From the Richmond Dispatch, Monday, 4/27/1863, p. 1, c. 4
The late Fatal shooting Affair — Testimony before the Coroner’s Inquest. – Coroner Peachy and assistant Coroner Sanxay, at 1 o’clock on Saturday, made at the office of the High Constable, on Main street, an inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Robert Emmett Dixon Clerk of the Confederate House of Representatives, who came to his death on Friday, about 8 o’clock, in as affray with Robert E. Ford late Journal clerk of the House. The members of the jury being in attendance were sworn in. Wm. O Tyler acting as foreman. The following testimony given before the jury exhibits all the material facts connected with the affair:
R. H. Meade, of the firm of Meade & Baker, sworn: Was standing in his stores; heard the report of a pistol; went into 10th street; saw a man standing on the flagging that runs from the Central gate; another man was standing on the side next to Mechanics Hall, on the pavement between it and the Hall; had his back to witness and did not think he could identify him never saw him before; heard two or three reports; the man next to the square was firing at the other, who capped his pistol twice; the other one then fired deliberately and with aim, as if firing at a target.
Hon Israel Welsh, of Miss, sworn: Heard the firing on his approach to the gates; saw Dixon standing opposite at the corner; a gentleman on each side conversing; was fifty yards off; the parties with D. separated, and the firing commenced; can’t say who fired first; D. was facing witness; don’t know that he fired; the other party had his back to witness; could not identify him; don’t know the parties in company with Dixon; did not see the latter fall; was in the range of his shot and turned off towards the War department; turned and saw somebody pick Dixon up; don’t know what kind of Dixon he had a pistol and of the quarrel.
Gen. Henry E. Read sworn: Know nothing of the killing or circumstances attending it; Ford came to the House a few minutes before the shooting and related the difficulty between him and Dixon; advised him to have no difficulty, and he took my advice; requested witness to write D. that he would have no difficulty on the street with him — that he would change the terms of settlement with him; had written a few lines of the note when news came that D. was killed; the interval was not longer than I could set down at my desk and write; thinks he saw the shape of a pistol on Mr. Ford; had his overcoat hung over his shoulders; difficulty originated from D.’s discharging F., (according to statement of the latter;) both parties consulted with me; my opinion is that Dixon’s manner in discharging Ford was the cause of the difficulty; I am induced to think there were other causes, but I don’t know what they were; there were no charges against Ford in the House for dereliction of duty; thought him a very efficient clerk.
A. R. Lamar sworn: Knew nothing of the facts of the killing; sometime this week D. came into the Hall and said to F, as nearly as I can recollect. “If you can’t do my work, I shall have to get somebody else,” F. replied, but did not hear it; got up and went out; subsequently a letter was read by D. from F., stating circumstances of discharge, and closing with a threat; D. handed me the letter, which I read and he asked me what I thought of it; I said I did not regard it as much; that F. was a poltroon and coward, but I told him I would prepare for him. [Witness here produced the letter.] D. came into the Hall said he had met F. on the street, that F. said nothing to him, and made no demonstration yesterday morning while on his way to the Capitol; Mr. Dixon sent for me, and said he was not going to the Capitol and told me to attend to his duties, and to take another clerk; F. came to the Hall and looked in as I was reading the journal in a short time F. came and looked in again; heard after the journal was read that D. was dead; all the difficulty occurred the present week; so far as witness know; they had been on good terms previously; the bell was striking 11 o’clock when I left D; as I caused up I met F. on the corner, near Manassas Hall; did not speak to him, and passed on; when F. came to the door of the House the last time it must have been after 12 o’clock.
Hon. Geo. G. Vast of Mo., sworn: Knew nothing of the killing; on the 22d Mr. D. came to me about 3 o’clock and said he wished to have some talk; said he expected to have a difficulty with F., having been compelled to discharge him then detailed the circumstances under which he discharged him; F. replied to him, “Just as you please.” D. then said “vacate your seat.” F got up, took his hat and left; D. told witness he would avoid a difficulty; D, and witness walked to the corner and took a drink, came out and renewed the conversation; D. said to me “you see what a fool F is -- he is actually jealous of me about his wife” He went on to say that he one day and to Ford jocularly, it was a wonder such a fine looking woman would marry him. He after wards called him to an explanation and D. told me he believed he took offence at it. On another occasion he told me of the latter received from Ford conveying the threat; said he would have reinstated Ford if it had not have been for that. He spoke of me acting as his friend. I advised him against any difficulty; he wanted to get a knife and pistol; D. was armed at the time he had this conversation; he had a Colt’s revolver; don’t think it is the one produced.
Thos. D. Quarles sworn: Was only an eye witness of the shooting could not identify either of the parties; when I passed out of the Capitol Square; did so with a man I suppose was Ford; passed on and heard the report of pistols; turned around and saw the party I took to be the one that came out of the gate with me; he fired four times in the direction on of Manassas Hall; witness went into the yard in the rear of the halt, and remained there a short time; on coming out saw some men lifting D. on the sidewalk; before I could get round where he was he was dead. [Witness thought he recognized the larger pistol as the one used by Ford.] Heard four shots fired; I am sure Ford fired three times; if Dixon fired at all he fired after he reached the corner.
Thos. B. Gwatkins sworn: I got to the scene of the shooting after it was all over; Friday, after 11 o’clock, I met Ford on the Capital steps; had some conversation; he said. “If you see Gen. Hood tell him I want to see him down to the corner,” Mr. Dixon gave me a note to carry to Mr. Lamar; when I get to the spot where the shooting occurred D. was dead, and F. under arrest; Ford was armed in the morning — saw a belt; Mr. Dixon had two Derringer’s and a revolver and a double-barrel gun across his knees; I don’t know that Ford was intoxicated.
Charles E. Cardozo sworn: Thursday evening Mr. Dixon told me that on that morning he had to discharge Mr. Ford; he then read to me the postscript of a letter conveying threats; I told him I did not think anything would come of it; he was armed, and I asked him to my room, and he staid there; he came there on Friday, about 9 o’clock, and said Ford was after him; he went in my back room and state there till near one o’clock; he wanted to go out, but I kept him; he finally went out; Mr. D. said he would make no attack, only defend himself; he had two Derringers and the revolver, [ both shown;] I was in my store when I heard the shooting; knew nothing of it except the last fire, and saw Ford replace his pistol; Ford fired last; Dixon 1st his fail and his pistol, and made a side stagger and fell.
Washington Goodrick, sworn, detailed the main facts of the shooting as detailed by others: Was with D. at the time, and hoped, being an outsider, the shooting would cease for fear of injury to himself; met D. at Manassas Hall; D. took two drinks, and had taken three; D. got a small bottle of liquor at the Hall; witness regarded D. as acting in the affair strictly in self defence.
John A. Bowen sworn: Dixon fired after F.’s first shot; Goodrick was between the parties, was first commanding the peace alternately; the last shot fired by Ford was well aimed and deliberate, and after it Dixon dropped his pistol, staggered, and fell; believe that was the shot that struck Dixon.
The deposition of Dr. Jos. Beale showed the facts revealed by an autopsy of the body of Dixon. His opinion was that the bullet fired by Ford killed Dixon.
The Jury, after hearing the evidence, consulted together and returned as their verdict that the deceased, Robert Emmett Dixon, was killed, on Friday inst, by a pistol ball fired by Robert S. Ford with intent to kill.
The preliminary examination of Ford will probably take place before the Mayor to day, at the City Hall, he having been committed to await the result of the Coroner’s investigation.