Part 7 out of 10
for the much better men whom he assisted to destroy.
The official notice of the commutation of the sentence was not published
until the day set for the execution, but the certain knowledge that it
would be forthcoming enabled Davis to display a great deal of bravado on
approaching what was supposed to be his end. As the reader can readily
imagine, from what I have heretofore said of him, Davis was the man to
improve to the utmost every opportunity to strut his little hour, and he
did it in this instance. He posed, attitudinized and vapored, so that
the camp and the country were filled with stories of the wonderful
coolness with which he contemplated his approaching fate.
Among other things he said to his guard, as he washed himself elaborately
the night before the day announced for the execution:
"Well, you can be sure of one thing; to-morrow night there will certainly
be one clean corpse on this Island."
Unfortunately for his braggadocio, he let it leak out in some way that he
had been well aware all the time that he would not be executed.
He was taken to Fort Delaware for confinement, and died there some time
Frank Beverstock went back to his regiment, and served with it until the
close of the war. He then returned home, and, after awhile became a
banker at Bowling Green, O. He was a fine business man and became very
prosperous. But though naturally healthy and vigorous, his system
carried in it the seeds of death, sown there by the hardships of
captivity. He had been one of the victims of the Rebels' vaccination;
the virus injected into his blood had caused a large part of his right
temple to slough off, and when it healed it left a ghastly cicatrix.
Two years ago he was taken suddenly ill, and died before his friends had
any idea that his condition was serious.
SAVANNAH PROVES TO BE A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER--ESCAPE FROM THE BRATS OF
GUARDS--COMPARISON BETWEEN WIRZ AND DAVIS--A BRIEF INTERVAL OF GOOD
RATIONS--WINDER, THE MAN WITH THE EVIL EYE--
THE DISLOYAL WORK OF A SHYSTER.
After all Savannah was a wonderful improvement on Andersonville.
We got away from the pestilential Swamp and that poisonous ground.
Every mouthful of air was not laden with disease germs, nor every cup of
water polluted with the seeds of death. The earth did not breed
gangrene, nor the atmosphere promote fever. As only the more vigorous
had come away, we were freed from the depressing spectacle of every third
man dying. The keen disappointment prostrated very many who had been of
average health, and I imagine, several hundred died, but there were
hospital arrangements of some kind, and the sick were taken away from
among us. Those of us who tunneled out had an opportunity of stretching
our legs, which we had not had for months in the overcrowded Stockade we
had left. The attempts to escape did all engaged in them good, even
though they failed, since they aroused new ideas and hopes, set the blood
into more rapid circulation, and toned up the mind and system both.
I had come away from Andersonville with considerable scurvy manifesting
itself in my gums and feet. Soon these signs almost wholly disappeared.
We also got away from those murderous little brats of Reserves,
who guarded us at Andersonville, and shot men down as they would stone
apples out of a tree. Our guards now were mostly, sailors, from the
Rebel fleet in the harbor--Irishmen, Englishmen and Scandinavians, as
free hearted and kindly as sailors always are. I do not think they ever
fired a shot at one of us. The only trouble we had was with that portion
of the guard drawn from the infantry of the garrison. They had the same
rattlesnake venom of the Home Guard crowd wherever we met it, and shot us
down at the least provocation. Fortunately they only formed a small part
of the sentinels.
Best of all, we escaped for a while from the upas-like shadow of Winder
and Wirz, in whose presence strong men sickened and died, as when near
some malign genii of an Eastern story. The peasantry of Italy believed
firmly in the evil eye. Did they ever know any such men as Winder and
his satellite, I could comprehend how much foundation they could have for
such a belief.
Lieutenant Davis had many faults, but there was no comparison between him
and the Andersonville commandant. He was a typical young Southern man;
ignorant and bumptious as to the most common matters of school-boy
knowledge, inordinately vain of himself and his family, coarse in tastes
and thoughts, violent in his prejudices, but after all with some streaks
of honor and generosity that made the widest possible difference between
him and Wirz, who never had any. As one of my chums said to me:
"Wirz is the most even-tempered man I ever knew; he's always foaming
This was nearly the truth. I never saw Wirz when he was not angry;
if not violently abusive, he was cynical and sardonic. Never, in my
little experience with him did I detect a glint of kindly, generous
humanity; if he ever was moved by any sight of suffering its exhibition
in his face escaped my eye. If he ever had even a wish to mitigate the
pain or hardship of any man the expression of such wish never fell on my
ear. How a man could move daily through such misery as he encountered,
and never be moved by it except to scorn and mocking is beyond my limited
Davis vapored a great deal, swearing big round oaths in the broadest of
Southern patois; he was perpetually threatening to:
"Open on ye wid de ahtillery," but the only death that I knew him to
directly cause or sanction was that I have described in the previous
chapter. He would not put himself out of the way to annoy and oppress
prisoners, as Wirz would, but frequently showed even a disposition to
humor them in some little thing, when it could be done without danger or
trouble to himself.
By-and-by, however, he got an idea that there was some money to be made
out of the prisoners, and he set his wits to work in this direction.
One day, standing at the gate, he gave one of his peculiar yells that he
used to attract the attention of the camp with:
We all came to "attention," and he announced:
"Yesterday, while I wuz in the camps (a Rebel always says camps,) some of
you prisoners picked my pockets of seventy-five dollars in greenbacks.
Now, I give you notice that I'll not send in any moah rations till the
money's returned to me."
This was a very stupid method of extortion, since no one believed that he
had lost the money, and at all events he had no business to have the
greenbacks, as the Rebel laws imposed severe penalties upon any citizen,
and still more upon any soldier dealing with, or having in his possession
any of "the money of the enemy." We did without rations until night,
when they were sent in. There was a story that some of the boys in the
prison had contributed to make up part of the sum, and Davis took it and
was satisfied. I do not know how true the story was. At another time
some of the boys stole the bridle and halter off an old horse that was
driven in with a cart. The things were worth, at a liberal estimate,
one dollar. Davis cut off the rations of the whole six thousand of us
for one day for this. We always imagined that the proceeds went into his
A special exchange was arranged between our Navy Department and that of
the Rebels, by which all seamen and marines among us were exchanged.
Lists of these were sent to the different prisons and the men called for.
About three-fourths of them were dead, but many soldiers divining, the
situation of affairs, answered to the dead men's names, went away with
the squad and were exchanged. Much of this was through the connivance of
the Rebel officers, who favored those who had ingratiated themselves with
them. In many instances money was paid to secure this privilege, and I
have been informed on good authority that Jack Huckleby, of the Eighth
Tennessee, and Ira Beverly, of the One Hundredth Ohio, who kept the big
sutler shop on the North Side at Andersonville, paid Davis five hundred
dollars each to be allowed to go with the sailors. As for Andrews and
me, we had no friends among the Rebels, nor money to bribe with, so we
stood no show.
The rations issued to us for some time after our arrival seemed riotous
luxury to what we had been getting at Andersonville. Each of us received
daily a half-dozen rude and coarse imitations of our fondly-remembered
hard tack, and with these a small piece of meat or a few spoonfuls of
molasses, and a quart or so of vinegar, and several plugs of tobacco for
each "hundred." How exquisite was the taste of the crackers and molasses!
It was the first wheat bread I had eaten since my entry into Richmond--
nine months before--and molasses had been a stranger to me for years.
After the corn bread we had so long lived upon, this was manna. It seems
that the Commissary at Savannah labored under the delusion that he must
issue to us the same rations as were served out to the Rebel soldiers and
sailors. It was some little time before the fearful mistake came to the
knowledge of Winder. I fancy that the news almost threw him into an
apoplectic fit. Nothing, save his being ordered to the front, could have
caused him such poignant sorrow as the information that so much good food
had been worse than wasted in undoing his work by building up the bodies
of his hated enemies.
Without being told, we knew that he had been heard from when the tobacco,
vinegar and molasses failed to come in, and the crackers gave way to corn
meal. Still this was a vast improvement on Andersonville, as the meal
was fine and sweet, and we each had a spoonful of salt issued to us
I am quite sure that I cannot make the reader who has not had an
experience similar to ours comprehend the wonderful importance to us of
that spoonful of salt. Whether or not the appetite for salt be, as some
scientists claim, a purely artificial want, one thing is certain, and
that is, that either the habit of countless generations or some other
cause, has so deeply ingrained it into our common nature, that it has
come to be nearly as essential as food itself, and no amount of
deprivation can accustom us to its absence. Rather, it seemed that the
longer we did without it the more overpowering became our craving.
I could get along to-day and to-morrow, perhaps the whole week, without
salt in my food, since the lack would be supplied from the excess I had
already swallowed, but at the end of that time Nature would begin to
demand that I renew the supply of saline constituent of my tissues, and
she would become more clamorous with every day that I neglected her
bidding, and finally summon Nausea to aid Longing.
The light artillery of the garrison of Savannah--four batteries, twenty-
four pieces--was stationed around three sides of the prison, the guns
unlimbered, planted at convenient distance, and trained upon us, ready
for instant use. We could see all the grinning mouths through the cracks
in the fence. There were enough of them to send us as high as the
traditional kite flown by Gilderoy. The having at his beck this array of
frowning metal lent Lieutenant Davis such an importance in his own eyes
that his demeanor swelled to the grandiose. It became very amusing to
see him puff up and vaunt over it, as he did on every possible occasion.
For instance, finding a crowd of several hundred lounging around the
gate, he would throw open the wicket, stalk in with the air of a Jove
threatening a rebellious world with the dread thunders of heaven, and
"W-h-a-a y-e-e! Prisoners, I give you jist two minutes to cleah away
from this gate, aw I'll open on ye wid de ahtillery!"
One of the buglers of the artillery was a superb musician--evidently some
old "regular" whom the Confederacy had seduced into its service, and his
instrument was so sweet toned that we imagined that it was made of
silver. The calls he played were nearly the same as we used in the
cavalry, and for the first few days we became bitterly homesick every
time he sent ringing out the old familiar signals, that to us were so
closely associated with what now seemed the bright and happy days when we
were in the field with our battalion. If we were only back in the
valleys of Tennessee with what alacrity we would respond to that
"assembly;" no Orderly's patience would be worn out in getting laggards
and lazy ones to "fall in for roll-call;" how eagerly we would attend to
"stable duty;" how gladly mount our faithful horses and ride away to
"water," and what bareback races ride, going and coming. We would be
even glad to hear "guard" and "drill" sounded; and there would be music
in the disconsolate "surgeon's call:"
"Come-get-your-q-n-i-n-i-n-e; come, get your quinine; It'll make you
sad: It'll make you sick. Come, come."
O, if we were only back, what admirable soldiers we would be!
One morning, about three or four o'clock, we were awakened by the ground
shaking and a series of heavy, dull thumps sounding oft seaward.
Our silver-voiced bugler seemed to be awakened, too. He set the echoes
ringing with a vigorously played "reveille;" a minute later came an
equally earnest "assembly," and when "boots and saddles" followed, we
knew that all was not well in Denmark; the thumping and shaking now had
a significance. It meant heavy Yankee guns somewhere near. We heard the
gunners hitching up; the bugle signal "forward," the wheels roll off,
and for a half hour afterwards we caught the receding sound of the bugle
commanding "right turn," "left turn," etc., as the batteries marched
away. Of course, we became considerably wrought up over the matter,
as we fancied that, knowing we were in Savannah, our vessels were trying
to pass up to the City and take it. The thumping and shaking continued
until late in the afternoon.
We subsequently learned that some of our blockaders, finding time banging
heavy upon their hands, had essayed a little diversion by knocking Forts
Jackson and Bledsoe--two small forts defending the passage of the
Savannah--about their defenders' ears. After capturing the forts our
folks desisted and came no farther.
