It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The Night Riders were a vigilante group operating from about 1906 to 1908 in southwestern Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee that used fear and intimidation against the Duke tobacco monopoly in the area. The Night Riders were led by Dr. David Amoss, a medical doctor from the Cobb community in Caldwell County, Kentucky. These "masked riders" initiated what were called the Black Patch Wars because of the unfair price ceilings being generated by the Duke tobacco conglomerate. The Black Patch Wars developed into the most violent civil uprising since the Civil War. The price of tobacco had been artificially suppressed and as a consequence the people in these communities suffered greatly. However, the violent tactics of the Night Riders (whippings, murders, burning of buildings, and seizing of entire towns) set up an inevitable confrontation with the National Guard.
The longest and most violent sustained civil conflict in the United States during
the century between the end of the Civil War and the racial conflicts of the mid
1960s was the Dark Patch Tobacco War in portions of Kentucky and Tennessee,
which lasted from 1904 to 1909 (Cunningham 1983, back cover)
Cunningham spoke on the Night Riders of West Kentucky and Tennessee. They were militant tobacco farmers who used guerilla tactics against the strangling monopoly of the American Tobacco Company.
The first organized attack occurred at Trenton when a band of armed and masked men burned the tobacco warehouse and factory of an independent dealer who had bought non-association tobacco. A little later they appeared at Elkton and dynamited the warehouse there. On the night of December 1, 1906, two hundred night riders rode into Princeton, took possession of the town and proceeded at leisure to burn the largest tobacco factories int he world, filled with tobacco purchased from the British market.
Hopkinsville was electrified by the news of the Princeton raid. Since this city was in the midst of the trouble area, its citizens expected the night riders to strike here next. The Militia, under Major Erskine Birch Bassett, the police force and a large body of armed citizens prepared for a raid. On January 4, 1907, the Mayor, Charles Meacham, received a telephone warning that the Riders were on the way. The different units were alerted and took their positions for the defense of the city. However, the report turned out to be a hoaz. The Night Riders had sent the warning in order to test the city's prepardness.
Night after night the riders gathered for an attack on the city. It was their custom to have one of their members move into a city before it was attacked and watch the place. Certainly Hopkinsville was watched. One night when the riders got almost to the city limis they were turned back by a warning that a whole company of militia with loaded rifles was concealed in a building waiting for them.
It was a year before a night came when vigilance was relaxed and that night, December 7, 1907, a little before 2:00 A>M> the Silent Brigade struck Hopkinsville. There was no opposition.
The attack was made from the I.C. Depot. The masked men had left their horses on the outskirts of town and marched down 9th Street to Main where they separated into six squads and carried out their orders with military precision. Three men were sent to guard the Seventh Street bridge and small parties guarded other downtown streets. A corral was formed at 9th and Main into which all citizens who ventured out were herded and guarded by a small squad. One squad went to the Cumberland Telephone office where they broke down the door, cut the wires and captured the two telephone operators on duty before they could sound the alarm. Another unit surrounded the police station and shot through the walls and windows, quickly taking prisoner the men who were surprised inside. Other units took over the Fire Department and the L & N Depot. Small groups rode up and down the street shooting out windows wherever a light was turned on. In a very few minutes the city was in complete control of the masked men.
The office of the newspaper, The Kentuckian, was vandalized and a buyer for the Imperial Tobacco Co., was dragged from his home and brutally beaten.
Dr. David A. Amoss
1857 - 1915
Alleged Leader of The Night Riders
Restoring Law and Order: The Kentucky State
Guard in the Black Patch War of 1907-1909
The Kentucky State Guard’s campaign against the Silent Brigade in 1907-1909 offers lessons for
the operational art of civil security and supporting civil law enforcement. The Silent Brigade was
a guerrilla army that terrorized western Kentucky in a conflict that came to be known as the Black
Patch War. Scholars disagree about whether the Kentucky State Guard was effective in its
campaign, or whether other circumstances led to the decline of the Silent Brigade.
Three tobacco warehouses were burned during the raid on Hopkinsville, December 7, 1907. The largest squad marched to the Latham warehouse near the L & N Depot and then to the frame warehouse of Tandy & Fairleigh on 15th Street and burned them to the ground. The fire soon raged out of control destroying several residences, the Association Warehouse and threatening the Acme Mill. A railroad man was shot in the back when he tried to save some box cars from the fire. The leader of the night riders, Dr. Amoss, was accidentally wounded in the head by his own men.