alcohol and opioid addiction, and mental health on the KHS Blog.

A Caroline Chronicles Update: A Research Journey Through the Louisville Daily Journal

By Tony Curtis

Just when you think that you have gathered all of the available information on the Caroline Chronicles (read all the documents on Early Access) you stumble across a digitized collection of the Louisville Daily Journal on archive.org. I am particularly interested in how news of the Blanche Levi murder was revealed to the public and how the ensuing case was covered by a prominent Louisville newspaper. And what did a deep dive into this collection uncover about the Caroline Chronicles? I invite you—our readers—to join me on this research trip!

The Levi family appears at various points in the newspaper from August 1862 until September 1863. Willis Levi—a steamboat engineer—first appears listed as a survivor of the Steamer Acacia disaster on August 30, 1862:

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

And again with his brother Elias Levi in an auctioneer advertisement on January 30, 1863:

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

The Levi’s are being mentioned regularly with this advertisement for their auctioning services, and Elias is even covered anonymously through a printed Jefferson County Sheriff’s advertisement for the sale of John West(ly)—Caroline’s husband. We see the original in the Jefferson County Court books in previously discovered documents. Elias Levi bought John West(ly), aged 25, on April 27, 1863 for $245:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

But what about the death of Blanche Levi—daughter of Willis and Anne Levi? The first mention of the death of Blanche occurs in the April 22, 1863 obituaries, her death occurring one day earlier. The obituary is brief, giving her age, when the funeral will occur, and a brief bible verse:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

The newspaper then falls silent for ten days. Not one mention of Blanche, the Levis, or Caroline—until May 2, 1863, when the newspaper prints, “For two weeks past we have withheld giving publicity to one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city, in order to give the officers ample time to ferret out the guilty parties.” They announce “the wretch”—Caroline—was arrested and faced arraignment that same morning. Showing the inherent racial bias of society, the newspaper supposes that Caroline could not have committed without accomplice, stating, “It was believed that the girl had been instigated to this deed by some fiend in human shape, but diligent investigation has been made, and no accessory has as yet been discovered. There is something very mysterious about the crime, from the fact that no cause whatever had been given to the girl to prompt her to wreak her vengeance in this horrible crime. If she has an accomplice we sincerely trust that the wretch will be brought to justice.”

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

This article also references Caroline’s status, they define her as “a contraband negro, from Tennessee, in the employ of Mr. Willis Levy.” Much like the previously discovered documents, Caroline’s status is constantly in flux. On May 2, 1863, the “Police Proceedings” section—the Civil War-era police blotter—announced “Caroline, a slave of James Deman, charged with poisoning a child of Willis Levi. The slave being too sick to be brought into court, the witnesses were recognized to go before the grand jury of the Circuit Court.” This gives us more insight into Caroline’s status, but it is also contradictory information. What was Caroline’s status—self-emancipated woman, contraband, slave, or a free woman of color (f.w.c.)? I am afraid newspaper coverage does not clarify Caroline’s status and as we concluded in prior research, her status remains inconclusive. It is unknown as to what the newspaper means by “too sick”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

On May 6, 1863, the grand jury of the Jefferson Circuit Court returned an indictment against “Caroline (a slave)”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

The June 10, 1863 Louisville Daily Journal announces the “Commonwealth vs Caroline (a slave)” case for trial as a part of the June 1863 docket of the Jefferson Circuit Court—the trial to be held on Wednesday, June 17, 1863.

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Further mention of Caroline’s case does not appear until June 19, 1863, when a guilty verdict is announced: “The negro woman who poisoned the family of Mr. Levi, of this city, some months since, from the effects of which one of his children, a sweet little girl, died, was yesterday convicted of murder in the first degree in the court now in session here. She will doubtless be hung.”

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

The next mention of Caroline is not until August 14, 1863—almost two months later—announcing when she is to be hanged “at the corner of Eighteenth and Broadway streets” in Louisville. And again on September 8, 1863, following a month long respite.

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

On September 11, 1863, Caroline is granted a second respite “for a few days” by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette “on account of some newly discovered testimony which may have some bearing on her case.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

And the new evidence convinced Governor Bramlette in favor of executive clemency, as the final mention of Caroline occurs on September 25, 1863, under the headline “Pardoned.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

So what have we learned from the Louisville Daily Journal coverage? The Levis were active members in the Louisville business community. We have more concrete dates on the death of Blanche Levi and the chronology of Caroline’s case. We know that the newspaper purposefully withheld any coverage of the case to allow for time to investigate the facts of the case and to arrest any suspects. The newspaper coverage further complicates Caroline’s status for us—Caroline inhabited many different worlds depending on time and place. We also learn that there is no additional coverage of “one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city”—no editorials, no letters to the editor . . . Nothing. So once again, a set of research questions has led us to more research questions—some of the questions remain, others have been developed. The search continues and we will update you as new evidence is uncovered.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Rashomon, Bluegrass Style: The Shooting of Felix Beauchamp

by Matthew C. Hulbert

On July 4, 1857, gunfire interrupted an Independence Day celebration in Green County. A lead ball exploded from the barrel of a musket. A man named Robert Peace had pulled the trigger. The projectile slammed into the midsection of one Felix Beauchamp. As a result of his wound, Beauchamp died momentarily thereafter. Following a jury trial, Peace found himself convicted of voluntary manslaughter and took up involuntary residence at the state penitentiary. In 1860, petitioners asked Governor Beriah Magoffin to pardon Peace.

***

Despite twelve pages of handwritten testimony given under oath by nineteen eyewitnesses to the death of Felix Beauchamp—no, thine eyes do not deceive, nineteen eyewitnesses—the above items are the only objective facts of the case passed down to us in the historical record. We don’t know with certainty what provoked the altercation; how much alcohol had been consumed in the lead up; what the parties involved said to each other in the seconds preceding the shooting; exactly how many shots were fired, their sequence, or from what distances.

Here’s a brief summation of each witness statement:

According to William M. Skaggs, he and another man named John Warf, an out-of-towner as it were, argued over the results of a ten cent card game. Peace allegedly confronted Skaggs, admonished him for quarreling with a guest, and accused Skaggs of having a rock in his pocket—apparently hinting that he would use it to assault Warf. In Skaggs’s version of events, Beauchamp then attempted to defuse the situation; but in doing so, he only angered Peace more, who challenged Beauchamp to a fight. Beauchamp refused the brawl and backed away, pulling a pistol from his coat in the process. Skaggs testified that he heard the report of a pistol, then heard Beauchamp say “don’t shoot,” and then may or may not have actually seen Peace shoot Beauchamp with a rifle. Skaggs also claimed that after Beauchamp fired the pistol, some of the other men at the gathering unsuccessfully tried to restrain Peace from shooting back. Peace then shot and killed Beauchamp.