Quite a number of the old Raider crowd had come with us from
Andersonville. Among these was the shyster, Peter Bradley. They kept up
their old tactics of hanging around the gates, and currying favor with
the Rebels in every possible way, in hopes to get paroles outside or
other favors. The great mass of the prisoners were so bitter against the
Rebels as to feel that they would rather die than ask or accept a favor
from their hands, and they had little else than contempt for these
trucklers. The raider crowd's favorite theme of conversation with the
Rebels was the strong discontent of the boys with the manner of their
treatment by our Government. The assertion that there was any such
widespread feeling was utterly false. We all had confidence--as we
continue to have to this day--that our Government would do everything for
us possible, consistent with its honor, and the success of military
operations, and outside of the little squad of which I speak, not an
admission could be extracted from anybody that blame could be attached to
any one, except the Rebels. It was regarded as unmanly and unsoldier-
like to the last degree, as well as senseless, to revile our Government
for the crimes committed by its foes.
But the Rebels were led to believe that we were ripe for revolt against
our flag, and to side with them. Imagine, if possible, the stupidity
that would mistake our bitter hatred of those who were our deadly
enemies, for any feeling that would lead us to join hands with those
enemies. One day we were surprised to see the carpenters erect a rude
stand in the center of the camp. When it was finished, Bradley appeared
upon it, in company with some Rebel officers and guards. We gathered
around in curiosity, and Bradley began making a speech.
He said that it had now become apparent to all of us that our Government
had abandoned us; that it cared little or nothing for us, since it could
hire as many more quite readily, by offering a bounty equal to the pay
which would be due us now; that it cost only a few hundred dollars to
bring over a shipload of Irish, "Dutch," and French, who were only too
glad to agree to fight or do anything else to get to this country. [The
peculiar impudence of this consisted in Bradley himself being a
foreigner, and one who had only come out under one of the later calls,
and the influence of a big bounty.]
Continuing in this strain he repeated and dwelt upon the old lie, always
in the mouths of his crowd, that Secretary Stanton and General Halleck
had positively refused to enter upon negotiations for exchange, because
those in prison were "only a miserable lot of 'coffee-boilers' and
'blackberry pickers,' whom the Army was better off without."
The terms "coffee-boiler," and "blackberry-pickers" were considered the
worst terms of opprobrium we had in prison. They were applied to that
class of stragglers and skulkers, who were only too ready to give
themselves up to the enemy, and who, on coming in, told some gauzy story
about "just having stopped to boil a cup of coffee," or to do something
else which they should not have done, when they were gobbled up. It is
not risking much to affirm the probability of Bradley and most of his
crowd having belonged to this dishonorable class.
The assertion that either the great Chief-of-Staff or the still greater
War-Secretary were even capable of applying such epithets to the mass of
prisoners is too preposterous to need refutation, or even denial.
No person outside the raider crowd ever gave the silly lie a moment's
Bradley concluded his speech in some such language as this:
"And now, fellow prisoners, I propose to you this: that we unite in
informing our Government that unless we are exchanged in thirty days, we
will be forced by self-preservation to join the Confederate army."
For an instant his hearers seemed stunned at the fellow's audacity, and
then there went up such a roar of denunciation and execration that the
air trembled. The Rebels thought that the whole camp was going to rush
on Bradley and tear him to pieces, and they drew revolvers and leveled
muskets to defend him. The uproar only ceased when Bradley was hurried
out of the prisons but for hours everybody was savage and sullen, and
full of threatenings against him, when opportunity served. We never saw
Angry as I was, I could not help being amused at the tempestuous rage of
a tall, fine-looking and well educated Irish Sergeant of an Illinois
regiment. He poured forth denunciations of the traitor and the Rebels,
with the vivid fluency of his Hibernian nature, vowed he'd "give a year
of me life, be J---s, to have the handling of the dirty spalpeen for ten
minutes; be G-d," and finally in his rage, tore off his own shirt and
threw it on the ground and trampled on it.
Imagine my astonishment, some time after getting out of prison, to find
the Southern papers publishing as a defense against the charges in regard
to Andersonville, the following document, which they claimed to have been
adopted by "a mass meeting of the prisoners:"
"At a mass meeting held September 28th, 1864, by the Federal prisoners
confined at Savannah, Ga., it was unanimously agreed that the following
resolutions be sent to the President of the United States, in the hope
that he might thereby take such steps as in his wisdom he may think
necessary for our speedy exchange or parole:
"Resolved, That while we would declare our unbounded love for the Union,
for the home of our fathers, and for the graves of those we venerate, we
would beg most respectfully that our situation as prisoners be diligently
inquired into, and every obstacle consistent with the honor and dignity
of the Government at once removed.
"Resolved, That while allowing the Confederate authorities all due praise
for the attention paid to prisoners, numbers of our men are daily
consigned to early graves, in the prime of manhood, far from home and
kindred, and this is not caused intentionally by the Confederate
Government, but by force of circumstances; the prisoners are forced to go
without shelter, and, in a great portion of cases, without medicine.
"Resolved, That, whereas, ten thousand of our brave comrades have
descended into an untimely grave within the last six months, and as we
believe their death was caused by the difference of climate, the peculiar
kind and insufficiency of food, and lack of proper medical treatment;
and, whereas, those difficulties still remain, we would declare as our
firm belief, that unless we are speedily exchanged, we have no
alternative but to share the lamentable fate of our comrades. Must this
thing still go on! Is there no hope?
"Resolved, That, whereas, the cold and inclement season of the year is
fast approaching, we hold it to be our duty as soldiers and citizens of
the United States, to inform our Government that the majority of our
prisoners ate without proper clothing, in some cases being almost naked,
and are without blankets to protect us from the scorching sun by day or
the heavy dews by night, and we would most respectfully request the
Government to make some arrangement whereby we can be supplied with
these, to us, necessary articles.
"Resolved, That, whereas, the term of service of many of our comrades
having expired, they, having served truly and faithfully for the term of
their several enlistments, would most respectfully ask their Government,
are they to be forgotten? Are past services to be ignored? Not having
seen their wives and little ones for over three years, they would most
respectfully, but firmly, request the Government to make some
arrangements whereby they can be exchanged or paroled.
"Resolved, That, whereas, in the fortune of war, it was our lot to become
prisoners, we have suffered patiently, and are still willing to suffer,
if by so doing we can benefit the country; but we must most respectfully
beg to say, that we are not willing to suffer to further the ends of any
party or clique to the detriment of our honor, our families, and our
country, and we beg that this affair be explained to us, that we may
continue to hold the Government in that respect which is necessary to
make a good citizen and soldier.
"Chairman of Committee in behalf of Prisoners."
In regard to the above I will simply say this, that while I cannot
pretend to know or even much that went on around me, I do not think it
was possible for a mass meeting of prisoners to have been held without
my knowing it, and its essential features. Still less was it possible
for a mass meeting to have been held which would have adopted any such
a document as the above, or anything else that a Rebel would have found
the least pleasure in republishing. The whole thing is a brazen
WHY WE WERE HURRIED OUT OF ANDERSONVILLE--THE OF THE FALL OF ATLANTA--
OUR LONGING TO HEAR THE NEWS--ARRIVAL OF SOME FRESH FISH--HOW WE KNEW
THEY WERE WESTERN BOYS--DIFFERENCE IN THE APPEARANCE OF THE SOLDIERS OF
THE TWO ARMIES.
The reason of our being hurried out of Andersonville under the false
pretext of exchange dawned on us before we had been in Savannah long.
If the reader will consult the map of Georgia he will understand this,
too. Let him remember that several of the railroads which now appear
were not built then. The road upon which Andersonville is situated was
about one hundred and twenty miles long, reaching from Macon to Americus,
Andersonville being about midway between these two. It had no
connections anywhere except at Macon, and it was hundreds of miles across
the country from Andersonville to any other road. When Atlanta fell it
brought our folks to within sixty miles of Macon, and any day they were
liable to make a forward movement, which would capture that place, and
have us where we could be retaken with ease.
There was nothing left undone to rouse the apprehensions of the Rebels in
that direction. The humiliating surrender of General Stoneman at Macon
in July, showed them what our, folks were thinking of, and awakened their
minds to the disastrous consequences of such a movement when executed by
a bolder and abler commander. Two days of one of Kilpatrick's swift,
silent marches would carry his hard-riding troopers around Hood's right
flank, and into the streets of Macon, where a half hour's work with the
torch on the bridges across the Ocmulgee and the creeks that enter it at
that point, would have cut all of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee's
communications. Another day and night of easy marching would bring his
guidons fluttering through the woods about the Stockade at Andersonville,
and give him a reinforcement of twelve or fifteen thousand able-bodied
soldiers, with whom he could have held the whole Valley of the
Chattahoochie, and become the nether millstone, against which Sherman
could have ground Hood's army to powder.
Such a thing was not only possible, but very probable, and doubtless
would have occurred had we remained in Andersonville another week.
Hence the haste to get us away, and hence the lie about exchange, for,
had it not been for this, one-quarter at least of those taken on the cars
would have succeeded in getting off and attempted to have reached
The removal went on with such rapidity that by the end of September only
eight thousand two hundred and eighteen remained at Andersonville, and
these were mostly too sick to be moved; two thousand seven hundred died
in September, fifteen hundred and sixty in October, and four hundred and
eighty-five in November, so that at the beginning of December there were
only thirteen hundred and fifty-nine remaining. The larger part of those
taken out were sent on to Charleston, and subsequently to Florence and
Salisbury. About six or seven thousand of us, as near as I remember,
were brought to Savannah.
We were all exceedingly anxious to know how the Atlanta campaign had
ended. So far our information only comprised the facts that a sharp
battle had been fought, and the result was the complete possession of our
great objective point. The manner of accomplishing this glorious end,
the magnitude of the engagement, the regiments, brigades and corps
participating, the loss on both sides, the completeness of the victories,
etc., were all matters that we knew nothing of, and thirsted to learn.
The Rebel papers said as little as possible about the capture, and the
facts in that little were so largely diluted with fiction as to convey no
real information. But few new, prisoners were coming in, and none of
these were from Sherman. However, toward the last of September, a
handful of "fresh fish" were turned inside, whom our experienced eyes
instantly told us were Western boys.
There was never any difficulty in telling, as far as he could be seen,
whether a boy belonged to the East or the west. First, no one from the
Army of the Potomac was ever without his corps badge worn conspicuously;
it was rare to see such a thing on one of Sherman's men. Then there was
a dressy air about the Army of the Potomac that was wholly wanting in the
soldiers serving west of the Alleghanies.
The Army, of the Potomac was always near to its base of supplies, always
had its stores accessible, and the care of the clothing and equipments of
the men was an essential part of its discipline. A ragged or shabbily
dressed man was a rarity. Dress coats, paper collars, fresh woolen
shirts, neat-fitting pantaloons, good comfortable shoes, and trim caps or
hats, with all the blazing brass of company letters an inch long,
regimental number, bugle and eagle, according to the Regulations, were as
common to Eastern boys as they were rare among the Westerners.
The latter usually wore blouses, instead of dress coats, and as a rule
their clothing had not been renewed since the opening, of the campaign-
and it showed this. Those who wore good boots or shoes generally had to
submit to forcible exchanges by their, captors, and the same was true of
head gear. The Rebels were badly off in regard to hats. They did not
have skill and ingenuity enough to make these out of felt or straw, and
the make-shifts they contrived of quilted calico and long-leaved pine,
were ugly enough to frighten horned cattle.
