Sue Mundy, born Marcellus Jerome Clark, was barely sixteen years old when he joined the Confederate army at Camp Cheatham in Robertson County, TN. Though very boyish in appearance, he served with distinction at Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River in early 1862. The fort was built to control the Cumberland River, a major waterway in Tennessee.
Yankee Brig. Gen. U. S. Grant’s Yankee forces captured Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, and marched his men across country with purposes of taking Fort Donelson. The opposing forces met on February 16th and the Confederate forces were forced to surrender after their all-out attempt to break through the Yankee line failed. It was a catastrophic loss for the Confederates with over 15,000 soldiers lost. Slightly more than 2,000 Yankee soldiers lost their lives. The victory opened the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers for a northern advance. Grant was rewarded with a promotion to general.
Sue Mundy’s company was among those that surrendered. They were sent to a Yankee prison, Fort Morrison, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
They joked the young man about his boyish manner and what they thought was a lack of courage. One evening around a campfire he showed his sweetheart’s picture to some of the other prisoners when a large man named Crow threw it into the fire. The young man immediately turned into a wildcat, assaulting the brutish, doltish man, causing him to back down. His courage wasn’t questioned again.
The name Sue Mundy was given to him by his comrades because of his long hair and smooth face. In the same era there was a madam in Louisville, KY, whose name was Sue Mundy. It caused some confusion during the last year of the war. His name had nothing to do with the Johnny Cash song with the same name.
A couple months later he was taken to a small river with some other prisoners to take baths. Sue Mundy pretended to get into a fight with one of his comrades and the guards laid down their arms and egged him on. The fight eventually put him in close proximity to the guns. Mundy grabbed the weapons and threw them into the river. As the guards returned to camp to secure more arms, Mundy swam across the river and began his escape.
The next morning he took clothes from an older black gentleman and made his trek back to his brother’s home in Logan County, KY. A few days later he and his brother were visiting a neighbor when Federal soldiers came and arrested them. They were taken into the woods and it soon became clear they were going to be shot. His brother was shot and killed as they broke away and ran but the speedy Sue Mundy escaped.
After several hours he returned and carried the body of his brother back to his home. The next morning while he and his sister were alone with their brother’s corpse, a company of Federal soldiers came to arrest him. A gunfight ensued, with several soldiers being wounded before he again made his escape. This became a turning point in his life, changing him from a shy, bashful, boy to a terror against the Yankees.
Mundy was captured along with Billy Magruder and Henry Medkiff in a barn near Brandenburg, KY. They were taken to the jail in Louisville, KY, and a speedy trial ensued.
Witnesses testified to a number of murders by young Sue Mundy and to diverting several train cars from the track and robbing the passengers. He was not allowed to offer defense witnesses, if there were any. Sue Mundy was found guilty and sentenced to die. It became clear at this time that Marcellus Jerome Clark and Sue Mundy were one and the same.
Since Sue Mundy had a penchant for escaping, the date of his execution was not announced. Rev. Talbott, his spiritual advisor, arrived on the morning of March 15 and confided to Sue Mundy that on this day he would be hanged. The decision had been made that he would face the hangman’s noose instead of a firing squad.
“I ain’t guilty of most of the outrages that I’ve learned through the Kentucky newspapers,” Mundy said on the morning of his hanging. “Those writings were mostly untrue and they fanned the flames against me. That ain’t right. And when the Negro soldiers were killed at Simpsonville, I was nowhere near there.
“Also I am a Confederate soldier and have a captain’s commission from Col. Jack Allen. I have been dealt with unfairly in my trial. I’ve been treated as a criminal instead of as a war prisoner.”
Sue Mundy asked Rev. Talbott to pray with him and the two men knelt and prayed. After confessing his faith he asked to be baptized and this was done the hour prior to his hanging. He then had the minister write letters to several of his relatives and each was sealed with a lock of his hair.
“Send my body to my aunt in Franklin, KY, where I want to be buried in my uniform alongside my father and mother,” he directed.
Sue Mundy was heavily guarded as he arrived at the gallows, his mouth muttering a prayer. Those nearby heard him praying, “Lord have mercy on my poor soul.” He daubed a white handkerchief at his eyes.
The guards placed a white cap on his head while he stood next to the hangman’s noose, then on the count of three he fell through the trap door. His neck wasn’t broken but after a few minutes he choked to death.
Sue Mundy had been captured on Sunday, taken to Louisville on Monday, tried on Tuesday and hanged on Wednesday. Some called it swift injustice but the Yankees didn’t want another escape. He was as slippery as an eel.
After his execution it was learned that he was the son of Confederate Brig. Gen. Hector Clark. He had taken the name Sue Mundy so the various news accounts of his escapades would not embarrass his family and friends. This was a time before pictures were widely disseminated through the media.
Billy Magruder was allowed to heal from his wounds before he was hanged. Henry Medkiff was spared the death penalty. copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson
A voice for God – a voice for good
My good Lord on Heaven has been so good to me. My mother was always a great supporter of my efforts.
My wife and I moved to Harrogate, at the tri-state area of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, in 1985. Following the death of my father Mom moved back to this, her home area. She had been away for approximately fifty years after getting married. She bought a home nearby and it was great to have her as a neighbor.
We did many things together. We visited many relatives and friends she hadn’t seen for many years. She accompanied us to many concerts where I was doing emcee work and she was able to meet some of her favorite artists including Loretta Lynn, Mack Wiseman, Mel McDaniel, the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse and others.
Chris and I were kept very busy with our news writing, radio work and TV work at Lincoln Memorial University, Kiwanis and other interests. We encouraged Mom to attend and become part of the activities at the Senior Citizens Center because they were much like her and had many of the same interests. She didn’t want to go but eventually we were able to get her to visit the center. She absolutely loved it. She visited often and began taking part in many of their activities including trips to Alaska, New England, Charleston, Nashville and other places.
I’ve recommended the senior center to others who were reluctant at first but loved it after attending events there. The attendees relate to each other and enjoy trips, singings, plays, meals and other activities. This might sound like an advertisement for the Senior Citizens Centers of the world and it is, but it’s a free advertisement of course.
As Mom became older and her health limited her outside activities we encouraged her to get a pet. We had bought two Himalayan kittens and Mom enjoyed them. We asked if we could get her one and she agreed. She named her kitten Mitzi. Mom learned to love Mitzi right away and Mitzi loved her. We lived near so we were able to take care of Mitzi when Mom went to visit family.
They got along well with each other until we laid Mom to rest in 2001. Pets are a good source of companionship for older folks. They accept love and give it in return.
My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. We have to overcome some situations in life. Sometime we don’t have enough time to take care of every responsibility. The senior citizens center and Mitzi were a Godsend at a time when Mom needed them.
Thank you Lord for all you do for me. I pray that you are enjoying Mom’s presence. We really enjoyed having her for a neighbor for fifteen years before her passing.