[Here is a newspaper account of the unusual death of Clement Vallandigham, a leader of the Copperhead Democrats during the Civil War. This article is reproduced as it is in the paper, including an occasional typo.]
Fatal Accident to Mr. Vallandigham.
On last Friday night, at Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, Mr. C. L. Vallandigham, who was one of the counsel in the case of the McGehan murder trial going on at that place, accidentally shot himself. He was in a room with ex-Lieut. Gov. McBurney, and while showing with a pistol how Myer’s, the man murdered, might have shot himself, the pistol was discharged, the ball entering the right side of the abdomen below the ribs. By telegraph the following particulars have been reported: Governor McBurney, who had been associated with him in the defence of McGehan, had expressed some doubts as to the theory that Meyers had shot himself and Mr. Vallandigham picked up the pistol from a table, saying he would show him in a second. Two pistols were on the table, one unloaded, and he by mistake took up the loaded one, put it in his pocket and withdrew it, keeping the muzzle next his body, just as it was leaving his pocket it was discharged, the ball entering, it is said, near the same place Meyers was shot. He at once ejaculated, “Oh murder!” and said he had taken the wrong pistol. while the examination was going on he watched the surgeons at work with eager eyes, and even assisted them in their seach for the ball. the locality of the ball is not known. It appears to have taken a downward course, in the direction of the bladder. At 12 M. Dr. Scoville asked Vallandigham if he was aware of his condition? He replied, “Yes.” He has thus far shown no alarm. There seems now no doubt of internal hemorrhage. Vallandigham’s son arrived with Dr. Teeves at a quarter to one. The father had an interview with the son and told him to be a good boy, and gave directions about dispatching for his mother.
Cincinnati, June 17.—Mr. Vallandigham died at eighteen minutes before ten o’clock this morning. He went down very rapidly after three o’clock, having no pulse scarcely after that hour. Dr. Dawson, of Cincinati, arrived at three o’clock, but was too late to do any good for the dying man. Judge Haynes, his law partner from Dayton, reached Lebanon this morning with other personal friends who were with him in his last hours. there has been much sorrow manifested here to-day concerning the tragic end of Mr. Vallandigham, and it has been by no means confined to his political friends. Persons who have differed with him and animadverted severely upon his course during the rebellion, have expressed no less regret at the terrible calamity which has befallen him than have his political associates.
The news concerning his last hours has been devoured with avidity. The newspaper reporters who have came from the scene this evening have been dilligently sought. From the details thus far published, it appears that when the pistol was discharged Mr. Vallandighem was hardly aware of the severe nature of the wound, as he walked around the room awhile before lying down. Governor Mc Burney, alarmed at the sudden appearance of a tragedy, rushed to the adjoining rooms and at once summoned aid. As soon as the persons came Vallandigham said it was a foolish act, and later adverted to it as the most reckless act of his life. Though he seemed to be conscious that he was badly hurt he appeared decidedly hopeful during the early hours.
Rev. Mr. Haight called to see him, and Mr. Vallandigham, taking him by the hand, said substantially that he had too much faith in the Calvinistic doctrine to believe that he would not get safely through this misfortune. Once he told the surgeon to take care of the pain and he would manage the rest. When impressed with the approach of death he was calm, and met the news of his condition bravely. After Dr. Reeve arrived from Dayton he soon had the room cleared, and, when no one was present, intimated to Mr. Vallandigham the very nature of his wound. The patient, seeking from something on which to build hope, reminded the doctor of two bad cases of injuries, not fatal, known to both and asked if this were worse than they, to which the reluctant reply was, “Possibly not.” The doctor then told Mr. Vallandigham, who was suffering from pain, that they would have to administer medicines of a sedative nature, and suggested that if he had anything to say, he had better communicate it then. Mr. Vallandigham then conversed with the doctor concerning his private matters, giving direction in regard to his business, after which, medicine to relieve the pain was injected by hypodermic process. After this there was no time when he was not under the influence of opiates that affected somewhat his sensibilities. He, nevertheless, appeared to keep possession of his faculties to the last. At 3:30 o’clock he seemed to be dying, and his friends were called to his bedside. From that time he rapidly sank. The pulsations at his wrist appeared to have ceased, though he was remarkably calm, so much so that Dr. Drake said he was the coolest man under such circumstances he had ever seen. He still showed sign about the face of agony. As death approached his face wore an ashy paleness. His last words were a request for ice and medicine to allay his pain. In his last moments there were signs about the face that indicated great physical suffering. At eighteen minutes before ten o’clock this morning he was dead. The boby was immediately placed on ice. From this time, till the departure of the remains, the hotel was besieged with persons who come to see the face, which was left exposed. The features and expression were admirably preserved.
