our being in citizens' clothes did not take from us the protection awarded to prisoners of war. The plea went on further to state that we had told the object of our expedition; that it was a purely military one, for the destruction of communications, and, as such, lawful, according to the rules of war.
This just and unanswerable presentation of the case appears to have produced its appropriate impression. Several members of the courtmartial afterward called on the prisoners and assured them that from the evidence against them they could not be condemned as spies; that they had come for a certain known object, and not having lingered about or visited any of their camps, obtaining or seeking information, they could not be convicted. Soon thereafter all the prisoners were removed to Atlanta, Ga., and they left Knoxville under a belief that their comrades, who had been tried, either had been or would be acquitted.
In the mean time, however, the views entertained and expressed to them by the members of the court were overcome, it may be safely assumed, under the prompting of the remorseless despotism at Richmond.
On June 18, after their arrival at Atlanta, where they rejoined the comrades from whom they had been separated at Chattanooga, their prison door was opened and the death sentences of the seven who had been tried at Knoxville were read to them. No time for preparation was allowed them. They were told to bid their friends farewell, and to be quick about it. They were at once tied and carried out to execution. Among the seven was Private Samuel Robinson, Company G, Thirty-third Ohio Volunteers, who was too ill to walk. He was, however, pinioned like the rest, and in this condition was dragged from the floor on which he was lying to the scaffold. In an hour or more the cavalry escort which had accompanied them was seen returning with the cart, but the cart was empty; the tragedy had been consummated? On that evening and the following morning the prisoners learned from the provost-marshal and guard that their comrades had died as all true soldiers of the Republic should die in the presence of its enemies.
Among the revolting incidents which they mentioned in connection with this cowardly butchery was the fall of two of the victims from the breaking of the rope after they had been for some time suspended. On their being restored to consciousness they begged for an hour in which to pray and to prepare for death, but this was refused them. The rope was readjusted and the execution at once proceeded.
Among those who thus perished was Private Alfred Wilson, Company C, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers. He was a mechanic, from Cincinnati, who, in the exercise of his trade, had traveled much through the States North and South, and who had a greatness of soul which sympathized intensely with our struggle for national life, and was in that dark hour filled with joyous convictions of our final triumph. Though surrounded by a scowling crowd, impatient for his sacrifice, he did not hesitate, while standing under the gallows, to make them a brief address. He told them that though they were all wrong he had no hostile feelings toward the Southern people, believing that not they, but their leaders, were responsible for the rebellion; that he was no spy, as charged, but a soldier regularly detailed for military duty; that he did not regret to die for his country, but only regretted the manner of his death; and he added, for their admonition, that they would yet see the time when the old Union would be restored and when its flag would wave over them again; and with these words the brave man died. He, like his comrades, calmly met the ignominious doom of a felon; but, happily, ignominious for him and for them only so far as