1865 March 25: The Infamous Guerrilla “Sue Mundy” Hanged, and Other News Items
The following national news items are from the March 25, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
— Tidings of the fall of Charleston and Columbia have reached our “neutral cousins over the water,” and the blithesome song which, for four years has been chanted, is now executed with “slight” variations. The Confederate loan declines, and the United States securities rise. The “shell” which Gen. Grant long since termed the Confederacy is becoming apparent. Even “Bull Run” Russell¹ thinks that the preservation of the Confederacy requires ‘greater genius’ than has yet been displayed. [Ulysses S. Grant]
— The Dayton (Ohio) Empire announces that under no circumstances will Vallandigham, its pet traitor again allow his name to be used in connection with the Gubernatorial race in the State. We should suppose that he had about enough of that sort of thing. [Clement L. Vallandigham]
— Senator Harlan of Iowa, was drafted in Washington a few days ago. [James Harlan]
— The London Times calls our civil war a ghastly duel.
— The rebels are raising a negro army for Uncle Sam.
— South Carolina is now reaping a harvest of her own sowing.
— One Southern paper says that Sherman is just where they want him. Then both sides are suited. [William T. Sherman]
— General Lee is ‘a fighting fowl,’ but, like a good many other fowls, he seems to be cooped up. [Robert E. Lee]
— Charleston was ever a fast city. But Justice has proved faster than she. It has overtaken her.
— General Sherman once taught the people of the South the art of War as professor of a military school in New Orleans. He is now teaching it to them with practical illustrations.
— Upon the occasion of General Sherman’s approach to Charleston, the Charleston Mercury raved and swaggered and blustered and bullied and defied and cursed and swore and—skeedaddled [sic].
— The infamous gurrilla [sic] “Sue Mundy,” alias Jerome Clark,² who was recently captured by the 30th Wis. Vol., has been tried, found guilty; and hung at Louisville, Ky., on the 16th instant.
— The London Times says the influence of the success at Charleston can hardly be exaggerated. The moral effects cannot but be most powerful on the conduct of the war. It is seen that the population of the southeastern States is not able to oppose the march of the Federal armies. The advance from Savannah to Charleston seems to have been as easy as the march from Atlanta to Savanna.
The Star regards the fall of Charleston as premonitory of the niter overthrow of the rebellion.
— What a tremendous haul of artillery we made at Charleston. Four hundred and fifty pieces ! We should like to know how many in all were taken at Charleston, Columbia, Wilmington, Savannah and Branchville. Probably more than one half of the whole number in the Confederacy.—We have heard of its “raining great guns.” Such a rain might accomodate [sic] the rebels just now.
THE NEW ENROLLMENT LAW.—The new Enrollment law has been published and gone into effect. The 14th section which provides that all recruits shall be credited to the town in which they live, will be of interest. Here it is :
Section 14 declares that hereafter all persons mustered into the milita [sic] or naval service, whether as volunteers or substitutes representatives, or otherwise, shall be credited to the wards, towns, precints [sic] and other enrollment sub-districts, where such persons belong by actual residence, if such persons have an actual residence within the United States, where such persons were or shall be enrolled.
1. William Howard Russell (1820-1907) was the Washington correspondent for the London Times. His coverage of the American Civil War was influential in forming British opinion. Early in the War, the American government cultivated him as a vehicle of communication. Russell’s critical coverage of the first Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 dramatically changed the Lincoln’s Administration’s attitude toward him. Burned by his Bull Run coverage, Union officials were loath to let Russell anywhere near the battlefront and he returned to England in 1862. For more details on Russell and the Civil War, see the Notable Visitors: William Howard Russell (1820-1907) page on the “Mr. Lincoln’s White House” website.
2. Marcellus Jerome Clarke (1844–March 15, 1865) was a Confederate captain who in 1864 became one of Kentucky’s most famous guerrillas. In 1861, at the age of 17, he joined the 4th Kentucky Infantry (CSA) and saw action at Fort Donelson and Chickamauga. He was then reassigned to John Hunt Morgan’s unit. After Morgan’s death (September 4, 1864,), Clarke formed his own guerrilla band and continued raiding throughout Kentucky. Clarke—rumored to be “Sue Mundy”*—and his guerrillas joined with Quantrill’s Raiders, making them even more dangerous. On March 12, 1865, fifty Union soldiers from the 30th Wisconsin Infantry, under the command of Major Cyrus Wilson, surrounded a tobacco barn and captured Clarke and two of his gang. At his trial, Clarke said that he was a regular Confederate soldier and that he had not committed the crimes he was being charged with, or that they had been committed by Quantrill. Clarke was convicted of being a guerrilla and hanged; several thousand people were estimated to have attended Clarke’s execution, attracted by rumors that he was “Sue Mundy.” *”Sue Mundy” was a fictional guerrilla character created by George D. Prentice, editor of the Louisville Journal, who opposed the heavy-handed military rule of General Stephen G. Burbridge in Kentucky. Prentice created the “Sue Mundy” persona to portray Burbridge as an incompetent commander, unable to protect Kentucky citizens. Marcellus Jerome Clarke was by this time 20-years-old, wore his hair long, and had smooth-faced features, so many thought that he was Sue Mundy. Henry C. Magruder, another guerrilla soldier who was captured with Clarke, confessed to being Sue Mundy in his memoir, written after Clarke’s death. This image of Clarke is used in multiple places on the Internet, but nobody cites where it comes from.