Champ Ferguson (29th November 1821 - 20th October 1865) was the leader of a guerrilla company during the American Civil War and one of the only two people convicted of War crimes relating to the Civil War, with the other being Henry Wirz.
Ferguson was born in Clinton County, Kentucky in 1821. He became a farmer, like most people in the area, but gained a reputation for violence even before the American Civil War. On 12th August 1858, Ferguson became involved in an altercation with brothers Floyd and Alexander Evans after being caught on the wrong side of the Kentucky-Tennessee border, resulting in Ferguson repeatedly stabbing Floyd Evans and acting constable James Reed, killing Reed and almost killing Evans.
After the American Civil War began in 1861, Ferguson formed a pro-Confederate guerrilla company to hunt down and kill pro-Union civilians. Many stories circulated about his sadism, most notably that he enjoyed beheading prisoners and rolling their heads down hillsides, and that he was willing to kill elderly and bedridden men if he believed they supported the Union. He also often came into direct conflict with David "Tinker Dave" Beatty, the leader of a pro-Union guerrilla company.
Ferguson's most notorious crime occurred after the First Battle of Saltville, when several wounded Union soldiers, both black and white, were murdered by Confederate troops under Brigadier General Felix Huston Robertson. During the massacre, Ferguson and his guerrillas were responsible for attacking a nearby field hospital and killing all Union soldiers found within, while Robertson's men killed those found on the battlefield. However, Ferguson failed to kill all of the Union soldiers at the hospital before the Legion of Cherokee Indians arrived, forcing him to leave with his men before his involvement in the massacre could be discovered.
After the Confederates were defeated, Ferguson disbanded his company and returned to his farm, where he was arrested by Union troops and taken to Nashville, where he was charged with 53 counts of murder. Ferguson admitted to many of the killings, claiming he was simply doing his duty as a soldier. He was convicted on all counts on 10th October 1865 and executed by hanging 10 days later.