Friday, November 4, 2011
The Investigation Into the Death of David Fultz; Conclusion
The investigation by Lt.J.M. Hubbard into the death of David Fultz revealed that Fultz had identified the men that shot him had belonged to Col.Charles Jennison’s Regiment, (Jennison was in command of the 1st Brigade, Army of the Border) although Fultz never stated how he discerned this. After interviewing several others who had witnessed different parts of the Fultz incident, Lt. Hubbard came to a different conclusion.
During his interviews with the men who had first came across Private Fultz after he had been shot, Lt. Hubbard was able to deduce that Fultz had ridden toward the advancing column of Col. Thomas Moonlight’s Brigade as it headed south in pursuit of General Price’s retreating Army the late afternoon of 23 October. This was during the aftermath of the Battle of Westport and the emotions of the men of Moonlight’s Brigade still flared hot as they headed south out of Shawneetown toward the fleeing rear Confederate guard. Lt. Hubbard’s next set of interviews focused on members of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. In the words of Richard Josiah Hinton:
"Nathaniel D. Horton, Chief Bugler 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, states that he accompanied Colonel Moonlight in the pursuit of the rebels from Shawnee Mission southward, on the 23rd of October last, and that when about five miles out, a young man dressed in homespun clothing, similar to that worn by the rebels, rode out of a field on the left of the road and joined the column. Colonel Moonlight called him to the head-of the column, and demanded of him who he was, where he belonged, and what he was doing there. His answer was in substance that he belonged to the Kansas Militia, but that he had been compelled to join them against his will, and had left them the day previous with the intention of joining the rebels. This last point seemed rather to be inferred by his hearers than explicitly stated by himself; and the inference rested, at least in part, upon an assumption that he had mistaken the character of the command he had joined, and supposed it to be rebel. Horton thinks his exact words were,” I've been wanting to get with you," though he would not speak positively in regard to the language used. Proceeding apparently upon the assumption referred to above, Colonel Moonlight repeated once or twice, in form slightly varying, a question, the substance of which was, " Would you rather go with the Feds, or with us?" Each time the answer of the stranger was in substance, “I would rather go with you," upon which Colonel Moonlight declared himself satisfied, and ordered him to be shot. He(Fultz) turned to run, but was shot by Adjutant Faber and Quartermaster-Sergeant Cowan before he had gone many steps, and was left by the road side still living, but judged to be mortally wounded."
Colonel Thomas Moonlight was apparently never interviewed by Lt. Hubbard, but Horton’s story was corroborated by other members of the 11th K VC, including one of the shooters, Quartermaster Sgt. Cowan.
A cruel set of ironic events conspired against David Fultz: bad-timing, being in the wrong place and wrong clothing and poor semantics – all of which, when taken together had sealed his fate. But how had David come to be at this crossroads of events? He may have survived the battle of Mockbee Farm, fled on his horse and was cut off from the rest of his unit as they fled. Other possibilities also exist but seem less likely. The first is that David was taken prisoner after the battle and then escaped. The second is that he straggled from his unit before the battle, was cut off and then attempted to rejoin Moonlight’s column the next day. Whatever actually happened, David probably felt reluctant to make his appearance after hiding in the brush for roughly 24 hours. The thoughts which raced through his troubled mind may have also conspired against him.
R.J. Hinton’s final paragraph on the subject of David Fultz makes an attempt to explain the situation:
“On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that his personal appearance, dress, and the place, and manner of his joining the command, all combined to make him an object of suspicion, and that those who had stood in battle against the rebel foe for nearly a week, and then had just prevented the desolation of their homes, could hardly be expected at that time, and under such circumstances, to exercise a cool and deliberate judgment.”