This week in 1864

February 6th, 2015 by admin

“Comrades: I want to acknowledge that I am guilty and that my punishment is just. But I want also that you should know that I did not desert because I lost faith in our cause. I believe we are on the right side, and I think it will succeed. But take warning from my example, and whatever comes do not desert the old flag for which I am proud to die.”

— William E. Ormsley, convicted of desertion, firing squad, Massachusetts.
Executed February 7, 1864

A private in Company E, Second Massachusetts Cavalry, Ormsley deserted from picket duty in Virginia. A returning scouting party recognized him in an enemy attack, where they captured him. On the day of his execution, Ormsley requested to speak to the troops when delivering his final words.

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