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Chapter 36:

  • Webster arrested as a spy.
  • -- a woman's devotion and a patriot's Heroism. -- Webster is convicted. -- the execution. -- a martyr's grave.

After the departure of Lewis and Scully from Webster's room, where they were so closely followed by the Confederate detective and Chase Morton, my trusty operative heard nothing of them for some time. Fearing to make inquiries concerning them, lest he should compromise them still further, as well as bring himself under the suspicion of the rebel authorities, he maintained a strict silence with regard to the movements of his companions. Several days of anxious suspense followed, which, to one in Webster's critical condition, were fraught with agonizing doubts and heartfelt fears for the ultimate safety of himself and his friends. Resolving, however, to utter no word which would compromise them, he bore the solicitude with unmurmuring firmness. Only to the heroic woman, who so faithfully nursed him, did he unburden his mind of the weight of care which oppressed him, and her words of womanly friendship and encouragement were the [531] only influences which supported him through the trying ordeal.

One day, Mrs. Lawton came into his room-as was her custom-but this time there was a gravity about her manner, which, to Webster's quick perceptions, boded no good. Finding him receiving some friendly visitors, the lady withdrew, and repressing his impatience as well as he was able to do, Webster dispatched his friends as quickly as politeness, and a due consideration for their kindly regard, would permit. When they had disappeared, Mrs. Lawton again entered the room.

“You have news for me,” said Webster, impatiently; “what is it?”

“ Be calm, my dear friend,” said the devoted little woman; “what I have to tell, calls for the utmost calmness.”

“ Tell me what it is,” said Webster; “I will be as calm as you could wish, but do not, I pray you, keep me in suspense.”

“Well,” replied Mrs. Lawton, “I learned this morning that Lewis and Scully have been arrested and taken to Henrico Jail.”

“ When did this occur?” asked the invalid, a great weight pressing upon his heart.

“ The very day they were here last,” answered the woman.

“Then all is lost,” exclaimed the sick man. “I feared as much; and now the time has come I will [532] meet it manfully; however,” he continued, “it will be only a short time before I will share the same fate.”

“ Why do you think so?” anxiously inquired Mrs. Lawton. “Surely they cannot connect you with these men.”

“ I do not know why I think so, but I am as confident that I will be brought into this matter as though the officers were already here to arrest me.”

While he yet spoke, there came a knock at the chamber door, which, on being opened, revealed the form of Captain McCubbin.

As he entered the room he gazed furtively around, and his salutation to Webster was very different from the cordiality which had marked his previous visits.

“Good morning, Webster,” said he, as he took the offered chair, and for the first time since they had known each other neglecting to shake the invalid by the hand. “This is bad news about Lewis and Scully, isn't it?”

“What is it?” inquired Webster, apparently receiving the information for the first time.

“They have been arrested as spies, are confined in prison, and General Winder wants that letter which they brought to you from the North.”

There was something so cold and imperious in the officer's tones, which confirmed Webster's fears for his own safety; but without evincing the slightest alarm, he cheerfully made reply:

I am sorry to hear this news, and trust that they [533] will be able to exonerate themselves from the charge. Anything, however, that General Winder wants from me will be cheerfully given. Mrs. Lawton, will you get the letter, and hand it to Captain McCubbin.

There was no tremor of the voice, and the watchful Confederate looked in vain for any evidence of fear in the face of the man, who, stricken by disease as he was, still showed the bravery of a lion, and gazed unflinchingly at him. Though the hand of fate was upon him, Webster never lost his heroic courage, and bore the scrutiny of the officer without the quiver of a muscle.

Captain McCubbin received the letter, and almost immediately withdrew. As he closed the door behind him, Webster turned to his faithful companion, and, in a low, solemn voice, said: “That letter has sealed my fate!”

From this point, Webster's physical condition seemed to improve, and although depressed with fears for the fate of his companions, he gradually became stronger, and was at length able to leave his bed and move about his room.

