An accusation made of cold blooded and deliberate murder of Federal Prisoners... without even the shadow of a pretext.

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Quite a few years ago I found something extremely interesting which would have certainly involved my 3rd Great Grandfather, if only a witness, who served and fought in Company "B", 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, as part of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade. Then, at the time of this incident, was comprised of the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers, the 12th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry, the 11th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry and the 9th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry. This being during Sherman`s March from Atlanta to Savannah in November and December of 1864.

Soon after the war was brought to a close Capt. Frank R. King, who was the Company Commander of my 3rd Great Grandfather`s Company "B", 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, wrote a letter to the Federal authorities on 16 Jul 1865 from Montevallo, Shelby, Alabama, accusing his former Brigade Commander, Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, of the crime of cold blooded and deliberate murder of Federal Prisoners, without even the shadow of a pretext.

I post a transcription of the letter below:

Montevallo, Ala. July 16th, 1865

Having been connected with the late Confederate Army I have the honor to respectfully submit to your consideration some facts connected with the history of one of the officers of that army, whose disregard of the common laws of humanity and the rules of civilized warfare, I consider my duty as the citizen of a Christian country to lay before the U. S. authorities.

The person to whom I allude is S. W. Ferguson, who formerly commanded a Cavalry Brigade and is now the resident of the State of S. Carolina. The crime which I charge against him is cold blooded and deliberate murder of Federal Prisoners, without even the shadow of a pretext.

During the fall Campaign of Maj. Genl. Sherman through the State of Georgia, a number of Federal Soldiers fell into the hands of Genl. Ferguson who without any higher authority than his own, caused many of these Prisoners to be carried off in a close distant manner and cruelly shot down. No less than ten Federal Prisoners were thus inhumanely murdered by his orders on one occasion, while many others besides these mentioned met their fate in a similar manner.

Nor did he desist in his diabolical course until a number of his subordinate officers being apprised of the facts sent to him their solemn and indignant protest. Coupled with a refusal to serve under him longer unless he can direct his warfare upon more just and humane principles.
The persons who are the witnesses of these executions perpetrated under Ferguson`s orders were members of the Brigade Provost Guards commanded by a Lt. W. C. Muldrow who resides in the State of Mississippi and who was present at the massacre and directed the affair in compliance with position orders from Genl. Ferguson.


Some of the Guards who persistently refused to fire upon the prisoners when ordered to do, were the first to make known the enormity, one of whom is a Mr. Frank Giovanni of Montgomery Ala. and who can furnish the names of many witnesses. Another is a Mr. L. D. Dock who resides near Montevallo, Ala.

Convinced that the author of such atrocities would not be allowed to go unnoticed if reported to the proper authorities, I deem it but right to lay the facts before you for your investigation, in order that the criminal may be made to feel the penalty of his guilt and held up to the scorn and ridicule of the civilized world.

I am very respectfully
your obedient servant,
Frank King, formerly
Capt. in Ferguson`s Brigade.


In the letter above you will notice the term "position orders" being used by Capt. King at one point. This makes reference to 'layering violations one atop another', as in his eyes the orders at this time issued by Brig. General Ferguson to kill captive Prisoners of War without even the shadow of a pretext, were orders to murder plain and simple, being acts against humanity and therefore violations. So when he would issue them consistently one after the other they were considered "position orders".

In as much, Samuel Wragg Ferguson all but confessed to these allegations much later in life when he was writing his memoirs. Below is how he understood things to be at the time according to his own perspective:

"the next morning (29 Oct 1864) I was ordered (General Hood) to turn back and command all the Cavalry in Georgia until General Wheeler, then on a raid, should return. I followed Sherman and picked up hundreds of prisoners, many of them stragglers out plundering, I have no idea how many of the latter class were killed on the spot for they were robbers and not entitled to the benefits of the rules of War."

So basically Brig. General S. W. Ferguson considered these men "stragglers out plundering" and "robbers" instead of prisoners of War who were captured as part of a foraging party. And then as Brig. General Ferguson states in his memoirs, "they were killed on the spot" being shot through the head with a pistol at close distance.

Which correlates with Capt. King`s account perfectly, substantiating what he claimed as being:

"a number of Federal Soldiers fell into the hands of Genl. Ferguson who without any higher authority than his own, caused many of these Prisoners to be carried off in a close distant manner and cruelly shot down."

