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1865 September 16: Bushwhackers and Guerrillas, and Other News

September 21, 2015

The following news items come from the “Gleanings” column and the end of the “Telegraphic Summary” column of the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.


— One of the London theatres is still playing to enthusiastic audiences “The Confederate Daughter; or, the Tyrant of New Orleans.”

— Capt. Kirk,¹ the notorious guerrilla, who was to have been tried at Nashville, for the murder of Gen. McCook [Robert L. McCook], was shot in prison by his guard.

— The work of repairing the Virginia railroads progresses steadily, and it is thought that, in a few weeks, communication will be complete with New Orleans.

— William Moss, a rebel bushwhacker, who had taken up his residence at St. Louis, where he was coolly arranging to go into business, has been convicted at Jersey City [sic: Jerseyville], Missouri [sic: Illinois], of murders committed during the war, and sentenced to be hung.²

— President Johnson [Andrew Johnson] has introduced into the White House the largest family circle that ever occupied the Executive Mansion.  His family consist of his wife, a son, son-in-law, two daughters, and a number of grand-children.—The son-in-law is Judge Patterson,³ recently elected a Senator form [sic] Tennessee.  Mrs. P., who is to be the lady of the house, was educated at Georgetown, during Mr. Polk’s administration, and was then a frequent guest of his family.

— A correspondent of the Maine Democrat says that the father of Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis] was born in Maine, and went South when he had nearly arrived at manhood.  He was not afterward heard of until Jeff. Davis visited Maine some years ago, when he stated in conversation with a friend, that his father was born in Buxton, and had arrived in Mississippi a poor boy.  The writer says Davis’ parents were not married.

Telegraphic Summary.

Henry A. Wise has written a letter to General Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], covering thirty sheets of foolscap, appealing against General Terry’s [Alfred H. Terry] transfer of Wise’s abandoned property to the Freedmen’s bureau.

President Johnson has telegraphed Governor Holden [W. W. Holden] that, in case of his visiting Richmond, he will extend his trip as far as Raleigh, the place of his nativity.

The death sentence of Thomas Wilson, bushwhacker, has been commuted by Governor Oglesby [Richard J. Oglesby] to imprisonment for twenty-five years.

Mr. Hall, clerk of the circuit court at Knoxville, Tennessee, was killed on Tuesday, by a man named Baker, formerly of the rebel army.  Baker was taken from the jail by a mob, and hung in the street.4

Francis Pickens, of South Carolina, has made applications for pardon.

General Steele [Frederick Steele], commanding the Union forces in Texas, is represented as being very friendly towards the Mexican imperialists,—having lately been present at a ball given in honor of one of Maximilian’s ministers, and having, at a recent banquet, proposed a toast in honor of “his imperial majesty.”

The provisional governor of Alabama [Lewis E. Parsons] recommends all local Magistrates in that State to accept the position, which has been proffered them, of agents of the freedmen’s bureau, for the purpose of administering justice in cases where negroes constitute one or both of the opposing parties.

Permission has been given to Jeff. Davis to have epistolary communication with his wife.  Jeff. is convalescent from his attack of erysipelas.

1.  Lewis M. Kirk (1828-1865) was captain of Company D, 19th Tennessee Cavalry. Before the Civil War, Kirk—a Mexican War veteran—worked as a blacksmith in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. On November 9, 1858, Kirk killed Thomas J. Westmoreland, a farmer from neighboring Giles County. When the Civil War started, Kirk was serving a 15-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. When he filed a pardon request with Governor Isham G. Harris, he pledged to join the Confederate army if the governor would pardon him. The governor did, and Kirk joined the local Lawrenceburg Invincibles and later raised a Confederate cavalry unit that became part of the 19th Tennessee Cavalry. Kirk supposedly murdered General McCook during a skirmish in northern Alabama in early August of 1862. Kirk’s enemies also accused him of a lot of other atrocities during the War, including the murder of countless contraband slaves. The 19th Tennessee Cavalry surrendered on May 11, 1865, in Alabama and Kirk returned to Lawrenceburg, where, two months later, he was arrested and taken to the Federal headquarters in Pulaski, Tennessee. Kirk was killed—executed by a firing squadron, according to some accounts—on July 26, 1865, and is buried in the Lynnwood Cemetery in Pulaski, Tennessee. For more details on the Westmoreland murder, see Clint Alley’s April 16, 2014, post “The Blacksmith and the Farmer: A Tale of Slander, Bacon, and Murder in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee,” on the History of Lawrence Co. Tennessee blog (accessed September 17, 2015).
2.  Tom Moss, an alias for William A. Brown, along with a man named Henderson, murdered three men on November 7, 1864, in Fidelity, Illinois (Jersey County). Moss escaped, but was later arrested and jailed in Jerseyville. He was tried in August 1865, convicted, and hanged on September 1, 1865, at the Jersey County courthouse.
3.  David Trotter Patterson (1818-1891) married Martha Johnson in 1855. He was appointed as a judge in the first circuit court of Tennessee in 1854, serving to 1863. A Unionist from East Tennessee, Patterson was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to the U.S. Senate in 1866, serving to March 4, 1869. (Tennessee was the first Confederate state to be re-admitted to the Union on July 24, 1866). He did not run for re-election and returned to East Tennessee to manage his substantial agricultural interests.
4.  Former Union soldier William S. Hall (1838-1865) was shot in the head by ex-Confederate soldier Abner Baker (1843-1865) on September 4, 1865. One possible motive is that Baker’s father, Dr. Harvey Baker, was killed in the family home during the Civil War by a Union soldier and he may have been seeking to avenge his father’s death.

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