The visits of his numerous friends had now almost ceased. From General Winder's officers, with whom he had previously been so intimate, he heard nothing, nor did they make inquiries about his health, as had been their custom. Of the many friends in private life, who had surrounded him, only two remained. These were Mr. Pierce and Mr. Campbell, with [534] whom Webster had traveled for some time, and his family. This dropping away of old friends, and the breaking up of old associations, was significant to Webster of impending danger. It must be that he, too, was suspected, and that the favor of the rebel authorities had been withdrawn.

Day by day, during his convalescence, did the brave little woman who had nursed him back to life, endeavor to encourage him to a hopeful view of his situation, and to impress him with her own sanguine trust for a favorable outcome from this present dilemma. Webster listened to the bright promises of his devoted companion, but he was too profoundly aware of the danger that threatened him to permit himself to hope that the result to him would be a beneficial one.

After he was able to leave his bed, he accepted the pressing invitation of Mr. Campbell, and was removed to the residence of that gentleman, where he would be more quiet, and where he could receive that care and attention which could not be afforded him in a hotel. The kindness of Mr. Campbell and his family was heartfelt and unceasing. They did everything in their power to make him comfortable, and their courtesy to Mrs. Lawton was as marked and genuine, as was their regard and care for Timothy Webster.

Webster had been domiciled at the house of Mr. Campbell but two days, when one of Winder's men [535] cane to know if Webster was sufficiently recovered to go out, as his presence was imperatively demanded at the court room, as a witness in the trial of John Scully. The officer further stated that the evidence of Webster had been solicited by Scully himself. Finding him unable still to leave the house, the officer stated that arrangements would be made by which his testimony could be taken in his room. On the second day after the appearance of the officer, the court-martial adjourned to Campbell's house, and Scully accompanied them. Seating themselves around the bedside of the invalid, the court was formally opened, and Webster was requested to state what he knew of the antecedents of the accused.

Though very weak, and speaking with considerable difficulty, Webster made his statement. He said that he had known John Scully from April, 1861, to the time of his arrest. That the prisoner was in Baltimore when he first met him, and was always in the company of known secessionists, and was considered by them to be a good friend to the South. So far as he had any knowledge of the accused he was what he assumed to be, and that his appearance in Richmond was a surprise to him. He was not known to be in the employ of the government, and Webster had never met him under any circumstances which would indicate that fact.

This was all that he could say, and although closely questioned by the president of the court, and [536] the attorneys present, he insisted that his knowledge of John Scully was confined to what he had already stated. Finding it impossible to obtain any further information upon this subject from the sick man, the court, in a body, left the room, and departed from the house.

Mrs. Lawton, who had been compelled to retire on the entrance of the Confederate authorities, and who had been in a wild state of excitement and apprehension during their visit, instantly repaired to Webster's room. When she entered the chamber, she found that the brave man, after the exciting experiences through which he had been compelled to pass, had fainted. His strength of will, which had supported him through the investigation, had given way, and he lay, limp and inanimate, upon the bed.

Several days of anxiety and solicitude now passed. unable to learn any tidings of his unfortunate comrades, Webster tortured himself with all manner of vague fears and doubts as to their probable fate, all of which had their effect in retarding his recovery, and keeping him confined to his room.

At last, after days of weary and anxious waiting, the newspapers were brought in one morning, and the information of the conviction of Lewis and Scully was duly chronicled. The same paper also announced the day upon which their death was so speedily to follow. This filled the cup of Webster's misery to overflowing, and, sinking upon a chair, he wept like [537] a child. Refusing to be comforted, although Mrs. Lawton exerted herself to the utmost, Webster paced the room, half frantic with his grief, at the horrible fate which had overtaken his friends.

Slowly the day passed, and when the shadows of evening were falling Webster was at last induced to lie down, and attempt to snatch a few hours sleep. He was soon slumbering quietly, although ever and anon he would start nervously and utter an inarticulate moan, as though his mind was still troubled with the sad events of the day. While he lay thus, attended by Mrs. Lawton, Mr. Campbell suddenly entered the room, with a look of fear upon his face, which filled Mrs. Lawton with alarm.

“What is the matter?” she hurriedly ejaculated.

“One of Winder's men is below, and I fear his presence indicates misfortune for Webster,” was the reply.

“Who is it?”

“Cashmeyer,” answered Mr. Campbell. “He inquired for Webster, and says he must see him at once.”