John Warf’s version of the story matched Skaggs’s up to the moment of confrontation between Skaggs and Peace. As Warf told it, Beauchamp came to break up the argument and “caught hold of Peace around the body with both hands,” at which point “Peace slung Beauchamp loose from him.” Warf heard Beauchamp say “don’t shoot” or “something like it”—but never heard Peace challenge Beauchamp to fisticuffs.

Dr. Terrill agreed with the first two statements (Skaggs and Warf) that an argument between Skaggs and Warf led to a confrontation between Peace and Skaggs, which led to the fighting of Peace and Beauchamp. But in Terrill’s testimony, he “saw Peace punch at Beauchamp with his gun before either shot” but “would not State that the gun touched Beauchamp.”

William J. Graham agreed with the account of Dr. Terrill up to Peace trying to punch Beauchamp. Then, Graham contended, Peace said to Beauchamp: “you have a pistol in your pocket.” At that moment, Beauchamp’s hand was in his pocket. Graham saw Wesley Thompson and Mitchell Warren try to stop Beauchamp from shooting.
Mitchell Warren agreed with most of Graham’s testimony, but “did not see Wesley Thompson attempt to take hold of the gun.”

Pascal Warren told much the same story; he did see Peace sling Beauchamp and added that Beauchamp, at some point in the argument before the shooting, said “Bob you are wrong.”

According to William P. Warren, Peace aimed his rifle at Beauchamp, who replied with “don’t shoot me.” That prompted Peace to say “put up your darn little pistol then.” Beauchamp then jumped to the side of Peace’s muzzle and fired his pistol at very close range.

Joseph Warren testified that “a lady came down to where Beauchamp was lying after he was shot, and asked Peace what he killed him for, and Peace said. Darn him, he came up to me, and drew his pistol right in my face at first and afterwards fired at me—and Beauchamp said, do you hear him telling a lie.”

James and Calvin Skaggs both said they saw Beauchamp draw a pistol following his initial argument with Peace, but did not narrate the murder itself. James Skaggs testified that Peace did not punch at Beauchamp before or after the shooting.

William Peace Sr. alleged that Beauchamp drew his pistol on Peace, which prompted Peace to aim his rifle at Beauchamp. When Mitchell Warren tried to stop Peace, Beauchamp took the opportunity to fire first but missed. “Peace then fired immediately, the shots in quick succession, in about such quick succession, as a man fireing a double shot gun.”

Jacob Peace told a similar—if vaguer—story, but concluded that “this was all I saw, or heard, there were many others much closer than I was, and had a much better opportunity of seeing and hearing than I did—“

Burks Davis also described the argument and shooting in similar detail—but rather than Beauchamp being slung or Mitchell Warren being pushed away, it was Wesley Elkins that Peace “threw from him.”
John Warren’s testimony mirrored that of William P. Warren—but notes that “other things were said during the fracas, but witness [John Warren] don’t remember them.”
Renditions given by Josiah and Otawa Skaggs each essentially matched that of William Peace Sr.

William Peace Jr. and Joseph Peace both testified that Beauchamp drew his pistol first after Robert Peace said, “let me alone, I am not pestering you” to Beauchamp.

James Akin did not see the fight, but heard it from the stable. He was the only witness to state that “he had heard two other shots that evening, an hour or two before, but they were not in as quick succession.”

So what new can we glean from all of this eyewitness testimony? Unfortunately, the answer is just the realization that we know even less about what happened now than before.

Beauchamp may or may not have grabbed Peace before the shooting, and Peace may or may not have slung Beauchamp to the ground. Beauchamp may have approached Peace in a friendly manner or he may have grabbed Peace from behind with a revolver already in his hand. Peace may have challenged Beauchamp to a fight or he may or may not have simply attacked Beauchamp before any of the shooting started. Beauchamp may or may not have tried to shoot Peace while other men were intervening on his behalf. Each man may have told the other not to shoot. Peace might have told Beauchamp to raise his “darn little pistol” or alternatively said “let me alone, I am not pestering you.” Peace may have been holding his rifle in three or four different ways; and, it may have been Mitchell Warren or Wesley Thompson or both or neither that tried to wrestle guns away from Beauchamp and Peace at different times. The slug fired from Peace’s rifle may have killed Beauchamp on the spot—or Beauchamp may have lived long enough to tell an unnamed female witness that Peace was lying about the incident. Furthermore, Peace did and did not attempt to strike Beauchamp’s corpse with the rifle post-shooting, depending on which accounts we believe.

It probably shouldn’t surprise us that so many different men recounted an incident that probably all happened within the span of two or three minutes so variously—especially with alcohol undoubtedly involved. After all, this isn’t an unprecedented phenomenon when numerous people witness the same traumatic event. Despite him being on a stage directly in front of them, an entire audience of Washington theatergoers had trouble deciding what exactly John Wilkes Booth screamed after gunning down Abraham Lincoln. And throngs of witnesses failed to agree on how many shots were fired during the Kennedy assassination—as well as whether a second shooter had been perched on the now-notorious grassy knoll. Even in large gatherings where heinous crimes aren’t committed, such as the Gettysburg Address, witnesses frequently walk away having heard different things.

At first glance, what does seem surprising about this case is that in a society so prone to let men who killed other men with firearms walk on claims of “he fired first,” temporary insanity, alcoholism, or jealousy, a jury decided to ignore Robert Peace’s self-defense argument when one of the very few—if not the only—point agreed upon by all of the eye witnesses was that Felix Beauchamp drew and shot first. Even though some of the witnesses portray Peace in worse light than others, collectively, the testimony is inconclusive at best and seems hardly solid enough to justify a conviction. So how did Robert Peace end up in prison?

