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´╗┐Title: The Dispatch Carrier and Memoirs of Andersonville Prison
Author: Tyler, William N., 1838-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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|Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.|
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Price, 25 Cents.






CIVIL WAR, FROM 1861 TO 1865,




Books, as a general rule, have prefaces. I write a preface to this book,
not because I think it necessary, but because it is customary. I did not
keep a diary, and it may be that I have not given the right date every
time, but there is nothing in this book but what is strictly true, and
the most of it is my own personal experience and that of my comrades who
participated in my adventures while a soldier. The reason I do not give
the names of my comrades is because they are scattered to the four
quarters of the globe, and I do not know where they are except a few who
live neighbors to me, and I have no right to use their names without
their consent.

I will give a thrilling description of my experience as a dispatch
carrier and finally my capture and imprisonment, escape and recapture,
and will also give a complete description of being chased by blood
hounds and other incidents too numerous to mention.

Yours Truly,

Rapids City, Ills., 1892.


At the outbreak of the Great Civil War in 1861, I was 23 years of age, a
stout, healthy young man, not knowing what it was to have a sick day;
had always worked on a farm and worked hard, too. In the latter part of
April, news was received that Fort Sumter had been fired upon; everybody
acted as if they were crazy; all wanted to enlist. I was one of the
first to enlist in a three months' regiment, but that failed to go on
account of not having arms, so I was forced to go back to my home, which
was four miles south of Belvidere, Ill. In September, 1861, they started
to get up a company of cavalry at Belvidere. I was one of the first to
enlist in that, after which I was appointed sergeant. We were sent to
Camp Douglas, Chicago. It did not take long to fill up our regiment,
neither did it take long to get our horses and saddles ready; then we
commenced to drill. What a time some of our men had; some had never
driven a horse in their lives and there is where the fun comes in,
especially after we had drawn our spurs. The next move after we had
drawn our spurs and saddles was when Col. Brackett ordered the bugle to
sound the call to fall in for drill. The whole regiment was on hand with
their horses all saddled and bridled for a drill. You must remember that
our horses were well fed and in the best condition; full of life and
spirit. It was all some of us could do to make them keep their place in
the ranks.

"Now," said the Colonel, "When I tell you to mount you must put your
left foot in the stirrup and grasp the reins and the mane with your left
hand, and at the word 'mount,' all mount together." "Mount" was the
command. Well, we did make the effort to all mount together but you
should have seen them; the horses started off in every direction,
pell-mell over the field; some were dragged along on the ground with
their feet in the stirrups, while others were on their horses all right,
but the harder the horses ran, the harder they stuck in their spurs; one
poor fellow let go all hold and grabbed the head and mane; stirrups flew
in every direction and he went straight for the barn. Now our stables
were all three hundred feet long; away went horse and rider, straight
for the center of the barn; just as the horse got within four feet of
the stable, it came to a sudden halt, but the rider went on with a
crash through the side of the barn; he could not have made a cleaner
hole if he had been shot out of a cannon. I must say he came out pretty
lucky; of course he was bruised and stiff legged for a day or two but
that was all. Some of the men got hurt very severely but it did not take
long for us to find out that we had to keep our toes in and our heels
out. We had not drawn any arms yet and all we had to mount guard with
was simply a stick whittled out in shape of a sword. Our officers would
not allow any one out unless they had a pass from the Colonel. The
guards were placed around the camp to keep the men from going out but
many nights did the boys run the guard. If by chance one of the men was
out after sundown, the guard was supposed to keep him out or arrest him
and turn him over to the sergeant of the guard, but this was generally
the way it was done around Camp Douglas: Now, here comes some one who
has stayed out after roll call; he comes straight up to the sentinel;
the sentinel speaks first: "Who comes there?" now if the man has been
out on permission, of course he has the countersign; then he will answer
back "A friend with the countersign," then the sentinel will say,
"Advance, friend, and give the countersign," and after giving it the
sentinel then passes him in, but let me tell you, we did not always go
according to discipline while we were at Chicago. This is the way we had
among ourselves: Now here comes one who has been out too late. "Halt!
who comes there?" "A friend with a canteen." "Advance and draw the
stopple." The next thing you will see the sentinel look toward heaven,
and hear a gurgling sound as of something going down his throat, then
finally a pair of lips would smack. "The countersign is correct, you may
pass in."

We had a great many ways of amusing ourselves, some played cards, some
foot ball, some one thing and some another, but after all the time hung
heavy on our hands for we were all anxious to get into active service.
The first of February, 1862, we got marching orders for St. Louis, Mo.
Our officers then gave us passes to go home, it being our last chance
before leaving for the field. I never shall forget that last visit: how
my old mother, wife, and two little ones followed me to the train, how
my blessed old mother put her arms around my neck and while the tears
were running down those old wrinkled cheeks, called on God to bless her
boy. Oh, that parting! how can we forget it, comrades? to pick up the
little ones and give them one long last hug, good bye, wife, little
ones, mother, and we were gone: yes, gone. The next thing was the shrill
scream of the engine and we commenced to move slowly out of the depot.
The train was mostly loaded with soldiers, all leaving homes, going to
fight for their country. There was no screaming or yelling, for they had
just parted from their wives, mothers and homes, perhaps never to see
them again.

Now just look over the coach of young soldiers in the first flush of
manhood; can they all get back to their homes? No, reader, not three out
of five.

On we went, every one of those young soldiers knew what they were going
for; one could see by their sober, determined faces that they had
weighed their chances and had given all for their country.

When we arrived at Chicago, we found everything in a great state of
excitement. We were to embark our horses, equipments, and board the
train for St. Louis. All was hurly burly; we had to blindfold our horses
in order to get them on the train; finally, all was ready and away we
went for St. Louis.

On the 16th of February, 1862, we started for Benton Barracks. At Alton,
Ill., we boarded a steamboat for St. Louis; after arriving there we
saddled our horses and took them off on the levee, mounted, and
commenced our march through the city for Benton Barracks. The streets
were lined with people and as the flag bearer unfurled our regimental
flag, and as it floated out on the breeze, you could plainly read in
large gold letters, "Ninth Illinois Cavalry." We could hear on every
side, "What a splendid regiment!" I think I have every reason for being
proud of my regiment; all were fine looking young men, fine horses, and
as fine a Colonel as ever drew a saber. Col. Brackett was as true and
brave an officer as ever wore soldier straps, as the reader will find
out if he follows the pages of this true narrative.

As we marched through the streets of St. Louis some hurrahed for the
Ninth Illinois Cavalry, while others cursed us to our faces and some
yelled, "You won't sit so straight in those saddles when you get down
South; you will find lots there that are only two by six." That meant we
would find our graves. We paid no attention to their taunts but kept on
up through the streets. While we were on Fourth street a woman thrust
her head out of a window in the second story, and exclaimed, "Hurrah for
the Ninth Illinois Cavalry and the girl I left behind me!" That set the
boys all in good humor, and we arrived at Benton Barracks without any
further adventure worthy of note.

The Barracks were somewhat in the shape of a square, only a good deal
longer than it was wide. They were built to accommodate about fifty
thousand troops. The parade ground covered one hundred acres, and the
barracks were all around the parade grounds. I do not know just how many
troops were there when we were, but should judge that there were about
thirty thousand, all waiting for arms, as we had not drawn any as yet

Our stables were just in the rear of our quarters, and about all we had
to do was to take care of our horses and drill once a day. Sometimes
some of our boys were a little quarrelsome, and if a man wanted to fight
it did not take long for him to find someone who would accommodate him.
Our officers hardly ever interfered; they said it was better to let them
fight it out than to be everlastingly quarreling, and it proved to be
the best in the long run, for after we got into the field there was
hardly ever any fighting among our own men.

Well, the 22d of February came around, Washington's birthday, and there
was a grand parade of all the soldiers of Benton Barracks. Every soldier
had to fall into line to march through the city of St. Louis. Now,
reader, step out of the barracks and take a look up and down the long
parade ground; first come the buglers, now the drummer and fifers, then
the regimental bands, all playing at once; look at the soldiers coming
out of the barracks; the parade ground is blue with them as far as the
eye can reach, all taking their positions in the ranks. Bugles are
sounding, drums, fifes and bands are playing. Then Col. Brackett comes
up, "Prepare to Mount!" "Mount!" is the command, and the whole regiment
is in saddles. "March," the regiment is in motion. Then Gen. Smith comes
along in front of our regiment. "Well," said he, "I have seen some very
fine looking regiments this morning but I must say that the 'Ninth
Illinois Cavalry' takes the cake for fine appearance." Now, reader, do
not blame us if we did straighten up a little more in our saddles and
try to look more like soldiers.

Away we went; now look back and see the boys in blue coming; first
cavalry and artillery, then infantry, bands playing and flags flying.
Oh, what a sight! On we go through the city, which has taken on a
holiday garb. Every window is full of flags; every place of business
shows the stars and stripes, and taking it altogether it was a beautiful
sight. The 23d of February we drew our sabers and revolvers. We
received marching orders for Pilot Knob, Mo., whither we started to the
lower end of the city, and camped out on the levee. I shall never forget
that night; the first night we had ever camped out. The piercing cold
wind from the river with no tents to help break it, chilled us through;
no wonder no one slept that night. The next morning we put our horses on
the train and started for Pilot Knob. After arriving we went to camp in
and around the place. It was a very mountainous country, one mountain
after another as far as you could see. We divided off into squads, and
every squad had their cooks appointed; we then came down to government
rations, hard tack and pork, and you can bet it was hard tack and no
mistake; you could scarcely break it with a hammer. We pitched our tents
and went into camp life in dead earnest. The citizens told us that the
Johnnies had just vacated the place and everybody was on the lookout the
first night for an attack from the enemy. Out on the picket could be
heard shot after shot, it being the first night, it kept the camp in a
state of excitement. I do not think there was a rebel within forty miles
of us; the pickets simply got frightened at the hogs that were running
around through the brush. The hogs felt somewhat ashamed of the
excitement, and after the first night, our regiment came right up to
time and every soldier did his duty like a man.


Well, we were in the field at last, and when we were not drilling or on
duty, we were either writing to our friends, or climbing the mountains
to see what there was to be seen. Up on Pilot Knob mountain there runs
two tracks for the purpose of running the iron ore from the top of the
mountain to the bottom where it was melted. The full cars coming down,
drew up the empty ones. The mountain is very steep, fully a mile high.
Some of the boys of our company would get in the car at the top of the
mountain, and get one or two of them in at the bottom, and then take off
the brakes; away they came, while the others that got in at the bottom
would shoot up like a sky-rocket. We were doing this one day when the
ropes broke. If we had been shot out of a cannon we could hardly have
gone much faster. Some went one way and some another. I looked down the
mountain, where there was a large pond and as soon as I got the mud and
dirt out of my eyes so I could see, the first thing my eyes rested on
was two fellows fishing themselves out of the pond. They got off the
easiest of any of us, for they simply got a ducking, while the rest of
us were all bruised up. The car that we were in did not go over one
hundred feet before it busted into ten thousand pieces. We hobbled back
to camp to mend our clothes, and came to the conclusion that if any of
the rest of them wanted to ride they were welcome to it, for we had all
we wanted.

By this time we had grown somewhat used to camp life; every soldier
found out what was required of him. We soon got orders to march south.
We reached Black river after going over lofty mountains and through many
small towns. It being about the 15th of March when we struck the river,
it was bank full and the ice was running at a very rapid rate. As we
came up to the river we stopped for a few moments to arrange our
blankets to keep them from getting wet and then we plunged in, with Col.
Brackett taking the lead. "Come on, boys," was his command. We all
arrived safely, but somewhat wet; our horses had to swim for about two
hundred yards. The stream was about three hundred yards wide at this
point. There was a Dutchman by the name of Sands. He saw a large cake of
ice coming straight to him, and, knowing if his horse was struck it
would drown, he slid off behind and grabbed the horse by the tail and
came out all right. We came very near losing a number of our horses;
they were completely chilled, but by perseverance we finally got them
safe to land.

As soon as we were all over three of our companies were ordered to
mount. The wind blew cold from the north and of course our clothes were
wet clear through, but we were young and did not mind this.

About twenty miles from the place where we crossed was a mill where they
ground grain and made flour for the surrounding inhabitants. Now at this
mill the rebels were stationed; there were about eight hundred, all
armed with double-barreled shotguns. Away we went and when we got within
two miles of the Johnnies' camp we stopped to give our horses a rest,
and then on we went like the wind. We soon came in sight of the mill;
close to it was a bridge where a rebel guard was walking back and forth,
with an old double-barreled shotgun on his shoulder. He was a good
specimen of the southern soldier. He was nearly six feet high. On his
head he wore a slouch hat, was dressed in his butternut suit and did not
look as if he had been shaved for six weeks. The tobacco juice was
running down each side of his cheeks, and as we rode up to him he looked
up, shifted his tobacco from one check to the other and said, "Who is
you'ns?" Our captain replied, "We are Yanks. Give up your gun; you are a
prisoner now." "I'll be darned! If that don't beat all." He gave up his
gun and was taken back to the rear and placed under guard--the first
prisoner the Ninth Illinois Cavalry had captured.

About half a mile from the bridge was an open place in the timber, close
to the river, and here the Johnnies were camped. They were just
organizing and, of course, did not understand about discipline,
consequently did not have any camp guard out. We formed a line of battle
and charged right into their camp; some started for the timber, some
jumped into the river and undertook to swim, and some few got away, but
the most of them were captured. They were just in the act of getting
supper; their camp kettles hung over the fires all along the camp. Well,
now, let me tell you we were hungry and that supper just came in time,
and of course we helped the Johnnies eat it. We captured six hundred
prisoners, all their camp equipments, about four hundred
double-barrelled shotguns and two hundred old muskets and rifles. We
sent word back to camp for wagons and teams to haul what we had
captured to camp; for the rebels only had two teams and they were as
poor specimens as I ever saw.

