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Chapter 40: prison experiences.

The captured men were taken across the field into the rebel works and to their rear where they halted and remained through the night. The men were lively and appeared to be anxious to make the best of a bad predicament. In the morning their tents and blankets were taken away from them; some blankets being removed, even, while the men were asleep.

The prisoners were then marched through Petersburg and they found it to be quite a pretty place. Their names, companies and regiment were then registered and they camped for the day beside the Appomattox river.

At daylight on June 24 they marched to the depot and took the cars to Richmond. There they were marched through the street, being “quizzed” and called ‘Yanks’ and other names, until Libby Prison was reached. Here the haversacks, canteens and almost everything else, were taken away and the enlisted men were put in an old warehouse across the street from the prison,—over 200 being confined in one room. At night a ration of corn bread was issued to them, the first ration which the men had received since they were captured, two days before.

Shortly after noon, the officers were ordered into the prison and got their first taste of Libby and of Dick Turner, its warden, who at once entered upon a search of their clothing for greenbacks, etc.

On the second day after their arrival in Libby Prison, some negroes came in to swab the floor and among them was the former servant of Col. Devereux,—Johnnie—who had been left at White House Landing, ill with fever, when the army had started on its retreat down the Peninsula in the spring and was supposed to have died. He recognized several of the officers and did what little he could, without exposing himself to danger, [337] to help them. From his condition, it was evident that his captors had not used him any too well.

After remaining in Libby Prison for a week the officers, now numbering over a hundred, from recent captures, were taken across the river to Manchester, placed in cars and, after riding all day without food or water reached Lynchburg on the following morning. They were compelled to remain jammed in the cars, until noon, having to endure the sight of quantities of bread, pies, fruit, etc. in the hands of hucksters outside. The men were so hungry that they tore the rings from their fingers and gave of their most valuable possessions for loaves of bread.

At noon, rations of twenty small hard tack and a small slice of maggoty bacon were issued and the men were told that this was enough for four days,—during which time they were to march from Lynchburg to Danville, the Union cavalry having destroyed the railroad connection between the two places.

After marching for five miles, camp was made for the night and here the enlisted men of the Nineteenth and other regiments came up, but were not allowed to visit their officers. The officers and enlisted men were kept in close proximity to each other on the march, which was through a pleasant country and in good weather. The march was continuous until July 4, when Danville was reached, the prisoners being quartered there in an old warehouse. At night they were marched to the depot and while waiting for the train, enjoyed themselves by singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in honor of the day.

On the following day, Macon, Ga., was reached and here the officers were compelled to again bid good bye to the men. The officers left the train, while the men were carried away to Andersonville.

The officers were confined in the prison at Macon and endured all the sufferings incident to life in a rebel stockade. After remaining there until the last of July, they were taken to Charleston, S. C., and placed in the jail under fire of the Union batteries on Morris Island. In August they were paroled and taken to the old United States Marine Hospital, remaining there until Yellow Fever broke out in October. They were then taken to Columbia. From there a number escaped, but the [338] majority who survived were exchanged at different times during the next six or eight months.

Lieut. ‘Billy’ McGinnis, always a source of fun, did not have the fondness for a joke starved out of him, even in a rebel prison. Most of his hair had fallen out by the time he was placed in ‘Camp Sorghum’ at Columbia, S. C., and all he had to wear was a dressing gown which had been allotted to him from one of the Sanitary Commission's boxes which had been sent to the prison. With his bald head and unkept beard of gray, he appeared much older than he really was.

One day a rebel officer who came into the office, saw McGinnis walking about in his flowing robe, and exclaimed, ‘It's a shame. Ef I could I'd let thet po “ ol” man go free.’ ‘Old man,’ exclaimed McGinnis, ‘I guess not, yet,’—and he turned a handspring in front of the kind hearted officer, who disappeared immediately.

The personal diary of Joseph E. Hodgkins, at that time a sergeant in Company K,—one of those captured on June 22nd, gives an interesting description of the events in the rebel prisons and, except for dates, perhaps, the experiences he chronicles are similar to those of the others.