Webster, disturbed by this conversation, was awake in an instant and inquired what was wanted.

“Cashmeyer has called, and wishes to see you,” said Mr. Campbell.

“ Let him come up at once,” replied Webster, in the hope that he might bring some tidings of Lewis and Scully. [538]

Mr. Campbell departed, and in a few moments returned with the Confederate officer. Cashmeyer's salutation was cold and formal, and without any preliminary he addressed Webster.

“ I have a painful duty to perform, Mr. Webster. I am directed by General Winder to arrest you, and convey you at once to Castle Godwin.”

As he spoke, two soldiers appeared at the doorway.

“ You cannot wish to take him away in this condition, and at this hour of the night,” said Mrs. Lawton. “Such an action would be his death, and would be the worst of inhumanity.”

Webster stood silent and unmoved. He did not utter a word, but gazed fixedly at the officer, whose visits heretofore had been those of sympathy and condolence.

“I cannot help it,” said Cashmeyer, “my orders are to take him dead, or alive, and those orders I must obey.”

“Then,” said Mrs. Lawton, “I will go too. He needs care and attention, without it he will die, and no one can nurse him so well as I. ”

Cashmeyer gazed at the brave little woman for a moment, and a shade of pity came over his face.

“ I am sorry to inform you, that my orders are to arrest you also, and to search your trunks.”

“This is infamous,” exclaimed Webster; “what can Winder mean by arresting this woman, and what [539] am I charged with that renders your orders necessary?”

Webster,” answered Cashmeyer, “as God is my witness, I do not know; I only know what my orders are, and that I must obey them.”

Without further parley, Webster and Mrs. Lawton prepared to accompany their guards, and Cashmeyer, demanding their keys, commenced a search of their trunks, which resulted in his finding nothing that would criminate his prisoners.

A carriage was procured, and Webster was assisted into it, while Mrs. Lawton, under the escort of Cashmeyer was compelled to walk. It was quite late when they arrived at the prison, and as Price Lewis was ascending to his cell, Webster and his faithful female companion entered the gloomy portals of the jail.

General Winder was present when they arrived, and after a hurried examination Webster was remanded to a room, in which a number of Union prisoners were already confined, and the atmosphere of which was reeking with filth and disease.

As he entered the room, pale and emaciated, and scarcely able to walk, the prisoners gathered around, in silent pity for his forlorn condition.

“ My God!” exclaimed one of their number, “they will send the dead here next.”

Mrs. Lawton was conducted before the General, but she stoutly declined to answer a single question [540] that was propounded to her. This so enraged the valiant officer that he ordered her to be taken away at once. She was then conducted to a room in which another lady was confined, and left for the night.

As midnight tolled its solemn hour over the city, and the tramp of armed men resounded through the streets, the noises within the prison died away. An awful and impressive silence brooded over the place. The dim light in the corridor shone faintly upon four miserable human beings, who tossed restlessly upon sleepless couches through the long, weary watches of the night.

Who can tell the thoughts that thronged through their brains, as the slow moving hours advanced toward the dawn? The brave woman who had been cruelly deprived of her privilege to administer to the needs of her suffering friend. The heroic Webster, wasted by disease, weakened by his long and painful illness, but still brave and defiant. Price Lewis and John Scully, tortured with the thoughts of their impending fate, and harassed with reflections of a more agonizing nature, which we may not analyse.

The trial of Webster was ordered for an early day. With a haste that was inhuman, the Provost-Marshal made his preparations for the farce of an investigation. It seemed as though he was fearful that his victim would die, ere he could wreak his vengeance upon him. The court was convened, and, [541] owing to Webster's weakened condition, their sessions were held in the jail. For three long, weary weeks did the investigation drag its slow length along, although it was apparent that those who tried him had already decided upon his fate. Numerous witnesses were examined, and testimony was admitted which would have been excluded by any righteous tribunal whose ideas of justice were not obscured by an insane desire for revenge.

