xt7kpr7mq109 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7kpr7mq109/data/mets.xml DeMoss, J. C. (John C.) 1897  books b92e605c792009 English N/A : N/A Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Corbin, William Francis, 1833-1863 United States --History --Civil War, 1861-1865 --Personal narratives, Confederate Kentucky --History --Civil War, 1861-1865 --Personal narratives, Confederate A short history of the soldier-life, capture and death of William Francis Corbin : captain Fourth Kentucky cavalry, C.S.A. / [J.C. DeMoss]. text A short history of the soldier-life, capture and death of William Francis Corbin : captain Fourth Kentucky cavalry, C.S.A. / [J.C. DeMoss]. 1897 2009 true xt7kpr7mq109 section xt7kpr7mq109 
   CA-^^e C^<~+   , . Were you present at an examination of the accused made after his arrest?

A.   I was.   1 questioned the accused myself on the day of his arrest.

Q. Did he state that he was engaged in the Confederate service ; how, and in what capacity ?

A. He said he was a soldier in the rebei army, whether private or officer, he did not state; stated that he had been engaged eight months: he did not particularize as to how he was engaged.   He spoke generally.

Q. Did he make any statements as to his having been engaged in recruiting for the so-called Confederate army ?

A. Yes. He stated that he was then, or had been, engaged in recruiting, just previous to his capture-in Campbell county and Pendleton county, but chiefly in Campbell.

Q. Did he make any statements relative to his carrying mails or any other information to those in arms against the government?

A.   He made no statements to me on that subject.

Lieutenant S. A. Nickerson, 118th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a witness for the prosecution, being duly sworn, testified as follows: ./. A. Q.   What is your rank and regiment? A.  Second lieutenant, n8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Q.   Were you in command of the detachment which arrested accused? A. Yes.


   Q.   State where and when the arrest was made?

.1. It was in the edge of Pendleton county, Kentucky, on what is called the "Washington Trace," on the morning of the oth of April, near Ellis Cross Roads and also near Rouse's Mills, between two and three o'clock in the morning.

Q.   What was the accused then doing, and who were with him ?

A. He was then by himself. He had left the main road and was in a house, or had been. When he saw the squad coming up he left the house and started away. I sent some three or four men around the rear who arrested him. He was armed with a Colt's revolver and a large butcher's knife something like a corn cutter.

Q.   Did he make any statements as to his character or business?

A Not to me. When he was brought up to two other prisoners whom 1 had arrested, he recognized them. Corbin made an effort to shake hands with one of them, who said, "He guessed not, as his hands were tied."

Q.   Were any papers found in his possession?

.1. The only paper 1 found in his possession was a commission from one Humphrey Marshall, and also a blank book with a blank form of oath in it, and a list   supposed to be a list of recruits. His name, W. F. Corbin, Recruiting Sergeant, was signed in the book, at the close of the blank oath and signed W. F. Corbin, in another place.

The Judge Advocate showed the commission referred to, to the witness and appended to this record, marked "A."

Q.   Do you recognize this paper as the commission you referred to?

.1. Yes. i recognize it as the paper itself. It is what I understand to be a recruiting commission, authorizing election of officers when a certain number of men were recruited.

No cross-examination.

Private F. M. Stockdale, Company I, n8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

./. A. Q.   What is your name, rank and regiment?

A.   F. M. Stockdale, private. Company 1, n8th Ohio Volunteers.

Q,   Were vou present when the accused was arrested?

A. Yes.

Q.   Who were with him. and in what business was he then engaged?

.1. He was by himself, when we got him, at a house. He started away when we came on to him. I suppose he was recruiting. He said so in my presence and in that of Orderly Campbell who was along. He had no recruits with him at the time.  I suppose he was just gathering them up.

Q. Have you any reason to believe there were other men in the neighborhood ?

A. Yes. Because we caught more besides him. Those who were caught said there were more. That if they had been all together, they would have given us a pretty tight rub. I told them I wished they had been all together.

V- Was there any tight or skirmish with any body of men in that neighborhood soon afterwards?

A. Yes. The next day. There were about twelve or thirteen, one of whom was killed, two others wounded, who got off: none captured.

