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The Battle of Hayes Pond refers to an armed confrontation between the Ku Klux Klan and Lumbee Native Americans near Maxtonmarker, North Carolinamarker on the night of January 18, 1958.

Events leading up to the confrontation

During the 1950s, the Ku Klux Klan waged a campaign of terror throughout the American South. In 1957, Klan Wizard James W. "Catfish" Cole of South Carolinamarker began a campaign of harassment against his neighbors to the north, the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolinamarker. Declaring the Lumbee to be "mongrels," Cole told newspapers: "There's about 30,000 half-breeds up in Robeson County and we are going to have some cross burnings and scare them up."

The new year began with a wave of Klan terror. On January 13, 1958, a group of Klansmen burned a cross on the lawn of a Lumbee woman in the town of St. Pauls, North Carolinamarker as "a warning" because she was "having an affair" with a White American man. The Klan held still more cross burnings while Cole traveled throughout the county speaking out against the "mongrelization" of the races.

Pleased with the Klan's campaign of terror directed against the Lumbees, Cole planned a massive Klan rally to be held on January 18, 1958, near the small town of Maxtonmarker, North Carolina. Cole predicted that 5,000 rallying Klansmen would remind the Lumbees of "their place." Cole hoped that his efforts at cowing the Lumbee into submission would consolidate his control over the Klan in the Carolinas.

Not surprisingly, Cole's speeches, particularly his inflammatory references to the "loose morals" of Lumbee women, provoked anger among the Lumbees. Robeson County Sheriff Malcolm McLeod went to see Cole and told him that "his life would be in danger if he came to Maxton and made the same speech he'd been making." Cole proceeded with his plans undeterred. He was convinced that a strong show of force would prove an unequivocal demonstration of white supremacy and put an end to what he perceived to be rampant "race mixing" in Robeson County.

The night of the battle

On the night of the battle, only 50 Klansmen out of the planned 5,000 arrived at the designated rally point. However, before Cole could begin the rally, over 500 well armed Lumbee suddenly appeared, fanned out across the highway and encircled the assembled Klansmen. The Lumbee began making whooping noises and then opened fire on the Klansmen. Four Klansmen were wounded in the first volley fired by the Lumbee, but none were seriously injured. The remaining Klansmen however panicked and fled the scene, leaving their families, public address system, unlit cross, and various Klan regalia behind. James W. "Catfish" Cole reportedly left his wife and escaped through a nearby swamp.

The battle's aftermath

After the battle, the Lumbee held a "victory party", burned the Klan's abandoned regalia, and danced around an open fire. The Battle of Hayes Pond is remembered as one of the most significant events in Lumbee history and is celebrated annually as a Lumbee holiday. Moreover, the Battle of Hayes Pond received national attention. Newspapers mocked the Klan and praised the Lumbee. North Carolina Governor Luther H. Hodges denounced the Klan in a press statement. The embarrassed James W. "Catfish" Cole was prosecuted, convicted, and served a two-year sentence for inciting a riot. Unnerved by their rout by the Lumbee, the Klan ceased its activities in Robeson County until 1984, when the White Patriot Party, led by Frazier Glenn Miller (who later became an FBI informant), held a Klan rally there on November 20. 150 heavily armed Klansmen and 250 local Whites attended the rally, at a private farm rented for the purpose, many carrying Confederate Battle Flags. A cross burning was held as well, and there were no major incidents because of a visible law enforcement presence. Another KKK rally was held (after an earlier cancellation) at the opposite end of Robeson County in early 1985, near the spot of the Battle of Hayes Pond. Again, there were about 400 people present, there were no incidents and the KKK resumed activity in the county.

References

  • "The Night the Klan Met Its Match" FayObserver, January 18, 2008
  • "Raid by 500 Indians balks North Carolina Klan rally." New York Times, January 19, 1958, page 1.
  • "Cole Says His Rights Violated." Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: A1.
  • "The Lumbees Ride Again." Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: 4A.
  • Morrison, Julian. "Sheriff Seeks Klan Leader's Indictment: Cole Accused of Inciting Riot Involving Indians and Ku Klux." Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: A1-3.
  • "Cole faces indictment; disgusted . . . quits." Robesonian, 21 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • Ryan, Ethel. "Indians who crushed rally were mature tribesmen." Greensboro Record 21 Jan. 1958: A1.
  • "Judge deplores Klan entry into peaceful Indian land." Robesonian 22 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • "Redskins whoop Lumbee victory." Robesonian 23 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • Brown, Dick. "The Indians who routed the ‘Catfish’." News and Observer 26 Jan. 1958: Sec. 3 p. 1.
  • "North Carolina: Indian raid." Newsweek 51 (27 Jan. 1958): 27.
  • "Bad medicine for the Klan: North Carolina Indians break up Kluxers’ anti-Indian meeting." Life 44 (27 Jan. 1958): 26-28.
  • "When Carolina Indians went on the warpath–." U. S. News and World Report 44 (31 Jan. 1958): 14.
  • "Indians back at peace and the Klan at bay." Life 44 (3 Feb. 1958): 36-36A.
  • "Klan Wizard Cole gets 2-year sentence; Titan Martin draws 12 months. Both free on bond; both file appeal." Robesonian 14 March 1958: 1.
  • "Heap bad Kluxers armed with gun, Indian angry paleface run." Ebony, 13 (April 1958): 25-26, 28.
  • "Lumbee Indians form own news service." News and Observer 10 April 1958: 23.
  • Craven, Charles. "The Robeson County Indian uprising against the Ku Klux Klan." South Atlantic Quarterly 57 (Autumn 1958): 433-42.
  • Henderson, Bruce. "Robeson civic leader dies at 69: Simeon Oxendine won fame confronting Klan." Charlotte Observer 28 Dec. 1988: 1B.
  • Tyson, Timothy B. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams & the Roots of Black Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
  • A White Man speaks out, by F. Glenn Miller, Chapter 9: Rallies In Indian Territory: Robeson County


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