The Colfax Massacre
Essay Preview: The Colfax Massacre
Report this essay
The Colfax Massacre
“On this site occurred the Colfax Riot in which three white men and 150 negroes were slain. This event on April 13, 1873 marked the end of carpetbag misrule in the South.” This is what is on the official historical marker located in Colfax, Louisiana, the stage that once played out the bloody Colfax massacre. This day occurred during the Reconstruction period and is one example of the increased violence against blacks after the Civil War and after slavery had been abolished.
The 1872 election for the governor of Louisiana had come to have two victorious candidates. The Republican nomination William P. Kellogg and the Democratic nomination John McEnery the federal government stepped in and formally commanded William P. Kellogg as governor, though this had not deterred McEnerys passion to also act as governor. Therefore both governors had inaugural balls separately held in their honor in January of 1873. It wasnt until after the Mardi Gras celebrations of that year, the governor was to appoint liable candidates into differing local positions. Republicans and Democrats both solicited Kellogg for control of Grant Parish. Kellogg had ultimately appointed R. C. Register, a black man, as the parish judge and Daniel Shaw as the sheriff to the parish. Both of whom were Republicans and supporters of Kellogg.  The prior governor, Warmouth, had placed Alphonse Cazabat as judge and Christopher Columbus Nash as sheriff in the parish, both had been supporters of the Confederacy. Cazabat and Nash took an oath into office before Kellogg had ever appointed Register or Shaw. In March of that year William Ward, a Louisiana State Militia Commanding Officer, along with the reinforcement of many other black men had gone to Colfax to take over Grant Parishs courthouse in honor of Register and Shaw. The courthouse was now controlled by Kellogg supports, most of whom were black, free men of color, they would campout there for about six weeks.  Ward and his men were prepared to uphold their control of the court house until federal troops could back them up. The black men in control had increased in numbers and they had also increased their firearms, this made some citizens in Colfax uneasy and nervous. This had sprung up ideas and conversation that the federally backed Governor Kellogg should have formally replaced his picks for judge and sheriff with Cazabat and Nash. 
Matters had soon been taken into the hands of the citizens and some gun fire was exchanged on April 4th and 5th in between failed attempts to come to a peaceful truce. Tensions between whites and blacks in Colfax continued to rise and both sides had continued to recruit men to fight for their cause. The whites were also busy building up their supplies, they had increased the artillery amongst the group, stole horses from abandoned property and had even acquired a cannon to use against the black men in Colfax. Then on April 13, Easter Sunday, approximately one hundred and sixty-five men followed behind Nash, who took charge due to his position as sheriff, into Colfax and toward the courthouse. Both sides agreed they would not stand down, so Nash informed all women and children to rid the area before fighting and fire began. Taunting, mocking, and shouted threats had been exchanged between both sides. When the whites could