Tom Dula was a former Confederate soldier who was executed for the murder of one Laura Foster. However, there are a number of irregularities in the prosecution’s case, notably that although Laura was murdered in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Dula was tried, convicted, and hung in Statesville.
The evidence against Dula was almost entirely circumstantial: while he had threatened to kill whoever had infected him with the pox, it is not clear that he blamed Foster for this; and while he was found hiding out under an assumed name by the lynch mob, he clearly had reason to fear such a mob. Many of the details of the life of Tom Dula, nowadays better remembered as Tom Dooley from the folk songs about him, remain obscure – in no small part due to the inaccuracies of the folk songs.
George Armstrong Custer was never a lucky man. Even before his death at Little Big Horn, controversy dogged his career.
The Battle of Washita River – also known as the Massacre of Washita River, which is fairly indicative right there – is a case in point. On the 27th of November, 1868, Custer’s 7th Cavalry attacked the Cheyenne under Black Kettle, who were encamped on the banks of the Washita (near present day Cheyenne, Oklahoma).
Accounts vary as to what followed, but some facts are generally agreed upon. Custer reported to his commanding officer the following day that some 103 Cheyenne warriors, plus ‘some’ woman and children, had been killed. Cheyenne estimates place the number of warriors at around 50, and display rather more precision in the measuring of women and children’s deaths.
Black Kettle and his wife were both among the dead. Custer would follow them into the grave some eight years later, at the hands of the Cheyenne and their Lakota allies.