Vaccination Has Been Greatly Neglected: Smallpox in Wartime Mississippi

During the Civil War, the most lethal killer of Mississippians was not bullets and shells, but the unseen bacteria and viruses that crippled, disfigured and killed thousands of soldiers and civilians. There were numerous diseases that struck Mississippians during the war years, but none was more feared than smallpox.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smallpox is “A serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is vaccination. There are two clinical forms of smallpox. Variola major is the severe and most common form of smallpox, with a more extensive rash and higher fever. There are four types of variola major smallpox: ordinary (the most frequent type, accounting for 90% or more of cases); modified (mild and occurring in previously vaccinated persons); flat; and hemorrhagic (both rare and very severe). Historically, variola major has an overall fatality rate of about 30%; however, flat and hemorrhagic smallpox usually are fatal. Variola minor is a less common presentation of smallpox, and a much less severe disease, with death rates historically of 1% or less.” –

For Mississippi soldiers, most of whom were raised on farms or in small towns, the introduction to military life in crowded camps exposed them to many infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. In the first month’s of a new regiment’s service, it was not uncommon for hundreds of men to be struck down by pestilence.

Article from the American Citizen (Canton, Mississippi), warning of a smallpox outbreak and the need for vaccination

Article from the American Citizen (Canton, Mississippi), warning of a smallpox outbreak and the need for vaccination

Confederate military authorities were aware of the dangers posed to soldiers by communicable diseases, and they did appoint medical officers to fight their spread. One such officer was Doctor William Henry Cumming of Georgia. Appointed a surgeon in the Confederate army in July 1861, Cumming was relieved as medical director at Savannah, Georgia, in March 1862 to oversee the vaccination of soldiers in his home state. By the fall of 1862 the surgeon had been made superintendent of vaccination for the Department of South Carolina and Florida, and he used his post to spread his message on the need for vaccination to other parts of the South. – Compiled Service Record of W.H. Cumming (General and Staff Officers).

In November 1862, Cumming sent the following letter to Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus, stressing the importance of smallpox vaccination and proposing a plan to increase vaccinations in the Magnolia State:

Marietta (Ga), Nov. 1st, 1862

Gov. Pettus, 

                Sir, Permit me to address you on a subject of great importance to the people of Mississippi at the present time. Living at a distance from the great thoroughfares of travel, in small villages or in widely scattered dwellings, the majority of your people have in former times felt themselves secure from the ravages of small-pox – for this reason, vaccination has been greatly neglected, being usually deemed an unnecessary precaution.

But now their condition is in this respect greatly changed – sick and wounded and disabled soldiers are returning from the camps to towns and villages and hamlets and isolated dwellings – the most secluded log house has given a soldier to the camp – these soldiers, returning from the field, may carry the infection of small-pox to the most remote and obscure abodes – as you are probably aware, this disease has already made its appearance in our army in Virginia, and has in a few cases been brought within the borders of this state.

Allow me to request that you will as Governor give to this subject your serious attention. The Governor of this state has promised me that he will make every exertion to have officers appointed and arrangements made in general accordance with the plan herewith enclosed – the tract on vaccination I consider very important, for the ignorance of the people is a great hindrance to the universal adoption of this protective measure.

I trust that you will not deem me presumptuous in this addressing you – my position as Superintendent of Vaccination for the Confederate troops within this Military Department has enabled me to see the great need of a general vaccination of the people – any aid that I can give will be cheerfully rendered, and trusting that this subject will receive the attention its importance demands, I remain

Yours Respectfully,

Henry Cumming, Surgeon, P.A.C.S.

Superintendent of Vaccination for Dept. of S.C. & Ga.

Included with Cumming’s letter was his plan for vaccinating the citizens of Mississippi:

Plan for Carrying Out the Preceding Recommendations

1st – An officer should be appointed to superintend the business throughout the State – He should direct and control the subordinate district officers, supplying them with virus and receiving their reports.

2nd – He should prepare and print and distribute a tract on vaccination giving a historical sketch of variola, inoculation and vaccination, the frequency of epidemics of small-pox and the fearful consequent mortality and the results of vaccination in countries where it has been generally adopted – He should add directions for introducing, preserving & transferring vaccine virus, a description of the stages and progress of the vaccine infection and rules for ascertaining the genuineness of vaccination – This tract should be widely distributed throughout the State not only to the Medical practitioners but to the people.

3d – He should furnish (either directly from his Central Office, or through his subordinate district officers) to physicians, planters and other suitable persons, good vaccine virus, and should see to it that every inhabited place is supplied – The officers of County Courts, Postmasters, the Members of the Legislature might all be made agents in this work.

4th – It should be the object of his constant effort to maintain an unfailing supply of reliable virus to be freely distributed to applicants.

5th – In those parts of the state where large plantations are found, the planters might be supplied directly from this office.

6th – He should be furnished with the necessary (clerical and other) assistance for the performance of this work.

7th – He should be required to report the progress, success, hindrances &c &c of his work so that his experience may be useful to others.

8th – It should be the aim of the government to finish this work before the first of June 1863

– John J. Pettus Correspondence, Series 757, Box 943, Folder 1

To increase public awareness on the need for vaccination, Doctor Cumming gave lectures to the general public. On November 28, 1862, the Daily Constitutionalist of Augusta, Georgia, reported on one such talk saying:

Dr. W.H. Cumming addressed the members of the General Assembly and citizens last night, at the Representatives’ Hall, on the importance of immediate and universal vaccination. He urged as an imperative duty, in order to prevent the loathsome disease from infecting every district and neighborhood. He called attention to the fact that while vaccination is almost universal in Europe, and children must be vaccinated before they can enter school, not one in four of our population have adopted this precaution against infection. This negligence, he remarked, results from our scattered and sparse population, which has rendered us comparatively secure against the spread of any infectious disease. He gave a learned and interesting review of the early practice of inoculation…He described the process of vaccination and made it very simple and easily comprehended,”

I have to wonder if Governor Pettus listened to the advice given by Doctor Cumming and instituted a program to vaccinate the people of Mississippi, If I can find any additional information regarding vaccination I will post it to the blog.

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Recollections of My Prison Life: The Memoir of John Snead Lamkin, 33rd Mississippi Infantry

It has taken MUCH longer than I anticipated, but the 2013 winner of the pick my blog article is finally finished! The winner of the contest was Sidney Bondurant, and he chose the topic: the 33rd Mississippi Infantry. I had planned to do a short article about the 33rd Mississippi, but fate intervened, and I found this remarkable memoir by John Snead Lamkin, captain of Company E, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. It was a long memoir, but I felt the content would make the effort involved worthwhile. I hope you like it.



– luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

I have found in my years as an historian that serendipity plays an important part in my work. In the course of my research I don’t always find what I am looking for, but quite often I find very interesting things that I didn’t even know existed.

A perfect example of serendipity in action is the following memoir, Recollections of my Prison Life, written by Captain John Snead Lamkin and published in the Magnolia Gazette of Pike County, Mississippi. I stumbled across this treasure while looking for an obituary; it was the bold headline, “Recollections of my Prison Life,” that caught my attention, and a quick perusal of the article made it instantly clear that it was written by a Confederate veteran. What really intrigued me though, was that the article ended with the words “To be continued.” This meant it was not just one article, but a series of articles, which is somewhat rare. I find individual stories by Confederate soldiers in the newspapers all the time, but finding a multi-part series does not happen very often.

As I looked through the Magnolia Gazette to find the other articles by Lamkin, I was astounded to find that his writings went on and on and on. Lamkin began his series on July 22, 1880, and with only a few interruptions, continued with one each week until finally ending on February 11, 1881. What I had found was not just an article by Lamkin, but his entire memoir, printed out week by week, describing in great detail his last battle, in which he was captured, and his experiences as a prisoner of war in 1864 – 1865.

John Snead Lamkin’s memoir is important not because of its length, but because of its content. He was a keen observer and a very good writer, and his account of life at Johnson’s Island makes for fascinating reading. Lamkin’s description of prison life imparts to the reader an appreciation of the hardships of confinement and how the soldiers fought against boredom, loneliness, and the elements.

John Snead Lamkin was born on June 13, 1829, in Dooley Georgia, the oldest of the thirteen children of Sampson and Narcissa Lamkin. By 1860, he was living in Pike County, Mississippi, along with his wife Isabella, and his two children, Helen, age 2, and Lewis, age 10 months. John Lamkin listed his occupation to the census taker as lawyer, and listed the value of his real estate at $2,500, and his personal estate as $4,500. The Lamkin family also owned three slaves; John owned a male, age 35, and Isabella owned two females, one age 45, and the other age 13. – The Genealogy of the Lamkin family was accessed at:, June 7, 2015. The 1860 U.S. Census information for the Lamkin family was found in the Microfilm roll for Pike County, Mississippi; Roll: M653_589; Page 332. Information on the family’s slaves came from the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedules.

John S. Lamkin enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company E, “Holmesville Guards,” 33rd Mississippi Infantry, in March 1862. Promoted to Captain of Company E on September 24, 1863, Lamkin fought with his regiment at Corinth in 1862, Champion Hill and the siege of Jackson in 1863, and Resaca, New Hope Church, and Kennesaw Mountain in 1864. – Information taken from John S. Lamkin’s Compiled service record with the 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Lamkin’s memoir begins with the recollection of his final battle; Peachtree Creek, Georgia, which took place on July 20, 1864. The 33rd Mississippi Infantry was part of Brigadier General Winfield Scott Featherston’s brigade in this battle, which was composed of the following units: 1st Battalion Mississippi Sharpshooters, 33rd Mississippi Infantry, 3rd Mississippi Infantry, 22nd Mississippi Infantry, 31st Mississippi Infantry, and 40th Mississippi Infantry. Featherston’s brigade was part of Major General William W. Loring’s division, Army of Tennessee. – Official Records, Series 1, Volume 38, Part 3, pages 880 – 884.

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was a bloody one for the Mississippians in Featherston’s brigade, and I think the memory of the fighting there scarred Lamkin for the rest of his life. He begins his memoir with an account of this battle, and it serves as a riveting introduction to his story of life in a Civil War prison camp. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Magnolia Gazette, July 30, 1880

Magnolia, Miss., July 22, 1880

Capt. J.D. Burke:
Dear Sir – I have just been looking through long disused documents – those which have now become musty with age. Among others I found one which I called at the time of penning it, “Recollections of my Prison Life.” On reading over some of it, I came to the conclusion that it might not be devoid of interest, to at least a portion of your readers. Most of the names mentioned in it are well known in this county. Some are living; some lie resting neglected on the field of honor, wrapped in their shrouds of imperishable glory; some perhaps, have passed away since the termination of the late “unpleasantness.” These “Recollections” were written while I was a prisoner of war, and all the scenes depicted were graven in my memory as with a pen of fire, and I know them to be correct and true as viewed from my stand point. They begin on the 20th of July, 1864, and running through a series of months, gives a sketch of prominent events which fell within my limited sphere of observation, up to April 20th, 1865. I have, and can have no “axe to grind,” in publishing this sketch, but only the desire to interest my friends. “What’s writ, is writ,” and I shall not change any of it, but let it go for what it’s worth, and will close the introductory remarks with the statement, that day before yesterday, sixteen years ago, I was “taken in out of the wet.” – Yours &c,


[J.D. Burke was the owner/editor of the Magnolia Gazette]

Recollections of My Prison Life
By L.

I would like to commence these “Recollections” back at the beginning of my military career in the P.A.C.S., but while I fear that the time allowed me for the completion of the task – if my life should be spared me by the mercies of a kind Providence – will be more than ample yet, so huge seems the undertaking now, that I begin with the second chapter, to wit, my imprisonment.

I never think of the sanguinary 20th of July, 1864, but with a shudder. Yet, terrible as are the “Recollections” of that day, I will essay this task of depicting its horrors, and I think I shall keep to my purpose to the end. In doing this, I have an object in view. First; to fill up the moments of that time somewhat usefully, which would otherwise hang like a dead pall upon my hands, and secondly; that I believe (should I ever be liberated from this living tomb) there are those who will feel an affectionate interest in knowing what I have passed through and endured, while separated from them. Thus much by way of prelude.

At this writing I am a prisoner of war to the United States government, on Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky City, on the banks of Lake Erie, in Erie County, Ohio. I am in a large, open room, some fifty of us huddled indiscriminately together – a single stove in the middle of the room, but scantily supplied with wood; the cold winter approaching; no messenger, but for loved ones at home, whose lives are bound up in mine; and bad as the prospect is, for whose benefit I yet long to live. I am seated on the end of my little trunk, writing on a shelf, while my bunk-mate is gone to a cold, filthy kitchen to prepare our scanty meal of beef slops – the time being 4 o’clock p.m. We only get enough for two light meals in the day. Gaunt hunger is writing its lasting lines on the faces of all around me.

On the 20th of July, Hood’s whole force was lying behind earth works some fifteen miles above Atlanta, Ga., which works had been completed but a day or two – about the same length of time that Hood had been in command of that army. That noble old hero, Joseph E. Johnston, had just been relieved by the President of the Confederate States, from the command of that army. The relief of Johnston at this time took the whole army by surprise. So great was the astonishment that General Johnston should be relieved, that the various generals of his army (as the writer was informed) held a council of war on the subject, the result of which was that they addressed a note of remonstrance to the President by telegraph. The only reply to which was; “General Johnston is no longer commanding the Army of Tennessee,” &c.

As soon would his army have expected to hear of the relief of Gen. Lee, in Virginia, or the President as of their beloved leader, who Moses like had piloted them on from place to place, whithersoever the pillow of cloud should indicate by day and the pillow of fire by night, he though yielding territory in his onward march, was nevertheless thinning the enemy’s ranks by thousands – compelling them to scatter on their line of march which they had occupied with comparatively no loss on his side. His army all saw this and were conscious of the fact that never in all their campaigns had they been so well fed, clothed and provided generally. No wonder then that they looked upon him as their military Father and great moral hero. On the other hand, while they knew nothing against Gen. Hood yet, knowing less they loved him less.

About noon, the army lying as above described, received orders to march by the flank to the right along the breastworks. They were quickly in motion; for so long had they been in campaign, and so accustomed to this kind of movement, that but few minutes were required at any time to put that vast army of sixty thousand men in motion. We moved some mile and a half, as near as I could judge, and halted. My regiment, the gallant old 33rd Mississippi, resting on the summit of a very tall hill. Here we supposed we would rest as usual and await the flank movement of the enemy.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, August 6, 1880

In this, however, we were mistaken, for we had been in that position but a few minutes when our Brigadier General Featherston, received the order by the hand of a courier to carry his Brigade to the front – the whole army to move in echelon by Division. Sergeant William J. Lamkin happened to be standing a few yards in rear of the troops, and very near to where Gen. Featherston was sitting on his horse when the courier approached, and delivered him the order, and heard the order read. He immediately came up to the lines, and related to the writer the contents of the order, which you may believe produced a considerable sensation, but not so great a sensation as was produced a few minutes afterwards when we heard the clarion voice of Col. Drake communicating the word of command to his regiment. This was the last time that I have any recollection of having ever seen Sergeant William J. Lamkin. He was certainly killed during the battle.– William James Lamkin was the younger brother of John S. Lamkin. William was 3rd Sergeant of Company E, 33rd Mississippi, and his service record states, “Missing since July 20, in action at Peachtree Creek,” and “Killed July 20, 1864, near Atlanta, Ga.” The information on Lamkin comes from the Lamkin Family Genealogy on, and his Compiled Service Record with the 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Jabez L. Drake began his military career as a lieutenant in Company F, 33rd Mississippi Infantry, in 1862. He worked his way up through the officer’s ranks, and was promoted to colonel of the 33rd Mississippi on January 5, 1864. He was killed while leading his regiment at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, on July 20, 1864. – Information from the Compiled Service Record of Jabez L. Drake, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Map of the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, Georgia. The 33rd Mississippi Infantry was part of Featherston's brigade, Lorings division - Map Courtesy of the Civil War Trust,

Map of the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, Georgia. The 33rd Mississippi Infantry was part of Featherston’s brigade, Loring’s division – Map Courtesy of the Civil War Trust,

The General gave to the Colonel of his Brigade the necessary orders for the advance, which were the last orders ever given by him to many of us. We were thrown across the breastworks by our Colonels, not knowing what was expected of us. We had to go down the hill before mentioned, and through dense, tangled brush-wood, which had been cut down and interlaced to retard the progress of the enemy should he attempt to advance on our works. So difficult was it to go through this wood in order of battle, that Col. Drake gave the command, “By the right of Companies to the front – Battalion, by the right-flank, march.” In this order, we passed through the woods, a distance of less than half a mile, until we reached a field, where our pickets were stationed, through which ran a creek with abrupt, high banks, and wide marshy bottom, with tangled briars all the way across. There we were again brought into line of battle by the command, “By Companies into line, march.”

Then moved by the left-flank across this creek to unmask Brig. Gen. Wright’s Brigade, which we found on our right in front, partly lapping over ours. Having crossed the creek, we were again moved towards the front, but soon found obstacles in the shape of briars, &c., that the three right companies could not easily surmount; so they were thrown back by the command, “Three right Companies, obstacle.” This took all companies on my right, mine being the fifth company, one of which was on picket. Thus arranged, we were again started to the front, and very soon were compelled to cross another bend of that difficult creek; this we did in the utmost disorder, for it was impossible to keep men in line in such a place; and by the time I was myself over, on looking about, saw my company scattered over a large space. I devoted myself as rapidly as possible to forming my company into a good line again.

Wartime Photograph of the Peach Tree Creek Battlefield - Library of Congress

Wartime Photograph of the Peach Tree Creek Battlefield – Library of Congress

By this time the men began to sniff the battle breeze, and they began to rush headlong onwards, encouraged to the most daring exhibitions of courage by my fiery spirited Lieutenants, who at that moment knew no fear, and were followed by men equally intrepid. Occasionally we heard the encouraging voice of our gallant Col. Drake; and then the advance of our men through morass, brambles, plowed fields, and over fences, became so rapid that I, who had been weakened almost beyond the power of exertion, by that dreadful plague of the soldier, chronic diarrhea, found the utmost difficulty in keeping up with them. The companies which had been thrown back on my right never did come up into their places, thus leaving a long, open space on my right, which was the cause of so much of the disaster that subsequently attended us. We had to pass through a pretty large plowed field just before approaching the enemy’s pickets, which were posted on the top of a hill, some thirty yards outside of the field. On going up the hill and approaching the fence which surrounded this field the enemy’s artillery poured an enfilading fire into us from the left, which completely swept the field. Here one of my litter bearers asked me if he should take Orderly Sergeant Richmond and Private Marion Lee to the shade? Alas! The noble boy, T.D. Richmond, or Dilly as we called him. I asked what of them?, and was informed that they were both wounded. I ordered them to the rear immediately. I did not learn how they were wounded, and have not seen, and only heard of them once since through the papers. – Francis Marion Lee was a private in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, enlisting on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville, Mississippi. He was “Wounded and sent to hospital, July 20, wounded slightly.” – Compiled Service Record of Francis Marion Lee, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Thomas Delavene Richmond was the 1st Sergeant of Company E, 33rd Mississippi. He enlisted on April 30, 1862, at Holmesville, Mississippi. He was “Wounded in action on 20 July and sent hospital, wounded slight.” – Compiled Service Record of Thomas D. Richmond, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

As fast as we got to the fence we laid down, thus giving a few moments for rest and to collect the scattered men in line. Soon we heard the clarion voice of Col. Drake again calling out, “Forward, men, Forward!” The Regiment was up in an instant, and mounting the fence. There was a gap in the fence to my right, through which I threw my company, “By the right-flank, by file-left, march.” We then saw the enemy beginning to fly from their picket line. After clearing the gap I again brought my company “By company into line, march.” Just then I saw a blue-coat in great haste ascending the opposite hill. I pointed him out to Private Adam Bacot who was near me, and told him to draw a bead on him. He raised his rifle to his face, holding it poised for an instant, when its clear tone rang out to swell the rattling tumult all around, and the poor fellow tumbled on his face to rise no more (I suppose), until the resurrection morn. He must have been hit in the back. – Adam Bacot was a private in Company E, 33rd Mississippi. He enlisted March 22, 1862, at Holmesville, Mississippi, and was captured and paroled at Corinth in October 1862. Compiled Service Record of Adam Bacot, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Just previous to this, Bacot pointed out a man to me whose head and shoulders were visible behind the enemy picket works, and asked me if it was one of our men or an enemy, and if he should shoot him. I could not distinguish the color of his dress and told him not to shoot, thinking some of our men might have got there ahead of us. Just then a bullet whistled by our ears and we saw the tip of a Yankee blouse fluttering in the breeze. As its wearer was flying down the steep hill which sheltered him from our view. This is believed to be the same man who again came in view as he ascended the next hill, and whom Bacot shot. Turning my eyes to the left, I saw Lieut. Level, the ensign of our regiment, full thirty yards in advance of the line rushing madly on, holding aloft and waving most furiously and defiantly our beautiful battle flag, the stars and bars. – Edwin Francis Leavell enlisted March 1, 1862, as 5th Sergeant of Company H, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. Appointed regimental ensign in early 1864, Wounded in the right jaw and shoulder at Peachtree Creek, Georgia, Leavell was captured by the Federals and sent to the hospital. – Compiled Service Record of Edwin F. Leavell, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Flag of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry that was captured at Peach Treek Creek - Photo by Author

Flag of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry that was captured at Peach Treek Creek by the 26th Wisconsin Infantry – Photo by Author

Suddenly I saw the beautiful emblem and it proud and brave bearer tumble to the earth. Oh! How my heart bled to see that noble man, that beautiful flag go down! But animated by a soul of flame which death alone could extinguish, the next instant he was seen crawling towards the enemy on one hand and knees dragging his beloved colors after him. Ah! The death hail was rattling around us then, and many a noble man there fell to rise no more; yet, many a death dealing blow was struck by us in return as we rushed despite all obstacles, on, right on to the front. I saw our beautiful flag no more, but was told that Silas C. Rushing snatched it from the ground and bore it proudly on, until he too, paid the penalty for his gallantry with his life’s rich blood. Again, it was snatched up by some one and borne onward until he too was shot down. Thus thrice was our colors prostrated, and as often rose, when alas! they fell to wave no more over the brave hearts that were want to march beneath its beautiful folds, on to the acquisition of their dearest rights. – Silas Cyrus Rushing enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi Infantry, on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville, Mississippi. Wounded in action at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, and captured by the Federals. Sent to Camp Douglas prisoner of war camp in Illinois, Rushing died of Typhoid Fever on February 19, 1865. – Compiled Service Record of Silas C. Rushing, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, August 13, 1880

About this time the gallant Drake fell, but the Regiment knew it not, except in the lack of order in their onward charge; but they did charge madly onward, and in that throng of brave spirits, not one organized company exceeded “Co. E,” for they went as far as he who dared go farthest. But we had no support on our right as far as the woods would let me see – a distance of about 100 yards. We charged down the hill on which stood the force above described, and up the next from the summit of which we could see where most of the mischief proceeded from. On the ascent of the next hill side, and beyond a ravine appeared the enemy’s breast-works of rails, evidently, hastily thrown together, from which they had full play at us every time we got on an eminence.

