1870, April 27: The “Great Capitol Disaster” occurred. The following account is from 1896, by Charles Poindexter who wrote a “Hand-Book and Guide” to the City of Richmond intended for tourists. As the description of the meeting makes clear, the vitriolic politics of the War era had hardly come to an end in 1865.
The fearful Capitol Disaster of April 27, 1870, was caused by the falling of the floor of a room in the northeast corner, used at the time by the Court of Appeals. The session of the court was attended by a packed mass of people, drawn to hear the decision in a case that would settle the question of carpet-bag rule in the city of Richmond. In those days of so-called reconstruction, the mayoralty had been usurped by a carpet-bagger, the contest against whom had nearly culminated in a bloody riot, only averted by the greatest prudence and forbearance. Under the weight of the great crowd gathered to hear the decision of the case the floor of the court-room gave way, precipitating the mass of humanity into the Hall of Delegates below. Sixty-five persons were killed and two hundred maimed and injured, many prominent citizens being among the victims of the disaster.