The shortest explanation is that Peace fell victim to the logistics of local court in the nineteenth century. The slightly longer one is that we should always remember the historical record (read: the statements of all nineteen witnesses) appears very differently—that is, complete and linear—to contemporary scholars than it did to a jury in real-time. And the much longer answer is that while many of the aforementioned witnesses apparently gave sworn testimony on paper in the form of affidavits, they “failed to obey the summons of the court” and did not appear in person. The judge overseeing the trial refused Peace a continuance that would’ve given these witnesses additional time to show up. Moreover, Peace’s lead attorney, Aaron Harding, “was suddenly called away by the extreme sickness of his wife and the death of a child.” In other words, Robert Peace learned the hard way that all the eye witnesses in the world make for a fantastic document in the CWG-K database, but are worthless if they don’t come to court.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Between the Rock and the Hard Place: Sources on Guerrilla Violence in CWG-K

Click here to view this Subject Guide in the new Civil War Governors interface.


On June 14, 1864, John T. Smith penned a letter to Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette. According to Smith, the County Court of Logan County had selected him to serve as a special messenger. His task: hashing out a solution for Logan County’s guerrilla infestation. “Our object,” Smith wrote, “is to fall upon some plan so as to have a company to act against Guerillas … the condition of most of us is such that we can not be spared long at a time from our families and therefore can not with propriety volunteer regularly and devote our whole time to the Service but we can raise a sufficient number to keep off guerillas and robbers by taking turn about with each others.”

Stationing troops in the area—an oft-used solution for localized outbreaks of irregular violence in Kentucky—wouldn’t do in this case; outside soldiers, the Logan County contingent argued, “are unacquainted with the country and its citizens and can do but little in catching guerillas who are well acquainted with both people and country.” Put another way, guerrillas had home field advantage against regular troops and it would take an insider to catch an insider. Smith and his comrades were willing to use their own intimate knowledge of Logan County to hunt pro-Confederate bushwhackers (on a part-time basis), so long as Governor Bramlette would provide them with supplies, firearms, and the state’s permission to wield them with lethal force.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the postscript of Smith’s letter. It reads as follows:

P.S. We are troubled by all sorts of Guerillas. Since writing the above, I learn that a squad of federal guerillas or negro Soldiers from Clarksville Tenn. came into the neighborhood of Voleny last night (the place visited by rebel guerillas two nights before) and stripped the citizens of their negroes and horses. It is a perfect outrage upon our country. The Federal Soldiers at Clarksville are so busy recruiting negroes that they pay no more attention to guerillas and robbers than if they belonged to the same class of individuals. If we are permitted to raise our company give us instruction what is to be done with negro guerillas. I think we can raise from 150 to 200 men a portion of whom can always be in motion and when necessary all can act.

Aside from Smith’s views on black enlistment, this addendum reveals the extent to which Logan County residents were caught between a gray rock and a blue hard place: pro-Confederate guerrillas would raid a neighborhood and take what food and horseflesh they needed to operate in the bush. Then a group of Unionist guerrillas—sometimes even black Unionist guerrillas—would come through the same neighborhood, accusing the residents of having willingly supplied the Confederates. This cycle could repeat itself ad infinitum (and often in the reverse order), with local citizens trapped in the middle. And it was anything but limited to Logan County — this was a state-wide problem.

So if you’re interested in finding out how Governor Bramlette, private citizens like John Smith, and/or Kentucky’s military forces waged war against irregular combatants, check out this subject guide on Guerrilla Warfare — but be advised that it only represents the tip of the iceberg.

***

SUBJECT GUIDE: Guerrilla Warfare

KYR-0001-001-0008Thomas E. Bramlette, Proclamation by the Governor, Jan. 4, 1864

It is in the power of persons whose sympathies are with the rebellion to prevent guerrilla raids, almost invariably, by furnishing to Military Officers of the United States or State of Kentucky, the information which experience has proved them to be, as a general thing, possessed of.

If all would unite, as is their duty, in putting down guerrillas, we should soon cease to be troubled with their raids. A neglect to afford all assistance and information which may aid in defeating the designs of marauding parties, can but be construed as a culpable and active assistance to our enemies.

I, therefore, request that the various Military Commandants in the State of Kentucky will, in every instance where a loyal citizen is taken off by bands of guerrillas, immediately arrest at least five of the most prominent and active rebel sympathizers in the vicinity of such outrage for every loyal man taken by guerrillas. These sympathizers should be held as hostages for the safe and speedy return of the loyal citizens. Where there are disloyal relatives of guerrillas, they should be the chief sufferers. Let them learn that if they refuse to exert themselves actively for the assistance and protection of the loyal, they must expect to reap the just fruits of their complicity with the enemies of our State and people.

KYR-0001-002-0018Berry S. Young et al. to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 16, 1864

The Undersigned citizens of Crittenden having been informed that by Legislative enactment and by the authority vested in you as Governor of said State that forces are to be Raised for the defense of the state against Guerrilla invasion if such be the fact We would Recommend to your favorable Consideration Lieut F S Loyd of Co H 20th Ky Regt as Col and J N Hughey 1st Sergt Co E 48th Ills Regt ^for Lt Col^ both Recruited from this (Crittenden) County both of them accomplished Gentlemen and Soldiers they Refer you to Col Edward of your Staff By promoting those Young Gentlemen you will greatly oblige the Undersigned and Reward merit gained by gallant service in their countrys cause

Berry S Young clk c c c

James M Steele

W C Carnahan

S L. R. Wilson

Robt F Haynes County Atty,,

J H Walker Clerk

Crittenden Circuit Court

D N Stinson Post Master at Marion Crittenden Co Ky

John N Woods

Alfred Armstrong

James W Wilson —

  1. E. Black

J C Henson

  1. L. Leigh

S U Elder

KYR-0001-004-0996George Shirley and E. Wilty, Affidavit, Jun. 13, 1864

State that John Branstetter an infirm old man of near 70- years has lived many years in this county (formerly Barren County) a respected & good citizen and up to the commencement of this Rebellion a Sober & discreet man- that the Guerrilas Robbed him of a great deal of his property. From the troubles consequent there to & the additional fact we suppose, that his two sons Joined an independent company called the “Metcalfe Tigers” for the purpose of hunting down guerrillas & were exposed to many dangers the Old man took to drink- While in one of his drinking sprees he was induced by some bad men to go into the woods & play a game of cards. The game was played on his land & money was bet & won as appears by the evidence Testimony of a credible witness- who chanced to come upon them & saw the game He has been indicted therefore tried & fined $200- which is the least the law provides in such cases This old man is often delirious & wild wherein these drinking sprees & has to be guarded sometimes We his neighbors & friends are candid in representing that we think this is one of the few cases which demand the interposition of the Governor and ask that his fine be remitted.