The sad feature of the case was the absence of Mrs. Vallandigham, who had gone the same evening to Cumberland, being called there by the death of her brother, Judge McMahon. She was telegraphed for and will reach Dayton to-morrow morning at ten o’clock.
The Times and Chronicle this evening publish an interview had between Mr. Vallandigham and one of its editors on Wednesday, in which Mr. V. said there can be no more political campaigns fought on the issues of the last few years. they are dead, and if the democratic party refuses to move to the front to accept the new order of things it will simply pass away and some other party made up of the earnest, progressive elements of both the old parties will take possession of the government. When asked if he did not think the campaign of 1872 would be fought on the present issues, he said, “That may be undertaken by our party, but it will fail. A year ago Grant gave promise of his intention to lead the Republican party into a new departure, and he would have done it, but a gang of old politicians at Washington, held him back; they scared him with gabble about defeat until he went square back into the old routes. Grant is an honest man, and would do right if the politicians would let him, but that they won’t do. He took the back track on the San Domingo question, in which, apart from corrupt means used, he was clearly right. I tell you sir, that annexation of territory and the control of all outlying fragments of this continent is the destiny of the American people. We shall have San Domingo, Cuba and Mexico, and all the rest, mark that. We missed the greatest chance that we ever had in not getting Cuba during the Spanish troubles; we could have had it then for mere asking, and in a few years we would have been owners of the richest and most productive piece of territory in the world. Why! they used to talk about me and call me a disunionist. I tell you, sir, earnestly and honestly, that I never was a disunionist. I always believed that this Union will be perpetuated and extended till it embraces the continent. His denial of disunion views Mr. V. thrice repeated, with marked emphasis. In reply to a remark of his interrogator, that he did not see how, with the hatred exhibited toward him by the dead issue Democracy, he could stay in that party, he smiled and said: “Why, what can I do? The Republican party won’t move forward; it wants to stick to its old clothes, and my best hope is to get the Democracy to the front. However, there is no telling what three hundred and sixty-five days may bring forth; and of one thing I am certain; if the Democratic party fails to become the party of progress and advanced political ideas, and I, from conviction, decide to act with any other party, that other political party will never stop to inquire what my past political record has been. Parties don’t manage things in that way.”
The interviewer says: “Those who read may construe this expression as they please. I write it almost verbatim as he spoke it. The speaker’s earnest manner convinced me he meant all he said. The same sentiment was subsequently reported in various forms during our conversation, which lasted altogether fully half an hour.”
New York, June 17.—The news of the death of C. L. Vallandigham has created a profound impression in political circles here. All unite in expressions of sorrow at his untimely end, and sympathy for Mrs. Vallandigham in her double bereavement.
Dayton, June 18.—The remains of Mr. Vallandigham arrived at Dayton yesterday, in custody of the St. John’s Lodge of Masons who have charge of the body, at his late residence, and will conduct the obsequies. The body was at once prepared for preservation until the return of Mrs. Vallandigham, who left Cumberland, Maryland, at 3:45 this forenoon and arrived by a special train at 9:20 to-night. During the day a large number of persons from the city and country visited the house. But few were admitted in consequence of the decomposition of the body which is very rapid. Profound sympathy for the bereaved family is universally expressed. A bar meeting will be held to-morrow. The funeral will be held on Tuesday at one o’clock P.M. Dispatches from surrounding towns, Cincinnati, Columbus, &c., indicate a large attendance. The political friends of Mr. Vallandigham in this county will attend en masse. The funeral will probably be the largest ever in Dayton.