The Richmond Massacre was an unsuccessful assassination attempt upon Confederate President Robert E. Lee by the "Rivington Men" of America Will Break on March 4, 1868. Lee survived the attack, but many, including Lee's wife Mary, newly inaugurated Vice President Albert G. Brown, and famed general Jubal Early were killed.
March 4th was Confederate inauguration day. A platform had been set up in Capitol Square at the base of the statue of George Washington. At half past twelve in the afternoon, a procession from the Virginia House of Delegates consisting, in part, of President Jefferson Davis and President-elect Lee, V.P. Alexander Stephens and V.P.-elect Brown, along with both the old and new cabinet members were escorted to the platform. The four incoming and outgoing executives along with Bishop John Johns, Judge J.D. Halyburton, the President of the Confederate Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Virginia Governor William Smith all ascended to the platform for the ceremony.
Bishop Jones gave a benediction and then Brown, followed by Lee took the oaths of office as administered by Judge Halyburton. Lee then began his inaugural address. As he spoke a gust of wind blew his hat from his hand. He chose to bend down to retrieve it and as he did so, a bullet cracked by followed by a second tugging at his coat sleeve. Halyburton immediately swept Lee off the platform and then followed him down with a shoulder wound.
The volume of fire made Lee realize there were multiple assassins armed with repeating weapons but the sound they made was different from the AK-47s he was used to. However, it was clear that it was the Rivington Men who were behind the attack. The honor guard had been armed with AK-47s along with swords but most were down wounded or dead. Nevertheless, many spectators were veterans who began firing back, both with their own handguns and with retrieved AK-47s.
Eventually five assassins lay dead, four from head shots and one bled to death from a thigh wound. A sixth, Konrad de Buys, shot in the right wrist and left shoulder, was captured. Lee questioned him but did not learn much. He did discover that all the assailants had body-armor which turned rifle rounds, hence the difficulty in bringing them down. He also learned the the repeater they were using was called an Uzi, which Lee thought looked like an AK-47 that had shrunk in the wash.
Lee ordered America Will Break headquarters by the Mechanics Hall be seized after taking care to have Judge Halyburton issue a warrant. This was an even harder fought battle as the Rivington Men preferred death to surrender. After the Confederate Army brought up several cannons, they managed, with great difficulty and taking many casualties, to capture the AWB offices. None of the Rivington Men, with the exception of de Buys, survived to be captured.
List of known victimsEdit
- Mary Anna Custis Lee
- Albert Gallatin Brown
- John Atkins
- Jubal Early
- Five America Will Break assassins
- Several others
- Alexander Stephens
- Judah Benjamin
- Jeb Stuart
- Sion Rogers
- Rooney Lee
- J.D. Halyburton
- Charles Dimmock
- Konrad de Buys (AWB, captured)
- Many others