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Re: 13 Confederate POW's Executed By 42nd Mo Inf

Not your case but interesting to set the stage...

Events: Union Occupation/Provost Marshall 7/1863-12/1866
Category: Civilian Letters
Origin: Nashville Dispatch
Location: Tullahoma, TN
Description: Execution of Confederate Guerillas Captured in Tullahoma Area

Execution of Confederate Guerillas Captured in Tullahoma Area
June 17, 1864

Yesterday, in the yard of the Penitentiary, five criminals expelled their crime by yielding their lives to the stern decrees of the law. In March last these men charged with murder of Union citizens, were tried by court martial at TULLAHOMA, and sentenced to death by hanging. Maj. Gen. Thomas approved the decision of the court, and the records were forwarded to President Lincoln for his approval. The papers were returned approved, and the sentence of the court ordered to be carried out. The names of the condemned were William lemond, Cyrus Lee Cathrey, Jesse B. Neven, Thomas R. West, and Benjamin West. The first three were citizens, and were charged with, 1st murder; 2d assault with intent to kill; 3d with robbery; the two last mentioned were charged with murder and robbery; and after an impartial trial were found guilty on each charge. During the last two weeks the prosoners have apparently desired t prepare themselves for their exit into the hereafter, and their religious exercises have been attended by the Rev. J.J. Thomnpson, of Hamilton, Ohio, and the Rev. J.w. Mason, of Lebanon, Ohio. Of the number, Cathrey and Neven were particularly devouit, and a few days since lemmond and West were baptized. The wife and child of Cahtrey remained with him in his cell during the night before his execution.

Upon arrival at the scene of the tragic termination of so many lives, we found that due preparation had been made for the final dissolution of the culprits. In the center of the yard of the Penitentiary was the scaffold, from the beam of which five ropes, each with a noose at the end, hung pendant, swaying to and fro with the morning breeze. Around the yard were drawn up several companies of the 31st Wisconsin, and squads of the same regiment surrounded the Penitentiary, to prevent any demonstration. The scaffold was guarded by a detachment of the 31st, under command of Co. West. Major Sherman and Captain Treat were the officers selected by Col. Horner to carry out the last dread details in the lives of the unhappy men. The arrangements for the execution were excellent througout, wing to the efficiency of Co. Horner, Provost Marshal.

We fond very few spectators upon the ground perhaps not more than fifty perhaps. The opinion that a late hour had been designated for the execution prevented the apperance of the multitude, as is too often the case, we are sorry to say, at similar scenes. At twenty minutes past ten o'clock the cuklprits emerged from a side door of the prison, attended by their spiritual advisers, a few soldiers, and the two officers above named. All approached and ascended the scaffold with firmness, and stood side by side, betraying little or no emotion. Fervent appeals to the Throne of Grace were made by the chaplains in attendance, and the oportunity was then given the doomed men to make their last ding speech. Each one of the men said a few words, the burden of which was a protestation of inocence of the crimes charged against them, but a belief in the ustice of the cause in which they had been engaged, and an earnest asservation that they died true Rebels.

After their hands and limbs were tied, the ropes were adjusted around their necks, this ceremony was met with composure by all but Cathrey, who, when he felt the rope touch his neck, swooned away, losing entirely the power of standing erect, and falling the length of the rope, swaying back and forth, until he was again assisted to his feet and held erect by the officrs in attendance. This ainful incident caused a profound sensation among those who were compelled to witness the scene.

At precisely 11 o'clock--the white camps having been drawn over their faces, shutting out from their gaze, forever, the glorious light of day the rope was severed, the drop fell, and the bodies hung suspended in the air; while their spirits, let us hope, ascended to the presence of their Creator, before whose tribunal all our deeds are impartially weighed and determined.

June 18, 1864

This report was provided the CWRC by Mr. James Jones, Tennessee Historical Commission
NOTE: The records of the Provost Marshal of the Union Army reveal that the men executed were probably responding to actions taken by the 5th Tennessee Cavalry, U.S. This Union unit had been recruited locally and seems to have been taking revenge on their Confederate neighbors. The Union officer commanding the brigade to which the 5th Tennessee was attached, Brigadier W.C. Whitaker, noted that the Tennessee unit had committed robbery and rape.

The Guerrillas had attacked Irwin C. McLean, a Union supporter, at is home near Boones Hill in Lincoln County. In this attack on December 14, 1863, the Guerrillas had taken $2,200, a horse, and clothing from McLean's home before killing him.

On December 15 the band had attacked near Shelbyville, killing William White and Gray Hyde who was a member of the 5th Tennessee. Later that same day the Guerrillas took 10 mules from Newcomb Thompson. On January 15, 1864, the same Guerrillas atacked a Union foraging party of two wagons on the Connellsville Road in Bedford County. They drove off the guard, burned the wagons, and took the horses. The Guerrillas were captured in February and were tried at Tullahoma before a Court Martial chaired by Colonel E.A. Curman, 13th New Jersey. They were found guilty and were sentenced to hang on June 17, 1864, between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.

The case, and others like it, is discussed more fully in With Blood and Fire:Life Behind Union Lines in Middle Tennessee, 1863-65 by Michael R. Bradley.


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