Below is what Adjutant, 1st Lt. James M. Bullock, 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, testified about Capt. Frank R. King ("B" Troop) regarding his character during a Brigade inspection of the Regiment on 10 Jan 1865, while at Robertville, S.C. conducted by Capt. Ferry of General P. G. T. Beauregard`s staff:

"Of his gallantry I can hardly speak. Has not a decided character in that respect. Is in-attentive to his duty. Maintain`s his dignity. Morality and sobriety not good. Never saw him drunk, however, but once that I remember of. Has 15 to 25 or 30 men (effective). Aggregate 78. Has no reputation for attention to orders. Absent sick considerably. Complains a good deal of bad health. Is not under arrest."

The Confederate States Provost Guard:

The Provost Guard in Civil War Armies was roughly equivalent to today`s Military Police. Unlike the United States Army, the Confederacy did not create a separate provost department. Instead, it assigned officers, enlisted men and entire military units to Police duties for limited periods of time. The Articles of War adopted by the Confederacy "provided for provost marshals and for military courts to try army personnel charged with offenses against military law".

The provost marshals executed the orders of the military courts. In time, the provost guard performed a number of duties acting in his capacity of a military policeman. In lieu of a military court some times the commanding officer would pass sentence and then order the provost guards to carry out his sentence, such as being carried off and shot dead or being hanged for the crimes committed.

The provost marshal for Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow (1828 - 1900) of Company "H", Perrin`s Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry, which became designated as the 11th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment on 25 Mar 1865, remaining attached with Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, under whom they had served since 4 Feb 1864 as Sherman`s Meridian Expedition was being initiated. 1st Lieut. William C. Muldrow, from Starkville, Oktibbeha, Mississippi was the older brother of Lt. Col. Henry Lowndes Muldrow (1837 - 1905) commanding Perrin`s Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry.

It was 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow (1828 - 1900) and the men under him acting as provost guards for Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, who Capt. Frank R. King alleged in the above letter to have carried out the numerous executions of Federal Prisoners, ordered by Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, during "Sherman`s Fall Campaign through Georgia" in November and December of 1864, better known as: "Sherman`s march from Atlanta to the sea" (Savannah).

The last action performed by 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow, as provost marshal of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, was during the late afternoon of 4 May 1865 while still a part of President Jefferson Davis` Personal Escort and Bodyguard, when he was ordered directly by Brig. General Ferguson to relieve Col. William Boyles of his duty of the 56th Alabama Cavalry Regiment and place him under arrest for refusing to march farther down the road to the camp of General Breckinridge to continue in the War effort, as he was convinced that he and all of the others in Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade were included in the Surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston to Maj. General William T. Sherman at Bennett House, Durham Station, North Carolina on 26 Apr 1865.

This occurring as Ferguson`s men were being paid out in Mexican Silver and Gold, at their camp 1 mile west of Washington, Georgia on the road to Madison. After which around Midnight he convened his Cavalry Brigade to try and reason with them, but only 80 of his command said that they would continue on at which time a couple of hours after midnight in the early hours of 5 May 1865 Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson was left with no other option but to disband his command. Soon after this Brig. General Ferguson stated in his Journal that 1st Lt. Muldrow disappeared and he did not see him again.

Lt. Col. Henry L. Muldrow, the younger brother of 1st Lt. William C. Muldrow also refused to move his command to the new camp as Perrin`s 11th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment was the first to be paid out and thusly the first ordered by Brig. General Ferguson to march to the new camp farther out on the Madison road 6 miles west of Washington, Georgia.

Even though my 3rd Great Grandfather was not ordered to take the Federal Prisoners off at a close distance and shoot them, that being the Provost Marshall and Guard`s duty and responsibility, he would have helped capture them as stragglers and foragers, but once apprehended they were turned over to the Provost Department of the Brigade. Even though he would not have executed anyone he would have been made a witness to the killings at the very least, as would all of the men of the Brigade.

The Federal Government chose not to follow up on the accusations levied against Samuel Wragg Ferguson, figuring it all a part of war and in the interest of healing the great rift between the north and the south they just dismissed the allegations.

