On November 5, 1855 a dastardly incident took place in the small town of Friars Point in Coahoma County, Mississippi. Archibald Dobbins stabbed to death Littleton Tennill while the two men were in a fight and he then escaped. According to witnesses the incident was in regard to the state election taking place on November 5th and 6th. Archibald Dobbins, a local planter had for awhile been placing bets on who would win the election.
Dobbins had moved to Coahoma County with his family from Maury County, Tennessee a few years before the deed occurred. Littleton Tennill was born about 1831 in Virginia. His parents were Alexander and Harriet Tennill and he had only recently moved to Friars Point from Rankin County, Mississippi.
On the night of November 5th, Lyttleton heard an argument in a house at Friars Point between Dobbins and another man over the election. Being friends with the other man Tennil walked into a room where the disagreement was taking place. Lyttleton and Archibald had never argued before today and he hoped he could stop anything bad from happening.
As soon as he entered the door, Dobbins ordered him to leave the house whereupon Tennill replied “he would not obey a command but that if he had requested him, as a gentleman, to leave the room, he should have done so with pleasure.” Dobbins then remarked, “he did request him as a gentleman.” Tennil replied “he did not!” Dobbins then called him a damned liar when Tennill struck him with his fist. At the same time, Dobbins stabbed him in the left side through his lung. The conflict ended as friends pulled the two men apart.
Archibald Dobbins left the house and Littleton Tennill was carried to the doctor. Tennill would live for thirty hours before passing away. Dobbins would be on the run several months before turning himself in for trial. Reward notices were placed in newspapers around the state.
In April 1856 the trial of Archibald Dobbins took place. James Lusk Alcorn, a wealthy planter and lawyer from Coahoma County, was his defense attorney. The trial resulted in the acquittal of Dobbins. Although this incident was not unusual in the delta before the Civil War, it gives evidence of how rough and tumble a world people lived in at that time. Dobbins would go on to become a general in Confederate Arkansas and James Lusk Alcorn would become Governor of Mississippi. Lyttleton Tennill left a widowed mother. Those were the times of Coahoma County in the 1850s.
“Vicksburg Daily Whig” Vicksburg, Mississippi. November 15, 1855, Thursday, Page 2. Newspapers.com
“Mississippian” Jackson, Mississippi. December 11, 1855, Tuesday, Page 3. Newspapers.com
“Vicksburg Whig”, Vicksburg, Mississippi. April 28, 1858, Wednesday, Page 2. Newspapers.com