I couldn’t find space in my podcast calendar for Champ Ferguson, but in fairness there are more pleasant stories to tell. His short biography here, though, is worth a read – it reminds us that, while some joined for honor or patriotism or social values, others signed up to avenge themselves and settle old scores. Quote Shelby Foote: “It wasn’t all valor.”
At the end of the Civil War, our nation’s bloodiest struggle, only two men were tried and executed for war crimes. Both had served the Confederacy. One was Henry Wirz, commandant of the notorious prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Ga.; the other was the guerrilla leader Champ Ferguson.
There is, perhaps, room for extenuation in the case of Wirz, an ineffectual martinet clearly out of his depth. The same cannot be said for Ferguson. While some romantics have doggedly held to the image of Champ Ferguson as a much wronged Southern patriot and freedom fighter, he was in fact a vicious killer who took life with neither conscience nor compunction.