War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0285 EARLY EVENTS IN MISSOURI, ETC.

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SAINT LOUIS, MO., January 10, 1862-10 a. m.

The commission met pursuant to adjournment and the above order.

Present: Brigadier General S. D. Sturgis, U. S. Army; Colonel R. D. Cutts, of the staff; Lieutenant Colonel John Scott, Third Iowa Volunteers; Major E. W. Chamberlain, First Iowa Cavalry.

The accused, William Hearst, and his counsel also present.

The judge-advocate having read the order convening the commission asked the accused, William Hearst, if he had any objection to any member named therein to which he replied that he had not. The commission was then sworn by the judge-advocate, the judge-advocate taking the oath at the same time as a member of the commission in the presence of the accused.

The accused was then arraigned upon the folowing charge and specification, which were read aloud to the commission by the judge-advocate:

CHARGE: Violation of the lawe of war.

Specification. -In this, that he, William Hearst, of jefferson County, Mo., did aid and assist in the burning of the Iron Mountain Railroad bridge across Big River, Jefferson County, Mo., thus risking and putting in jeopardy the lives of innocent persons traveling on said road, the same being done in violation of the laws and usages of war. This on or about October 16, 1861.

The judge-advocate then addressed the accused as follows: "You, William Hearst, have heard the charge and specification preferred against you; how say you, guilty or not guilty?"

To which arraignment the accused pleaded as follows:

To the specification, not guilty.

To the charge, not guilty.

JOHN W. WILSON, a witness for the prosecution, was duly sworn.


Question. State your name, residence, and occupation.

Answer. John W. Wilson; reside at Big River bridge, Jefferson County, Mo. ; am a farmer.

Question. Do you know the accuse, and if so hwo long have you known him?

Answer. I know him, and have been acquainted with him for about fourteen years, but during four and one-half years of that time I was in California. I was in California from 1852 to 1856.

Question. Since your return have you been in the habit of seeing him often, and how far did he live from your house?

Answer. he lived about eight or nine miles from my house, and I have often seen him at Morse's store and at post-office formerly kept at our house, and also at place where the post-office now is.

Questio. Were you at home at the burning of Big River bridge, and how far did you live from it?

Answer. I was. I lived about 150 yards from it.

Questio. Did you witness the burning of the bridge?

Answer. I saw it-the bridge on fire and the setting fire to the bridge. Before the burning of the bridge I was arrested by a man who called himself Jeff. Thompson. He released me, however, when some men spoke to him and told him I was a farmer who lived there. At the moment of my release I was about 200 yards from the bridge. I then met men coming with fire toward the bridge and I said to them, "For God's sake, don't burn the bridge; it will break us citizens up. " I recognized no one among the men going with firebrnds in their hand toward the bridge but Mr. William Hearst. The firebrand held by him was about one and one-half feet long.