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On October 20th 1863 Captain Frank B. Gurley was captured and charged with the murder of US Brigadier General Robert L. McCook. The incident occurred on or about August 5th 1862 at New Market in Madison County, Alabama. McCook was wounded at the time and directed his command from his ambulance. Gurley was alleged to have killed McCook without so much as a warning. Gurley was tried by a military court and found guilty. He was sentenced to be hanged. Federal authorities questioned whether Gurley was in fact a commissioned officer of the Confederate states or was he in fact, a partisan guerrilla. CS General Bedford Forrest wrote the court to demonstrate that Gurley was an officer and had been in fact, under his command before joining Russell's regiment.

US General Grant wrote CS General Hardee in December of 1863 and said that although Gurley was a member of the Confederate army, that did not preclude him from being tried for having committed a foul murder. In October of 1864 Gurley was still in prison in Nashville awaiting execution. In a strange twist of fate, Gurley was sent to Point Lookout on February 22nd 1865 for exchange. The administrative error was noticed after Gurley was gone. He was received at Point Lookout on March 2nd.

In September of 1865 the War Department issued a warrant for the arrest and execution of the sentence of the court in the matter of Frank Gurley. On November 24th 1865 US General Grierson reported the arrest in Huntsville of Frank Gurley. The US President on August 29th 1865 called for the sentence to be carried out. (Per General Court Martial Orders No. 505 dated September 6th 1865) On November 28th 1865 US President Andrew Johnson ordered Major General Grierson at Huntsville, to suspend the execution of Frank B. Gurley until further notice.

Joseph C. Bradley, and seventy-three others, wrote a letter to President Johnson pleading for understanding and mercy. Mr. Gurley is not understood in this community to have been a bitter partisan; he was not an original secessionist, and is known to have rendered valuable assistance in arresting persecution of Union men for their political opinionsand although some of the undersigned were at different periods of the rebellion within the Confederate lines and had to do acts, under the force of military power and public opinion, to aid the rebel cause, yet they never entertained a hostile or malicious feeling against the United States Government, and hoped through the darkest hour of the rebellion for the perpetuity of the Federal Union as the only remaining hope for the continuance of a free or people's government on this continent, and that they candidly believe the execution of the said Gurley would have a tendency to retard the gravitation of popular sentiment, now, as we believe, advancing in a loyal attachment to the Union.

On April 17th 1866 Gurley was released from confinement and placed on parole as a duly exchanged prisoner of war on the recommendation of Lieutenant General Grant, by order of the President of the United States.

Gurley was captain of Company C of Russell's Fourth Alabama Cavalry.


This collection includes extracts from Gurley's prison diary.

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