Napoleon Garner

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Napoleon B. Garner (died November 1842 in San Augustine, Texas) was a merchant and murderer.

Garner resided in Tuscaloosa in the 1830s and was among the city's prominent merchants. He married the former Ann Lewis McConnell of Fayetteville, Tennessee in 1831 and had four children.

Garner's criminal activities were described by Benjamin Porter: "About 1837, a singular outbreak took place in the way of homicides. A great many murders took place, and nearly all of them went unpunished. A Napoleon B. Garner, a small, delicate-featured man, was the great killer at Tuscaloosa. He fired his guns and pistols at any and every body. A Polander named Kurella was shot by him in the streets of Tuscaloosa, with a double barrelled[sic] gun. Kurella had spoken freely of Garner's disposition, and the killing was the result.'

In 1839 Garner was serving a sentence in the Tuscaloosa County Jail, but by 1841 he was living in east Texas, then in the throes of the Regulator-Moderator War. In December of that year, Garner petitioned the Republic of Texas for protection from "armed bands of self styled Regulators" who had carried off his slaves in an affront which he concluded was motivated by his own "frank and independent expression of [his] opinion against the principle of Regulating."

In November 1842 Garner was shot to death by General J. Pinckney Henderson in San Augustine, Texas. Garner had made many public threats to murder Henderson and, "was considered a complete desperado.". Henderson happened upon Garner while the latter was pointing a gun at a prisoner in the Sheriff's custody. Someone was able to grab the gun out of Garner's hands to end that confrontation, but at the same moment, Henderson emerged from a nearby house where he had borrowed a gun to confront Garner. Though he was then unarmed, the general proceeded to fire the fatal shot and then surrendered himself. In his defense he stated, "I regret that the beast forced me to do that which some ruffian ought to have done but I shall never regret that I killed him as I am sure he would have killed me.' The investigating court ruled the homicide justifiable. Henderson was later elected Governor of Texas.

Garner's widow was later married to Charles Stewart and moved with him to New York City.

References

  • Act No. 113, 'Making appropriations for the payment of certain claims against the State." (1839) Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama, p. 197
  • N. B. Garner to K. L. Anderson (December 18, 1841) "Petition to the Members of Congress of the Republic of Texas." Petition 11584106, Texas State Library-Archives Division, Austin, Texas
  • "Melancholy Event" (November 19, 1842) Houston Morning Star.
  • Porter, Benjamin F. (1983) Reminisces of Men and Things in Alabama. Edited by Sara Wells. Tuscaloosa: Portals Press. ISBN 0916620565
  • Jent, Steven (1999) Browser's Book of Texas History. Taylor Trade Publishing ISBN 9781461708537 (note that Jent dates Henderson's acquittal to April 1841, but contemporary accounts of the shooting affirm that it took place in 1842.)