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)

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

Civil War Hardtack -
Civil War Hardtack –

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)

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)

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