Notwithstanding the murderous volleys poured into us from their works, and from the ravine nearer by, and also from a battery which seemed but just to have got into position on the line of their works, we moved rapidly forward, the gallant little “Co. E,” as I believe, leading the van, until we reached a deep trench running parallel with our line of march, and about fifteen paces from the ravine spoken of. I jumped into this because I could not jump across it, and found it almost immediately filled with my brave boys, who hovered all around me, and seemed to desire to lose no time, for they loaded and fired as rapidly as they could, and when they would sink exhausted, a word of encouragement would cause them to make still another effort, to shoot a hated foe. I soon ascertained however, that the enemy was taking advantage of the gap on my right to flank us, and I ordered my boys, all who could, to return. I then for the first time ascertained what our condition was.

My brave brother Abner had received a minnie ball in his bowels and was supported by Bacot, who also deported himself with consummate coolness and bravery. Lucius M. Quin, who was a corporal, and a mere boy, and who had endeared himself to me by soldierly qualities, came to me holding up his (left I think) arm bleeding, told me that his arm was shivered all to pieces, and asked me for God’s sake not to leave him in the hands of the enemy. I promised him I would not, and immediately helped him out of the ditch, which was hard to climb. Corporal Raiford Holmes, another noble boy, came also begging me not to leave him. This I also promised. He was shot in, or about the hip-joint, dangerously. His brother, Sergeant David Holmes and I helped him out of the ditch, but he could not travel and was taken down again. – Abner Lewis Lamkin was the younger brother of John S. Lamkin. He enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville. He was “Killed in action, July 20, 1864, at Peachtree Creek.” – Lamkin family genealogy at, and information on his military service is from Lamkin’s Compiled Service Record with the 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Corporal Lucius Monroe Quin enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on April 10, 1862, at Holmesville. He was “Wounded in action 20 July and sent to hospital, wounded severely.” Quin survived his injury and the war, dying in Pike County on November 4, 1909. – Compiled Service Record of Lucius M. Quin, 33rd Mississippi Infantry, and his tombstone information from

– Corporal Raiford Holmes enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville. Holmes was shot in the left hip during the Battle of Peachtreee Creek. Captured by the Federals, he died in the Field Hospital, 3rd Division 20th Corps, on August 24, 1864. – Compiled Service Record of Raiford Holmes, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Sergeant David Holmes enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi on March 22, 1862. He was captured at the Battle of Peachtree Creek and sent to Camp Chase prisoner of war camp in Ohio. He died of Pneumonia on January 31, 1865, and is buried in grave 978 at Camp Chase. – Compiled Service Record of David Holmes, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Then came the hardest part of all: my gentle brother, whose wound I thought was fatal, implored me not to leave him. I directed Bacot to do the best he could for him, and he said, ‘Captain, I don’t know what to do; he cannot walk.’ Oh! my soul sank within me then. Judge me ye Martinets; what was my duty then? Had I not stopped to assist my poor boys, at their earnest entreaties, perhaps I might have got back; but I think I could not, for of all those who were with me in the ditch, and started back, I know of but two who got back, and they were Quin and Bacot. Was it my duty to start and leave my boys? Could the pleading eyes of a dying brother furnish no reason for a minute’s hesitation? And a minute was all I had, but it was a minute heavy laden with consequences to me, for by the time I had said a few words to him, two of the enemy came over the little ridge that separated the ravine from the ditch in which we were.

As they came up, seeing my chances of escape cut off, Lieut. Ratliff, Sergeant Holmes and I, who were standing close together, announced our surrender as prisoners of war. As we did so, the foremost fellow, who I suppose was an officer, commenced fumbling rapidly in his belt, then jerking out his pistol, he said: ‘You son of b—h,’ and leveled it at the group of us (as then supposed) and fired, but God who holds even bullets in his hand turned aside once more the messenger of death, and he missed us. I then looked rapidly around for a loaded gun, but could find none but empty ones. Had I come across one, I suppose I would have tried to kill him. Frank Ware, who I did not know was there, it afterwards transpired, had snatched Lieut. LeNoir’s pistol and fired at the other one, striking him in the upper part of the arm. The Yankee who had (as we supposed) fired at us ran back, but the other remained with us and talked kindly to us. Lieuts. Ratliff and Miskell, about the time of the firing above mentioned, attempted to get back – Ratliff remarking that ‘If I have to be shot down after I have surrendered, I might as well be shot in trying to get back.’ Bacot and Morgan also started back, and I think another one but I cannot distinctly remember. 3rd Lieutenant Warren R. Ratliff enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville. He was killed in action at the Battle of Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864. – Compiled Service Record of Warren R. Ratliff, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. In his history of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry, author James S. Pula wrote of the following incident in the wake of the Battle of Peachtree Creek: “Making his way to the field hospital, [Frank A.] Kuechenmeister picked up a cedar canteen inscribed ‘W.E. Ratcliffe, 33d Mississippi Infantry.” – The Sigel Regiment: A History of the Twenty-Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry 1862-1865.

Note – I have since come to the conclusion that the fellow did not shoot at us, who were standing together at all, but at Ware, in retaliation for the shot fired at them, by him, and that this drew forth the exclamation of the fellow, who fired the shot. At all events, this was the cause of Ratliff’s death, for he would have remained a prisoner, but for that shot. I then for the first time found Lieut. LeNoir wounded in the calf of his leg, behind an angle of the ditch, and Frank Ware with him, who had also been slightly wounded. I was gratified at a remark made by Lieut. LeNoir, for he then and there testified to the cool, deliberate bravery of Abner Lamkin. Said he had watched him and never saw a man bear himself more nobly. I suppose the reason Lieut. Ratliff attempted to escape was the (seeming) act of treachery of the fellow who (as we supposed) fired at us after our surrender. At all events, I never again saw him alive. – Private Benjamin F. Ware enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on July 13, 1863, transferring to the regiment from the 4th Mississippi Cavalry. He was captured at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, and sent to Camp Douglas prisoner of war camp. Ware was released from the prison on June 17, 1865.

– 1st Lieutenant George B. Lenoir enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi Infantry, on March 10, 1862, at Holmesville, Mississippi. Wounded in action and captured at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Lenoir was exchanged at Rough and Ready, Georgia, in September 1864. Apparently he was thought dead for awhile after his wounding, as his service record also states he died in a Federal hospital on July 25, 1864. Lenoir managed to survive the war, surrendering in North Carolina on April 28, 1865. He died on October 1, 1911, and is buried at Hope Hull Lenoir Cemetery in Marion County, Mississippi. – Compiled Service Record of George B. Lenoir, 33rd Mississippi Infantry and his listing from

Soon after getting into the ditch, Lieut. Miskell looked across the little ridge in our front, and saw men’s heads in the ravine beyond. He asked some one near if they were our men, he said that, ‘if any one else can go there we can,’ and started; but a better scrutiny showed him they were not our men, and he did not go. I did not see him when he started back. By this time the Yankees commenced pouring over us in numbers. Some of whom when they saw us cried out in Dutch jargon, ‘kill dem, kill dem; knock dem on de head,’ &c. One who had stopped with us told them if they did it, it would be over his dead body; they were his prisoners and should not be hurt. After they passed us he apologized saying: ‘They were none of our boys, and nothing but Dutch anyway.’ – 2nd Lieutenant Richard A. Miskell enlisted in the 33rd Mississippi Infantry on March 22, 1862, at Holmesville. He was initially listed as “Missing in action since July 20, 1864 in action at Peach Tree Creek.” It was later noted that Miskell was “Killed July 20, 1864 near Atlanta, GA.” – Compiled Service Record of Richard A. Miskell, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. 

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, August 20, 1880

I then devoted myself entirely to the care of my poor brother. I took his head in my lap, but could not arrange him very comfortably. He talked to me incessantly. I said something about being apprehensive that I would be blamed for remaining with him, but he said, no indeed, no one could be so hard hearted as to blame me for staying with my dying brother. He said he would not have had me leave him for a thousand worlds. He talked of his father, mother, brothers and sisters. Called me his good brother, and said he would rather I would be with him then than any one in the world. Asked Serg’t Holmes (who was nursing his brother) and me to pray for him, which we did. He heartily responded. I asked him if he was prepared to die. He said he felt no consciousness of guilt. He was very thirsty and I used up all the contents of my canteen, his and Holmes,’ after which the Yankees kept me well supplied with water. He wanted me to continue pouring it on and around his wound. I tried to dissuade him from talking, fearing it would fatigue him too much. He was very restless, and once when I tried to place him in an easier position his bowels gushed out at his wound. I then lost all hope of his recovery, for I saw the hole in the intestines. He spoke of his knapsack, telling me where to get it, and took some little trinkets from his pocket, asking me to take them to his mother. I have them yet.

In this way he survived perhaps an hour and a half, when he died calmly and peacefully, as he had lived, and I believe and hope went to Heaven. Once in the time he remarked that he knew a wound was painful, but did not know it hurt so bad. Holmes and I laid him out as neatly as we could, and I wrapped him up in my blanket. An Acting Major at my request promised me that he would be buried on the spot where he lay, and a board with his name and command thereon, placed at his head. The Yankees allowed me to watch by his side until about 9 o’clock at night. Previous to this time, however, I went in charge of a guard to walk over the field and see who I could discover. Some eighty yards back of where I was captured, I found Lieut. Miskell on his elbows and knees, drawn up, his face between his arms, cold and dead; Lieut. Ratliff on his back, the contents of his haversack scattered all around him, already dead. Lewis N. Ellzey, wounded, he told me of the death of John Harvey, but the Yankees would not let me go further, nor allow me more time, as they were fast erecting their breast works on top of this hill. If I could have looked further I would probably have been able to a certainty to relieve all doubts as to the fate of Brother William.

– Private Frederick C. Buerstatte served in Company F, 26th Wisconsin Infantry, and his regiment was engaged with the 33rd Mississippi during the Battle of Peachtree Creek. On July 21, 1864, he wrote in his diary, “This morning our regiment, after a sleepless night, had to bury the dead Rebs which laid before our regiment. They were all from the 33rd Mississippi Regiment. Our regiment lost 9 dead and 36 wounded. We buried over 50 Rebs, among them Colonel Drake and most of the officers of the 33rd Miss. Regiment.” An online transcript of Buerstatte’s diary can be found at:

– Lewis N. Ellzey enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on May 1, 1862, at Holmesville. He was wounded in the right thigh and captured at Peachtree Creek and sent to Camp Douglas prisoner of war camp. Ellzey died at Camp Douglas of Typhoid Fever on January 13, 1865. – Compiled Service Record of Lewis N. Ellzey, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Private John T. Harvey enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on April 10, 1862, at Holmesville. He was killed in action at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, 1864. – Compiled Service Record of John T. Harvey, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Still later in the evening I prevailed on them to permit me to visit Lieuts. Ratliff and Miskell again to point their bodies out, and obtain their promise to give them a descent burial where they were lying. This they promised, but on the occasion of each visit, it being dark (or only star light) I could not tell nor was I allowed time to ascertain how they were struck. Raiford Holmes had been carried off and his brother, David Holmes permitted to stay with him. About ten or eleven o’clock, I was carried to the rear, being compelled to bid a final farewell to all that was mortal of poor Abner, whose fate, to die, so young, so good, so loved, so brave, was enough almost to break my heart. Frank Ware was taken with me, and we were not separated until we arrived at Louisville, whence the privates were taken to Camp Douglas, the officers to Johnson’s Island, where possibly their bodies may be reposing when the last trump shall sound. To wake the sleepers under ground.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, September 3, 1880

Lieut. Lenoir was not removed up to the time I was taken away, and I do not know where he nor the Holmes’ now are. I will, in the proper place, mention all that I have since heard of them. In going to the rear, I passed the spot where they had collected our wounded, and oh! what a heart-rending scene it was when the wounded knew it was I who was passing. There were several of my brother officers, and several privates from my own regiment. A Lieut. Kennedy, a good fellow called to me, ‘Captain come here; I am dying,’ said he ‘give me your hand; I bid you an affectionate farewell.’ He then mentioned some indifferent matters to tell his friends if I should see them. Lieut. West also spoke to me. Lieut. Level, the brave ensign of the regiment, whom I previously mentioned, called to me and said: ‘Oh, Captain, I am shot all to pieces.’ He was hit in the face and shoulder. Last, but not least affecting to my feelings, my own boys who had trod so many weary miles, contested so many well fought fields, and borne so many hardships subject to my lead, began calling on me. There was Lewis Ellzey, whom I previously mentioned, and Osborne, of whose fate I knew nothing until that moment. He told me that his wounds were of a dangerous character and he thought he could not survive them. I think he died subsequently. – 3rd Lieutenant Simeon J. Kennedy served in Company A, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. He was wounded and captured by the Federals at Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864. There was another notation in Kennedy’s service record that he was “mortally wounded.” – Compiled Service Record of Simeon J. Kennedy, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– 3rd Lieutenant Andrew G. West served in Company G, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, 1864. – Compiled Service Record of Andrew G. West, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Private Lawrence Osburn enlisted in Company E, 33rd Mississippi, on May 31, 1863, at Jackson, Mississippi, as substitute for another man. He was killed in action at Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864. – Compiled Service Record of Lawrence Osburn, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

I spoke what words of encouragement I could to them, but my heart was too full to say much, and it was a relief when the

Brigadier General William T. Ward, Commander of the Third Division, XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland, during the Battle of Peach Tree Creek - Library of Congress

Brigadier General William T. Ward, Commander of the Third Division, XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland, during the Battle of Peach Tree Creek – Library of Congress

Yankee guard hurried me onward. I omitted to mention in the proper place, that it was the 20th Connecticut Regiment, Ward’s Brigade, Hooker’s 20th Army Corps, that we fought, and that took me prisoner. On the occasion of my second visit to the bodies of Miskell and Ratliff, I fell in with the acting Major again who asked me if I was the Captain he had previously seen. I told him I was, he then requested my sword, which I presented to him. He deported himself very gentlemanly towards me, as did many of the guard. After this the Major of the regiment – acting Colonel – came and sat down with me, entering very delicately into a discussion of some of the questions that separated us. He was a man of polished manners and fine address, and appeared in the imperfect light to be a mere boy.

To resume, I was being conducted past Gen. Ward’s head quarters to the ‘Bull Pen.’ The General having been informed that a Captain was in tow, sent for me. When I entered his tent (fly rather) he raised up from his cot and spoke to me very politely, at the same time ordering a chair for me. We held a conversation of some half hour in length, during which I, having caught the Yankee style, asked him nearly as many questions as he did me. He did not ask me the old hacknied question as to the strength of our army, but some fellow sleeping near me did – putting his questions in several different forms – some of them I declined answering without giving a reason, and some, for the best of reasons, that I did not know. After which the General spoke rather petulantly I thought, saying he had never yet seen once who did know the strength of their (our) forces. I took this as a rebuke to the individual (perhaps his A.A.G.) who had asked question so little likely to be answered. In answer to some of my questions, the General informed me that he had been in the old congress and was distantly connected with Matt Ward (whom all remember), had known Gens. Featherston, Barksdale, &c., and indeed all our political generals, and thought there was more of the politician than the military man about many of them &c. He stated that he though we would soon be exchanged, as the only obstacle seemed to be the ‘nigger,’ and that both parties had agreed to ignore that until they got through with the white folks. This alas! has proved to be a delusion by the poor prisoners on both sides. I was then sent to the guard house, where I found several officers and a good many men from my brigade – several of the men being from my regiment. I laid down to sleep for the first time in my life a prisoner. In a very short time I awoke and the sun was shining down on me. Thus ended my first day of imprisonment. The next day being no so pregnant with consequences, will not require so much tediousness in description. – The “General Ward” mentioned by Lamkin was Brigadier General William T. Ward, who commanded the Third Division of the XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland. “Matt Ward” may have been Matthias Ward, who was a United States Senator from Texas in 1858 – 1859. Information on Matthias Ward found at:

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, September 10, 1880

The morning of the 21st dawned gloriously on me, but alas! it brought no sunshine to my heart. I traded a piece of tobacco to a Yankee for a cup of coffee and some crackers. This was my breakfast; but I had plenty of corn bread in my haversack, a part of which being mouldy, I threw it away. I was treated kindly enough by the soldiers at the front, for they knew how to treat a manly foe then. All my maltreatment was reserved for the cowardly miscreants to inflict who are far in the rear.

Pretty soon, ‘Fighting Joe Hooker’ came prancing by us on his gay gelding. He is a man of fine appearance; keen and sharp looking: red face; aquiline nose; light hair, weighing apparently about one hundred and eighty pounds. It was with a heavy heart that I soon after that, in company with the other prisoners took up the line of march for Gen. Thomas’ head quarters. Arrived at some body’s quarters, were stopped, when the rolls were made out and verified; and then we were sent on a distance of two miles to Gen. Thomas’ quarters, where we found him in a state with all the business paraphernalia of his department, and many more prisoners, near 350 in all. Then our roll was again called, rations issued, and all of us quartered for the night, (i.e.) surrounded by a guard. I found among them Frank Martin, son of J.T. Martin, of Pike, also an assistant surgeon of his (45th Mississippi) Regiment. The assistant surgeon was sent back from there and Martin was carried on with us to commence his second term of imprisonment. – Private Frank M. Martin enlisted in Company E, 3rd Battalion Mississippi Infantry, on November 11, 1861, at Natchez, Mississippi. The 3rd Mississippi Battalion was later designated the 45th Mississippi Infantry. Martin was captured at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on January 1, 1863. Sent to Camp Douglas prisoner of war camp in Illinois, he was paroled on March 30, 1863. He was captured for the second time near Atlanta on July 20, 1864, and sent back to Camp Douglas. Martin was discharged from the prison on June 17, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. – Compiled Service Record of Frank M. Martin, 3rd Battalion Mississippi Infantry.

Early on the morning of the 22nd, we were formed and commenced our march of fifteen miles to Marietta. This we completed before night some time, although the road was exceedingly dusty, water scarce, and weather warm. That night we were quartered in the courthouse, on account of a shower of rain that came up, and our condition was exceedingly uncomfortable on account of the dense crowd of us; and with all due deference to my brother prisoners, I will say that I have been much more crowded by them ever since than I like.

About 9 o’clock on the 23rd we were marched out in order – officers in front – to the depot, where after some delay we were placed in the cars, which were a dirty box for the officers, and mostly open slatted sided cars for the men. It was amusing to see the maneuvers of a couple of young cavalrymen to pass themselves of as officers. They were a little doubtful about coming out and saying they were officers, and yet thrust themselves among the officers, thinking thereby to get better quarters and accommodations. But the test question came plainly from the Yankees after awhile and they had to own up and take back seats.

At length we were off, and I felt myself fairly on the way to Yankee land. We ran all that day, night and until about half an hour by sun next morning, when we took up at Chattanooga. The guard with whom we started followed us up to this point where they turned us over to the provost marshal and a new guard. The old guard treated us humanely, but the new were kinder still, (i.e.) after they started again with us. At Chattanooga we were put into a room, so much crowded that all of us could not lie down at night. It was literally alive with vermin; filth too abounded to a disgusting extent. The occupants of the room were Yankee deserters, suspected citizens, bushwackers, guerrillas, horse thieves, murderers, &c. Such was the companionship that we were thrust into.

The general appearance of the town was much improved from what it was a few years ago when I saw it. The streets were turn-piked, many neat houses were erected, stores, groceries, and confectionaries were in full blast; ‘But the trail of the serpent was

Major General Lovell H. Rousseau - Library of Congress

Major General Lovell H. Rousseau – Library of Congress

over it all.’ On all the heights surrounding the place frowning battlements stood out in bold relief; while here and there on the sides of the hill, a dark cloud appeared, supposed to be encampments of Negro troops. We stayed two nights there. About 8 o’clock on the 25th, we were taken from our dreary abode to the depot, where we awaited the cars, which were ready for us about 1 o’clock. During our stay there I saw the Yankee General Rosseau. He is a burly looking man, of Dutch appearance; nothing distinguishing about him.“Yankee General Rosseau” was Major General Lovell Harrison Rousseau, who commanded the districts of Nashville and of Tennessee, and had his headquarters at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. – Generals in Blue, pages 412-413.

Several privates were here said to have manifested their wish to take the oath, and it was said they were to be taken north of the Ohio River and released. I do not know what became of them. I am glad there were no Mississippians among the number. Near one o’clock we were off again as fast as steam could bear us, to a bleaker clime. Ran all night, passing through Murfreesborough, some time during the night. Next morning about sun rise, we found ourselves at Nashville, where we were incarcerated in the penitentiary. This was my first appearance in a penitentiary as a prisoner; but our treatment was a considerable improvement on the Chattanooga calaboose. Many of the officers and men being Tennesseans [had] received small sums of money, provisions, and clothing. Here we remained over night.