The "Ninth" came out victorious, and I tell you we were proud; more than
proud, for we had an idea that we could clean out the whole Confederacy,
but we soon found out that the Johnnies could fight. We put a heavy
guard around our prisoners that night and the next morning marched them
back to camp.

This being early in the spring of 1862, of course we had not learned
much discipline. We had not been in camp long before the camp-diarrhoea
broke out; there were twenty-five or thirty deaths, but no wonder, for
all we had to eat was hard tack, bacon and coffee. Most of the "ninth"
was made up of farmers, and they had been in the habit of having plenty
of everything good to eat, and of course coming down to hard tack was
pretty hard on us.

Our business while camping at this place was to forage for our horses,
but to forage for ourselves was strictly forbidden. If our boys came in
with chickens they had to give an account of how they got them and if
they could make the officers believe they had bought them and paid good
hard money, it was all right, but if they found out that the boys had
stolen them, they would be severely punished. I remember one man who
came in with a few potatoes, and as he could not give a straight account
as to how he got them, he was forced to carry a rail that weighed 50
pounds for twenty-four hours; but this was in '62. They were not quite
so strict in '63, '64 and '65; but you may depend that while the
officers were watching us, we were always on the lookout for them.

One bright morning three companies of our regiment got orders to go on a
foraging expedition, and I was one to go and I was very glad of it, for
mounting guard and drilling began to grow old and anything new was
hailed with delight. "Boots and saddles," was the call that rang out in
silver notes from our bugles. Every man was in the saddle in an instant.
Finally the Major gave the command, "March," and we were in motion. The
largest part of the command went in advance of the teams. I being a
sergeant in my company, was ordered to take ten men to act as rear
guards, and, of course, we were in the rear of the wagons, so we had a
good opportunity to do a little foraging on our own hook. We wound
around hills, forded creeks and finally came to a halt, about five miles
from camp. The teams were still on the side hill and the main body of
the men were in the valley below. Up to our right a short distance from
the road was a small log cabin with a number of smaller buildings around
it. Said I: "Boys, do you think there is any chance for getting anything
to eat up there? Now, if someone will stay here and let me know when the
command starts, we will go and see what's up there." The understanding
between the soldier and teamster was that if the soldier got anything,
and the teamster hid it for him in the wagons and took it to camp, they
were to divide equally.

I took two men and up the side hill we went; rode up to the fences that
surrounded the buildings and dismounted; one man held the horses while
my comrade and I jumped over the fence and went up to the house. We
rapped on the door, no answer; rapped again, no answer; pulled on the
latch string and the door opened. There was no one there; everything lay
in all sorts of confusion; chairs, pots and kettles all over the floor,
just as if the people had been frightened away. We found nothing to eat
there so we went out to the small buildings; opened one after another,
but found them all empty except one, and that one had a large fat calf
in it. Comrade Carlyle grabbed him by the neck, I got him by the tail
and down the hill we went. We finally got him to the wagon, tied his
feet together, and got him in just as the bugle sounded "boots and
saddles." On we went, over hills and through valleys; for about five
miles; nothing happened within this time only an occasional blat from
our calf. We finally came to a large swamp through which our way led,
and we forced one of the natives to pilot us through. Now, dear reader,
understand that we were in Arkansas and it was not very thickly settled,
so you see we had to go some distance from camp to forage.

Arkansas is almost an unbroken forest; hills and swamps, with no bridges
to cross on. Understand that I am speaking of war times. After we got
through the swamp we came to a beautiful island and here were two large
plantations on which was plenty of corn. It was getting late so we went
into camp for the night close to one of the farms. Now there were lots
of hogs running around, and let me tell you everybody had fresh pork for
supper. Some had chicken, and some turkeys; some had potatoes, and I saw
one man that had a piece of corn bread with butter to put on it; let me
tell you he was getting too high-toned for a soldier. The Major put out
a strong guard that night but we were not disturbed. The next morning
we loaded our wagons and after doing so, we started for camp. Every
little while our calf would give an unearthly blat, and the Major would
run back to look under the wagon and on both sides; finally he got back
to the rear guard, and said he, "Sergeant, I have heard several times
something like a calf bawling." "Well, Major, I'll be darned if I
haven't heard it, too." The Major gave me one look and went back again.

Now for the benefit of the reader that does not understand our army
wagons, I will explain them. They were all covered and we had
partitioned the back part of the wagon off to make room for our calf, so
when the Major came back examining the wagon, all he could see was the
front part of it and of course that was all full of corn. To say that he
was mystified does not describe it, but when he got back to the front he
told the Captain that some blasted fool of a soldier could blat like a
calf. We got back to camp all right and as we had no place to put our
corn we left it in the wagon and when it got dark we moved our hams to
our mess tent and butchered our calf the next morning. Everybody had a
good breakfast and the Major ate some of that calf and asked no


We stayed some two or three weeks at this place, then got orders to go
further south. We arrived at Jacksonport, on White river, and went in
camp again. The inhabitants, I might say the whole surrounding country,
were the strongest kind of rebels; the town contained about five hundred
inhabitants. Just above the town, probably half a mile, the Black and
the White rivers came together and formed a junction, so the White river
was navigable from Jacksonport to the Mississippi, which was 150 miles
by river. About five miles back of Jacksonport is a swamp that commences
at Black river and runs across the country for fifteen miles and empties
into White river below the town, so Jacksonport and quite a strip of
country was on an island. The reason I give this place such a thorough
description is because some very interesting incidents happened here.
About fifteen miles above Jacksonport is a small town called St.
Charles, and in order to reach the place by the wagon road we had to
cross an old rickety bridge, which was a good half mile in length. We
got most of our forage in and around St. Charles. This part of Arkansas
is more level but covered by a dense growth of timber. Our regiment had
been thinned out some by sickness. We had about 800 fit for duty. Every
morning you would see a long string going to the hospital tent to get
their quinine. A great many of our boys when they got sick would give
up. They did not find mother, sister or wife; no, they did not find home
care, and were exposed to storms with nothing but a thin canvas to
protect them. Then the sick soldier had no delicacies such as mother
would have prepared him. He would hear nothing but rough words. Of
course, the boys that waited on the sick did all they could for them,
but at the best it was not home. As I said before, some would get sick
and home-sick, too, and that kind of a soldier was almost sure to die.
When our boys went out foraging they would always bring back something
for the sick comrades.

We had one young man in our regiment whom we called Jim. Now this young
man does not live far from me to-day. The reason I do not give his name
in full is because his wife does not wish to draw public attention to
their family affairs. This young man Jim was always foraging for the
sick boys. He would slip around the guards and be gone two or three days
at one time. The next thing you knew some one would say, "Here comes
Jim." Sure enough, here he comes loaded down with chickens, hams, sweet
potatoes, butter, or anything that one could get in the country. Of
course they would punish him severely, but that made no difference with
Jim; as soon as he got loose he would give the guard the slip and away
he would go again for something good to eat, which he generally found,
and gave his sick comrades the lion's share of it. Jim started out one
fine morning and as he got to the bridge told the sergeant of the guard
that he had a pass to cross the bridge. He had written it himself, but
the guard knew no difference so he let him go and on he went till he
came to St. Charles. He rode up to a large plantation house, dismounted
and tied his horse. Now, Jim was as fine a specimen of a man as one
would wish to see; only eighteen years of age, blue eyes, light curly
hair and a smile always on his face. As he went up the walk he saw a
young lady sitting out on the porch sewing.

Jim walked up to the porch, took off his hat and made a very polite bow.
The young lady looked up, took him in from head to foot, then went on
with her sewing, paying no more attention to him. Said Jim, "Look here,
sis, have you any sweet potatoes, butter, chickens, or anything good to
eat? We have some sick soldiers down at camp and I came out to see if I
could buy them something good to eat." Jim did not have a cent in his
pocket; his plan was to get whatever he could and skip out. Now, I will
give you a description of the young lady. She was also eighteen years of
age, black eyes that fairly blazed when angry, and when in a good humor
they were soft as a fawn's. She was a regular brunette, fine form,
rather below medium height and beautiful black hair that reached within
four inches of the floor when she was standing. Her name was Virginia La
Ford and was called a creole. The girl looked up at him, her eyes
blazing, and said, "No sir; we have nothing to sell to the Yankees."
"You haven't? well, that is all right, I will help myself," said Jim.
Away he went. An old colored woman told him to go down cellar, which he
did, and got a roll of butter, sweet potatoes, and some honey, then he
went back to where the young lady was and said: "Sis, haven't you got
any preserves or any kind of fruit?" Said she, "Young man, I think you
had better look behind you before you go any further." On looking
around, what was his astonishment to see a whole company of rebels
riding up to the front of the house. "Hide me for God's sake, for they
will kill me sure." "Do you think that I am a fool that I would hide you
after you have been robbing me?" "Hide me, please do, and you will never
regret it the longest day you live." "Well, I will hide you." So she
took him away up in the garret and left him there. He crawled around
some old rubbish and then lay still as a mouse. In the meantime the
Johnnies rode up, took Jim's horse, came in and asked what had become of
the Yank. The girl told them that he had skipped out to the woods; and
after searching everywhere for him, they took his horse and went on. The
girl went up and told Jim to come down. "Now," said she, "don't think
that I hid you because I thought anything of you or your cause, but I
hid you because I did not want your stinking carcass in our yard; and
now you go, and don't ever show your face here again." Jim made as
polite a bow as he could, thanked her very kindly, and started for camp.
At night he came up to my post and told me all his troubles. We took him
in, gave him supper, and the next morning took him back to camp. The
Colonel soon heard of Jim's mishaps, and began to question him. "I
understand you have run the guard and been foraging on your own hook."
"Yes, sir," said Jim, his clear, blue eyes looking straight in the
Colonel's face. "Well," said the Colonel, "I'll try and keep you in camp
after this," and he put a ball and chain on him and kept a strict guard
over him. Jim was marched off to the guard camp with a ball and chain
fastened to his ankle.

These things may seem cruel to the reader, but let me tell you that if
we had no discipline you may depend we would not have any army long. Our
boys were punished for the most trifling affairs, and then there were
times when they were not, when they actually needed it; but as a general
rule our officers sympathized with the soldiers when they went out
foraging and were always willing to help eat what they got.

A few days after the irons were taken from Jim I was ordered to go on
picket guard to the long bridge; I hadn't been there long when who
should come up but Jim, on foot and alone. "Hello, Jim! What brought you
out here?" "My legs," said Jim, "and I want to cross that bridge." "I
have orders to shoot the first man that tries to cross that bridge
without the countersign," said I. "All right," said Jim, and before we
hardly knew what he was up to, he was half way over, running like a
deer. My first thought was that he was deserting. Of course we fired
our guns and ordered "Halt," but away he went and disappeared around the
bend of the road. About four o'clock in the afternoon we could hear the
faint sound of firing in the distance; it came closer and closer, and
around the bend in the road we could see the dust rolling up over the
trees and the firing grew more distinct. Of course we were always ready
for an attack. We formed a line across the bridge, when all at once a
man on horseback came in view. Here he comes right on the bridge. Look!
The bridge will go down; see how it sways! On he comes. It is our Jim!
He passes us like a flash. Here come the Johnnies. Ready, aim, fire!
There goes one Johnnie; he is dragged along the ground by one foot. Ah,
he is loose. On comes his horse straight across the bridge. "Give them
another volley, boys." Zip, zip, went the rebels' bullets. Now they turn
back; away they go around the bend and disappear.

"Hello, Bill," said one of my comrades, "this is a fine horse of the
rebs;" he was as wet as if he had just come out of a river. He had been
ridden hard and long. Over on the other side of the bridge and on a
little rise of ground, in the middle of the road, lay the rider where
his comrades had left him. We walked over to him and found him lying on
his face, with his eyes wide open. Dead? Yes; he was shot in the left
breast. We moved him out to one side of the road and went back to our

Just got back when two companies of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry came
riding up. Capt. Blackburn said, "We heard you were attacked and came to
reinforce you." There was no need of that. Before dark a rebel
lieutenant came riding up with a white flag and wanted the privilege of
taking his comrade away, which Capt. Blackburn gave him.

The next morning when we got to camp, we found the officers all around
Jim, trying to buy his horse. It was a large bay stallion and the finest
horse in the regiment, and Jim rode that horse through the war, and he
has the saddle and bridle to-day to show his friends.

Well, in this attack was the first gun powder that I smelled, and the
first man that I saw killed; so the very next day I wrote home that I
had seen a fight. Not one of our men got hurt, so it could hardly be
rated as a skirmish, but before the war was over, you may depend, I
found out what a real battle meant.

Well, Jim had a horse again and everyone was praising him up, and this
was the way he got it. After he left us, he never stopped running till
he was a good mile from the bridge, then got down to a walk, and after
going seven or eight miles, he came to a large plantation house where
there were nine or ten horses tied to the fence. Jim crawled up close
and soon saw that they were rebels' horses, and the rebs were all inside
except one who was sitting on the porch keeping guard; or as Jim said,
"talking to a mighty good-looking girl." Jim slipped along the fence, at
the same time watching the porch, and when the two there got quite
interested in each other, Jim slipped up, cut the hitching strap, and
was in the saddle and off like a shot. He got the best horse they had,
and also got the horse from the same party that stole his horse. We
found that out by a prisoner that was taken shortly after.