I never blamed them much for wanting to get rid of these, even if they
did have to commit a sort of highway robbery upon defenseless prisoners
to do so. To be a traitor in arms was bad certainly, but one never
appreciated the entire magnitude of the crime until he saw a Rebel
wearing a calico or a pine-leaf hat. Then one felt as if it would be a
great mistake to ever show such a man mercy.
The Army of Northern Virginia seemed to have supplied themselves with
head-gear of Yankee manufacture of previous years, and they then quit
taking the hats of their prisoners. Johnston's Army did not have such
good luck, and had to keep plundering to the end of the war.
Another thing about the Army of the Potomac was the variety of the
uniforms. There were members of Zouave regiments, wearing baggy breeches
of various hues, gaiters, crimson fezes, and profusely braided jackets.
I have before mentioned the queer garb of the "Lost Ducks." (Les Enfants
Perdu, Forty-eighth New York.)
One of the most striking uniforms was that of the "Fourteenth Brooklyn."
They wore scarlet pantaloons, a blue jacket handsomely braided, and a red
fez, with a white cloth wrapped around the head, turban-fashion.
As a large number of them were captured, they formed quite a picturesque
feature of every crowd. They were generally good fellows and gallant
Another uniform that attracted much, though not so favorable, attention
was that of the Third New Jersey Cavalry, or First New Jersey Hussars,
as they preferred to call themselves. The designer of the uniform must
have had an interest in a curcuma plantation, or else he was a fanatical
Orangeman. Each uniform would furnish occasion enough for a dozen New
York riots on the 12th of July. Never was such an eruption of the
yellows seen outside of the jaundiced livery of some Eastern potentate.
Down each leg of the pantaloons ran a stripe of yellow braid one and one-
half inches wide. The jacket had enormous gilt buttons, and was
embellished with yellow braid until it was difficult to tell whether it
was blue cloth trimmed with yellow, or yellow adorned with blue. From
the shoulders swung a little, false hussar jacket, lined with the same
flaring yellow. The vizor-less cap was similarly warmed up with the hue
of the perfected sunflower. Their saffron magnificence was like the
gorgeous gold of the lilies of the field, and Solomon in all his glory
could not have beau arrayed like one of them. I hope he was not. I want
to retain my respect for him. We dubbed these daffodil cavaliers
"Butterflies," and the name stuck to them like a poor relation.
Still another distinction that was always noticeable between the two
armies was in the bodily bearing of the men. The Army of the Potomac was
drilled more rigidly than the Western men, and had comparatively few long
marches. Its members had something of the stiffness and precision of
English and German soldiery, while the Western boys had the long,
"reachy" stride, and easy swing that made forty miles a day a rather
commonplace march for an infantry regiment.
This was why we knew the new prisoners to be Sherman's boys as soon as
they came inside, and we started for them to hear the news. Inviting
them over to our lean-to, we told them our anxiety for the story of the
decisive blow that gave us the Central Gate of the Confederacy, and asked
them to give it to us.
WHAT CAUSED THE FALL OF ATLANTA--A DISSERTATION UPON AN IMPORTANT
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM--THE BATTLE OF JONESBORO--WHY IT WAS FOUGHT--
HOW SHERMAN DECEIVED HOOD--A DESPERATE BAYONET CHARGE, AND THE ONLY
SUCCESSFUL ONE IN THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN--A GALLANT COLONEL AND HOW HE
DIED--THE HEROISM OF SOME ENLISTED MEN--GOING CALMLY INTO CERTAIN DEATH.
An intelligent, quick-eyed, sunburned boy, without an ounce of surplus
flesh on face or limbs, which had been reduced to gray-hound condition by
the labors and anxieties of the months of battling between Chattanooga
and Atlanta, seemed to be the accepted talker of the crowd, since all the
rest looked at him, as if expecting him to answer for them. He did so:
"You want to know about how we got Atlanta at last, do you? Well, if you
don't know, I should think you would want to. If I didn't, I'd want
somebody to tell me all about it just as soon as he could get to me, for
it was one of the neatest little bits of work that 'old Billy' and his
boys ever did, and it got away with Hood so bad that he hardly knew what
"Well, first, I'll tell you that we belong to the old Fourteenth Ohio
Volunteers, which, if you know anything about the Army of the Cumberland,
you'll remember has just about as good a record as any that trains around
old Pap Thomas--and he don't 'low no slouches of any kind near him,
either--you can bet $500 to a cent on that, and offer to give back the
cent if you win. Ours is Jim Steedman's old regiment--you've all heard
of old Chickamauga Jim, who slashed his division of 7,000 fresh men into
the Rebel flank on the second day at Chickamauga, in a way that made
Longstreet wish he'd staid on the Rappahannock, and never tried to get up
any little sociable with the Westerners. If I do say it myself, I
believe we've got as good a crowd of square, stand-up, trust'em-every-
minute-in-your-life boys, as ever thawed hard-tack and sowbelly. We got
all the grunters and weak sisters fanned out the first year, and since
then we've been on a business basis, all the time. We're in a mighty
good brigade, too. Most of the regiments have been with us since we
formed the first brigade Pap Thomas ever commanded, and waded with him
through the mud of Kentucky, from Wild Cat to Mill Springs, where he gave
Zollicoffer just a little the awfulest thrashing that a Rebel General
ever got. That, you know, was in January, 1862, and was the first
victory gained by the Western Army, and our people felt so rejoiced over
"Yes, yes; we've read all about that," we broke in, "and we'd like to
hear it again, some other time; but tell us now about Atlanta."
"All right. Let's see: where was I? O, yes, talking about our brigade.
It is the Third Brigade, of the Third Division, of the Fourteenth Corps,
and is made up of the Fourteenth Ohio, Thirty-eighth Ohio, Tenth
Kentucky, and Seventy-fourth Indiana. Our old Colonel--George P. Este--
commands it. We never liked him very well in camp, but I tell you he's a
whole team in a fight, and he'd do so well there that all would take to
him again, and he'd be real popular for a while."
"Now, isn't that strange," broke in Andrews, who was given to fits of
speculation of psychological phenomena: "None of us yearn to die, but the
surest way to gain the affection of the boys is to show zeal in leading
them into scrapes where the chances of getting shot are the best.
Courage in action, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. I have
known it to make the most unpopular man in the battalion, the most
popular inside of half an hour. Now, M.(addressing himself to me,) you
remember Lieutenant H., of our battalion. You know he was a very fancy
young fellow; wore as snipish' clothes as the tailor could make, had gold
lace on his jacket wherever the regulations would allow it, decorated his
shoulders with the stunningest pair of shoulder knots I ever saw, and so
on. Well, he did not stay with us long after we went to the front. He
went back on a detail for a court martial, and staid a good while. When
he rejoined us, he was not in good odor, at all, and the boys weren't at
all careful in saying unpleasant things when he could hear them, A little
while after he came back we made that reconnaissance up on the Virginia
Road. We stirred up the Johnnies with our skirmish line, and while the
firing was going on in front we sat on our horses in line, waiting for
the order to move forward and engage. You know how solemn such moments
are. I looked down the line and saw Lieutenant H.
at the right of Company--, in command of it. I had not seen him since he
came back, and I sung out:
"'Hello, Lieutenant, how do you feel?'
"The reply came back, promptly, and with boyish cheerfulness:
"'Bully, by ----; I'm going to lead seventy men of Company into action
"How his boys did cheer him. When the bugle sounded--'forward, trot,' his
company sailed in as if they meant it, and swept the Johnnies off in
short meter. You never heard anybody say anything against Lieutenant
"You know how it was with Captain G., of our regiment," said one of the
Fourteenth to another. "He was promoted from Orderly Sergeant to a
Second Lieutenant, and assigned to Company D. All the members of Company
D went to headquarters in a body, and protested against his being put in
their company, and he was not. Well, he behaved so well at Chickamauga
that the boys saw that they had done him a great injustice, and all those
that still lived went again to headquarters, and asked to take all back
that they had said, and to have him put into the company."
"Well, that was doing the manly thing, sure; but go on about Atlanta."
"I was telling about our brigade," resumed the narrator. "Of course, we
think our regiment's the best by long odds in the army--every fellow
thinks that of his regiment--but next to it come the other regiments of
our brigade. There's not a cent of discount on any of them.
"Sherman had stretched out his right away to the south and west of
Atlanta. About the middle of August our corps, commanded by Jefferson C.
Davis, was lying in works at Utoy Creek, a couple of miles from Atlanta.
We could see the tall steeples and the high buildings of the City quite
plainly. Things had gone on dull and quiet like for about ten days.
This was longer by a good deal than we had been at rest since we left
Resaca in the Spring. We knew that something was brewing, and that it
must come to a head soon.
"I belong to Company C. Our little mess--now reduced to three by the
loss of two of our best soldiers and cooks, Disbrow and Sulier, killed
behind head-logs in front of Atlanta, by sharpshooters--had one fellow
that we called 'Observer,' because he had such a faculty of picking up
news in his prowling around headquarters. He brought us in so much of
this, and it was generally so reliable that we frequently made up his
absence from duty by taking his place. He was never away from a fight,
though. On the night of the 25th of August, 'Observer' came in with the
news that something was in the wind. Sherman was getting awful restless,
and we had found out that this always meant lots of trouble to our
friends on the other side.
"Sure enough, orders came to get ready to move, and the next night we all
moved to the right and rear, out of sight of the Johnnies. Our well
built works were left in charge of Garrard's Cavalry, who concealed their
horses in the rear, and came up and took our places. The whole army
except the Twentieth Corps moved quietly off, and did it so nicely that
we were gone some time before the enemy suspected it. Then the Twentieth
Corps pulled out towards the North, and fell back to the Chattahoochie,
making quite a shove of retreat. The Rebels snapped up the bait
greedily. They thought the siege was being raised, and they poured over
their works to hurry the Twentieth boys off. The Twentieth fellows let
them know that there was lots of sting in them yet, and the Johnnies were
not long in discovering that it would have been money in their pockets if
they had let that 'moon-and-star' (that's the Twentieth's badge, you
know) crowd alone.
"But the Rebs thought the rest of us were gone for good and that Atlanta
was saved. Naturally they felt mighty happy over it; and resolved to
have a big celebration--a ball, a meeting of jubilee, etc. Extra trains
were run in, with girls and women from the surrounding country, and they
just had a high old time.
"In the meantime we were going through so many different kinds of tactics
that it looked as if Sherman was really crazy this time, sure. Finally
we made a grand left wheel, and then went forward a long way in line of
battle. It puzzled us a good deal, but we knew that Sherman couldn't get
us into any scrape that Pap Thomas couldn't get us out of, and so it was
"Along on the evening of the 31st our right wing seemed to have run
against a hornet's nest, and we could hear the musketry and cannon speak
out real spiteful, but nothing came down our way. We had struck the
railroad leading south from Atlanta to Macon, and began tearing it up.
The jollity at Atlanta was stopped right in the middle by the appalling
news that the Yankees hadn't retreated worth a cent, but had broken out
in a new and much worse spot than ever. Then there was no end of trouble
all around, and Hood started part of his army back after us.
"Part of Hardee's and Pat Cleburne's command went into position in front
of us. We left them alone till Stanley could come up on our left, and
swing around, so as to cut off their retreat, when we would bag every one
of them. But Stanley was as slow as he always was, and did not come up
until it was too late, and the game was gone.
"The sun was just going down on the evening of the 1st of September, when
we began to see we were in for it, sure. The Fourteenth Corps wheeled
into position near the railroad, and the sound of musketry and artillery
became very loud and clear on our front and left. We turned a little and
marched straight toward the racket, becoming more excited every minute.