KYR-0001-004-1941Z. Wheats to Thomas E. Bramlette, Jun. 19, 1865

I called at your office to-day & left for your consideration, the Petition of Capt. Edwin Terrell of the Independent Ky Scouts. I hope you will grant the prayer of his petition. He is one of the bravest men I ever saw, & has done more to rid Kentucky of Guerrillas than any man I have heard of. The fact is, his little band have been more effective in this service, than some Brigades of Cavalry. His head quarters were in Shelbyville & they gave our town & county protection which we could not have obtained from any other source.

KYR-0001-004-1380Hill and Knott to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 16, 1864

Sir: As you are doubtless aware this portion of our State has long been infested by a gang of Guerrillas whose depredations have been committed almost with impunity, in Spite of the utmost vigilence of the Military, whose efforts to capture or destroy them, they have constantly managed to elude. So frequent and successful have been their forays—characterized by murder robbery and plunder—that their presence has become a cause of extreme terror to the citizens of whatever portion of our community they may mark as their prey. Some three weeks ago they made a raid through a portion of this County murdering some, robbing others, and maltreating in some manner, nearly all with whom they met.

KYR-0002-225-0083M. E. Poynter to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 15, 1865

I trouble you with a line in regard to the recruiting officer for the State Service at this place who professes to have authority— from you to raise a company &c. I refer to W. W. Harper— and as a citizen and a Union man in behalf of the cause—the community, your own good name and of common decency I protest against such an appointment—As badly as this service demands men and as much as we have suffered from guerrillas we as a community had rather Quantrell, would pay an occasional visit than be annoyed by this man in “brief authority”— all the time.

KYR-0001-003-0086E. H. Hobson to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 5, 1864

The 37th Ky Mounted Inft has greatly improved, Since Col C J Hann took command this Regt has recd its Horse equipments and enfield rifles but to make them more efficient would most respectfully Suggest that you arm two or four compns of the regt with Ballard Carbines or muskatoons I am anxious to have the Regt mounted and send them to the Cumberland to protect the Border Counties. the notorious Gurilla Capt Richardson and nine of his men will arrive here to day as Prisoners, they Justly merit and I hope will be punished with death give Col Hansons wishes your favourable consideration.

KYR-0002-022-0062W. M. Allen to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 23, 1864

The last raid resulted in the death of two of our best citizens, and the killing of three of the band, and the wounding of three others of them. It was at first supposed that two of them killed at Jeffersontown were Federal soldiers, taken prisoners by the gurillas but we are all satisfied that they were deserters & gurillas. Our people are now pretty thoroughly aroused, and are anxious to have them pursued and exterminated. When pursued, these cut throats flee to the Salt River hills and scatter about among their friends and cant be found. We know who many of their aiders and abettors are but have no power to punish. The Military Authorities give us but little protection. We want something of our own that will be more efficient. It is proposed by some to raise 100 men in our county at our own expense!

KYR-0002-225-0079John F. Lay to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 11, 1865

I have the Honor to make aplication to you for authority to recruit a Company of State troops to Serve in the State of Ky for the period of twelve months I have Served over three years in the Fedral army and know Cannot remain at Home on account of Gurillas if you will favor me with authority please Send me Some Blank Enlistment papers

KYR-0002-225-0037W. H. H. Faris to Thomas E. Bramlette, Apr. 24, 1864

I have presumed to address your excellency on a matter of some importance. It is the method we should adopt as the most proper for the defence of our state. The two already provided, the state troops and militia, have not proved sufficiently available. It is as much as the state troops can do, to guard the frontier, so, as to prevent the greater inroads of bodies of five hundred men. And sometimes a thousand. While parties of from thirty to forty can slip in between the posts that establishes the military chain along the southern border, effect every species of robbery, and commit any depredations they wish, and pass out again with perfect impunity. This predatory warfare is to be made on Kentucky during the three seasons when the woods are thicker, so they (the guerrillas) can practice it with greater security. This mode of warfare is characterized by the guerilla chieftains as the scouting systems. All this the militia are intended to prevent, but in which they will most signally fail; as they have done as they have done already.
Because there is ^no^ method, no arrangement no anything about them that is calculated to intercept, or overtake one of those flying bands of guerillas that pass through one county, and into another (committing all the mischief they wish) before the one has been, or the other is aware of its approach.

KYR-0001-019-0156Bennett Spearger to D. E. Downing, Aug. 14, 1862

The guerrilla warfare is working its ruin as a cause produces its effect a few yesterday about 2. oclock. P.M. there were 2 Union Men Killed on the Road leading from my house to Thompson Arterberry’s Hamilton and a bout 30 other men came into Tompkinsville yesterday morning a bout 8. oclk a.m. and had Nathaniel Austin and ^a^ young Hefflin Prisenors they shot Austin through the head and lefthis Brains was scatered in the road and they shot Heflin in several places, you are acquaintd ^with^ Austin and Heflin Both neither of them you Know never belong to any army the man who stealthily takes deliborate aim at the husband and Father of a helpless family ^and^ because he is freind to his Country, sends the mesenger of death to drink his life blood and compells the heart stricken widow and helpless Orphans to seek protection and support at the hands of a cold unfeeling world. Could the hands of a cold grave’s dread monster enter claim to such a fiend in any form too horrid to mete out to them there just deserts

SOURCE: John T. Smith to Thomas E. Bramlette, 14 June 1864, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs (KDMA).

The Caroline Chronicles: Curriculum Development Update

On Friday, April 8, instructors and students from the History Club at Hopkinsville Community College visited the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. As part of their experience on the KHS campus, club members became the first group to play out the classroom simulation of The Caroline Chronicles. And we’re thrilled to report that they—and the simulation itself—outperformed even our wildest expectations.

The simulation involves two sides—a defense counsel and a prosecution team—arguing for and against Caroline’s pardon using evidence drawn directly from the primary, secondary, and legal documents used to pen the blog series. The decision-makers in the case are a panel of Pardon Commissioners, who listen to verbal arguments from both the prosecution and the defense, are allowed to question the lead counsels of each side, and then issue a recommendation to the governor. (To ensure fair proceedings, all participants were given access to all of the documents prior to the simulation and then divided into roles randomly before the trial began.) After deliberating privately, Pardon Commissioners must report their recommendation to the rest of the group and offer three justifications based only on the arguments and evidence presented by counsels.

