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A blog of Nineteenth Century history, focusing, but not exclusively, on the American Civil War seen through the prism of personal accounts, newspaper stories, administrative records and global history.
A thousand tales. A miscellany. A maze of historical tangents.

A Capitol View

A Capitol View
Images of 1861 juxtaposed- Union Square, New York vs. Capitol Square, Richmond

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Killing in Swampoodle III

Criminal Court- Murder Case.-Yesterday, In the case of Daniel Roberts, tried for the murder of John Wolfe, on the 9th day of August last, after District Attorney Carrington had closed his opening argument, Mr. Norris, counsel for the prisoner, briefly replied.
The following witnesses were called, all belonging to the same regiment (26th Pennsylvania, Col Small's.) as the accused:
Hays Williams, private in Co E. sworn.- The shooting occurred between the railroad and tollgate, (road to Bladensburg ) Witness was in the first platoon of the wagon guard in front of the wagons. The prisoner was also on the wagon guard; on the rear (left) side of the third wagon. The teamster (Wolfe) was on the off (right) side. Roberts (the accused) leveled his piece and fired, and the teamster fell, wounded in the right side. The wound was six or seven inches long, and the entrails protruded. The wagons had stopped at the time of the shooting, and the platoons had stacked arms. Witness heard no conversation between the parties previous to the shooting. The corpse when witness approached it had a wagon whip in its hand. Witness saw the flash of the musket, and saw the teamster fall. Witness was some distance ahead of the wagons, far enough to see on both sides of the train. The prisoner and the teamster were about five yards apart. The prisoner was going away from accused about a minute before he was shot. Wolf, when the shot was fired, was about four yards from his team- on the off (right) side. Saw Roberts last on the near (left) side, where he was while the train was moving. Wolf was a little ahead of his team when he was shot Roberts had not "stacked" his musket. The wagon guard had been on guard on Twenty-first street, and was yet relieved. The prisoner was examined as to the position. In which Roberts held the gun, from which it appeared that he held it horizontally about the level of his hip.
Private Hoffman, of company C, sworn- Was guarding the wagon just ahead of that guarded by Roberts. Heard Roberts ask the teamster to let him get in. The teamster answered that he (Roberts) couldn't get in, he (the teamster) had too heavy a load on. They had words together, and the teamster called Roberts a son of a b--h. The teamster got off and came to the head of his horses, and Roberts levelled his gun and fired at him. The teamster was on the right side and Roberts on the left the teamster got down on the opposite aide to Roberts, and walked to the head of his horses. They (accused and deceased) were about five yards apart, and witness was about five yards from Roberts.
Private Norris, of company sworn.- Was guarding the first wagon. Roberts and the teamster were both on the right side of the wagon. Roberts told the driver to stand back-if he didn't stand back, he (R.) would shoot him. Roberts, as he said so, cocked his gun. He then raised his gun and shot the driver. The teamster was four or five yards off from Roberts, going towards him.
Private Wm. C Geiger, sworn.- Saw Roberts fire, and the teamster drop. Both were on the right aide, and Roberts was near the horses' heads. Witness was guarding tbe first wagon behind that guarded by Roberts, and was standing on the sidewalk at the time of the shooting.
Lieut Hadley, sworn.- Did not see the homicide. Roberts was stationed to guard the third wagon, on the right side. Witness was standing about forty yards off when he heard the report of the musket, and hastened to the spot, and found the teamster lying on his face, and Roberts standing by his side at an "order arms." Witness asked who shot this man. Roberts answered, "I done it, sir, because the teamster attacked me with his whip, and I shot him in order to save my life." The teamster had a whip in his hand, an ordinary wagon whip.
The four witnesses first sworn were then recalled by the District Attorney, and testified that they saw no violence on the part of deceased towards Roberts. This closed the evidence for the prosecution.
For the defence, Mr. Norris called the witnesses already sworn to testify to the quiet and orderly character of Roberts previous to this affair, and Mr Middleton (Clerk of the Court) and Patrick Crowley (one of the jurors in the case) to testify as to the dangerous character of the ordinary wagon whip as a weapon using the butt to strike with.
This closed the evidence is the case, and the Court adjourned, the Jury going in charge of sworn bailiffs to their usual quarters in such cases the National Hotel.

- Evening Star (Washington, D.C)January 22, 1862

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