We saw the Carlin's brigade of regulars, who were some distance ahead of
us, pile knapsacks, form in line, fix bayonets, and dash off with
"The Rebel fire beat upon them like a Summer rain-storm, the ground shook
with the noise, and just as we reached the edge of the cotton field, we
saw the remnant of the brigade come flying back out of the awful,
blasting shower of bullets. The whole slope was covered with dead and
"Yes," interrupts one of the Fourteenth; "and they made that charge
right gamely, too, I can tell you. They were good soldiers, and well
led. When we went over the works, I remember seeing the body of a little
Major of one of the regiments lying right on the top. If he hadn't been
killed he'd been inside in a half-a-dozen steps more. There's no mistake
about it; those regulars will fight."
"When we saw this," resumed the narrator, "it set our fellows fairly
wild; they became just crying mad; I never saw them so before. The order
came to strip for the charge, and our knapsacks were piled in half a
minute. A Lieutenant of our company, who was then on the staff of Gen.
Baird, our division commander, rode slowly down the line and gave us our
instructions to load our guns, fix bayonets, and hold fire until we were
on top of the Rebel works. Then Colonel Este sang out clear and steady
as a bugle signal:
"'Brigade, forward! Guide center! MARCH!!'
"and we started. Heavens, how they did let into us, as we came up into
range. They had ten pieces of artillery, and more men behind the
breastworks than we had in line, and the fire they poured on us was
simply withering. We walked across the hundreds of dead and dying of the
regular brigade, and at every step our own men fell down among them.
General Baud's horse was shot down, and the General thrown far over his
head, but he jumped up and ran alongside of us. Major Wilson, our
regimental commander, fell mortally wounded; Lieutenant Kirk was killed,
and also Captain Stopfard, Adjutant General of the brigade. Lieutenants
Cobb and Mitchell dropped with wounds that proved fatal in a few days.
Captain Ugan lost an arm, one-third of the enlisted men fell, but we went
straight ahead, the grape and the musketry becoming worse every step,
until we gained the edge of the hill, where we were checked a minute by
the brush, which the Rebels had fixed up in the shape of abattis. Just
then a terrible fire from a new direction, our left, swept down the whole
length of our line. The Colonel of the Seventeenth New York--as gallant
a man as ever lived saw the new trouble, took his regiment in on the run,
and relieved us of this, but he was himself mortally wounded. If our
boys were half-crazy before, they were frantic now, and as we got out of
the entanglement of the brush, we raised a fearful yell and ran at the
works. We climbed the sides, fired right down into the defenders, and
then began with the bayonet and sword. For a few minutes it was simply
awful. On both sides men acted like infuriated devils. They dashed each
other's brains out with clubbed muskets; bayonets were driven into men's
bodies up to the muzzle of the gun; officers ran their swords through
their opponents, and revolvers, after being emptied into the faces of the
Rebels, were thrown with desperate force into the ranks. In our regiment
was a stout German butcher named Frank Fleck. He became so excited that
he threw down his sword, and rushed among the Rebels with his bare fists,
knocking down a swath of them. He yelled to the first Rebel he met
"Py Gott, I've no patience mit you,' and knocked him sprawling.
He caught hold of the commander of the Rebel Brigade, and snatched him
back over the works by main strength. Wonderful to say, he escaped
unhurt, but the boys will probably not soon let him hear the last of
"Py Gott, I've no patience mit you.'
"The Tenth Kentucky, by the queerest luck in the world, was matched
against the Rebel Ninth Kentucky. The commanders of the two regiments
were brothers-in-law, and the men relatives, friends, acquaintances and
schoolmates. They hated each other accordingly, and the fight between
them was more bitter, if possible, than anywhere else on the line.
The Thirty-Eighth Ohio and Seventy-fourth Indiana put in some work that
was just magnificent. We hadn't time to look at it then, but the dead
and wounded piled up after the fight told the story.
"We gradually forced our way over the works, but the Rebels were game to
the last, and we had to make them surrender almost one at a time.
The artillerymen tried to fire on us when we were so close we could lay
our hands on the guns.
"Finally nearly all in the works surrendered, and were disarmed and
marched back. Just then an aid came dashing up with the information that
we must turn the works, and get ready to receive Hardee, who was
advancing to retake the position. We snatched up some shovels lying
near, and began work. We had no time to remove the dead and dying Rebels
on the works, and the dirt we threw covered them up. It proved a false
alarm. Hardee had as much as he could do to save his own hide, and the
affair ended about dark.
"When we came to count up what we had gained, we found that we had
actually taken more prisoners from behind breastworks than there were in
our brigade when we started the charge. We had made the only really
successful bayonet charge of the campaign. Every other time since we
left Chattanooga the party standing on the defensive had been successful.
Here we had taken strong double lines, with ten guns, seven battle flags,
and over two thousand prisoners. We had lost terribly--not less than
one-third of the brigade, and many of our best men. Our regiment went
into the battle with fifteen officers; nine of these were killed or
wounded, and seven of the nine lost either their limbs or lives.
The Thirty-Eighth Ohio, and the other regiments of the brigade lost
equally heavy. We thought Chickamauga awful, but Jonesboro discounted
"Do you know," said another of the Fourteenth, "I heard our Surgeon
telling about how that Colonel Grower, of the Seventeenth New York,
who came in so splendidly on our left, died? They say he was a Wall
Street broker, before the war. He was hit shortly after he led his
regiment in, and after the fight, was carried back to the hospital.
While our Surgeon was going the rounds Colonel Grower called him, and
said quietly, 'When you get through with the men, come and see me,
"The Doctor would have attended to him then, but Grower wouldn't let him.
After he got through he went back to Grower, examined his wound, and told
him that he could only live a few hours. Grower received the news
tranquilly, had the Doctor write a letter to his wife, and gave him his
things to send her, and then grasping the Doctor's hand, he said:
"Doctor, I've just one more favor to ask; will you grant it?'
"The Doctor said, 'Certainly; what is it?'
"You say I can't live but a few hours?'
"Yes; that is true.'
"And that I will likely be in great pain!'
"I am sorry to say so.'
"Well, then, do give me morphia enough to put me to sleep, so that I will
wake up only in another world.'
"The Doctor did so; Colonel Grower thanked him; wrung his hand, bade him
good-by, and went to sleep to wake no more."
"Do you believe in presentiments and superstitions?" said another of the
Fourteenth. There was Fisher Pray, Orderly Sergeant of Company I. He
came from Waterville, O., where his folks are now living. The day before
we started out he had a presentiment that we were going into a fight, and
that he would be killed. He couldn't shake it off. He told the
Lieutenant, and some of the boys about it, and they tried to ridicule him
out of it, but it was no good. When the sharp firing broke out in front
some of the boys said, 'Fisher, I do believe you are right,' and he
nodded his head mournfully. When we were piling knapsacks for the
charge, the Lieutenant, who was a great friend of Fisher's, said:
"Fisher, you stay here and guard the knapsacks.'
"Fisher's face blazed in an instant.
"No, sir,' said he; I never shirked a fight yet, and I won't begin now.'
"So he went into the fight, and was killed, as he knew he would be. Now,
that's what I call nerve."
"The same thing was true of Sergeant Arthur Tarbox, of Company A," said
the narrator; "he had a presentiment, too; he knew he was going to be
killed, if he went in, and he was offered an honorable chance to stay
out, but he would not take it, and went in and was killed."
"Well, we staid there the next day, buried our dead, took care of our
wounded, and gathered up the plunder we had taken from the Johnnies.
The rest of the army went off, 'hot blocks,' after Hardee and the rest of
Hood's army, which it was hoped would be caught outside of entrenchments.
But Hood had too much the start, and got into the works at Lovejoy, ahead
of our fellows. The night before we heard several very loud explosions
up to the north. We guessed what that meant, and so did the Twentieth
Corps, who were lying back at the Chattahoochee, and the next morning the
General commanding--Slocum--sent out a reconnaissance. It was met by the
Mayor of Atlanta, who said that the Rebels had blown up their stores and
retreated. The Twentieth Corps then came in and took 'possession of the
City, and the next day--the 3d--Sherman came in, and issued an order
declaring the campaign at an end, and that we would rest awhile and
"We laid around Atlanta a good while, and things quieted down so that it
seemed almost like peace, after the four months of continual fighting we
had gone through. We had been under a strain so long that now we boys
went in the other direction, and became too careless, and that's how we
got picked up. We went out about five miles one night after a lot of
nice smoked hams that a nigger told us were stored in an old cotton
press, and which we knew would be enough sight better eating for Company
C, than the commissary pork we had lived on so long. We found the cotton
press, and the hams, just as the nigger told us, and we hitched up a team
to take them into camp. As we hadn't seen any Johnny signs anywhere,
we set our guns down to help load the meat, and just as we all came
stringing out to the wagon with as much meat as we could carry, a company
of Ferguson's Cavalry popped out of the woods about one hundred yards in
front of us and were on top of us before we could say I scat. You see
they'd heard of the meat, too."
A FAIR SACRIFICE--THE STORY OF ONE BOY WHO WILLINGLY GAVE HIS YOUNG LIFE
FOR HIS COUNTRY.
Charley Barbour was one of the truest-hearted and best-liked of my
school-boy chums and friends. For several terms we sat together on the
same uncompromisingly uncomfortable bench, worried over the same boy-
maddening problems in "Ray's Arithmetic-Part III.," learned the same
jargon of meaningless rules from "Greene's Grammar," pondered over
"Mitchell's Geography and Atlas," and tried in vain to understand why
Providence made the surface of one State obtrusively pink and another
ultramarine blue; trod slowly and painfully over the rugged road
"Bullion" points out for beginners in Latin, and began to believe we
should hate ourselves and everybody else, if we were gotten up after the
manner shown by "Cutter's Physiology." We were caught together in the
same long series of school-boy scrapes--and were usually ferruled
together by the same strong-armed teacher. We shared nearly everything
--our fun and work; enjoyment and annoyance--all were generally meted out
to us together. We read from the same books the story of the wonderful
world we were going to see in that bright future "when we were men;" we
spent our Saturdays and vacations in the miniature explorations of the
rocky hills and caves, and dark cedar woods around our homes, to gather
ocular helps to a better comprehension of that magical land which we were
convinced began just beyond our horizon, and had in it, visible to the
eye of him who traveled through its enchanted breadth, all that
"Gulliver's Fables," the "Arabian Nights," and a hundred books of travel
and adventure told of.
We imagined that the only dull and commonplace spot on earth was that
where we lived. Everywhere else life was a grand spectacular drama, full
of thrilling effects.
Brave and handsome young men were rescuing distressed damsels, beautiful
as they were wealthy; bloody pirates and swarthy murderers were being
foiled by quaint spoken backwoodsmen, who carried unerring rifles;
gallant but blundering Irishmen, speaking the most delightful brogue,
and making the funniest mistakes, were daily thwarting cool and
determined villains; bold tars were encountering fearful sea perils;
lionhearted adventurers were cowing and quelling whole tribes of
barbarians; magicians were casting spells, misers hoarding gold,
scientists making astonishing discoveries, poor and unknown boys
achieving wealth and fame at a single bound, hidden mysteries coming to
light, and so the world was going on, making reams of history with each
diurnal revolution, and furnishing boundless material for the most
At the age of thirteen a perusal of the lives of Benjamin Franklin and
Horace Greeley precipitated my determination to no longer hesitate in
launching my small bark upon the great ocean. I ran away from home in a
truly romantic way, and placed my foot on what I expected to be the first
round of the ladder of fame, by becoming "devil boy" in a printing office
in a distant large City. Charley's attachment to his mother and his home
was too strong to permit him to take this step, and we parted in sorrow,
mitigated on my side by roseate dreams of the future.
