From the Richmond Dispatch, 8/23/1862, p. 1, c. 5
Execution of a Counterfeiter. - The first execution that ever occurred in the Southern Confederacy, in pursuance of the law of Congress prescribing the penalty of death those proved guilty of counterfeiting Confederate treasury notes, took place yesterday. The criminal, who was convicted several months since before the Confederate States District Court. Judge J. D. Halyburton, under the name of John Richardson, alias Louis Napoleon, expiated his offence at noon yesterday on a gallows constructed in the gaily east of the new Alms-House, and near the spot where, in former years, other malefactors had paid the penalty of their misdeeds. Richardson, alias Napoleon, had after conviction, been respited by the President twice; the last one expiring yesterday. A few days prior thereto he was brought to Richmond from the jail of Danville, where he had been confined for safety. On yesterday the prisoner informed Mr. Henry Myers, the Deputy Marshal, that it had been his intention on that occasion, had he not been so closely watched, to have killed those having him in charge, and made his escape, if possible. From an early hour yesterday morning Rev. Father Barratta was with the condemned, administering the consolations of religion. At fifteen minutes to 11 o'clock the jail doors opened, and the accused appeared, wearing a calm and self possessed air. He took off his hat and bowed to the crowd, who had assembled at the jail door, prior to seating himself on his coffin, which was in an ordinary furniture wagon. A detachment of Elliott's City Battalion, under Lieut. Johnson, then formed a hollow square around the vehicle, and the cortege wended its way up Valley street to the place of execution. A miscellaneous crowd, of perhaps a thousand persons, followed, including a number of painted and overdressed females of doubtful respectability. Arriving at the ground, the condemned, with Deputy Marshal Myers and Father Barratta, ascended to the platform and stood on the drop. Here over half an hour was spent by the prisoner in conference with his spiritual adviser; during which time he confessed the crime of which he had been convicted. Five minutes before 12 o'clock, yielding himself to the officer, he was made ready, and at 12 precisely the drop fell, leaving Richardson, alias Napoleon, a dangling mass of inanimate clay, suspended between the heavens and earth. He fell about four feet—a sufficient distance to have broken his neck. But few convulsive twitchings were noticeable. After hanging for 35 minutes he was pronounced dead, and the body being lowered, the rope was carefully removed and the body put in a coffin. The condemned in this case was about 30 years of age, and used to sell fruit from a basket around the city. His personal appearance was rather prepossessing than otherwise.
It will be remembered that Geo. Elam was arrested as an accomplice of the above party, and has been in confinement for several months awaiting trial, and that a female named Charlotte Gilman, alias Siffety, has likewise been locked up for a long time as a witness against him. The notes counterfeited were stolen from the lithographic establishment of Hoyer & Ludwig, who were at work for the Government. Napoleon said in his confession that on the day the place was entered he met Elam on Pearl street. They went towards the market, taking two or three drinks on the way. "George" says to him, "Louis, we'll go and make some money." L. says, "Where are you going?" George rejoins, "That is none of your business." They went up to the "bank" (Hoyer & Ludwig's.) George broke open the door, and entering, gave him a pistol, with directions to shoot anybody who might approach. They found on the table eight sheets, already printed, of 10's. Louis then says to George, "Here is money enough." He replied, "Hush your mouth." They then put the $100 plate on the form and struck off $800 for Louis and a like number for George. Louis said again, "Here is money enough," but Elam again struck off a number more. They left and went towards Mayo's bridge, where, going to a shop kept by an acquaintance of Louis's, they knocked and a window was opened and a female asked who was there. A satisfactory reply was elicited, the door was opened, and the proprietor of the shop gave Elam a good note from which to counterfeit the signatures on those he had. The proprietor then took out a ten dollar note and passed it to show Louis how easy it could be done. Louis afterwards passed a great deal, and had often gone into stores and suggested that his notes might be bad, but they always took them. The balance of the confession brings down his proceedings in the money line to the time of his arrest. In losing his life he has paid a penalty, the example of which may deter many others from treading in his footsteps.