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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Grant Tragedy V

Triple Execution In New Kent County.The Last Act In the Grant Tragedy—An Interesting Narrative.

[correspondence or the Richmond Daily Dispatch]

New Kent C.H., Va., March 13. 1858.

At an early hour this morning, a vast multitude assembled to witness the execution of Major Morris, Henry and Dick Bradley, the murderers of James C Grant. A few minutes past 10 o'clock A. M., the sheriff, John S. Lacy, Esq. with his deputy, Chas. A Hewlett, Esq., proceeded to the jail, for the purpose of removing the chains from the prisoners and to shroud them in robes of black cambric; when they were led out of their cell. Capt. Braxton Garlick, with the Troop, escorted them to the gallows. 
On their arrival, the Rev. George B Simcoe, one of their spiritual advisers, delivered a very solemn and impressive sermon. At the conclusion of this be prayed very fervently. They were then asked if they had anything to say. Henry and Dick said they wore prepared to meet their God. Major Morris said he had fallen a victim to the gallows through the persuasion and advice of his friends; who admonished those around him never to repose too much confidence in friends. 
The halters having been properly adjusted to the beam and their necks when they first ascended to the scaffold, the fly was drawn from the drop and at 12 o'clock PM they were launched into eternity The night preceding their execution was devoted to prayer and supplication. At intervals they sang the very melancholy hymn, commencing "Hark from the tomb!" As I gazed through the iron gates of the prison window into their cell, I could but feel sad at so woeful a spectacle. Thus last act of this bloody drama has been performed, and the curtain, I trust, has fallen never to rise on a similar tragedy in New Kent or elsewhere. This is the fourth execution which has occurred in New Kent since the great calamity that befell the county in 1787.

A few notes. The troop mentioned as commanded by Braxton Garlick is New Kent's troop of militia, the New Kent Light Dragoons. Three years later during the Civil War, the Dragoons, then known simply as the New Kent Cavalry, were commanded by Telemachus Taylor, the defense counsel.

You will notice the constant use of the word "tragedy" in describing these events. I believe this was done purposefully to evoke the 1825 Beauchamp–Sharp murder, better known as the Kentucky Tragedy, which was possibly the most well known murder in the several decades leading up to the Civil War.

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