Price Lewis and John Scully were compelled to give their evidence; and although they attempted to do their utmost to lessen the effect of their testimony, it bore heavily against the poor prisoner, who sat pale and emaciated before them, and whose heart never failed him through the long and tedious ordeal. What Webster's feelings must have been during this harrowing experience is unknown to any one. What thoughts were rushing through his brain, as the damaging statements fell from the lips of his late associates, were never revealed by him. No murmurs escaped his lips, no words of censure or blame against the men whose evidence cost him his life, were ever uttered. A heroic calmness, born of the very despair which oppressed him from the first, was manifest throughout the long, weary investigation. Indeed so manfully had he borne himself, so completely had he controlled his feelings, that his physical health perceptibly improved, so much so that the tribunal removed their sittings to the courthouse, [542] and Webster was able to be in daily attendance.

Webster had secured able counsel for his defence, and they did all that was possible for man to do. Although they were rebels, their efforts in behalf of the accused spy were such, that if pleadings could have availed him aught, his fate would have been averted.

It was not to be, however; the trial came to an end at last. A verdict of guilty followed quickly upon the heels of the partial and antagonistic charge of the judge, and Timothy Webster was convicted of being a spy in the employ of the Federal authorities.

Not even then did the brave spirit break down. Firm and heroic he received the fatal verdict, and the satisfaction of his enemies was robbed of its value by the unflinching deportment of their victim.

After the trial, he was remanded to a cell, and closely watched. But a little time elapsed, and then came the warrant for his execution. An officer appeared in the cell, the paper was produced, and the faithful, brave, true-hearted man was condemned to be hung on the twenty-ninth day of April, but ten days after the approval of his sentence.


The Union army was before Yorktown. McClellan had already sustained two serious disappointments, and both of them at the hands of the government at Washington. In the first place, on his [543] arrival at Fort Monroe, he had ascertained that the promised assistance of the navy could not be relied upon in the least, and that their efficient co-operation with him would be an utter impossibility. This interference with his plans might have been overcome, although the loss of the naval support was a serious misfortune to him; but a more surprising and disheartening act of the authorities was yet in store for him. A few days later, he was thunderstruck at the unexpected information that General McDowell's entire corps, upon whose assistance he had confidently relied, was detached from his command, and had been ordered to remain in front of Washington, for the protection of the capital, which was erroneously believed to be in imminent danger of capture by the rebels. These events rendered a scientific siege of Yorktown a necessity; and while engaged in this laborious work, I was in constant consultation with the commanding General. Numerous scouts had been sent out through the rebel country, and the secret service department was taxed to its utmost. George H. Bangs was busily engaged in examining the rebel deserters and prisoners, Southern refugees and contrabands, who were either captured or came willingly into camp, and in preparing daily reports of our movements, which were required to be made to the General in command. I had accompanied McClellan upon this campaign, and gave my untiring personal supervision to the management of the large corps of [544] men and women, white and black, then engaged in obtaining information.

During all this time, not a word had been received of my missing operatives. Tortured by the uncertainty of their fate, I passed many an anxious hour. At length all doubts were set at rest, and a dreadful certainty manifested itself to my mind. A newspaper, published in Richmond, was received by me, and in hastily perusing its contents, with a view of acquiring such military information as it contained, my eye alighted upon a small paragraph, which filled me with dread and sorrow. This paragraph was the simple announcement that Price Lewis and John Scully had been arrested as spies in the rebel capital, and had been sentenced to be hung on the 6th day of April.

I cannot detail the effect which this announcement produced upon me. For a moment I sat almost stupefied, and unable to move. My blood seemed to freeze in my veins-my heart stood still — I was speechless. By degrees I was able to exercise a strong command over myself. I then sought my immediate associates, and communicated the fatal news to them. Their consternation and grief were equal to my own. Every man seemed to be impressed with the solemnity of the fate of their comrades. What was to be done? How to intercede in their behalf? I rushed to the tent of General McClellan, and relating the news to him, besought his [545] aid in this direful extremity. His sympathy and sorrow were as acute as though the men had been joined to him by ties of blood. Anxiously we discussed the situation, in the vain attempt to seek some mode of obtaining their release, and all without definite or satisfactory conclusion.

All that night I paced the camp, unable to sleep --unable almost to think intelligently; and when morning dawned I was as far from devising any practical plan of relief as when I first received the information.

