It isn't said who struck first, but it is known that the White Democrats had the numbers and weapons advantage. On this date in 1868, the groups squared off in town in the early morning.
As the battles raged on well in to the afternoon and evening hours, several Blacks were caught, shot, and some later executed for the uprising. The White militia forces drove the resistance in to neighboring swamps and captured or killed the opposition on sight, in most cases.
|Police of Recently Emancipated Negroes|
Town of Opelousas
Twelve leaders of the Black Republicans who were seized were lynched the following day, which sparked a round of anti-Black violence and sentiment throughout the region. In the end, an estimated 150 to 300 Blacks were killed as a result of the race riot and an accurate number has yet to be determined even after years of research. Whites were also killed, with the numbers varying between 30 to 50 in most reports.
As tensions rose in the South for decades after the massacre, the lack of justice and information about the standoff shows that care must be taken to preserve the African-American legacy for future generations.