About 10 o’clock on the morning of the 27th, we were again started to the depot. On our march thither, a distance of half a mile or more, several little incidents occurred which affected me some. Once as I was marching along near the head of the column, I observed a buggy meeting us, driven by a large, fine looking old lady, having a little boy by her side. I, of course, paid but little attention to this, and should perhaps have forgotten it in a few minutes; but just as they got opposite to us – the little boy – his face and eyes all aglow with excitement, eagerly clapped his little hands and seemed bursting with the intensity of his emotion; and I at the same time saw the old lady put her handkerchief to her eyes. Just then I observed a young Tennessean by my side (who had endeared himself to us all by his high and chivalrous bearing and noble and generous disposition) shudder and put his handkerchief to his eyes. We marched in one direction, and the buggy passed on in the other. At length he remarked: ‘I hardly thought he would have known me; my dear little brother! and my mother too! It has been so long since I saw them – three years now and he was a little fellow when I left him.’

We turned and gazed after the buggy, and the old mother whose heart was bursting to embrace her much loved oldest boy (who was the prop of her declining years), was waiving her handkerchief. But few knew the wealth of love conveyed by that wave, yet he for whom it was intended understood it all. She then turned her buggy back and drove close by us again. They could see each other and cast loving looks at each other – that weeping mother, that noble, sorrowing son, and that child brother. But alas! that was all that our Argus-eyed guards could not prevent. This young officer’s name is Andrew Allen. He is in this prison now. – “Andrew Allen” was probably Lieutenant Andrew J. Allen, ensign of the 2nd (Robison’s) Tennessee Infantry (Walker Legion). Allen was captured on July 20, 1864, near Atlanta, Georgia, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. – Compiled Service Record of Andrew J. Allen, 2nd (Robison’s) Tennessee Infantry.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, September 17, 1880

We had proceeded but little further until I observed a lady dressed in black with a veil drawn over her face, standing by the side of the road. She was of most beautiful form. The head of the column passed her, when suddenly behind me I heard a piercing shriek, and on looking back saw her endeavoring to reach some one among the privates and crying most piteously, ‘oh! let me kiss my poor brother.’ But the soldier’s relentless bayonets crossed in front of her and remorsely put her back. The line of march was uninterrupted, and she followed her brother some distance crying and wringing her hands, but all to no purpose. She could not come near her brother who she knew was doomed to this living tomb.

We went on to the depot and there saw a large crowd of persons, but a certain Maj. Sherman who seemed to command for the time, had a wide circle established between us and them. There, young Allen again saw his mother, little brother, and also his step-father and many other friends. They gazed on him with sorrowful faces, but dared not reply by word or token to the many signs of affection made by him for fear of being arrested as sympathizers. The little brother could hardly restrain himself. He wanted to get at his brother. After we started I saw many carriages playing around with fair hands and snowy kerchiefs waving from the windows. Allen told me who they were. A friend of the Lt. Col. Who was along tried every means to convey some money to a Lt. Colonel, but it was no go. He got some afterwards however – no difference to the Yankees how. We got off just before night, and having stopped a few miles out of town, some beautiful girls came out to the cars, and there the vigilance of the guards was relaxed, for not only were they permitted to converse with Allen but to give him a sweet kiss all around. I think they were excusable; don’t you?

He pointed out to me his homestead with much emotion, and also many familiar and beloved scenes. Had it been me, I should have risked everything and jumped from the train. We started on to Louisville, Ky., where we arrived during the next day (28). Stayed one night in the city military prison. Found it cleanly. On the morning of the 29th we were off again. Just as we were starting however, a pretty, rebel sympathizer threw a couple of bundles of eatables into our crowd. There the officers and privates parted company, the former being destined for Johnson’s Island and the latter for Camp Douglas, Ill. We crossed the Ohio River in a steam ferry boat, landing in Jeffersonville, in Indianny (as the Yankees call it). There we took the train for Bellefontaine where we arrived before day on the 30th. About the middle of the forenoon we took the train again for Sandusky City, O., where we arrived in the afternoon, and the same evening were floated across the placid bosom of Lake Erie to Johnson’s Island to go from thence perhaps no more forever.

Oh! it is very hard to waste the prime of manhood there. But though without a precedent in civilized warfare I will not repine. A

Major General James B. McPherson - Library of Congress

Major General James B. McPherson – Library of Congress

few stations before we got to Sandusky, we passed the village of Clyde, where had recently been buried the mortal remains of the Yankee Maj. Gen. McPherson, who was killed about the time of my capture. He seemed to have been much beloved by all. While stopping here, little girls vending cakes and pies came around to the cars to trade with the Rebs. Having accumulated a small amount in greenbacks by selling out my tobacco to the Yankees, I concluded to invest, as I was sick and could not eat the rations of pickled pork issued to us raw. By permission of a guard I got on the platform and called to a little pie vender who came up, and while I was bargaining for a piece of pie, a sudden emotion of patriotism seemed to strike her, and snatching back her tray and giving me a scornful look, she backed off exclaiming as she backed, ‘you nasty stinkin’ old Reb! Nasty stinkin’ old Reb!’ And so I lost my pie. As appearances at the moment gave some just coloring to the charge I was not much disposed to find fault with her action except so far as my disappointment was concerned. – Major General James B. McPherson, commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was killed on July 22, 1864. Generals in Blue, pages 306 – 308.

A gentleman came around and in the kindest, most benevolent tones, conversed with us – I fancied, sympathizingly. While talking with us, the remarkable resemblance he bore to my old friend Dr. Jesse Wallace, of Holmesville, struck me forcibly, and the illusion was strengthened when some acquaintance addressed him as doctor. By reference to my short notes made at the time I find the following entries, except dates which seemed to have been a little confused.

July 31st – Found good friends from Summit who gave me clothes and a bank with one of them. 1st and 2nd – Quite sick, but wrote all the letters I was allowed. Feel the want of greenbacks. I will here remark that I felt the same need all the way, and even those of our party who had current money, were very niggardly with it. I raised a little by selling some tobacco that I had and by exchanging $20 in new issue that I had for eighty cents in greenbacks. From this time on until I come up to the present time, I shall not be able to keep up the correct dates of events, as I kept no record of events as they transpired. The night was dark and gloomy, when I with my party was ushered into the prison gates. Here it was amid surrounding gloom and strange weird scenes that I first heard that cry with which afterwards became so familiar to my ear, ‘fresh fish! fresh fish.’ Next week I will begin my prison life within the walls.

To Be Continued

Sketch of Johnson's Island -

Sketch of Johnson’s Island –

The Magnolia Gazette, September 24, 1880

The acquaintances who found me were Captains J. H. Wilson and A.A. Boyd; Lieutenants Wilson and Louden (the latter I had not before known) of Summit; Lieutenants Gatlin, Sandell, Magee and White, of Pike County. They vied with each other in showing me kindness. I am particularly indebted to Capts. Boyd and Wilson, and Lieuts. Wilson, Louden and Gatlin. Lieut. Louden received me into his bunk with him and I have been enabled since that time, in some measure, to return the favors shown by him. He also took me into his mess – five of them – all of whom I found clever, young men, and all from Alabama but him. – “Lieutenant Wilson” is most likely 1st Lieutenant Joseph B. Wilson of the “Dixie Guards,” Company H, 39th Mississippi Infantry. He was captured July 9, 1863, at Port Hudson, Louisiana, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. He was released after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States on June 11, 1865. – Compiled Service Record of Joseph B. Wilson, 39th Mississippi Infantry.

– “Lieutenant White” is probably 2nd Lieutenant John J. White of the “Dixie Guards,” Company H, 39th Mississippi Infantry. He was captured at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9, 1863, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. He was released after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States on June 11, 1865. – Compiled Service Record of John J. White, 39th Mississippi Infantry.

– “Lieutenant Magee” is probably 3rd Lieutenant William W.J. Magee of the “Monroe Quin Guards,” Company K, 39th Mississippi Infantry. He was captured at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9, 1863, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. Transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, prisoner of war camp on March 21, 1865. Sent to Fort Delaware, Delaware, prisoner of war camp and released from there on June 12, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. – Compiled Service Record of William W.J. Magee, 39th Mississippi Infantry.

– Lieutenant Lorden” is probably 2nd Lieutenant Andrew Lowden, who served in the “Summit Rifles,” Company A, 16th Mississippi Infantry. He was wounded in action and captured at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863. Lowden was sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp, then transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, prisoner of war camp for exchange on March 21, 1865. Something must have delayed his exchange, however, as he was transferred to Fort Delaware, Delaware, prisoner of war camp, where he was released on June 12, 1865, after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States. – Compiled Service Record of Andrew Lowden, 16th Mississippi Infantry.

The prisoners were all that time allotted by blocks and messes. I was assigned to Block 1, Mess 11. Since that time we have also been divided into companies. Mine is company 22. The block indicates the building we stay in; the mess, those who draw rations together, and the company is composed of those whose names are on the same roll, and who answer at the same roll call. The blocks are long, two-story frame buildings, arranged on two sides of a broad street, running north and south. There are thirteen of them, the last being in the middle of the street at the north end. The southern blocks are cut up into small rooms and well sealed but the others are in large, open sealed rooms, more comfortable in warm weather, but terrible in cold weather. I could not get into a sealed block, and indeed, did not at first know the relative advantages. The cooking was at that time done in small end rooms below stairs, men being detailed or hired by the messes to do the cooking for the whole mess – those who were able paying extra for any extra cooking they had done. Now, separate blocks have been erected in the rear of the occupied blocks, especially for cooking and eating.

Illustration of the Johnson's Island Prisoner Barracks - The building marked

Illustration of the Johnson’s Island Prisoner Barracks – The building marked “1” is Block 1, where Lamkin initially stayed on arriving at the prison. –

When I first came in, sutlers were in operation who supplied moneyed men with all they wanted to eat, but that privilege has been cut off, and the only extra supplies now received are on the surgeon’s certificate of a necessity therefore, and this only from near relatives. The government ration issued is little more than half enough to satisfy the appetite, and the consequence is that much suffering is entailed upon us all. But at present writing, and for some days past the ration has been better measure, and we have not been suffering so much.

Mail Arrangements &c.

At the time of my arrival on the Island prisoners were permitted to write one letter per day, of one page of ordinary letter paper each, but that was soon changed so as to allow them to write but two letters per week. All letters are sent off unsealed, and are read under orders of a superintendent of prison correspondence, to see that they are not too long, and that they contain nothing contraband. As many letters as come to the office may be received provided they conform to the above regulation as to matter and length. Mondays and Thursdays are the mail days. Each person prepares his letter and deposits it in a box kept in each room for that purpose. Every room has its mail carrier, who carries the letters to the office, generally, on the previous evening. After the mail comes into the prison in the morning, this carrier attends the office and gets the mail matter for his block or mess as the case may be. Prisoners are permitted to take as many newspapers as they see proper.

Example of a Letter sent by a Prisoner at Johnson's Island -

Example of a Letter sent by a Prisoner at Johnson’s Island –

Details &c

Each room has its regular detail of two men each day, whose daily duty it is to bring water and the wood for the use of the room during the day, and to sweep the room, at least, twice during the day. In addition to this detail some rooms have a special detail to bring water for cooking purposes, for although there are cooking stoves in the kitchen, yet, nearly every one does more or less cooking in the dwelling apartment. There is also a daily police detailed for cleaning around the blocks and kitchens, emptying slops in the dredging carts, &c. Sometimes when ditching is to be done, sinks dug or removed, or any other extra work, a special police from a mess at a time is detailed for that purpose, all taking their regular turns – the general and the lieutenant being found side by side, spade in hand. Details are made daily from the prison to serve in the hospital. In addition to this the Young Men’s Christian Association furnished their daily detail. The Masons also make a detail to attend to their own, and the Mississippians – perhaps other states – have organizations to relieve the destitute from their particular state. Each mess and company for police and room has its chief, who regulates and directs the operations of their mess, police or room. Thus it will be seen that we have a little government of our own which works with a good deal of harmony.


The prisoner of war thinks a great deal of his correspondence, and well he may, for it is through that medium alone that he is enabled to receive any comforts other than the prison fare which is meager enough. It is always a sort of festival occasion among the prisoners from any particular locality when any one of their number receives a letter from home. Many of us have friends in the North who write to us and do us many favors. During the early days of my incarceration I wrote to some of my wife’s relations who responded promptly and substantially. I wrote to one of her uncles who I afterward learned had been dead for some time, but three others immediately answered my letter, two of whom sent me money, and one tendered his services to me in any manner that he could serve me. He has since that time nobly redeemed his promise, and is still laboring for my good. I have preserved all their letters which I trust may yet be perused by loving eyes far off from here.

Note: Before passing to my next caption to-wit, “Amusements,” I will examine my old correspondence and if I can find any thing that would seem interesting to the general reader, I will give it in my next, with explanatory remarks that I desire to make.

To Be Continued

The Magnolia Gazette, October 1, 1880

It sometime happens to the tempest ridden mariner, that he can see in the dim as he tosses restlessly from the wide expanse of water’s distance, a long skirt of cloud, in reality, embedded up on the surface of the water, and his imagination the wide expanse of water’s distance, a long skirt of cloud, in reality, embedded upon the surface of the water, and his imagination, leaping and bounding from craggy boulder to sea-beat shore, from shore to fertile valley, from valley to vine-clad hill, from hill to flowery meadow, converts it into a Paradise, more beautiful and glorious than perhaps has any actual existence on earth. And the mariners together gaze upon the illusory appearance and talk about it. Each gives his own ideas of the beauties he imagines have there an existence. If one is an adventurer seeking to unearth the golden sands that mother earth has locked in her secret embrace, he revels in the bright treasure that he imagines lie hidden there. If he is a visionary, a dreamer or a lover, his imagination revels in an untold wealth of beauty, loveliness and verdure; and if thirst is consuming, or hunger gnawing at his vitals, his imagination pictures the ice-cold, silvery, sparkling rivulet, leaping from the mountain’s brow to the deep tangled shaded glen, thence bounding from crag to crag, and trailing in a silver thread across the beautiful meadow below until it mingles into an undistinguishable body with old ocean’s waves; and anon he imagines that “sea girt isle” to be the abode of some ancient, lordly line, perhaps of kings whose tables are groaning with all the rich vivands that could tempt the appetite, or minister to the taste of the most fastidious gourmand.
Thus was it ever with us in prison. While there existed a thousand exterior circumstances, which it is but natural to suppose would engage most of the attention of the prisoners of war, yet the average man is so constituted that when we came together at twilight hour, our conversation would generally drift in the direction of the culinary. On such occasions many were the pictures drawn of good dishes, until our bowels would yearn for the flesh pots, and our very natures would loath the prison stuff with which our existence was prolonged. Often have I been reminded on such occasions of the anecdote of the two old darkies, who made a bet that each one could, on the first trial, name a better grub than the other, another old darkie supposed to be a complete judge in such matters being made umpire. When they had drawn straws to see who should have the first say, the one who won it scratched his pate for a moment and then said: “I tell you niggers, gub me good fat possum roasted brown, befo’ de fish, wid ash-cake givered wid corn corn shucks, rolled in de hot ashes twell hit is jist dun, den farewell world, dis nigger wants no mo’. Now Jake, you say!” Jake lifted his grief-stricken face and with sorrow in his tones said: “G’way, g’way nigger! You’s dun gone an’ telled it all an’ lef nuffin at all fur dis nigger to tell.”
Now, the reader, if he or she, has been patient enough to read this far, will be pretty apt to inquire what all this has to do with what I promised, to-wit, a few extracts from my old correspondence. It is this: While we were shut up on Johnson’s Island, the burden of our theme generally, in our letters was, something to eat, or that which would bring it. The unlooked for friends and favors that penetrated in one form or another to my prison cell, touches me very deeply.
Among the earliest communications received was one from a lady whom I had never heard of before, but whom my heart has had cause a thousand times to bless, and to whom the Mississippi prisoners should rear a pillar of marble commemorative of her noble deeds to them. I do not know where she is now, but if this should ever meet her eye or that of any of her friends, I hope they will forgive the publicity thus given to her name, which is already dear to a thousand soldier’s hearts.

Dear Sir – Your letters to friends in Monticello and Holmesville I have forwarded. I took the liberty of reading them. Seeing you are in want of one thing that is very necessary to a person’s comfort these days, I forward you by Adams Express, twenty-five dollars, and if you will write to Mrs. Mary Warner, 1227 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, for clothing, and send your size, she will send it to you. I urge you not to hesitate in doing this. Mrs. W. has $100 which I sent her last week for my dear boy, who was seriously wounded (on the 28th of July near Atlanta) and it was supposed he was a prisoner. As no intelligence comes from him through the Federal lines, I have almost given up in despair of ever hearing more of him (which has nearly crushed me), and if living, it is more than he needs for his present use. When you receive remittances from your home you can return it to Mrs. W., or you can consider it a loan, payable to me when sweet peace returns to bless us once more. Therefore, do not hesitate in accepting it as I have a great sympathy for prisoners; and if it was in my power to relieve all their wants, no sacrifice would I consider too great.
Please writer, give me your rank, the company and regiment, as I have many correspondents in Hood’s army. My poor boy belonged to the 10th Regiment, Tucker’s Brigade. Praying that you will not have to spend the winter in that cold and bleak Island, but will be permitted to return to friends and ‘home sweet home.’I subscribe my self if truly, a prisoner’s friend.
Mrs. George W. Baynard
‘Way Side,’ near Natchez
August 29th 1864

The above letter was directed to me at ‘Block 11, Mess 1, Johnson’s Island.’ I did not again receive a letter from the ‘prisoner’s friend’ until as she said in the former one ‘sweet peace’ had returned to bless us once more. The next was in reply to one from me and was dated ‘Way Side, July 25th 1865.’

Your letter has just come to hand and I hasten to reply, to tell you how I rejoice with you to hear that you are free; that you are

Card from the Compiled Service Record of Daniel F. Baynard, listing him as wounded and missing. -

Card from the Compiled Service Record of Daniel F. Baynard, listing him as wounded and missing. –

once more permitted to be with loving ones at home. Ah! Well can I imagine the joy of a mother, of a wife, to welcome home the returning soldier, and how endeared they are after the suffering and hardships they have endured. It seems so hard that the true defenders of our land were not rewarded; that Southern patriotism, that Southern valor, was all in vain – our country, our fortunes lost!
The Yankees may change our acts, govern our tongues, enslave our bodies but our hearts they never can reach. Our spirits will be Southern still, and scorn we shall ever feel for their narrow, cold-contracted natures. Our hearts will be Southern hearts forever, and we shall ever be proud of the blood that makes our love warmer, our acts nobler than theirs could ever be.
Tis so sad to see the sweet Sunny South, our once happy land reduced to poverty, and then ‘tis so beautiful to see our noble boys and girls who have been reared in every luxury and extravagance, not at all despairing, but cheerfully go to work to maintain aged fathers and mothers. My husband and I feel that hired labor will not pay. When we contrast our situation with others less highly favored, we find we have more cause for gratitude than repining.
We have the satisfaction of knowing that it (cotton sold for Confederate money) added greatly to the comfort of our needy soldiers, though my husband was bitterly opposed to secession, yet, he was true to his country and her defenders. Our home was the soldier’s home. ‘Tis such a pleasure to feel we did our duty; but to think our noble boy was sacrificed so uselessly – his head lying in a cold, unknown grave. Ah! the crushing weight of agony our hearts have endured. Life can never be to us what it would have been to him. He was so well calculated as a prop to lean on in our old days. But he fell in a glorious cause, and better for him to have fallen than to have shirked from his duty. I try to be resigned to God’s will, as he knows what is best for us. But I must stop this _____ and hurry on.
I am particularly interested in my correspondents made during their imprisonment. The little you said of your future prospects interested me and I sincerely hope that God in his goodness has many bright days of happiness and prosperity in store for you. Even though the future looks dark and joyless to us, we should trust in God. He judges not as man judges, and will not forsake us in the night time of sorrow and care if we love and serve him.
I received a letter a few days ago from our mutual friend Mrs. Warner. She wrote so affectionately of her nephews, and said: ‘Among them all there was none she was more pleased with than Capt. —– (delicacy forbids me to give the name thus complemented.)
You acknowledged the receipt of the first remittance forwarded you, the second $25 which was sent in January, you did not, and I often wondered why; as I wrote several times to you and no answer came. The mystery is solved now as I see you did not receive it, which I regret is not the only remittance I sent which was retained by some Yankee.
Sincerely your friend,
M. Jane Baynard

I received another letter from the above noble lady dated Sept. 26th, ’65, but as it treats mostly of business I will not make any extracts from it. Interesting extracts will form the body of my next. Mary J. Baynard was the wife of George W. Baynard of Natchez. On the 1860 U.S. Census for Adams County, George W. Baynard listed his occupation as “farmer,” and gave the value of his real estate at $16,000, and his personal estate at $28,000. Among the Baynard children listed on the census was 17 year old Daniel F. Baynard. He enlisted in the “Natchez Southrons,” Company B, 10th Mississippi Infantry, on March 8, 1862. Daniel was wounded and captured at Atlanta, Georgia, on July 28, 1864. Sent to the 1st Division, 15th Army Corps Hospital, he was listed as having wounds to the pelvis and left ulna. The hospital record simply says of Daniel, “died.” – Compiled Service Record of Daniel F. Baynard, 10th Mississippi Infantry.

To Be Continued.

Magnolia Gazette, October 15, 1880

Sometime after I had been in prison the following note was placed in my hands, which was quite consoling to me, because it gave me assurance that in my exile I was not quite forgotten by my friends at home. Col. Nixon was also in prison. He was, I think, connected with the New Orleans press.

