Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/319

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Reconstruction in South Carolina. 309

of the weakness of the Confederates. It reached its objective be- cause General Beauregard could summon to the field not even a tolerable army of opposition. That it was not intercepted in its pro- gress, and totally defeated in its execution, must be attributed to accident — to the utter inability of the Confederates to concentrate a force sufficiently strong to deliver battle along the line of march.

Reconstruction in South Carolina.

By Professor F A. Porcher.

Paper No. 4.

joint discussions.

I have dwelt the longer on this riot because it was the first in a series of riots which gave a character to the election contest which was at hand ; because it was greedily received by Northern Republicans, and dinned into the ear of excitable masses willing to believe any- thing discreditable to the South, and because of the character and social position of many who were implicated in it. No opportunity was ever given by the State to sift the mass of conflicting testimony which it elicited. The government pretended that no trial could be had. One of two things must be true. The government discovered that it had no good ground for a prosecution; in that case it had slandered many of the best men in the State for political ends, or it was really unable to bring the criminals to justice, and therefore a failure, a sham, and a mockery, whose existence was an offence against civilization.

On the 1 2th August one of those scenes occurred in Edgefield, at which Chamberlain was deeply disgusted, but of which, as accord- ing to the statement of Judge Carpenter, he had four years before given, and led a striking example at Chester, he could not bitterly complain. The Radicals had called a meeting on that day, at which Chamberlain was to be present. As such meetings had always been attended with much boisterous and roystering conduct, it was de- termined by the whites to attend it in such numbers as would make riotous conduct on the part of the others a dangerous procedure. Accordingly, about six hundred men rode in town on the track of the Radicals and sent a civil message to the Governor that they were anxious to have an opportunity of speaking to the blacks, and