In about two weeks after this I was on picket at the long bridge again,
when Jim came riding upon his fine horse. "Hello, Bill! I have a pass to
go over the bridge again." Well, Jim was honest this time. The doctor
got a pass for him to go out for food for the sick soldiers, and there
was no one in the regiment that could beat him for that. "Good-bye, Jim,
don't let the rebs get that horse from you while you are sparking."
"Look out for yourself." Most every one of the boys had something to
say to him as he crossed the bridge. He went straight up to St. Charles,
rode up to the same house where he lost his horse. The same young lady
was sitting where he last saw her, and he walked up to her, made a very
polite bow and said, "How do you do, sis?" And she replied, "I thought I
told you never to come here again." Jim looked at her and said: "Now
look here; listen to me for one moment. In the first place I love you,
and want you to be my wife. I have thought of you, and dreamed of you,
and the fact is you are here between two contending armies; you are
liable to be burned out, then you would have no place to go to. Now, way
up north in Illinois I have a nice little home, and one of the best
mothers living there all alone, out of hearing of the war; all is peace
there, and I want to send you to my mother to be a daughter to her; I
know she will love you for her son's sake, if nothing else." What girl
could resist such pleading from such a handsome young fellow as our Jim?
She looked up at him and seeing he was in dead earnest said: "When would
you want me to go?" "Right away; there is a lady from our town who is
going back to-morrow, and you can go right home with her." "I will go in
and see what mother says." She slipped in the house, while Jim stood
twisting his hat in his hands as if he was going to make a rope of it.
Presently the girl came to the door and told him to come in, which he
did, and found the old lady sitting in a rocking chair. As Jim went in
the old lady looked up and told him to be seated. She asked him a great
many questions about his home and mother, to which Jim answered
satisfactorily. The old lady stepped out so Jim and the girl could talk
over their affairs alone. Said she: "Young man, you are a stranger to me
and an enemy to our cause; I do not even know your name, but I will
marry you on two conditions--one is that you will let my mother go with
me, and the other is that I am not to be your wife in the true sense of
the word till this war is over, and then I want it understood that if I
see anything in your character that is obnoxious to me, you are to bring
me home here, and forever leave me alone," to which our Jim gave
cheerful consent. They were married by a minister who lived close by,
and Jim sent his wife and mother-in-law up to Illinois, and just let me
whisper in your ear, dear reader, they are there yet, and you may depend
there is not a nicer family for miles around.


One fine morning my Captain told me to report to Col. Brackett. I walked
up to regimental headquarters. The Colonel was writing when I stepped
into the tent; he looked up and said, "Be seated for a moment." He soon
got through with his writing, folded it up, put it in a large envelope
and handed it to me, saying, "Sergeant, have you a good horse?" Now, my
reader, excuse me if I was proud of my horse for there was not one in
the regiment that could outrun or outjump mine. "Well," said the
Colonel, "you may need just such a horse before you get back to camp. I
want you to take this dispatch to Gen. Curtis, some thirty miles from
here, and wait his orders." Anything of this kind just suited me, for I
was fond of adventure. I went to headquarters and handed my dispatch to
Gen. Curtis; as he tore open the envelope he told me to stop a moment to
see what it said. After he had read the contents, he looked me over from
head to foot and finally asked, "What regiment do you belong to?" "I
belong to the Ninth Ill. Cavalry, Co. I." "What is your name?" "William
N. Tyler." "Well, I think you are the very man I want. I have a dispatch
to send to Colonel Wyman, who is acting brigadier-general at Little
Rock, Ark., one hundred and fifty miles south. Now the road is infested
with rebels; are you willing to undertake it?" "Yes, sir," said I.
"Well," said the Colonel, "report to me in the morning and I will give
you instructions and dispatches." Gen. Curtis was a fatherly old man,
but very strict. He was all of six feet high, gray eyes and hair. He was
good to his men and did all he could to keep them in good health and
well clothed, but would punish severely if any were caught foraging on
their own hook. He gave me orders to report to a cavalry regiment and
they would find me quarters for the night. Early the next morning I was
on hand but had to wait until almost noon before the General was ready
for me. He handed me three large envelopes and said, "Now, Sergeant, I
want you to take these dispatches to Col. Wyman at Little Rock, and wait
his orders. If you get in close quarters with the rebels and are in
danger of being captured, be sure to destroy the dispatches. Whatever
you do, don't let the rebs get them. My orderly will go across the river
with you, and the Captain out on picket post will instruct you when to
start and what road to take." While the General was giving me my orders
all the officers had their eyes bent on me, so you may be sure I was
glad when the General gave the final order.

The orderly and myself mounted our horses and rode down to the river.
There was a pontoon bridge out for about two hundred yards, and the
balance of the river was crossed by a ferry boat--what they called a
rope ferry. It was run by means of a rope fastened from one shore to the
other. The men on the boat would draw it by the rope from one side to
the other. Just two days before I got there they were crossing with some
artillery and horses, and as they were in the center of the river the
horses got frightened and became uncontrollable, capsizing the boat and
drowning nine men and a number of horses. We got safely across and
commenced to climb the mountain on the other side. Finally we reached
the top and oh! what a sight met our eyes; we could see for miles around
to the north, but to the south it was all hills and mountains. My road
lay directly south, so it proved a pretty rough one. When we got to the
top of the mountain and looked down on White river, I could not see how
it was possible for our horses to haul the artillery up the mountain.
It looked to me that a horse had all he could do to climb it without
pulling anything. The picket post was on the summit of the mountain. The
orderly that came with me took the Captain to one side and had quite a
long talk in an undertone and finally came back to me, reached out his
hand and bade me good-bye and told me not to let the rebs get me. Then
he went back again. The Captain of the guard came up and told me to
dismount. After giving my horse to a man, I went to where the guards
were sitting around the fire. Some were cooking and some were telling
stories. One tall fellow was telling about being kept in irons for four
days. He looked up and saw me standing back a little and told me to come
to the fire. "Stranger, the wind blows mighty cold up here on the
mountain." I walked up and sat down, drank some coffee and ate hard tack
and bacon, so had as good a dinner as if I had been in my own camp.

"So they have had you in irons four days?" "Yes, you see the old General
is mighty strict about our foraging, but the other day we got out of
corn and it is very scarce around here, so we got orders for a few to go
out at a time and scour the country for corn.

"Our sergeant took ten of us and we started out; rode two days and was
just on the point of coming in with our corn when we met an old darkey
who told us to follow an old blind road and we would find a farm house
down there where there was plenty of corn. We went and found it just as
he said, but only having one wagon it did not take long for us to fill
it; then we looked around for something good to eat. I got one ham and a
pig, which I put in a gunny sack and threw across my horse and started
for camp. Well, my pig kept kicking and I cut a hole in the sack so he
could breathe; then he put his nose through the hole so he could take a
view of the surrounding country; after that he was quiet.

"We got into Batesville all right and just as we were passing Gen.
Curtis' headquarters my captain looked up and saw us coming. 'Hello,
boys! where did you get your corn?' Of course that brought us to a halt.
The captain looked around and saw me with my sack. 'John, what have you
got in your sack?' 'Corn, sir,' said I, and just then that infernal pig
stuck his nose through the hole and squealed; now, you bet that fixed

Just then the captain of the guard came up, told me to go with him and
took me out to one side. "Now," said he, "I want to give you your
directions." So he gave me very plain directions about the route, so I
felt very confident that I would not have any trouble. "Now, you had
better lie down and get all the rest you can. I will see that you are
wakened up in proper time, and see that you are provided with rations,
for you know it won't do for you to stop at houses for food."

I lay down, rolled up in my blanket with my feet to the fire and was
soon sound asleep, and did not wake up till the captain of the guard
gave me a good shake. "It is twelve o'clock, get up and have a cup of
coffee." I got up at once and rolled up my blanket and was soon ready to
start. The same darkey that took care of my horse was sent along to
guide me. The boys that were awake all had something to say and the
captain's last words were, "Take care of yourself, my boy."

We started. "Now," said the darkey, "no use your trying to ride in dis
darkness, for de limbs of de trees brush you off from dat horse, sure."
So I followed close to the darkey. It was just a narrow bridle path with
blackberry bushes interlaced across it and branches of trees hung down
so that I had some difficulty in getting my horse along. Said I: "This
path has not been traveled for years." "Hush, you must keep as still as
you can, for we are not a great way from dem rebel guards." That was the
first I knew of getting around rebel guards, so you may be sure after
that I went along as still as possible. On we went over fallen limbs,
hour after hour, till it was broad daylight. My clothes were covered
with burs from head to foot, so I got the darkey to scrape them off with
a knife and came out on the main road. "Now, mister, I is gone wid you
as far as I can go; so you must follow dis main road straight south.
Good-bye, sir, hope you will get through all right."

I led my horse out in the middle of the road, examined my carbine and
revolver and found them all loaded and in good order. I mounted and
turned south and jogged along slowly so as to keep my horse fresh, so if
I had to I could make a good run. Over hills and lofty mountains I went
all the forenoon and not a Johnnie did I see. I went back from the road
about half a mile right in the heavy timber at noon, and made a cup of
coffee and fed my horse with the only feed of corn I had with me. Went
back on the road and on we went until dark. I had traveled all day and
not a living thing had I seen except now and then a squirrel or rabbit.
I was now looking for a place to camp. Finally I came to an old blind
road that led off in the timber; after following this road for about two
miles, I was just thinking about going in the brush and camping for the
night, when all at once I saw a light ahead. The first thought was that
there was a rebel camp. I took my horse out in the thick brush and tied
him to a small tree, and crawled on all fours till I got up close to the
light, and found it to be a small cabin. The clay from between the logs
had fallen out and there was a bright fire burning in the fireplace, and
it was the light of the fire shining through the cracks. I looked
through and saw a large fleshy negro woman sitting in front of the fire
smoking a corn-cob pipe and humming over some camp melody. I stepped up
to the open door and said, "Good evening, aunty." I thought for a fact
she would jump out of her skin.

"For de Lord sake, honey, how you scare me; who is you?"

"Aunty, are there any white folks close around here?"

"No, honey, no one lives close; no one lives here except me and my old
man and he's gone out to catch a possum."

"Then there are no soldiers that come here?"

"No honey, der been no soldier here since de war begun."

"Well, aunty," said I, "can I stay here to-night?"

"Course you can."

"Have you got any corn for my horse?"

"Course we have; we'uns got a cow and we always keep fodder and corn

I went back, got my horse and put him in an old shanty back of the house
and gave him a good feed of corn and fodder. When I went in after taking
care of my horse old aunty was bustling around getting supper. Just then
the old man stepped in. He had an old flint-lock gun in one hand and in
the other he had a possum, sure enough. The negro was all of six feet in
height and was just the opposite of aunty. He looked as if the wind
would blow him away. His gun was as long as himself and looked as if it
had been made in the year of one, it was so battered up. The stock had
been broken many times and tied up with strings, and the old darkey
looked about the same as his gun. No shoes on his feet, and oh! such
feet it hasn't been my lot to see for many a day. His ankle was right in
the middle of his foot. When he saw me I do not think I ever saw anyone
more astonished than he was then. His eyes looked like two peeled
onions. He commenced to open his mouth and the more he looked the wider
it opened. "Well, uncle," said I, "what do you think of me?" "Well,"
said he, shutting his mouth, "I don't know." I thought we were in the
same boat as far as that was concerned. Old aunty walked up to him,
snatched the possum out of his hand, gave him a smart box on the ear and
said: "Ain't you got no manners? standin' der wid yer mouf open as wide
as a barn door! You don't know nuffin; you make me awful 'shamed. Now,
you go and sit down dere and don't open dat big mouf of yours till
supper. Does ye heah?" I think he heard, for let me tell you, when she
opened her mouth you would think there was a cyclone coming.

It did not take aunty long to take the skin off that possum and clean
it. She soon had it in the skillet with sweet potatoes.

Old aunty passed close to me and saw my saber. "Oh," said she, "what's
dat?" I told her that the right name for it was saber, but most of the
boys called it a cheese knife. "For de Lawd sake, is dat what you cut
cheese wid?" I explained its use to her, after which she asked me if I
was a Yankee soldier. I answered in the affirmative. "Now, is dat so? My
old marster told me that you'ns had horns." Now, it may be that the
reader will think this overdrawn, but let me say that most any of my
comrades will corroborate my statement when I say that not only did the
negroes think that the Yankees had horns, but there were a great many
white folks who would tell us the same thing. I remember on one of our
foraging trips we came up to a very nice farm house, and an old lady
came out and said, "Are you'ns Yankees? why, I thought they had horns."

After old aunty got her curiosity satisfied she stepped to the door and
got two large ears of corn and walked up to the fireplace and threw them
into the fire.

"What are you doing that for?" I asked.

"I is goin' to make coffee out of dat corn. Don't you like coffee?"

"Yes, but I have better coffee than that."

"Good Lord! has you got store coffee?"

"Yes." So I went out to my saddle-bags and brought in a large drawing of
coffee. The negroes were highly delighted to get some coffee, and so was
I to get as good a supper as I got that night. Reader, if you ever want
a good meal go south and let some old black aunty cook you some sweet
potatoes and possum together.

The next morning, after I had my breakfast, I went and got all the
coffee I had except one drawing, and gave it to the old woman. I asked
her how they came to be living away out there alone.

"Well, I tell you: my old man is the rail-splitter, and my old master
sent us to split rails, and dat is all we does."


I thanked the old lady for her kindness and rode back to the road again,
went over hills, forded creeks, passed farm-houses, but not a rebel did
I see. I began to think there were no rebels in that part of the
country, consequently got careless, and through my carelessness came
within one of losing my life.

It was almost twelve o'clock. Right ahead of me a little way in the
valley that I was descending to was a large frame house that stood close
to the road, and beyond this house about fifty yards was a creek that
went across the road, but no bridge over it. Now, I thought this would
be a good place to eat dinner, so I rode down to the creek, watered my
horse and as there was a large shade tree standing in front of the house
I went back, dismounted, took the saddle off, wiped off my horse and put
the saddle back on. I had brought corn from where I stayed all night. I
took off the bridle and put the feed bag on my horse's nose and was
about to eat my own dinner when, glancing around, I saw a negro
standing by the little gate. Said he: "Master, are you a Union soldier?"

"Yes, sir."

