The execution of Mumford.
The New York Herald
, of Thursday, the 19th inst., contains the following detailed account of the willful murder of Wm. B. Mumford
in New Orleans by Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler
It is furnished by the Herald's
New Orleans correspondent, under date of June 7, as follows:
We have no lack of excitement to-day.
What with raising the Stars and Stripes on one public building, and hanging a man for hauling them down from another, besides the arrival of three steamers from New York and Philadelphia
, viz: the Blackstone
, the Roanoke
, and the Suwance, we have had a pretty lively time of it.
I sent yesterday by the Connecticut
the order of Gen. Butler
for the execution of Wm. B. Mumford
, convicted of an overt act of treason, in pulling down the American
flag from the Mint, after it had been raised there by Flag-Officer Farragut
The solemn tragedy provided for by that order was enacted this morning, and the soul of the rash and guilty man stands now before its Maker.--I was with the doomed man frequently previous to his execution, and obtained from him some particulars of his life, which, as this is the first instance in the history of our country where a man has received the punishment of death for treason, will possess a strong interest for your readers.
On Thursday night, Capt. Stafford
, Assistant Provost Marshal
, acting in place of Col. J. H. French
, who was confined to the house by sickness, waited on Mumford
and read to him the General's order
for his execution on the second morning following.
He also urged the prisoner with great earnestness not to indulge in the hope of a reprieve, but to devote the short time left him to reeking the intersession of for men. Mumford
listened to him with respectful attention, but maintained the most stolid composure, merely protesting his perfect innocence of the charge against him.
The next morning I visited him and found him as cool and collected as though there was nothing to mar the prospect of a long and happy life in store for him. I conversed at length with him, and found his mind to be in the most self-complacent frame.
He repeated over and over again, that he was innocent of the crime imputed to him, and that he had labored hard to prevent riotous conduct since our occupation of this city, and claimed that he had saved the life of one of our soldiers from the hands of an infuriated mob. He said it was hard for an innocent man to die a felon's death, but that he had no fear, and should meet his fate without trembling.
Three times, he said, he had met the King
of Terrors face to face, and never sent for a minister nor offered a prayer for himself, and he did not care to see a clergyman in his present strait; not that he held the cloth in contempt, or looked upon churches with disfavor, but he had a religion of his own, which he had practiced through life, and which he had perfect confidence would carry him safely to heaven, or whatever place was appropriated to the other good men in this world.
Said he, ‘"I never committed an intentional sin in my life, and have always done unto others as I would be done by, and when, to-morrow, I am no longer in this world, you can say that as just and good a man as there is in the city of New Orleans
has gone from your midst."’ He expressed great affection for his wife and children, for whom only he cared to live.
In the evening his wife and children visited him, and afterwards Rev. Mr. Salter
of the Thirteenth Connecticut regiment, called with the hope of administering some consolation.
received him pleasantly and conversed freely, but could not be persuaded to accept his ministrations, though he expressed himself as pleased with the interview.
This morning I called again on him, and found his wife and three children with him, bidding him the last long farewell.
He had slept throughout the whole night, and was quite free from nervousness.
is a delicate, respectable looking lady, and the children are quite interesting.
The oldest is a girl of fourteen years of age, and the others boys of some six or seven years of age. The interview was, of course, extremely affecting, and the prisoner, for the first and only time, broke down and groaned piteously, Chaplain Salter
came in, and at the request of Mrs. Mumford
engaged in an earnest prayer for the soul of him who would so soon be beyond the knowledge of man. Mumford
preserved a respectful attention, and appeared not displeased.
After his family left he continued for some time excited, and paced the room and protested his innocence, but by the time that he was ordered to prepare to leave the prison, his emotion had ceased, and he was again entirely self-possessed.
At a little before ten o'clock, an army ambulance was before the prison door, and, attended by a guard, Mumford
was placed in it, accompanied by Chaplain Salter
The procession was then formed, with Captain Magee
's company of cavalry in advance, Capt. Stafford
and his Deputy Provost Marshals following; then seven companies of the 12th Maine regiment, under command of Col. Kimball
, with the ambulance in the centre.
The line of march was taken through Fulton street, up past Jackson Square, through Canda and Empanada streets, to the U. S. Mint.
