The Municipal War.

April 5, 1870


The people of Richmond are expecting a fight of some kind to erupt between Chahoon and Ellyson. They are so far disappointed.


It was expected when our paper went to press on Saturday night that an attempt would be made by the United States Marshal, with the assistance of the military, to take forcible possession of the City Hall, Mayor Ellyson having refused to obey the injunction of Judge Underwood, and the Marshal claiming that he was unable to put Chahoon and his party in possession by civil power. The Mayor remained at the, City Hall Saturday night and all day Sunday, but no advance was made, and on yesterday morning the situation remained unchanged. At 9 o'clock Mayor Ellyson held the police court as usual, and several cases of misdemeanor were disposed of. A man sent on to be indicted for stealing wood, and ordered to be committed in default of bail, was sent to the city jail in custody of Captain Chalkley. It had been rumored that City Sergeant Mills would not accept any prisoners committed by Mr. Ellyson, and a crowd of negroes followed the officer to the gates of the jail, expecting to see them rebuffed by the jailor. In this, however, they were disappointed, as Sergeant Mills sent orders to his deputies to take and care for prisoners coming from either of the gentlemen claiming to exercise the office of Mayor. The prisoner was therefore duly committed. During the morning there were numerous rumors of the movements of the contesting parties, but nothing was done. It was stated, on good authority, that the Chahoon party had been greatly disappointed on Saturday night in failing to obtain the assistance of the military, General Canby being of opinion that the Marshal should make a real attempt to eject the Mayor and police occupying the City Hall with a posse comitatus of citizens before being entitled to the assistance of the soldiery. Whatever the cause of the delay may have been, the Chahoon men made no demonstration until half-past 1 o'clock, when Deputy Marshals Bolling and Leahy made their appearance at the City Hall and served upon the Mayor a writ differing only verbally from that served on Saturday evening. It commands the Marshal to eject H. K. Ellyson and others from the City Hall, and put that building and the other city property held by them in the possession of George Chahoon. The Mayor, of course, declined to go out with his force, and thereupon the marshals, in order to go through the form of an attempt at forceible ejectment, seized him by the arms. This action was misinterpreted by the policemen standing by, and several worthy men, thinking that the time for a fight had arrived, rushed in, collared the United States officials, and were about to knock them into a cocked-hat. Other policemen hearing the disorder rushed in, and the utmost efforts of the Mayor were necessary to prevent a row on the spot. Not until it was understood that the marshals had not the faintest idea of showing fight did the turmoil subside. They then went out quietly, evidently impressed with the idea that the men holding the City Hall were ready for any emergency. The evening wore away without further incident, and the expectation of an attack prevailing among the citizens generally was not justified by any movement on the part of the Marshal or Mr. Chahoon. Let our people be calm and patient. There is reason to believe that within a few days our municipal troubles will be finally settled, and in a manner that will fully vindicate the position taken by the city and State authorities, and in which they have been sustained by the great body of the people. We may add with confidence that this result will be arrived at without any further disturbance of the public peace.
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Charles Simmonds




“The Municipal War.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022,