From the Richmond Whig, 3/9/1866, p. 3, c. 1
THE NEGRO INSURRECTIONISTS – ALL DISCHARGED EXCEPT JOHN GREEN. – The negro marauders and ruffians – ten in number – engaged in the late riot on Friday night last, at Chimborazo Hospital, were brought before Judge McEntee, yesterday, for trial. They are all shades of colors and sizes. Their names are as follows – John Wright, Mattwew Banks, George Smith, William Jackson, William Johnson, Shadrack Jasper, George Jefferson, William H. Lewis, Tom Jackson and John Green.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charge, and the examination was proceeded with. The following evidence was taken. Lieutenant H. S. Merrill, Superintendent of Freedmen, represented the party.
Henry C. Adams testified that, on Friday nights last, he went to see a friend on Union Hill; he started home about twn and a-half o’clock; when near the corner of Twenty-seventh and Clay, he was halted and ordered to advance; finding out that he was in close quarters, and seeing that the party was armed, he ran down Twenty-seventh street about a square, and jumped over in a lot and went in a back door and remained all night; he could occasionally during the night hear shots; he was informed on the night before that a party of young men had serenaded a newly married couple, causing something of a disturbance.
Cross-examined by Lieutenant Merrill, the Coroner’s counsel – I think that was my clearest way to go to the Gas Works, near where I lived; the first party I saw I did not know, and cannot say whether they were white or black; I think there were about fifteen or twenty shots fired at me; my nearest way home was by way of Church Hill; I have gone that way frequently; I have lived in this city about four years; I think it was a musket ball that struck me on the side of the head.
Policeman A. W. Ball testified that he was one of the squad that was with Sergeant Baptist on Friday night last; when they arrived at the corner of Twenty-eighth and Clay they were halted and asked who they were; Sergeant Baptist answered “We are policemen;” the sentinels turned and ran and joined the main body; they pursued and fired at them; the fire was returned; the retreat was continued by the negroes, who ran across the bridge leading to Chimborazo Hospital; he overtook one of the party before they got to the bridge, who backed up against a fence and clubbed his musket; he struck him on the right side of the head, thereby causing it to bleed profusely; he then turned his prisoner over to another policeman, who took him to the station house; he, nor any of his squad, followed beyond the bridge, as their ammunition was exhausted; after falling back a short distance they were met by Sergeant Clacher with a squad of men, and in company with them, marched to Chimborazo; while there he arrested one of the accused, William Lewis.
Judge McEntee then requested him to examine the head of John Green alias White, and see if he could recognize the cut on his head as the same which he is said to have given to one of the party. This was done, and the witness was under the impression that he was the man, but could not swear positively to his identity. He did not recognize any others of the prisoners.
Policeman D. H. Ally testified that he was one of the squad sent to quell the riot on last Friday night; he did not arrest any of the accused; it was about eleven o’clock at night; he was on duty until that time on Church Hill, from Twenty-fifth street to the limits of the corporation; he heard some firing in the early part of the night in the direction of Leigh Street Church, on the corner of Twenty-fifth and Leigh; he joined Sergeant Baptist, who blew his whistle for him, on the corner of Twenty-fifth and Main street; he could not identify any of the party present; supposed that there were about forty-five or fifty in the crowd that retreated across the bridge; they were first halted near the corner of Twenty-eighth and Clay streets, and continued to advance, when they fired into the party; the fire was immediately answered; they continued to follow on until they reached the bridge. Their ammunition being exhausted, they fell back, and soon after met Sergeant Clacker with a squad of men, and in company with them marched across the bridge to Chimborazo. He saw numerous negroes standing in the doors of the huts, while some were lying down inside.
Permission was then granted the witness, by the Judge, to ask a question.
He wanted to know whether Lieutenant Merrill was a member of the court or the counsel for the prisoners?
Lieutenant Merrill answered that he was their counsel, and that by direction of the Secretary of War.
The witness then said he meant no disrespect to the court or the counsel in asking the question.
The evidence for the prosecution here closed, several witnesses being absent. The witnesses for the defense were called, when numerous negroes advanced to the bar of the court and were sworn. They all testified to the fact that nearly all of the accused were at their quarters on Friday night last. Lieutenant Merrill then asked the discharge of the whole party, on the ground that there was no evidence against them, none of the witnesses being able to recognize a single one.
Judge McEntee announced that he would discharge all save John Green alias White, who, he was satisfied, could be identified by Sergeant Baptist, of the police. The party, minus Green alias White, left the court-room in a high glee, and were met by their numerous friends, who congratulated them on their release. Green was committed for further trial.