He says:

June 25, 1864. This afternoon we received a ration of corn bread and soup—and such soup. As the fellows say, they have to dive for a bean. In the afternoon they were stripped and searched.

June 26th. Were taken from Libby to Belle Isle, a hot, sultry place.

June 29th. Received rations of bread and pork or ham fat early this morning and left the island. Marched to the depot and took cars, riding all day and into the night, and stopped at Lynchburg. Had but little water today.

June 30th. Spent last night in the cars. Sold my inkstand and pocketbook for three small loaves of bread, which I divided with two of my comrades. One of our boys paid 50cts. for an onion and another paid $10.00 for a thin blackberry pie. I have seen men pay $2.00, $5.00 and even $7.00 for loaves of bread. Received four days rations, as we are to march to Danville. Rations consisted of twenty crackers and about a pound of ham fat. The distance to Danville is 45 miles and the reason for our march is the fact that the railroad is torn up by Yankee troops. Started just before night and before dark halted in a swampy place where we spent the night. [339]

July 1st. Marched nearly all day and camped on the bank of Stanton River. Have suffered terribly for water, it being very scarce, except at farmhouses, where the rebel guard would not allow us to stop and get a drink.

July 2nd. Marched until nearly sunset.

July 3rd. Marched at daylight. Rations gave out at noon. Halted toward sunset on the bank of a river and camped for the night.

July 4th. Marched until along in the forenoon when we arrived in Danville, where we were put into some old brick buildings and we have to go a few at a time to get a drink. At dark received a small piece of ham fat, about two inches square, but nothing to eat with it. Can hardly stand the pangs of hunger.

July 6th. This morning marched to the railroad where we took baggage cars for Georgia. There were 56 men in one car. Arrived at Charlotte, N. C., about dark, left the cars and camped for the night in a field.

July 8th. This morning took the cars again and rode all day, passing through a number of places in South Carolina, the last being Columbia. We stopped a short distance outside the city.

July 9th. This forenoon we started again at 11 o'clock, with 50 men in a carload and road all day and night.

July 10th. Sabbath. Arrived in Augusta, Ga., at three o'clock this morning. Started in afternoon again and rode all night.

July 11th. Arrived at Andersonville, Ga., this forenoon. Saw Capt. Wirz who was in command. He is a medium sized German with a disagreeable countenance and an ugly way. We had to stand in line for a long time in the sun, although some of our men were sick with Diarrhea, etc. We were then divided into divisions of ninety men and then into squads of thirty, a sergeant being placed over each. We were then marched into the dirtiest place I ever saw, where were 27,000 half starved men moving about like so many maggots, with nothing to do but to look around. Received rations of mush, salt and ham fat.

July 16th. Rations of mush, meal and molasses.

July 17th. Rations,—a pint of mush and molasses for all day.

July 18th. Rations,—nothing,—not a mouthful. Oh, for a good home meal.

July 22nd. In the morning a ration of mush was brought in but it was poor and, hungry as I was, I could not swallow it.

Aug. 5th. Rations—a pint of boiled rice and meat.

Aug. 25th. Rations changed today Bread, a small piece of ham fat less than a pint of raw, buggy beans and a small piece of raw, fresh beef. For wood to cook with we had two pine branches to be divided between 90 men.

Aug. 26th. Rations—bread, ham fat and rice. About all we think of is rations. [340]

Aug. 28th. James Ridlon, of Co. E, died today.

Aug. 30th. Henry Bowler, of Lynn, died today.

Sept. 7th. The Rebs commenced to take out the prisoners by detachments today, they say to exchange. We have orders to be ready at a moment's notice.

Oct. 1st. Oh, for something new.

Oct. 13th. Pleasant today. Suffer terribly by night. My cloths are wearing out. My shirt is almost in pieces, my blouse sleeves are about gone. Cold weather is coming on. Only about one meal per day. What are we coming to? God help me!

Oct. 24th. Charlie Rowley died today. Thus the old Nineteenth is quickly dwindling away.

Nov. 3rd. Ordered to be sent to the prison pen at Miller, 85 miles further north. Marched to the cars.

Nov. 4th. Entered the stockade this morning like a drove of pigs in a pig pen.