Summit, Miss., Sept. 12, 1864
Col. J.O. Nixon, Johnson’s Island
Dear Colonel – I have just learnt that Capt. John S. Lamkin, a personal friend of mine, who was captured near Atlanta, is now on Johnson’s Island. He is, no doubt, without means, and I write to solicit your kind offices for him. He and his friends have ample means(?) but have no means of getting them to him. If you can aid him, the money will be promptly refunded when possible, and your kindness will be duly appreciated by Capt. Lamkin and esteemed a personal favor by most truly, your friend.
W.H. Garland

– James Oscar Nixon was owner of the New Orleans Daily Crescent newspaper, and during the war was Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry. Captured in Kentucky in July 1863, he was sent to Johnson’s Island, Ohio, prisoner of war camp. He was paroled on December 19, 1864, and given the privilege of going at large in the North, though he was required to report in writing monthly to Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells. – Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers, Volume 3, Book 1, page 1287, compiled by Andrew B. Booth.

I received another letter dated at Milan, O., Oct. 6th, ’64, directed to me as ‘Prisoner of War, Johnson’s Island,’ which threw me into a high dudgeon. I had never seen or heard of the lady who wrote it, and until I began to ‘smell a very large mice,’ I thought she was volunteering advice, or assuming a prerogative which was in no way becoming. To my subsequent regret, I replied in a manner corresponding with my construction of the language used, which I construed literally. I was yet to learn that correspondents of prisoners were under the strictest military surveillance, and if any one manifested too strong a sympathy with rebel prisoners, he or she was subject to be dealt with. Then I learned that she was simply ‘throwing dust’ in the eyes of the prison authorities, while she was really desirous of doing me a kindness. She knew that every letter coming in to the prison had to be read by the superintendent of prison correspondence, as before stated, and by that letter she would establish her loyalty, and her right to address me; for she showed a sort of relationship, and no one but relatives were allowed to correspond with prisoners. Mrs. Warner, who was mentioned in a former issue must have had a hundred nephews in the prison – par parenthese.
I will remark that Mrs. Warner mortgaged her estates to raise funds to aid Confederate prisoners, which so crippled her that she could never recover, and her homestead being about to be sold to meet the obligations of the mortgage, her war nephews have inaugurated a movement which, is now going on to raise the mortgage and relieve her home. Extracts from the letters to which I allude, are as follows:

The letter you wrote to Dr. Kennicott (my wife’s uncle) of Chicago, has been sent me for answering, for reasons which I will state: Your wife’s uncles, Dr. William and John, both died over a year ago. Wm’s daughter was visiting my step-mother, Mrs. B.E. McMillan, of Buffalo. She thinking she could not communicate with you, sent me the letters (my father was a cousin of the Dr.). She wished me to direct you to write to your wife’s cousin, William Welch, of Gowanda, N.Y., and make your wishes and wants known.

The following was the part I kicked at:

I will only add that you may be thankful every day, your lot fell to Johnson’s Island. I am acquainted with many of the officers and men, and know what your fare is. We have just heard of the death of a friend, Capt. C.H. Riggs, a prisoner in Macon, who might have lived, had he fared as well as those where you are. Write if you receive this and I will try and forget that we are enemies, and do as I hope mine may be done by. Yours truly,
Mrs. Eugenie Penfield
Milan, Ohio, Erie Co.

I did write: not only to her, but to those she mentioned, who all nobly responded to all my necessities. The following is her reply, dated Milan, Jan. 1st, 1865:

Your favor by your friend received. I have not forgotten you if I have been negligent. I wish you a happy new year (as is possible under the circumstances) and may you live to see many a happier one. Mrs. Wells Brooks and daughter are with me for a short time, and if you can tell us any news of her brother, G.S. McMillan, you can confer a great favor. There was a letter received from him over a year ago. His mother died last March. Mrs. Brooks buried her eldest daughter a year ago now. I have been trying to send you a cask of cider and a barrel of apples, but the prairie has been almost impassible this fall. The cider is too old now, but apples you shall have as soon as possible, provided you will be allowed to receive them. When did you hear from your family or Mr. Tennisson, and how and where are they? I should like to hear from you soon. I remain, yours truly,
Mrs. Eugenie Penfield
Milan, Erie Co., Ohio

I did not seem to get the apples. The authorities would not let me have them. Next week I will resume the regular course of my recollections as written in prison. I have many other letters but the foregoing will suffice.

In the 1860 U.S. Census for Erie County, Ohio, James J. Penfield, age 34, and his wife, Eugenie, age 26, were living in Milan Township. James was a lawyer, and listed the value of his real estate holdings at $1,200, and his personal estate at $600.00. Both James and Eugenie were apparently both Unionist in sentiment. in 1860 James was chairman of the committee that chose delegates to the statewide Republican convention. (Sandusky Register, July 17, 1860). On June 11, 1861, the Sandusky Register printed the following thanks from the men of Company K, 23rd Ohio Infantry: “Also to Mrs. Eugenia Penfield for nice rosettes, which were presented by her to our company. They will be preserved with care. E. Weller”. Why Eugenie Penfield chose to aid Confederate prisoners is a mystery; perhaps she could not stand to see any human being suffer, regardless of their political beliefs.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, October 22, 1880

Amusements are as much diversified as are the tastes of men thrown together on their own resources. Where twenty-five hundred men of the better class are collected from every corner of the Confederacy, it is but natural to suppose there is quite a diversity of dispositions. On my first arrival here town ball was a favorite sport, there being two companies that played on different ends of the broad street, between the blocks. This sport is now discontinued on account of rains creating mud and because many intersecting ditches have been dug to keep the ground in as dry a condition as possible. These ditches have been of great service to us. Some employ their time at cards or reading. Some in the little more profitable way of eternal gassing. Some who have no money nor friends North, take in washing; others hire themselves as cooks. There are also Christian Associations, which good Samaratan [sic] like, do all the good they can. They devote their time unceasingly to the care of the sick in hospital and all manner of good works. They will certainly be entitled to high praise hereafter, as they receive the thanks of all who know them now.
There are all manner of mechanics among us too; such as shoe makers, tailors, chair makers, tinners, jewelers, &c., &c. It seems to me however that the chief occupation of a great many is begging tobacco from all the others. A few, it is said do a little extra stealing, while not a few lay flat of their backs, too trifling to do anything in the world. Not even will they go out to roll call, feigning themselves sick and getting some good natured friend to report them.
We have some very fine voices amongst us who, occasionally, of an evening regale us with a popular comic or original song, one of the best of the latter description that I have heard is as follows:

The Southern Cross
When the fierce terrific roar
Of five hundred guns or more,
A doom over Sumpter was seeming,
They gave up in despair.
For one Beauregard was there:
And brightly the Southern cross was gleaming.

Shoulder to shoulder with hearts firm and true.
We never can be conquered by our abolition crew:
For wherever is seen, one bayonet’s sheen,
Brightly the Southern cross is gleaming.

When Gilmore’s mongrel horde
Into Florida was pour’d,
Fondly of triumph he was dreaming:
But the columns backward reeled
From Olushe’s bloody field.
There brightly the Southern cross was gleaming.
When the miscreant Dahlgren thought,
As he led his base cohort,
That with blood the streets of Richmond
would be streaming:
But he tasted Southern lead,
While above his gory head
Brightly the Southern cross was gleaming

Brave Forrest once again
With his gallant mounted men
Has filled the Yankee heart with terror teeming:
At Paduca he had paid
The full price of Sherman’s raid:
Brightly the Southern cross is gleaming

With Lee in the East
And Hood in the West,
Brightly the star of hope is beaming:
Our success in ’64,
Will end a glorious war:
Proudly the Southern cross is gleaming

The foregoing song as well as the one following (to be given next week) were written by Lt. H.C. Wright. I do not take copies of them on account of any great literary merit, but merely as specimens of ‘Island Poetry’ and of the manner in which prisoners employ themselves. The effect was indeed thrilling, when at twilight the above song was poured forth by a hundred voices in full chorus, with perhaps a thousand persons gathered around listening in wrapt attention. When the song would be concluded such a ‘rebel yell’ would break forth as to remind every one of some terrible charge upon the enemy, and it would seem almost sufficient to rend the prison walls; but it was not equal in effect to the blowing of the rams’ horns around the city of Jericho. I was apprehensive at times that the prison authorities would break in on us and forbid such demonstrations, but they never molested us.

– “H.C. Wright” is probably 1st Lieutenant Howard C. Wright, Company C, 30th Louisiana Infantry. He was captured at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9, 1863, and sent to Johnson’s Island, Ohio, prisoner of war camp. He was paroled and forwarded to Point Lookout, Maryland, prisoner of war camp, on February 16, 1865, for exchange. – Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers, Volume 3, Book 2, page 1167.

To be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, October 29, 1880

(Air – ‘Jamie’s on the Stormy Sea’)
By Lieut. H.C. Wright

Darker still the skies are growing,
Here and there a white fleck showing,
Bleak and chilling winds are blowing,
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore,
While the surges never failing
With their shroud-like wave caps sailing
Hoarsely sound the dismal wailing,
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore.

On a wretched pallet lying,
See that war worn soldier dying!
Mournfully the gale is sighing,
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore
Wearily his eyes are turning,
With a feverish fire burning.
Naught but alien skies discerning
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore.

Can he see a young wife weeping,
As she clasps her baby sleeping,
While death’s pall is o’er him creeping
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore!
Can he hear a mother praying:
Plaintive words of sorrow saying
While a chill his pulse is staying,
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore?

Quickly are the moments fleeting,
Soon that heart will cease its beating
Death’s relief from sorrow greeting
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore.
Hark! What solemn tones are pealing!
Music through the air is stealing,
Heaven’s own promises revealing
On Lake Erie’s lonely shore.

Many circumstances of little importance in themselves – yet, served to pass the dull hours away. Indeed, some of those circumstances made it pretty lively for us occasionally. A few of them, I shall hereafter relate from memory entirely believing they will not detract from the little interest there may be in this little narrative.
To be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, November 5, 1880

We, the prisoners, early learned one lesson in our captivity, even if we had not learnt it before – which was that we could look

Colonel Charles W. Hill, Commandant of Johnson's Island -

Colonel Charles W. Hill, Commandant of Johnson’s Island –

with far more confidence for sympathy and clemency to the old veterans from the front, than to the holiday men who were enlisted for a short term, especially for prison guard duty. During a portion of my imprisonment, a regiment or two of men enlisted for 30 or 60 days were doing guard duty around the military prison. None of them had ever been service at the front. They were dressed in uniform, looked fat and sleek, and were as prim and precise as army regulations could make them. If a prisoner in the slightest degree was observed to violate prison rules, these fellows were ready to fire away at him, within the prison, at the imminent peril of the lives of others.
At the sound of the 9 o’clock p.m. drum, under prison rules, all lights had to be extinguished in the rooms and every one had to be in quarters. On one occasion the drum sounded at a time when a man was in the room of a friend across the street. The moon was shining brightly, and the sentries – on their elevated walk. This man started immediately across the street to his own room. A sentry saw him come out from the building and supposed he was leaving his own rooms and ordered him to get back to his quarters. This man made no reply; being perhaps 150 yards from the sentinel, but continued walking briskly on towards his own quarters. The sentinel again ordered him to get back to his own quarters, to which he still made no reply, but continued walking forward, when the fellow deliberately raised his rifle and fired at him. Fortunately he missed him. Col. Hill, the commander of the prison, had him taken off under arrest and told us he would court martial him, but I heard of the matter no more. There were many instances of the big headedness, or rather ‘pig headedness’ of these thirty-day sentinels. It was contrary to rule to approach within less than twelve feet of the prison walls. That was called the ‘dead line.’ The thirty day men have been known to fire at a prisoner who unconsciously crossed that line.

– “Colonel Hill” was Colonel Charles W. Hill, commandant of Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. He took over command of the prison on May 9, 1864, and ran the facility until the end of the Civil War. –
In marked and noble contrast to these things were the acts of the war worn veterans who had met and broken a lance with us on many a bloody field. They had a lively and sympathetic recollection of the last time they saw us, and a ‘fellow feeling made them wondrous kind.’ We saw them on the same round that the former had made, but some of them pegged around on a wooden leg, others handled their rifles with an arm and an empty sleeve, while scars of every conceivable shape on all parts of their person sufficiently attested the fact that they had mingled in the dreadful fray, while blood and carnage ruled the hour. While these men were on duty they performed their whole duty with faithfulness and fidelity in spirit, but oh! how kind and sympathetic were they! A few instances in contrast with the thirty-day men: Once a poor emaciated Confed staggered up towards the prison wall and actually got across the ‘dead line.’ Oh! horror! now he must die. In the eyes of a thirty-day man he has violated prison rules and committed a crime worthy of death. Just then an old veteran, bearing his rifle at a support, performed with the stump of his arm, came pegging along on the walk above, in the kind of gait known as ‘dot and go one,’ and he called out to the representative of a sinking cause, who had unconsciously crossed the ‘dead line,’ said he, ‘Johnny, get back there, quick, before the Col. sees you. Didn’t you know that was the ‘dead line?’ What made you cross it?’ ‘Yes,’ said Confed, ‘I knowed it was what they called it, but I seed how you had to support, and wasn’t afeard. I was out’n terbaccy, an’ no money ner no friends, so I tho’t I’d axe yer to give me a chaw, ef yer had it about yer.’
‘Yes, yes, brother,’ the veteran replied, ‘all I’ve got for a soldier, but be quick for God’s sake, before the Colonel sees you,’ and suiting the action to the word he whipped out half a cake of tobacco and stuck it on his bayonet and reached it down to the lean Confed, who, plucking it off went on his way rejoicing.

Union Guards at Johnson's Island -

Union Guards at Johnson’s Island –

Again: on one occasion, an enterprising Confed took it into his head that he could saw a hole through the wall large enough to escape, with a saw-bladed case knife. That wall was about 15 feet high. Posts on the outside some ten feet apart and a promenade on the outside for the sentinels to walk on, near enough to the top of the wall to show about half a man to those inside. Against the posts (which could not be seen from the inside) and about 60 yards apart, being lanterns all around the wall. Those lanterns were constructed with a shade of three inches in width, in front of the light, causing a dark place in front, and the light to be thrown out laterlly. Enterprising Confed saw a veteran walking the rounds on top and taking advantage of the time when he was walking away from the position of the lantern, ran up to the place above which the lantern hung, protected by the darkness of the shade in front of the lantern. The veteran stumped on above apparently unconscious, but his dexter eye took in the situation. He continued to walk back and forth on his post, while the enterprising Confed sawed away for dear life on the plank below, whenever the veteran was going off. Every time he got above the lantern he looked over without halting, doubtless chuckling to himself at the waste of energy and ingenuity being expended below him. Every time he came above the lantern the enterprising Confed was as quiet as the grave. When about half an hour had been expended in this way, the veteran came to a halt directly above the enterprising Confederate and called out to him in a stage whisper, ‘Johnny! Johnny! I reckon you had better quit now and go back to your quarters, for you are sawing right against a post there, and you would not get through all night. Phancy the pheelings of that enterprising Confederate.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, November 12, 1880
One constant, prevailing idea was always uppermost in our minds. What ever intervened to divert our thoughts for the moment, we were certain to return to that when the momentary diversion had passed. That idea – common to us all – was ‘escape;’ and thereby hung many a thrilling episode. The bolder ones laid many plans, and concocted many schemes which really appeared plausible until the moment of execution arrived, and then it was that we realized as Burns has expressed it, that ‘the best laid schemes of men and mice aft gang aglee.’ These plans were generally thwarted by the failure of the timorous souls among us to come up to the mark at the last moment, or by the craven-hearted, white-livered ones among who, like the mean boy at school, always ran and told the Yankees of our plans to gain immunity for themselves. There were too many of us; we were unwieldy, and not all actuated by the same purpose; and in case of a general escalade, of course, it was necessary for us all to act in concert. At the time I entered the prison, so far as my observation went there was a heavy club concealed in the bunk of every prisoner. This I learned was in pursuance of some plan deemed feasible, to rise and overpower the prison guards, break down the prison walls or gates and march out in a body. I do not know what the after part of the plan was, but this I do know, that whatever it may have been, it was bound to fail of success, for the whole country was bristling with shot guns and perhaps with more formidable weapons for our especial benefit. Every man was a militia man for the time, and on the firing of three guns in quick succession at the prison – which was the signal of the escape of a prisoner – all the citizens of the vicinity were on the alert. A few who did escape were actually arrested by this means and returned to prison.
A laughable instance at an attempt at escape occurred there on this wise. A few enterprising fellows living in a block nearest the walls, concluded to tunnel out. They commenced operations from the middle of the floor of their room, and worked away like beavers, excavating the earth and passing it back as the digger for the time, proceeded. Thus they proceeded until they broke ground at the appointed place beyond the prison walls. I do not remember which undertook to go out first, but all was ready for the exodus, and not a breath of suspicion attached to them either out or inside the prison walls. They had guarded their secret well and performed their work faithfully, and deserved success. But, here again I may invoke old Bobby Burns, “The best laid schemes” &c. Among their number was a very fat man and if he could squeeze through, of course, the others could, so in he started to try the hole, but “alack! And alas!” he had been gone but a short time until a muttered scuffling noise was heard beneath, and a smaller man concluded to go in and find out what was the matter. When he got to him, he found him wedged hard and tight in the hole and could go neither forward nor back. He undertook to pull him back by the feet, but it would not do – that fat man was fast. They would not call out for fear of detection. Perhaps it would have done good if they had.

– The November 4, 1863, edition of the Sandusky Register reported on this escape attempt.
But what were they to do? That was the question. They were apprehensive that the F.M. might smother to death if he remained in that condition long. So after a hasty consultation they concluded there was but one thing to be done, and that was to “let the cat out of the bag.” So they told the Yankees of it, and they came in with their spades and, like Columbus discovering a new world, they took a more direct route for the object of their search. They ascertained his locality and went for him from the top of the ground, and soon released him perhaps the most mortified man, unless it was his companions on account of the compulsory divulgence of their plan, that ever was detected trying to escape. The close quarters that he was in had nearly used him up. So much for taking on flesh.
Another attempt at escape which I will relate as nearly as I can recollect the particulars was more successful. It was really a gallant action and merited the success with which it was crowned.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, November 19, 1880

When Lake Erie was frozen over the authorities would let a certain number go out at a time on the ice for the purpose of recreation, and to get water from a hole cut in the ice for the purpose – one guard being assigned to every man – and there were certain prescribed bounds indicated by a row of objects laid on the ice, that were not to pass, but might go to that line. A stripling boy was assigned as guard, rather [than a] stout man who was, and on one occasion, and this man, apparently involuntarily, kept playing off from the crowd, his guard following close to him all the time. When he had got pretty near the boundary line, and some distance from the crowd, he took advantage of a moment when his guard was not noticing and whipped out a pair of skates that he had concealed on his person and which he had bribed a Yankee guard to bring in the prison to him under pretense of trying to learn to skate when he was taken out on the ice, and then dexterously slipped them on his feet. This done, he made a dash at the boy, and as a certain old gentleman now no more would have said, picked him up “bodsciously” gun and all and struck boldly with him for the Canada shore. The other guards saw him skating off like the wind, but were afraid to fire at him for fear of killing the boy. Some of them had skates and were skaters, so they struck out of the line in full pursuit. Oh! it was a splendid sight; that man in his wild race for life and liberty, bearing his burden with him over the frozen lake, with the bright morning sun shedding his glories around him, and the keen and chilling winds of a northern winter whistling around him, while his foes behind him like sluth-hounds were, and to use a nautical phrase, crowding all sail to overtake him. But it was no use. One after another they gave over the fruitless chase, and he finally distanced them all. When he had far outstripped all his pursuers, he threw the gun as far as he could and it in one direction and the boy in another, and then it was, freed from his burden he bade farewell in earnest to the loathsome prison bounds and seemed to sniff the air of freedom as it wafted from the Canada shores, as if to woo him from his native land to the more hospitable country of the peaceable stranger. As we gazed on his fast receding form, he seemed almost to fly. His peril, however, was not over yet. He had to pass the upper end of the Island at a point where he could be in full view of some of the guns of the prison. These were quickly got into position and as he crossed the dangerous gauntlet were turned loose upon him. This was a moment of terrible suspense to us all. We saw where the balls struck all around him, throwing the ice like spray as the ricocheted. He did not, however, dread the strike of the balls so much as he did that a hole might be made in the ice in front too close to avoid, and that he might plunge headlong into it to rise no more. But the Lord delivers him out of all the peril, no ball having struck him and he having never tripped.
Now, with an open sea ahead of him, all pursuit outstripped, he made directly and never checked his speed until he landed safely under the guns of a British port, which gave him protection, and what was more the authorities refused to redeliver him to the Federal authorities, although he was demanded. Reader, did you ever hear the rebel yell? If you have not, it would have done your soul good to hear it as that man sped safe beyond the reach of that cannon’s range. Oh! but it seemed that the very ice would be shivered and the heavens rended, for a thousand sympathizing hearts followed him as he sped on the wings of the wind on his wild career.
While on the subject of escapes, perhaps another or two may be of some interest: There was in the prison a Confederate

Captain Robert C. Kennedy was executed on March 25, 1865, for his part in the plot to burn New York City -

Captain Robert C. Kennedy was executed on March 25, 1865, for his part in the plot to burn New York City –

named Kennedy. From whence he came, or anything about his antecedents, I know not, but whither he went, I have some little idea. Collected from what came under my observation, and what I saw in the public prints at the time. He was a well knit little fellow, small in the waist, and broad above and below, under medium height, black eyes and black curling hair. He was a merry, chivalrous and determined little fellow, active as a cat, and chafed at confinement. He had a favorite song which he had often been heard to sing in prison, a part of the refrain of which was “Trust to luck.” Perhaps some of my readers have heard or sung it. I do not know whether it was in his mind when he assayed his daring exploit, but I rather expect it was. Across the end of the street which was between the blocks and at the end where the large gate opened, there was a very formidable ditch or moat some ten or twelve feet in width, and three or four deep, according to my recollections, which had unclean water and mud in it. The outer edge was about two feet from the wall, and a sentinel continued upon his eternal rounds over this place. Kennedy, as the story goes, armed only with a case knife, watched his opportunity when the sentinel’s back was turned, and with a running start, made a leap for life, clearing the moat and landing safely on the narrow strip of ground near the wall. This was an exceedingly critical moment for him. More safely than the bed bug creeps in the pillow under your ear, he went to work with the case knife to excavate the dirt under the wall. This he accomplished safely under the very eye of the sentinel, and having made a hole sufficiently large to admit his body, he crawled through, and by some means made good his escape from the Island. He must have bribed somebody to help him or found a small boat that he could detach from its moorings. For the sequel to his adventure I am indebted to the newspaper accounts at the time which from memory were about the following: These were the days of hotel burners in New York city, and thither Kennedy made his way and joined them, but having a suspicion after a time that he was suspected by the police, he left and went to Canada. A detective followed him, and found him, and worked himself into Kennedy’s confidence, travelled with wherever he went under some pretext, and finally entrapped him into crossing the line and coming into the U.S. again. As soon as they had crossed the line the detective arrested him and took him back to New York where he was tried, and convicted of the offence, on his own confession, and was hung, still singing (so stated the accounts) as he swung into another world “Trust to Luck.”

