George Axiotis, local historian and author discusses the true story of an eager Deputy Sheriff who went to do the right thing but got himself and his posse into the largest shootout in Alexandria County history.
By the 1890’s Alexandria County, across the Potomac River from Washington DC, was a place of some promise and much vice. Jackson City sat in the swamp area at the Virginia end of the famed “Long Bridge”. The area around it was known as Hell’s Bottom, a lawless place of gambling, illegal liquor and vice where saloon owners and gamblers ignored the law, while politicians turned their backs. Armed with tenuous laws, newly elected Sheriff Willian Palmer and his Deputies were set to clean up the county. They busted up gaming and liquor parlors and brought those who worked them before ineffectual county judges only to see them get off lightly.Armed with tenuous laws and the tacit backing of newly elected Sheriff Palmer, on a cold night in February 1896, Deputy Sheriff Edward Deuterman decided to form a posse with a friend and eight local black men to raid a gambling saloon run by the all too well-known John C. Nelson. What was supposed to be a quick raid, instead ended in a hail of gunfire. Deuterman and his friend would come to near death from their wounds, one in his posse would be killed and four others wounded. The raid became the catalyst for a long and drawn out war against vice in Alexandria County which took nearly a dozen years to win.
George Axiotis is retired and now pursues local history stories. His first book, “Two Hills: A Story of Survival Between the Lines” was a fictional account of non-fictional events in what was then “Alexandria County” during the Civil War. “Shoot Out in Jackson City” is his second book and is based on painstaking research.