I telegraphed to Captain Milward, Harbor-Master at Fortress Monroe, and in charge of the flag-of-truce boat for exchanging prisoners, asking him to endeavor to ascertain from the Richmond papers, or from any other source, anything definite as to the fate of my unfortunate operatives.

Several messages were received from that officer, containing various statements of the case, and finally came the crushing intelligence that Lewis and Scully had been respited, after having given information which implicated Timothy Webster, whom the rebels now regarded as the chief spy of the three.

This was the crowning burden of all, and I was almost prostrated by the blow. Hurried consultations were held, every conceivable plan was suggested and discussed, which would avail in the slightest degree to avert so terrible a fate from the faithful patriot who now was in such deadly danger. [546]

I suggested that General McClellan should send, by flag-of-truce boat, such a demand as would, if possible, save their lives; but to this the General demurred, fearing, and justly too, that such a course might be productive of more injury than good-that it would be a tacit acknowledgment of their real character as spies, and they would be hung without further delay.

It was at last decided that I should go to Washington, accompanied by Colonel Key, an eminent patriot, and an efficient member of General McClellan's staff. We were to confer with the President and the members of the Cabinet, lay the matter before them, and petition for the official interposition of the government in their behalf.

With Colonel Key, I started for Washington, about the middle of April. The interest of that officer was scarcely second to my own, and he was fully determined to exert every energy of his manly, sympathetic nature in the work of saving their lives, if possible.

The journey to Washington was quickly made. Mr. Lincoln was readily seen, and he, too, filled with sympathy for the unfortunate men, promised to call a special session of the Cabinet to consider the case, that evening.

In the meantime, Colonel Key and I occupied ourselves in visiting the various heads of the departments, in order to prepare them, before evening [547] arrived, for energetic and speedy action. We felt that no time was to be lost; if, indeed, it was not already too late to avert their dreadful doom.

Secretary Stanton, whom, among others, we saw, expressed in strong terms his willingness to assist Webster to the extent of the resources of the government, but he was but little disposed to assist the others, who, he alleged, had “betrayed their companion to save their own lives.”

In the evening the Cabinet was convened, and, after a full discussion of the matter, it was decided that the only thing that could be done, was to authorize the Secretary of War to communicate with the rebel authorities upon the subject. He was directed to authorize General Wool to send by flag-of-truce boat, or by telegraph, a message to Jefferson Davis, representing that the course pursued by the Federal government toward rebel spies had heretofore been lenient and forbearing; that in many cases such persons had been released after a short confinement, and that in no instance had any one so charged been tried for his life, or sentenced to death. The message concluded with the decided intimation that if the rebel government proceeded to carry their sentence of death into execution, the Federal government would initiate a system of retaliation which would amply revenge the death of the men now held.

Receiving a copy of these instructions, Colonel Key and myself, feeling that we had exhausted the [548] power of the government in this matter, returned at once to Fortress Monroe. We arrived there on the 23d day of April. General Wool was immediately found, and without a moment's delay, he caused the required dispatches to be forwarded, by way of Norfolk, through General Huger, who was then in command of that place, with the urgent request that he would instantly transmit it by telegraph to the Richmond authorities.

This, I learned, was done as had been requested, and I learned further, that it reached the officers of the rebel government, and received their consideration in time to have been of avail, had there been one spark of manly sympathy animating the breasts of those who were the leaders of a vile conspiracy to destroy the noblest government under the blue canopy of heaven.

Feeling that all had now been done that was possible to save the lives of my men, and believing that the hate and malignity of the rebel officers would not carry them to such a murderous extent as this, I awaited the result of our mission with painful solicitude.

After the day of execution had been fixed, Mrs. Lawton was permitted to visit Webster in the room to which he had been assigned. During all the time that the trial had been in progress, they had never been allowed to communicate with each other, and [549] the noble little woman had been compelled to suffer in silence, while Webster was undergoing the painful experiences of the investigation, which had resulted in his being condemned to be hung as a spy.

