Execution of two Confederate officers at spies trial by drum head Court martial — the Coolness with which they meet their death.
We have published a brief notice of the execution of Captain Lawrence Williams
and Lieutenant W. G. Peter
, of General Bragg
's army, by the order of Gen. Rosecrans
, at Franklin, Tenn.
, on the 8th instant.
They entered the Federal
lines dressed in Federal uniforms, with their Confederate caps covered with white flannel havelocks.
represented himself to be Colonel Austin
, U. S. A., and Lieutenant Peter
assumed the character of Major Dunlop
, both representing themselves as Inspectors General."They deceived Col. Baird
, the commandant of the post, and had gotten three miles on their way to Nashville
, when he, suspecting their character, sent a message for them to return, as he wished some further conversation with them.
This they politely consented to do, and were thus made prisoners.
was then telegraphed, and replied that there were no such officers in his army.
From a letter written by the Surgeon
of the 85th Indiana to the Nashville Press
we get the above facts and these still more painful ones that follow:
Long before the dispatch was received, however, every one who had an opportunity of hearing their conversation was well satisfied that they were spies; smart as they were, they gave frequent and distinct evidence of duplicity.
After this dispatch came to hand, which it did about 12 o'clock, (midnight) a search of their persons was ordered.
To this the Major
consented without opposition, but the Colonel
protested against it, and even put his hand to his arms.
But resistance was useless, and both submitted.
When the Major
's sword was drawn from the scabbard there were found etched upon it these words: "Lieut. W. G. Peter
, C. S. A." At this discovery Col. Baird
remarked, "Gentlemen, you have played this d — d well." "Yes," said Lieut. Peter
, "and it came near being a perfect success.
" They then confessed the whole matter, and upon further search various papers showing their guilt were discovered upon their persons.--Lieut. Peter
was found to have on a rebel cap, secreted by the white flannel havelock.
immediately telegraphed the facts to Gen. Rosecrans
, and asked what he should do, and in a short time received an order "to try them by a drum-head Court Martial, and if found guilty hang them immediately.
" The Court
was convened, and before daylight the case was decided and the prisoners informed that they must prepare for immediate death by hanging.
At daylight men were detailed to make a scaffold.
The prisoners were visited by the chaplain of the 78th Illinois, who, upon their request, administered the sacrament to them.
They also wrote some letters to their friends, and deposited their jewelry, silver cups, and other valuables, for transmission to their friends.
The gallows was constructed by a wild cherry tree not far from the depot, and in a very public place.
Two ropes hung dangling from the beam, reaching within eight feet of the ground.
A little after nine o'clock A. M., the whole garrison was marshalled around the place of execution in solemn sadness.
Two poplar coffins were lying a few feet away.--Twenty minutes past nine the guards conducted the prisoners to the scaffold — they walked firm and steady, as if unmindful of the fearful precipice which they were approaching.
The guards did them the honor to march with arms reversed.
Arrived at the place of execution, they stepped upon the platform of the cart and took their respective places.
The Provost Marshal
, Captain Alexander
, then tied a linen handkerchief over the face of each and adjusted the ropes.
They then asked the privilege of bidding a last farewell, which being granted, they tenderly embraced each other.
This over, the cart moved from under them, and they hung in the air. What a fearful penalty.--They swung off at 9:30--in two minutes the Lieutenant
ceased to struggle.
caught hold of the rope with both hands and raised himself up at these minutes, and ceased to struggle at five minutes. At six minutes Dr. Forester
6th Kentucky cavalry, and Dr. Moss
, 78th Illinois infantry, and myself, who had been detailed to examine the bodies, approached them and found the pulse of both full and strong.
At seven minutes the Colonel
shrugged his shoulders.
The pulse of each continued to beat seventeen minutes, and at twenty minutes all signs of life had ceased.
The bodies were cut down at thirty minutes and enjoined in full dress.
was buried with a gold locket
and chain on his neck.
The locket contained the portrait and a braid of hair of his intended wife — her portrait was also in his vest pocket — these were buried with him at his request.
