Champ Ferguson

Champ Ferguson

Clinton County, Kentucky, USA
Death 20 Oct 1865 (aged 43)
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Burial Sparta, White County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 5126001 · View Source
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Civil War Confederate Army Officer. He was known as the "most notorious" of the Confederate guerilla fighters for his activities attempting to harrass Union soldiers along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. In jail waiting trial for the murder of a Tennessee constable he was reportedly released at the start of the Civil War because he promised to join the Rebel cause. At his release he formed an independent Cavalry, wore the rank of Captain in the Confederate Army and led his men in fighting for the control of the Upper Cumberland Plateau area. He also served as a scout for General John Hunt Morgan and saw action at the Battle of Saltville (Virginia) while under the command of General Joseph Wheeler. Born in Clinton County, Kentucky his guerrilla activities were carried out in a region deeply divided over the issue of secession. A controversial figure, to some he was a patriot risking his life for the Confederate cause, to others he was a terrorist and cold blooded killer. After the war he was tricked by a false promise of being paroled, if he and his men would turn themselves in to United States military authorities. They did so at Nashville, Tennessee and all but Ferguson were released. Instead he was arrested and charged with over fifty counts of murder. His trial, which lasted from June to late September, 1865, was as controversial as his life, with supporters reporting that it was nothing but a "kangaroo court" filled with unsupportive evidence and hearsay, and others feeling it was a just procedure. At its conclusion he was sentenced to death by hanging and on October 20, 1865 the execution order was carried out. However, even his death is filled with controversy. Legend has it that the military thought Ferguson should not be hanged because others guilty of similar crimes had been paroled. The legend states that the army conspired to help him escape by having soldiers stationed under the scaffolding of the gallows to quickly untie the knot when the trap door was released. He was then placed into his casket, put in a wagon and whisked away with his wife and daughter. They allegedly settled in Oklahoma assuming new identities as a rancher. If the legend is false Ferguson joins Henry Wirz as the only two former Confederates of any rank to be executed for "war crimes".

Bio by: Bigwoo

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: charles henley
  • Added: 23 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5126001
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Champ Ferguson (29 Nov 1821–20 Oct 1865), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5126001, citing France Cemetery, Sparta, White County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .