Confederate Guerilla Raider
Born 1821 in Kentucky, oldest son of William Ferguson.
Champ (named for his grandfather) was 6 feet tall, weight about 180 lbs. Black hair.
Known as a Confederate guerilla raider - killing 100 Union soldiers and supporters. Most notorious Rebel especially in Tennessee and Kentucky. Led his own company of warriors in April 1862.
Champ started as a farmer in Kentucky then in Tennessee -- developed a hatred of the Federal govt. and all those who supported the Union.
He was an excellent shot with a gun. During the Civil War he didn’t follow military discipline or order.
He violence included: decapitated prisoners and rolled the heads down the hillsides and was willing to kill elderly and bedridden men. Used colt revolver and a Bowie knife.
He only surrendered with a promise of parole in May 1865.
Tried by a court-martial / six-member military commission in Nashville for 53 murders from July 11, 1865 to Sept. 26, 1865 - case of huge war crimes. Called the killings and terror just following his military duties. Killing most members of the all black 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry including the white officers.
Oct. 10, 1865 found guilty of the crimes. To be hung.
His Statement to the verdict: "I am yet and will die a Rebel ... I killed a good many men, of course, but I never killed a man who I did not know was seeking my life. ... I had always heard that the Federals would not take me prisoner, but would shoot me down wherever they found me. That is what made me kill more than I otherwise would have done. I repeat that I die a Rebel out and out."
Hung Oct. 20th, 1865 - buried in Tennessee.
Legend -- From the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, "there was a conspiracy between Champ and the military. The theory is that the military felt that Champ should not be hanged because many others as guilty as he had been paroled. The story is that the military enclosed the under section of the scaffold and that a ring of soldiers completely encircled it. When the hangman cut the rope and Champ dropped through the trap door, they quickly untied the loose knot and placed Champ in the casket alive. The casket was then placed on a waiting wagon which Champ's wife and daughter drove out of town. When they were out of Nashville, Champ climbed out of the casket and the three rode all the way to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, where they took new names and took up farming and ranching for a living."
However, because the Union soldiers surrounding the gallows who were from the 15th U.S. Colored Infantry Troops, the tale of his escape seems unlikely.