The meeting between Webster and Mrs. Lawton was a most affecting one. Tears filled the eyes of the faithful woman, as she gazed at the pale and emaciated form of the heroic patriot. Their hands were clasped in a warm pressure, and her words of heartfelt sympathy and grief were choked by the sobs which shook her frame. Even in the excess of his despair, Webster's fortitude never for a moment forsook him. He bore the burdens which had been imposed upon him with a courage and firmness that impressed all who witnessed it.

Under Mrs. Lawton's direction, the room in which he was confined was soon made cheerful and clean; with her own hands she prepared for him such delicacies as he needed most, and her words of comfort were of great effect in soothing his mind, and in preparing him for the dreadful fate which he was called upon to meet.

Nor did Mrs. Lawton stop here. She sought an interview with Jefferson Davis, but, finding him engaged with General Lee, she obtained the privilege of visiting the wife of the Confederate president. With Mrs. Davis she pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of the condemned man. Besought her by every holy tie of her own life to intercede for the pardon of [550] the poor invalid, whose life hung by so slender a thread.

All in vain, however. While fully sympathizing with the fate of the unfortunate man, Mrs. Davis declined to interfere in matters of state, and Mrs. Lawton left the house utterly hopeless of being able to avert the dreadful fate which impended over Webster.

The hours flew swiftly by, and the day of execution drew near, and still a ray of hope glistened through the gloom which surrounded him. If McClellan only succeeded in capturing Richmond all would be well. But as the days passed, and this result seemed further from accomplishment than ever, even that flickering ember of hope died out, and he prepared to meet his fate like a man.

One thing, however, impressed the doomed man more than anything else — the thought of being hung. Any other mode of punishment would have been accepted with joy, but to be hanged like a murderer, was a disgrace which he could not bear to think about. On the day before his execution, he requested a visit from General Winder, and that officer, evidently expecting a revelation from the lips of his victim, soon made his appearance at the prison.

As he entered the cell where Webster was reclining upon his couch, he roughly accosted him:

Webster you have sent for me; what is it that you desire?

General Winder,” replied Webster, “I have [551] sent for you to make an appeal to your manhood; my fate is sealed I know that too well — I am to die, and I wish to die like a man. I know there is no hope for mercy, but, sir, I beseech you to permit me to be shot, not be hanged like a common felon,anything but that.”

“ I am afraid that cannot be done,” said Winder, coldly.

“It is not much to ask,” pleaded Webster; “I am to die, and am prepared, but, sir, for God's sake let me not die like this; change but the manner of my death, and no murmur shall escape my lips.”

“I cannot alter the sentence that has been ordered.”

Mrs. Lawton, who was present, and unable further to restrain herself, exclaimed:

General, as a woman I appeal to you-you have the power, and can exercise it. Do not, I pray you, condemn this brave man to the odium of a felon's death. Think of his family, and his suffering. Let the manliness of your own heart plead for him. It is not much that he asks. He does not sue for pardon. He seeks not to escape your judgment, harsh and cruel as it is. He only prays to be allowed to die like a brave man in the service of his country. You certainly can lose nothing by granting this request, therefore, in the name of justice and humanity, let him be shot instead of the dreadful death you have ordained for him.


While she was speaking, the hard lines about the rebel's mouth grew still more harsh and rigid. He did not attempt to interrupt her, but when she had finished, he turned coolly upon his heel, and, as he reached the door he said:

His request and yours must be denied. He hangs to-morrow.

“Then,” ejaculated the undaunted woman, “he will die like a man, and his death will be upon your head, --a living curse until your own dark hour shall come!”

Without deigning to notice them further, he passed out of the cell, violently closing the door behind him.