Both men were buried in the same grave — companions in life, and now companions in the grave.
I should have stated in another place that the prisoners did not want their punishment delayed; but well knowing the consequences of their acts, even before their trial, asked to have the sentence, be it hanging or shooting, quickly decided and executed.
But they deprecated the idea of death by banging, and asked for a commutation of the sentence to shooting.
The elder and leader of these unfortunate men was Lawrence Williams
, of Georgetown, D. C.
He was as fine looking a man as I have ever seen, about six feet high, and perhaps thirty years old. He was a son of Captain Williams
, who was killed at the battle of Monterey
He was one of the most intellectual and accomplished men that I have ever known I have never known any one who excelled him as a talker.
He was a member of the regular army, with the rank of Captain
of cavalry, when the rebellion broke out, and at that time was Aid de-Camp and private secretary to Gen. Winfield Scott
From this confidence and respect shown him by so distinguished a man may be judged his education and accomplishments.
He was a first cousin of Gen. Lee
, commanding the Confederate army on the Rappahannock
Soon after the war began he was frank enough to inform General Scott
that all his sympathies were with the South
, as his friends and interests were there, and that he could not fight against them.
As he was privy to all of Gen. Scott
's plans for the campaign it was not thought proper to turn him loose, hence he was sent to Governor's Island
, where he remained three months. After the first Ball Run
battle he was allowed to go South, where he joined the Confederate army, and his subsequent history I have not been able to learn much about.
He was a while on Gen. Bragg
's staff as Chief of Artillery
, but at the time of his death was his Inspect or General.
When he joined the Confederate army be altered his name, and now signs it thus: "Lawrence W. Orton
, Col. Cav
P. A. C. S. A." (Provisional Army Confederate States of America
.) Sometimes he writes his name "Orton
," and sometimes "Auton
," according to the object which he had in view.
This we learn from the papers found on him. These facts in relation to the personal history of Col. Orton
I have gathered from the Colonel
himself and from Col. Watkins
, who knows him well, they having belonged to the same regiment of the regular army--2d U. S. cavalry. Col. Watkins
, however, did not recognize Col. Orton
until after he had made himself known, and now mourns his apostasy and tragic fate.
The other victim of this delusive and reckless daring, was Walter G. Peter
, a Lieutenant in the rebel army and Col. Orton
He was a tall, handsome young man of about 25 years, that gave many signs of education and refinement.
Of his history I have been unable to gather anything.
He played but a second part.
was the leader, and did all the talking and managing.
Such is a succinct account of one of the most daring enterprises that men ever engage in. Such were the characters and the men who played the awful tragedy.
History will hardly furnish its parallel in the character and standing of the parties, the boldness and daring of the enterprise, and the swiftness with which discovery and punishment were visited upon them.
They came into our camp and went all through it, minutely inspecting our position, works and forces with a portion of their traitorous insignia upon them, and the boldness of their conduct made their flimsy subterfuges almost successful.
To the last, however, they denied being spies.
They claimed that they were endeavoring to get through our lines in order to visit friends in the North
and in Europe
But this story was so poorly matured that when either told it would not hang together, and there was little resemblance between the accounts which the two gave.
The arrest so completely confounded them that they were never afterwards able to recover from it.
The unfortunate men made no complaint at the severity of their punishment, except they deprecated the ignominy of being hung; they were too well informed not to know that upon conviction of being spies they must suffer death, and hence they expected it and made no complaint.
, who recognized Col. Watkins
as soon as he saw him, told him that he barely escaped his life when the arrest was made — that he had his hand on his pistol to kill him and escape; that had it been any one else here he would have done so.
delivered his sword and pistols to Col. Watkins
, and told him to keep and wear them.
He also presented him his horse, valued at $5,000, and asked him to treat it kindly for his sake.
We are all sad over this event.
There is a gloom upon every face.