– Captain Robert C. Kennedy of the 1st Louisiana Infantry escaped from Johnson’s Island in October  1864. After making his way to freedom in Canada, he became involved in a plot to start fires in New York City. Kennedy was captured by Union authorities while trying to reenter the United States, and eventually executed for his crimes. – Compiled Service Record of Robert C. Kennedy, 1st Louisiana Infantry (Strawbridge’s).

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, December 3, 1880

The originally written narrative will now be resumed:
This brings me up to the night of the presidential election. Many items of interest occurred in the mean time however, but I do not know that the world will lose a great deal by my omission of them. For instance, a terrible storm swept over the Island one night, uncapping several of the buildings and completely demoralizing the inmates of the prison. The walls on one side of the prison were blown down and for a short time deserted by the sentinels, yet none of the prisoners effected their escape for the storm was too severe, and sentinels in other places were shooting away at random almost, and no one knew but that in dodging a flying board or brick he would strike a Minnie ball with more force than was agreeable. It is said that one man went out and waded to his waist in the Lake, then struck out to swim, and after buffeting the stormy waves an hour, found himself driven on the shore from which he started, and then returned nearly frozen. Another, it seems got to a skiff and tried to loose it, but could not, and went to a yankee’s fire outside and asked permission to warm; tried to make them believe he was a Reb, and to get them to take him back, but they would not believe him for a long time. It is further stated that he got a good meal with the commander of the post, before he would entertain the belief that he was a Reb. As I intend that my “recollections” shall be a pretty faithful picture of all the prison life, it may not be uninteresting to give a little sketch of a night’s employment, the night on which I am writing, being the one after the presidential election, when no one of us knows the result. The wind is howling boisterously outside, and the men in the room below me, boisterous over the nightly debates they always indulge in. I am sitting up next to the roof of the building listening to snatches of a conversation going on below me which are plainly distinguishable on account of openings in the floor below me. The conversation ran about thus: Says Mr. F. – “Well my dog is just the best possum and coon dog that ever I see, and as for treein’ fox-squirrels and sich he can’t be beat.” Mr. B., in another quarter of the room says: “It’s no use in talking, gentlemen, I am still willing to back my judgment on McClennan, and if any man wants to win a day’s rations of fish from me, all he has got to do is to plank up the swimmers.” “Oh B.,” says P., “don’t make such a rash but as that for it would be staking your life’s blood. I don’t think heaven would look propitiously on one who would thus foolishly trifle away his more than birth right.” “Pass, says D. “Ah, diamonds are trumps. If it had not been for the old left coming in just then, you would have been a busted institution.” “Yes,” says R., “but I had the right and left bowers and queen which would have been pretty hard to get over.” “No,” says M., “but what I mean to say is that if a man gets a fashionable coat or hat and keeps it a year, it will be as much out of fashion as if it were twenty years old.” “Now listen, gentlemen, while I tell a joke on F,” says me. “Louder! Louder! cry a dozen voices, while a dozen more who are trying to read, mutter something which sounds very much like “Oh d—n,” and among the hubbub, the noise and confusion was so great that I could never get at the joke. “Let’s peep up in the loft” says F, “that’s the aristocracy up there. His getting up among the tailors reminded me very much of the name of a game I’ve seen played before.” This remark had reference to the fact that there is also a tailoring establishment in my garret. “Now,” says M, “when a child gets so it can know me, then I like to play with it.” “Well, for my part,” says B, “I congratulate myself on the fact that I could never get a child near me, of which circumstance I was particularly glad. Sometimes the mother would force the little brat in my lap, and while she was looking at me I would practice all the endearments of which I was capable, but the moment she looked off I would give it such a pinch as would be likely to relieve me of it for all time to come.” “Mothers” says R, “are responsible for many of the bad habits of their children. Now there’s N. who says he was drunk every day of his life until he was six years old, after which he joined the Sons of Temperance and has not been drunk since.” “The most laughable thing I ever saw” says M, “was a drunken cat. He would reel and stagger about until he saw you, and then he would make a spring at you, his head striking some object, he would roll over and meow at you, his eye-balls rolling the while and looking as silly as any other drunkard.” “I think,” says B, “I will some day make a turkey as drunk as a lord and then kill him to see if it will not improve the flavor.” “Now B.,” Says F, “you have demoralized this crowd completely, for we were not talking about anything to eat, and you know that is a delicate subject, and one that we like to keep our minds off of. “Let me add my mite to this drunken conversation” says D, “I once saw a horse drunk!” “Well, what did he do?” cried all. Oh nothing.” Snap! “There what’s that popped?” – a glass broke. “Yes, says G, “I’ve bin a tryin’ a dozen times to keep from gittin’ agin it, but I bit it at last.” “Lights out!” squalls the sentinel, so out goes mine, and I prepare for another long night, perhaps to dream of home, sweet home! I sometimes do, as that is one pleasure that my tormentors cannot deprive me of while they let me live. It will appear from the above that the all-absorbing topic of the presidential election had but little interest for us, as it was scarcely mentioned, nor indeed had it any interest, for we felt that our doom was sealed in either event.
Some time after this Lieut. Underwood (Will A.) of the 22nd Mississippi Regiment arrived here. He was wounded and captured in the same engagement in which I was captured. He could give no later information from my command, yet, many interesting particulars. He was with Lieut. Lenoir in the yankee hospital. I have since learned that Lieut. L. has been exchanged. Of this I am very glad.

To Be Continued.

– 1st Lieutenant William A. Underwood was a member of the “Liberty Guards,” Company E, 22nd Mississippi Infantry. Wounded and captured near Atlanta on July 20, 1864, after recovering he was sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. Underwood took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on June 17, 1865, and was released from captivity. – Compiled Service Record of William A. Underwood, 22nd Mississippi Infantry.

Magnolia Gazette, December 10, 1880

About this time I came across the following item from the N.O. Picayune, which, though incorrect in some particulars, nevertheless bore a mournful interest to me:
“The following is a list of the casualties in Co. E, 33rd Mississippi Volunteers, from Pike county, Miss., in which be Osyka, Magnolia and Summit, on the Jackson Railroad, and Holmesville, a little off of it – old summer resorts for our citizens. Capt. J.S. Lamkin we have seen recorded by Federal accounts as a prisoner. The younger Lamkins are his cousins, and the sons of Hon. John T. Lamkin, Confederate States member of Congress, who is a Georgian by birth. These casualties occurred in the battle of the 20th ult., at Atlanta. The list is furnished by Mr. John J. Ligon:
Capt. John S. Lamkin missing, supposed to be killed. 1st Lieut. George B. Lenoir, missing; 2nd Lieut. Jr. R.A. Miskell, missing; 2nd Lieut. Jr. W.R. Ratliff, missing; Orderly Sergt. T.D. Richmond, wounded; Sergeant David Holmes, do; Corp. Raiford Holmes, do; and missing: Corp. Lucius M. Quin, wounded; Privates Geo. W. Briley, do; F.M. Lee, do; M.P. Foil, missing; John T. Harvey, do; S.R. Rushing, do; Lewis N. Eilzey, do; S.C. Lewis, do; B.F. Ware, do; Sergt. W.J. Lamkin, do; Privates, A.L. Lamkin, killed, left on the field; W.N. Morgan, do; do; L. Osborn, do; do. The company went into the fight with twenty-seven men, including officers, and came out with only seven men. The regiment suffered very heavily. Col. Drake was killed and left in the hands of the enemy.”
The corrections to be made in the above statement are as follows: “The younger Lamkins” were brothers of J.S. Lamkin. (Other important corrections were noted at the time, but I will not here insert them.) I will now turn for awhile from the contemplation of the painful subject, and occupy my mind with an effusion which will enumerate most of the men in my room, but it will not be appreciated by others like it will by the occupants of the room.

The Kingdom of Captives
There is a realm of small demesne,
By nature beauteous and serene;
Begirt by Erie’s placid wave;
And on its breast the vale flowers waive;
Yet, over all this lovely Isle,
A serpent crawls, of aspect vile,
Whose loathsome slime and pois’nous breath,
Infect the air, and carry death –
Or worse – to many a freeman’s heart,
Who erst has borne a glorious part
In striking down his country’s foes,
To turn aside her pains and woes.
That serpent is the tyrant’s sword,
Accursed of God – by man abhorred –
Which holds three thousands hearts of fire,
To glut a v—‘s vengeful ire.
On this fair Isle, by God designed
To cheer and renovate the mind.
Press hard, thou despot of the hour!
Bind fast your chains of power!
Laugh, laugh, who glory in our pain,
Thro’ out your chief’s inglorious reign!
But soon – as we believe in God,
Your last vile war path will be trod;
And we by thousands disenthralled,
Will praise that power on Whom we called,
Then roar your cannon, blow your blast!
Yet, mind this, “who laughs best, laughs last.”
I know ye care not for our pains;
If hunger dry our scorching veins;
If fever crisp our wrinkling skin,
Or fell disease shall waste within:
Ye are secure from war’s alarm,
A hundred leagues or more from harm;
In bomb proof armor closely wrapped;
No fears thy pates will ere be tapped;
No grape nor shrapnel whistles round,
Nor any other dreadful sound:
But calm as sleeping infants are,
Ye stroke your chins and read of war,
Such then, are we, and such thou art,
Thou actors of a baser part.
This Realm – this lovely sea-girt Isle,
Where all is bright, but men are vile –
Is subdivided yet again,
And placed beneath our monarch’s reign.
The little kingdom where I live,
And move and vegetate and thrive,
By four bare walls is compassed round,
And built of WOOD from roof to ground;
While UNDERWOOD is paved with dust,
Where soon the “sword and scepter rust,”
This kingdom’s measured by one SPANN,
In such short space then dwell who can.
Thro’out the world where kingdoms stood,
Before and since old Noah’s flood,
Two Kings at once could ne’er abide;
Nor equal power in peace divide.
Yet, here two Kings their scepters hold,
In spite of precedents of old;
Nor e’re in wrath do they collide,
But smoothly in their courses glide.
One CROUN they had the other day,
But storm-winds blew their CROUN away.
We’ve nobles too in our domain,
A DUKE forsooth to grace the reign;
For BRITTON’S lost as I opine,
Unless he boasts some lordly line;
But ah! alas for this proud man!
To dwell in bliss he never can;
For as St. Peter keeps the keys,
And welcomes in but whom he please,
He will permit no hideous sight,
To enter there where all is bright;
And ere BARR is thirty-seven,
No hair’ll wave ‘twixt him and heaven,
So when he’ll knock without the gate,
And in the opening thrust his pate,
St. Peter’ll think, as I hear say –
He’s coming a—y verse;
Then from that peaceful portal driv’n,
He’ll wander forth outside of heaven.
A MARSHALL wields the baton too,
Over the military crew.
A MAHERr?? wields the civil power,
And tastes the hash at midnight hour;
While to write deeds our CLARK’S the man,
And place on stove another can
This small kingdom’s well provided
If from fiction, fact’s divided,
PEGUES and LAMKIN are to eat,
And a rare BIRD will furnish meat;
This BIRD’S not tall, nor very slim,
Yet surely marks his GRAYBILL him,
To rear the first a SHEPPARD good,
Will feed and tend the precious food
A NEWBERRY for pies is found,
That vegetates upon our ground,
Also one detailed to TILLETT,
Who’ll tend round but will not kill it.
Our FITCH is of the HERRING kind;
A juicy fish as you will find.
To serve this food up for table,
Ever was our good COOK able,
To Dixie’s land he’s gone away,
And there, I trust will ever stay;
Yet, in his place we have one FRYER,
Who’s good around the kitchen fire;
Who, though he ever cooked in town,
Yet, what he cooks he does it BROWN,
When men’s characters grow too dark,
We rub some WHITING o’er the bark;
And if the noise should ever cease,
We’ve but to LOUDEN – t’will increase.
We’ve men indisposed for duty,
Whose only worth is in their beauty;
Who’re sleek as eels and sly as toads,
On such we’ll use our double GOADS.
Now what can I do with DOWELL,
But make his name rhyme with POWEL?
To cherish all the arts have we
FOSTER – father of industry.
For carrying, for sales and barters,
We’ve one or more bran new CARTERS.
When we’ve greenbacks in our pocket,
We place keys heron and LOCKETT.
I’ve tried to HARMONize my plan,
And couch the name of ever man;
Yet fancy’s vision fails to find
Only mother to my mind;
Attention give, ye halt and lame!
Lieut. FERRELL is his name.
He’ll point your staff whereon you lean,
A good support is he I weep.
Now search our realm from last to first,
You’ll find on other only HURST.
Should I write a REAM of paper,
Or nurse the pale midnight taper.
Or search the PENN from block to pump.
My mind could then but only JUMP
At one rational conclusion,
Which banishes all delusions.
Which is, of all that’s left behind,
By searching this truth you will find,
There’s all the substance used and fed
There’s little left to use but PEALE.
And now, dear friends, your pardon all.
From grave to gay, from short to tall;
I trust none will be offended,
Or no malice is intended.
That thus the poet used his name,
And banded it to merry fame;
For ‘twas to while away an hour,
And rob blue devils of their power,
That poet’s license thus was used,
And you my friends might be amused.
Should some feel that they are slighted;
That their chance for fame is blighted;
To them the muse can only say,
That “every dog will have his day.”
And that when ere they make a name,
Some muse will hand them down to fame.
For many a moon shall wax and wane,
And many a hero bleed in vain,
Ere every marshal strain is still
In castle, camp or classic hill.
And when the sword rusts on the wall
May those who’ve met here one and all.
Fight each their battles o’er again;
Recount with pride the foes they’ve slain.
Around the genial hearth of love!
Farewell! May we all meet above.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, December 17, 1880

About the date of which I am writing, my cousin, Captain Claiborn Snead, found me. I had heard that he was in this prison, but

Portrait of Claiborn Snead, 3rd Georgia Infantry

Portrait of Claiborn Snead, 3rd Georgia Infantry. –

my efforts to find him had been unavailing. It gave me much pleasure to meet him, as he treated me very kindly.
Note – Within a year or two past, I have seen that Captain Snead has been promoted to the position of Judge of the Superior Court, of the Augusta district, Georgia. He was a close student of law while in prison.

– Claiborn Snead was captain of Company G, 3rd Georgia Infantry. He was captured July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. Transferred to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, on January 27, 1865, he was exchanged and promoted to lieutenant colonel. He surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, in 1865. – Compiled Service Record of Claiborn Snead, 3rd Georgia Infantry.
I will now pass rapidly over the intervening time until the 3rd of Dec., the day on which the battle of Franklin, Tenn., was fought. On the 5th, a large number of officers captured in that battle, from Hood’s army, were ushered into the “pen” by the uproarious shouts of “fresh fish,” which always greets new comers. Among them were Adjutant D.W. Hunt, Jr., and Captain Ed Simmons of my regiment. From them I heard with painful interest all that had transpired since I left them. Sad, oh sad indeed, were the tidings they bore. They told of the almost utter demolition of one of the finest regiments in the C.S. service. The sorrowful intelligence which they brought me was quickly followed by the somewhat distorted newspaper accounts of the battle before Nashville, where Hood was repulsed and severely chastised by Thomas. This took place on the 16th inst., on the 22nd. 306 officers were ushered in here as a part of the results of that disastrous battle. Among them was, I am told, Maj. Gen. Ed Johnson, Brig. Gen. Jackson of Ga., besides one or two other generals. I found in the crowd Lt. W. Russell Edwards, of my regiment. His history of the transaction was a sad commentary on somebody. Among other casualties he gave the painful intelligence of the death of Lt. H.E. Weathersby, my old friend and brother chip. This made me sorrowful indeed.
NOTE – As my jottings at the time appear rather meager, I will next week give some account of the battle of Franklin and its casualties, which I have recently found between the leaves of the old family bible at home. Part of this has been torn off, but enough remains, perhaps, for the purpose. I think it is from the pen of our veteran editor, Bonney, as it appeared editorially in a paper published by him.

To Be Continued

– “Ed Simmons” is James E. Simmons, captain of Company A, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. Wounded at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, on July 20, 1864, he returned to the regiment in time to fight in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, where he was captured November 30, 1864. Simmons was sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp, where he remained until June 17, 1865, until he took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. – Compiled Service Record of James E. Simmons, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– William Russell Edwards was 2nd Lieutenant in Company F, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. He was captured December 16, 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee, and sent to Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp. Edwards was released on June 16, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. – Compiled Service Record of William Russell Edwards, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

– Eugene Weathersby was a 2nd Lieutenant in Company K, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. He was killed in action at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. – Compiled Service Record of Eugene Weathersby, 33rd Mississippi Infantry.

Magnolia Gazette, January 7, 1881

As I proposed in my last I will now give you some further accounts of the BATTLE OF FRANKLIN, or as it appeared in the paper published by H.S. Bonney, in Holmesville, when the events were all fresh. A part of his very interesting account has been torn off but enough remains to revive in our memories the terrible details of that sanguinary engagement. The “List of Casualties” will also be of much interest at this day, although as many of us know – that is erroneous in some particulars. This account appears in the issue of the 31st of December, 1864:
As the accounts come in of this bloody battle, we are more and more shocked at the horrifying details. The fierceness and sublimity of the desperate charge upon the breastworks of the enemy is said to surpass all description – to beggar all language. Our dead were piled in the ditches and on the breastworks, and many had fallen over them. In some places an eyewitness counted fifty in less than fifty yards on the field. The charge was made over an open field 300 yards wide, carrying the first line of works easily. Not the second. Johnson’s division, only gained this latter and held it, the men fighting across the works, and suffering terribly. Some of our men were literally shot to pieces, having from twenty to thirty bullets through them, and lay in piles of three deep – in some places four and five were lying across each other. Gen. Adams was himself shot in several places, on the works and bayoneted besides, together with his horse, falling with his forefeet on the works, and both found lying side by side across them. His body was robbed of his pocket book, watch, and his wife’s picture, but the latter was returned to one of our wounded men. Gen. Cleburne was killed near Gen. Adams – Fifteen other general officers were either killed or wounded. Our entire loss is reported to be 5000. The Federal loss was 110 officers and 2015 men killed, wounded and missing according to their reports. Hood himself led the charge, at the head of his columns. Pointing towards the Yankee lines, he is reported to have said to his men, “Break those lines, and you have finished the war in Tennessee, break them, and there is nothing to oppose your march from Nashville to the Ohio river.” He was answered with cheers, and immediately the whole space in front was crammed with the eager advancing multitudes, formed in a semi circle two regiments in depth, extending around the enemy’s line, while behind each alternate regiment were placed four others, so that our assaulting columns were really six regiments deep.
Storms of shot and shell were hurled furiously into the charging ranks, but with most wreckless bravery our troops rushed onward, not stopped or wavered while nearer the prize a terrible fire of musketry was poured upon them that seemed as if nothing could live before it. They crowded into the Yankee works and hand to hand encountered the enemy with bayonets and the butts of their muskets, unmindful of the sanguinary ground over which they had just passed, now covered with thousands of their dead and dying comrades. Oh what a slaughter was then and there! How many bleeding hearts are now made to gape anew at the tragic horrors of this most terrific shock of arms between the proud legions of Hood and the defeated enemy.
This was undoubtedly one of the hottest and most fiercely contested battles of the war. Even the Yankees admit that our men rushed on with most reckless bravery up to the parapets of their works, and that they stuck their muskets under the heads of the logs on their embankments. Victory crowned their efforts, and the enemy fled to within their fortifications at Nashville, but the cost was to us, indeed, as terrible as the success was brilliant. It is said that nothing in the record of battlefields can exceed in interest and pathos the story which the bloody field of Franklin furnishes for the history of the war. The result is indeed deplorable, and the necessity must have been great to justify it. It is asserted by some that we could have accomplished all that we have done without fighting this battle – that an opportunity of destroying the retreating enemy was lost to us on the previous day, when Cheatham’s corps encamped near the road, saw and heard the whole Yankee force go by, during the night, without attacking them. Thus the escape of Scofield at this opportune moment, led to one of the bloodiest battles of war, filling the land again with mourning for the thousands of brave hearts whose patriotic pulsations are now stilled and lost to home and country forever.
Among the mourning thousands we find from the list of casualties given, many of our friends in this and adjoining counties. Scarcely recovered from the stunning blow that reached us from the plains of Atlanta, we fall prostrate before this terrible visitation from the bloody marge of Harpeth Creek and around Franklin. Below we give the list of casualties most immediately interesting to our readers.

List of casualties in the 33rd Mississippi Regiment at the battle of Franklin, Tenn., November 30, 1864.

