The Journal Of Commerce
Daily Edition, Kansas City Newspaper
Wednesday, May 27, 1863

Execution of Jim Vaughn

Yesterday afternoon this somewhat notorious guerrilla, whose arrest we noticed in yesterday’s paper, was executed in conformity with the sentence of a military commission.  He was removed from the guard house about four o’clock, and taken by Capt. Sears’ Company of the 12th Kansas Regiment, to the hill east of the Fort, where the gallows had been erected.  We observed him closely as he rode up towards the gallows, and his countenance, as he looked about upon the green fields and hills, so soon to be shut out from his gaze forever, wore a very saddened expression.  But as the wagon stopped and he got out to ascend the scaffold, he evidently nerved himself for the scene.  As soon as he ascended the scaffold he looked about with an unconcerned, nonchalantic air of bravado and sat down upon the railing.  He was a fine looking young man, evidently of more than ordinary mind, and with capabilities to have been an honor to himself and a blessing instead of a curse to the community.

He was about 23 years of age, large and powerfully built.  He talked considerably with the officers on the platform, but in so low a tone that we could not catch his words.  He took out some trinkets of various kinds and some money, both Confederate scrip and United States notes and gave them to the officer to forward to his sisters, who are now confined in Fort Leavenworth.  He then turned and addressed the crowd in a tone of mingled defiance and bravado.  He died, he said, a Southern man, and hoped he should go to a better world.  Then, the fiend gleaming from his hardened face, he proceeded to threaten vengeance upon the crowd, saying that some of them would suffer for his death reiterating that he was a “Southern man.”  There was no gleam of penitence for his life of crime and sin, no relenting in the awful presence of death, but an air of bitterness and even bloodthirstiness, even while saying that he hoped to go to a better world.  He desired that his friends should be told how he died, and that his body should be decently interred.  When he had finished, his arms were pinioned closely, the black cap was drawn over his face, and he was led upon the trap.  He seemed fearful as he stepped upon it and asked somewhat sharply, “You are not going to push me off, are you?”

He stood a moment, and said, “This is my last look,” or words to that effect; “let her slide.”  The drop fell, and the hardened criminal passed to the other world.  Life was extinct in fifteen minutes; at the end of seventeen minutes he was cut down, and his remains placed in a plain wal­nut coffin, and interred about a hundred yards from the gallows.

Thus passed away another young man, in the very opening of his days --- young in years, but old and hardened in crime.  Let his fate be a warning to all like him.  He died not the death of the Confederate soldier, who engaged in open and civilized warfare, falls in the battle field; but the death of the common murderer and outlaw.

As soon as Vaughn was brought to this city, where he was so well known, he gave up all hope of escape or concealment, and acknowledged his true character.  Though he was guarded in what he said, yet he talked freely, and the officers who conversed with him drew out many facts of importance, bearing upon the movements of the bushwackers.