Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Lincolnite is Dead!

Reuben Wood was murdered.

A peaceable and respectable citizen in Clinton County, Reuben had gone with a company of Union soldiers to Camp Dick Robinson in Garrard County, and remained there with them about a month before returning home. On a warm August day in 1861, Champ Ferguson and Raine Philpott rode in front of his house on Spring Creek, and called him out. Reuben walked out and spoke in a friendly manner. But, Ferguson mouthed off, saying he intended to kill Reuben, to which Wood replied, "No Champ, you would not kill me. We have lived near each other as neighbors all your life, and I have never done you any harm." Ferguson said he would kill him because Reuben had carried the Lincoln flag at the camp. "Why, Champ, I nearly raised you. I nursed you on my knee," said Reuben. "You are a Lincolnite!" was the response. Champ Ferguson then shot Reuben Wood, inflicting a severe wound in his thigh. Reuben turned and ran into the house. Ferguson followed, and as he entered the house, Reuben hit him in the head with a hatchet. It was a powerful blow. Reuben lifted the hatchet to strike Ferguson again, which could have proved fatal had it not been for Philpott, who entered the room with his pistol in his hand, and told Reuben that if he hit Ferguson one more time, he would shoot him. Reuben knew it would be useless to contend with both of them, and not thinking his wound mortal, dropped the hatchet. Ferguson and Philpott mounted their horses and rode away. Reuben lingered a short time, and died. His exertions in the scuffle, added to the wound, was more than he could bear. A large and respected family was left to mourn the loss of Reuben Wood. He was 60 years old. On October 10, 1865, at a trial in downtown Nashville, Champ Ferguson was found guilty of the murders of Reuben Wood and 52 other people he had brutally slaughtered during the civil war. Ten days after the verdict, Ferguson was hanged as a confederate guerilla. Reuben Wood was his second victim.

Reuben Wood came from a family that had a long tradition of being brave soldiers willing to sacrifice everything for their new country the freedoms it offered. Samuel Wood, who had come to America from England in 1755, could not serve in the military during the American Revolution due to lameness and poor health, but performed patriotic service for his new country by giving his pewter tableware to be melted and made into bullets, and after the battle near Alexandria, he nursed the sick and wounded soldiers in his home. Many of Samuel's sons were dedicated soldiers. William served in the State Militia in North Carolina protecting the settlers against the warring Cherokee and Creek Indians. He raised a company to go north and fight in the War of 1812, and later led a company into battle at the Battle of New Orleans. At the age of 19, James Wood was in Capt. William Cross’s company during the war of 1812. In 1815, Thomas Wood dug the saltpetre used for the manufacture of the powder which made the rifles of the Kentucky and Tennessee troops very effective in their successful part in the Battle of New Orleans.

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