The Death of William Frogg
From Trial Transcripts, July - September 1865
In 1861, volunteers form the region of Tennessee and Kentucky began to pour into Union or Confederate camps. Geurilla warfare began in earnest along the entire border, where the price of survival was to be eternal vigilance. Danger lurked behind each roadside bush and "No Quarter" was the general rule.
The trial opened 11 July 1865 in Nashville, TN when Champ Ferguson was indicted on two counts: first, beign a guerilla; second, murder. The indictment included murder of fifty-three persons not including the murders of Van Duvall and John Hurt near Champ's old home in Clinton County, KY on or about the 1st of May, 1865.
Testimony of Esther Ann Frogg concerning the death of her husband:
"I am the widow of the late William Frogg, who was killed on the 1st day of November 1861, eight miles above Albany, in Clinton County, Kentucky. Champ Ferguson came to the house, and said 'How do you do?' I asked him to have a chair. He said he didn't have time. I asked him to have some apples. He said he had been eating apples. He then asked for Mr. Frogg. I told him he was in bed, very sick."
"Ferguson walked in the house to the bed, and said, 'How are you, Mr. Frogg?' My husband told him he was very sick, that he had the measles, and had taken a relapse. Ferguson said, 'I reckon you caught the measles at Camp Dick Robinson.' Mr. Frogg told him he never was there. Ferguson then shot him with a pistol, and I started out of the house, and just as I got out I heard another shot."
"My husband never spoke after the first shot. I didn't hear Ferguson say anything after the first shot. I went about twenty yards from the house, and returned in about fifteen minutes, and saw Ferguson starting towards his horse. When I got into the house, my husband was lying dead. He was shot twice, under the right breast and on the right side. There was no one in the house at the time but Jack Mace and my little child, five months old, lying in cradle by the bed."
George Bragg and West Gwinn were with Ferguson, but did not come into the house. they went off with Ferguson. I had known Ferguson all my life, having been raised close by him.
"I have seen Ferguson twice since that. About a month after the murder of my husband, Ferguson came again to my house, at night, and wanted to turn into the yard a yoke of oxen belonging to John Hogan, my father. He left the oxen there. I don't know who, or how many were with him, but he came to the house alone."
"Last May, a year ago, I met him again in the road near my house. Bill Beson was with him. They were armed, but said nothing. Many others had gone on down the road before them, but I didn't recognize any of them."
On cross-examination, Mrs. Frogg stated that her husband had never gone with any of the home guards or independent companies before his death, but had belonged to the 12th Kentucky Infantry; that he had been with his regiment a wihile at Albany but was home on leave at the time of his death. She stated that her husband and Ferguson had always been on friendly terms, that he had never made any threats against Ferguson's life nor had ever tried to waylay him or sought to kill him.
Following is from an interview that Champ Ferguson gave the Nashville Dispatch on the killing of Mr. Frogg:
"The testimony in the case of William Frogg," said champ, "placed me in a false position. The circumstances are well-known to many in that neighborhood. Frogg was with the Home Guards, and instigated my arrest while I was peaceably pursuing my avocation as a farmer. Not satisfied with this, he laid in wait on the highways to kill me. He even went so far as to make his threat to the neighbors that he intended to kill me."
"On the day that I passed down the road leadin gto Frogg's house, Mrs. Pleasant Beatty called to me and warned me that Frogg was watching for an opportunity to kill me. I had been cautioned by a number of persons. There were two men with me at the time Mrs. Beatty spoke to us, and I told the boys that I would settle the matter by going direct to Frogg's house and killing him. His wife was at the door peeling apples. I dismounted and went in. He was lying in bed, and on seeing me, he pulled the cover over his face. I then shot him twice."
"His wife then ran away, and as I passed out of the house I met Miss Russell, who lived there. She asked me wht was the matter? I told her that Frogg was killed and that she had better go in and look after him."
"No words whatever were passed between Frogg and myself. I consider myself justified in killing him."
NOTE: Camp Dick Robinson was a Federal recruiting center in Garrard Co., KY.