The Municipal War - Demand for Surrender.

April 4, 1870


Chahoon is ordered to give up possession of all city-related things and he refuses to do so.


At about 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon Deputy United States Marshal Bolling made his appearance at the City Hall and asked for Mayor Ellyson. The latter was not present at the time, but being sent for, soon after appeared, and the Marshal handed him a paper, with the remark: "You can just read this, Mr. Ellyson." Mayor Ellyson: "Will you leave me a copy of this?" Marshal: "Certainly, sir." Mayor Ellyson [reading]: "It does'nt say when this order was made. Oh, on the 2d day of April." Marshal: "To-day, I believe." Mayor Ellyson [after reading]: "Well, I shall send down to see my counsel before I answer this." Marshall: "Very well." Mayor Ellyson then sent after his counsel, and in the mean time conversed with the Marshal. THE ORDER. The following is the order served upon Mayor Ellyson: "Circuit Court of the United States of America, District of Virginia-s. s. "The President of the United States of America to the Marshal of the District of Virginia-greeting: "Whereas by a certain decretal order of our said Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Virginia, in a certain cause there depending between George Chahoon, complainant, and Henry K. Ellyson [here follows the names of the Chief of Police, captains, members of the City Council, heretofore published,] and others defandants, made by Hon. John C. Underwood, one the judges of said court, on the 2d day of April, in the year 1870, it was, among other things therein contained, ordered, adjudged, and decreed, by the said court that the United States marshal for the District of Virginia should remove the defendant, Henry K. Ellyson, and all persons acting under him from the City Hall in the city of Richmond, and from all other places and property belonging to said city and properly in the custody of the Mayor and police of the said city; and that the said complainant, George Chahoon, be put in the peaceable possession of the said places and property, and of all other property belonging to said city, as by the order of injunction made and entered in said court on the 31st day of March, 1870, in the aforesaid suit he was adjudged to be properly entitled thereto: and whereas the said complainant has not been let into nor allowed to take quiet possession thereof, as aforesaid, according to the tenor of said decree; and whereas the same is in the possession and occupation of the defendants, as aforesaid; and whereas by an order of our court, made and entered the day and year aforesaid, it was ordered that our writ of assistance should issue to you, the said marshal. Therefore we command you that immediately after receiving this writ you go to and enter upon the said City Hall and all the other property heretofore mentioned, and that you eject and remove therefrom all and every person or persons holding and detaining the same or any part thereof, against the said complainant, and that you put and place the said complainant, George Chahoon, in the full, peaceable, and quiet possession of the said property without delay, and him, the said complainant, in such possession thereof, from time to time, maintain, keep, and defend, or cause to be kept, maintained, and defended, according to the term and true intent of the said decree and order of our said court. "Witness: The Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, at Richmond, the 2d day of April, in the year 1870, and of our independence the ninety-fourth year. "W. H. Barry, Clerk." THE RESULT. Messrs. Neeson and Meredith appeared at the City Hall promptly, and entered into a consultation. The result was that Mayor Ellyson stated to the Marshal that the order was entered without any notice to him, was unauthorized and unwarranted, and that he would not surrender possession. The Marshal then said that as the force then in the City Hall was too great to warrant his attempting to execute the writ, he would have to obtain other force. He then left the hall, whereupon Mayor Ellyson gave orders that his men should remain in the building. Our readers will remember that the names of the President and Chief Justice are used in the above writ merely as a matter of form, and do not indicate that it proceeded from either of them. A POSSE COMITATUS. In about a half hour afterwards Marshal Bolling returned to the hall with Mr. Leahy and three others as a posse comitatus, and demanded possession. Mayor Ellyson refused, and the Marshal and his posse left, and nothing was heard of them thereafter. LATEST. At 12 o'clock Saturday night all was quiet in the city, and there were no indications of an advance on the City Hall.
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Charles Simmonds




“The Municipal War - Demand for Surrender.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022,