Down in Franklin County (TN) sometime in late December 1864, a Unionist named Moses Pittman handed Major General Milroy a list of “disloyal” men and women, all apparently personal enemies of Pittman. Beside each name was a “narration of their crimes.” Milroy went down the list, marking with his own hand “what punishment they shall suffer.” By the names of Joel Cunningham and Green Denison he wrote “KILL.” Next to the name of Curtis McCullum was the order “HANG AND BURN.” Charlotte, the sister of Curtis, had “BURN EVERYTHING” written by her name. “SHOOT IF YOU CAN MAKE IT LOOK LIKE AN ACCIDENT,” the general wrote next to the name of Cynthia, Curtis’s wife. There were fifty-three other names on the list. Orders to carry out the murders & other depredations were given to Capt. William H. Lewis on January 7, 1865, with detailed supplemental instructions on destroying and plundering the property of the victims.

Milroy added the names of four other civilians in neighboring Coffee County whom he also wanted executed. Captain Lewis later apprehended three of this group, unarmed, at one of their homes. Leroy Moore and Thomas Saunders were both old men. William Saunders was only fourteen. Each had his hands bound behind his back, was forced to wade into the pond at Huffers Mill, then was shot. Only after three days did soldiers allow families to retrieve the bloated bodies from the water for burial.

On February 7, 1865, Milroy issued more orders, specifying eighteen individuals who were to have their homes and property burned.  Included were the names of thirty-four he wanted shot. Four other names were listed, these to be “hung to the first tree in front of their door and be allowed to hang there for an indefinite period.” The final sentence of Milroy’s order read: “If Willis Taylor is caught he will be turned over to Moses Pittman and he will be allowed to kill him.”                                                                             From War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco

Major General Robert Huston Milroy served in the eastern front in Virginia against the Confederate corps of Lt. General Richard S. Ewell during the Gettysburg campaign and is most known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Winchester in 1863. He was VIII Corps 2nd division commander under Union General Robert C. Schenck. General Milroy’s harsh mistreatment of Winchester (VA) citizens had been such that even many pro-Unionists had changed their sympathies. This served to further isolate Milroy’s ability to gather intelligence around him. He failed miserably against General Ewell, was relieved of his command, and was called before a court of inquiry to answer for his actions, but after ten months the charges were dropped.

Later General Milroy was transferred to the Western Theatre, “recruiting” for Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland in Nashville in the spring of 1864. He also was in command the defenses of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad in the Department of the Cumberland until the end of the war.

Major General Milroy USA

Major General Milroy USA

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