A NARROW ESCAPE.
We make the following extract from a late English publication. The reader will
readily perceive that the “ Hyenas” and “ Tigers” referred to are the Regulators
and Lynchers of the South West. The Herod referred to had been, previous to
the adventure, a pirate. These lawless bands are now seldom heard of, though
the early settlements of Texas and the South Western States have been the theatre
of numerous instances of the most heart-rending tragedies :
I was over in Washington county, arranging some business  connected with
my marriage with Lucy, when I heard that Herod had turned out with the Hyenas
to regulate the country. He announced that every man found with counterfeit
notes in his possession should be tried by Lynch law and hung. I put up at a
small inn, one night, near a wood yard. The hut of the wood chopper was within
thirty yards of the tavern I slept in. About daybreak I was awoke by a great
noise, and, looking out, I saw the Hyenas were upon us. They were all mounted
and well armed, with Herod, in a green blanket-coat, at their head. I peeped
cautiously through a loop, and discovered about fifty prisoners, their hands
tied with cords behind their backs. One of the Hyenas knocked at the door of
the wood chopper’s hut, and called out :
“ Jim Brown, turn up !”
“ Look out, you regulating scoundrels,” was the only reply, followed by a rifle
shot, and the speaker fell dead beside Herod.
Two pistol shots followed, and at a short interval, another discharge of a gun.
The wood chopper, aided by his wife, was defending himself against the Hyenas.
They flew to cover, and, unswinging their rifles set to work. But Brown kept close,
and while all his shots told, theirs were useless. Herod stormed with rage, and,
amid blasphemous oaths, bade his men break the woodman’s door open. Two advanced
cautiously, with heavy logs in their hands, and casting them simultaneously, the
door yielded. A general rush was made, and in five minutes more the door yielded.
A general rush was made, and in five minutes more the old wood chopper and his
wife were prisoners. Herod grinned a horrid smile, and had the three dead Hyenas
and the five wounded carried into the inn, in the room of which I now stood. I
and the landlord submitted to be searched, but as no counterfeit money was found
on either him or me, we were not included among the prisoners. But Herod bade
me, in a fierce voice, stay to the trial, in order that I might report to the
Tigers how properly to regulate the country.
Lots were drawn and Lynch’s jury of thirteen were soon chosen, Herod being the
judge, and the trial at once commenced. Old Brown, of Sixty-six Island, as he
was called, was the first prisoner summoned, his wife being put at the bar beside
him. The sturdy old wood cutter boldly told them that they were a set of brigands
and thieves, worse than Merle, the Wanto Pirate ; and that he had every right
to defend his house against their invasion. The wife refused to answer a word.
The jury brought in a verdict of guilty, and Herod ordered them to be hanged.
A tree stood near the inn door, and over the boughs of this several ropes had
been thrown. The unfortunate couple made no resistance, and ten minutes later
they had ceased to breathe.
Then took place one of the most fearful scenes I ever witnessed or heard of. The
scoundrels, under Herod’s orders, took a log, nailed a board in the centre, and
on this fastened the several heads of the husband and wife ; their bodies being
strapped to the extremities of the log. The whole was sent afloat in the stream,
to be picked up the next day at Montgomery’s Point, and make the whole world ring
with horror against the Americans generally, because of the inhuman act of a band
I need only add, that twenty-seven men were found guilty that day and hung, their
only crime being their incapacity to distinguish bad from good paper money. I
was grateful when Herod let me go with a message for Judge L—, to the effect
that if next day he did not turn out with the Tigers and regulate White county,
the Hyenas would come over and do it for him.
“ You may jist tell the old badger,” he added, “ that we’ll pay him a visit to-morrow,
and it will clear my score against him, his daughter, and the Britisher who wants
to marry her. He had better raise a good stake to buy me off.”
Though considerably startled, I intimated my readiness to carry his message, and
five minutes later I was on my road, mounted on a good horse, and moving along
towards a ferry some miles off.