Six years passed. One hot August morning I met an old acquaintance at
the Creek, in Andersonville. He told me to come there the next morning,
after roll-call, and he would take me to see some person who was very
anxious to meet me. I was prompt at the rendezvous, and was soon joined
by the other party. He threaded his way slowly for over half an hour
through the closely-jumbled mass of tents and burrows, and at length
stopped in front of a blanket-tent in the northwestern corner. The
occupant rose and took my hand. For an instant I was puzzled; then the
clear, blue eyes, and well-remembered smile recalled to me my old-time
comrade, Charley Barbour. His story was soon told. He was a Sergeant in
a Western Virginia cavalry regiment--the Fourth, I think. At the time
Hunter was making his retreat from the Valley of Virginia, it was decided
to mislead the enemy by sending out a courier with false dispatches to be
captured. There was a call for a volunteer for this service. Charley
was the first to offer, with that spirit of generous self-sacrifice that
was one of his pleasantest traits when a boy. He knew what he had to
expect. Capture meant imprisonment at Andersonville; our men had now a
pretty clear understanding of what this was. Charley took the dispatches
and rode into the enemy's lines. He was taken, and the false information
produced the desired effect. On his way to Andersonville he was stripped
of all his clothing but his shirt and pantaloons, and turned into the
Stockade in this condition. When I saw him he had been in a week or
more. He told his story quietly--almost diffidently--not seeming aware
that he had done more than his simple duty. I left him with the promise
and expectation of returning the next day, but when I attempted to find
him again, I was lost in the maze of tents and burrows. I had forgotten
to ask the number of his detachment, and after spending several days in
hunting for him, I was forced to give the search up. He knew as little
of my whereabouts, and though we were all the time within seventeen
hundred feet of each other, neither we nor our common acquaintance could
ever manage to meet again. This will give the reader an idea of the
throng compressed within the narrow limits of the Stockade. After
leaving Andersonville, however, I met this man once more, and learned
from him that Charley had sickened and died within a month after his
entrance to prison.
So ended his day-dream of a career in the busy world.
WE LEAVE SAVANNAH--MORE HOPES OF EXCHANGE--SCENES AT DEPARTURE--
"FLANKERS"--ON THE BACK TRACK TOWARD ANDERSONVILLE--ALARM THEREAT--
AT THE PARTING OF TWO WAYS--WE FINALLY BRING UP AT CAMP LAWTON.
On the evening of the 11th of October there came an order for one
thousand prisoners to fall in and march out, for transfer to some other
Of course, Andrews and I "flanked" into this crowd. That was our usual
way of doing. Holding that the chances were strongly in favor of every
movement of prisoners being to our lines, we never failed to be numbered
in the first squad of prisoners that were sent out. The seductive mirage
of "exchange" was always luring us on. It must come some time,
certainly, and it would be most likely to come to those who were most
earnestly searching for it. At all events, we should leave no means
untried to avail ourselves of whatever seeming chances there might be.
There could be no other motive for this move, we argued, than exchange.
The Confederacy was not likely to be at the trouble and expense of
hauling us about the country without some good reason--something better
than a wish to make us acquainted with Southern scenery and topography.
It would hardly take us away from Savannah so soon after bringing us
there for any other purpose than delivery to our people.
The Rebels encouraged this belief with direct assertions of its truth.
They framed a plausible lie about there having arisen some difficulty
concerning the admission of our vessels past the harbor defenses of
Savannah, which made it necessary to take us elsewhere--probably to
Charleston--for delivery to our men.
Wishes are always the most powerful allies of belief. There is little
difficulty in convincing a man of that of which he wants to be convinced.
We forgot the lie told us when we were taken from Andersonville, and
believed the one which was told us now.
Andrews and I hastily snatched our worldly possessions--our overcoat,
blanket, can, spoon, chessboard and men, yelled to some of our neighbors
that they could have our hitherto much-treasured house, and running down
to the gate, forced ourselves well up to the front of the crowd that was
being assembled to go out.
The usual scenes accompanying the departure of first squads were being
acted tumultuously. Every one in the camp wanted to be one of the
supposed-to-be-favored few, and if not selected at first, tried to "flank
in"--that is, slip into the place of some one else who had had better
luck. This one naturally resisted displacement, 'vi et armis,' and the
fights would become so general as to cause a resemblance to the famed
Fair of Donnybrook. The cry would go up:
"Look out for flankers!"
The lines of the selected would dress up compactly, and outsiders trying
to force themselves in would get mercilessly pounded.
We finally got out of the pen, and into the cars, which soon rolled away
to the westward. We were packed in too densely to be able to lie down.
We could hardly sit down. Andrews and I took up our position in one
corner, piled our little treasures under us, and trying to lean against
each other in such a way as to afford mutual support and rest, dozed
fitfully through a long, weary night.
When morning came we found ourselves running northwest through a poor,
pine-barren country that strongly resembled that we had traversed in
coming to Savannah. The more we looked at it the more familiar it
became, and soon there was no doubt we were going back to Andersonville.
By noon we had reached Millen--eighty miles from Savannah, and fifty-
three from Augusta. It was the junction of the road leading to Macon and
that running to Augusta. We halted a little while at the "Y," and to us
the minutes were full of anxiety. If we turned off to the left we were
going back to Andersonville. If we took the right hand road we were on
the way to Charleston or Richmond, with the chances in favor of exchange.
At length we started, and, to our joy, our engine took the right hand
track. We stopped again, after a run of five miles, in the midst of one
of the open, scattering forests of long leaved pine that I have before
described. We were ordered out of the cars, and marching a few rods,
came in sight of another of those hateful Stockades, which seemed to be
as natural products of the Sterile sand of that dreary land as its
desolate woods and its breed of boy murderers and gray-headed assassins.
Again our hearts sank, and death seemed more welcome than incarceration
in those gloomy wooden walls. We marched despondently up to the gates of
the Prison, and halted while a party of Rebel clerks made a list of our
names, rank, companies, and regiments. As they were Rebels it was slow
work. Reading and writing never came by nature, as Dogberry would say,
to any man fighting for Secession. As a rule, he took to them as
reluctantly as if, he thought them cunning inventions of the Northern
Abolitionist to perplex and demoralize him. What a half-dozen boys taken
out of our own ranks would have done with ease in an hour or so, these
Rebels worried over all of the afternoon, and then their register of us
was so imperfect, badly written and misspelled, that the Yankee clerks
afterwards detailed for the purpose, never could succeed in reducing it
We learned that the place at which we had arrived was Camp Lawton, but we
almost always spoke of it as "Millen," the same as Camp Sumter is
universally known as Andersonville.
Shortly after dark we were turned inside the Stockade. Being the first
that had entered, there was quite a quantity of wood--the offal from the
timber used in constructing the Stockade--lying on the ground. The night
was chilly one we soon had a number of fires blazing. Green pitch pine,
when burned, gives off a peculiar, pungent odor, which is never forgotten
by one who has once smelled it. I first became acquainted with it on
entering Andersonville, and to this day it is the most powerful
remembrance I can have of the opening of that dreadful Iliad of woes.
On my journey to Washington of late years the locomotives are invariably
fed with pitch pine as we near the Capital, and as the well-remembered
smell reaches me, I grow sick at heart with the flood of saddening
recollections indissolubly associated with it.
As our fires blazed up the clinging, penetrating fumes diffused
themselves everywhere. The night was as cool as the one when we arrived
at Andersonville, the earth, meagerly sodded with sparse, hard, wiry
grass, was the same; the same piney breezes blew in from the surrounding
trees, the same dismal owls hooted at us; the same mournful whip-poor-
will lamented, God knows what, in the gathering twilight. What we both
felt in the gloomy recesses of downcast hearts Andrews expressed as he
turned to me with:
"My God, Mc, this looks like Andersonville all over again."
A cupful of corn meal was issued to each of us. I hunted up some water.
Andrews made a stiff dough, and spread it about half an inch thick on the
back of our chessboard. He propped this up before the fire, and when the
surface was neatly browned over, slipped it off the board and turned it
over to brown the other side similarly. This done, we divided it
carefully between us, swallowed it in silence, spread our old overcoat on
the ground, tucked chess-board, can, and spoon under far enough to be out
of the reach of thieves, adjusted the thin blanket so as to get the most
possible warmth out of it, crawled in close together, and went to sleep.
This, thank Heaven, we could do; we could still sleep, and Nature had
some opportunity to repair the waste of the day. We slept, and forgot
where we were.
OUR NEW QUARTERS AT CAMP LAWTON--BUILDING A HUT--AN EXCEPTIONAL
COMMANDANT--HE IS a GOOD MAN, BUT WILL TAKE BRIBES--RATIONS.
In the morning we took a survey of our new quarters, and found that we
were in a Stockade resembling very much in construction and dimensions
that at Andersonville. The principal difference was that the upright
logs were in their rough state, whereas they were hewed at Andersonville,
and the brook running through the camp was not bordered by a swamp, but
had clean, firm banks.
Our next move was to make the best of the situation. We were divided
into hundreds, each commanded by a Sergeant. Ten hundreds constituted a
division, the head of which was also a Sergeant. I was elected by my
comrades to the Sergeantcy of the Second Hundred of the First Division.
As soon as we were assigned to our ground, we began constructing shelter.
For the first and only time in my prison experience, we found a full
supply of material for this purpose, and the use we made of it showed how
infinitely better we would have fared if in each prison the Rebels had
done even so slight a thing as to bring in a few logs from the
surrounding woods and distribute them to us. A hundred or so of these
would probably have saved thousands of lives at Andersonville and
A large tree lay on the ground assigned to our hundred. Andrews and I
took possession of one side of the ten feet nearest the butt. Other boys
occupied the rest in a similar manner. One of our boys had succeeded in
smuggling an ax in with him, and we kept it in constant use day and
night, each group borrowing it for an hour or so at a time. It was as
dull as a hoe, and we were very weak, so that it was slow work "niggering
off"--(as the boys termed it) a cut of the log. It seemed as if beavers
could have gnawed it off easier and more quickly. We only cut an inch or
so at a time, and then passed the ax to the next users. Making little
wedges with a dull knife, we drove them into the log with clubs, and
split off long, thin strips, like the weatherboards of a house, and by
the time we had split off our share of the log in this slow and laborious
way, we had a fine lot of these strips. We were lucky enough to find
four forked sticks, of which we made the corners of our dwelling, and
roofed it carefully with our strips, held in place by sods torn up from
the edge of the creek bank. The sides and ends were enclosed; we
gathered enough pine tops to cover the ground to a depth of several
inches; we banked up the outside, and ditched around it, and then had the
most comfortable abode we had during our prison career. It was truly a
house builded with our own hands, for we had no tools whatever save the
occasional use of the aforementioned dull axe and equally dull knife.
The rude little hut represented as much actual hard, manual labor as
would be required to build a comfortable little cottage in the North,
but we gladly performed it, as we would have done any other work to
better our condition.
For a while wood was quite plentiful, and we had the luxury daily of warm
fires, which the increasing coolness of the weather made important
accessories to our comfort.
Other prisoners kept coming in. Those we left behind at Savannah
followed us, and the prison there was broken up. Quite a number also
came in from--Andersonville, so that in a little while we had between six
and seven thousand in the Stockade. The last comers found all the
material for tents and all the fuel used up, and consequently did not
fare so well as the earlier arrivals.
The commandant of the prison--one Captain Bowes--was the best of his
class it was my fortune to meet. Compared with the senseless brutality
of Wirz, the reckless deviltry of Davis, or the stupid malignance of
Barrett, at Florence, his administration was mildness and wisdom itself.