The procession was followed by an immense crowd, that had surrounded the Custom-House
from an early hour in the morning.
In front of the Mint there were probably ten thousand people, a fair proportion being women, with infants at their breasts.
The house-tops in the neighborhood were also covered with curious observers.
The scaffold, which was of very simple construction, had been erected from the portico right in the centre of the front of the Mint.
The prisoner, with his escort, was taken up to a room on a floor level with the portico, and then allowed to rest some time.--The chaplain again endeavored to induce him to rely on a higher power than his own righteousness, but without any success.
He reiterated his thorough confidence in the correctness of his whole life to insure his future happiness.
In about half an hour he was enveloped in a long flowing, black domico, his collar and cravat were removed, his arms pinioned, and he was then conducted to the gallows.
He stepped upon it with great firmness and without the least hesitancy.
read the order for the execution, and then gave the prisoner permission to address the crowd.
He made a long, rambling speech, which was a mere repetition of his assertion of innocence, and of his peculiar views on his future existence, and closed with an appeal to his hearers to imitate him in bringing up their children righteously.
The crowd received his remarks in perfect silence, and did not at any time make the slightest demonstration, although the night before the rowdies of the city held a meeting and voted that Mumford
should not be hung.
They certainly chose the wiser part in not interfering with the administration of justice.
A black silk mask was then put over Mumford
's face, the noose adjusted to his neck, the hood drawn over his head and at five minutes before eleven o'clock, Capt. Stafford
waved his handkerchief three times, the drop fell, and the unfortunate man was in the limitless shore of eternity.
His coolness was wonderful.
In speaking his voice was perfectly steady, and when the hood was drawn over his head I could not discover so much as a tremor of his hands.
The fall, which was about four feet, dislocated his neck; but owing to a slight accident the knot was displaced and worked up under his chin, leaving the windpipe partly free.
The result was that muscular contraction did not cease for ten minutes, though it was at no time violent.--The body hung for 30 minutes, when Dr. W. T. Black
, surgeon of Gen. Shepley
's staff, who, with Dr. Geo. A. Blake
, of the United States Sanitary Commission, was in attendance on the execution, ascended a ladder and ascertained that the heart ceased to beat.
The body was then allowed to hang nearly twenty minutes longer, when it was cut down and placed in a plain pine coffin.
The crowd then dispersed quietly.
At five o'clock in the afternoon of the day of the execution, the remains were taken from the Mint, and under an escort from the 12th Maine regiment and followed by their carriages, containing the bereaved family and a few friends, were borne to the Firemen's Cemetery
and deposited in a tomb where three children of deceased had been previously buried.
The following brief sketch of the life of Mumford
is mostly from his own lips.
He was born of a very respectable family in Onslow county, N. C.
, on the 6th December, 1819. and was consequently at the time of his death in the 43d year of his age. When but three years of age, his father died, leaving him about $50,000. While yet a boy he went, to Florida
, and remained there during the Florida
war, returning to his home in 1832.
In 1842 he left his home and went up the Red river
, where he married an estimable lady, acquiring considerable property with her. In 1844 he came to this city, where he remained until 1846, when he went to Mexico
as an Orderly Sergeant
in the Third Louisiana regiment of Gen. Persifer F. Smith
Shortly after he arrived in Mexico
he broke his leg, got sick, and was discharged from service. --Since then he has followed gambling as a profession, and was so noted for his proficiency at cards that planters would come to the city and furnish him, money to play with, giving him half of all he could win. He was wild as a boy, and in manhood squandered his own and his wife's fortunes, leaving his family at his death in dependent circumstances.
He was uneducated, but not unintelligent, and I think his impulses were generally kindly.
In person he was of middle height, about five feet seven, broad framed, but quite thin, dark complexion and eyes, straight, glossy black hair, and a large, flowing brown beard and moustache.
His face was deeply pitted with small pox. Before his death he requested that his heard should not be cut. On the morning of his execution he was dressed very carefully and neatly in a black and apparently new suit, white shirt and collar, and a black felt hat.
[Undoubtedly the writer of the foregoing has indulged in some falsehood in giving a sketch of Mumford
Yet it appears that he met his death like a hero, and his blood now calls from the ground for vengeance.]