Although we are fully satisfied that the mission of these men was to plan our destruction, and that even they recognized their punishment just, according to the accepted rules of war among all nations, still, to see them suffer such a penalty, has filled our garrison with sadness.
The Chattanooga (Tenn.) Rebel
has the following relative to the history of Capt. Williams
Every reader who knows anything about our army will remember Captain Lawrence Orton Williams
He was at first and Aide-de-camp to Gen. Robert E. Lee
; then Aid to Gen. Polk
, then Captain
of Artillery, under the same General, at Columbus, Ky.
; then Chief of Artillery
, on Gen. Bragg
's staff, and subsequently commander of that General
's "Body Guard," and was finally made Colonel
of Cavalry, which position in our service he honorably filled up to the time of his tragic end. He dropped the "Williams
" of his name because, as we understand, another member of his family of that name continued to hold a position in the Federal
For the last four months preceding his death he has been known as "Colonel Orton
." The Federal account represents him as a cousin of Gen. Lee
, commanding the Confederate army on the Rappahannock
He was, also, we understand, a relative of Captain Wickham
, at present of this post.
The horse which he is said to have presented to the Federal Colonel Watkins
was a fine black stud, which formerly belonged to Capt. Wickham
, and well known to the citizens of Chattanooga
was recently married to Mrs. Lamb
, formerly a Miss Hamilton
, of Charleston
, who accompanied her husband to the army a short time since.
, by those who knew him well, was known to be brave to rashness.
His courage was not tempered with prudence, or any regard whatever for consequences.
He was not sent on the expedition which resulted in the loss of two brave men and useful officers, and his brother officers of our army were not even aware of his intentions.
The coming Storm — a Change of the Republican Programs — Warning speech from Senator Trumbull.
The Republican party of the United States
is beginning to foresee that they will not always be in power, and to prepare to avert the wrath to come.
, of Illinois
, one of the most dangerous members of the party, being, as he is, an Abolitionist on principle, recently addressed a Republican meeting in Chicago
, held relative to the suppression of the Times,
and said some things very unpalatable to the canaille
whom he was addressing.
In fact, they would hardly hear him speak, and continually interrupted him by calls for one Jenison
, who is described in the local papers as "the murderer Jenison
." The following are some extracts from his speech:
One of our mistakes is that we have allowed our opponents to make false issues.
But this is not the worst.
The great charge — the charge that has damaged the Administration above all others — is that we are in favor, of the exercise of arbitrary power; that we are opposed to the freedom of speech and opinion, to the freedom of the press, in favor of curtailing personal liberty and in favor of a despotism.
Now we should not allow these things.
We have been the advocate of free speech for the last forty years, and should not allow the party which during that whole time has advocated the gag to uurp our place.
We are fighting for the restoration of the Union
and the preservation of the Constitution
, and all the liberties it guarantees to every citizen; and it makes me feel bad when I hear some honest friend, brimming full of patriotism, say he does not care for the Constitution
and does not want to have it forced into his way or thrust in his face until the war is over.
Did it ever occur to you that the next election may put an entirely different face upon affairs?
The next election may bring great and deplorable changes, when Vallandigham
and men of his class may determine who are to be arrested.
[Cries of "No!
that can never be. " "Never, never," from all parts of the crowd] Well, gentlemen, there is no use in closing your eyes to the facts which exist around you on every side.
I told you I came here to address myself to your reasons and not your passions, and in view of that light I ask you who are being elected Governors of loyal States, who compose a majority of the Legislature of the loyal State of Illinois
, and who was recently elected Mayor
of her principal and most loyal city, and, in view of these facts, what may the future not have in store?
[Cries of "Jenison
," "Music," "We don't want to hear you," "You sent a telegram to the President
."] I know I am distasteful, but am I not truthful?
I would claim your reason, divested of passion.
The same chalice you hold to the lips of your adversaries to day, to-morrow may be returned to your own lips.
Would you like to drink of it?
