Champ Ferguson


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 23, 1865

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VOL. IX.—No. 456.]



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1865, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


ON the 6th of September Camp Chase was, for the first time in its history, the scene of a military execution. On that day, in accordance with the findings and sentence of the Military Commission so long in session at Cambridge, approved by Major-General ORD, Commander of this Department, HIRAM OLIVER and JOHN WESLEY HARTUP were hung for the murder of J. B. COOK, Provost Marshal of the Seventeenth District. The two men were removed to Camp Chase from Cambridge August 30, their sentence not having been made public, and they apparently laboring under the impression that the punishment was to be light.

The impression was, however, rudely dispelled by the information suddenly imparted to the prisoners on the 5th that the next day they must undergo the death penalty. The effect of the announcement upon the prisoners can not be easily imagined, much less described. OLIVER was disposed at first to treat the matter coolly, merely remarking that it was rough, but on meeting with his wife, who had been in camp since Friday, he gave way to most violent demonstrations of grief. HARTUP was much affected, and was much depressed from the moment he heard his sentence.

HIRAM OLIVER was born in Washington, Jefferson County, Ohio, and resided there until about three years ago, when he enlisted in the Forty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers. In July last he claims to have been discharged, moved with his family to Illinois, and engaged in farming. He has a wife and two children—rather a pretty little girl of four years of age, and a little boy aged about seven months. He was about twenty-four years of age, was of medium size, and had rather good though rather weak features.

Mr. JOHN WESLEY HARTUP, the brother of Mrs. OLIVER, is about the same age as his brother-in-law, was born in the same county, belonged to the same regiment, and for some years lived with the OLIVERS. He and OLIVER bought farms adjoining


each other in Illinois ; left that State about the same time, for some purpose not made plain, and came together to Ohio. They were arrested in March last, and in June Mrs. OLIVER left her Illinois home and came to her father's near Bloomfield, Ohio.

The scene of the parting of OLIVER from his family was affecting in the extreme. OLIVER confessed to the murder. He had killed COOK because he thought the latter would come to Illinois and arrest him. He insisted that HARTUP was innocent, though the latter admitted that he was an accessory. Both seemed penitent at the last hour. They were conducted to the scaffold, and at twenty minutes


past one o'clock ascended the platform, when, after a brief address on the part of each, the execution took place.


AMONG the guerrillas who infested Kentucky during the war CHAMP FERGUSON and his men were the most notorious. Their outrages were chiefly confined to Wayne and Clinton Counties. CHAMP FERGUSON himself is quite a character, though the bloodiest of rascals and murderers. His religious notions are, to say the least, rather queer. Whether he takes a hint from THEODORE PARKER,

who used to call God " our Father and Mother," is uncertain, but CHAMP is in the habit of speaking of the Father of All as " the Old Man." He, in a recent interview with the editor of a Western paper, expressed his opinion that " the Old Man" had been on his side thus far in life, and he believed he would stay with him and bring him out of his present trouble all right. He thought the Campbellites were about as good as any of the religious denominations, and a little better.

CHAMP FERGUSON is now being tried at Nashville by a court-martial on the charge of committing murders and other acts in violation of the laws of war. The verdict has not yet been given, but there is no doubt that he will be punished with death for his many atrocities. Before the war he was arrested for the murder of READ, the constable, and confined in jail. At the outbreak of the rebellion he was released on his pledge to join the rebels. He claims that he had been previously a Union man. He then commenced his career of murder and robbery which made his name a terror in Kentucky. He acted under the orders of JOHN MORGAN until the latter made his raid into Ohio. He was with MORGAN in most of his raids in Kentucky and Tennessee. He surrendered at the close of the war, supposing that he would be let off with the oath of allegiance. CHAMP owns a considerable amount of land in Clinton County, Kentucky, estimated by the hundreds of acres. He has good reason for the wish, which he now expresses, " that there had never been any war."


THE graphic but by no means extravagant illustration which we publish on page 600 scarcely needs any word of comment or explanation. During the present year Death appears to have set his mark upon the traveler, whether he journeys by railway or by the steamboat. Every day the record of mortality is continued from the day before, being only diversified in the manner of its occurrence. Now it is a collision, on the railroad or upon the


Hiram Oliver
John Hartup
Champ Ferguson




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