The 3 page letter which Capt. Frank R. King wrote accusing Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson of the "actions" is housed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and you may view it by following the link below.

http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/voices/id/1947/rec/6
 
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This worked both ways, there were Federal actions and threats made to execute Confederate prisoners as well. I will cite an example, below. Basically, in February 1865 Maj. General George H. Thomas (U. S. Army), who commanded the Department of the Cumberland at Nashville, TN., threated to execute a number of Confederate Prisoners previously captured in retaliation for the murder of some Federal soldiers by Confederate Guerillas who were acting without orders or authority.

Maj. General Nathan Bedford Forrest, on 23 Feb 1865, replied back by letter to Maj. General George H. Thomas and among other things, to include the exchange of prisoners, he stated the following:

"In regard to the murder of Federal soldiers by Guerillas and the threatened execution of a number of Ferguson`s Brigade for retaliation, I have nothing to say. I know nothing of the facts and can only forward the papers to General Beauregard, commanding the Military District of the West, for his consideration and action."

Below I have attached the OR regarding Forrest`s reply to Thomas from the War of the Rebellion.

Threats to execute some men of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade on 23 Feb 1865 (George H. Thomas 17 ...jpg


Threats to execute some men of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade on 23 Feb 1865 (George H. Thomas 17 ...jpg
 
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leftyhunter

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Quite a few years ago I found something extremely interesting which would have certainly involved my 3rd Great Grandfather, if only a witness, who served and fought in Company "B", 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, as part of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade. Then, at the time of this incident, was comprised of the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers, the 12th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry, the 11th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry and the 9th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry. This being during Sherman`s March from Atlanta to Savannah in November and December of 1864.

Soon after the war was brought to a close Capt. Frank R. King, who was the Company Commander of my 3rd Great Grandfather`s Company "B", 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, wrote a letter to the Federal authorities on 16 Jul 1865 from Montevallo, Shelby, Alabama, accusing his former Brigade Commander, Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, of the crime of cold blooded and deliberate murder of Federal Prisoners, without even the shadow of a pretext.

I post a transcription of the letter below:

Montevallo, Ala. July 16th, 1865

Having been connected with the late Confederate Army I have the honor to respectfully submit to your consideration some facts connected with the history of one of the officers of that army, whose disregard of the common laws of humanity and the rules of civilized warfare, I consider my duty as the citizen of a Christian country to lay before the U. S. authorities.

The person to whom I allude is S. W. Ferguson, who formerly commanded a Cavalry Brigade and is now the resident of the State of S. Carolina. The crime which I charge against him is cold blooded and deliberate murder of Federal Prisoners, without even the shadow of a pretext.

During the fall Campaign of Maj. Genl. Sherman through the State of Georgia, a number of Federal Soldiers fell into the hands of Genl. Ferguson who without any higher authority than his own, caused many of these Prisoners to be carried off in a close distant manner and cruelly shot down. No less than ten Federal Prisoners were thus inhumanely murdered by his orders on one occasion, while many others besides these mentioned met their fate in a similar manner.

Nor did he desist in his diabolical course until a number of his subordinate officers being apprised of the facts sent to him their solemn and indignant protest. Coupled with a refusal to serve under him longer unless he can direct his warfare upon more just and humane principles.
The persons who are the witnesses of these executions perpetrated under Ferguson`s orders were members of the Brigade Provost Guards commanded by a Lt. W. C. Muldrow who resides in the State of Mississippi and who was present at the massacre and directed the affair in compliance with position orders from Genl. Ferguson.


Some of the Guards who persistently refused to fire upon the prisoners when ordered to do, were the first to make known the enormity, one of whom is a Mr. Frank Giovanni of Montgomery Ala. and who can furnish the names of many witnesses. Another is a Mr. L. D. Dock who resides near Montevallo, Ala.

Convinced that the author of such atrocities would not be allowed to go unnoticed if reported to the proper authorities, I deem it but right to lay the facts before you for your investigation, in order that the criminal may be made to feel the penalty of his guilt and held up to the scorn and ridicule of the civilized world.

I am very respectfully
your obedient servant,
Frank King, formerly
Capt. in Ferguson`s Brigade.


In the letter above you will notice the term "position orders" being used by Capt. King at one point. This makes reference to 'layering violations one atop another', as in his eyes the orders at this time issued by Brig. General Ferguson to kill captive Prisoners of War without even the shadow of a pretext, were orders to murder plain and simple, being acts against humanity and therefore violations. So when he would issue them consistently one after the other they were considered "position orders".