Close our eyes as we may, there is no safety for us, no safety for you and I and every American citizen, now and in the future, but in an unvarying adherence to the constitutional landmarks of our fathers.--[Further cries of "Jenison
," "Music," and much dissatisfaction.] You are wrong — it is your greatest and gravest mistake — in allowing your adversaries to place you in the position of being opposed to the Constitution
[Cries for "Jenison
, " and "Give us somebody else."] I see that I am distasteful, but I cannot held it, and will not detain you long.
Who is there among you who does not believe in adhering strictly to the Constitution
in these times, and extending to every citizen of the loyal States its guarantees?
Who among you to prepared to acknowledge our Government is a failure?
Who among you is prepared to say the Constitution
is a fine thing for peace — good enough — but when war comes it must be rolled up and laid away?
Or, in other words — for it means the same — who among you is ready to substitute the will and opinion of one man, who may be another Vallandigham
, in place of the Constitution
as the supreme law of the land?
[Cries of "We don't want any more of that." "What's that hand for?"] Well, hear me through, for I will not be long, and the questions before you are of so much importance and gravity that you should listen patiently and not only that, decide dispassionately.
The Constitution is bread.
It grants all powers necessary, even for the suppression of treason in the North
[Applause] Yes, gentlemen, it is just as legal and binding upon the General
in the field, and the civil officers
of the nation, as it is upon the humblest citizen in the land.
Has it come to this, that you will deny in the free city of Chicago
the right of a citizen to discuss the acts of the President
[Cries of "We won't allow it," and "None but Copperheads do that, and we will stop them."] Is there a man in this audience who has not expressed to day his dissatistation with some act of the President
[Cries of "Yes," "Yes," "We have none of us expressed any dissatisfaction."]
Ah, do all of you, then, think that the President
's revocation of General Burnside
's order suppressing the Chicago Times
[Cries of "No, no. " "It was wrong." "He ought to have enforced the order."] Then you all deserve to be taken in hand by the military power and sent beyond the lines.
You will be much stronger with the law on your side.
Show that Mr. Storey
has counselled resistance in the draft or encouraged desertion.
These are penitentiary offences.
Then arrest him and take him before the courts.
Where would you get your mob to rescue him?
Why, there would not be a corporal's guard in the city that would go into it. Try him in the courts.
[A voice--"No, this would take too much time; it would take two years."] Too much time!
Cannot you wait for the execution of the law?
It would not take two months. Do you know what the laws are?
I will read some of them.
He then read from a law of the late Congress forbidding correspondence with the rebels and affording them aid and comfort.
[A single voice on the stand--"That's just what Wilbur F. Storey
does every day."] Then go, he said — you are a citizen — and make complaint to the Grand Jury
It is your duty.
A letter from Shelbyville, Tenn.
, in the Mobile Advertiser
The most daring and dashing of the cavalry leaders on the Yankee
side in Middle Tennessee
is Colonel Brownlow
, son of the notorious and infamous old Parson Brownlow
, of Knoxville
He is young, rather handsome, a great dandy and lady's man, and; like his father, a gas-pipe or blow hard of the most terrific description.
is Andy Johnson
's son--two nice young men for a small tea-party, truly!
Though commanding a regiment, Brownlow
is nearly always out at the head of small scouting parties, trying to ambuscade our boys, and leaving saucy messages in writing for them at houses on the neutral ground.
In one of these messages, about a month ago, he offered $5,000 if 100 of the best men of Patterson
's regiment would come out and fight him and 100 of his men on open ground.
refused to allow this braggadocio to be noticed; but Lieut. May
offered to come out with eighty men and most him and his hundred and clean him out, just for the fun of the thing — Brownlow
didn't accept, and ever since then May has been trying to catch Brownlow
, and Brownlow
to catch May. May very nearly succeeded one day. He got on Brownlow
's trail, and came up with him, their parties being about equal in number.
After a brief carbonic and pistolonic interchange, Brownlow
and his men fled, and May and his party pursued.
May took individually after Brownlow
, but the latter had too fleet a horse, he, however, left his cap and telescope on the road, and May now has them as keepsakes.