The shadows of the night came down over the prison. The last night on earth to a brave man who had met death in a hundred forms ere this. How many times the gaunt, repulsive form of the fatal scaffold, appeared to the vision of the condemned man, as he sat firm and rigid in his dark cell, we may not know. How many times he lived over again the bright scenes of his past life! The happy, careless days of childhood, when the fond eyes of a loving mother beamed upon him in his sportive gambols. His school days, the lessons conned by the evening lamp in the dear old home of long ago. The merry days of youth, which glided away amid scenes of mirth and jollity. The first dawnings of the passion of his life, when a soft hand nestled lovingly in his, and earnest eyes, full of love and trust, seemed to speak a world [553] of affection. Then the stirring scenes of active life, he a man among men battling with the world, performing his daily duties, mingling honorably with his fellows, and upheld by a pride of honor and self-respect. His sacrifices for his country in the dark hour of her peril. The lonely marches, the weary burdens, the unflinching steadfastness of his fealty to his government The long nights of storm and danger, the varying episodes of pleasure and of pain, conflicts with enemies, and happy hours with friendly companions-all these thoughts came upon him with a distinctness which brought their actual presence near. Now he was listening to the sweet lullaby of his mother's voice, now he stood in the hall of the “Sons of liberty,” in the midst of affrighted conspirators and blue-coated soldiers-anon he strayed by a purling stream, with a loved one upon his arm-and again he breasted the dashing waters and the deluging storm on the bay, as he rescued the women and children from the stranded boat. So vivid were these pictures of his mind that he lived again a hundred scenes of his past life, partook of a hundred pleasures, shared in a hundred sorrows. Suddenly in the midst of some thrilling vision of by-gone days, the flickering of his lamp or the tread of the sentry outside would recall him from a delightful reverie to the dark and dreadful present. Then gloomy and despondent thoughts would come to him. He would picture minutely the scenes of the morrow, the rude platform, [554] the dangling noose, the armed soldiers, the hideous black cap, the springing of the gallows trap.

Then, unable to bear the agony of his thoughts, he would start to his feet, press his hands to his ears, as if to drown the fearful sounds, and pace rapidly the narrow cell. Mrs. Lawton never left him; ever alert to his needs, ever ready with sustaining words, although her own brave, tender heart was breaking, she did her utmost to strengthen and sustain him. Gradually he became calmer. The slow moving hours passed on, and he resolutely performed the last duties that devolved upon him. Messages were confided to his unwavering nurse for the dear friends at home; expressions of love and regard for his kindred, and unswerving breathings of devotion to his country.

“ Tell Major Allen that I met my fate like a man. Thank him for his many acts of kindness to me. I have done my duty, and I can meet death with a brave heart and a clear conscience.”

The first faint streaks of the early dawn came in through the grated window; the sun was rising in the heavens, brightly and gloriously lighting up a day that should have been shrouded in gloom. Its beams illumined the little chamber, where Webster lay calm and wakeful, his hands clasped by the woman who had so nobly shared his captivity.

A silence had fallen upon them. Each was busy with thoughts which lips could not utter, and the [555] deathlike stillness was undisturbed save by the tramp of the guards in the corridor.

Suddenly there came the sound of hurried footsteps. They paused before the door. The heavy bolts were shot back, and in the doorway stood Cap-Alexander, the officer in charge.

The little clock that ticked upon the wall noted a quarter past five o'clock.

“ Come, Webster, it is time to go.”

There was no sympathy in the rough voice which uttered these words.

“To go where?” inquired Webster, starting up in surprise.

“ To the fair grounds,” was the laconic reply.

“ Surely not at this hour,” pleaded the condemned man; “the earliest moment named in my death-warrant is six o'clock, and you certainly will not require me to go before that.”

“ It is the order of General Winder, and I must obey,” answered Alexander. “You must prepare yourself at once.”

Without another word Webster arose from his bed, and began his preparations. Not a tremor was apparent, and his hand was as steady and firm as iron. When he had fully arranged his toilet, he turned to Mrs. Lawton, and taking both her hands in his, he murmured:

Good-bye, dear friend ; we shall never meet again on earth. God bless you, and your kindness to me. [556] I will be brave, and die like a man. Farewell, forever!

then turning to Captain Alexander, who stood unmoved near the door, he said:

I am ready!

As they went out through the door, a piercing shriek rent the air, and Mrs. Lawton fell prostrate to the floor.

Arriving at the entrance to the prison, they found a company of cavalry drawn up before them, and a carriage, procured by Mrs. Lawton, awaiting their appearance. Webster crossed the pavement with unfaltering step and entered the vehicle, the order to march was given, and the procession started for the scene of execution.

