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A Ghostly Avenger


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

In Cuthbert, Georgia, is a gravestone thus inscribed: Sacred to the
memory of Jim Brown. No date, no epitaph--for Jim Brown was hanged. And
this is the story: At the close of the Civil War a company of Federal
soldiers was stationed in Cuthbert, to enforce order pending the return
of its people to peaceful occupations. Charles Murphy was a lieutenant in
this company. His brother, an officer quartered in a neighboring town,
was sent to Cuthbert one day to receive funds for the payment of some
men, and left camp toward evening to return to his troop. That night
Charles Murphy was awakened by a violent flapping of his tent. It sounded
as though a gale was coming, but when he arose to make sure that the pegs
and poles of his canvas house were secure, the noise ceased, and he was
surprised to find that the air was clear and still. On returning to bed
the flapping began again, and this time he dressed himself and went out
to make a more careful examination. In the shadow of a tree a man stood
beckoning. It was his brother, who, in a low, grave voice, told him that
he was in trouble, and asked him to follow where he should lead him. The
lieutenant walked swiftly through fields and woods for some miles with
his relative--he had at once applied for and received a leave of absence
for a few hours--and they descended together a slope to the edge of a
swamp, where he stumbled against something. Looking down at the object on
which he had tripped, he saw that it was his brother's corpse--not newly
dead, but cold and rigid--the pockets rifled, the clothing soaked with
mire and blood.

Dazed and terrified, he returned to camp, roused some of his men, and at
daybreak secured the body. An effort to gain a clue to the murderer was
at once set on foot. It was not long before evidence was secured that led
to the arrest of Jim Brown, and there was a hint that his responsibility
for the crime was revealed through the same supernatural agency that had
apprised Lieutenant Murphy of his bereavement. Brown was an ignorant farm
laborer, who had conceived that it was right to kill Yankees, and whose
cupidity had been excited by learning that the officer had money
concealed about him. He had offered, for a trifling sum, to take his
victim by a short cut to his camp, but led him to the swamp instead,
where he had shot him through the heart. On the culprit's arrival in
Cuthbert he was lynched by the soldiers, but was cut down by their
commander before life was extinct, and was formally and conclusively
hanged in the next week, after trial and conviction.

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