The Execution of Spies on Johnson's Island
SANDUSKY (0.), May 15th.— This afternoon the sentence passed upon William Corbin and T. P. McGraw, convicted by Court martial at Cincinnati, was executed on Johnson's Island, the depot for prisoners or war, near the city. The execution was strictly military, none being allowed on the island except the soldiery, officers of the Government and reporters of the press. In the morning the prisoners in the yard were restricted to close quarters, and the island strongly picketed. At one P.M. the battalion was formed by Captain Llnnell, and marched to the place of execution on the south side of the island, fronting the bay. At twenty minutes past one the prisoners, securely bound, guarded by the execution party, accompanied by their escort and chaplain, left the prison and were placed in a two-horse wagon, seated op a coffin, the spiritual adviser, Rev. R. McCune, chaplain of the post, sitting between them, and proceeded to the beach, the band playing the dead march. The battalion formed in Hollow Square, the execution party In the center, front facing the prisoners, Major Pierson and staff on the right.
The proceedings of the Court martial, finding and sentence were then read by Adjutant Barrett, after which the Chaplain stepped forward beside the condemned and said:
“I am desired by these unfortunate men to return their thanks to the Commander of this post, and to all of the men with whom they have had intercourse, for the kindness and sympathy they have received since their arrival here. l am also charged by them to say to all in attendance that they die forgiving all enemies and accusers, and in love and charity with all men, believing in the gospel and Jesus Christ, and that they have thus far been comforted and gained by its truths, that trusting In the mercy of God, through Christ, they have good hope or eternal life."
After an eloquent and fervent prayer by the Rev. Mr. McCune, the condemned were blindfolded, the necessary orders were given by the Provost Marshal, and at forty minutes past one o'clock Corbin and McGraw paid the penalty or their acts. The execution party consisted of thirty-two men, divided into squads— being a reserve. The firing was excellent, the sixteen shots fired being as that of one man. The criminals foil back upon their coffins, each pierced through the breast, within a circle if a few inches, by twenty-five balls and buckshot, and died without a struggle. Corbin did not move a muscle, McGraw gasping but once. The bodies were then examined by surgeons and life found extinct. The troops were then marched past the bodies, the band playing the dead march, thence to the parade ground and were dismissed.
The whole proceedings attending the execution were very solemn and impressive, and the manner in which they were conducted reflects credit upon the officers and men having it in charge. Just previous to the execution the prisoners handed the Chaplain the following: "I, F. W. Corbin, was born March 3, 1888, In Campbell county (Ky.); joined the Masonic Order at 21 years of age ; joined the Christian Church in my 22d year, at California, in the same county ; was baptized by Elder F. Sallie of Bracken county (ky); joined the rebel army in October, I862; came to Kentucky in February, 1863; was taken prisoner on the night of the 8th of April." _ I, T. P. McGraw, was born in Harrison county, Kentucky, June 4, 1839; my father died in December, 1848, when I removed to Falmouth, where I lived till 1860, and then came to Campbell county, Kentucky, where I remained till April, I862 ; I then went to the Confederate army, and was attached to the Fifth Kentucky Volunteers; I was a Lieutenant in Company G until February, 1868, when I was sent by General Marshall to recruit a company of men for his command ; was taken prisoner on the 9thh of April, 1863 ; was not tried by Court martial, and supposed I would be treated as a prisoner ; joined the Christian Church at California, Kentucky, in 1856; I leave a mother and two sisters, and a brother and friends to mourn my loss, but their loss is my gain. Prepare to meet me in heaven. I freely forgive all men as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven me." By order of General Burnslde, the bodies were delivered to friends from Kentucky, who were in attendance to receive them.
Sacramento Daily Union, June 9,1863, correspondence of the Cincinnati Commercial.