"I thought so; well, sir, you is in a mighty bad fix. My master is in
the house and he is Captain, and he has fifteen soldiers with him, and
way up on de top of dat hill is a whole regiment of confederates, and
they expect some more every minute on the same road dat you came on. But
see here now: you go straight through dat creek and you will find a
bridle path that turns to the left. You go on that path till you come to
the fence; go over the fence and down over the hill till you get down in
a cornfield, den you can come by this same road again."

While the negro was telling me which way to go, you may depend I was not
idle; I pulled the feed-bag off of that horse's nose and had the bridle
on sooner than you could say "Jack Robinson." Now this rebel captain was
watching every move I made. He turned to his men and said, "Now watch me
and see how slick I will capture a Yankee." Reader, I will soon tell you
how I found out what the rebel captain said. Just as I had got the
bridle on, the captain stepped out with a double-barrelled shot-gun,
(and I think the gun must have been loaded half full, the way it
sounded) and said: "Surrender! you Yankee son-of-a-gun." Do not think
that I am trying to make myself out brave, but let me tell you it was
fight or die. My horse stood straight between the captain and me, and to
snatch my carbine from the saddle was the work of a second, and I
brought it to my shoulder. Just as my horse swung out of the way, both
guns went off together. The bullet from my gun struck the stock of his
and glanced off into his shoulder and knocked him down. I was on my
horse in a flash and through the creek we went. The negro told me
afterwards that the water flew thirty feet high. I found the path all
right, but had to lie down close to my horse to prevent the branches
from sweeping me off.

Away we went. I soon came to a fence and threw the rails down and
started up the hill. I was obliged to lead my horse to the top, the hill
being so steep. Just as I got to the top the Johnnies were at the
bottom, and commenced firing up. When I got to the bottom of the other
side of the hill, they were at the top and commenced firing down. Close
to the bottom was a creek with very steep banks. My horse did not want
to go through and I coaxed and whipped all to no effect. I was about to
leave my horse, when "zip" came a bullet and struck him on the
shoulder. He made a spring forward, almost jerking the bridle strap out
of my hand. Through the stream he plunged and came within one of getting
away from me. The corn was just up to my shoulders, and when I got
started I do not believe I ever rode so fast in my life. The corn
whipped my feet as if some one was striking me with a cane.

In the meantime the Johnnies had got to the bottom of the hill and were
blazing away at me with all their might. One bullet went through the rim
of my hat and another through my coat sleeve. Finally, I came to a fence
again. Right ahead of me was a low place in it and over we went. When my
horse struck the ground I was all of a foot above him, and came down on
the crupper. I made a grab for the saddle and saved myself from a fall,
and I came near losing my horse again.

I was out in the road once more ahead of all the rebels, and rode on for
half a mile, stopped, dismounted and tightened up the girth. The blood
was oozing out of the wound in my horse's hip. I looked back up the hill
and saw the rebels coming again. I knew they had no horse that could
catch me if the wound did not affect him. I kept a good mile ahead of
them, but every time they got to the top of a hill they would blaze
away at me.

About five o'clock, my horse commenced to get lame and I began to think
I was gone up. I looked up on the hill ahead of me, and saw soldiers
walking back and forth across the road. I reached into my pocket for the
dispatches to destroy them when two men rose up from behind the fence
and brought their gun to bear on me and said, "Don't destroy those
papers." I was caught. I saw that they both had blue coats on, but there
were lots of rebels who wore blue clothes. I asked, "What regiment do
you belong to." "We belong to the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry," they
said. I never was so glad to see blue coats in my life. The rebels came
to the top of the hill behind me and stopped. They could see that I had
got to our guards. They fired one volley and retreated. In the meantime,
our boys had formed a line across the road, but did not waste powder by
returning the fire. I rode up to the Captain of the guard, and told him
I had dispatches for Col. Wyman. He told me to dismount, and get a cup
of coffee, and he would see whether the wound my horse received was
serious or not. I rubbed him down and gave the poor fellow some food.
The boys in blue got around me, asking all sorts of questions about my
trip, and I gave them my experience from Jacksonport. They all listened
very much interested. Finally, one of the men who was standing close to
me said, "I'll be darned if there isn't a bullet hole through your hat
rim." As the guard was five miles from the main camp, and my horse was
played out, I stayed all night, and the next morning rode into camp, up
to Col. Wyman's headquarters and delivered my dispatches. When I first
started in the morning, my horse walked lame, but after we had gone a
mile or two he did not seem to mind it. The Colonel read over the
dispatch and looked at me from head to foot. "Well, did you see any of
the Johnnies on your trip from Batesville down?" "Yes, sir." "Well,"
said he, "the dispatches you brought order me with a brigade back to
Batesville. We start back in the morning and you go to our veterinary
surgeon and let him see to your horse and you rest to-day, and to-morrow
you may go with us back to Batesville, and when you get to where the
rebel captain fired on you, let me know."

As I was wandering around the tent I found my brother-in-law, Lewis
Stafford, and had a good visit with him. The surgeon told me that my
horse would soon be all right.

The next morning, bright and early, everyone was in motion. There were
about five thousand troops, cavalry, artillery and infantry. We soon got
on the road where the Johnnies gave me such a close rub. All at once
there was firing in front. It did not amount to much, just a small
skirmish; two poor fellows were brought back wounded. The first night we
camped within five miles of where the rebel captain fired on me. The
next day about 10 o'clock we came up on a high hill and at the bottom
was the plantation house. I recognized it at once as being the one where
the rebel captain tried to show his men how slick he could capture a
Yankee. I rode up to Col. Wyman and pointed it out to him. "All right,"
said he, "you stay with me and we will make a neighborly call on him."
We rode up under the same tree where I was going to feed my horse, and
dismounted; walked up on the porch and the same negro stood there. "My
Lord! Is dat you? Dem soldiers dun told me dat day hang you on a tree."
"Is your master in?" "Yes, sir, you broke his shoulder all to pieces."
He opened the door and led us in; the captain lay on a couch, but had
not had his wound dressed and it had become very painful. One of the men

"You are wounded."

"Yes," (with an oath) "there was a Yankee scout who came along the other
day, and he was just one second too quick for me."

"Here is the man now," said our Colonel.

The rebel captain looked at me and reached out his well arm and said,
"Shake, stranger, you are a good soldier."

The Colonel sent and had our surgeon dress his wound properly and said,
"Now you are fixed all right. You can stay here and no one will molest
you, or you can go with us and have proper treatment."

"Well," said the rebel captain, "let me take my nigger along and I will
go where I can get proper treatment."

They put him in an ambulance and took him along. The nigger told me all
the particulars as we went along the road. He said his master's gun went
off up in the air, that he hadn't got it pointed at me at all.

We got to Batesville all right. I went up to General Curtis'
headquarters and reported. He gave me a dispatch to take to Colonel
Brackett, Ninth Illinois Cavalry, my own regiment, back to Jacksonport.
I was glad to go back to my own regiment again. It was like getting
home. I had no mishap but got there all right, went to headquarters and
delivered my dispatch. "You have got back," said the Colonel. "Take a
rest to-day, for to-morrow I will send you out on a foraging

The men were all glad to see me, and they all wanted to go out foraging
with me the next day. They wanted to know all about my trip. I received
two letters from home, and my folks were all well, so I felt all right.

Just as I had finished reading my letters Colonel Brackett sent word for
me to come to headquarters. I went. He told me to be seated.

"I have a letter from General Curtis here that you brought in the
dispatches, that praises you very highly. He said you were every inch a
soldier. I have changed my mind in regard to sending you out on a
foraging expedition. We have lost two very fine artillery horses, and I
heard that they were some forty miles north of here. You take one man
and start in the morning. Come to headquarters, and in the meantime I
will ascertain which way you are to go."


I ran back to my tent, and just then Jim Carlysle came along.

"Jim, you are the very man I am looking for. I want you to be ready to
go with me in the morning." I explained what was wanted, and he
expressed a desire to go. I went up to headquarters, and the Colonel
gave me a piece of paper with the man's name on that had the horses.

"Now, look sharp," said the Colonel, "it may be a trap to catch you."

After getting instructions about the road, we started and crossed the
long bridge five miles north of camp, and kept on until noon. Finally we
came to a double log cabin. We rode up to it, dismounted, stepped to the
door and knocked. For the benefit of the readers who never traveled
south, I want to explain. All the houses if ever so small, have a porch
in front. The double log houses are built separately, about ten or
twelve feet apart, the roof covering the whole building. The chimney is
built on the outside of the house, generally one on each end. They are
built of stone or brick, about ten feet from the ground. The balance of
the way they are built of clay and sticks. A lady stepped to the door
and told us to come in. I asked her if we could get some dinner.

"O, yes; of course you can."

The lady proved to be a Union woman. She was a widow. There were any
number of Union widows all over the south. They had husbands who were in
the rebel army, but every time any of our forces were around they would
claim to be Union women and call for protection, and do not forget it,
our officers were always on hand for protection.

She gave us chairs and told us to be seated. She was a great talker, and
asked us if we were married, and if we had children. Jim told her that
he hadn't been married long. Then she wanted to know if his wife was
pretty and any amount of similar questions. All the time she was getting
dinner her tongue was running. She told us that she had a large farm,
was out of debt, and if she could get some real good man she didn't know
but that she might be induced to marry again. I asked her it she knew of
a man up north twenty or thirty miles by the name of Smith, for that was
the man who had our horses. She said she had heard of the name. We then
settled for our dinners, mounted our horses and rode on.

We had not gone over a mile before we came to a swamp. It was about two
miles through. It had a corduroy bridge, that is, logs about two feet in
diameter, and twelve feet long, laid side by side. The water was about
eighteen inches deep. Some of the logs were floating. When our horses
stepped on them they would sink. We went on until we got about half way
across, and came to a place where three of the logs had floated out. If
by accident our horses should get in the swamp, it would be almost
impossible to get them out. You could take a ten-foot rail and push it
the entire length in the mud. We got down from our horses and after
about two hours' work, got the logs back to their places. Away off in
the timber we heard the distant sound of thunder. The air was stifling.
The trees on each side of the bridge interlaced overhead. It was almost
dark, so we had to ride very slowly. The road was getting worse and
worse, and clouds had covered the whole heavens. About three o'clock it
began to get dangerous to ride, so we dismounted and led our horses.
There came a flash of lightning, and we could see that we were almost
over the swamp. Great drops of rain began to fall.

"There is a house," said Jim. Sure enough we were over the swamp and
close to a large house.

We had just got in a large log barn when the storm broke in all its
fury. You could hardly see twenty feet, the trees falling in every
direction. For two whole hours the storm raged. In all my experience I
do not think I ever saw so much water fall in so short a time. It began
to get lighter and lighter; we could see small patches of blue sky, and
finally it ceased raining. When the sun came out again it was pretty
well down in the west.

"Well, Jim, you wait here and I will go in and see if we can stay here
to-night." I walked up to the house and was just turning the corner when
two large hounds made a jump at me. To draw my saber was the work of a
second. We always carry our pistols in our saddles, and consequently I
did not have mine with me. The dogs kept just out of reach until one
made a jump at me and almost got me by the legs. I brought my saber down
across his back and almost cut him in two. Crack! went a pistol. I
looked around and there stood Jim with a smoking revolver in his hand,
and the other dog lay quivering on the ground.

"By thunder! Bill," said Jim, "those dogs would have got away with

I was almost tired out; yes, and the old man was looking out of the
window all the time, and never made one effort to call them off.

"Well, let us both go in."

We never waited to rap, but opened the door and walked in. An elderly
man, probably fifty, sat in a chair, and a young lady sat on the
opposite side of the fireplace sewing.

"How do you do, strangers."

"Why did you not call off your dogs?"

"Well, sir, those dogs were mine, and they were kept on purpose to keep
such fellows as you off."

"Well, old man, they failed that time, and let me tell you that just
such fellows as we want to stay here all night, and would like to have
the young lady get us some supper. Jim, you go see to the horses and get
my carbine and revolver."

The girl looked up to her father to see what he had to say. The old man
looked at us and said:

"Do you call yourselves gentlemen and force yourselves upon us?"

"Now, that has nothing to do with the case. Do you call yourself a
gentleman and stand and see your dogs tear a man to pieces? There is
only one thing about this matter: I want to know, miss, if you will get
us some supper."

"Yes, sir," said the girl, "if pa says so."

"Well," said the old man, "you might as well get them something to eat,
for if you don't they might burn the house down."

Just then Jim came in. It was now getting dusk.

"Jim, you stay here to watch the old man and I will go out and see how
things look around here. Don't let him go out of the room, and keep an
eye on the girl, too."

I went all around the place, and back close to the timber were two negro
shanties. I stepped up to one and knocked.

"Come in, sir."

I walked in. There were eight or nine negroes sitting around, from a
little baby to an old, white-haired man. The old man raised up and said:

"How do you do, sir; will you sit down on this bench?"

"No, thank you; I have no time to sit down. I would like to know if
there are any confederate soldiers camped around here."

"No, sir; dar am no soldiers camped around dis place, and habn't been
for two weeks, and da was Union soldiers dat was here two weeks ago."

"I suppose your master is a Union man, isn't he?"

"No, sir; I is sorry to say that he is the hardest kind of a rebel. His
two boys are in de rebel army; and, sir, as soon as he found out that
you were here, he made me go let the dogs loose. Dem dogs cost my master
five hundred dollars. Dey was de best bloodhounds in dis part of the

"Well, sir, I'm very much obliged for your information," and turned to

"Hold on, mister. For de Lord's sake, don't tell master dat I tole you

I went back to the house and Jim was standing by the door, watching
every move that was made. The girl had supper ready.

"Keep your carbine in your lap while you eat," said I, and we sat up to
the table and ate a good, hearty supper.

"Now, old man, we do not wish to abuse you or your family, but are going
to stay here to-night, and if we see any treachery on your part your
life won't be worth a cent. Now, Jim, you go to bed and I will wake you
up promptly at twelve o'clock."

