AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY

By Edward Pinkowski 

        The legend of Champ Ferguson will not die.
        The notorious, unscrupulous leader of a small band of Confederate guerillas
was nearly 44 years old when he was found guilty for a bloody reign of terror
in Kentucky and Tennessee and hung October 24, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.
In a military trial, he was charged with fifty counts of murder and other war
crimes. "The wounded, the sick, the aged, and even helpless children, were not
spared from his brutal murders," said Harper's Weekly .
        Now, 134 years after his family drove away from the gallows and buried his
body where even the devil wouldn't find it, there is a campaign in Tennessee
to revive this cold-blooded  murderer and robber, for whom the governor of
Tennessee gave a reward of $500 for his capture and delivery to the
authorities for trial and punishment, and to worship him as a Confederate
martyr. 
        If Major John A. Brents, an officer of the First Kentucky Cavalry of the
Union Army which chased the wild butcher of the Cumberlands, were alive today,
he would be the first to condemn the worship of Champ Ferguson. "He is a
thief, robber, counterfeiter, and murderer," he wrote. "His record does not
stop with two or three offences, but is one continual wave of blood and
plunder."      
                                        LOG HOUSE       
        To the descendants of Anthony Sadowski in Kentucky, or Sandusky as most of
them called themselves in the third generation and further on, Ferguson was
the most desperate and fiendish guerilla chief in the Confederate Army.
        When the North and the South went to war, Emanuel Sandusky,  named after his
Pennsylvania-born father, had the most children, grandchildren and slaves in
Wayne County, Kentucky, a salt works, a water mill, and a plantation that
covered half of Mount Pisgah.  At 76, he was too old to join the army, but he
had more sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons than any other person in the country
who fought in the Civil War.  Some of them shouldered guns on the Confederate
side and others in the Union Army and still others moved to states where they
didn't have to take sides.
        Looking back on the past, the two-story log house, which Emanuel Sandusky
built about 1808 and where he raised 21 children, was the most patriotic house
in America. This isn't generally known.  The children who came out of that
house were the fifth generation in America that took up arms to defend their
land.  In one case, Rosannah, who was born in that log house in 1813, had five
sons in the first battle of the Civil War on Kentucky soil. The general who
commanded them and won the battle was Polish-born Albin Schoepf. Rosannah,
married to James S. Bruton in 1830, was a Gold Star mother as were her mother
and grandmother. I could find no other family in the United States to match
this record of patriotism.
                                        ATROCITIES 
        Just before the Southern campaign in Kentucky fell apart, and while the male
flowers of the Sandusky kin were away,  Captain Ferguson led his guerillas
into Clinton and Wayne counties, stealing horses, mules, cattle, hogs, and all
kinds of property, and then crossing the Cumberland mountains into Tennessee,
which was the depot for his stolen goods. Ferguson and his gang ransacked
Sandusky's plantation several times. Each time they had horses shot from under
them. Ferguson paid a heavy price for his atrocities.  Six guerillas were
killed in Wayne County on Jan. 21, 1863, and one on Feb. 12, 1863.
        The stories of atrocities in the most gigantic rebellion known in modern
times would fill a book.  Certainly none had a more bitter memory of Champ
Ferguson than the other children and grandchildren of Emanuel Sandusky who in
turn told the stories of pillage and blood to the generations that followed.
It was worse than the 1780s when Indians stole cattle and horses from the
family plantation in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, where Emanuel
Sandusky was born, and returned to North Carolina.  
        Jo Ann Reynolds of Illinois still tells stories to her grandchildren and her
contacts on the Internet of the time that Ferguson kipnapped two of her kin in
Wayne County.  One of them was killed and the other escaped.
In another story, Gabriel Sandusky, accustomed to plenty of food in the
historic log house in Kentucky, was a prisoner of war who starved to death at
Andersonville and his grandfather didn't know about it for two years. It was
the last straw.  The old man died when he heard the story from one of
Gabriel's prison buddies. 
        Thus the story of Champ Fer 

From Anne Ferguson;
I would like to add a few things to your article about
Confederate Guerilla, Champ Ferguson.  Something this article
doesn't mention is that the Sandusky's and the Ferguson's were
related by marriage. Mr. Pinkowski mentions the comments of
descendants of Anthony Sadowski (Sandusky). They said that Champ
was the most desperate and fiendish guerilla chief in the
Confederate Army.  What they failed to mention is that they are
related to Champ by the marriage of Anthony Sandusky's first
daughter, Susan, to Champ's uncle Benjamin.  He also failed to
mention that it is well believed among those who hold Champ in
esteem that he was defending the honor of his wife and daughter.
Champ lived among Union sympathizers who, while he was away from
home scouting for the Confederates, caused his wife and daughter
to march down the road naked and cook a meal for them in that
state of undress. When Champ found out about this, he swore to
get his revenge on these 10 or 12 men. In those days in Kentucky,
if someone offended your family, you sought revenge on that man's
whole family. That was the law of the mountains. Hatfield's and
McCoy's come to mind. So Champ killed the men who abused his
family and some of their family members as well. I cannot defend
him, as I don't believe murder is right, of course,  but he did
have reason to want those men's hides.  Capt. Champ Ferguson is
now considered a hero by some militia groups because he was a
large, fierce frightening man who was an expert at scouting,
deceiving the Union army and an excellent weaponsman. Even the
soldiers of Morgan's raiders waited in anticipation to meet the
infamous Champ Ferguson. He knew the land of the
Kentucky/Tennessee border like no one else. He could recapture
rebel prisoners who had been taken by the Union army before the
yankees knew what hit them. He was an excellent marksman and was
fearless when faced with hand-to-hand combat with the enemy.

In the book "Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come", by John Fox, Jr.,
Champ is called by the name Rebel Jerry Dillon. While the book is
a work of fiction, Mr. Fox researched the work very well. He
describes the horror of the Civil War and the way in which both
armies went about recruiting soldiers. The Union army conscripted
any man who owned a slave. According to some of my families
papers and Civil War letters, the Confederates simply came to
people's homes and "stole" the men of the household.  It was
nothing for a woman to stand in her kitchen and watch her family
members gunned down before her eyes. The atrocities were on both
sides, not just the Confederate side. It was the order of the day
to steal anything the army could use from anyone who had food,
horses, cows, guns. Mr. Fox also shows the tender side of Champ
Ferguson when he tells how Champ took to one of the young Rebel
soldiers, protecting him like he was his own son. He recaptured
the young boy when the boy was taken prisoner by the Union army.
Champ's own son had died as a child of one of the plagues of the
time. His wife also was taken by the disease. He remarried after
that and had a daughter. Champ's home was burned because of his
involvement with the rebels. He had much to be angry about.  So
you see, to me Mr. Pinkowski didn't tell the whole story about
Capt. Champ and one must know the whole story to stand in
judgment of him. By the way, I am not a descendant of Champ
Ferguson's family but I believe (but so far have not proven) that
I am Champ's 1st cousin 6 times removed. I believe that my
ggg-grandfather, William Ferguson was Champ's grandfather's
brother. My family and Champ's lived in the same area of Clinton
Co. KY and both my grandfather's and gg-grandfather's names were
Champion Ferguson. Guerilla Champ's daughter's name was Anne
Ferguson. And so is mine.

Keep on Rootin"
Anne Ferguson (aka SweetShrub)