In as much, Samuel Wragg Ferguson all but confessed to these allegations much later in life when he was writing his memoirs. Below is how he understood things to be at the time according to his own perspective:

"the next morning (29 Oct 1864) I was ordered (General Hood) to turn back and command all the Cavalry in Georgia until General Wheeler, then on a raid, should return. I followed Sherman and picked up hundreds of prisoners, many of them stragglers out plundering, I have no idea how many of the latter class were killed on the spot for they were robbers and not entitled to the benefits of the rules of War."

So basically Brig. General S. W. Ferguson considered these men "stragglers out plundering" and "robbers" instead of prisoners of War who were captured as part of a foraging party. And then as Brig. General Ferguson states in his memoirs, "they were killed on the spot" being shot through the head with a pistol at close distance.

Which correlates with Capt. King`s account perfectly, substantiating what he claimed as being:

"a number of Federal Soldiers fell into the hands of Genl. Ferguson who without any higher authority than his own, caused many of these Prisoners to be carried off in a close distant manner and cruelly shot down."

Below is what Adjutant, 1st Lt. James M. Bullock, 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, testified about Capt. Frank R. King ("B" Troop) regarding his character during a Brigade inspection of the Regiment on 10 Jan 1865, while at Robertville, S.C. conducted by Capt. Ferry of General P. G. T. Beauregard`s staff:

"Of his gallantry I can hardly speak. Has not a decided character in that respect. Is in-attentive to his duty. Maintain`s his dignity. Morality and sobriety not good. Never saw him drunk, however, but once that I remember of. Has 15 to 25 or 30 men (effective). Aggregate 78. Has no reputation for attention to orders. Absent sick considerably. Complains a good deal of bad health. Is not under arrest."

The Confederate States Provost Guard:

The Provost Guard in Civil War Armies was roughly equivalent to today`s Military Police. Unlike the United States Army, the Confederacy did not create a separate provost department. Instead, it assigned officers, enlisted men and entire military units to Police duties for limited periods of time. The Articles of War adopted by the Confederacy "provided for provost marshals and for military courts to try army personnel charged with offenses against military law".

The provost marshals executed the orders of the military courts. In time, the provost guard performed a number of duties acting in his capacity of a military policeman. In lieu of a military court some times the commanding officer would pass sentence and then order the provost guards to carry out his sentence, such as being carried off and shot dead or being hanged for the crimes committed.

The provost marshal for Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow (1828 - 1900) of Company "H", Perrin`s Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry, which became designated as the 11th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment on 25 Mar 1865, remaining attached with Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, under whom they had served since 4 Feb 1864 as Sherman`s Meridian Expedition was being initiated. 1st Lieut. William C. Muldrow, from Starkville, Oktibbeha, Mississippi was the older brother of Lt. Col. Henry Lowndes Muldrow (1837 - 1905) commanding Perrin`s Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry.

It was 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow (1828 - 1900) and the men under him acting as provost guards for Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, who Capt. Frank R. King alleged in the above letter to have carried out the numerous executions of Federal Prisoners, ordered by Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, during "Sherman`s Fall Campaign through Georgia" in November and December of 1864, better known as: "Sherman`s march from Atlanta to the sea" (Savannah).

The last action performed by 1st Lt. William Cannon Muldrow, as provost marshal of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, was during the late afternoon of 4 May 1865 while still a part of President Jefferson Davis` Personal Escort and Bodyguard, when he was ordered directly by Brig. General Ferguson to relieve Col. William Boyles of his duty of the 56th Alabama Cavalry Regiment and place him under arrest for refusing to march farther down the road to the camp of General Breckinridge to continue in the War effort, as he was convinced that he and all of the others in Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade were included in the Surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston to Maj. General William T. Sherman at Bennett House, Durham Station, North Carolina on 26 Apr 1865.

This occurring as Ferguson`s men were being paid out in Mexican Silver and Gold, at their camp 1 mile west of Washington, Georgia on the road to Madison. After which around Midnight he convened his Cavalry Brigade to try and reason with them, but only 80 of his command said that they would continue on at which time a couple of hours after midnight in the early hours of 5 May 1865 Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson was left with no other option but to disband his command. Soon after this Brig. General Ferguson stated in his Journal that 1st Lt. Muldrow disappeared and he did not see him again.

