OR Series II Volume IV Page 546 of 951 - Prisoners of War
HEADQUARTERS NORTHEAST MISSOURI DIVISION,
Macon City, MO., September 23, 1862.
Major A. F. DENNY, Huntsville, Mo.
MAJOR: Captain Burkhardt has been directed to take back to Huntsville the following prisoners: Charles King, Charles Tillotson and D. S. Washburn. With regard to these men you will observe the order herewith inclosed which will be your warrant for the execution, and I hope that this example will have such a satisfactory effect that no further execution in your vicinity may be necessary. I wish the execution of these men to be done with due from and ceremony, and thinking you may not be a war of the proper from give the following description of how it is to be done:
At the hour fixed the execution your whole command will be paraded and marched to the execution ground together with the condemned and the firing party; the firing party will be selected by lot from your men, six men for each prisoner. The march to the execution ground is in the following order: First, a company of your command; second, the prisoners, with the firing party in the rear of them; third, the rest of your command. Having reached the ground the command will be formed on three sides of a square, facing inward. On the open side the prisoners and firing party will be disposed as in the diagram*. Before going to the ground the muskets of the firing party will be loaded-not in the presence of the men who are to use them-and of each six one of them will be loaded with a blank cartridge, the others with ball. This is done in order that no individual of firing party may know to a certainly that this piece contained a ball. The prisoners are then blindfolded and made to kneel before the firing parties, and the commanding officer gives the order. "Ready! aim! fire!" Six men must be detailed as a reserve whose duty it will be to finish the execution of any one of the prisoners who may not be killed by the first discharge.
Instructed your firing party that they are simply discharging their duty, and however disagreeable it may be it is a duty, and they will show mercy to the prisoners by aiming true at the heart that the first fire may kill them. I hope, major, that the this solemn execution of a sentence and vindication of violated law may be properly conducted, and that both yourself and your men will do their duty faithfully however unpleasant it may be.
After the execution the whole command is marched by the dead bodies and they are then taken up and decently interred.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,