Execution of E. Dodd

Louisville Daily Journal
, Feb. 4, 1864

Execution of Ephraim Dodd at Knoxville

Execution of Dodd at Knoxville - A Knoxville correspondent of the New York Tribune furnishes the following intelligence relative to the late execution in that place of E. S. Dodd, of company B, 8th Texas cavalry, who had been convicted as a spy caught within the Federal lines. The father of the unfortunate man is named Traverse Dodd, and resides at Richmond, Kentucky.

Precisely at ten o’clock this morning, detachments of the 100th Ohio and of the 74th Illinois infantry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Kerr, of the 74th, marched into Main Street, and were drawn up in front of and near the prison. At quarter past ten the prisoner emerged from the door of the jail in company with the clergymen, and walking to a wagon I front, climbed in unassisted, and took his seat upon his coffin. The next moment the cavalcade moved, passing with slow and measured tread along Gay Street, to the sound of drum and fife, playing the Death March. A squad of soldiers with reversed arms walked on each side of the wagon, which was driven by a colored man and drawn by two gray horses.

A considerable procession, mounted and on foot, filled up the streets and sidewalks, all eyes being directed toward the prisoner, who generally preserved a downward look, as if in deep meditation. At times he took a survey of the eager crowd.

From the “Death March” the music gradually slid into “Mary’s Dream,” and then we were carried back by the magic of the plaintive notes to juvenile days; to visions of “Sandy far at Sea,” and to the sad cadence of that fading refrain,

“When, soft and low, a voice she heard
Saying, Mary, weep no more for me.”

The solemn march, the wailing notes of the fife, and perhaps above all the calm, unmoved, manly bearing of the prisoner - so we thought - produced a mournful impression upon the spectators.

The earth was covered by a light fall of snow, and the prisoner was protected from the January air by a piece of drugget thrown over his shoulders like a shawl. He wore a dress of butternut pants and a gray short jacket. His hat was a broad-brimmed woollen one, with a star on the front, each of the five points containing one letter of the word Texas. The gallows, of the old-fashioned, cross beam platform kind, with ascending steps, and a drop held up by a spring, stood near the railroad track, not a half mile form the north termination of Gay Street.

Hither the procession wended its way. The troops drew up around the gallows as the vehicle containing the condemned halted at the foot of the stairs. The clergymen conversed a few words with the prisoner, who said in a firm, unfaltering voice, “you have my dying thanks” and to another “you have my dying love for your kindness and attention to me.” To the Chaplain of the 100th Ohio, he committed certain letters, and shook hands with each in turn. Lieutenant J. B. Wilson, of the 100th Ohio, to whose care the prisoner had been committed, now approached, and requested him to ascend the stairs. Dodd promptly rose, and, stepping down from the wagon, walked firmly up to the platform, followed by the Rev. Mr. Hyden, where they knelt, and the prisoner engaged in silent prayer. Gen. Carter, Provost Marshal-General, with his escort, occupied the opposite side of the railroad cut, and witnessed the execution.

The legs and arms of the prisoner were pinioned, and the white cap drawn over his face, he all the time being engaged in brief ejaculations of prayer, which were heard by the officiating officers.

At a signal the bolt was now withdrawn, the culprit fell, but the cotton rope broke by the sudden tension, and the man lay stretched and stunned upon the frozen ground below. A mummer of horror, mingled with expressions of pity, ran through the assembled crowd. Recovering for an instant from the shock - for his neck was not broken - he said - perhaps incoherently: “Release me quick, if you please.” For some ten minutes the unfortunate man lay thus upon his back, without moving a muscle. Meantime the officers and men, whose painful duty it was to see to the execution of the law, adjusted this time two parts of the same rope instead of one, and the half-conscious man was borne up the fatal steps a second time, being partly supported upon the drop until the double noose had been adjusted. Not a word or sign of suffering all this time escaped his lips. In another moment the drop fell, and prisoner’s form now hung by the neck - the knot behind the head. Death finally ensued by strangulation. In ten minutes, Dr. Cogswell, the officiating surgeon, pronounced life extinct, and the body was taken down and buried.

1850 Garrard County Census:
Travis Dodd age 45 b. VA
Nancy Dodd age 30 b. KY
Ephraim S. Dodd age 11 b. KY
Thomas Brown age 73 b. KY

1860 Madison County Census:
Travess Dodd age 55
Nancy Dodd age 40

Contributed by Sandy Hurt Norris.