Lt. Col. Henry L. Muldrow, the younger brother of 1st Lt. William C. Muldrow also refused to move his command to the new camp as Perrin`s 11th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment was the first to be paid out and thusly the first ordered by Brig. General Ferguson to march to the new camp farther out on the Madison road 6 miles west of Washington, Georgia.

Even though my 3rd Great Grandfather was not ordered to take the Federal Prisoners off at a close distance and shoot them, that being the Provost Marshall and Guard`s duty and responsibility, he would have helped capture them as stragglers and foragers, but once apprehended they were turned over to the Provost Department of the Brigade. Even though he would not have executed anyone he would have been made a witness to the killings at the very least, as would all of the men of the Brigade.

The Federal Government chose not to follow up on the accusations levied against Samuel Wragg Ferguson, figuring it all a part of war and in the interest of healing the great rift between the north and the south they just dismissed the allegations.

The 3 page letter which Capt. Frank R. King wrote accusing Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson of the "actions" is housed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and you may view it by following the link below.

http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/voices/id/1947/rec/6
Interesting historical event . It's interesting to note that at least some Confederate soldiers objected to killing prisoners. They also most likely realized that killing prisoners is most definitely a game both sides can play.There appears to be a perception that warfare in the Nineteenth Century was more chivalrous then modern warfare. As those who have actually studied the ACW " that ain't necessarily so".
Leftyhunter
 
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TerryB

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I have an ancestor who was accused of murdering prisoners at Nickajack Gap, Georgia in April 1864 while a staff officer under Wheeler. My research indicated that a lieutenant from a Ky Bn more likely was the culprit. The name Ferguson is interesting in the OP because separate research shows that a guerilla leader of that name in the Dalton area routinely murdered prisoners and at times Wheeler's men refused to turn any prisoners over to him until their safety could be guaranteed. I'm going to have to check my records on the name, but I'm just going on memory that it was Ferguson. [I have to edit this, because the guerilla's name was Gatewood, who was alleged to have ridden with Champ Ferguson earlier in the war. That must be why the name Ferguson seemed so familiar.]
 

Kurt G

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From Greg Coco's book "Killed in Action" , Private James Bedell of the 7th Michigan Cavalry was captured after his horse was shot out from under him . He could not keep up with his captors so the Confederate Lt. in command of the provost guard struck him down with a saber blow to the skull and left him for dead . He was discovered by Union forces and lingered on until August 15th .
 

James N.

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A great part of the trouble with all this can certainly be laid at the feet of W. T. Sherman, whose policy in living off the land basically made robbers and plunderers of what had heretofore been regular soldiers. Without going (AGAIN!) into the rights and wrongs committed by BOTH sides during the March to the Sea, the practice of organized foraging as carried out by Sherman's personal orders is described in histories like Burke Davis' Sherman's March and soldier memoirs like Robert Hale Strong's A Yankee Private's Civil War. With such foraging being official policy it's no wonder that excesses occurred routinely and that Federal parties and certainly individual soldiers or "bummers" just as routinely killed for their outrages committed on the civilian population. Strong's account details the personal hazards involved in this delegated everyday duty.
 
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TerryB

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A great part of the trouble with all this can certainly be laid at the feet of W. T. Sherman, whose policy in living off the land basically made robbers and plunderers of what had heretofore been regular soldiers. Without going (AGAIN!) into the rights and wrongs committed by BOTH sides during the March to the Sea, the practice of organized foraging as carried out by Sherman's personal orders is described in histories like Burke Davis' Sherman's March and soldier memoirs like Robert Hale Strong's A Yankee Private's Civil War. With such foraging being official policy it's no wonder that excesses occurred routinely and that Federal parties and certainly individual soldiers or "bummers" just as routinely killed for their outrages committed on the civilian population. Strong's account details the personal hazards involved in this delegated everyday duty.
Shannon's Scouts, later involved in the attempt to capture Kilpatrick at Monroe's Crossroads, routinely executed captured bummers if they suspected them of murder and rapine.
 
