|Colonel Michael K. Lawler.|
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In 1863 at Mound City there was camping of the Eighteenth Illinois Regiment, commanded by that veteran, Col. Mike Lawler, later a General. With very slight provocation, or none at all, one soldier, early in the evening, shot and killed a brother soldier. The murderer was arrested at once, and Col. Lawler made an effort to deliver the man over to the civil authorities.
The civil authorities, knowing that the regiment would soon be ordered away, and with it would go the only witnesses against the murderer, refused to have anything to do with him, and suggested that the regiment dispose of its own murderers. Upon this suggestion. Col. Lawler organized a court, consisting of a judge, prosecuting attorney and jury, and appointed an attorney to defend the man.
The court convene in a few hours after the murder had been committed. The best legal talent in the regiment had been selected. The prisoner was brought before the court, and the trial proceeded. In a short time the evidence was all in; the attorneys had made their speeches; the Judge had delivered his instructions to the jury, and the jury had rendered a verdict of guilty. The court immediately pronounced the sentence, and it was that the murderer be taken, at sunrise the next morning, to the most convenient tree, and there hung by the neck until dead.
The word dead was not repeated by the judge, so, at sunrise or a little before, the next morning, twelve hours after the murder, the condemned man, sitting on his coffin, in a cart drawn by a yoke of oxen, passed out of town and along the Mound City Railroad, until they reached the " convenient tree" that stood not far from where the negro man Cotton afterward built a house. One end of a rope was fastened around his neck and the other over the limb of the tree, and the order " Drive off the cart " given, which left the victim dangling in the air.
After strangulation was complete, he was cut down, placed in his coffin, and during the hanging a few soldiers had made a hole in the ground, into which was placed the dead man, and covered over with dirt. " And the man that kills his fellow-man shall by man be killed " had been followed out to the letter.
Authors note. I looked over the rosters twice and was unable to learn the name of the soldier that was killed or hung.