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As It Was: Post-Civil War Emotions Result in Christmas Day Brawl

The Civil War had been over for a year when inebriated supporters of opposing sides in the conflict clashed on Christmas Day in Roseburg, Ore.  The brawl left two dead and several injured in what became known statewide as the “Champagne Riot of 1866.”
Not everyone in Southern Oregon agreed on the war’s outcome, and a few Southern sympathizers set out to settle things on their own.  They left their late-night party at Goode’s Mill about 3 a.m. and barged into a Unionist dance at the home of Joseph Champagne about four miles outside Roseburg.  Knives were unsheathed, and shots fired by both sides.

Authorities arrested John Fitzhugh and John Hannan on murder charges.  Their trial aroused passions in the divided community.  The defense attorney was Lafayette Mosier, a prominent pro-slavery Democrat and son-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lane.  The prosecuting attorneys were all Union-supporting Republicans.

When the jury found the men guilty, the judge sought to accommodate each side by passing a light sentence that allowed the community to settle down and live in peace.

Sources: LaLande, Jeff. "Champayne Riot of 1866." The Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and Oregon Historical Society , 18 July 2017, https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/champagne_riot_of_1866/#.Wh3PsEqnGUl. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.

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Emily Blakely has published poetry and prose, and frequently displayed framed works at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center as well as restaurants and libraries in the area. Researching local history has become one of her favorite pastimes.