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Interesting historical event . It's interesting to note that at least some Confederate soldiers objected to killing prisoners. They also most likely realized that killing prisoners is most definitely a game both sides can play.There appears to be a perception that warfare in the Nineteenth Century was more chivalrous then modern warfare. As those who have actually studied the ACW " that ain't necessarily so".
Leftyhunter
I agree Lefty... The letter that Capt. King wrote was genuine and captured the humanity that he and his fellow Officers of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade had regarding the rules of engagement. For them to rise and speak against their Brigade Commander like that took some courage. He could have severely punished them for disobeying his orders... When I first read the letter a few years back I was stunned by the accusation, it sat with me for a while and really started me thinking of other things that my 3rd Great Grandfather, and others in both armies had to endure while fighting the ACW. I was relieved to find out that it was the Provost guards that had to do the executions and not the rank and file of the Brigade.
 

leftyhunter

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I agree Lefty... The letter that Capt. King wrote was genuine and captured the humanity that he and his fellow Officers of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade had regarding the rules of engagement. For them to rise and speak against their Brigade Commander like that took some courage. He could have severely punished them for disobeying his orders... When I first read the letter a few years back I was stunned by the accusation, it sat with me for a while and really started me thinking of other things that my 3rd Great Grandfather, and others in both armies had to endure while fighting the ACW. I was relieved to find out that it was the Provost guards that had to do the executions and not the rank and file of the Brigade.
A friend of mine was commanded a rifle company in Vietnam. While stationed in the US some old timer's told him that sometimes a unit captures a lot of prisoners and in order to move quickly on the offensive sometimes said encumbered US troops just have to dispose of their burden.
War is more grey then black and white that's for sure.
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privateflemming

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The 3rd Virginia Cavalry which one of my 2nd great-grandfathers served in was accused by multiple Union sources of making a point to shoot or saber unarmed slaves who who were attempting to flee with the Union army across a bridge and beating ones they did capture after they routed the Union forces at the First Battle of Ream's Station on June 29, 1864. Confederate sources from the 3rd Virginia simply say they captured a few hundred slaves at this time, but as much as I'd like to believe my ancestor wouldn't have taken part in something like this it does fit with the overall attitudes and actions of other members of the 3rd Virginia including my 2nd great-grandfather (who also came from the slave owning class like many of the 3rd Virginia). Additionally, this happened just one month after the 3rd Virginia had been badly repulsed from an attack on Fort Pocahontas manned by two black regiments (Battle of Wilson's Wharf), so "revenge" may have been a motive.

My 2nd great-grandfather died in 1925 and was infamously heard by my grandfather to say in old age that he would have died a happier man if he had "killed more Yankees." If anyone took part in a massacre, someone as bloodthirsty as him seems like a likely candidate. I obviously do "identify" with my ancestor to an extent which is why I'm so interested in his experiences but that doesn't mean I think he was a good person or we're very much a like, although maybe one way we are alike is that I also have strong beliefs. If I was around in 1861 I can see myself being some ruthless jayhawker, and if I had met my 2nd great-grandfather on a battlefield I'd have no problem killing him (as long as it didn't lead to a time warp with me not existing of course).
 
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privateflemming, thanks for sharing that. You wrote: "so revenge may have been a motive". This could have very much been a factor. Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson had fought against Sherman for more than half of the War, as did the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry and the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers under his command and under the command of Brig. General Daniel Ruggles before him. They had fought against Sherman in northern Mississippi, west Tennessee and north Alabama from early April 1863 to October 1863. They opposed Sherman`s march from the Big Black river at Memphis to Chattanooga in October and November 1863. They fought against Sherman`s forces when they carried Brig. General Nathan Bedford Forrest through the Federal lines and screened his movements into middle Tennessee so that he could raise his last cavalry division of the war and then saw him back safely into Mississippi again with his newly recruited division from December 3, 1863 - December 28, 1863. They fought against Sherman again during the Great Mississippi Expedition (Meridian Campaign) from February 1864 to March 1864. They saw their bloodiest and hardest fighting of the war against Sherman`s army during the Atlanta / Dalton Campaign from May 1864 - September 1864. They fought against Sherman`s army from September 1864 - November 1864 around Atlanta after the city fell, as well as fighting his forces in north Georgia and north-east Alabama during this time. Then for 300 miles they aggressively harassed the rear and attacked the vanguard and flanks of Sherman`s army during his Fall March through Georgia, from November 1864 to December 1864 from Atlanta to Savannah (March from Atlanta to the Sea). They dismounted and took to the trenches at Savannah on December 10, 1864 opposing Sherman until the city fell on December 21, 1864, just days before Christmas. They Fought Sherman up through the Carolinas until they were called up by President Jefferson Davis to make up part of his personal escort and body-guard from Greensboro, North Carolina to Washington, Georgia near the end of the war from April 12, 1865 - May 5, 1865.

