Continuing the Lewis Stivers saga…

Previously, I talked about the execution of Lewis Stivers for the murder of James Cundiff both from the 7th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.  Some of the military questions remain such as why didn’t the Sergeant or Corporal of the Guard stop Stivers from retrieving his weapon.  One of the social questions that I have had on this hasn’t been answered…until possible today.

Stivers was widely known in the area as a bully as was Cundiff.  Bullies like to fight their victims, beat them down, and allow them to heal so they can continue to torment them next time.  What would push Stivers over that line from bully to homicidal?

Last night as I was perusing the magnificent find of Kentucky Muster Records ONLINE (takes alittle work to meander your way around here.  I’ll post alittle something about that in a  second), I stumbled across something that piqued my interest.  I noticed that Company D of the 19th Kentucky had 11 desertions on the days immediately following the execution of Stivers.  Started wondering if any of those guys lived near or had some familial relation to Stivers so I went to the 1860 Census records where I discovered Lewis Stivers had a son, Marshall CC Stivers.  That name was familiar to me as I had seen it while thumbing through the 7th Kentucky’s records.  I looked Marshall Stivers up in the muster records and discovered that he had died in February of 1862 at London along with several of his pards from some fever outbreak.

With that in mind, let’s revisit the psychology of the bully.  When a bully is going after a perceived weaker target, the game is simple.  Insult them into action and failing that action take action yourself.  However, when a bully is going after a known other bully the game changes a bit.  The target HAS to take action first so as the bully can be the poor victim.  Both men, Stivers and Cundiff, were widely known to be bullies and fighters of the first order.  They both knew how the game was played and both understood the discipline necessary in General Morgan’s army.  Stivers, while on guard detail, had to know that any derivation from his duties would mean some level of punishment so he surely had used some restraint in responding to Cundiff’s taunts.  What if Cundiff had tried everything he could think of to get a fight on and failing all the usual suspects resorted to mentioning Stivers’ son Marshall?  Would that be enough to push a bully over the edge to murderer?

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