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Chapter 3: taken to Andersonville

  • Robbed.
  • -- Traded hats. -- a rebel woman. -- Stored in a cotton warehouse. -- taken to Andersonville. -- Sumter prison. -- the stockade

There were fifty or sixty of us together when captured in the edge of the swamp. After disarming us we were taken a short distance to a road. Here we were halted and guarded, while the rebs scoured the woods and continued the pursuit. The report of firearms was heard far and near, and every little while a squad of prisoners would be added to our company, till we numbered over three hundred, when they started us toward Newman.

By talking together we learned much of the extent of our disaster. We learned [32] from some of Brownlow's men that he had crossed the Chattahoochee, swimming his horse; a few of his men got across with him, a number were shot in the river, and those who told me the story were captured on the east bank. This Col. Brownlow was a son of the famous old Parson of East Tennessee. He had a good deal of the Old Parson in him, and owing to certain deeds performed in former raids in his own country, he knew it was best for him to keep out of rebel hands. I was glad to learn afterwards that he succeeded in reaching our lines, much to their disappointment.

The troops who were guarding us were Texans, and did not scruple to rob us of any private property that caught their eye. Our ponchos were in demand. Then they robbed most of us of our canteens. Of course we gave them up under protest. None but an old soldier can appreciate our loss in these. We also swapped hats and boots with them, utterly destroying our faith in the old maxim that “it takes two to make a bargain.” [33]

My boots were too small for any that tried them, and I was allowed to keep them; but my neat, soft felt hat of the Burnside pattern, was lifted off my head by a long-haired fellow, who gave me in exchange his C. S. regulation tile. Every old soldier remembers the old white hats that we found scattered over every battlefield and camp ground out of which we chased the Johnnies, from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico.

To the reader who was not in the Army I will say, the hat that I received was made of white wool, felted about a quarter of an inch thick, and when I got it, it was a light gray color, and was about the size and shape of an old washpan. I wore it to prison, and for many long mouths it served me for a shelter from the hot sun, for a cushion to sit on when the sand was too hot to be comfortable, and for a pillow at night. After sitting around in the rain all day, I think it would have weighed five pounds.

When they got ready to start toward Newman, we were marched along the road [34] in four ranks, with Rebels to right of us, Rebels to left of us, Rebels in front of usit spoils the poetry-Rebels behind us.

They rode. We walked. It was hot and dusty. Remember we had been in the saddle both the preceding nights, and were tired and sleepy.

As we passed a house one of the rebel officers called at the gate for a drink of water. A nice-looking lady came out, accompanied by a black girl who bore the pitcher. She gave him and two or three others a drink, and they gave her a boastful account of how they had scooped us. She then turned toward us and our guard, and with a pleasant smile asked, “Would any of you soldiers like a drink?” One of our boys said, “Madam, I would like a drink, please.” The smile faded out and a look of contempt took its place, as she answered, “You low-flung, thieving Yank-would I give you a drink? Not unless it had strychnine in it. You ought to be hung, every one of you!”

I write this incident because it helps to [35] show the feeling of the South toward the Union army.

We got to Newman about the middle of the afternoon, and were put in an old cotton warehouse and closely guarded. When we entered that warehouse we found four or five hundred of our comrades already in. Our greetings were not joyous, the usual form being, “What? You, too! I was in hopes you had escaped.”

They kept adding to our numbers till night, and by that time a majority of the command that left Sherman's lines four days before was in the hands of the enemy. And what added to the bitterness of our capture was that we felt that it was due to the incompetence of our leader.

They kept us at Newman that night and the next day while they mended the railroad at Palmetto. As soon as they could get a train through they moved us to East Point, a junction only six miles from Atlanta. Here we lay one night and day, in hearing of Sherman's guns. From there we were taken to Andersonville, arriving there about noon, August 26. [36]

Andersonville is a small town on the Macon & S. W. R. R. At that time it did not contain over a dozen houses, and most of these were poor shanties. There were only two or three respectable residences. There was one store, kept in part of the depot building, and a cotton warehouse. The cotton warehouse is to a Georgia railroad station what the grain elevator is in Iowa. The town was built in a pine forest, many of the stumps and a few of the trees still remaining in the streets and yards, and the woods encroaching on it at almost every point.

A little brook ran through the town, furnishing a natural sewer for its filth and offal. Just east of the village was the rebel camp of three or four thousand troops, mostly Georgia militia, composed of men too old and boys too young for field service. These were the prison guards.

Still farther to the east, about half a mile from the station, was the pen, called by the rebs “Sumter prison,” but known all over the North as Andersonville Prison Pen. This pen was about fifty rods long [37] and thirty-six wide. It lay across the same brook that ran through the village and the rebel camp. The stream ran to the east. It divided the pen into two parts, known to us as “North side” and “South side.” North side contained about seven and a half acres, South side about three and a half.

The prison wall was of hewn timber, placed on end six feet in the ground, and extending twelve feet above groundmak-ing a solid wall eight inches thick. Near the top of this wall, on the outside, were platforms, or sentry-boxes, with sheds built over them to keep off the sun and rain, so that the guard had a comfortable place in which to stand and watch what was going on in the pen. There were about fifty of these boxes around the stockade.

There were two gates, a “north” and a “south” gate, both on the west side of the pen. Here again north and south have reference to sides of the brook. These gates were small stockade pens, about thirty feet square, with heavy doors, opening into the prison on one side and outside on the other. If the inner door was [38] opened the outer door was always shut, and vice versa.

There was another wall outside the one I have named, about two hundred feet from it, running part way round. This outer wall was not continuous, but had large openings in it, in which artillery was placed in such position that they could rake the prison with grape or shell if they so desired.

From the north side, by looking over the stockade where it crossed the hollow, we could see Wirtz's headquarters above, and our hospital below. From the south side, in looking over the same way we could see the quarters of a pack of blood hounds, “the old Redfield,” and a part of the town.

    Explanation of stockade.
    (see next page.)

  • 1. Stockade.
  • 2. “dead line.”
  • 3. Brook
  • 4. Swap.
  • 5. Rebel Suttlers.
  • 6. Bake house for corn-bread
  • 8. & 9. Entrances.
  • 10 & 11. Outer Stockades.
  • 12. Earthwork Fortifications.
  • 13. Location of hospital.
  • 14. Place where the surgeons Prescribed for the sick and admitted to the hospital.

Plan of stockade.

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