So you could say that Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson, as well as my 3rd Great Grandfather with the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, made their careers during the ACW specifically fighting against General Sherman and his army, from Mississippi to North Carolina. Including while Sherman was implementing his "Scorched Earth" policy (hard war) first; during his March from Vicksburg to Meridian, Ms. and second; months later during his March from Atlanta to the Sea (Savannah), which saw a great deal of destruction of personal property and the great suffering of a plethora of civilians of the south whose only crime was being found to be in the path of Sherman`s army as a direct result of these two marches.

Maybe by the time of Sherman`s March from Atlanta to Savannah, when this allegation occurred, after 20 months of constant fighting against Sherman and his army by that time, perhaps Ferguson was well frustrated with him and ordered these atrocities to be committed by his Provost Marshal and guards purely out of revenge, anger, frustration or spite. It is quite possible... Or he could have been retaliating against what he perceived and considered to be "thieves" and "robbers" out plundering, stealing and foraging taking everything from the southern citizenry as he later stated in his memoirs, when he wrote: "I followed Sherman and picked up hundreds of prisoners, many of them stragglers out plundering, I have no idea how many of the latter class were killed on the spot for they were robbers and not entitled to the benefits of the rules of War." Either way the order was given and it was expected to be fully executed and carried out as it was ordered. Ferguson`s own words in his memoirs makes this point clear and concise.
 
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James N.

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My 2nd great-grandfather died in 1925 and was infamously heard by my grandfather to say in old age that he would have died a happier man if he had "killed more Yankees." If anyone took part in a massacre, someone as bloodthirsty as him seems like a likely candidate. I obviously do "identify" with my ancestor to an extent which is why I'm so interested in his experiences but that doesn't mean I think he was a good person or we're very much a like, although maybe one way we are alike is that I also have strong beliefs. If I was around in 1861 I can see myself being some ruthless jayhawker, and if I had met my 2nd great-grandfather on a battlefield I'd have no problem killing him (as long as it didn't lead to a time warp with me not existing of course).
I wouldn't necessarily say this sentiment was either evidence he was "bloodthirsty" or even reflected his true feelings: many others expressed the same, as demonstrated in the enormously popular song of the postwar era, I'm A Good Ol' Rebel:

"...I fought with ol' Marse Robert for four years, near about;
Got wounded in three places and starved at Pint Lookout.
I catched the rheumatism from campin' in the snow;
But I killed a chance o' Yankees - I'd like to kill some mo!


...Three hundred thousand Yankees lie stiff in Southern Dust -
We got three hundred thousand before they conquered us.
They died of Southern fever, of Southern steel and shot;
But I wish it was three million instead of what we got!"
 
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privateflemming

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Messages
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Location
California, USA
I wouldn't necessarily say this sentiment either was evidence he was "bloodthirsty" or even reflected his true feelings: many others expressed the same, as demonstrated in the enormously popular song, I'm A Good Ol' Rebel:
I think it did represent his true feelings. My grandfather knew him as a young kid and he was known to love talking about the war and his role in it. On the occasion where he said this, he was playing chess on the porch with another Confederate veteran and my grandfather's mother (this guy's daughter-in-law) immediately shooed him away so he wouldn't hear the rest. She knew it wasn't just some flippant remark. I know the song Good Old Rebel and I think it's a bloodthirsty song written by really bitter ex-Confederates who meant it.
 
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For those who have never heard the song; "I'm A Good Ol' Rebel", referenced above by James N., it was written after the war by Major Innes Randolph (C.S.A.), a Confederate Veteran and southern poet. To listen to it follow the link below:

To make the song play click the "watch this video on youtube" tab after getting the "video unavailable" warning.

 
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privateflemming

Private
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
123
Location
California, USA
For those who have never heard the song; "I'm A Good Ol' Rebel", referenced above by James N., it was written after the war by Major Innes Randolph (C.S.A.), a Confederate Veteran and southern poet. To listen to it follow the link below:

To make the song play click the "watch this video on youtube" tab after getting the "video unavailable" warning.

I like the version sung by the ex-Confederate guerrilla Jesse James and his gang from the great movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford:

 
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