There being a bedroom close at hand Jim went in and was soon snoring
like a bugle call. The girl could not restrain a smile at his snoring.
The old man sat smoking his pipe, casting glances over to where I sat.
Finally he broke out and said:

"Now, look here, stranger, do you think you are going to sit there and
bulldoze me all night and make me sit here?"

"No, sir, you can go to bed just as soon as you please, but I want to
see where you sleep."

"You can't see where I or my daughter sleeps, and I want you to
distinctly understand it!"

"All right, old man, you will stay just where you are, then."

He jumped to his feet and said, "I will not do it for any Yankee

I cocked my gun and brought it to bear on the old man and said:

"Make a move and you are a dead man. And, miss, you sit there, too."

The old fellow turned as white as a sheet and dropped back into the
chair as if he had been shot.

"Now, sir, the best thing you both can do is to keep quiet and not a
hair of your head shall be harmed."

Hour after hour passed until the clock struck one. The old man and his
daughters were both nodding in their chairs. I waked Jim and told him to
watch so the old fellow would not be playing any games on us. I went to
bed and to sleep, and did not awake till sunrise. There was an old negro
woman bustling around getting breakfast. We told the man and his
daughter they could go anywhere in the house, but they must not go out
until we left. The old man jumped to his feet and turned on me like a
wildcat and said:

"You will pay dearly for last night's work."

"All right; you need not think that we are going to give you a chance to
inform your confederate friends. You know this is all fair in war times.
Jim, go see to the horses while I watch."

He soon returned and said that the horses were all right. We then sat
down to the breakfast table without waiting for an invitation. Jim asked
the old man if he wouldn't sit up and have some breakfast with us. The
man snorted out with an oath,

"I would die before I would eat with a Yank."

Old aunty's eyes rolled around like saucers, and she said, "May de good
Lord hab mercy on us all."

The girl sat and watched every move, but had nothing to say. We
finished our breakfast and started for the door, when Jim turned around
and made a very polite bow and said:

"We are much obliged for your kindness, and if you ever come our way, be
sure and call on us." We then mounted and went on; the road was full of
branches of trees and fence rails, so we had some trouble getting our
horses along. As we got out into the road, we looked back over the
swamp; it was a perfect sea of water. The logs had floated out and left
great gaps in the road so it was impossible to go back the same way we
came. We finally came out to a more thickly settled portion of the
country, and found the roads a great deal better and the people seemed
to be more communicative. They told us the man, Smith, lived only a
short distance ahead of us, so we got to his house about noon and found
the horses all right. The house stood off from the road about a half a
mile. We rode up in front of the house. There were eight or ten negro
buildings all around the main building. The gentleman came out to meet
us in the door yard. "Is your name Smith?"

"Yes, sir."

"Have you got a couple of government horses here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, we have come after them and you are to come to Jacksonport and
our quartermaster will pay you for your trouble."

We found Mr. Smith to be a true gentleman, and a true Union man. He said
he did not want any pay, that he wanted to do something for Uncle Sam.
He called on an old darkey to come for the horses, and told him to feed
the horses and take good care of them.

"Now, you men stay here all night and by morning the water will be down
in the swamps so you will be able to get back all right." He told us of
another way to go back that would take us around the big swamp. We
concluded to stay, for it did seem to be quite a rest to get among Union

Now, my dear reader, let me tell you that when we did come across Union
people in the south they were genuine. We were in a Union neighborhood;
the last rebel we passed was the man we stayed all night with. Mr. Smith
told us that if we hadn't watched the man he would have played some
underhanded trick on us. The next morning we started back to Jacksonport
and traveled until noon, each leading a horse. We stopped at a farm
house and got our dinner, then traveled on till night. We could see
that there was another storm coming up fast, but luckily a plantation
house came in view and we just reached it as the rain began to fall. The
owner of the house came out and told us to come in, which we did,
leaving our horses in the care of a darkey. Although the man was a rebel
from the top of his head to the sole of his foot, he told us that we
were perfectly welcome to his house and that we were just as safe there
as if we had been in our own camp. I must say that he used us well; we
hadn't been there over half an hour before supper was announced. The man
introduced us to his family. There were three grown up daughters and the
old lady. They had only one son, and he was in the army. As they told us
this, the tears started from the mother's eyes and the girls looked as
if they were ready to cry, too. We ate our supper in silence, then went
to the sitting room and talked until bedtime. The next morning we
offered to pay him, but he would take nothing. We then resumed our
journey and ended it just at twelve o'clock. We got to camp, rode up to
headquarters and reported to Col. Brackett.

"Well, sergeant, we were about to send a company out to look for you, as
we began to think that the rebs had got you."


The 21st of June, just the day before we got back to camp with the
horses, one of our scouts reported a rebel gunboat to come up the river,
so Col. Brackett gave me orders to take ten men and go five miles below
Jacksonport and watch for the boat. In the meantime the camp moved to
the piece of land that divides the Black from the White river. We went
below Jacksonport to the place stated and settled near a bend in the
river where we had a good view of the river four or five miles. We had
not been there long before we saw the black smoke rolling up away down
the river. We waited until she rounded the bend, then fired off our
carbines as we had orders and started back to camp. The inhabitants of
Jacksonport had professed to be Union people, but as soon as they heard
that a rebel gunboat was coming up they altered their tune and called us
all the mean names they could think of. Our officers had even put guards
over their wells so as to keep the soldiers away. One woman in
particular had given our officers a great deal of trouble. She was a
good Union woman at that, and a widow. She wanted a guard to keep the
soldiers off her premises, and our officers were just fools enough to do

Well, we were the last soldiers to go through the town, and, let me tell
you, the gunboat was coming faster than we had any idea of. Just before
we reached the town she sent a shell over our heads. We soon got in
shelter of the town, and the citizens commenced to yell at us. Some said
one thing and some another. Finally we came up in front of where the
widow lived. She was out on the porch dressed in all her finery. As we
were passing she called out:

"Is that what you Yankees call skedaddling?" One of our men turned in
his saddle and said something that made her skip in the house in a

We rode on until we got to the ferry, which was nothing but an old scow
of a boat. We were soon on the boat, and in the meantime the gunboat had
swung around and commenced throwing shells at us. The first shell went
over us; the next struck the water a hundred yards from us, and the
third struck close and threw the water all over us. Our horses became
unmanageable. One jumped overboard and the rest came near upsetting the
boat. The one that jumped overboard swam to shore all right. We landed
our horses and one man went back in a small boat and got it and cut the

We had two large twelve-pound brass guns, and never fired a shot at the
boat. I never did understand why they did not. But I know this much
about it, we were ordered to mount and get out of there. We went back
about eight or ten miles and met troops coming to reinforce us. The next
morning we went back to Jacksonport, but found the gunboat gone.

There was a large quantity of sugar stored at this place, and the
Johnnies rolled out the hogsheads and spilt the sugar in the middle of
the road. Our horses waded knee deep in sugar for two hundred yards. The
farmers came in droves and shoveled the sugar into their wagons like

That night it rained. The ditches on both sides of the road were full of
molasses. The citizens had a little more manners when we came back;
there were no more guards put over wells, and not so much punishing
going on if one of our men was caught foraging on his own hook.

In a few days after this there were two companies sent out foraging, and
some time in the afternoon we heard firing in the direction the foragers
had gone. "Boots and saddles" were sounded and the balance of the Ninth
was on their way to reinforce. We soon came up with the teamsters who
were driving for "dear life." We passed them and came up to where our
men had formed a line. The rebels had also formed a line about three
hundred yards in advance, and were crowding our men back, but as soon as
we reinforced our men it turned the tide of the skirmish. We drove them
back. I do not think it lasted over half an hour and after we got
through we had forty men wounded and three killed outright. This
occurred June 12th, 1862, and was the first time I had been in a
skirmish. The rebels were mostly armed with double-barrelled shot-guns.
Their loss was eleven killed and thirty wounded. We then went back to

Skirmishing now became almost an every day occurrence. Two companies
were started on a foraging expedition down White river. After they got
ten or twelve miles below Jacksonport two companies of rebels came up on
the other side. As soon as they came in sight of one another they opened
fire. The river at this point was five hundred yards across. Finally the
rebels ceased firing, and one tall rebel stepped out from behind a tree
and hollered over to our men and said:

"I will dare any single Yank to step out and have a fair, open stand up
and fight with me, and we are to keep on firing until one goes down."

Out jumped our Jim. "All right, Johnnie, are you ready?" Now, both sides
cased firing and looked on with interest. Jim was a splendid shot, and
as cool as if shooting at a target. Both guns went off at once. The
Johnnie called over, "Are you hit, Yank?"

"Not by a darned sight. Are you?"

"I'm all right, Yank."

Jim took particular pains in loading. Both brought their guns to the
ground together, reached and got a cartridge together, and pulled their
ramrods together. The Johnnie pulled his out with a jerk and it flew ten
feet away. By the time he had regained it and straightened up, Jim's gun
was loaded. He brought it to his shoulder, took steady aim and fired.
The rebel brought his hand to his breast with a slap and down he went.
Just at this moment the rebels got a large reinforcement with artillery,
and we were forced to fall back. A few days after, a rebel deserter came
to our camp and told us that the rebel who fought Jim was in a fair way
to get well, and that the bullet had struck in the center of a large
package of letters that he had in his breast pocket and only made a
slight flesh wound.

We then returned to camp. It was getting late in the summer, and the
country was infested with small bands of guerillas. A great many of them
were fighting on their own hook, that is, they were nothing but robbers.
They robbed the southern and Union people, and if they happened to run
onto a small company of Union soldiers whom they could overpower by
numbers, and take them prisoners, they would march them out into the
woods and shoot them. Such fellows never came out in an open fight, but
were always sneaking around in the brush, and that is what gave them the
name of bushwhackers. If by accident one of our men was caught alone by
the bushwhackers we never heard of him again. They would take him out in
the woods and shoot him, pull off his clothes, and leave his body to be
devoured by turkey-buzzards, and that is why so many rebel soldiers were
dressed in blue.

The women folks were even worse than the men; they poisoned the wells,
and poisoned provisions and left them where our boys could easily find
them, and at the same time rebel planters would call on our generals for
protection. As sure as they found out that our army was coming that
way, they would want a protection guard to keep the Yanks off their
premises, and our officers would almost always grant their request.

One nice morning I had orders to report to headquarters. As I came up in
front of headquarters tent, Col. Brackett came out with a letter in his
hand and said:

"Sergeant, you are ordered to take two men and go ten miles up the White
river to a planter's house and to guard the property while some of Gen.
Curtis' men are passing. Allow no soldier on his premises."

I did not like that kind of a job, but orders had to be obeyed; so I
went down to camp and found Jim and a comrade by the name of Thorne, and
started for the old Reb's plantation. We got there all right, rode up to
the front of the house and dismounted. There were two men sitting on the
porch, one a gray-headed man and the other a young man. They proved to
be father and son. As I went in the gate two young ladies came out on
the porch, followed by a colored woman carrying chairs for them. When we
first rode up, I noticed that when the young man saw we were Union
soldiers he was very uneasy. I stepped upon the first step and raised my
hat and asked who was the proprietor. The old gentleman said,

"I am." I handed him a letter and he opened it and examined it a long
time, and finally called to one of the girls and said:

"Come here, Mary, and see if you can make this out."

"No, pa, I can't make it out at all."

Then the old man turned to me and said, "It may be, stranger, that you
can read this," at the same time handing me the letter.

"Well, sir, this is what it says: 'Gen. Curtis sends his compliments to
you and sends guards to protect your property while the Union army is

"Oh, you are the guards?"

In a little while a young darkey appeared, and the man told him to show
the gentlemen where to put the horses. I told Jim to see that they were
taken care of. As they disappeared around the house the old man invited
me to take a chair which old aunty had provided for me. No sooner had I
taken the chair than the old gentleman began telling me how mean our men
had served him; stole his chickens and pigs, and, said he,

"I am a Union man, and my son here is also, and of course we want

Just at this moment Thorne and Jim came around with the arms. Jim
handed me my revolver and carbine. The house was the double log kind,
with a kind of hall between the two houses, and a porch running the
whole length of both parts, facing the road, and stood back from the
road about twenty yards.

Away around a bend in the road to the right over a cornfield we could
see the dust rolling up over the corn, as if a lot of horsemen were
coming. Said I,

"Mister, supposing they are confederates, what are we to do?"

"Oh, you're all right. I'll see that you are not hurt."

Then I knew that he was no Union man, or he would have no influence with
the Rebs; for be it known that there was not a Union man in the south
but what was spotted, and was as much hated as we hated the copperheads
of the north.

I could see that the young man was watching the cloud of dust with great
interest. One of the girls jumped to her feet and went in and brought
out a field-glass. The troops now began to come around the bend in the

"They are confederates," said the girl.

Our orders were to stay until our troops passed, so there was no
alternative for us but to stay. There were about seven hundred
confederates, and all mounted. They rode up in front of the house, and
the planter and his family all walked out to the fence. The rebel
Colonel dismounted, and we could see that they were talking earnestly
about us, for they cast glances our way quite often. The rebel soldiers
were yelling at us, wanting to know if we had any horses to trade. The
rebel Colonel made a motion for me to advance. I stepped out to the

"To what regiment do you belong," the Colonel asked.

"I belong to the Ninth Illinois Cavalry."

"Where are you stationed?" he asked.

"I'm stationed at Jacksonport."

"How many are there of you?"

"Do you take me for a fool?" said I.

"Oh no, I take you for a Yankee soldier. This gentleman told me that you
were sent as a protection guard, and I want to tell you that you are
perfectly safe, as far as we are concerned. Do you know when your men
are to pass here?"

"I do not know anything about it."

By this time quite a number of the soldiers had got over the fence and
were talking to Jim and Thorne. It was getting late in the afternoon,
and away off in the west could be heard distant thunder. The Colonel
ordered them to mount, and they rode on about half a mile and went into
camp. I noticed that the young man went with them.