He enforced discipline better than any of those named, but has what they
all lacked--executive ability--and he secured results that they could not
possibly attain, and without anything, like the friction that attended
their efforts. I do not remember that any one was shot during our six
weeks' stay at Millen--a circumstance simply remarkable, since I do not
recall a single week passed anywhere else without at least one murder by
One instance will illustrate the difference of his administration from
that of other prison commandants. He came upon the grounds of our
division one morning, accompanied by a pleasant-faced, intelligent-
appearing lad of about fifteen or sixteen. He said to us:
"Gentlemen: (The only instance during our imprisonment when we received
so polite a designation.) This is my son, who will hereafter call your
roll. He will treat you as gentlemen, and I know you will do the same to
This understanding was observed to the letter on both sides. Young Bowes
invariably spoke civilly to us, and we obeyed his orders with a prompt
cheerfulness that left him nothing to complain of.
The only charge I have to make against Bowes is made more in detail in
another chapter, and that is, that he took money from well prisoners for
giving them the first chance to go through on the Sick Exchange.
How culpable this was I must leave each reader to decide for himself.
I thought it very wrong at the time, but possibly my views might have
been colored highly by my not having any money wherewith to procure my
own inclusion in the happy lot of the exchanged.
Of one thing I am certain: that his acceptance of money to bias his
official action was not singular on his part. I am convinced that every
commandant we had over us--except Wirz--was habitually in the receipt of
bribes from prisoners. I never heard that any one succeeded in bribing
Wirz, and this is the sole good thing I can say of that fellow. Against
this it may be said, however, that he plundered the boys so effectually
on entering the prison as to leave them little of the wherewithal to
Davis was probably the most unscrupulous bribe-taker of the lot.
He actually received money for permitting prisoners to escape to our
lines, and got down to as low a figure as one hundred dollars for this
sort of service. I never heard that any of the other commandants went
The rations issued to us were somewhat better than those of
Andersonville, as the meal was finer and better, though it was absurdedly
insufficient in quantity, and we received no salt. On several occasions
fresh beef was dealt out to us, and each time the excitement created
among those who had not tasted fresh meat for weeks and months was
wonderful. On the first occasion the meat was simply the heads of the
cattle killed for the use of the guards. Several wagon loads of these
were brought in and distributed. We broke them up so that every man got
a piece of the bone, which was boiled and reboiled, as long as a single
bubble of grease would rise to the surface of the water; every vestige of
meat was gnawed and scraped from the surface and then the bone was
charred until it crumbled, when it was eaten. No one who has not
experienced it can imagine the inordinate hunger for animal food of those
who had eaten little else than corn bread for so long. Our exhausted
bodies were perishing for lack of proper sustenance. Nature indicated
fresh beef as the best medium to repair the great damage already done,
and our longing for it became beyond description.
THE RAIDERS REAPPEAR ON THE SCENE--THE ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE THOSE WHO
WERE CONCERNED IN THE EXECUTION--A COUPLE OF LIVELY FIGHTS, IN WHICH THE
RAIDERS ARE DEFEATED--HOLDING AN ELECTION.
Our old antagonists--the Raiders--were present in strong force in Millen.
Like ourselves, they had imagined the departure from Andersonville was
for exchange, and their relations to the Rebels were such that they were
all given a chance to go with the first squads. A number had been
allowed to go with the sailors on the Special Naval Exchange from
Savannah, in the place of sailors and marines who had died. On the way
to Charleston a fight had taken place between them and the real sailors,
during which one of their number--a curly-headed Irishman named Dailey,
who was in such high favor with the Rebels that he was given the place of
driving the ration wagon that came in the North Side at Andersonville--
was killed, and thrown under the wheels of the moving train, which passed
After things began to settle into shape at Millen, they seemed to believe
that they were in such ascendancy as to numbers and organization that
they could put into execution their schemes of vengeance against those of
us who had been active participants in the execution of their
confederates at Andersonville.
After some little preliminaries they settled upon Corporal "Wat" Payne,
of my company, as their first victim. The reader will remember Payne as
one of the two Corporals who pulled the trigger to the scaffold at the
time of the execution.
Payne was a very good man physically, and was yet in fair condition.
The Raiders came up one day with their best man--Pete Donnelly--and
provoked a fight, intending, in the course of it, to kill Payne. We,
who knew Payee, felt reasonably confident of his ability to handle even
so redoubtable a pugilist as Donnelly, and we gathered together a little
squad of our friends to see fair play.
The fight began after the usual amount of bad talk on both sides, and we
were pleased to see our man slowly get the better of the New York plug-
ugly. After several sharp rounds they closed, and still Payne was ahead,
but in an evil moment he spied a pine knot at his feet, which he thought
he could reach, and end the fight by cracking Donnelly's head with it.
Donnelly took instant advantage of the movement to get it, threw Payne
heavily, and fell upon him. His crowd rushed in to finish our man by
clubbing him over the head. We sailed in to prevent this, and after a
rattling exchange of blows all around, succeeded in getting Payne away.
The issue of the fight seemed rather against us, however, and the Raiders
were much emboldened. Payne kept close to his crowd after that, and as
we had shown such an entire willingness to stand by him, the Raiders--
with their accustomed prudence when real fighting was involved--did not
attempt to molest him farther, though they talked very savagely.
A few days after this Sergeant Goody and Corporal Ned Carrigan, both of
our battalion, came in. I must ask the reader to again recall the fact
that Sergeant Goody was one of the six hangmen who put the meal-sacks
over the heads, and the ropes around the necks of the condemned.
Corporal Carrigan was the gigantic prize fighter, who was universally
acknowledged to be the best man physically among the whole thirty-four
thousand in Andersonville. The Raiders knew that Goody had come in
before we of his own battalion did. They resolved to kill him then and
there, and in broad daylight. He had secured in some way a shelter tent,
and was inside of it fixing it up. The Raider crowd, headed by Pete
Donnelly, and Dick Allen, went up to his tent and one of them called to
"Sergeant, come out; I want to see you."
Goody, supposing it was one of us, came crawling out on his hands and
knees. As he did so their heavy clubs crashed down upon his head.
He was neither killed nor stunned, as they had reason to expect.
He succeeded in rising to his feet, and breaking through the crowd of
assassins. He dashed down the side of the hill, hotly pursued by them.
Coming to the Creek, he leaped it in his excitement, but his pursuers
could not, and were checked. One of our battalion boys, who saw and
comprehended the whole affair, ran over to us, shouting:
"Turn out! turn out, for God's sake! the Raiders are killing Goody!"
We snatched up our clubs and started after the Raiders, but before we
could reach them, Ned Carrigan, who also comprehended what the trouble
was, had run to the side of Goody, armed with a terrible looking club.
The sight of Ned, and the demonstration that he was thoroughly aroused,
was enough for the Raider crew, and they abandoned the field hastily.
We did not feel ourselves strong enough to follow them on to their own
dung hill, and try conclusions with them, but we determined to report the
matter to the Rebel Commandant, from whom we had reason to believe we
could expect assistance. We were right. He sent in a squad of guards,
arrested Dick Allen, Pete Donnelly, and several other ringleaders, took
them out and put them in the stocks in such a manner that they were
compelled to lie upon their stomachs. A shallow tin vessel containing
water was placed under their faces to furnish them drink.
They staid there a day and night, and when released, joined the Rebel
Army, entering the artillery company that manned the guns in the fort
covering the prison. I used to imagine with what zeal they would send us
over; a round of shell or grape if they could get anything like an
This gave us good riddance--of our dangerous enemies, and we had little
further trouble with any of them.
The depression in the temperature made me very sensible of the
deficiencies in my wardrobe. Unshod feet, a shirt like a fishing net,
and pantaloons as well ventilated as a paling fence might do very well
for the broiling sun at Andersonville and Savannah, but now, with the
thermometer nightly dipping a little nearer the frost line, it became
unpleasantly evident that as garments their office was purely
perfunctory; one might say ornamental simply, if he wanted to be very
sarcastic. They were worn solely to afford convenient quarters for
multitudes of lice, and in deference to the prejudice which has existed
since the Fall of Man against our mingling with our fellow creatures in
the attire provided us by Nature. Had I read Darwin then I should have
expected that my long exposure to the weather would start a fine suit of
fur, in the effort of Nature to adapt, me to my, environment. But no
more indications of this appeared than if I had been a hairless dog of
Mexico, suddenly transplanted to more northern latitudes. Providence did
not seem to be in the tempering-the-wind-to-the-shorn-lamb business, as
far as I was concerned. I still retained an almost unconquerable
prejudice against stripping the dead to secure clothes, and so unless
exchange or death came speedily, I was in a bad fix.
One morning about day break, Andrews, who had started to go to another
part of the camp, came slipping back in a state of gleeful excitement.
At first I thought he either had found a tunnel or had heard some good
news about exchange. It was neither. He opened his jacket and handed me
an infantry man's blouse, which he had found in the main street, where it
had dropped out of some fellow's bundle. We did not make any extra
exertion to find the owner. Andrews was in sore need of clothes himself,
but my necessities were so much greater that the generous fellow thought
of my wants first. We examined the garment with as much interest as ever
a belle bestowed on a new dress from Worth's. It was in fair
preservation, but the owner had cut the buttons off to trade to the
guard, doubtless for a few sticks of wood, or a spoonful of salt.
We supplied the place of these with little wooden pins, and I donned the
garment as a shirt and coat and vest, too, for that matter. The best
suit I ever put on never gave me a hundredth part the satisfaction that
this did. Shortly after, I managed to subdue my aversion so far as to
take a good shoe which a one-legged dead man had no farther use for, and
a little later a comrade gave me for the other foot a boot bottom from
which he had cut the top to make a bucket.
The day of the Presidential election of 1864 approached. The Rebels were
naturally very much interested in the result, as they believed that the
election of McClellan meant compromise and cessation of hostilities,
while the re-election of Lincoln meant prosecution of the War to the
bitter end. The toadying Raiders, who were perpetually hanging around
the gate to get a chance to insinuate themselves into the favor of the
Rebel officers, persuaded them that we were all so bitterly hostile to
our Government for not exchanging us that if we were allowed to vote we
would cast an overwhelming majority in favor of McClellan.
The Rebels thought that this might perhaps be used to advantage as
political capital for their friends in the North. They gave orders that
we might, if we chose, hold an election on the same day of the
Presidential election. They sent in some ballot boxes, and we elected
Judges of the Election.
About noon of that day Captain Bowes, and a crowd of tightbooted, broad-
hatted Rebel officers, strutted in with the peculiar "Ef-yer-don't-
b'lieve--I'm-a-butcher-jest-smell-o'-mebutes" swagger characteristic of
the class. They had come in to see us all voting for McClellan.
Instead, they found the polls surrounded with ticket pedlers shouting:
"Walk right up here now, and get your Unconditional-Union-Abraham-Lincoln
"Here's your straight-haired prosecution-of-the-war ticket."
"Vote the Lincoln ticket; vote to whip the Rebels, and make peace with
them when they've laid down their arms."
"Don't vote a McClellan ticket and gratify Rebels, everywhere," etc.
The Rebel officers did not find the scene what their fancy painted it,
and turning around they strutted out.
When the votes came to be counted out there were over seven thousand for
Lincoln, and not half that many hundred for McClellan. The latter got
very few votes outside the Raider crowd. The same day a similar election
was held in Florence, with like result. Of course this did not indicate
that there was any such a preponderance of Republicans among us.
It meant simply that the Democratic boys, little as they might have liked
Lincoln, would have voted for him a hundred times rather than do anything
to please the Rebels.
I never heard that the Rebels sent the result North.