The prosecution at work.

With Jack McCoy-like gusto, the prosecution offered its arguments first, making a strong case for upholding Caroline’s conviction (listed below):

  1. Caroline believed she should have become a free citizen after arriving in Louisville as contraband with Buell’s army. Her service in the Willis Levy house constituted re-enslavement and gave her a strong motive to lash out at her new master’s family.
  1. On a personal level, Willis and Anne Levy had been abusive of Caroline, treating her cruelly, scolding her frequently, and even threatening physical punishment. Aside from her enslavement, this hostility also gave Caroline ample motive to punish Willis and Anne by hurting their only child.
  1. Not only did Caroline have the means to commit the crime—she had easy access to the poison that killed Blanch Levy—she was also seen smiling at the toddler’s corpse on more than one occasion and asked several times when the corpse would be buried. According to the prosecution, this indicated that Caroline was happy to see Blanch dead but also wanted the evidence of her crime buried before an autopsy could expose her guilt.

Following the prosecution’s oral arguments, the Pardon Commissioners threw a potential curve ball; they asked if it was possible that Anne Levy had actually tried to poison her daughter and herself as part of a murder-suicide plot (potentially rooted in lingering post-partum depression). The prosecution quickly replied that no evidence whatsoever existed to support such a conclusion.

The defense organizing its case.

Caroline’s defense counsel then took the floor and gave three core arguments in favor of reasonable doubt existing:

  1. Just as much of the evidence collected points to Willis Levy having accidentally poisoned Blanch as it does Caroline as the killer—and while this doesn’t totally negate any possibility of Caroline’s guilt, it does raise a reasonable doubt.
  1. Next the defense focused on the victim. Blanch Levy was a toddler; toddlers put things—everything—in their mouths. It’s very possible that Caroline was watching Blanch in the yard and that Blanch picked up poison put out by Willis Levy, and ingested the poison accidentally. In other words, the defense added a layer of complexity to the accidental death scenario in which Caroline was not criminally at fault.
  1. Lastly, the defense pointed to the consistency of Caroline’s story in the case record. Throughout the entire process, even following her conviction, Caroline never changed her narrative of Blanch Levy’s death—and in keeping with her purported affection for the child, the defense underscored that Caroline’s smiling at the corpse and her questions about the autopsy could have just as easily stemmed from genuine concern and her traditional role as a female slave on the plantation (tasked with the “work of death”).

The Pardon Commissioners did not have any questions for the defense and subsequently left the courtroom to confer in private chambers.

The panel of Pardon Commissioners listening to verbal arguments.

The panel of Pardon Commissioners returned to the courtroom and recommended that Caroline be issued a full pardon by the governor. Their reasoning included that (1) Willis Levy had a track record of carelessly using poison in the general vicinity in which Blanch was killed; (2) the prosecution had failed to properly establish a motive for Caroline to kill Blanch; and, (3) the Pardon Commissioners believed that Caroline did have genuine affection for Blanch and, as a result, that she would have lashed out at Willis and Anne Levy to protest her treatment while not harming the child.

The Pardon Commissioners’ recommendation aligned with the historical results of Caroline’s case; in turn, she was awarded a full pardon. So now the question is: how do you think your class would decide?

If you’re interested in finding out, drop us a line about adopting The Caroline Chronicles curriculum in your classroom. Included are primary and secondary reading assignments, low and high stakes writing assignments with instructor guidelines, and the script for the capstone in-class trial simulation.

To Own Life and Death: The Boundaries of Race and Mastery

By Matthew C. Hulbert

Early one evening in May 1859, an inebriated Jesse Williams handed one of his slaves—a young man named Wesley—a loaded musket. Williams commanded Wesley to take the weapon, under cover of darkness, and with it to assassinate Edmund Stevens. In other words, Williams instructed his African American slave to take a weapon he wasn’t legally allowed to possess and gun down a white neighbor in cold blood. Williams and Stevens had apparently been feuding for years. Now, sufficiently fortified by liquor and desperation, Jesse aimed to end their dispute once and for all.

This scenario constituted the ultimate “lose-lose” for a slave like Wesley. On one hand, if he obeyed Williams, it would mean committing murder and virtually guaranteeing himself a date with the hangman. On the other, if Wesley refused to heed his obviously deranged master’s word, it would mean, at the very least, a severe beating—and given Williams’s current states of mind and intoxication, possibly much, much worse. So with no good options laid before him, Wesley took the gun and half-heartedly trudged off to the Stevens farm.

Later that same night, Wesley returned home with the gun bearing its original load. Williams, still quite drunk and now irate, demanded an explanation; when he told a slave to do something, he expected results. Murder was no exception. But according to Wesley, it wasn’t his fault. He’d been thwarted by Stevens’s dog—the animal barked whenever Wesley got too close, so it had been impossible to sneak into range. Undeterred, Williams sent his would-be assassin back into the night, this time with a small cache of poison to silence the dog. Minus the barking, Wesley could presumably finish off Stevens. And if Wesley failed again, Williams promised “to cut his back all to pieces.”

Wesley did fail again. And as court documents later revealed, he’d failed many times before: the dog was just one item from a long list of excuses concocted to avoid murdering Stevens. Wesley harbored no animus against Stevens and had even less interest in committing murder on Williams’s behalf. In fact, on more than one occasion, Wesley never even left the Williams farm; he simply hid in the nearby woods and reported back to his master in the morning, as if he’d gone out after Stevens but a clear shot had never materialized.

Even when sober, Williams wasn’t particularly bright. (And as witnesses later told it, he wasn’t sober all that often.) But eventually even he caught on to Wesley’s stalling. So one day, as he prepared to “hunt” Stevens alone, Wesley must have been disheartened to learn that Williams would be tagging along as field supervisor. Together, the pair snuck within range of Stevens and, with an insistent Williams looking over his shoulder, Wesley pulled the trigger. The projectile found its mark. Edmund Stevens fell dead in his tracks.

wesley indictmentGiven his ongoing strife with Stevens, Williams was the prime suspect, but he had a built in scapegoat: he hadn’t technically killed Stevens. Rather, it was his slave, Wesley, who’d pulled the trigger and should be legally held responsible for the deed. Not surprisingly, Williams banked on the fact that investigators would inherently take the word of a white slaveowner over that of a slave, let alone one accused of backshooting a white man. Even less surprising, Williams neglected to mention that he’d commanded Wesley to commit the crime on numerous occasions. Not long after the shooting, Williams died—almost certainly the result of his drinking. So Wesley was forced to stand trial alone, and a jury convicted him of Stevens’s murder.