Every move that was made by the family we were guarding showed them to
be rebels. The great, black clouds came rolling up from the west. The
lightning was something fearful to behold, and the deep bass thunder
shook the earth to its very foundation. The negroes were running in
every direction. It could easily be seen that they were terribly
frightened at the approaching storm. Great drops of rain began to fall.

"Just then the rebel Colonel and two captains came riding up, threw
themselves from the saddle and told the darkey to put their horses under
shelter. As the darkey was leading the horses there came a flash of
lightning, and a deafening crash of thunder followed so closely that it
seemed more like the noise of a cannon. One of the horses rose up on his
hind feet and struck the darkey with his front feet and sent him
sprawling on the ground. At that all three started up to the rebel camp
on a run and disappeared round a bend in the road. The old gentleman was
standing out on the porch. He spoke to another darkey and told him to go
and see if Sam was dead. Just then Sam rose to a sitting position and
looked up and saw us gazing at him and hollered out,

"Oh, massa, I is dunderstruck!"

The rain now began to pour down and the wind was blowing fearfully. The
darkey jumped to his feet and made for a place of shelter. We all went
into the house. It was getting quite dark. They were obliged to light
candles. In a few minutes a colored woman came to the door and announced

"Now," said the old gentleman, "I want you confederates and you federals
to come and eat at the same table, and I want it understood that there
is to be no quarreling."

As we filed into the dining room we laid our arms in one corner of the
room and sat down to the table. I sat next to a rebel Captain, and the
rebel Colonel and the two girls sat opposite us. Every time that the
Captain who sat next to me had anything to say it was a slur on the
Yankees. The rebel Colonel did not approve of his actions, for he
frequently shook his head at him. Finally the Captain said:

"I believe I could lick twenty Yanks alone. I know I could if they were
all like these we have here."

I turned to the old gentleman and said:

"We came here to guard you and your family and not to be insulted."

"Well," said the old man, "I am very sorry this has occurred."

"Well," said Jim, "it was not two weeks ago that one of your men
challenged one of our men to come out and have a square stand-up fight
across White river. He probably thought he could get away with twenty
Yankees too, but, Mr. Reb, I went out and had a fair fight with him and
got away with him, too, so if you think you can get away with twenty
Yanks such as are here, you can try me in the morning. If you get away
with me, you will have two more to try your hand on."

The old gentleman jumped up and said,

"I want this thing stopped, and want it distinctly understood that there
will be no fighting here."

We finished our supper in silence, and as we were rising to leave the
table, I said,

"My opinion is, you will all get all the fighting you want before
to-morrow night;" and I proved to be a good prophet that time.


We went back in the other room and talked over the prospects of the war
without any hard feelings. The rebel captain had gone off with the
girls. The Colonel said,

"I will put a guard around the house to-night. We do not want you men to
go away until we move on."

I looked out and saw that the storm was over. The old gentleman told us
we could go to bed any time, so it being ten o'clock, we took our arms
and followed the old man up stairs. He took us into a room where there
were two beds, put the candle on a stand, bade us good-night and left us

"Now," said Thorne, "I don't like the looks of things here. That rebel
captain means mischief."

"Well," said Jim, "that old Colonel is all right; he will keep that
Captain straight, you can bet on that."

Soon after we got in bed, I heard some one talking in the room below us.
I slid out of bed slyly and pulled a piece of the carpet away and
discovered a large knot hole in the floor. I made a sign for the boys to
keep quiet while I looked through the hole. The rebel captain sat there
with his arm around the girl's waist and she had her head on his
shoulder. She was talking to him about us and this is what she said:

"That Yankee told the truth when he said he had a square fight with one
of our men."

"Yes, the man he fought belonged to my company. He is in camp now and a
better marksman can not be found in the regiment. Now, my dear, can't we
study up some plan to get away with these Yanks?"

"No, pa want let us do anything, for you know he has fifty thousand
dollars in gold buried down in one corner of the cellar, and if he did
not have a protecting guard, the Yanks might go through the house and
find it. I know it is hard and mean to have the dirty things here, but I
suppose we will have to stand it."

"I will tell you how we can fix them in the morning. Treat everybody to
some of that nice peach brandy of yours, and put a good dose of arsenic
in the Yankees' glasses, and you may be sure that will fix them."

"Do you really want me to do that?"

"Of course I do."

"What will pa say when General Curtis comes along and wants to know what
has become of the guards he sent?"

"You folks can say that they never came and he will just think they have

"But you know pa is so particular about his honesty, that he would spoil
the whole thing."

"Your pa would not know what killed the Yanks, and we would take their
horses and arms and your pa would be so frightened that he would keep

"Well, what about your Colonel?"

"Oh, the devil with him. I sometimes think he is half Yank by the way he
acts and talks. Now, if you will kill these Yanks, you will be doing the
confederacy a great favor. It might not be three days before we get into
a fight with them and they might kill your brother or me, so you see you
can do as much as any soldier if you are brave and do what I want you

"Well, I will do it, for it may be as you say, and if my brother and you
should be killed, I wouldn't want to live."

"Now you talk like my own brave little girl."

They had a good deal more to say that would not interest the reader. As
long as we were in no immediate danger, I crawled back to bed and went
to sleep. The next morning, when we woke up, I posted the boys about
what I heard but there was no need of that, for away up toward the rebel
camp we could hear the clash of fire arms--first one gun, then bang!
came a shell right over the house. Everything was confusion in the
house, women screaming, men cursing and negroes yelling. It was a
perfect bedlam going on below. It did not take long to go down and out
on the stoop and look away up toward the rebel camp. The smoke of the
battle was rising above the trees and the rebel Colonel and the two
captains were running up toward the conflict and soon disappeared around
the bend in the road. The two girls came out on the porch, wringing
their hands and crying. Just then there came another shell crashing
through the air and struck in front of the house, plowing a furrow in
the ground and throwing dirt all over the porch. The girls skipped into
the house and shut the door with a bang. The fire now became a steady
roll. Here they come around the bend in the road. They are forming
another line of battle, when crack comes another shell, striking through
the top of the chimney, the brick and mortar flying in every direction.
Here comes the Johnnies again, the "Yanks" right after them. Bang at
bang, pop at pop! See the Johnnies tumbling on every side! See the
horses running pell mell, without riders. Here they go right by the
house, our brave boys in blue right after them. 'Round the corn-field
they go, the fire growing fainter and fainter in the distance. Now the
worst part is to come. They commence to bring in the wounded. The first
to come was the rebel Colonel, two of our men bearing him on a
stretcher. His face was pinched and pale, with the blood oozing out of a
wound in his breast. One of our surgeons came and gave me orders to
bring in the wounded. As we got on the road where the most desperate
part of the battle took place, what a sight met our gaze. All kinds of
arms scattered over the ground. Hats, caps and blankets, here a horse
and there a horse, struggling in the agony of death, and men scattered
all over the ground. Here a Yank and there a Reb, some dead, and others
wounded. The rebels suffered the more, for they were taken wholly by

It was a regular cavalry fight. It was now about ten o'clock, and our
infantry began to come up. It did not take long to get the wounded to
where they could get care. Our forces took possession of the rebel camp,
capturing all their wagons, tents and baggage. There were thirty killed
and one hundred wounded. We lost eleven killed and thirty wounded. The
wounded were mostly taken close to the house, on account of having them
close to the water. The rebel Colonel died before night. We had our ten
thousand troops camped within one mile of the house. Now the tables had
turned. We were with our own men again.

I know what my comrade soldiers would say. They would say, "Why did you
not go and dig up that money?" No, my dear comrades. I went to General
Curtis' headquarters and made a report of everything that happened. He
gave me strict orders to keep a guard over everything and not allow
anything to be taken from the premises; but the next morning there was
not a ham or shoulder in the smoke-house or a chicken on the place, and
Gen. Curtis himself told the old gentleman that he had better take care
of his money, for it was known that he had it. I want to say that the
two girls did nobly. They did all that they could for the Yanks as well
as the Rebs. We stayed there until the Yankee army passed, and the
young lady never offered to treat us to that nice peach brandy. The
morning that we were to go we shook hands all around, bade them
good-bye, and as we were standing on the stoop, Jim spoke:

"We are about to go and you will probably never see us again, and we
would like to have some of that nice peach brandy, but would prefer to
have it without arsenic."

The girl turned as white as a sheet and staggered into the house. The
old gentleman did not know what ailed the girl, but ordered a negro to
bring up a bucket full. We filled our canteens and took a good drink out
of the bucket and bade them all good-bye again.

We mounted our horses and started on after our men. We came up to the
rear-guard five miles west of Jacksonport. I rode up to headquarters and
reported to General Curtis: For the benefit of the reader who does not
understand army discipline I want to say that when a soldier or
detachment of men was sent out from camp, it did not matter how
important or how trifling their mission was, they were expected to go to
headquarters and report as soon as they returned. That was to let the
officers know what success they had, and also to let them see that they
were back again. At this time the rebel guerillas were concentrating
their forces at Jacksonport, and the picket post was doubled. The next
day after I got back to Jacksonport I was ordered to take twenty-five
men and go out to the long bridge in the rear of the town and do picket
duty. The guard had been fired on during the night before and one of our
sentinels killed. So you may depend we kept a sharp lookout for
bushwhackers. Just as we had relieved the old guard and they had
disappeared around the roads, one of my guards came running in from the
brush and said, "There is a lot of young pigs running around out there."
We all went out but those who were on post, and through the brush we
went and got thirteen of them; went back, built a rousing fire of rails,
skinned and washed our pigs, and stuck them on sticks all around the
fire. A sentry hollered to us that Gen. Curtis and his staff were coming
up the road. We formed a line of the guards and as the old General came
riding up we presented arms.

"Are you the sergeant of the guards?"

"Yes, sir," said I.

"Well," said the General, "this is a very important post; now you must
be very careful and tear up the planks in the middle of the bridge and
pile them up at this end, and if the enemy come up set the bridge on
fire. You can pile up all the brush and rails under this end of the
bridge and have it fixed so you can fire it in three or four places at
once." Then the old gentleman looked around and saw the pigs in a line
around the fire and said: "Hello, what have you here, sergeant?" I was
staggered for a moment, but finally blurted out:

"Coons, sir."

The old General drew his sword and stuck it into one of the skins that
was close by. He held it up on the point of sword, with the little pig's
tail hanging down, and said:

"That beats all the coon skins I ever did see." He tried to keep from
laughing and look stern, but couldn't; it was too much for him. As soon
as the old General could control himself, he turned to me and said:

"Sergeant, don't catch any more of those kind of coons." He rode off
laughing while the whole staff followed suit.

On the 27th of June a large force of rebels made an attack on one of our
government trains near Stewart's plantation, and as we were going to the
rescue of the train the rebels fired at us. I felt a burning sensation
as if a bullet had passed through my head. Everything got dark. I fell
from my horse. The bullet came so close that the bridge of my nose was
broken and made me totally blind for awhile. My comrades carried me back
in an ambulance. The whole of Gen. Curtis' army was on the march for
Helena. My head felt as big as a bushel basket, and fever set in; then I
was in a very critical condition. On we went through swamps, over miles
of corduroy. The burning sun was enough to kill a well man; there was no
water only what we could get from the dirty swamps. No wonder the men
died at a fearful rate. The enemy had chopped the timber down and filled
up all the wells along the road. Some of the time I was delirious,
calling for water all the time. Oh, that long, dreary march through
those dirty swamps! We finally got to Helena and I was taken to the
hospital, and from there was sent to Jefferson barracks, St. Louis, and
lay there until Sept. 20th, when I was discharged and sent home. Just as
soon as I got well and strong I re-enlisted in the Ninety-fifth Illinois
Infantry. The reason I did not get back to my old regiment was that my
brother had just enlisted in the Ninety-fifth, and my brother and I
enlisted and joined our regiment at Vicksburg. Nothing happened of any
consequence until the spring of '64, then we started from Vicksburg and
went on the famous Red river expedition. I will not go into the
particulars of this trip, but some time in the near future I will write
on that subject. However, I will give you a few points on the incidents
of March 9th, 1864.

The Ninety-fifth embarked on board a transfer at Vicksburg, and started
for the mouth of Red river. Gen. Smith had command of our division and
we proceeded up the river. The first place we took was Fort Russey. We
captured that stronghold, with three thousand prisoners, arms and
equipments. We then went on up the river. There was a good deal of
skirmishing all the way. At Pleasant Hill occurred the hardest fought
battle of the expedition.

Then commenced the retreat to the Mississippi. We were under constant
fire for nineteen days, and arrived at the mouth of Red river on the
21st day of May. This ended the expensive and fruitless attempt to reach
the head waters of the Red river.

On the 22d day of May the Ninety-fifth embarked at the mouth of the
river and sailed up the Mississippi as far as Memphis, where we arrived
the latter part of May.

Now comes the hardest part of my experience as a soldier. I will give
you my experience, also the experience of others as prisoners of war at

Memoirs of Andersonville.


It is said that we should forgive and forget; but the man who invented
that saying never was in Andersonville prison.

No, my readers, I purpose to tell you just as nearly as one man can tell
another how the Union soldiers were treated at Andersonville. I shall
begin by my capture, and then take you right along with me through the

About the first of June, 1864, we were ordered out from Memphis to fight
the rebel General Forrest, then operating near Guntown, Miss. We met him
near that place on the tenth day of June, and here occurred one of the
most desperate battles I ever witnessed.

A great many think to this day that we were sold out to the Johnnies;
and I must say it looked very much like it, indeed.

Our horses, our ambulances, and our wagons were run up to the front. The
field lay in the form of a horse-shoe, with heavy timber and dense
brushwood on all sides. The rebels were ambushed on three sides of our
regiment; consequently they had a cross-fire on us.

Our Colonel was killed in the first fire. I thought for awhile that the
whole line of battle would fall. One after another of our captains fell,
until all were dead or so badly wounded as to incapacitate them for

Finally one of our lieutenants took charge of the regiment. He had no
sooner done so than he was shot through the foot. As he went hobbling
off he gave the command to fall back. Well, now, you can bet that we did
fall back, and in double-quick time, too.