THE REBELS FORMALLY PROPOSE TO US TO DESERT TO THEM--CONTUMELIOUS
TREATMENT OF THE PROPOSITION--THEIR RAGE--AN EXCITING TIME--AN OUTBREAK
THREATENED--DIFFICULTIES ATTENDING DESERTION TO THE REBELS.
One day in November, some little time after the occurrences narrated in
the last chapter, orders came in to make out rolls of all those who were
born outside of the United States, and whose terms of service had
We held a little council among ourselves as to the meaning of this, and
concluded that some partial exchange had been agreed on, and the Rebels
were going to send back the class of boys whom they thought would be of
least value to the Government. Acting on this conclusion the great
majority of us enrolled ourselves as foreigners, and as having served out
our terms. I made out the roll of my hundred, and managed to give every
man a foreign nativity. Those whose names would bear it were assigned to
England, Ireland, Scotland France and Germany, and the balance were
distributed through Canada and the West Indies. After finishing the roll
and sending it out, I did not wonder that the Rebels believed the battles
for the Union were fought by foreign mercenaries. The other rolls were
made out in the same way, and I do not suppose that they showed five
hundred native Americans in the Stockade.
The next day after sending out the rolls, there came an order that all
those whose names appeared thereon should fall in. We did so, promptly,
and as nearly every man in camp was included, we fell in as for other
purposes, by hundreds and thousands. We were then marched outside, and
massed around a stump on which stood a Rebel officer, evidently waiting
to make us a speech. We awaited his remarks with the greatest
impatience, but He did not begin until the last division had marched out
and came to a parade rest close to the stump.
It was the same old story:
"Prisoners, you can no longer have any doubt that your Government has
cruelly abandoned you; it makes no efforts to release you, and refuses
all our offers of exchange. We are anxious to get our men back, and have
made every effort to do so, but it refuses to meet us on any reasonable
grounds. Your Secretary of War has said that the Government can get
along very well without you, and General Halleck has said that you were
nothing but a set of blackberry pickers and coffee boilers anyhow.
"You've already endured much more than it could expect of you; you served
it faithfully during the term you enlisted for, and now, when it is
through with you, it throws you aside to starve and die. You also can
have no doubt that the Southern Confederacy is certain to succeed in
securing its independence. It will do this in a few months. It now
offers you an opportunity to join its service, and if you serve it
faithfully to the end, you will receive the same rewards as the rest of
its soldiers. You will be taken out of here, be well clothed and fed,
given a good bounty, and, at the conclusion of the War receive a land
warrant for a nice farm. If you"--
But we had heard enough. The Sergeant of our division--a man with a
stentorian voice sprang out and shouted:
"Attention, first Division!"
We Sergeants of hundreds repeated the command down the line. Shouted he:
"First Division, about--"
"First Hundred, about--"
"Second Hundred, about--"
"Third Hundred, about--"
"Fourth Hundred, about--" etc., etc.
Ten Sergeants repeated "Face!" one after the other, and each man in the
hundreds turned on his heel. Then our leader commanded--
"First Division, forward! MARCH!" and we strode back into the Stockade,
followed immediately by all the other divisions, leaving the orator still
standing on the stump.
The Rebels were furious at this curt way of replying. We had scarcely
reached our quarters when they came in with several companies, with
loaded guns and fixed bayonets. They drove us out of our tents and huts,
into one corner, under the pretense of hunting axes and spades, but in
reality to steal our blankets, and whatever else they could find that
they wanted, and to break down and injure our huts, many of which,
costing us days of patient labor, they destroyed in pure wantonness.
We were burning with the bitterest indignation. A tall, slender man
named Lloyd, a member of the Sixty-First Ohio--a rough, uneducated
fellow, but brim full of patriotism and manly common sense, jumped up on
a stump and poured out his soul in rude but fiery eloquence: "Comrades,"
he said, "do not let the blowing of these Rebel whelps discourage you;
pay no attention to the lies they have told you to-day; you know well
that our Government is too honorable and just to desert any one who
serves it; it has not deserted us; their hell-born Confederacy is not
going to succeed. I tell you that as sure as there is a God who reigns
and judges in Israel, before the Spring breezes stir the tops of these
blasted old pines their Confederacy and all the lousy graybacks who
support it will be so deep in hell that nothing but a search warrant from
the throne of God Almighty can ever find it again. And the glorious old
Stars and Stripes--"
Here we began cheering tremendously. A Rebel Captain came running up,
said to the guard, who was leaning on his gun, gazing curiously at Lloyd:
"What in ---- are you standing gaping there for? Why don't you shoot the
---- ---- Yankee son---- -- - -----?" and snatching the gun away from
him, cocked and leveled it at Lloyd, but the boys near jerked the speaker
down from the stump and saved his life.
We became fearfully, wrought up. Some of the more excitable shouted out
to charge on the line of guards, snatch they guns away from them, and
force our way through the gate The shouts were taken up by others, and,
as if in obedience to the suggestion, we instinctively formed in line-of-
battle facing the guards. A glance down the line showed me an array of
desperate, tensely drawn faces, such as one sees who looks a men when
they are summoning up all their resolution for some deed of great peril.
The Rebel officers hastily retreated behind the line of guards, whose
faces blanched, but they leveled the muskets and prepared to receive us.
Captain Bowes, who was overlooking the prison from an elevation outside,
had, however, divined the trouble at the outset, an was preparing to meet
it. The gunners, who had shotted the pieces and trained them upon us
when we came out to listen t the speech, had again covered us with them,
and were ready to sweep the prison with grape and canister at the instant
of command. The long roll was summoning the infantry regiments back into
line, and some of the cooler-headed among us pointed these facts out and
succeeded in getting the line to dissolve again into groups of muttering,
sullen-faced men. When this was done, the guards marched out, by a
cautious indirect maneuver, so as not to turn their backs to us.
It was believed that we had some among us who would like to avail
themselves of the offer of the Rebels, and that they would try to inform
the Rebels of their desires by going to the gate during the night and
speaking to the Officer-of-the-Guard. A squad armed themselves with
clubs and laid in wait for these. They succeeded in catching several--
snatching some of then back even after they had told the guard their
wishes in a tone so loud that all near could hear distinctly. The
Officer-of-the-Guard rushed in two or three times in a vain attempt to
save the would be deserter from the cruel hands that clutched him and
bore him away to where he had a lesson in loyalty impressed upon the
fleshiest part of his person by a long, flexible strip of pine wielded by
very willing hands.
After this was kept up for several nights different ideas began I to
prevail. It was felt that if a man wanted to join the Rebels, the best
way was to let him go and get rid of him. He was of no benefit to the
Government, and would be of none to the Rebels. After this no
restriction was put upon any one who desired to go outside and take the
oath. But very few did so, however, and these were wholly confined to
the Raider crowd.
SERGEANT LEROY L. KEY--HIS ADVENTURES SUBSEQUENT TO THE EXECUTIONS--
HE GOES OUTSIDE AT ANDERSONVILLE ON PAROLE--LABORS IN THE COOK-HOUSE--
ATTEMPTS TO ESCAPE--IS RECAPTURED AND TAKEN TO MACON--ESCAPES FROM THERE,
BUT IS COMPELLED TO RETURN--IS FINALLY EXCHANGED AT SAVANNAH.
Leroy L. Key, the heroic Sergeant of Company M, Sixteenth Illinois
Cavalry, who organized and led the Regulators at Andersonville in their
successful conflict with and defeat of the Raiders, and who presided at
the execution of the six condemned men on the 11th of July, furnishes,
at the request of the author, the following story of his prison career
subsequent to that event:
On the 12th day of July, 1864, the day after the hanging of the six
Raiders, by the urgent request of my many friends (of whom you were one),
I sought and obtained from Wirz a parole for myself and the six brave men
who assisted as executioners of those desperados. It seemed that you
were all fearful that we might, after what had been done, be assassinated
if we remained in the Stockade; and that we might be overpowered,
perhaps, by the friends of the Raiders we had hanged, at a time possibly,
when you would not be on hand to give us assistance, and thus lose our
lives for rendering the help we did in getting rid of the worst
pestilence we had to contend with.
On obtaining my parole I was very careful to have it so arranged and
mutually understood, between Wirz and myself, that at any time that my
squad (meaning the survivors of my comrades, with whom I was originally
captured) was sent away from Andersonville, either to be exchanged or to
go to another prison, that I should be allowed to go with them. This was
agreed to, and so written in my parole which I carried until it
absolutely wore out. I took a position in the cook-house, and the other
boys either went to work there, or at the hospital or grave-yard as
occasion required. I worked here, and did the best I could for the many
starving wretches inside, in the way of preparing their food, until the
eighth day of September, at which time, if you remember, quite a train
load of men were removed, as many of us thought, for the purpose of
exchange; but, as we afterwards discovered, to be taken to another
prison. Among the crowd so removed was my squad, or, at least, a portion
of them, being my intimate mess-mates while in the Stockade. As soon as
I found this to be the case I waited on Wirz at his office, and asked
permission to go with them, which he refused, stating that he was
compelled to have men at the cookhouse to cook for those in the Stockade
until they were all gone or exchanged. I reminded him of the condition
in my parole, but this only had the effect of making him mad, and he
threatened me with the stocks if I did not go back and resume work.
I then and there made up my mind to attempt my escape, considering that
the parole had first been broken by the man that granted it.
On inquiry after my return to the cook-house, I found four other boys who
were also planning an escape, and who were only too glad to get me to
join them and take charge of the affair. Our plans were well laid and
well executed, as the sequel will prove, and in this particular my own
experience in the endeavor to escape from Andersonville is not entirely
dissimilar from yours, though it had different results. I very much
regret that in the attempt I lost my penciled memorandum, in which it was
my habit to chronicle what went on around me daily, and where I had the
names of my brave comrades who made the effort to escape with me.
Unfortunately, I cannot now recall to memory the name of one of them or
remember to what commands they belonged.
I knew that our greatest risk was run in eluding the guards, and that in
the morning we should be compelled to cheat the blood-hounds. The first
we managed to do very well, not without many hairbreadth escapes,
however; but we did succeed in getting through both lines of guards,
and found ourselves in the densest pine forest I ever saw. We traveled,
as nearly as we could judge, due north all night until daylight. From
our fatigue and bruises, and the long hours that had elapsed since 8
o'clock, the time of our starting, we thought we had come not less than
twelve or fifteen miles. Imagine our surprise and mortification, then,
when we could plainly hear the reveille, and almost the Sergeant's voice
calling the roll, while the answers of "Here!" were perfectly distinct.
We could not possibly have been more than a mile, or a mile-and-a-half at
the farthest, from the Stockade.
Our anxiety and mortification were doubled when at the usual hour--as we
supposed--we heard the well-known and long-familiar sound of the hunter's
horn, calling his hounds to their accustomed task of making the circuit
of the Stockade, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not any
"Yankee" had had the audacity to attempt an escape. The hounds,
anticipating, no doubt, this usual daily work, gave forth glad barks of
joy at being thus called forth to duty. We heard them start, as was
usual, from about the railroad depot (as we imagined), but the sounds
growing fainter and fainter gave us a little hope that our trail had been
missed. Only a short time, however, were we allowed this pleasant
reflection, for ere long--it could not have been more than an hour--we
could plainly see that they were drawing nearer and nearer. They finally
appeared so close that I advised the boys to climb a tree or sapling in
order to keep the dogs from biting them, and to be ready to surrender
when the hunters came up, hoping thus to experience as little misery as
possible, and not dreaming but that we were caught. On, on came the
hounds, nearer and nearer still, till we imagined that we could see the
undergrowth in the forest shaking by coming in contact with their bodies.
