Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Helm and Maddux Case; an arrest in Newport, Ky, 1861

This is from the Covington Journal of November 16, 1861. I have no record of what their remarks were or what ended up happening with this case, but this is the type of event that Civil War made possible, especially in a state like Kentucky, where loyalties were so divided. I am surprised, however, that they took him to court in Cincinnati, even though it was (and is) the largest nearby city. 

The Helm and Maddux Case
Some weeks since Messrs. Hub. Helm and Robert Maddux were arrested in Newport by a U.S. Deputy Marshal on a charge of uttering treasonable words. The prisoners were taken across the river to Cincinnati, were (sic) the case was brought before Judge Leavitt, of the U.S. circuit Court, on habeas corpus, but no decision was had at that time. On Monday last Judge Leavitt gave his decision, an abstract of which was given by the Cincinnati Times, as follows:

The points involved were as follows: 1st. Was it a military or civil arrest? The return showed that the arrest was first made by the civil authorities, no military power having been engaged, except under civil control. 2d. At the time the habeas corpus was issued the parties had not been placed beyond the civil power. 3d. In this view, the arrest was illegal, because not made under a warrant. If the arrest had been made by the military authorities, affairs would present themselves to the Court in a different light. Consequently, the matter s not before the Court as a military arrest.

The Court held that nothing but the most extraordinary circumstances could justify military arrests. Yet such arrests were in the province of the Chief Executive of the Government, and he did not believe that the Court should interfere with it. There, nevertheless, was a charge of serious character against these prisoners, yet the crime committed was not committed within the jurisdiction of the Court. He held it to be the duty of the Court to transfer the accused to the authorities of Kentucky, the State where the crime is stated to have been committed.

The Court further held, that, as the accused had made use of very improper language, it should assume the power of requiring from the persons security in the sum of $2,000, for their loyalty to the Government of the United States.

In accordance with the  decision of Judge Leavitt, Messrs. Helm and Maddux were on Wednesday last transferred to Kentucky, and placed in the custody of U.S. Deputy Marshal Allnutt, in Covington. We believe it was the intention of Mr. Allnutt to take the prisoners to Frankfort. He had, however, no sooner got them in his hands than a sergeant, backed by a file of soldiers from the Newport Barracks, presented an order for them from Col. Jones, commanding at the Cincinnati Barracks.

Mr. Helm once submitted. Mr. Maddux said he would not be taken by the soldiers, and drawing a bowie-knife, for a time openly defied them. Finally he was cornered in the Madison House, and after some thrusts, on one side with bayonets and on the other with the bowie-knife, resulting in no serious injury, he was forcibly seized, and taken across the river to Cincinnati. The milltary (sic) power triumphed. It is proper to add that Mr. Maddux repeatedly proclaimed his willingness to go in the custody of a civil officer.

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