I had not got very far away, when I heard the galloping of horses behind me, and
I distinctly saw Herod and a half-a-dozen Hyenas in chase of me. Doubtless some
one had told him who I was. I looked to my pistols, primed my rifle, and then
gave whip to my horse, which was fresh and strong. I moved at a rattling pace,
but still I heard the vagabonds behind me, though I could tell they were not gaining
ground. My sole chance of safety was the ferry boat. If that was on the other
side I was lost. Still I resolved to sell my life dearly. Away I flew, keeping
my good steed up to the mark, and soon was in sight of the ferry. The boat was
about to start with several passengers and one horse. I now knew that if old Jerry
saw Herod in chase, he would be afraid to take me. I made a desperate dash, therefore,
down to the ford, entered the boat,
drew my horse after me, and then bade the ferryman strike out. “ Quick ! for your
life, man ! I am a friend of Judge L—'s. Herod and his gang are after me,
with blood on their hands !”
“ The Regulators ! I say, stranger, I can’t convene to this. I couldn’t take you
for a cord of money !”
“ Push back at the peril of your life !” I replied, drawing my pistols ; and aided
by the three other men, I forced the unwilling ferryman to shove off.
Two of the passengers were Englishmen, and entered heartily into my interests.
Scarcely were we twenty yards off, than Herod and his gang rushed up, reining
in, however, some distance from the shore at the sight of our levelled rifles.
Jerry was terribly alarmed, and did all he could to get out of reach ; and when
the balked Hyenas fired it was too late. I then told my horrible story, which
to all present seemed almost incredible, though Herod’s name had a sufficient
reputation to render any atrocity within the bounds of belief.
When we reached the other side, the ferryman intimated his intention of not returning
to his post for some days, while the others offered to join in the defence of
Judge L—. I took them up, boatman and all, to the Judge, and at once gave
him the message of his daughter’s former suitor.
“ He shall be well received,” cried the Judge, after hearing my whole story, “
but as no man can say what will happen, you and Lucy shall be married to-morrow
Lucy and I sat in the Judge’s parlor, near an open window, about one o’clock,
watching the Tigers as they collected. They were farmers and wood choppers and
hunters ; all sturdy fellows, devotedly attached to Judge L—.
“ Lucy,,” said I, taking her hand in mine, and gazing at her soft blue eyes, “
I must turn Tiger for one day.”
“ James,” she replied quickly, “ you must. But be careful and wise. My life hangs
The look she gave me, as she spoke, proved that, quiet as she was, she could feel
deeply, and I felt my affection redoubled.
“ James,” suddenly called the father, as the Tigers stood in good order under
the window, “ tell the Tigers why I have called them out.”
I rose ; and leaning against the bar of the opened window, addressed the assembly.
I was reckoned a good hand at a speech, and my feelings were deeply roused. A
dozen groans of horror interrupted me ; and when I ended by offering to volunteer
with the Tigers, a shout of applause greeted me.
L— then made me come down and write out the necessary warrants for the arrest
of Herod and his gang, which he and five other magistrates signed. Scarcely had
we done so, when a horseman dashed up, with the news that Herod and his fellows
were close at his heels, as if expecting to effect a surprise. The Tigers fell
in. Judge L— heading about a hundred of them, took up a position in front
of the house, while I with as many more, hid ourselves in the cypress grove.—Another
party, equally strong, were concealed in a plantation. About ten minutes later
the Hyenas came in sight, with Herod at their head. They reined up within twenty
yards of Judge L— and the line of Tigers.
“ Well, Judge,” cried Herod, “ I see you’ve obeyed orders. You are going to regulate
“ I am going to regulate a murderous thief, called Herod,” thundered the Judge.
At the same instant we sprang forward, and the astounded Hyenas saw that they
were surrounded by six times their own number. Not a man ventured to offer resistance
save Herod, but his own people fell upon him, and the gang of ruffians were our
Judge L— made me pick out the thirteen members of Lynch’s Jury, who were
heavily ironed, and marched away un-
der a strong escort to the county prison. The rest were at once well flogged with
hickory switches and turned adrift, without horses or arms of any kind ; and then,
all excitement and fear being over, we thought only of the more happy event of
the day. The principal Tigers remained ; and a merry time we had of it. I can
only add that this marriage, was the commencement of a long series of happy days,
unclouded as yet by one cloud. I had found a good, noble, excellent girl for a
wife, and as I strove to be happy, so I was.
Source: Southern and Southwestern Sketches: Fun, Sentiment, and Adventure.
Edited by a Gentleman of Richmond. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, n.d. 113-118. University
of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
 Original text includes a period after “business.”
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