Now, right here occurred an incident that was laughable, notwithstanding
the serious position we were all in. We had a large negro to do our
cooking. For some reason or other he had got up toward the front. In his
hand he held a camp-kettle, and when the Johnnies first fired he stood
paralyzed with fear. Finally he got his right mind, and then you ought
to have seen him run. He turned, and giving an unearthly yell, skipped
across the battle-field. He did not let go of his kettle, and at every
jump he yelled, "I'se going home!"

We all gave leg-bail for security, and got across the field in a lively
manner, I tell you.

I made a straight line for a creek, and when I got there I saw a tree
had fallen across it, and twelve of our men crossed on it. In the
meantime the rebels had captured one of our guns, and turned it on our
men who were crossing, and swept every man off into the creek. About
this time I made a big jump and landed up to my cartridge box in the
water. Again, another shot came booming along and cut a nice path
through the canebrake. It did not take me long to take advantage of
these paths made by the cannon, and get out of that. The first men that
I met were of my own company. We formed a line and held the rebels in
check until our cartridges gave out; then commenced one of the most
shameful stampedes I ever witnessed. We set fire to the wagons that were
near us, and retreated. By this time the sun was very nearly down, so we
did not get far before dark.

We traveled all night, and in the morning came to a little town called
Ripley. Here we made a halt to allow the stragglers to catch up; and
while waiting here the rebel cavalry got ahead of us.

The little squad that I was with stood right in front of a large white
house with a bay window in front. A woman stepped to the window with a
revolver in her hand and fired into our crowd, killing one of our
lieutenants. Some of our men still having their guns loaded turned, and
without orders, fired and killed the woman.

Just as we got to the town we found the rebel cavalry waiting for us. We
formed and charged. The cavalry opened and let us through, we only
losing three men.

By this time I was getting tired. I told my brother I could stand it no
longer. He told me to try to keep up, but I knew I could not go much

About the middle of the afternoon we stopped to rest. We had been
resting only a few minutes when bang! bang! went the rebel guns. My
brother and I jumped to our feet, took hold of hands started down a
steep hill.

"Now," said I, "go on, for I cannot go any farther; I am played out. You
go and try to get through to Memphis, and I will hide here and get away
if I can."

So he went on and I went down the hill and crawled under a large tree
that had probably blown down. It was not five minutes before the
Johnnies were jumping over the very tree I was under. While lying there
I saw a big black negro jump up out of the brush with a navy revolver in
his hand. He saw that the Johnnies were all around him, and that his
only chance was to fight. So he jumped upon a large rock. The rebels
told him to surrender, and at the same time began firing at him. The
negro was plucky; he raised his revolver, took steady aim, and fired. He
killed a Johnnie, and fetched three more before they fetched him. Having
killed the poor fellow, they went up to him and ran their bayonets
through him time and again.

While this was going on you had better believe I was hugging the ground.
I lay so flat and close that had I been a case-knife I could not have
been much thinner. Well, I lay there until it was getting dark, then
crawled from under the tree and went back up the hill. Right in the
middle of the road I found a gun, which, upon examination, proved to be
loaded. I bent my own gun around a tree, took up the loaded gun and left
the road. I made up my mind that I would go about four miles south and
then strike west; by doing this I was bound to strike the Mississippi
somewhere south of Memphis. The country between Guntown and Memphis is
all timber land.

Well, I went stumbling over logs, tearing through briar-bushes, and
finally struck a swamp. Yes, I struck it suddenly and unexpectedly. I
struck my toe against a log and went head-foremost, casouse into the mud
and water. I floundered around in there until I got completely covered
with mud and filth. I finally got clear of the swamp and came to a
densely wooded place upon ground a little higher. Here I curled up under
a tree and went to sleep. The first thing I heard in the morning was the
whip-poor-will. I saw by the light in the east that it was getting well
on towards daylight.

Knowing which direction was east, I knew that the opposite direction
would take me to the Mississippi, and in that direction I took my
course. I hadn't gone more than a mile when I struck one of our men. He
belonged to the cavalry. As he came up to me I asked him which way he
was going. He told me he was going to Memphis. "No," said I; "you are
going directly east." After talking the matter over we started off
together. We had not gone fifty yards when we heard the click of guns
and "Halt! you Yanks; throw down your guns!" "Come up here!" "Give me
that hat!" "Here, I want them boots!" I had a pocket knife and seven
dollars and thirty cents in my pockets. My boots were new, and I had
made up my mind to wear them if anybody wore them. So when I took them
off, I stuck the point of my knife into the toe and ripped them up to
the top of the leg. "Now you d----d Yank, I'll fix you for that." He
dropped on his knee, took deliberate aim, and just as his finger pressed
the trigger, the rebel captain raised the muzzle of his gun and it went
off over my head. The captain said, "That man is a prisoner, and
whatever you do don't shoot him."

Well, the Johnnies did not want my boots then, but they took my pocket
knife and money. I told them I had been in quite a number of battles,
and seen a great many men captured, but that I had never known one of
our men to take a single thing from them; that if their men were
captured without blankets we gave them some. "Keep your damn mouth shut,
or I'll plug you yet," said the Johnnie. So I kept it shut, you bet.

The rebel Captain had his son with him, a boy about sixteen years old.
He came up to me and said, "I'se sorry for you." Well, to tell the
truth, I was a sorrowful looking object, covered with mud from head to
foot, hungry, tired and in the hands of what I knew to be a cruel enemy.
You will perhaps say that I was not much of a soldier when I tell you
that I cried. I could not help it. The Captain's boy said, "Don't cry,
and I will give you a piece of corn bread." I could not help laughing at
the simplicity of the child, and it made me feel better.

Well, they started us for the main road, and you can imagine my
astonishment when we came at last to the road, and found that the rebels
had 1,800 of our men prisoners. They then started us toward the battle
ground. We marched till sundown and then went into camp.


I thought about my brother, but was too tired and worn out to look him
up, so lay down on the ground, without blanket or covering of any sort
(for the rebels had taken everything and anything that they could make
use of) and went to sleep, and I did not waken until I was aroused by
the call to fall in. I had had nothing to eat since I left the
battle-field, except the piece of corn bread the Captain's boy gave me,
and this was the third day.

I was so sore and stiff that it was hard for me to move, and in the
march if I did not move fast enough, the Johnnies would prod me with
their bayonets. We finally reached the battle-field, and when we got
there, the rebels gave each of us a hard tack. Then they got us on a
train of cars and started us for Meriden, Miss. Arriving at Meriden, we
got off the cars for the evening. You can bet I was glad to stop. When
we finally got fixed for what I supposed the evening, we were ordered to
form in line, and then the Johnnies went through us again; and what
they did not take the first time, they did not leave this time. When
they got through with us I went and lay down. I will never forget how
good it did feel to stretch out at full length on the ground and rest.
The next morning one of our men asked the guard if he was going to get
any rations. "Yes," he answered, "I will give you your rations, you
d----d Yank," and deliberately shot the man dead on the spot. In a short
time they took us down to the Tombigbee river. From there we went
straight through to Andersonville.

When we got within a short distance of that place, we smelt something
rather strong. I asked one of the guards what it was. He said, "You will
soon find out what it is," and you bet we did.

We were, as I said before, in flat-cars. As we came up to the little
station, we could look right over the stockade into the pen. The pen
looked then as if it would hold no more. I looked back over the whole
train, which carried 1800 men, and wondered how in the world we could
all get in there. At this time there were only sixteen acres inclosed by
the pen, and it contained about 35,000 men. I little thought that I
would get out of Andersonville alive; and oh! how many that marched
through the prison gates that day came out on the dead-cart!

The stockade was in the form of a square, and made by placing logs in
the ground and forming a fence eighteen feet high. Inside of the main
fence was a line of posts set twelve feet from the stockade proper, and
joined together with slats about as wide as the hand, thus forming a
second fence four feet high which ran parallel to the stockade and all
around the pen. This was the dead line. A prisoner that came anywhere
near the line was shot by the guards. The guards had little sentry boxes
built to the outside, and well up to the side of the stockade; were just
high enough to allow the guard's head and shoulders to come above the
stockade; these were reached from the outside by means of a ladder.

They took us from the cars and marched us up before Captain Wirz's
headquarters. We were formed into line and counted off; were divided
into hundreds, and again into squads of twenty-five.

A sergeant was appointed over each department. Captain Wirz came out in
front of us and said: "You are a fine looking lot of men. I will fix so
you will not want to fight any more."

I will leave the readers to say whether he kept his word. The big gates
were now swung back and we marched in. The old prisoners crowded around
us and were eager to find out what was going on on the outside, and if
there was any chance for an exchange.

On the day of my capture I was a hard looking sight, but it was nothing
to what I saw on first going into Andersonville. The ground was white
with maggots, and as the men crowded up to me the smell was sickening.

Some of the men had great sores on them that were full of maggots. They
had lost all the spirit and energy that makes the man. They were filthy,
and the lice could be seen crawling all over them. There were men with
their feet, and others with their hands rotting off with the scurvy. Men
were lying on all sides dying, while others were dead.

Was this some horrible dream, or was it real? I asked myself. I could
hardly believe my own eyes at first. Such a terrible sight but few men
in the world have ever seen. I looked around for some place to sit down,
but there was nothing but the ground, and even that was out of the
question, we were so crowded. So thickly were we packed that I found it
difficult to do anything but stand or move as the crowd moved. I felt my
head grow light. Finally everything became dark, and I was gone. Yes, I
had fainted. How long I lay there I do not know, but when I came to
again it was night. It was some time before I could realize where I was,
but the groans of my dying comrades brought me to my senses. The air had
become chilly. I went a short distance and fell in with my crowd. We all
lay down spoon-fashion. One could not turn unless we all turned. The man
at the head of the rank would give the command "right spoon," or "left
spoon," and then we would all turn together. The next morning I got up
and looked upon one of the most horrible sights I ever saw. Within
twenty yards of us three men had died during the night. Some of the men
were engaged in carrying the dead to the gate entrance. I saw, without
moving from the place where I slept, the bodies of fifty-three men that
had died during the night. I brushed the maggots from my clothes, and
walked down to the creek to wash. When I got there and had a good view
of it, it was hard to tell whether it would make one clean or dirty. The
rebel guard was camped above on the creek, and they made it a point, it
seems, to throw all their filth into it, and at this time it was all the
water we had to drink. I asked one of the prisoners if they ever gave
the men soap. He laughed and wanted to know if he looked like a man
that had ever seen soap. Just the looks of him would have convinced the
most skeptical mind on that point. I went in, however, rubbed some dirty
water on my face, and called it a wash. At 12 o'clock the wagon with the
meal came in. When I saw them giving it out I thought we were about to
get a good ration, but when they came to divide I found my share to
consist of two-thirds of a pint. The meal had been ground with the cob,
the same way in which farmers grind it for their hogs to-day. I drew
mine in my two hands, for I had no dish to put it in. After two hours I
got a tin pail from one of the prisoners; but then I had no wood to cook
it with. One of the old prisoners came to my relief with a few shavings,
and showed me how to use them. He dug a little hole in the ground and
set fire to the shavings. After placing the shavings in the hole, he set
the pail over the fire, stirred in the meal and made a mush of it. I did
not get mine more than half done, but I tell you it was good. I had been
without anything to eat for three days. I found that the old prisoners
made but one meal a day of their rations. For my part it was hard to see
how more could be made. After I had been there about two months, they
began to prepare the mush outside and bring it in to us in barrels.

Before going any farther I shall give a complete description of the
stockade. When I went in first there were about sixteen acres enclosed.
The gates were on the west side, one on each side of the creek, which
ran from east to west through the middle of the pen. The land rose
abruptly on each side of the creek, forming steep rills. About the
center of the stockade was a regular quagmire, which covered about two
acres, and this was one reason why we were so crowded. About this time
the weather began to get very hot and the death-rate began to increase.
The suffering among the prisoners was such as I hope never to witness
again. The water was fearful, and we begged the rebels to give us tools
to dig wells with. We dug wells all over the prison, but could get no
water. About this time they enlarged the prison and took in eight more
acres. I tell you it was great relief. In and around Andersonville was a
forest of pitch pine, so in enlarging the stockade they enclosed part of
this timber land which had been cleared, but then contained a great many
stumps and roots, which were made use of for fire-wood. Still the well
digging went on but no water was found. We were exposed to the heat of
the sun during the day and at night suffered from cold, for we had no
shelter or covering of any sort. Starved for want of food and water,
hundreds died daily.

For a long time our men had been trying to get up some plan to make
their escape from prison. We had dug a number of tunnels, but old Wirz
had always found us out. We finally concluded to start in one of our
wells which we had dug about sixty feet without getting water. This well
was about seventy-five feet from the stockade; so we went down about
eighteen feet and commenced digging a tunnel in under the stockade.
Night after night we worked and threw the dirt into the well until we
filled it to the place started from. Then we handed the dirt up in part
of a blanket, and carried it down and threw it in the mire. This all had
to be done at night, for the rebel guards were on the watch, and the
least thing that looked suspicious was investigated immediately. So we
labored away, night after night, till we were sure we had passed the
stockade and then commenced to dig up toward the surface.

We finally got so near the surface that we could hear the rebels talk
and walk; so we concluded to wait until some dark night, and then make
the attempt. In three or four days we had our tunnel finished (I shall
never forget it) it was a dark, rainy night, and we commenced dropping
down into the well, one by one, until there were thirteen of us in the
tunnel. I was the second. Having got to the end of the tunnel, we lay
there and listened. All being still my comrade began to remove the soil.

"Hark," he said, "the rebels are changing guard."