Q. Did the accused make any statement to you relative to his carrying mails or other information ?

A.   No, I don't think he did.

Q.   Do you know whether he did. carry such mails ?

A. 1 suppose he did. He had some letters; he put them in the tire ; I saw him; there were two or three. This was in the morning, about breakfast time; it was after daylight.

   Cross-examined by the accused.

Prisoner (J. Was it me, or some of the other men who made the remark "that if we had been together, we could have whipped you?"

A. I think it was you and McGraw, both together, who made the remark.   I won't say positively which one.

Sergeant Penlo, Company B, 118th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

./. A. Q.   What is your rank and regiment?

A.   Sergeant, Company B, 118th Ohio Volunteers.

(J.   Were vou present when the accused was arrested?

.1. I was not. I was not present until he was brought to headquarters to the provost marshal's office, at Cynthiana, Ky.

Q. Did you hear him make any admissions relative to the business in which he had been engaged?

.1. He said he had been recruiting for the rebel army, and it was the fifth or sixth trip he had made into the state. He said he had been very successful. He said they had something like twenty and they would not catch the others   they were too far gone; that they, meaning the United States troops, had only caught three.

Q. In conversation, did he make any statement showing his character as one engaged in arms against the government? (The Judge Advocate stated that he offered this question to show that the accused was a rebel emissary.)

A. He said he had been through the state before, and was one of the men that helped to burn the bridges on the Kentucky Central Railroad. He also said he had had a chance to burn the bridge at Berry Station " and was d   d sorry he had not done it."


Prisoner Q Did I say that I had made five or six trips into Kentucky? A.   You did.

Q. Did I say that 1 helped to burn the bridges on the Kentucky Central Railroad?

A.   You did.

(/. Did I sav " I was d   d sorry I had not burned the bridge at Berry Station?"

A.   Yes, or words to that effect.

The accused having no defense or statements to make, the Commission cleared for deliberation.

The Commission having maturely weighed and considered the evidence adduced, find the accused, William F. Corbin, of the so-called Confederate army, as follows :

Of the Specification, First Charge: "Guilty." Of the First Charge: " Guilty." Of the Specification, Second Charge : " Guiltv." Of the Second Charge: " Guilty."

And the Commission do therefore sentence him, the said William F. Corbin, now, or late, of the so-called Confederate army,

" To be shot unto death, at such time and place as the Commanding General shall direct." Two-thirds of the members of the Commission concurring in the sentence.

Robert B. Potter, J. M. Cutts, Brigadier General Volunteers,

Captain i ith Infantry, President. Judge Advocate.

   The proceedings, finding and sentence in the foregoing case are approved and continued. The prisoner, William F. Corbin. now, or late, of the so-called Confederate army, will be sent in irons by the proper officer and delivered into the custody of the commanding officer on Johnson's Island, depot of prisoners of war, near Sandusky, Ohio.

The commanding officer at that post will see that the sentence is duly executed at that post, between the hours of 12 o'clock noon and 3 o'clock p. m., of Friday, May 15, 1863. Subject to the approval of the President of the United States.

A. E. Burnside. Major General.

The foregoing sentence approved : May 4, 1863. A. Lincoln.


By virtue of authority vested in me by the Confederate States of America, I authorize William F. Corbin to raise and muster into the service of the Confederate States, for my command, a company of mounted men, or a less number, to be attached to the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, commanded by Col. Henry L Giltner. When such company numbers fifty-four, rank and file, it may organize by the election of officers and afterwards be expanded to one hundred, rank and file.

When the muster roll of said company, properly signed and certified, is presented to me, I will cause the sum of fifty dollars ($50) to be paid to each man as bounty money.

Over the signature of each man must appear a certificate that he is free from any disease of a constitutional character and enters the service of the Confederate States for three years, or during the war. When this muster roll, properly signed and certified, is returned to the office of my adjutant general, the officers and men of the new company will be recognized, and not till then. Signed,

H. Marshall, Br. Gen. P. A. C. S.

Official. Guerrant, A. A. G.

[Wm. F. Corbin's Authority.]

McGraw's trial resulted in his being sentenced to death with Corbin.

