In Defense of "Champ".

While searching the on-line catalog for the upcoming Cowan's American History Auction, which occurs on June 24, 2009, Major Cantey was dismayed when he stumbled upon yet another attack upon our Southern heritage.

Nestled among the scores of items for sale are eight or nine items (lots) that are either images of Samuel "Champ" Ferguson or relics associated with his brutal execution. Mr. Cowan's description of each of these lots began with the phrase "CONFEDERATE TERRORIST Champ Ferguson." Below is an image of Champ Ferguson.

On June 3, 2009, immediately upon viewing this aspersion, Captain Cantey immediately notified his fellow website officers, along with our great friends Nancy Hitt and Scott Morris. Together, we decided that we would all write messages registering our dissatisfaction with the inflammatory and demeaning wording used in these auction listings. We forwarded our objections directly to Mr. Cowan and then encouraged all of our fellow members to do the same. Donald Gilmore, one of our members, recently remarked that the U.S. military definition of "Terrorist" implies that violence was committed by someone to effect a political response. So, by this well-established definition, in no way do the actions or alleged actions ascribed to Ferguson by Cowan's auction conform to any reasonable definition of terrorism. The definition of terrorism is not one that you can apply to people you don't like. That is using it for a propaganda purpose.

To his credit, Mr. Cowan answered most of the responses to his inappropriate wording directly. Moreover, he entered into a candid and frank discussion with Major Rick Mack, whom he has known for years. After they engaged in numerous discussions via the telephone and e-mail, on 02/11/09 we were all happy to receive the following message from Captain Mack:

"Brothers and Sisters: Please pass this on to the others who need to read this. Our e-mails did eventuate in a small change in Wes Cowan. It opened discussion into General Sherman and others [often associated with terrorism]. Notice in his blog that he only mentions Sherman, and not General Custer, who had his men kill old Indian men, women, children, and toddlers, their legs and their heads smashed on rocks like using them for the head of a hammer! Now that was real terror! In my reply to Wes I will mention the above facts about General Custer. He has sold many Custer related items and not in one instance has he described Custer as a "terrorist." I will not give up, or give in on this chat with Wes."

The end result is this: by simply refusing to sit back and do nothing while the honor and reputation of another Confederate hero was destroyed, we were able to affect another change, albeit a small one. We should be proud of another victory in the never-ending battle against the demonizing or our beloved South. We must realize that all these small victories against propaganda attacks against the South and its people add up. We are making a big difference, despite the fact these changes happen much slower than we might like.

Moreover, this is a great example of teamwork. Major Emory uncovered the abuse, and our officers and selected friends worked together to coordinated our responses. Next, Rick kept up the pressure by refusing to let the matter die. On behalf of the membership, I want to thank everyone who responded to Mr. Cowan, but especially Major Rick Mack and Major Emory Cantey.

There is no doubt that in this example the coordinated, repetitive public response was just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, just like when David slew Goliath, there are times one individual can overcome obstacles others have found impossible to defeat. In my mind, there is no better example than our own Lt. Nancy Hitt.

Nancy is always more than willing to help with any project that will help defend and preserve the honor and memory of our Southern forefathers. She has been an active participant in many of the projects undertaken by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and numerous other organizations, for far longer than she'd like to admit. And I can assure you that Nancy Hitt is ready, willing, and more than able to go it alone if that is what is needed to get the job done.

I'd like to tell you the exact number of Confederate headstones and monuments she has had a hand in placing, but I can't because if she knows the exact number she isn't willing to share it. However I do know besides the numerous rebels she has honored in her home state of Kentucky, she has had stones placed in Missouri, New York, and even foreign lands, including Poland. Likewise, I'd love to share with you all the awards and honors she has won for her efforts in preserving our Confederate heritage. Once I saw a partial list, and it looked like a copy of the 2009 Federal budget. But I can't find it now, and Nancy is far too modest and unassuming to toot her own horn.

That's why we decided to do it for her. We could think of no one who is a better example of someone who has dedicated his or her life to fighting the good fight. That's why during the Quantrill memorial service that occurred on October 25, 2008, we were privileged to present the inaugural quantrillsguerrillas.com "Outstanding Confederate Partisan Award to Lt. Nancy Hitt.

While Nancy is a shining example of what can be achieved by our members, she is far from the only example. We have had a number of members who shared with us how they placed markers honoring their Confederate ancestors, also. I know of another member who has amassed a collection of nearly 200 images of the headstones of the men who served under Quantrill. Half a dozen of our members have published articles or books about the Missouri Minute Men. A couple of our member have amassed vast collections of relics, artifacts and images of these brave men. These are examples I know of; I'm sure there are other such "victories" that have not been shared with our membership.

