Friday, February 27, 2009

Feb. 27, 1869: the (almost) sack of Marianna

Jackson County's African American community was outraged by the assault on their two friends. The next day, Feb. 27th, a committee representing the black community visited Purman who lay in his bed, clinging to life. The committee men - "armed to the teeth" - informed Purman that they had assembled six hundred to eight hundred men ready to "come in and sack the town that night." (This "assembling of an unlawful mob of armed citizens" was confirmed by the circuit court grand jury's presentment later than spring). Purman later testified that he had begged the delegation to desist from their threatened plan, and coaxed them to swear that they would call off their men and order them to return to their homes. A Marianna resident confirmed that "but for Major Purman's influence, the town would have been destroyed by the excited colored population, over whom the Major has complete control." The town was spared that night and, for the moment, open racial warfare in Jackson County was averted.

An investigation at the shooting scene found tracks of two men leading from the site of the shooting. Although no further evidence was discovered and no witnesses came forth, the names of the shooters were openly discussed in Marianna during the following days.

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