Nov. 5th. Have just passed a very cold night. The wind blew considerably and seemed to go right through me and that isn't saying much for there isn't much of me to go through just now.

Nov. 21st. Ordered off to the depot about night.

Nov. 22nd. Arrived at Savannah about four this afternoon.

Nov. 25th. Received no rations today. Heard an outsider say that five hundred sick were to be paroled today. Thought I would fall in with them and see if I could not get out of imprisonment for I have had enough of it.

After noon a rebel officer came into camp and gave the order to fall in. I thought perhaps that was the chance for me, so fell in with a great many others . . . . After dark, moved to the outskirts of the city. Paroled at 10 o'clock tonight.

Nov. 26th. Sat up all night. Very cold. Received no rations this morning. Terribly hungry. About noon marched to the river, took the rebel flag of truce boat and steamed down the Savannah river to our transports, which we boarded. As we came in sight of our boats and before leaving the rebel boat, cheers were given for the glorious Stars and Stripes which we had not seen for over five months.

Members of the Nineteenth Massachusetts infantry whose names appear on the register of Andersonville prison as having died there during the war of the rebellion.

Adams, Sanford B. Priv.Co. H.Sept. 23, 1864.
Allen, John,C.Sept. 25, 1864.
Barnes, Leonard A.,F.Sept. 5, 1864.
Blake, Wm. H.,K.Oct. 12, 1864.
Bradish, Francis,C.July 27, 1864.
Bree, George,F.Aug. 8, 1864.
Clemment, John,B.Sept. 5, 1864.
Dame, Redford,G.June 12, 1864. (Regimental report says killed May 6, 1864,Wilderness.)
Delano, Ezra,G.Nov. 3, 1864.
Deansfield, John,F.Aug. 28, 1864.
Edwards, Charles,B.Nov. 4, 1864.
Ellers, Heindrick,H.Oct. 12, 1864. (Mass. Vols. Report says discharged June 30, 1865.)
Farrell, George,E.Nov. 7, 1864.
Finnegan, Patrick,A.Aug. 24, 1864.
Hogan, Stephen,E.Aug. 18, 1864.
Hoyt, Daniel,E.Sept. 19, 1864.
Johnston, Robert A.,A.Aug. 16, 1864.
Levoin, Charles,I.Aug. 28, 1864.
Ludlow, James,A.Aug. 29, 1864.
McCann, John,F.Nov. 25, 1864. (Mass. Vols. says discharged May 4, 1865 disability.)
Mitchell, John,H.Nov. 3, 1864.
Mortimer Louis,D.Sept. 7, 1864.
Murray, Thomas,A.Feb. 9, 1865.
Nietman, August,F.Mar. 15, 1865.
Osborne, William,A.Aug. 7, 1864.
Robinson, Henry,H.Oct. 3, 1864.
Rowley, Charles A.,H.Oct. 26, 1864.
Sabiens, Edward,K.Aug. 10, 1864.
Sargent, George C.,H.Nov. 1, 1864. (Mass. Vols. says discharged June 30, 1865.)
Shinnick, James,H.Oct. 23, 1864.
Smith, John H,A.Aug. 15, 1864.
Somers, Frank,H.Nov. 17, 1864.
Spence, David,D.Aug. 19, 1864. (Report says discharged June 30, 1865.)
Walker, Arthur,H.June 15, 1864.
Warner, Abraham F. Corp.,D.Nov. 23, 1864. (Feb. 13, 1862.)
Willard, Parsons S.G.Oct. 26, 1864. (Mass. Vols. says dis. June 30, 1865, as W. L. Parsons.)
Willis, Calvin W.,C.July 17, 1864. (Name does not appear in Mass. Vols.)
Wilson, William,B.Oct. 8, 1864. (Adjt. Gen. Report says discharged June 30, 1865.)


The regimental returns also state that the hospital records at Andersonville give three names of men having died there, not in this list.

List of additional dead.

Ridlon, James,Co. C.
Millard, P.,G.
Spar, H.H.

The diary of Sergt. Joseph E. Hodgkins also states that Henry Bowler died there on Aug. 30th, 1864.

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