This is the point in Wesley’s story where things get a little complicated. Williams, as a white, male slaveholder, had literally owned Wesley. As his owner’s human property, Wesley was technically bound to follow orders or suffer terrible—even mortal—consequences. Unity between white slaveholders and white non-slaveholders played a major role in imbuing the institution of slavery with this absolute, race-based authority. In other words, Williams, Stevens, and even the men investigating the crime were all supposed to be complicit in maintaining the color line that justified mastery over commoditized (black) human beings. But Williams broke from that protocol when he exercised the absolute authority granted him by the institution of slavery and wielded it against a member of the very community vital to maintaining the institution in the first place. More simply put, Williams overextended his ownership of the life and death of a black slave by also making a claim on the life and death of a free white man.

wesley forced

“That he done it under the eye of his master and under the fear that he would be killed himself or great Bodily harm would be done him, if he failed or refused to obey the command of his master.”

Following his conviction, Wesley was condemned to death. A petition offered on his behalf to Governor Beriah Magoffin argued that Wesley should be spared the gallows because Williams had both owned him and ordered him to assassinate Stevens. Even Williams’s supporters, few as they might have been, couldn’t discount the fact that two, distinct sets of footprints were found at the scene of the crime. Interestingly, though, the petitioners did not seek a full pardon for Wesley—merely that he might escape execution to spend the rest of his life in prison. The request, which Magoffin granted, illustrates how irrevocably interwoven the legal system of Kentucky had become with ideas of race, slavery, and social power. The petitioners (and Magoffin, for that matter), likely still believed that, as a rule, Wesley was duty bound to do as his master commanded. At the same time, though, they were compelled to prevent future instances of white masters using black slaves to assault other white Kentuckians. Not to close this loophole was akin to allowing the color line on which so much of slavery’s power depended to erode from within.

This means that Magoffin had to concede that what Wesley was ordered to do was wrong. By implying that the command had been wrong, the implication was also made that Wesley should have known better, morally speaking, than to obey it—a line of thought that unavoidably called into question Williams’s absolute mastery over his slave property. But even as Magoffin seemed to understand that Wesley—again, as a rule—had no choice but to obey Williams and that Williams’s order had been morally wrong, the governor, who himself owned slaves, couldn’t take that reasoning to its logical conclusion: complete exoneration for Wesley. I.e., no prison time.

wesley commutedWhy not? Because to have consented to the ability of a slave like Wesley to only obey orders he found morally acceptable wouldn’t just have conceded a level of humanity among chattel that many slaveholders found discomforting, it would have utterly undermined a vital defense of the institution of slavery itself. (That is, the idea that slavery was a positive good for African Americans, a people otherwise incapable of thinking for themselves.) And to undermine the institution of slavery would have ultimately threatened the chief enforcement mechanism of a racial hierarchy that elevated white over black in matters social, political, economic, and cultural. With this in mind, to some extent, Wesley didn’t actually go to prison because he was a slave—Wesley went to prison to the preserve the very means of his enslavement.

 

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: W. H. Calvert et al. to Beriah Magoffin, 16 July 1861, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (hereafter KDLA); Edward P. Campbell et al. to Beriah Magoffin, 16 June 1861, KDLA; Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Wesley (a slave), Judgment, 15 June 1861, KDLA.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART VI

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

Part VI – “Poison, Infanticide, and Female Slave Resistance”

Matthew C. Hulbert

We’ve left it to you to determine—based on what documentation survives—whether or not Caroline’s case warranted a pardon from Governor Thomas E. Bramlette. (In case you missed, she did receive one. Bramlette’s decision not only stayed her execution, but exonerated her completely.) This week, we’ll look more closely at the death of Blanch Levi itself, both victim and manner, to understand where it fit within an older American tradition of gendered assumptions about female slaves and resistance. Doing so will help explain some of the cultural baggage that white prosecutors, jurors, and observers brought with them into an urban, Border South courtroom in 1862–1863.

***

Despite the chronic fear of nineteenth century slaveholders that the morrow’s sunrise might bring with it a rebellion, large-scale slave uprisings didn’t happen often in the antebellum South. Logistically speaking, they were just too hard to pull off. And slaves—especially moving into the 1840s and 1850s—generally knew it.

After weeks or even months of planning, it took just one doubting, would-be rebel—looking to safeguard his or her own individual future by sabotaging those of the group—to inform and bring the conspiracy to a screeching halt. Even when slaves managed to kill their white owners or overseers and escape from immediate bondage, a sustained self-liberation movement (a la Haiti) simply wasn’t a viable option in the United States. Rebellious slaves needed somewhere permanent (and safe) to go. More important still, they had to reach that place, presumably on foot, poorly provisioned, and without the benefit of a well-traveled guide, before being hunted down by well-mounted, well-armed, and ill-intentioned white posses. The Stono Rebellion (South Carolina, 1739) and Nat Turner’s Revolt (Virginia, 1831) are illustrative of this fundamental difficulty. In both instances, insurgents initially managed to spill much blood, but in the end, were corralled and executed en masse.

Of course, this isn’t to say that slaves did not oppose their captivity with violence, only that such violence more frequently took the form of individual, localized acts of resistance. And, if we still subscribe the tenets of “resistance and accommodation” blueprinted by the late Eugene Genovese (and I think we do for the most part, regardless of how fashionable or not it might be to admit it), these acts of resistance were carried out with the basic understanding that they would not ultimately result in freedom. Instead, they would make life in the immediate more bearable. For enslaved women tasked with domestic responsibilities (in other words, for female house slaves as opposed to female field slaves) the nature of their work—as cooks, wet nurses, and nannies—put them in immediate proximity to the food consumed by their white masters and to the offspring of their white masters. As it related to resistance, this literal dual-proximity to matters of white subsistence and reproduction spawned a double-edged arrangement for enslaved women. Poisoning and infanticide gave some women the ability to resist by hitting white masters where it hurt most. On the other side of the coin, however, this relatively untapped potential also affixed to slave women a much broader stigma, or better still, an inherent “tradition of suspicion,” that had a very real ability to influence—or even poison, if you’ll pardon the pun—white perceptions of an individual like Caroline at trial.

