Details of the Riot in Memphis between Whites and Blacks.

May 7, 1866


Racial tension throughout the South results in different cases of rioting. A dispute between whites and blacks leads to rioting and violence.


Details of the Riot in Memphis between the Whites and Blacks. From the Memphis Argus, May 2. The riot in South Memphis yesterday began by two policemen going to arrest a man who sold liquor in South Memphis. The negro soldiers who were yesterday mastered out of service, and had been patronizing the drinking saloon, charged the two police, killing one. The other collected almost fifteen of his comrades, who went down to rescue their companion, but were again repulsed by the negro force. The police then sent back to the station-house to get the police force of the city. Captain Garrett took all the force and proceeded South street. Then the melee began in earnest. Some five or six policemen and citizens were shot-two or three said to be killed and several wounded. About one hundred or one hundred fifty negro soldiers and white men from this part of the city-mostly of the lowest class were scattered in every direction, behind horses, fences and ravines, and opened an irregular but destructive fire upon the police and citizens indiscriminately. The police and those of the citizens who were armed returned the fire, but were for a time forced to retire before the hot fire of the negroes.
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Brooke Beam


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“Details of the Riot in Memphis between Whites and Blacks.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,