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[486] the right, Trimble on the third side. In the centre of the open space were two white stakes, ten feet apart. Then came a covered wagon, escorted by two companies with fixed bayonets and loaded guns. The cortege wheeled slowly round the exterior of the open space; the condemned got out, their coffins were taken from the wagon and placed by the stakes, and they sat on them. Each was attended by a priest, in clerical vestments, whose consolations were eagerly received. They were clad in the picturesque uniform of their company, the scarlet fez or skull-cap, light brown jacket, open in front, showing the red shirt, large Turkish trowsers, full and fastening just below the knee, of white and blue stripes, white garters and shoes. When they were in position and the wagon driven away, the left hand corner of the square opened and two sections of their own company, in full and perfect uniform appeared, marching in slow time down the centre, arms shouldered, and wheeled, each section opposite a man and a coffin, at ten paces distant. They ordered arms. The Major-General and staff then rode to the centre. The “Field officer of the day” read the findings of the courtand the sentences. The officers in charge of the firing parties ordered an inspection of arms. An officer caused the condemned to kneel, tied their arms behind them and around each stake, and drew a black bandage over their eyes. The silence was oppressive; not a breath was heard in that vast concourse. Around the square had gathered thousands from the neighboring camps, but the ring of the ramrods in the empty guns rattled upon the autumn air sharp and clear. The sun shone brightly and lit up the picturesque group around which such interests clustered, like a scene in some grand drama. The words of command vibrated quick and sharp: “Load at will; ready! Aim! Fire!!” One volley as from one gun, and the condemned sprang forward and fell over, the one on his face, the other on his side. Such. was the first military execution in the Army of the Potomac.

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Isaac R. Trimble (1)
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