At Camp Lee, the scene was one of bustle and excitement. Soldiers were moving about in companies, and in small detachments. Eager spectators were there, curious to watch the proceedings, and the streets leading to the grounds were lined with people whose prevailing emotion seemed to be that of idle curiosity.

On arriving at the camp, Webster was conducted into a small room, on the ground floor of one of the buildings, and was left alone with the clergyman who had been requested to accompany him.

Thus he remained for several hours. At ten minutes past eleven, the carriage was drawn up before the door, and Webster appeared leaning upon the arm of the jailer, and attended by his spiritual adviser. [557]

The doomed man wore a look of calm composure. His face was pale, and the feebleness of his condition was manifest in his tottering walk; but his eye was clear and steady and not a muscle of his face betrayed his emotion.

They reached the scaffold, which was erected on the north side of the parade ground. Slowly and painfully he ascended to the platform. Amid a breathless silence, he stood for a moment and gazed about him. The bright blue sky overhead, the muskets of the soldiers glistening in the rays of the sun, the white, eager faces which surrounded him. His last look on earth. Though much exhausted by his long illness, he stood alone and firmly whilst his arms were tied behind him and his feet were bound together.

The black cap was placed over his head, and then followed a moment of solemn stillness. The entire assembly seemingly ceased to breathe. The signal was given, the trap was sprung, and, with a dreadful, sickening thud, Webster fell from the gibbet to the ground beneath. The hang-man's knot had slipped, and the man, bound hand and foot, lay in a confused heap, limp and motionless, before the gathered throng. He was lifted up and carried to the scaffold.

“ I suffer a double death,” came from the lips of the dying man as he was again placed upon the readjusted trap. The rope was again placed around his neck, this time so tight as to be excruciatingly painful. [558]

“ You will choke me to death this time,” came in gurgling tones from within the enveloping hood.

In a second the trap was again sprung, and the brave patriot was swinging in the air, between heaven and earth.

Rebel vengeance was at last satisfied, the appetite for human blood was sated.

Treason had done its worst, and the loyal spy was dead.

Early in the afternoon, Captain Alexander returned to the prison, and informed Mrs. Lawton that all was over. He found her deathly pale, but now firm, and giving no other outward sign of the agony of the past few hours.

“ May I see him before he is taken away?” she asked.

“ There is no objection to that.”

Accompanying the officer, she went to the room in which the body lay, incased in a metallic coffin which Mrs. Lawton had procured. His face was not discolored in the least, and the features indicated the same Roman firmness which he exhibited when he left the prison. He died as he had lived — a brave man.

Several rebel officers stood around the coffin. Turning suddenly upon them, and facing Captain Alexander, Mrs. Lawton, in a burst of passion, exclaimed:

Murderers! this is your work. If there is vengeance [559] or retribution in this world, you will feel it before you die!

As if stung to the quick by this accusation, Captain Alexander stepped up to the coffin, and laying his hand upon Webster's cold, white forehead, said:

As sure as there is a God in Heaven, I am innocent of this deed. I did nothing to bring this about, and simply obeyed my orders in removing him from the prison to the place of execution.

Application was made to General Winder for the privilege of sending Webster's body to the North, where it might be buried by his friends; but this the rebel officer peremptorily refused. A petition was then made that it be allowed to be placed in the vault in Richmond, with no better success. Not content with heaping ignominy upon him while living, the fiend was determined that even in death the patriot should be the subject of odium and contempt.

In the dead hour of the night, he ordered the remains to be carried away, and buried in an obscure corner of the pauper's burying-ground.

Farewell, brave spirit! I knew thee well. Brave, tender and true; thou hast suffered in a glorious cause, and died a martyr's death. Thy memory will long be green in the hearts of thy friends. When treason is execrated, and rebellion is scorned and despised, the tears of weeping friends will bedew the sod which rests above the martyred spy of the Rebellion-Timothy Webster. [560]

After the war was over, and peace once more reigned throughout the land, I procured his body, and it now lies in the soil of a loyal state — the shrine of the patriot — the resting-place of a hero.

But little more remains to be told. After weary months of captivity, Mrs. Lawton, Price Lewis and John Scully, were sent to the North, where their stories were told, and from whose lips I learned the particulars I have narrated.

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