Co. A. Wounded – Serg’t J.W. Barfield, foot, severe; J.M. Saunders, arm, severe; D.J. Wilson, abdomen, slight.
Co. B. Killed – Capt. John Powell, Sergeant Alex Stewart, Wounded – Lieut. J.G. Richmond, chest and arm; W.N. Hampton, abdomen, severe, A.J. Wilson, thigh and arm, R.L. Jones abdomen, slight, T.W. Hurst, chest and groin, severe, C.H, Gordon, foot, severe, B.E. Downey, leg, slight.
Co. C. Killed – Lewis Dunn. Wounded – R.A. Ham, thigh and arm, severe, J.S. Byrne, abdomen, severe, A.H. McGuffy, hip, severe, J.W. Parnell shoulder, slight.
Co. D. Killed – T.S. Newman. Wounded – J.S. Cain chest, severe, L.S. Hollinger, abdomen, severe.
Co. E. Killed – Serg’t Owen L. Conerly, Pinkney Dunniway. Wounded – Thomas Payne, back, severe, F.T. Conerly, chin shot off, Amos Sandifer slight, in head.
Co. G. Killed – Lieut. M.J. Rose, Corp’l J.M. Easley. Wounded – Lieut. W.C. Gosely, arm severe.
Co. I. Killed – Serg’t C.F. Robertson. Wounded – Lieut. S.B. Brown, arm, severe, W.S. Cooper, face, severe.
Co. K. Killed – Lieut. H.E. Weathersby, Lieut. H.C. Shaw, Serg’t J.S. Anderson, Serg’t Major C.W.B. Street, W.A. Dunn, Thomas D. Adkins, J.A. Dunn, H.C. Lea, M.W. Sinclair. Wounded – Corp’l Robert S. Capell, hip and arm severe, Edwin May, Knee, severe (amputated at lower third of the thigh). S. Covington, knee, slight. J.G. Co, knee and arm, severe, T.A. Robinson head, slight, N.F. Smiley, groin, slight, T.M. Varnado, foot, severe, A.W. Forsythe, Jr., arm and chest, severe.
Total – Killed, 18. Wounded 31. this only embraces the killed and wounded who passed through the hands of the surgeons.

Casualties in the 7th Mississippi Regiment, commanded by Col. W.H. Bishop. Cos. A,C,F,H, and I. Killed – Col. W.H. Bishop, Private G.S. Lea. Wounded – D.F. Anders dangerous (since died). G.D. Brown, severe, Lieut. Col. B.F. Johnson, Major Henry Pope, W.W. Byrd, Capt. J.N. Atkinson, Serg’t A.J. Barnes, Joseph Cothern, W.C. Willims.
Total – Killed 2. Wounded 9.

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, January 14, 1881

On the 20th (Dec. 1864) a Mr. Redfield came to the Island attempting to effect my exchange for a Capt. Harkness, of the U.S. Army. Mr. H. is a brother-in-law of Robt. Kennicott. This was the most joyful proposition that has been made to me since I have been operating for me in this behalf and has shown me many kindnesses. I like him more than any other man I ever saw, and feel that there is no sacrifice short of right that I would not make to serve him.
Dec. 23rd. I am now waiting with all the patience I can to hear the exchange negotiations. I received another good letter from Willie Welch today in which he says he wants to send me another box. If I stay I will be most happy to receive it, if I can get a permit. Eatables can only be received on the approval of the surgeon, he believing that they are necessary for health.
Dec. 25th. This has been a gloomy Christmas day to the prisoners. Not one cheering beam of hope to gladden the immeasurable waste in the future. I have however, made this day an exchange of rooms which I think will conduce to my comfort and consequent happiness. I have left, I suppose forever, the old attenuated Block 11 into Room 8, Block 2, with my friends, the Wilsons, White and four clever gentlemen.
Dec. 26. Just received a letter from Mr. Redfield, the gentleman who was attempting to negotiate my exchange for Capt. Harkness – a friend of his confined at Charleston. He says that Capt. H. is already exchanged. This is a sad blow on me, but as he promises still to operate for me, I will hope that all may turn out right, but it will certainly require much more time. I find my new room very dull since leaving the noise and confusion of the old.
Dec. 27th. Nothing new today. Wrote to Jas. Redfield in reply to his letter announcing the exchange of Capt. Harkness, also to Willie Welch for a box.
Jan. 1st, 1865. I here chronicle the evacuation of Savannah, Ga., on the 20th ult., by Gen. Hardee, with his garrison, and the occupation of the same on the 21st by Gen. Sherman. This day here was ushered in clear and cold. The papers today brought us the joyful intelligence of the intended proposition by Col. Mumford to Col. Onid for a general exchange. I have this day made the usual amount of good resolutions for for the ensuing year; among them one to read the bible through again, in the reading of which three of my comrades join me. We read seven chapters today. Intend reading as many as five on Sabbath and three each day through the week. I have been troubled with my old complaint, the toothache, and am even now suffering with it. I have just finished a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Tennison. I must try to be good and industrious man the year to come and not waste my time because I am a prisoner. I may make it the most valuable time of my life, for surely my imprisonment will cease some day. Several cases of smallpox have broken out in the prison. I have this day been re-vaccinated.
Jan. 4th – Have just written to Willie Welch, answering his letter of the 27th ult., sending me $25. Contemplate commencing the study of French tomorrow.
Jan. 5th – Commenced the study of French today. Too sick to study much.
Jan. 7th – Received a very kind letter from Mrs. Eugenia Pennington today. Her address is Milan, Erie County, Ohio. She desires to send me cider and apples. Alas! I can’t get them.
Jan. 8th – Answered Mrs. Pennington’s letter today. Still sick – Diarrhea
To Be Continued
Magnolia Gazette, January 21, 1881

January 9. A memorable day to some of the officers. One hundred and sixty, who belonged to the Trans-Mississippi Department, were taken off for the purpose of exchange as is stated. The prison has been in a ferment for the past week on the subject of exchange. Statements of many different shades have been in circulation, but I suspect the whole thing will die out with the departure of those who have gone. No rumor of exchange has reached my care except that of a general exchange. The prisoner can do little else than dream. I dream of my little company toiling for their country, and all the consolation I have is that it requires one Yankee guard to keep me, and one Captain is held for me. I dream of home in all its phases – full of cares and hopes – and happiness – but, I awake and find myself still on Johnson’s Island.
January 16. Fort Fisher has fallen! One by one the rose leaves fall. To the cost of the Republican forces, and to our own national anguish, it may truly be said, “We die hard.” Nothing also has transpired to disturb “the even tenor of our war” for several days – but the fall of Fort Fisher is enough for that.
January 20. For some days past we have been considerably exercised by exchange and peace rumors not that we believe any of them – but could not help listening. Among other startling things looking in that direction, is an order of Col. Hill, commander of the Port, vacating Blocks 1 and 2 to accommodate those who take the oath of amnesty, and those who do not want to be exchanged. This will be pretty heavy on me, for I have long been in an uncomfortable room, and now, just as I supposed myself permanently comfortable, I suppose I’ll have to ‘march’ again. The Yankees represent that the numbers belonging to the above classes are legion. I do hope for the honor of my little struggling nation that they are not so numerous as represented, but we shall see in a few days. In reading the N.Y. News, I came across an eloquent extract from Gustavus A. Henry known as the “Eagle Orator of Tennessee,” which is so beautiful, in its word painting, that I make a copy of it here. It is as follows:

Reunion with them: No, Sir; never! There is a great gulf that rolls between us. It is a gulf of blood, without a shore, and without a bottom, and is an inseparable as that which separated Dives from Lazarus. The mute objects of nature; our desecrated churches and altars; our sweet valleys, drenched in blood and charred by fire forbid it. The dead would cry out against it from their gory beds. The blood of our own sons, yet unavenged, cries to heaven from the ground for vengeance. The thousands who are resting red in their graves would awake and utter their solemn protest. Stonewall Jackson, Polk, Stewart, Rhodes, Morgan, Preston, Smith and thousands over whose remains a monument to the unknown dead shall be raised are speaking in tones of thunder against it; and can it be, the living only will be dumb? Sir; those who have died in this war are not dead to us. ‘E’en if their ashes live their wanted fires.’ They are, in the light of their example, more valuable than the living. Their spirits walk abroad and stir the hearts of living men to do or die in the cause of liberty. We cherish their memory. Weeping virgins and devoted mothers, shall kneel around their tombs and bedew with tears the graves where they sleep. Poetry shall embalm their memory and minstrelsy perpetuate their fame forever. We give in charge their names to the sweetest lyre. The historic muse, proud of her treasure, shall march with it down to the latest sculptor, who in turn, shall give bond in stone and enduring brass to guard them and immortalize her trust. The soldiers who have died in this war are not only inshrined in the innermost care of her heart, but to the mind’s eye, are ever in our sight. ‘On fame’s eternal camping ground their silent tents are opened; and glory guards with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead.’

To Be Continued

Magnolia Gazette, February 11, 1881

March 15th. Long and weary has been the time since I have looked into my old diary. There have been some changes which perchance are not noteworthy as composing a part of prison life; yet the changes such as they are, can be told with a few words. A general exchange has been agreed upon, and eight hundred officers from this prison have actually gone off on the general exchange.
Restrictions have also been by some legerdemain removed from the sutler, and he permitted to sell provisions and clothing in limited quantities, except some particular articles, which he is not permitted to sell. It is interesting to see the sutler’s establishment, besieged as it always is during business hours with its eager throngs of hungry men. Woe unto the man, feeble or sound, who trusts himself in that crowd, for if he gets out with the whole bones, he will not get out without being most woefully squeezed and mashed. It seems, too, like their rapacity would never abate for the press continues all the while – some forty or fifty men who made application to take the oath of loyalty to the U.S. Government has been assigned quarters to themselves of the best rooms in the pen – the previous occupants having been first removed.
The ice across the bay remained firm and solid for about six weeks but has at last broken up and the boat is now running regularly. The weather is mild almost as southern spring, the sun shining very brightly in the middle of the day. This pleasant weather however does not continue long, in this climate, for like a girl with an irascible temper it weeps and shines almost in the same hour. I studied French a little while, but the excitement of getting off from here has broken that all up. Willie Welch has sent me a box of eatables. Most of my room mates being Port Hudson captures are expecting to leave here soon. I am impatient to see them go as every man leaves his number less.
March 16th. – Dark, warm, rainy and no signs of any one leaving today. Now the wind blows a gale. The change comes even as

Lieutenant Samuel Boyer Davis -

Lieutenant Samuel Boyer Davis –

I write it. Capt. B. received a box of clothing from Mrs. Boyor. What a diadem will shine in that woman’s crown for all the good she has done. Now the gale has increased to a hurricane almost and I desist for the present.

“Captain B” may be Lieutenant Samuel Boyer Davis, a Confederate spy who was captured in 1864. Sentenced to death, Davis was sent to Johnson’s Island for execution. He was pardoned by Abraham Lincoln just before the sentence was carried out. –
April 10th. – This is the darkest day of my country’s doom. I have just heard of the surrender of Gen. Lee and his whole army – all to be paroled and retain side arms and private property. Oh! I could weep many tears while my heart is bleeding! Never before has utter despondency of our cause seized up on me, but now I feel that all is indeed lost, except the dear bought and now worthless bauble, that we are more a manly and honorable foe. The oath takers hoisted the “stars and stripes” on their prison.
April 11. At night 425 officers of the Virginia Army arrived here. They were captured on the 2nd inst. At Petersburg. Among them was Thos. A. Garner and some other old acquaintances. They think all is lost.
April 14. The Yankees are making the most extraordinary demonstrations of joy. Dress and fancy parade, music, bills, flags, festoons. Tonight they are to have a display of fireworks and a national salute. This is the day appointed by the President for general rejoicing. Alas! there is no joy for the captive. Every sound he hears, he knows to be a direct thrust at the jewel enshrined in his bosom’s care. Col. Hill, Commander of the Post, has behaved himself most gentlemanly towards the prisoners in his charge here.
April 15. Life is truly a checker board, one check white and one black. Yesterday was a day of national rejoicing for the conquest of the Union arms over the Confederate, and quite lustily was it carried out on this Island. Today dispatches have reached announcing the death of President Lincoln while at the theatre in Washington. Secretary Seward at home, and Assistant Secretary Seward – though it is not yet known whether the latter is dead. A man named Wilkes Booth secreted himself in the President’s box, and during the third act shot him through the head, and then with a drawn knife, rushed out, exclaiming, “Sic simper tyrannis.” He mounted his horse and attempted to escape, but was – I understand – arrested. This event of course will plunge the nation in gloom deeper than was the height of exultation on yesterday. The flags that waived jauntily yesterday in the laughing winds, today droop gloomily at half mast, thus identifying to the solemn and rapid mutation of all sublunary things, whether national or individual. I feel no joy at the sad sad solemn event. May God protect and keep us right and his will be done. Col. Hill made a very moderate and feeling little speech, to check any possible demonstrations of pleasure that might be made by the inconsiderate, both for our good and his. A very, very few did cheer a little when they heard the news. I deeply regret that Col. Hill found it necessary to make any remarks on the subject.
April 30th. There is considerable excitement among the officers of this pen on the subject of taking the oath of allegiance or amnesty, as it is termed. General Joseph E. Johnson surrendered his forces on the 26th ult. On the terms that General Lee surrendered. This disposes of the commands of most of the officers, and many believing the struggle henceforth hopeless are making application for release on the terms of the oath, as they are assured that none other will ever be granted them.
May 1st, 1865. This day the various Colonels imprisoned from Mississippi, held a meeting to consider what action Mississippians ought to take in relation to the subject of release from prison. They came to the conclusion that further delay in making application for the oath of amnesty in order to be released from prison, was useless. The reasons which actuate Mississippians to this course now, are as follows: The civil government of the Confederate States has only been supported by their military power. In the fall of Richmond and other ports, and the surrender of Lee and Johnson – their two greatest military chieftains, with their respective armies – the Confederate States have been shorn of the most formidable power which sustained the government. Without such support it can not assert itself – does not exist de facto, ergo there is no government now to which we are paying allegiance. There is no military command in the field to which any of us belong. All have been surrendered – paroled not to take up arms against the United States until regularly exchanged. This, in the nature of things can never be done; wherefore, we are as effectually precluded from ever taking up arms, as those who take the oath. Our homes are in a State over which the United States now exercises its power and authority. While living in that state we expect and claim as a right, that so long as we behave ourselves as peaceable citizens, the protection of the existing government should be extended to us. If it then protects us, we can do no less than give it our adhesion and support. It is not improbable that soon vexed political questions may arise at home, which will require the best talents and purest men of our country to cope with successfully. Such as these are as likely to be found in this prison as any where on top of the ground, and therefore we believe it is right for us all to hasten home, and take such part as we may, in protecting the interests of our State in the new order of things that will shortly be inaugurated. It has been objected that our allegiance is due to the entire confederation of States and not to the State of our residence alone, and that if the President and his cabinet should establish themselves and the government in the trans-Mississippi Department and prolong the contest, that it is our duty to flock to his standard there and aid in reclaiming the lost territory. This I admit to be the gravest question presented to my mind in connection with the whole subject, and while I do detest the common practice of controverting a powerful argument with a weak answer, and thus dismiss the subject with a triumphant flourish of trumpets, as if the strong argument had been successfully met, yet I think this argument not unanswerable. If the reasons already given are not sufficient, I think the following will fully meet the objection. One of the “Casus Belli” is the question of State sovereignty. The United States has met this on the field of battle and her arms have been successful. She now holds indisputable dominion over the States of our residence. Family ties, business complications, and other matters render it impossible for us to leave our homes and go where the Confederate arms are still holding the territory. Therefore, as we believe in the sovereignty of the State, we must render our allegiance to it, and as a matter of course to the government to which she is tributary. It would be with a bad grace that we would now abandon the proposition for which we took up arms, and still remain in the country where the doctrine no longer exists. Tho’ conquered we still believe that our duty is to the State in which we live. Again, even if it were no compulsory, with us, still if the U.S. should take us under her protecting aegis, it would be but a fitting return that we should yield a faithful allegiance to that government. But, above and beyond all this is the comforting (?) assurance that if we do not take this oath of allegiance, we are doomed to perpetual imprisonment, or, if possible, worse. I, for one, feel that my duty to my family, my country, and my God, require my presence in active life.
Mr. Editor, here the manuscript ends. I came off after that, and your readers and those who have been kind enough to follow me, are glad of it.

John S. Lamkin’s confinement at Johnson’s Island ended on June 14, 1865, when he took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and was released from the prison. He went home to his wife and children, and the years to follow made a comfortable living as a lawyer and newspaper owner/editor. Lamkin played an active role in keeping the memory of the Confederate soldier alive in the postwar south, serving for a time as president of the Pike County Reunion Association.

John S. Lamkin's advertisement from the Magnolia Gazette, November 5, 1880

John S. Lamkin’s advertisement from the Magnolia Gazette, November 5, 1880

Captain John S. Lamkin died on December 10, 1900, in Natchez, while paying a visit to his son, Doctor L.H. Lamkin. In his obituary it was said of his wartime service, “When war was declared between the states he was among the first to join the Confederate army, and served with distinction throughout the long and bloody struggle. When peace was restored he returned to his home in this county and was prominent in the noble work of rebuilding the waste places, and through the long ordeal of reconstruction he never lost hope, and his neighbors and friends could impose no task that was too hard for him to perform.” – Summit Sentinel, December 13, 1900

The memoir of John S. Lamkin was very well written, and I am proud to make it available to the public for the first time since it was originally published in 1880. I think that first person accounts such as Lamkin’s are very important, as they bring home quite forcefully the true cost of the Civil War to the people of Mississippi.

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Confederate Soldier In A Yankee Army Prison, Chapter Seven

At last it’s finally here – the seventh and last part of “Confederate Soldier in A Yankee Army Prison,” which was published in the Gloster Record (Amite County), February 17, 1939. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but I was preoccupied for the past four weeks teaching my enrichment class on Civil War research at Millsaps. It was a lot of work transcribing this seven part series, but all of the trouble was well worth the effort, as Byron Smith was a good writer, and his account of prison life deserved to be read and appreciated. Without further adieu, here is the last installment:

We had preaching every Sunday morning and prayer meeting in the evening, but I am sorry to say that a good many did not attend. To show you of what material some of the Rebels were made, I will give you an incident that occurred in our prison. When Gen. Grant took command of the Virginia Army, he issued orders forbidding any newspapers from entering our camp. A few, however, found their way in every day, and were read on the sly. One day while riding through camp, the major saw a Rebel in his tent reading a paper. The Reb tried to hide it, but was too late. The major asked where he got it. He replied that he did not wish to be disrespectful, but could not and would not tell. The major ordered him to bring the paper outside, adding that he knew one of the corporals had let him have it, and he should point him out. He answered, “Major, I am a Confederate soldier and true from head to foot. I would die before I would betray a friend.”

Sketch of the Union Field Officer of the Day at Point Lookout by John J. Omenhausser -

Sketch of the Union Field Officer of the Day at Point Lookout by John J. Omenhausser –

When they reached the outside the corporals were ordered to fall into line with Sergeant Finnegan at the head, and the Rebel was ordered to point out the offender. He replied quickly (as he told us afterwards to keep the man from betraying himself for he turned deadly pale) “I will die before I will do it.” The corporals color returned, the major said angrily, “I will make you do it.” The Rebel answered firmly, “Never.” The major ordered him strung by the thumbs with a cord, they threw the cord over “Old Bald” and drew him up till he had to stand on his toes. He stood the ordeal bravely for several hours until his hands and thumbs were swollen dreadfully, and the cords had cut through the flesh to the bone, then he was nearly dead and fainted. When they noticed his condition, they cut him down and sent for the surgeon. After the surgeon had taken the cords out of the flesh and dressed the wounds the man revived but did not know what had happened until the next day. Sergeant Finnegan and the corporals were very kind to him on the sly. In the course of time he recovered. A few papers still came into the camp but the boys were more careful.

There were several regular details that went to work every day. The only pay they got was an extra ration and what they could “flank.” They paid special attention to the latter. The wharf detail was composed of one hundred men. They unloaded vessels and loaded wagons that transferred the freight to the warehouse. It was a show to see them unload themselves at noon and at night of what they had managed to “flank” in hauling the freight. Their load was a promiscuous one, sugar, coffee, beans, peas, rice, irish potatoes: in fact anything they handled that was good to eat. If a barrel of sugar burst in moving it was the property of the detail, and they divided it among themselves. You ask how they managed to conceal it and bring it into camp? They had prepared themselves for accidents by wearing C.S.A. cavalryman’s jackets. These had strong linings and two inside pockets. The bottoms of the pockets were cut open, then they were ready. They would be sure the commissary officers were out of sight, then it mattered not how strong the barrel or sack might be it had to give way by an accidental fall. Then they would try to fill those jackets. One barrel or sack was enough to fill all but they had to be filled with something even though it required the mixing of many things. In that case some friends on the inside would get the job of sorting them.

Sketch of Confederate prisoners policing the camp at Point Lookout -

Sketch of Confederate prisoners policing the camp at Point Lookout –

Sometimes when jackets would hold no more they would tie strings around their pants at the ankles, and fill them. The guards would not care. They were clever fellows when the officers were not in sight. They were New Hampshire troops, had not seen service at the front and sent to guard prisoners in order to recruit. The bakers detail at first baked bread for the Yankees at Point Lookout only, but subsequently both planned the detail to enlarge their business. The boys made several little bake ovens in camp that were supplied by the flankers and their biscuits and pies found ready sale. One detail unloaded the wood and hay. Some of the bales would burst in handling and the loose hay was given to the detail. And every bale had six or eight strips of wood under the cord which would work out, the cords would break and the hay would scatter, so there was nothing for the detail to do but gather as many strips as each could carry, tie them and his hay with the broken cord and bring his load into camp. If he had more than he needed he could sell it. It was not expected that he give any of it away.

The corporal allowed us to get all the firewood we wanted. He continued and we gave him a goodly number of finger rings for his kindness. We also carried over the bundles of hay we had tied with cord. When the corporal had the axes gathered up several were missing. We looked for them but failed to find them. They had found their way into the bundles of hay. The men divided the wood and were happy over the prospects of having a fire. When my bundle of hay was carried to the tent and divided we found a new ax in it. We were so proud of it for we wanted one. We used the wood to boil our clothes and blanket and such a boiling as we had. When any one was using the ax, there was always some one on the watch. When not in use it was hid under the blankets and every Sunday morning it was hid in our cave.