For a detailed example of a slaveholder’s poison-related paranoia, we have to look no further than the prolific diarist Mary Chesnut, who recounted the gruesome story of a Dr. Keitt—brother to Lawrence Massillon Keitt, of Brooks-Sumner infamy.

Kate told a wonderful tale which I must set down. Laurence M. Keitt’s brother—a Dr. K that I knew full well was poisoned by his negroes—he was very indulgent. Spoiled them utterly—but was passionate & impulsive. Mr. Taylor, who married an acquaintance of ours, Miss Baker of Sumter, said to him, “Keitt, these negroes are poisoning you. Do not let them know you suspect them unless you take them up instantly, but I advise you to go away at once, say to say–& see if this extraordinary disease will not stop.” He promised. Just after Mr. Taylor left the house a woman brought him a cup of coffee & as he stirred it—it was so evident some white powder was at the bottom of the cup—that in a passion he dashed the cup in her face without drinking it. That night his throat was cut. Afterwards, by their confession it [was] provided they had been giving him calomel for months every morning in his coffee. Thre[e] were hung—but two suspected men escaped because a bother of his believed them honest and guiltless.

Other instances aren’t hard to find. According to historian Deborah Gray White, “as early as 1755 a Charleston slave woman was burned at the stake for poisoning her master.” In 1850, a family of Missourians headed by Wade Moseby was poisoned when a female slave laced their coffee with arsenic. And, two female slaves kept at Fort Riley were accused of poisoning an ordnance sergeant—though interrogation (that bordered on torture) later convinced authorities of the duo’s innocence. Despite their eventual exoneration, the idea was fixed: when unknown or unfamiliar ailments suddenly struck white slave-owners, enslaved cooks would be suspected from the outset.

Cases of infanticide are also fairly common, though the discussion is complicated by the fact that the best-known of them typically involved female slaves killing their own children as a way to not only rob white owners of future labor, but also to spare the children themselves a lifetime of emotional trauma, physical abuse, and involuntary servitude. The plot of Toni Morrison’s Beloved immediately comes to mind. The book is based on the real-life plight of Margaret Garner, a Kentucky slave who fled across the Ohio River in 1856 with several small children in tow. Garner was eventually tracked down by marshals and slave-catchers, but managed to kill one of her youngest daughters with a butcher’s knife before being subdued.

Even so, the record does contain numerous instances of female slaves killing or being accused of killing their adolescent charges. In 1769, White notes that “a special issue of the South Carolina Gazette carried the story of a slave woman who had poisoned her master’s infant daughter.” In 1848, a female slave cook belonging to Joseph Parks was “sent away at once” after being accused of intentionally poisoning a white child. In Tales from the Haunted South, Tiya Miles unpacks the story of Chloe, a female slave at the famed Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. According to popular lore, Chloe baked oleander into a birthday cake—only meaning to make her master’s children sick—but used too much of the poison and killed multiple members of the family.

Chloe’s story is interesting because it fuses fears of poisoning and of infanticide into a single narrative—the worst case or “double-whammy” scenario for white slaveholders who had created a counter-intuitive system in which their own survival and that of their children frequently depended on the obedience of slaves who despised them. Further still, as Miles eventually sleuths, Chloe was a complete fabrication; an apocryphal ghost created by site owners for the purpose of drumming up commercial notoriety and attracting tourism. (The book, not coincidentally, analyzes the rise of ghost tourism in the South.) For our purposes, however, Chloe’s ahistorical roots are particularly enlightening because they allow us to read backward into the extent to which the aforementioned stigma or “tradition of suspicion” was entrenched in southern culture prior to emancipation: easily deep enough to have been passed down into the present without a hint of doubt from virtually anyone, save for Miles.

None of this is to say that Caroline did not intentionally poison Blanche Levi—nor is it to say that Caroline did not also attempt to poison Anne Levi and simply failed. Murder isn’t an exact science, after all. Unfortunately, given the [lack of] surviving documentation and real evidence, we will probably never know what actually happened on the front lawn of Willis Levi’s home that September morning. But we should at least now have a better understanding of what cultural baggage strode into that Louisville courtroom with Caroline, a female slave charged with infanticide by way of poison. Guilty or not, to say the proverbial deck was stacked against her would constitute a gross understatement.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Special thanks to Kristen Epps, Joshua Rothman, and Carole Emberton for suggesting examples of poisoning/infanticide. Woodward & Muhlenberg, The Privary Mary Chesnut, 181-182; Miles, Tales from the Haunted South; White, Ain’t I a Woman?, 79; W. H. Mackey to George, March 26, 1902, in Slaves and Slavery Collection, KHS; Christopher, “Captain Joseph Parks,” 16; “Daring Attempt to Murder,” Liberty Weekly Tribune, April 5, 1850; “Family Poisoned,” Liberty Weekly Tribune, May 3, 1850.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART IV

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

“Part IV – The Decision”

By Matthew C. Hulbert

Over the past three weeks, we’ve recounted the tangled saga of Caroline Dennant, a Tennessee slave brought to Louisville, Kentucky, by Union General Don Carlos Buell’s army as contraband of war. Charged in the death of an infant left in her care, Caroline was eventually convicted of infanticide and sentenced to death by hanging. In addition to a more detailed version of this narrative (Part I, found here), the fundamental arguments for executive clemency and in favor of a pardon for Caroline can be found here (Part III) and here, (Part II).

We also promised to reveal whether or not Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, himself a slave-owner and virulent white supremacist, granted Caroline’s pardon based on the multiple petitions authored on her behalf. The answer is found in an entry to Bramlette’s Executive Journal dated September 24, 1863. Following the remissions of a gambling fine against J. N. Cornell ($200), damages levied against J. M. Harper ($653.94), and an appointment as Notary Public for F. G. Robbins of Jefferson County, this item appeared:

“He Pardoned Caroline (a Slave) sentenced to be hung by the Jefferson Cir Court for Murder.”

caroline_pardonCaroline’s pardon from Bramlette not only released her from impending execution — it overruled the jury’s original guilty verdict and exonerated her of any and all charges. Problematically, at precisely moment Caroline appears to overcome a legal system rigged against both African Americans and women — and maybe doubly so against African American women — she seems to disappear from the historical record. We’re working right now to track her down.

