Testimony About Assault
During Memphis Riots
June 1, 1866 — US Congressional Committee Select Committee on the Memphis Riots and Massacre, Memphis TN
Q: State your name and how old you are.
A: Lucy Smith: I am going on 17 years of age..
Q: Have you been a slave?
A: I have been a slave girl, and have been free four years come July next.
Q: Do you live in this city?
A: I live in Memphis, and was raised here.
Q: Were you here at the time of the riots?
A: I was living with Frances Thompson at the time of the riots.
Q: State what you know of the late riots.
A: On Tuesday, the first night of the riots, some men came to our house. We were in bed. They told us to get some supper for them. We got up, and made a fire, and got them supper.
Q: What else took place?
A: What was left of the sugar, and coffee, and ham they threw into the bayou.
Q: How many many were there?
A: There were seven of them; but I was so scared I could not be certain.
Q: Did they rob you?
A: We had two trunks. They did not unlock them, but just jerked them open. They took $100 belonging to Frances, and $200 belonging to a friend of Frances, given to her to take care of. They took all the money and clothes and carried them off.
Q: Did you know any of the men?
A: There were two policemen with the men; I saw their stars.
Q: What else took place?
A: They tried to take advantage of men, and did. I told them I did not do such things, and would not. One of them said he would make me, and choked me by the neck. My neck was swollen up the next day, and for two weeks I could not talk to any one. After the first man had connexion with me, another got hold of me and tried to violate me, but I was so bad he did not. He gave me a lick with his fist and said I was so damned near dead he would not have anything to do with me.
Q: Were you injured?
A: I bled from what the first man had done to me. The man said, “Oh, she is so near dead I won’t have anything to do with her.” I was injured right smart, and kept my bed for two weeks after.
Q: Did they do anything else?
A: We had some quilts in the room that we had been quilting red, white, and blue. They asked us if we had made them before or after the Yankees came. We said after. They said, “You niggers have a mighty liking for the damned Yankees, but we will kill you, and you will have no liking for any one then.” There were some pictures n the room: we had General Hooker and some other Union officers, and they said they would not have hurt us so bad if it had not been for these pictures. They were in the house a good while after they hurt me, but I lay down on the bed, for I thought they had killed me; it was mostly from the choking and the lick on the side of my head.
Q: Did anyone attend you?
A: Dr. Riley, a colored doctor, afterwards examined me. I was in bed two weeks after.
Source: US Congress. House of Representatives, Memphis Riots and Massacres, 39th Congress, 1st session, 1865-66. House Report No. 101. (Washington, DC), 1866, pp. 101, 197.