When the startling result of this court-martial became known to his friends, steps were taken to bring an influence to bear on General Burnside, as well as on President Lincoln, to have this sentence commuted from the death penalty to imprisonment for life, or a shorter term, as might be most agreeable to them. All who knew Captain Corbin, knew him only to love and respect him, however much they may have differed on the questions involved in the war. They knew him to be a brave, noble, and generous young man, enjoying a reputation for good morals and good citizenship equal to the best. As evidence of his correct life, I give an extract from an interview with Geo. R, Rule, master commissioner of Pendleton county, Kentucky, who was a messmate of W. F. Corbin while in the 
   army. Mr. Rule said : " Will Gorbin's camp life was not different from his home life. He was always a Christian gentleman." Everybody was his friend, and no wonder when they heard this report they were startled beyond measure, and continually asked the question, " Is it an offense punishable by death ?"

After a hurried consultation of the family and friends, it was decided that Miss Melissa Corbin, sister of Captain Corbin, should go to Cincinnati and appear before General Burnside and make a personal plea, such as only a sister can make to save the life of a beloved brother.

Miss Corbin, accompanied by the writer, on arrival in Cincinnati, called on the Hon. R. M. Bishop, ex-mayor of the city, and explained her mission. Mr. Bishop informed her that he had already become familiar with her brother's trouble, and had been interesting himself in his behalf, but so far without avail, and that he intended to continue his best efforts, which he proceeded to do at once, by going with her to Mr. Nicholas Patterson, a man of wealth, prominent as a business man, President of the " Union League" of that city, and probably wielding a greater influence- with the Union element than any man in the city.

Mr. Patterson became at once interested in her cause and gave every assurance of his hearty co-operation in the accomplishment of her purpose.

This article would not be complete without associating the name of Mr. James G. Kercheval with it. Mr. Kereheval, a lifelong friend of the Corbin family, and at whose hospitable home in Cincinnati Miss Corbin was entertained while in the city, interested himself in behalf of the prisoners by making daily visits to them while in prison, and supplying them with extra dishes prepared by the hands of his estimable wife.

Although differing from them politically, yet the sympathies of Mr. and Mrs. Kercheval knew no bounds, and they manifested this sympathy to a good degree in their efforts to comfort and console the men in their distress. This was liable to bring upon them harsh criticisms, if nothing more serious, from the more ultra-Union element, then at fever-heat around headquarters. They had known William Corbin from his youth, and in the language of Mrs. Kercheval, as expressed in a recent conversa- 
   tion when speaking of him, " I never knew a truer or nobler Christian than he was," and while speaking, though more than a third of a century had passed into the "shadows of the bygone," her eyes were dimmed with bitter tears excited by memories from which she could not be divorced. The noble heart of that grand woman beats to-day with earnest sympathy for the remaining few of the Corbin family. 1 have no language at my command to fully express the praise clue these devoted friends.

Dr. A. S. Dameron and Will Corbin were friends in their youth and young manhood, having been reared neighbors. When the war came on they drifted apart politically, but lost none of their respect for each other on account of this difference, and when Gus Dameron, as we called him then, heard of his friend's trouble, he was among the first to hunt him Lip and offer his best services to help him out of his dilemma, and if success did not crown his efforts, it was no fault of his.

As has already been said, the trial was over, and sentence passed. Miss Corbin was in the city awaiting advice of friends as to what she should do. It was decided that she should make a personal appeal to General Burnside, in behalf of her brother, and that Messrs. Bishop and Patterson, Elder R. Graham, then pastor of the Central Christian Church, and Dr. A. S. Dameron, should accompany her and give their influence and heart)' support; which decision was promptly carried into effect. They bore with them a petition signed by numerous leading Union citizens acquainted with the prisoners, addressed to the President, urging him to exercise clemency toward them. This petition was presented to the General by Mr. Graham, in a masterly and heart-moving speech, to which General Burnside gave earnest attention.

Miss Corbin also pleaded for the life of her brother, not only with a pathos and deep feeling prompted and inspired by the dreadful weight of sorrow pressing upon her in view of the impending fate of her brother, but with an intelligence that few women possess, and which should have melted the stoutest heart; but all these appeals were in vain. The General's only reply was that he had determined to make an example of these men and that the matter was out of his hands, and only the 
   President had the power to give the relief asked for. In answer to the question, "would he recommend to the President that the sentence be commuted to life imprisonment," he said that he would not make any recommendations, " but would forward the petition to the President, without recommendation." Thus ended the interview, and Miss Corbin left with a heavy heart and with but little hope of accomplishing anything. Yet, unwilling to give up while a spark