Spoon and Ring Peddlers at Point Lookout - sketch by John J. Omenhausser, from the New York Historical Society Collections.

Spoon and Ring Peddlers at Point Lookout – sketch by John J. Omenhausser, from the New York Historical Society Collections.

Perhaps you would like to know if any persons ever escaped from Point Lookout. Several attempted it, but as far as I know only one succeeded in getting into our lines. The first that tried it were five men who arranged with one of the guards whose beat was over the big ditch that ran through the pen, that they were to crawl down the ditch so that the other guards would not see them, and they were to give them their watches and soon as they got outside they could turn them into money.


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Confederate Soldier In A Yankee Army Prison Chapter Six

The following is Chapter Six of the memoir of Byron Smith, who served in the 1st Georgia Cavalry. It was published in the Gloster Record (Amite County, Mississippi), February 10, 1939:


(By Byron Smith, Peoria, Miss.)

(Chapter Six)

Speculation and gambling were common. At nearly every tent some poor fellow had something to sell. Tobacco dealers were

plentiful. A piece of plank, or a little stool, would do for a counter and a plug of tobacco for his stock in trade. He would make a pattern and carefully cut his tobacco into little squares, each square a chew and each chew worth a hardtack. Some men would go from one stand to another, closely examine the squares to see who carried the largest squares or chew in stock, and when he was satisfied that he had found the best bargain, he would lay down his hard tack, take up his chew, go away happy, and make it last him all day. The dealer would make about 3 chews profit on his investment. Another investor would buy a sheet of paper, stamp and envelope for 4c and sell them for 5c. The coffee vender would buy a peck or half-bushel of old coffee grounds from the cook houses, boil them over, sell the hot colored water as coffee charging a hardtack or a chew of tobacco for a pint of it. They gave us coffee every morning with our rations. I sold my cupful for hardtack. Hardtack was legal tender there as good as gold, five for 5 cts but it required the appetite of a hungry man to eat it.

The dealer in smoking tobacco would walk all over the camp looking for old chews and cigar stubs. When he found one he would secure it so slyly that if you were looking at him you would not detect him. He would put his foot close to it, stop and scratch his ankle, and walk on. He would carry his collection to his tent, dry it, mix with some bought of the sutler, and sell it for hardtack.

For sharp trickery the Yankees has always been given the palm, but he is not in it if you pen a Southerner up where he has to use his wits in order to live. Of course there are exceptions. In our pen we had men suited to every calling in life from that of President down to cut-throat. A great many prisoners employed their time in making finger rings, watch chains, necklaces, bracelets, fans, pen holders, etc. The material used were gutta-percha buttons, horse hair, wool and silver. It was wonderful what beautiful things they made. We had some fine carvers and some

of their jewelry was made of bone mixed with gutta-percha and mounted with silver. We made our saws from bones on the back of case knives. We made three different kinds of bits for drilling holes but of table forks. We made several turning lathes. A friend of mine and I made use one in a cracker box. We could turn anything not too large. We did a great deal of bone work, making pen holders, bodkins, rings, etc.The ring makers would bring their button to us to drill and polish as we could do it faster and better. Then they would inlay them with silver and make beautiful rings. We could find sale for everything as Sergeant Finnegan, the first sergeant of our camp was a nice clever man and he would buy anything we made and send it to a curio dealer in New York.

Jewelry Mady by a Confederate Soldier at Elmira Prisoner of War Camp -

Jewelry Mady by a Confederate Soldier at Elmira Prisoner of War Camp –

We sold a good deal also in the pen. Rings from 10c to $5.00. We had to hustle to get the material. The bone we bought from the cooks paying 5c for a shank bone, and sawing it to suit our purposes. Horse hair for making watch chains was scarce and high. You had to pay 25c for a little wisp the size of your finger. It had to be pulled out there was no sale for cut hair. If an officer on a tour of inspection rode a horse having a fine tail into our camp, he was sure to leave the most, if not all

Civil War Era Watch Chain Made from Human Hair

Civil War Era Watch Chain Made from Human Hair

of it in the hands of the hair dealers. The ring peddlers would approach him and offer their wares, and while he was examining them, the hair dealers would be getting in their work. Such treatment would make the horse restless, but a few jerks with the bit and the spur, would quiet him. The major rode into camp one day on a horse with a very long, beautiful tail, well kept. When he went outside, the officers began to joke him about his tailless horse. When he looked around he was mad, and walked back into the pen and tried to buy some horse hair but there was none for sale. He offered five dollars for the offenders, but no one would tell on them. If he had found them they would have to ride “Old Bald” all the week.

Nothing is complete unless Atlanta, Ga., is in it, and I must say an Atlanta boy was the genius of our camp. He constructed a small engine out of a camp kettle and the mouth piece of canteens, of a power, he said, equal to that of two Wharf rats. He bought a cracker box for fuel to run it, and it worked beautifully. It was a great show, and he made something every day though he only charged a chew or a hard-tack admission. At length the Yankees heard of it and some of them paid a plug of tobacco admission. Finally he sold it to Sergeant Finnegan for $35.00. Then he bought some watch makers tools and started a repair shop. The Yankees gave him all their work. He made a clock entirely of bone, except the case which was a cedar wood Confederate canteen. It was a good time keeper and he sold it to the sergeant I think for $15.00.
The ladies of Baltimore started a school in our prison, and supported it with all kinds of second hand school books. We had the largest school in the United States. Everything was taught from A. B. C’s to French and German. The only pay the teachers received was an extra ration that the ladies induced the commander to issue to them but they were to get that.
(Another chapter next week)

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Confederate Soldier In A Yankee Army Prison Part Five

The following is Chapter Five of the memoir of Byron Smith, who served in the 1st Georgia Cavalry. It was published in the Gloster Record (Amite County, Mississippi), February 3, 1939:

(By Byron Smith, Peoria, Miss.)
(Chapter Five)

Every Sunday morning during inspection our tents were folded and all the blankets and clothing left in the tents would be

Confederate prisoners with their guard waiting for roll call - Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol.53, No. 1)

Confederate prisoners with their guard waiting for roll call – Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol.53, No. 1)

carried out in a cart brought in for that purpose. We determined to head them. We secured a barrel head, drew a line around it, and dug down four inches; then an inch inside of that, drew another circle, so the head would have a shoulder to rest upon, then dug a cave large enough to hold our extras. Then the head was fitted in nicely, and leveled with sand. The first thing on Sunday morning this would be packed and if we could get wood, a fire was built on it. We saved our things many times. You asked how we concealed the dirt taken out? We acted like ants, while some were digging, others would fill their pockets with it, take a walk, and slyly empty it as they went, watching for the corporals.

Before inspection those of our tent who were going to try for blankets, clothes, or shoes would fix up for it by putting on the worst he had, so as to show officers how needy we were. We took it turn about, and would not all try for the same thing at the same time. We had a little blue blanket that was good for a new one every time. The one who was to try for a blanket would “doctor” “True Blue” a little by tearing it and tying it with strings. Then it was ready. When the order was given to fall in line, the front rank would step four paces to the front “about face” and two inspecting officers would ride between the lines, one looking to the right the other to the left. If they decided a man needed anything they would say “Fall in line.” That column would march behind the officers between the lines and be followed by the corporals of that division. The Reb who carried the blue blanket would stretch it out, so the officers could see how good it was then they would say, “Fall in line.”

The order was to leave the old when you drew the new, but “True Blue” was slipped back every time. You are perhaps ashamed that Southern boys, raised to be upright and honest, and who were so honorable that they would endure any suffering and hardship rather than desert their cause, could condescend to cheat and swindle but we were driven to it by the way we were treated.

We were half starved, enduring the rigor of a cold climate and only allowed one blanket. If we bought another one it was taken from us, then we determined to beat them, and succeeded. There were sixteen of us in our tent, none of us were in the hospital, none of us would take the oath. We were a hard set. We had a friend in the hospital who was going with some more convalescents to be exchanged. He agreed to take a letter from us and have it published in “The Southern Confederacy” and “Atlanta Daily.” It was written, and all the boys in our tent signed it, hoping it would let our friends know where we were. We had a bulletin board in the pen on which the names would be written of those having letters in the office outside. So many a poor fellow would be disappointed that their names were not written there.

Prisoners Being Issued Rations - National Park Service

Prisoners Being Issued Rations – National Park Service

We had with us a good many sons of Southern merchants whose fathers had bought goods from firms in the North. Some of them would write to these firms and request the loan of a few dollars. Some of the letters were never answered, a few were. The money however, was not given to the writer. It was placed in the Sutler’s hands, who gave him a little book with the amount sent credited to him. He could buy from the Sutler until his accounts balanced.

If one of the boys in our tent received a letter, they all rejoiced with him, and all had to read it for letters were a rarity. Every letter was examined and a good many burned, because they contained news the Yankees did not wish us to know. One day one of my tent mates saw my name on the board. They ran a race to tell me, and then raced with me to get it, seeming as much rejoiced as I was. The postmaster tantalized me with questions. I was afraid I would not get it. Of course, I could not tell him who it was from. Finally he asked if I had any relatives in Covington, Ga., I said yes. Then he asked their names. I told him, and he gave me the letter and we hurried back to read it. The boys said it contained more news than any one page letter they ever saw. It was read and re-read by all that belonged to our tent and a good many that did not belong to our tent. It ended with “Love to you and your mates, Affectionately, Your Cousin Occie Livingston.” I cannot tell how much good that letter did us. John Free read it nearly every day for three or four weeks, and said it made him love the South better, and carried him back to his home in Switzerland.

There was a man with us from Covington, Ga., Joe Barber an Englishman who belonged to the 3rd Ga. Regiment. He was sergeant of the police detail whose duty it was to keep the camp clean. When he found out a cousin of mine had once been the orderly sergeant of his company, he was very kind to me. He said, “Ah, you did not know that cousin like I did. J.W. Livingston was a grand soldier, who never shirked his duty, his company loved him. I was with him when he was killed.” I told him I had a letter from my cousin’s sister. He came to my tent to read it and when he read it the tears rolled down his cheeks.

He was allowed a hundred men for his work, their pay an extra ration each when the days work was done. After my cow was captured, he gave me a place on the force who emptied the kitchen slops. For this I received an extra ration. There were so many hungry boys there that would eat almost anything that a dog would eat, even if they had to hold their noses to do it. This is saying a great deal, but i can prove it. Each company had a slop barrel, that was emptied and washed every morning. Sometimes a man would get a little money, buy some loaf-bread, and throw the crust in the barrel. It would not be there long before some poor fellow would fish it out and eat it. The hardest fight I ever saw was over a rotten hog. It had died on a schooner and had been thrown overboard, and had floated in the water until the hair had come off, like it had been scalded. When tide washed it toward the beach and it was near enough for them to wade out to it two men who had been watching it for sometime, started for it and hauled it on the bank. They both claimed it. While they were fighting, others came up, cut off big pieces and carried it to their tents. When these two had fought till they were exhausted, the hog was all gone.The fellows who had it soon made it in hash with the aid of a little hardtack, and were going through the camp crying, “Here’s your hot hash!” and selling it for five and ten cent quantities according as a prisoner was able to buy.

(Another chapter next week)

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Confederate Soldier In A Yankee Army Prison, Chapter Four

The following is Chapter Four of the memoir of Byron Smith, who served in the 1st Georgia Cavalry. It was published in the Gloster Record (Amite County, Mississippi), January 27, 1939:

(By Byron Smith, Peoria, Miss.)
(Chapter Four)

It had been very cold for several days. We had nothing to make fires but the sun took pity on us and came out with its warm

Illustration of a Civil War Soldier picking lice. From Hardtack and Coffee: The Unwritten Story of Army Life by John D. Billings

Illustration of a Civil War Soldier picking lice. From Hardtack and Coffee: The Unwritten Story of Army Life by John D. Billings

genial rays. Soon hundreds of Johnnies were on the sunny side of their tents trying to get warm and picking themselves like a flock of geese. [Editor’s note: by “picking” Smith means he was removing lice from his uniform]

A galvanized Reb (that is what we called one who took the oath) came by going outside. An idea occurred to me. I decided I would take his place on the ration pole. I hurriedly entered my tent and had a request written out for transfer to Co. B, 8th Div., the company the man had just left. I gave it to the sergeant. He put my name on his roll and said “Come with me and I will show you your tent.” I told him I had a place to sleep, he replied, “All right but be sure you answer to roll call and be with us to get your rations.” I assured him I would attend to that.
I went back to my tent and said, “Boys, I have bought a cow,” and explained it to them. They replied “Yes, and the Yankees will catch you, kill your cow and make you ride old Bald.” Old Bald was a scantling 4x4x12 feet long with four legs ten feet long, making a trestle seat ten feet high to punish offenders. A ladder was placed against it, and the fellow ti be punished was made to walk up it, straddle old Bald and ride him without stirrups two, three or four hours. If he did not fall off when his time was out they placed a ladder for him to come down.

Two Union Soldiers at Vicksburg being punished by riding a wooden horse similar to

Two Union Soldiers at Vicksburg being punished by riding a wooden horse similar to “Old Bald” as described by Smith. – Library of Congress

Next morning I told the boys I was going to milk my cow. They all watched to see how I would succeed. I secured my extra ration and milked by cow for several months by answering to two rolls in two different companies. After the transfer business had been going on for several months, the number of men reported was about the same as it was before any took the oath, although by this time they had nearly two regiments of galvanized rebels from the inside. The Yankees were puzzled they did not understand it.
The corporals became very particular about roll call, but the boys would help each other and they could not catch up with us until one day a galvanized rebel was going out and the boys begged him to sell them his blanket but he refused. Then three or four of them took it away from him, knowing he would get another on the outside. One of these boys was “milking a cow” and this fellow knew it, and reported him for spite. The corporal carried him outside and kept him in the guard tent three or four days. Then they caught three others. They took three old flower barrels and knocked the heads out, nailed a strip of plank on two sides of them, then lifted the three barrels and put them over the heads of the three men. They put a barrel over the fourth one, and tied him with a rope to the other three, making a spike team. Then [they] fastened a card with “Flanker No.1,” Flanker No. 2 and so on to each one, and had them march before the guard between the cook house for two days. The corporal tried very hard to catch more but failed, as the boys were on the watch all the time.

Confederate Soldiers at Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp forced to wear barrels as punishment. -

Confederate Soldiers at Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp forced to wear barrels as punishment. –

After General Grant took command of the Virginia army, the prisoners were ordered to fall into line with one blanket and march out on [the] beach. A detail of Yankees then searched every tent and threw all the blankets and clothing out, and they were carried outside. When this was done the roll was called, and as each man answered he stepped inside and formed a new line. Our cows were captured. They found that about five thousand men had been answering to two roll calls. Perhaps they had by this means saved their lives. Well, we enjoyed it while [it] lasted, and had a great deal of fun, joking each other about the Yankee’s raid on our cows.
But it was not much fun over the loss of our blankets. When we came to Point Lookout, and all who had U.S. blankets had to

A Civil War U.S. Army Blanket

A Civil War U.S. Army Blanket

give them up, it was nearly a month before I succeeded in buying one. I had a hard time of it. The weather was cold, I had to sleep on the bare ground, and sometimes I thought I would freeze. Two of the boys allowed me to use as much of their blankets as they could spare. After I had bought one, our corporal asked if I was the man that had no blankets, I told him yes, he said, “come with me.” We walked outside to the house where they kept the supplies. He said, “take one.” I took two, I walked by his side to my tent happy. I was the owner of three good blankets, and could sleep comfortable.
(Another chapter next week)

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Confederate Soldier In A Yankee Army Prison, Chapter 3

The following is Chapter Three of the memoir of Byron Smith. It was originally published in the Gloster Record (Amite County, Mississippi), January 20, 1939.



(By Byron Smith, Peoria, Miss.)

When we arrived at Philadelphia there were train loads of Rebs from different prisons. They packed us on the transport “City of New York” until we barely had room to lie down on deck by lying very close together. One fellow was very careless about it and when he tried he failed to find space enough. He begged for space, no one paid any attention to him. He stood it awhile, and when nearly all had gone to sleep, he began to sing, ‘Oh Massas runned away, de darkies stay at home.’ When he started on the chorus, he tried to see how loud he could sing, and made more noise that any man I ever heard. He woke up most of the boys, and how some did curse and bemean him. One fellow told me if he didn’t hush, he would come over and cut his throat. “I would like to see you get to me.” He replied defiantly. Some got angry, some laughed at them for getting angry.

It was some time before quiet was restored and some began to snore. He began his song again “louder yet and yet more dread” it sounded. Some fellow a long distance from him cried out “Can’t some one kill that fool?” That started a laugh. Finally he stopped, and said “Boys, spoon up closer, and let me lie down.” No one moved. He waited until all were asleep again. Then if possible, his song rose louder than ever. They all woke up, and began to move as close together as possible, and managed to make space enough for him to lie down. Then all went well until we reached the Atlantic. The waves were running very high and a great many were seasick. Oh, such a time, such a time. So many paying tribute to Neptune in the darkness, and you could not move yourself. It was indescribable. The captain of the vessel said he told the officer in command not to crowd so many on board.

Two men on lower deck broke out  with smallpox. When we landed at Point Lookout, everyone who had a United States blanket, had to lay it on the wharf. The weather was extremely cold, thick ice every morning. They marched us nearly a mile to the pen. Near the gate we were formed into line, and the command given for all who were sick to the front. About fifty stepped out. Some were real sick and some only felt bad from their recent experience. They were put in wagons and ambulances and carried three miles. They had no idea where they were going but found to their horror that they were put in the smallpox hospital. But they could not help themselves. When they had been there long enough they all took it and ten or twelve died. It was too cruel.

Illustration Depicting Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp -

Illustration Depicting Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp –

One man from each tent was sent out under guard to get firewood toward the smallpox hospital. While out there I witnessed the burial of some of those who died in there. They were thrown in a wagon by negroes like they were dead hogs, hauled to a big ditch, the wagon backed up to it the corpse seized by the hand or foot, whichever was handiest given a pull and into the ditch it went. As it fell so it lay. When they had finished hauling corpses for that day they would lengthen the ditch for the next day, throwing the dirt over those they had already dumped in.

Interpretive Sign from Point Lookout Concerning Deaths at the Camp -

Interpretive Sign from Point Lookout Concerning Deaths at the Camp –

At Point Lookout, they gave us at breakfast a pint of coffee and hardtack. For dinner a cup of soup and a piece of meat. In

the summer the beef and soup were dreadful. We suppose from the odor and looks it must have been in city markets so long that the people would not buy it, then it was sold to the government to feed Rebs on. When it was cooked it was covered with flyblows and worms. We had to hold our noses to eat it, we could not afford to throw it away. The other meat was very good, what there was of it. Every day someone would try to “flank,” we do not call it steal, a ration. If caught he had to take a whipping. Every kitchen kept a man especially for the purpose, called the cook house fighter. He was well fed, fat and strong, and able to fight, and could easily whip the weakly half starved fellows who would risk a beating for the sake of a ration.
One day a fellow flanked a ration and the fighter thought he had caught him but he caught the wrong man. He thought John Free was the one. In vain John tried to prove his innocence, he would not listen to him, nothing would do but he must be whipped. The fighter took charge of him. John handed me his rations and then went to the fight ground. They squared themselves for the first round. He struck at John, but he warded off nicely, and gave the fighter a dash on the nose that knocked it out of shape. The fighter then tried to give John a terrible blow, but he fenced it off and landed a right hand blow over the fighters eye, then he broke the rule and ran for shelter, John right after him, but was stopped by the cooks at the door. When the fighter started to run, you never heard such a rejoicing. The cook asked him why he ran, he replied, “I was not going to be killed.” John was the hero of the hour. He said that it was his first fight since he was a school boy. The fighter lost his job, another took his place.
There were three ways of flanking a ration. One was to be among the first counted in, secure your ration, hand it to a mess mate, crawl under the table, rise up in line, and be given another. The second was to try to get in with another company. The plan generally failed but sometimes the company sergeant would take pity on the poor fellow and count him in, but he had to take a beating if caught. Another was what he called, buying a cow. It was done by transfer from the company you were in to another in a different division. You had to answer to two roll calls. The corporals did not suspect anything wrong neither did they care. Nearly every day someone would go outside to take the oath, and go west to fight Indians. We took advantage of this to “buy cows.” Out tent was the first to start in.
(Another chapter next week)

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Confederate Soldier in a Yankee Army Prison, Chapter 2

The following is Part 2 of the memoir of Byron Smith; it was published in the Gloster Record, (Amite County), January 13, 1939.

CONFEDERATE soldier in a Yankee Army Prison

by Byron Smith, Peoria, Miss.

Our next stop was at Lexington, [Kentucky] where they searched us and took away my cord and pocket knife and put us in what they called “John Morgan’s jail.” The next day they sent us to Cincinnati [Ohio] and marched us to the barracks where they stored their deserters. The building was six stories high. They said they had 1000 on each floor. We were sent to the sixth floor where a lattice partition separated the Rebs from the deserters. There we found several of our soldiers, among them one of Morgan’s men. He was a jolly fellow and the guard called him “Kentucky.” He they and John Roberts talked and sang nearly all night.

Wartime view of Cincinnati, Ohio - Harper's Weekly, September 27, 1862.

Wartime view of Cincinnati, Ohio – Harper’s Weekly, September 27, 1862.

“Kentucky would sing “Zollicoffer’ and the guards, ‘We’ll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree.’ One of the guards asked him if he was not afraid the court-martial would have him shot, and he replied, ‘No, if they shoot me General Morgan would retaliate by slaying a thousand of those who wear the blue.’

