"Major General" Lambdin P. Milligan
(Note there are no Pictures available of this Man)
The month was October the Year 1864
This man Milligan was formally a teacher but has
as a lawyer active in local politics. When Milligan
was arrested the American Civil war had been going on for over 3 years.
The American war at this time had taken more American lives than any other
war in American history.
On July 1864 3 months before Milligan was arrested
a group of civilians had gathered outside a Union Army camp in Indiana
right outside of Indianapolis. At that time they were very scared and had
demanded to speak to the officer in charge. The citizens wanted protection
from an Organization called the copperheads. They claimed that members
had contacted them from the a branch of the copperheads known as the "Sons
Of Liberty" and had demanded they join their group and work for the south.
When General Carrington agreed to help them the citizens then revealed
that the "Sons Of Liberty" were planning on seizing a government arsenal
in Indianapolis. The Copperheads believed that if they succeeded they would
have complete control of Indiana.
General Carrington then proceeded to ask them members
names. The people named a lot of names including that of "Major General"
Lambdin P. Milligan. (Note: Milligan held the rank of Major General in
the "Sons of Liberty" but was not however a real Major General In truth
he had no official Rank he was not in the military at all) Milligan was
a Copperhead a member of "Son Of Liberty" and a civilian.
The Union forces were prepared for an attack on the
Indianapolis Arsenal although it never took place. General Carrington had
kept a record of everything he was told by the civilians even the names
of those who were thought to be involved.
During the rest of the summer and spring things started
to go badly for the Confederate Forces and By fall the battle seemed to
be in the favor of the Union. That October General Alvin Hovey had taken
command of the Indiana Military District. Hovey came there with the belief
that the city of Indianapolis was filled with Southern sympathy and bad
officers and he had thought they were planning treason therefore the entire
state of Indiana would be in danger. That is when General Hovey sent a
group of soldiers to the house of Milligan and arrest him. From the arrest
at Milligan's home they took him to a Union Army Camp prison.
From there Milligan was charged with giving aid to
the enemy, conspiracy to commit treason, and violating the laws of war.
General Hovey then appointed a military commission
of officers from his very own staff and brought Milligan to be tried by
a court martial before this staff.
Milligan argued that Army had no right to try him
under Military Law because he was a civilian. The General basically Ignored
Milligan and conducted the court martial anyhow. Milligan was put on trial
with three others from the Copperhead organization. His lawyers had tried
without prevail to get him a separate trial.
The Judge advocate described Milligan as the right
arm man of the state of Indiana, The active, energetic and venomous leader.
A man of unquestionable ability and a heart full of hatred, envy and malice.
Although the evidence against them was very strong
all four of the men pleaded Not Guilty. Although midway into the trial
one of the four men decided to change his plea to Guilty in return for
immunity from the Judge Advocate. Basically he agreed to testify against
the remaining three with promise that he would not be prosecuted further
if he did so.
Milligan and the other two that remained was found
Guilty and there sentence was death by hanging. The date for the hanging
was set for 6 months after this May 19, 1865 to be exact. Milligan's attorney
then proceeded to Washington to plead his case in front of the President.
At that time the President was President Abraham Lincoln. Pres. Lincoln
Agreed to hear him out however Lincoln upheld the authority of General
Hovey. The President did say however that if the war came to an end before
the hanging took place he may be able to commute Milligan's sentence and
give him a prison sentence instead of killing him.
The sad thing is the war did end April 1865 however
President Lincoln was assassinated only 5 days later. And the new
president Vice President now president Andrew Johnson had no idea of the
private conversation that took place between Milligan's lawyer and the
late President Lincoln.
Nine days before Milligan was scheduled to hang.
His lawyer went before the circuit court of Indiana and asked for Milligan's
release on the grounds that he was being held illegally. The circuit judges
could not reach a decision and referred the question to the US surpream
court this was all postponing Milligan's execution. A month later before
the court could consider the case. Milligan's sentence was commuted to
life imprisonment by President Andrew Jackson.
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