So was Caroline actually innocent? In reality, we don’t — and probably never will — know the answer to that question. But luckily for Bramlette, he wasn’t tasked with determining ultimate innocence or guilty; rather, the governor only had to determine if reasonable doubt existed, in which case the execution could not legally be carried out. Considering the circumstantial nature of the case, even in spite of admittedly damning evidence, most of the CWG-K thinks Bramlette made the right call.

This leaves one final question concerning the pardon: what do YOU think? We’ve transcribed all of the surviving materials from the case and invite you to make up your own mind: Caroline Chronicles Documents

***

In the coming weeks, we’ll be analyzing Caroline’s story and the trial from various historical perspectives. Next on tap is a “think essay” about a man named John Wesley who may or may not have been Caroline’s husband and how the process of re-enslavement through contraband and fugitive slave auctions worked in Civil War Louisville. In two weeks, stay tuned for a survey of the cultural stigmas associated with female slave resistance, poison, and infanticide that almost certainly accompanied Caroline and her all-white jury into the courtroom.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART III

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

“Part III – The Defense’s Case”

By Patrick A. Lewis

For those of you who missed previous installments, we’ll begin with a very brief rundown of Caroline’s story to this point. (A full accounting of the events that led to her trial for infanticide is still available here.) In 1862 Caroline Dennant, a Tennessee slave, was brought to Louisville, Kentucky, as war contraband by Don Carlos Buell’s army—she was subsequently arrested as a fugitive slave and placed in the home of Willis and Anne Levy—a few months later, Blanch, the Levy’s toddler-aged daughter died of strychnine poisoning—Caroline was soon after charged with murder, convicted, and sentenced to death. This and last week’s installments are written from the perspective of the prosecution and the defense in the matter of Caroline’s petition for executive clemency (and may or may not reflect our actual positions on her case!).

As the prosecution alleges, there is little the defense can do to refute the circumstantial evidence against Caroline. She had been held to labor as a servant and nurse in the home of the Levys. Willis Levy did acquire, distribute, and store a large amount of strychnine. After the child’s death, Caroline was seen to have facial expressions and otherwise behave in ways to which sinister motives were later assigned by witnesses. While the defense concedes this circumstantial evidence, it entirely rejects the fanciful and conspiratorial theory of the (so-called) crime advanced by the prosecution.

Yet to secure the conviction in the trial at the May 1863 term of the Jefferson Circuit Court, the defense knowingly suppressed the extent to which Willis Levy “spread enough strychnine (or poison) to kill a regiment of men” in and about his premises. Evidence freely offered by the neighbors and family of the Levy family since the time of the trial now begs reconsideration of the case. The defense appeals to the clemency of the executive for a pardon on the following grounds:

One. That having resided in Louisville less than six months before the death of the child Blanch Levy, “in a strange place without any one to advise with” except defense counsel hastily assigned her case and without adequate time to prepare, Caroline was unable to secure witnesses for her defense at the trial.

Two. That the witnesses for the prosecution, namely Anne and Willis Levy, did not testify to the full extent to which Willis Levy spread strychnine about his premises. Only two occasions were established in evidence by Willis Levy, and Caroline could swear to no more. “Your petitioner will now state one important fact which was not developed on the trial, Mr Levy put out the poison on more than two occasions; he put it out many times to kill Dogs & Cats, & it was never taken up, & what became of it no one knows.”

Three. That the testimony of Raymond and Josephine Lynch—neighbors and in-laws to the Levys, uncle and aunt of the deceased Blanch Levy—establishes the true extent of Willis Levy’s indiscriminate and dangerous application of strychnine in and around his and his neighbors’ property. Josephine Lynch swears that “Mr Levy put out the poison every night for a great while I would think a hundred times” over a span of time “from fall to spring.” Moreover, Mrs. Lynch herself had been “very uneasy many time for fear that my children would get some of the poison I alwaise thought Mr Levy was very reckless about throwing out poison.”

Four. That the prosecution argues against accidental ingestion of the poison in the yard from the fact that no pieces of poisoned meat were found in the stomach of the deceased Blanch Levy.

Five. That testimony developed on the trial and that subsequently sworn to by Josephine Lynch establishes that a considerable amount of strychnine was spread in the yard and neighbors’ yards by means other than on meat, including but not limited to on grains designed to kill birds and loosely distributed in and around the privy.

Six. That Mrs. Levy grasped the extent to which her husband had indiscriminately spread poison in and around the Levy house. Immediately after the child’s death Mrs. Levy threw out a “bucket full of parched coffee that was bought from the soldiers,” believing it to be tainted with the poison.

Seven. That if Anne Levy was made sick by coffee on the morning the child died, this was from Willis Levy unwittingly contaminating the household coffee supply with strychnine as part of his campaign to eradicate vermin.

Eight. That if the true extent to which Willis Levy indiscriminately scattered strychnine in and around his own property and that of his neighbors had been known at the time of the trial, Caroline’s conviction would not have been sought by the prosecuting attorney. Louisville City Attorney William G. Reasor attests that “from strong circumstances made known to me since that trial, I feel that Executive clemency will have been worthily bestowed if she be fully pardoned.”

LevyNine. That if the true extent to which Willis Levy indiscriminately and dangerously scattered strychnine in diverse methods and in diverse locations in and around his own property and that of his neighbors had been known at the time of the trial, Caroline’s conviction would not have been secured by the jury. Nine of the gentlemen of the jury who tried her case—L. A. Civill, W. O. Gardner, John Sait, Joseph Griffith, Thomas Schorch, Samuel Ingrem, R. H. Snyder, William K. Allan, and E. P. Neale—have signed a sworn statement asking to overturn the verdict and sentence they rendered.

All this the defense presents as evidence for Caroline’s innocence in the death of the child Blanch Levy. The defense will not—as it believes it has grounds to do—pursue the argument that Caroline’s service in the Levy household was in violation of the Confiscation Act of July 17, 1862, which provides that “all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States “shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves” and that “no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty” regardless of the laws pertaining to enslaved persons and persons of African descent in that state, territory, or district.

The defense reiterates that given the circumstances of the defendant and her insecure position in Louisville, the evidence presented in this petition was unavailable to Caroline and her counsel at the time of the trial.

If all that were introduced in this petition were this new testimony, the defense would feel confident in their expectation of His Excellency’s clemency, but having in hand the sworn statements of the prosecuting attorney and the jury, the defense feels that the pardoning power would be justly used in the case of Caroline. The premises considered, the defense asks that His Excellency Governor Bramlette issue a full and unconditional pardon.