Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Robbers Threaten

During the late 1860s, there was talk in the Battleboro-Rocky Mount area of a band of robbers lurking around. Walter E. Phillips, in his memoirs, tells of his father, Dr. James Jones Phillips' spree with Mr. Allen Taylor. They met, had a drink or two, and ended up talking old times until after dark. Mindful of the threat of robbers, they went out to check on their horses which were hitched behind a store in Battleoro. Blundering around in the dark, they bumped against each other and Dr. Phillips grabbed Mr. Taylor, threw him down and began pummeling him and shouting, "Hold yours, Allen, I've got mine." He couldn't hear Mr. Taylor shouting, "It ain't a robber, Doctor, it's me," and he held him down until someone brought a light and showed him he had caught, not a robber, but his friend.

There was, in fact, a band of recently disbanded troops camping in the woods north of Tar River, behind Mrs. Lewis's home.* "One of the band came one night to Brother George Battle's home and without knocking walked into the room where he was sleeping, woke him up and told him about the band, its organization and place of rendezvous. So organizing a posse, he surprised them at their camping place. … They showed no fight but ran away or were captured."

"One night after supper Father returned from Dr. Rives' … and said, 'You mustn't be alarmed, but we are going to have robbers attack us tonight.' … I went to bed hoping that they would come and that next morning I would see several of their dead bodies lying around in the yard. … To aid him in defending the house, Father sent for Old Mr. Levi Bryan, … his overseer at the plantation settlement, and Old Uncle Austin … . Their weapons of defense were two old fashioned muskets, a heavy strong shooting revolver and perhaps a double-barrel shot gun … . Mother [Harriet Amanda Burt Phillips], thinking that a lighted house would keep them from venturing to attack us, lit candles in all the rooms … . In a little while Father would come along and blow all these out. His combative spirit was aroused and enhanced by his sense of outrage at the expected attack. Mother would come and light the candles again, and again Father would blow them out. I believe that he finally gave in and let her have her way. I remember feeling some disappointment the next morning that the attack had not come off."

*This is the house now known as Stonewall on the Tar River in Rocky Mount,

[Taken from Memoirs of Walter E. Phillips. This story first appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of The Connector, newsletter of Tar River Connections Genealogical Society.

No comments:

Post a Comment