Plainer and plainer came the sound of the hunter's voice urging them
forward. Our hearts were in our throats, and in the terrible excitement
we wondered if it could be possible for Providence to so arrange it that
the dogs would pass us. This last thought, by some strange fancy, had
taken possession of me, and I here frankly acknowledge that I believed it
would happen. Why I believed it, God only knows. My excitement was so
great, indeed, that I almost lost sight of our danger, and felt like
shouting to the dogs myself, while I came near losing my hold on the tree
in which I was hidden. By chance I happened to look around at my nearest
neighbor in distress. His expression was sufficient to quell any
enthusiasm I might have had, and I, too, became despondent. In a very
few minutes our suspense was over. The dogs came within not less than
three hundred yards of us, and we could even see one of them, God in
Heaven can only imagine what great joy was then, brought to our aching
hearts, for almost instantly upon coming into sight, the hounds struck
off on a different trail, and passed us. Their voices became fainter and
fainter, until finally we could hear them no longer. About noon,
however, they were called back and taken to camp, but until that time not
one of us left our position in the trees.
When we were satisfied that we were safe for the present, we descended to
the ground to get what rest we could, in order to be prepared for the
night's march, having previously agreed to travel at night and sleep in
the day time. "Our Father, who art in Heaven," etc., were the first
words that escaped my lips, and the first thoughts that came to my mind
as I landed on terra firma. Never before, or since, had I experienced
such a profound reverence for Almighty God, for I firmly believe that
only through some mighty invisible power were we at that time delivered
from untold tortures. Had we been found, we might have been torn and
mutilated by the dogs, or, taken back to Andersonville, have suffered for
days or perhaps weeks in the stocks or chain gang, as the humor of Wirz
might have dictated at the time--either of which would have been almost
It was very fortunate for us that before our escape from Andersonville we
were detailed at the cook-house, for by this means we were enabled to
bring away enough food to live for several days without the necessity of
theft. Each one of us had our haversacks full of such small delicacies
as it was possible for us to get when we started, these consisting of
corn bread and fat bacon--nothing less, nothing more. Yet we managed to
subsist comfortably until our fourth day out, when we happened to come
upon a sweet potato patch, the potatos in which had not been dug. In a
very short space of time we were all well supplied with this article, and
lived on them raw during that day and the next night.
Just at evening, in going through a field, we suddenly came across three
negro men, who at first sight of us showed signs of running, thinking, as
they told us afterward, that we were the "patrols." After explaining to
them who we were and our condition, they took us to a very quiet retreat
in the woods, and two of them went off, stating that they would soon be
back. In a very short time they returned laden with well cooked
provisions, which not only gave us a good supper, but supplied us for the
next day with all that we wanted. They then guided us on our way for
several miles, and left us, after having refused compensation for what
they had done.
We continued to travel in this way for nine long weary nights, and on the
morning of the tenth day, as we were going into the woods to hide as
usual, a little before daylight, we came to a small pond at which there
was a negro boy watering two mules before hitching them to a cane mill,
it then being cane grinding time in Georgia. He saw us at the same time
we did him, and being frightened put whip to the animals and ran off.
We tried every way to stop him, but it was no use. He had the start of
us. We were very fearful of the consequences of this mishap, but had no
remedy, and being very tired, could do nothing else but go into the
woods, go to sleep and trust to luck.
The next thing I remembered was being punched in the ribs by my comrade
nearest to me, and aroused with the remark, "We are gone up." On opening
my eyes, I saw four men, in citizens' dress, each of whom had a shot gun
ready for use. We were ordered to get up. The first question asked us
"Who are you."
This was spoken in so mild a tone as to lead me to believe that we might
possibly be in the hands of gentlemen, if not indeed in those of friends.
It was some time before any one answered. The boys, by their looks and
the expression of their countenances, seemed to appeal to me for a reply
to get them out of their present dilemma, if possible. Before I had time
to collect my thoughts, we were startled by these words, coming from the
same man that had asked the original question:
"You had better not hesitate, for we have an idea who you are, and should
it prove that we are correct, it will be the worse for you."
"'Who do you think we are?' I inquired."
"'Horse thieves and moss-backs,' was the reply."
I jumped at the conclusion instantly that in order to save our lives, we
had better at once own the truth. In a very few words I told them who we
were, where we were from, how long we had been on the road, etc. At this
they withdrew a short distance from us for consultation, leaving us for
the time in terrible suspense as to what our fate might be. Soon, how
ever, they returned and informed us that they would be compelled to take
us to the County Jail, to await further orders from the Military
Commander of the District. While they were talking together, I took a
hasty inventory of what valuables we had on hand. I found in the crowd
four silver watches, about three hundred dollars in Confederate money,
and possibly, about one hundred dollars in greenbacks. Before their
return, I told the boys to be sure not to refuse any request I should
make. Said I:
"'Gentlemen, we have here four silver watches and several hundred dollars
in Confederate money and greenbacks, all of which we now offer you, if
you will but allow us to proceed on our journey, we taking our own
chances in the future.'"
This proposition, to my great surprise, was refused. I thought then that
possibly I had been a little indiscreet in exposing our valuables, but in
this I was mistaken, for we had, indeed, fallen into the hands of
gentlemen, whose zeal for the Lost Cause was greater than that for
obtaining worldly wealth, and who not only refused the bribe, but took us
to a well-furnished and well-supplied farm house close by, gave us an
excellent breakfast, allowing us to sit at the table in a beautiful
dining-room, with a lady at the head, filled our haversacks with good,
wholesome food, and allowed us to keep our property, with an admonition
to be careful how we showed it again. We were then put into a wagon and
taken to Hamilton, a small town, the county seat of Hamilton County,
Georgia, and placed in jail, where we remained for two days and nights--
fearing, always, that the jail would be burned over our heads, as we
heard frequent threats of that nature, by the mob on the streets.
But the same kind Providence that had heretofore watched over us, seemed
not to have deserted us in this trouble.
One of the days we were confined at this place was Sunday, and some kind-
hearted lady or ladies (I only wish I knew their names, as well as those
of the gentlemen who had us first in charge, so that I could chronicle
them with honor here) taking compassion upon our forlorn condition, sent
us a splendid dinner on a very large china platter. Whether it was done
intentionally or not, we never learned, but it was a fact, however, that
there was not a knife, fork or spoon upon the dish, and no table to set
it upon. It was placed on the floor, around which we soon gathered, and,
with grateful hearts, we "got away" with it all, in an incredibly short
space of time, while many men and boys looked on, enjoying our ludicrous
attitudes and manners.
From here we were taken to Columbus, Ga., and again placed in jail, and
in the charge of Confederate soldiers. We could easily see that we were
gradually getting into hot water again, and that, ere many days, we would
have to resume our old habits in prison. Our only hope now was that we
would not be returned to Andersonville, knowing well that if we got back
into the clutches of Wirz our chances for life would be slim indeed.
From Columbus we were sent by rail to Macon, where we were placed in a
prison somewhat similar to Andersonville, but of nothing like its
pretensions to security. I soon learned that it was only used as a kind
of reception place for the prisoners who were captured in small squads,
and when they numbered two or three hundred, they would be shipped to
Andersonville, or some other place of greater dimensions and strength.
What became of the other boys who were with me, after we got to Macon,
I do not know, for I lost sight of them there. The very next day after
our arrival, there were shipped to Andersonville from this prison between
two and three hundred men. I was called on to go with the crowd, but
having had a sufficient experience of the hospitality of that hotel,
I concluded to play "old soldier," so I became too sick to travel.
In this way I escaped being sent off four different times.
Meanwhile, quite a large number of commissioned officers had been sent up
from Charleston to be exchanged at Rough and Ready. With them were about
forty more than the cartel called for, and they were left at Macon for
ten days or two weeks. Among these officers were several of my
acquaintance, one being Lieut. Huntly of our regiment (I am not quite
sure that I am right in the name of this officer, but I think I am),
through whose influence I was allowed to go outside with them on parole.
It was while enjoying this parole that I got more familiarly acquainted
with Captain Hurtell, or Hurtrell, who was in command of the prison at
Macon, and to his honor, I here assert, that he was the only gentleman
and the only officer that had the least humane feeling in his breast,
who ever had charge of me while a prisoner of war after we were taken out
of the hands of our original captors at Jonesville, Va.
It now became very evident that the Rebels were moving the prisoners from
Andersonville and elsewhere, so as to place them beyond the reach of
Sherman and Stoneman. At my present place of confinement the fear of our
recapture had also taken possession of the Rebel authorities, so the
prisoners were sent off in much smaller squads than formerly, frequently
not more than ten or fifteen in a gang, whereas, before, they never
thought of dispatching less than two or three hundred together.
I acknowledge that I began to get very uneasy, fearful that the "old
soldier" dodge would not be much longer successful, and I would be forced
back to my old haunts. It so happened, however, that I managed to make
it serve me, by getting detailed in the prison hospital as nurse, so that
I was enabled to play another "dodge" upon the Rebel officers. At first,
when the Sergeant would come around to find out who were able to walk,
with assistance, to the depot, I was shaking with a chill, which,
according to my representation, had not abated in the least for several
hours. My teeth were actually chattering at the time, for I had learned
how to make them do so. I was passed. The next day the orders for
removal were more stringent than had yet been issued, stating that all
who could stand it to be removed on stretchers must go. I concluded at
once that I was gone, so as soon as I learned how matters were, I got out
from under my dirty blanket, stood up and found I was able to walk, to my
great astonishment, of course. An officer came early in the morning to
muster us into ranks preparatory for removal. I fell in with the rest.
We were marched out and around to the gate of the prison.
Now, it so happened that just as we neared the gate of the prison, the
prisoners were being marched from the Stockade. The officer in charge of
us--we numbering possibly about ten--undertook to place us at the head of
the column coming out, but the guard in charge of that squad refused to
let him do so. We were then ordered to stand at one side with no guard
over us but the officer who had brought us from the Hospital.
Taking this in at a glance, I concluded that now was my chance to make my
second attempt to escape. I stepped behind the gate office (a small
frame building with only one room), which was not more than six feet from
me, and as luck (or Providence) would have it, the negro man whose duty
it was, as I knew, to wait on and take care of this office, and who had
taken quite a liking for me, was standing at the back door. I winked at
him and threw him my blanket and the cup, at the same time telling him in
a whisper to hide them away for me until he heard from me again. With a
grin and a nod, he accepted the trust, and I started down along the walls
of the Stockade alone. In order to make this more plain, and to show
what a risk I was running at the time, I will state that between the
Stockade and a brick wall, fully as high as the Stockade fence that was
parallel with it, throughout its entire length on that side, there was a
space of not more than thirty feet. On the outside of this Stockade was
a platform, built for the guards to walk on, sufficiently clear the top
to allow them to look inside with ease, and on this side, on the
platform, were three guards. I had traveled about fifty feet only, from
the gate office, when I heard the command to "Halt!" I did so, of course.
"Where are you going, you d---d Yank?" said the guard.
"Going after my clothes, that are over there in the wash," pointing to a
small cabin just beyond the Stockade, where I happened to know that the
officers had their washing done.
"Oh, yes," said he; "you are one of the Yank's that's been on, parole,
"Well, hurry up, or you will get left."
The other guards heard this conversation and thinking it all right I was
allowed to pass without further trouble. I went to the cabin in
question--for I saw the last guard on the line watching me, and boldly
entered. I made a clear statement to the woman in charge of it about how
I had made my escape, and asked her to secrete me in the house until
night. I was soon convinced, however, from what she told me, as well as
from my own knowledge of how things were managed in the Confederacy, that
it would not be right for me to stay there, for if the house was searched
and I found in it, it would be the worse for her. Therefore, not wishing
to entail misery upon another, I begged her to give me something to eat,
and going to the swamp near by, succeeded in getting well without