One of the main goals of our organization is to enact change whenever and wherever possible, and we trust that the vast majority of our members share this goal. The purpose of this article is to implore everyone who reads this article to stop accepting the status quo and to TAKE ACTION NOW, take up the gauntlet against each and every abuse of our Southern heritage. Remaining quiet only encourages our enemies to accelerate their demonizing propaganda campaign.

The time to hesitate is past; many of those who have previously fought valiantly to lead this grand fight have passed away. The truth is not taught in our schools, in fact, just the opposite is the case; therefore it is up to us to spread the word that will quench the thirst for knowledge in our younger generation about their true heritage. We must not wallow in the mire of inaction or self-doubt. If you know of any abuse of the honor or the memory of our sainted Southern heroes, we implore you to either take action yourself or to bring it to our attention. We promise to assist you in every way possible, and I know that our Confederate ancestors would be pleased by our combined actions.  

We thought you might enjoy reading a short synopsis of the life of  a true Confederate Hero.  Here is an image of Champ taken while he awaited execution

For those who may not know, Champ Ferguson, a legendary Confederate partisan ranger and guerrilla fighter, was easily the most notorious among those who fought to control the Upper Cumberland Plateau region along the Tennessee and Kentucky borders.

Born near Albany in Clinton County, Kentucky, Ferguson moved to White County, Tennessee, with his family in the 1850s. According to legend, he made the move after Unionists in Clinton County drove him out of the area and publicly humiliated his wife and daughter. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Cumberland Plateau was extremely volatile in its divided loyalties. The mountainous terrain that made military control of the area almost impossible also made guerrilla operations the preferred tactics of the belligerent locals, such as Ferguson for the Confederacy and his nemesis David "Tinker Dave" Beatty for the Union. Largely due to the efforts of Ferguson and his men, the area around Sparta in White County where Ferguson lived remained under the control of Confederate partisans until the end of the war.

Shortly after the beginning of the war in 1861, Ferguson gathered a band of armed men and began attacking Union partisans and sympathizers. Though he was considered in official military correspondence a Confederate "Captain" with a "company" of men, he was usually not formally attached to the Confederate Army and conducted his own operations independently. The Confederate Army recognized the usefulness of these partisan ranger bands; Confederate General Edmund Kirby-Smith authorized Ferguson in 1862 to raise a cavalry company for operations around the volatile Kentucky-Tennessee border.

In 1861 and 1862, Ferguson was most associated with Captains Scott Bledsoe and J. W. McHenry, both of whom commanded companies attached to the Confederate Army. In June 1862, Ferguson joined Colonel John Hunt Morgan as a guide during Morgan's first Kentucky raid. Ferguson was nominally under the distant command of Kirby-Smith until August 1864, when he was transferred to General Joseph Wheeler's command, which was harassing Major General William Sherman's march through Georgia and South Carolina. He returned northward to participate in the Battle of Saltville, Virginia, on October 2, 1864, during which he supposedly slaughtered wounded prisoners of war, many of them from the Fifth U.S. Colored Cavalry. One specific murder with which he was later charged was that of a Lieutenant Smith, shot by Ferguson in the Emory & Henry Confederate Hospital after the Saltville battle. For this crime, the Confederate Army jailed Ferguson in February 1865; he was released a few months later.

By war's end, the federal government had branded Ferguson an outlaw. Ferguson and his supporters responded that his actions were within the boundaries of just warfare and self-defense. He surrendered in May 1865, believing that he would be treated according to Confederate surrender agreements and paroled. Upon arriving in Nashville, his co-partisans were released, but he was arrested and tried as a guerrilla. The controversial trial, which took place from July to September 1865, was a sensation among Nashville citizens and newspaper journalists. The defense, led by Judge Jo Conn Guild, maintained that Ferguson was a captain in the Confederate Army and should be paroled as such. The prosecution, led by Judge Advocate A. C. Blackman, claimed that as a guerrilla and outlaw, he acted outside the bounds of the army. Ferguson was charged with fifty-three counts of murder, which rested entirely on the evidence of a long line of eyewitnesses for the prosecution, including Beatty and several of Ferguson's friends and relatives. Most of the witnesses subpoenaed by the defense failed to appear, with the notable exception of General Wheeler, who testified that Ferguson was indeed considered a Confederate officer. The military commission decided that, since Ferguson was not paroled, he was not to be accorded the protection of army status, and the Yankee authorities sentenced him to be hanged.

His execution took place in Nashville on October 20, 1865, with Ferguson's wife and child in attendance. His last wish was to be taken back to his home beside the Calf Killer River in White County, Tennessee, which was granted. His grave now resides in France Cemetery, north of Sparta.

Patrick Marquis © 2009 quantrillguerrillas.com "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this or copyrighted essay."      

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