Letter from Petersburg- Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch. An Attempt to Burn All the African Churches- One Church Destroyed and Another One Injured.

May 2, 1866

Summary

In Petersburg, whites attempted to burn down all African churches in the area- one was destroyed and another slightly damaged. This is deplored by other whites who see that religion is important to blacks, and they should have the right to practice their faith freely.

Transcription

LETTER FROM PETERSBURG Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch. AN ATTEMPT TO BURN ALL THE AFRICAN CHURCHES- ONE CHURCH DESTROYED AND ANOTHER INJURED - THE GORDON HORSESTEALING CASE-CONFLICT BETWEEN MILITARY AND CIVIL AUTHORITIES. Petersburg, May 1, 1866. Alarms of fire have lately been quite frequent, though with but little cause. But last night two fires occurred of a serious character, indicating unmistakably the presence of a gang of incendiaries, who, it is feared, will not be arrested in their villainous designs till a large amount of property is destroyed. About 2 o'clock the school-house connected with the colored Methodist Church, on Union street, was discovered to be on fire; and it was burned down before the flames could be extinguished. The church itself took fire several times, but was rescued without serious damage. While the fire was raging, another of the African churches was ignited, and was burned to the ground before efficient assistance could be rendered- the first fire absorbing all the attention of the firemen. This was the largest and most costly African church in the city, though not yet entirely completed. It was built of brick, and in process of erection before the war. It was then secured against injury from the weather, to be finished at a more convenient time. It would have been a credit to any colored congregation in the South. It is reported that attempts were also made during the night to fire the other colored churches. At any rate, there seems to be a design on the part of some fiendish persons to destroy them all, but it is not known that suspicion attaches to any particular quarter. This diabolical spirit is much to be deplored, for it may very naturally, and even unavoidably, lead to discontent and trouble. Their religion is as dear to the colored people as any other class, and they deserve to be protected in its enjoyment; equally with the most favored part of the community.
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Brooke Beam

Identifier

BeamBrooke-18660502-Letter From Petersburg.pdf

Citation

“Letter from Petersburg- Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch. An Attempt to Burn All the African Churches- One Church Destroyed and Another One Injured.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/129.