jump to navigation
  • Reprieve? June 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    This weird war tale comes from a rather suspect book, Thrilling Stories of the Great Rebellion (1865), about the American Civil War. Note the almost total lack of details here: we are not even told whether this was a Confederate or Union regiment, though given the author’s loyalties we should presume the latter. This could easily be an urban legend

    A private in a certain regiment was tried by a court-martial for deserting his post, and found guilty, the punishment for which is death. His execution was deferred for some time, and he was kept in a painful state of suspense. At last the time was fixed for his execution, and five regiments were drawn up in line to witness it, while a file of twelve men were in advance to execute the sentence of death by shooting him. The prisoner was led forward blindfolded, and the usual words of preparation and command were given in a low, measured tone, by the officer in command. During the interval between the commands, ‘take aim,’ and ‘fire,’ and before the last was given, a horseman rode rapidly up the road, waving in the air a paper, which was understood by all present to be a reprieve. Covered with dust and perspiration, the officer rode hurriedly up to the officer in command, and delivered to him what really proved to be a reprieve. The shout ‘reprieve’ fell upon the poor soldier’s ear, which was already strained to the utmost in anticipation of hearing the last and final word that was to usher his soul into the presence of his Creator ; it was too much for him, and he fell back upon his coffin apparently.  The bandage was removed from his eyes, but reason had taken its flight, and he became a hopeless maniac. He was discharged from the army, and sent home to his friends. His death had really never been intended : but it was deemed necessary for the good order and discipline of the army to make an impression upon not only himself, but the whole brigade; for that purpose the forms of the execution were regularly gone through with, in presence of five regiments, and the reprieve arrived in good time, as it was intended. It was sought by this means to solemnly impress upon the whole assemblage of soldiers, the necessity of a strict observance of duty and obedience, under the penalty of an ignominious death. Fearful, indeed, was the ordeal through which the deserter passed.

    Can anyone come up with any last minute reprieves of this type: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com