Confederate agent James Morgan Utz had a blue Christmas indeed in 1864, awaiting his December 26 execution for espionage.
The Missourian had been captured traveling with a small band out of St. Louis disguised in Union uniforms and carrying supplies and ciphered messages for the invading Confederate army of General (and former governor) Sterling Price.
Tuesday morning last I was horrified at the announcement by a friend that Jas. Utz, Paul’s companion and leader in their attempt to go South, had been executed, being hung on Monday, the day after Christmas, in the jail yard.
It plunged me in a stupor or excitement from which my mind was not free for the entire day. The sentence barely issued and the punishment instantly carried out! The hurry, the suddenness was most revolting. No time given for taking leave of family, friends! No time for appealing for mercy or for a reprieve. No time allowed for composing himself for death!
–Diary of a family member of Paul Fusz, one of Utz’s secret party. (Fusz, only 17 when captured, was pardoned after serving six months at hard labor.)