We were very hungry, having had nothing to eat since morning. Some lady sent Kentucky a large waiter of nice things to eat and he had us join him in eating them. The next morning he received another waiter and again he insisted on our sharing with him, saying he would enjoy it much better and could eat more, then if he was shot he would have a full stomach. At 9 o’clock they marched him out and riveted a chain to his leg that was fastened to a 60 lb ball he lifted the ball in his arms and with the six guards around him he left us to be tried by drum headed court-martial. We never heard of him again. We suppose he was shot. Such as war.

Fifteen of us were ordered to Camp Chase. While we were standing in line waiting for the cars, a nice-looking old man appeared in front of us and stood looking at us, and then began to cry. John Roberts asked him what was the matter. He answered “I have a boy in your army somewhere and to think I cannot help him almost breaks my heart.” John replied” my dear Sir, do not worry about your boy, he is all right and will not suffer for anything for he is among friends.” That seemed to do the old man good and he said, “I wish I was allowed to help you all.” Just then we were ordered into the cars and he told us goodbye. We tried to buy something to eat on the train but failed as a set our money was no good.

We arrived at Camp Chase just after ‘taps’ or 9 o’clock and were allotted different rooms all in the dark as no lights were allowed after that hour. We were so hungry that the prisoners who were there felt around in the dark and found enough to save us from suffering to a great extent, but we retired hungry.

The Interior of Camp Chase  - National Archives

The Interior of Camp Chase – National Archives

The ‘Johnnies’ as the Yankees called the southern soldiers inquired eagerly the news from our army and told us to be

careful about the prison rules, as the guards would shoot you quick if you disobeyed them. There were about 200 prisoners there. Some of them were busy making rings of gutta-percha buttons and could sell all they made. We stayed there only one week. While there Col. John and Col. Jim Brownlow, sons of the notorious Brownlow of Knoxville Tennessee, and who were schoolmates of mine in Knoxville, came to Camp Chase to get recruits for a cavalry regiment to go west and fight the Indians. I liked them in school, but did not go to see them, as I did not care to renew the acquaintance. Several joined them, one of whom deserted and was back with his command in six months.

"Brownlow at Camp Chase," from Scraps from the Prison Table, at Camp Chase and Johnson's Island by Joseph Barbiere, 1868

“Brownlow at Camp Chase,” from Scraps from the Prison Table, at Camp Chase and Johnson’s Island by Joseph Barbiere, 1868

We were next sent by rail to Sandusky, [Ohio] then by steamboat for miles to Johnson’s Island. On landing we were marched to the pen which was enclosed by a plank fence twelve or fourteen feet high with a plank walk for the sentinels on the outside four feet down from the top. The pickets next to the wall 2 x 3 scantling, spiked onto the railing which was 4 x 4 scantling. In it was the officers and privates quarters, sutler store, blockhouses for the guard a 12 pound howitzer pointing to the inside of the pen and a little house where they kept spies until they were shot. They shot two while I was there. Fifteen feet from the fence was a ditch, the dead line which it was death to cross only at the bridge leading to the gate.

They gave each of us a little bedtick, which they allowed us to fill with straw. Our bunks were built one over the other, seven or eight bunks high next to the wall, with two tiers in the middle of the room upstairs. For breakfast they gave us coffee, pickled pork and one small loaf of bread. That was all the bread I received for a day. If you ate it all for breakfast you had none for the other meals. Sometimes for dinner they would make a change and give us beef instead of pork with boiled potatoes. About once a week they gave us a rice soup.

Johnson's Island Prisoner of War Camp -

Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Camp –

If you had plenty of money you could get what you wanted from the sutler’s store, or those who kept little stands in the pen, if you had the money, but there was the rub. The absence of money was present with us, and hunger was also present. They gave us just enough to eat to keep us hungry, but perhaps that was best for some of us. It made us hustle about to find some job [that] would enable us to supplement our rations a little, but they were so few and they the most menial kinds. For instance I was so hungry, I hired to the Dutchman who came for the swill every morning, to help empty the swill from the barrels into the cart, for which I got five cents. This helped me to live but it was dirty heavy work. Then we put our wits to work to cheat so as to appease our hunger.

Yankee Guards at Johnson's Island -

Yankee Guards at Johnson’s Island –

The Dutchman sent milk in every morning to sell at ten cents a quart. I gave John Roberts my dollar bill and told him to buy a quart. He returned with the milk and ninety cents in sutler’s tickets. The tickets were made of colored pasteboard five cents yellow, ten cents green, fifty cents blue, and so on. We bought some biscuits, butter, and syrup, and out of [a] mess of six had a feast. Next morning I gave John my two dollar bill and told him to buy a half gallon of milk. He returned with the milk and changing tickets. We had plenty to eat as long as the tickets lasted, but we could buy no more milk. The next morning the boy called two or three times for the man to whom he had sold the milk to but no one answered. Finally John sauntered down to the cart and asked “Buddy what do you want with him?” He replied “the money he gave me was no good.” John said “let me see it.” Examining it closely he remarked, “I do not know what to think of the man who would pass that,” and walked off. I saved my last fifty cents for harder times.

One day I was coming from the sutler’s store I found an empty button box, a rascally thought came into my head. I carried it and my fifty cents sutler’s ticket to a young Kentuckian in our room. We compared them, the color was exactly the same. He said “I can make them, if you can get them off.” I replied “all right.” He made eighty fifty cent tickets. I gave one to John and told him to buy five cents worth of biscuits and five cents worth of butter from the sutler. When he came back I told him the secret. I divided with the Kentuckian. We would never buy but five cents worth at the time. We did not want to be suspected of having found a gold mine. Finally the sutler found he had too many fifty cent tickets in circulation. He had new ones made and called in the blue ones. We carried what we had left and exchanged for new ones.

Sutler's Ticket from Johnson's Island -

Sutler’s Ticket from Johnson’s Island –

When our tickets were all gone and hunger gnawed I hunted for a job of work. The men who cooked for the officers hired two dishwashers: one quit and I secured his place. We had to wash one hundred tin plates, 110 tin cups, and the mess pans, and carry water from the dump. Our salary was the scraps left on the table. As the officers bought a good many extras, we had more than we could eat. The other washer sold what he did not eat, I divided with my mess.

Many of the prisoners were refined, educated gentlemen, raised in luxury, and never knew what work or hardships were until they entered the army, and the richest government that the world ever saw would not give them enough to eat. After persistently refusing to exchange them a great many grew despondent and homesick and were sent to the hospital and died. Others tried to keep up their spirits by singing, dancing, playing bass and some playing cards.

Three men had long had their plans ready to try to escape. A skiff was moored to a bank about one hundred fifty yards from the east block house. They waited patiently for a suitable night. It came dark stormy and raining. After taps they started. Crawled down the ditch that ran through the pen, keeping about ten feet apart. The leader had a saw made on the back of a case knife. He sawed two pickets off just below the railing that extended to the bottom of the ditch. The sentinel stood in his booth and called, “Post No. 5, 11 o’clock and all’s well.” It was an awful storm the wind blew, the lightening flashed, the thunder rolled and the rain poured. When the sentinel called “Post No. 5, half past eleven and all’s well,” three prisoners were standing under his booth.

Among the prisoners was one from New Orleans, who set up a laundry and made money. He agreed to teach us so John Free and I started a laundry and made money. We made enough to buy us plenty to eat, and had some money [left] over. About the 15th of September 1863, all the privates were ordered to be ready to march to the landing to be sent to Savannah, Georgia, to be exchanged. How elated we were. What visions of freedom and loved ones floated in our imagination. Alas, only to be disappointed. Poor John Roberts was in the hospital too sick to go. I divided my money with him, and bid good-bye. I never saw him again.

(Another Chapter Next Week)

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Confederate Soldier in a Yankee Prison: The Memoir of Byron Smith, 1st Georgia Cavalry

In 1910 Byron Smith of Peoria, Amite County, Mississippi, published a memoir of his service during the Civil War. He

gave his tome the rather ponderous title of Reminiscences of a Confederate Prisoner: Scott’s Cavalry, Composed of 1st Georgia, 1st Louisiana and 3d Tennessee Regiments. A True Story Full of Interesting Events. A reminiscence of his time spent as a prisoner of war at Point Lookout, Maryland, Smith’s reminiscence is a very well written account of life in captivity during the Civil War.

Byron Smith’s book is long out of print, and I could find only about 15 copies of the work in various libraries scattered across the United States. There are a few quotes from the book on the internet, but the entire reminiscence has been, for the most part, unavailable to the public. Fortunately while doing some research, I found that Smith’s entire book had been serialized in the Gloster Record in 1939. Published in seven parts, I will post these articles the same way, one each week for the next seven weeks.

Bryon Smith was born on July 20, 1843, in Morgan County, Georgia, and was the son of Wiley and Sarah Smith. In the 1860 U.S. Census for Georgia, Byron was living with his parents and siblings in Cass County, Georgia, and the 16 year old listed his occupation as farmer. On May 1, 1862, Byron and his brother Langdon both enlisted in Company G, 1st Georgia Cavalry for “Three years or during the war.”  He served faithfully until June 3, 1863, when he was captured at Falls Creek, Kentucky. Byron was sent initially to Camp Chase, Ohio, then transferred to Johnson’s Island, Ohio. In October 1863 he was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, where he spent the remainder of his captivity. I hope you enjoy this reminiscence as much as I did.


Part 1

By Byron Smith, 1st Georgia Cavalry

Published in the Gloster Record (Amite County, Miss.,) January 4, 1939

It sometimes surprises us when we recall our experiences during the Civil War, to find how fresh and vivid those buried

memories are. It seems as though they were burned in as with a pen of iron, never to be effaced. Especially is this true if we were prisoners, shut out from the world, with so few exciting events to crowd out impressions once made. Yet for the most part, Southern soldiers have been silent, preferring that the memories die out with them. But comrades, is this right? When so much has been written of the horrors of Andersonville, Libby, and other Southern prisons: is it just to the Southern prisoners who were treated so kindly, they had no cause for complaint? We will soon all pass ‘over the river’ and if we remain silent, a true history of what we suffered can never be written, and for this reason I will give an account of my experience while a prisoner.

I belonged to Scott’s Cavalry Brigade, composed of the First Georgia, First Louisiana and the Third Tennessee regiments, and

John Sims Scott of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, commanded the brigade to which the 1st Georgia Cavalry belonged -

John Sims Scott of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, commanded the brigade to which the 1st Georgia Cavalry belonged –

the Third Tennessee battalion. In the spring of 1863 we were ordered back into Kentucky to get beef cattle. After passing through Monticello, the First Georgia, (our regiment), camped at Rankin’s Mills on the Cumberland River and kept pickets at every ford, as the Yankees were camped on the other side below us. Some of them would secure guides who lived in the neighborhood and knew every path, go down the river at night, cross over, and capture some of the Yankees pickets. They would generally parole them on the promise not to re-enlist.

In a few days the Yankees tried their hand at the game, but the ones they captured were sent back to prison. On the second day of June, 1863, John Roberts, Alfred Bryant and myself were detailed as pickets. Our post was at an old crib in an old clover field. After dark the pickets would draw from the crib and stand by trees in a little hollow nearby. Our orders were, not to shoot unless it was necessary.

During the night, six or eight of the enemy slipped about through the woods hunting us. They came within thirty feet of us. We could hear them, but it was so dark we could not see them. The next afternoon, while grazing ten or twelve horses on the clover, one of the pickets said, “Look at the Yankees” there were about five hundred of them about a mile down the river on the other side coming in a run. I ran to drive the horses to the gap, but before I could get them, Yankees had dismounted and were firing at us. The horses were so excited they passed the gap, and I took to the crib for shelter. John Roberts and Alfred Bryant had gone to a farm house near the crib they were there and said that that the farmer had just told them the Yankees could not cross nearer than three miles up the river. They were mounted infantry, and were armed with Colts five shooter cylinder rifles and while we were watching them shoot at us, they tore the roof of the crib into splinters.

Union Cavalrymen skirmishing with the enemy - Library of Congress

Union Cavalrymen skirmishing with the enemy – Library of Congress

About one hundred of the First Kentucky Yankee cavalry crossed the river about a mile above us, and were on us before we knew it. The Lieutenant asked us what command we belonged to, and when we told him he said, “It is a fine thing for you that you do not belong to that…Tennessee battalion.” One of his company told me afterwards that the night before, some of that battalion had captured the lieutenant’s brother, and when he attempted to escape, they had shot and killed him.

They had captured our horses, and told us to mount. My saddle was near, so I put it on my horse, and went across the river. The banks were steep and high, and it was difficult to cross. While we were crossing one of our pickets, who had gone to the woods, fired on the Yankees. Oh then there were hurrying times with those in the river. They went three miles up the river, crossed over, and came up in the rear of those pickets and captured them. They were John Free, David Seller, and Frank Chadwick of the Third Tennessee. They carried us two miles to their camp, which was located near where Zollicoffer was killed. It was my last ride on my noble horse that had carried me through so many dangers and close places and it was a sad parting. I told the Yankee that got him to take good care of him, that there was not a better horse in the army and I hoped that I could recapture him someday.

Our captors were very kind and treated us as well as they could under the circumstances. They gave us a fly tent to sleep under, a luxury to which we were not accustomed. I could not sleep I was planning to escape. Finally I arose and went to the fire, and talked to one of the guards. They kept a bright light all night with fence rails. We talked pleasantly until two o’clock then I asked him to take a walk with me. I was active and strong, and intended if only one went to seize him by the throat as soon as we reached the dark and choke him until he would be unable to give the alarm, then make my escape. I knew where their pickets were and could have dodged them, but he had the precaution to ask another one of the guards to go with us. Then I thought when we reached a little thicket, I would turn rabbit and make a jump for liberty, but before we reached it they stopped and we returned to the fire.

Next morning a lieutenant and sixteen of the cavalry started with six prisoners to Sommerset, [Somerset, Kentucky] a distance of eighteen miles. Our guards were very kind to us, and let us take it time about with them riding. [and let us take our time with them riding] When we arrived, the provost marshal tried to get us to take the oath to the United States but we refused. The next morning we started for Stanford [Kentucky]. About half way we stopped, and were put upstairs in a vacant house to spend the night guarded by German infantry. After a supper of hardtack and pickled pork, and some time spent in talking and poking with our guards we prepared to retire. Our beds were easily made, all we had to do was spread ourselves on the floor, and use each other for pillows. Before I lay down, I told the guard if I walk about in my sleep not to wake me. He replied, “I does vake you mit dis ver,” pointing to his bayonet. I did not walk any.

The next day John and I were walking some distance ahead of the others and the guards, and found in the road about 30 feet of small rope or cord. I picked it up thinking someday I might need it. I wound it around my body so it could not be seen. When we arrived in town they marched us to the Provost Marshals office to take the oath. None of us felt like we could swallow it. John Roberts said, “Colonel with due respect to you we volunteered to fight or die for the South, or rot in prison.” He answered, “It takes that kind of men to make good soldiers. Put them in jail, we can feed them easier than we can fight them.”

That jail was strong, not only in structure but in other things. A dump cart could not have hauled at three loads the filth that was in the corner of the room. It was bad but we had to endure it. John said, “Boys, it won’t take us long to rot in this place.” Next morning John asked the Yankee who brought our breakfast to please set it on the platform outside, and tell the officer of the guard we wanted to see him. He came and we invited him inside. He said, “Boys, how can you stand this? John replied, “Lieutenant, we are Southern soldiers and can stand anything, but we will appreciate the favor if you will give an order for us to take our meals on the platform.” He said he would, if we would promise not to escape. We promised and ate our meals on the platform as we stayed there. Jno. Free was so glad when the door opened, to breathe fresh air once more, he jumped out, striking his head against the top facing of the door, and cutting a gash to the bone. We dressed his wound the best we could.

The third day after our arrival, I was looking out the window which was over the pavement, when I noticed a lady walking on the opposite side of the street. She wore a sun bonnet, carried a big market basket on her arm, and had a light shawl thrown over her shoulder, which covered the basket. She soon passed out of my sight. Directly I heard someone under the window say something about a cord or rope. Not thinking it was intended for me, I paid no heed to it. Again I saw the lady walking on the opposite sidewalk, and in a few minutes a voice under the window said, “Let down a cord.” I threw my cord out, held on to the end, and waited to see what would happen. I felt someone working with it, and after awhile two or three jerks were given it as a signal to haul up. When it came in sight I could scarcely keep from shouting with joy. I squeezed the load through the bars, and unloaded it on the windowsill. The attention of the other boys was elsewhere, so I kept quiet.

The first haul consisted of the nicest pies, with tea cakes rolled up with them. I saw my friend pass down the street again. I threw my cord and waited. This time I drew up a cake so large I had to mash it through the bars. I threw my cord again and waited, she sent up more tea cakes and pies, gave the signal and said “bye, bye.” When I had arranged the dainties on the sill I called the boys. They were amazed. “Where did you get all these nice things?” they exclaimed. “Never mind,” I replied. “I fish for them.” I wonder if my mother had not been praying that the Lord would prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies?

If that good lady could have seen how intensely those poor Rebels enjoyed their nice treat, she would have felt rewarded for her trouble. We had no way of finding out who she was or of returning our gratitude but during all those years her memory has been cherished in our heart of hearts and we hope Heaven repaid her in full measure. For three days she came and sent supplies. Then thirty prisoners were brought in, including five Yankee deserters, which so crowded our quarters that the next morning we were ordered into wagons and under a large escort of cavalry sent to Nicholasville [Kentucky]. On the way one of the Yankee deserters seeing I had Confederate money, offered to exchange greenbacks for it. Knowing I could not use the Confederate, I exchanged, giving him two for one.

End of Part 1

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“Determined to Storm Headquarters:” The Attack of the 38th Mississippi on their Commanding General

The Civil War was filled with days of valor, glory, and bloodshed, but most of the time soldiers battled nothing more dangerous than boredom. The young men found many ways to relieve the tedium of life in the army. Quite often in reminiscences of the war, soldiers talk about the pranks that they played on their fellow soldiers. Armies then as now were made up of young men, and there is nothing than young men like more than tricking their fellow soldiers. James Henry Jones, an officer in the 38th Mississippi Infantry, related the following story in the Magnolia Gazette, December 3, 1887:


Col. Jones of the Thirty-Eighth Mississippi Regiment, tells the following story:

In the early part of 1864 the regiment was mounted. This was considered by the men as being retired from active service,

Post-war photograph of James Henry Jones, Lieutenant Colonel of the 38th Mississippi - Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society

Post-war photograph of James Henry Jones, Lieutenant Colonel of the 38th Mississippi – Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society

for the infantry entertained a profound contempt for the cavalry, or Buttermilk Rangers, as they were derisively termed. Of course this was unjust.

Soon after reporting for duty the regiment joined in an attack on some lightly armed gun-boats on the Yazoo River. A skirmish line was formed, a dash made for the river bank which was reached without loss and the boats were covered by our rifles from the protection of a levy. In such a situation gunboats must close their side ports and are helpless and our artillery soon made short work of them.

Thee was really little risk and the work was familiar, but it pleased our new General, and as a reward, we were exempted from all fatigue duty except furnishing a nightly guard for headquarters. And thereby hangs a tale. One night the commissariat was robbed, no doubt with the connivance of the guard, and the regiment was disposed from its favored place and made to do ordinary duty in consequence. But our General had “reckoned without his host,” and did not fully understand the resources of the old Thirty-Eighth in an emergency.

Soon after their disgrace a party of the boys prepared a lot of grenades – corn-cob shells they called them – and determined to storm headquarters. These shells were made by taking the pith out of the cob of a full ear of corn and replacing it with powder. A short fuse was inserted and the hole plugged. It will be seen at a glance that this was a weapon of offense not to be despised. It exploded with a report quite equal to that of a musket, and the grains flew in all directions with stinging force. Armed with these shells they approached the General’s tent in the dead of night.

The sentry was speedily routed, and the General, in great alarm, rushed from his tent in his night robe, which report says, was uncommonly short. A shell or so exploding between his legs speedily sent him to cover, and he was kept under his blankets, though his curses were vigorous and eloquent during the siege. They remonstrated with him on his carelessness in sleeping without guards. They assured him his life was necessary to the safety of his command, and implored him, for their sake, to be more cautious in the future. During this address a shell was occasionally exploded in the tent to enforce a patient hearing, for the General, like all Texans, was known to be handy with the pistol, and his temper was none of the sweetest.

Having accomplished their purpose the attacking force was withdrawn in true military style. A rear guard of one man was left, who kept up a lively fusillade, under cover of which the main body withdrew. When these were safe the rear guard took to his heels. Next morning the General had recovered his good humor, and laughed heartily at the joke, and restored the regiment to its former post of honor and of ease.

The “General” who was so rudely attacked by the 38th Mississippi was Colonel Hinche Parham Mabry. Starting the war as

Colonel Hinche P. Mabry - Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 20, (June 1912)

Colonel Hinche P. Mabry – Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 20, (June 1912)

Captain of Company G, 3rd Texas Cavalry, Mabry worked his way up to command of the regiment. At the battle of Iuka the fiery Texan had been wounded three times and captured by the Federals. Offered a parole by the Yankees, the obstinate Colonel refused because the parole document referred to his country as the “so called” Confederate States of America. Mabry refused to sign the insulting papers and spent several months in a prison camp before being exchanged. Such was the spirit of the man tasked with whipping a rag-tag brigade into fighting trim, and he definitely had his work cut out for him.  Douglas Hale, The Third Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), 28, 127-129.

Mabry’s first assignment after assuming command of the brigade to which the 38th Mississippi belonged was to take his men and operate in Yazoo County to protect the property of local citizens from Yankee raiding expeditions. The Colonel began his assignment in grand style, capturing the tinclad gunboat U.S.S. Petrel above Yazoo City on April 22, 1864. The boat was proceeding up the Yazoo River on a cotton stealing expedition when it blundered into a trap and was attacked by a detachment of Mabry’s brigade commanded by Colonel John Griffith of the 11th & 17th Arkansas. United States Navy Department, Comp., Official Records of the Union And Confederate Navies In The War of The Rebellion; (Washington D. C., 1895-1929), Series 1, Volume 26, 248.  

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