We remained still for half an hour. Everything having become quiet, our
leader stuck his head out of the hole. He crawled out, and I, being
behind him, gave him a boost. The next man boosted me, and so on until
we were all out except the last man. He was the largest man in the
crowd, and in trying to get up through the hole got fast in some way.

While we were trying to pull him out he hollered. I tell you there was a
commotion among the Johnnies then. They commenced firing, and you could
hear them running in every direction. The only thing we could do was to
leave him take care of ourselves. Three of us staid together and made
for the woods. Oh, how we did run! Every stump and bush we saw we
thought a rebel. I said, "Boys, hold up; I can't stand this any longer."
No wonder, for we were so starved that there was nothing left but skin
and bones. Being in such a weak condition I was surprised that we had
gone so far in so short a time. In a few minutes we struck a swamp, and
started to wade along the edge. At the same time we could hear a fearful
uproar back among the rebel guards. The noise got fainter and fainter,
and at last ceased. It was so dark that you could scarcely see your hand
in front of your face.

Where the rest of the men were we didn't know. We kept along the edge of
the swamp. Sometimes we were up to our knees in water, sometimes we were
up to our armpits. We kept steadily on until daylight. Just about this
time we heard the bloodhounds away off in our rear. We pushed on with
increased vigor. The sounds came nearer and nearer. When it became broad
daylight we could see, in the middle of a swamp, a small island. If we
could only get to it, we thought we would be safe, for a time at least.
The water was covered with slime, and full of all kinds of reptiles. The
deadly water moccasin predominated. Our only chance was to get to the
island; so in we went. We finally got to the island, and found it
covered with a dense growth of laurel. We crawled up under the brush and
lay down. We could easily see the side from which we came. In a few
minutes two very large bloodhounds came out of the timber to the edge
of the swamp. They stood as if undecided what to do, but finally set up
a kind of howl peculiar to them when disappointed or off the scent. In a
few minutes five rebels rode up. The head man turned to the others and

"Them damned Yanks are over on that island." The other said,

"If they are there I don't see how we will get them."

One of the Rebs then yelled to us,

"Hey, you Yanks, if you don't come over here I will send the dogs after
you, and they will tear you to pieces."

We lay perfectly still. Another of the Rebs said,

"I know them Yanks are over there. Don't you see how the cane is parted
where they waded or swam over?"

"I tell you what," said another; "I will get astraddle of a log and take
the dogs over there."

As he was getting off his horse we heard firing in the distance and the
howls of more dogs. The rebels mounted their horses and started for the
place where the firing seemed to be. We then jumped up and went around
on the other side of the island, where we found a small shanty that had
been built by some runaway negro before the war. One of the men, who
had been looking around, came running up and said that there was a
dugout hidden in the brush. To get it into the water was the work of a
minute. It was badly sun-cracked, and leaked, but held us all. Two of us
pushed with sticks while the third baled her out with a gourd which we
found in the boat. We pushed her along in this manner the rest of the
day, and always managed to keep her under the over-hanging trees, where
we would not likely be discovered.

It was now getting dark, and the swamp was narrowing down and the banks
were getting higher. It looked more like a river than a swamp.

"Hark! what is that? Don't you think it is some one chopping?"

"You bet it am. Pull in and we will see."

We pulled in, and climbing out as carefully as I could so as not to make
any noise, I stepped along from tree to tree until I got close up to the
chopper. It was a negro chopping wood in front of a cabin. A large negro
woman stood in the door, and said to him, "Now, Jake, if you want any
supper you want to hurry up and chop dat wood."

I looked around, and seeing no other house I stepped out and said, "Good

"Hello!" said Jake; "who is you?"

"It don't make any difference who I am," said I; "but, Aunty, can I get
anything to eat?"

"Why, ob course you can, if dat blamed niggah ebber gets dat wood

"Is there any white people around here, Aunty?"

"No, honey; dere is no white folks within four miles of us. What's the
matter, honey? Is you afraid of the white people?"

"You bet I am. I've just got out of prison."

"You has? Oh, good Lord! Is you a Yank?"

"You bet I am."

Jake then said, "Dat is just what dem sojers was huntin' to-day wid all
dem dogs, down by de cane-brake. Dey said dey had catched four, and de
dogs tore dem all to pieces."

"Is you all alone, honey?"

"No, ma'am; there are three of us."

"Well, well! bress the Lord. Fetch 'em here."

I then went back to where the boys were, and told them to pull the boat
up and come on. When we got to the shanty, the old woman gave us one
look, and clasping her hands in front of her, said,

"Fo' de Lawd's sake; I never seed such hard looking men in my whole

No wonder. Each of us had on part of a shirt. Our pants were in rags.
No shoes. No hat. And old Aunty was not much blacker. She gave us
something to eat and then we went up into the loft, and lying down were
soon asleep. We did not wake up until long after daylight. Hearing old
Aunty bustling about I put my head down through the trap door to speak
to her. Just then Jake came in and said: "I'se been all around and don't
see nobody at all." The old woman then told us that we had better stay
three or four days, and then Jake would guide us around the swamp, and
by that time they would have given up their search for us. We concluded
to accept the kind old Aunty's invitation, for we could not possibly
find a more secluded spot if we looked a year for it.


Jake was the old woman's son. Before the war they had been sent to the
swamp to make cypress shingles, and had cleared an acre of ground and
built the little cabin, living there ever since. They were very
ignorant, but were true to the northern principles and the Union
soldiers. Many was the time that our soldiers were taken in and cared
for when they knew that death would be the penalty if they were found
harboring Northern men. They were the friends of the Union soldier, and
he knew he could put his life in their hands and be safe. Jake kept
watch for us, but we did not venture out. We stayed in the loft most of
the time.

On the fourth day of our stay, just about noon, Jake came in very much
excited. "Oh!" said he; "De sojers is coming! de sojers is coming! What
is we to do?" "Shut up, you niggah," said old Aunty, "I will talk to dem
sojers myself. You niggah, does you hear? You go and chop wood." Jake
went to chopping wood. In a few minutes three Rebs rode up.

"Hello! you nig. Seen any Yanks pass this way?"

"Fo' the Lord's sake, massa! Is de Yanks got loose?"

Old Aunty goes to the door and said: "Wot's de matter, massa?"

"Have you seen any Yanks?"

"Is dem Yanks got away? Fo' de Lord's sake; what will become of dis pore
niggah? Dem Yanks will kill us all. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"

"Shut up, you old black cuss, and if you see any Yanks send Jake over to
his master's and let them know there. They will send word to us."

"Now you just depend I will, massa."

At this the Rebs rode off. Aunty had saved us. She said she never was so
scared in all her born days, and Jake's eyes looked like saucers.

I went down from the loft and told Aunty that we had better be going.

"May the good Lord bress you, honey. I does hope dat you may get back to
your own folks. I'se awful 'fraid you won't, 'caus I seed an old cullud
woman to-day who say dat de kentry is jist full of sojers looking for
dem Yanks wot's runned away from prison. I have baked some corn bread
and bacon for you, and Jake will take you around de swamp."

We started about 12 o'clock that night. Our Aunty came to the door, took
each of us by the hand and said: "Good-bye, and may de good Lord bress
you and keep you." We all thanked her for her kindness and started out
into the night. Jake went ahead and we followed along the edge of the
swamp till daylight, when we came onto the main road. "Now, massa," said
Jake, "I'se gone as far as I can go with you. I hope you will git
through all right, but if I was you I would lay down till night and then
take de main road for de north."

We shook hands all around with Jake and he was gone. We then went a mile
from the road and went into a lot of brush and lay there all day. When
it became dark we struck for the north. It was a beautiful starlight
night, and the road stretched straight ahead of us as far as the eye
could reach. We passed a number of plantation houses. While passing one
in particular the dogs set up a terrible howling. A man stood in the
middle of the road. He said:

"Good evening. Who is yous?"

"We are friends."

"Youans look like Yanks."

"Suppose we are. What of that?"

"Well, I supposed you was. My master and a lot of soldiers are in the
house now, and they have got seven dogs. They have been looking for
youans all day. I hope you will get away but I'se afraid you will not,
for the soldiers are all over the country looking for youans."

We then asked him if he would guide us to the big swamp he told us of.
He said he would go a piece with us, and he did go two or three miles,
bringing us out near a large swamp. We traveled along the edge of this
swamp until daybreak, finding ourselves on a large cotton field, when we
made for the woods as fast as we could go. When we got to the timber I
told the boys that I was played out, so we made for a big brush pile and
crawling under the brush ate our breakfast. We then went to sleep and
slept way into the next night. At daylight we again started north. We
went through the woods and came out into a cornfield. Our bread and
bacon had given out the night before and we were talking about something
to eat, when Jesse said, "Hark!" We stopped and listened. Away off over
the fields in the direction we had come we could hear the faint sound of
the bloodhounds. We looked at each other for a moment and then started
for the timber. When we got there each climbed a tree. We had been in
the trees only five minutes when seven large and wonderfully ferocious
bloodhounds cleared the fence and made straight for our trees. I will
never forget what fearful beasts they were. The froth was coming from
their mouths and their eyes shone like candles in the dark. They came
right under the trees and looked up as much as to say, we have got you.
They would back off a few yards and then come at the tree with a bound,
snapping on the jump; then they would chew the bark of the trees. In
half an hour the Rebs came riding up. One of them jumped off his horse
and threw the fence down. Then they rode in. There were fifteen in all,
and their captain was an old gray-headed man. They rode under our trees,
pointed their guns at us and said:

"Come down, you damned Yanks, or we will fill your carcasses full of
cold lead."

"Gentlemen," said I, "if you want to shoot, shoot; for I would rather be
shot than chawed by them dogs."

One of the Rebs spoke to the captain and said, "Let's make them Yanks
come down and see how quick the dogs will get away with them." "No,"
replied the captain, "they look as though they had had trouble enough."

Then they quarreled among themselves. Some wanted to let the dogs at us
and others wanted to take us back to prison. Finally the captain came
out ahead. They muzzled the dogs and tied them together. Then we
surrendered. The captain lived only four miles from where we were
captured. So they took us back to his house. We got there about 4
o'clock that afternoon. The old gentleman treated us kindly, giving us
something to eat and also presented each with a quilt. We stopped here
over night. We had been gone from Andersonville seven days and only got
twenty-five miles away. The Rebs told us that the man who was caught in
the hole had been shot where he stuck. All the others had been torn to
pieces by the dogs except one and he had his arm torn off and died a few
days later. We started next day for the prison. We traveled all day and
camped that evening by the road. At noon the next day we got back to
prison. Wirz told the guards they were d-- fools for bringing us back
and told us we should be thankful to get back alive. After relieving us
of our quilts the gates were opened and we were marched into
Andersonville again.

We had some praying men at Andersonville. They held nightly prayer
meetings, and they prayed for water. They prayed like men that meant
business, for we were all dying for the want of it. One day after one of
these meetings there occurred one of the most fearful rains I ever saw.
It washed the stockade as clean as a hound's tooth. Right between the
dead line and the stockade it washed a ditch about two feet deep and a
spring of cold water broke out in a stream large enough to fill a
four-inch pipe. The spring is there yet, I am told, and to this day is
called Providence spring. It broke out in the very best place it could
for our benefit. The stockade protected it on one side from the rebels
and the dead-line on the other side protected it from the prisoners. The
fountain head was thus protected. We had good water from that on.

As I said before the Johnnies brought in our mush in barrels. After it
was distributed the prisoners would tip the barrels over and go in head
first trying to get what was not scraped out. They fought like cats and
dogs about who would get in first. All sense of manhood had left them.
Starvation had made them little better than brutes. I had often tried to
keep my mind off of anything to eat but it was impossible. I would dream
at night that I was sitting up to a table loaded with good things, but
would always wake up before I got them.

About this time there was a band formed, probably the off-scourings of
the city of New York. They called themselves the New York Bummers. They
made up their minds to live, even if all the rest died of starvation.
They were armed with clubs, and would take the mush away from the weaker
ones. If the unfortunate ones were strong enough to resist they knocked
them down at once; and even went so far as to kill several that refused
to give up to them. We were unable to stand by and permit such outrages,
for to a man who lost one ration there, it meant almost certain death.
So the western prisoners pitched into these "New York Bummers" and had a
regular free fight, the former coming out ahead. We then took six of the
leaders, and, holding a drumhead court-martial, sentenced them to be
hanged. We first sent a report through to Gen. Sherman, explaining the
matter. He sent back word to string them up. The rebels furnished the
necessary timber, we built a scaffold and hanged them. From that time on
every man ate his own rations.

There was one very large man, who was the the only fat man in the pen,
among the six who were to be hanged. When they were swung off the big
man broke his rope, and then you should have seen him jump to his feet,
strike out right and left with his fists, and lay out fifteen or twenty
men, and finally fight his way through the crowd to the creek, but the
poor fellow got mired in the mud, and was captured and brought back. He
looked up and saw the five swinging to and fro, and said, "I will soon
be with you." Then they adjusted the rope around his neck and swung him

Oh, how sad it makes me feel when I get to thinking of the poor fellows
that had to die in that horrible slaughter pen. I speak that which I
know and testify to that which I have seen and nothing more.

I have seen men go to the privy and pick up beans after they had passed
through a man, and eat them. I have seen men lying on the ground calling
for mothers, sisters, and brothers. No one to soothe the aching brow or
whisper words of comfort, but had to die alone in that dirt and filth.

Capt. Wirz got it into his head that we had arms, and were going to make
a break for liberty, and on the other hand we heard that the rebels
intended to take some of us out to shoot, for the Yankees had been
shooting the rebel prisoners, and the rebels were going to retaliate;
so one day a rebel sergeant came in and commanded about one hundred of
us to fall in to go for wood. You may depend we were not long in doing
so, for if there was a happy time at Andersonville it was when we were
let out to get wood.

Why, dear readers, I cannot describe to you the happiness which I felt
to get out of that prison pen for just one hour. We formed a line and
marched out. After they had marched us about half a mile from the pen
they formed us in a line, with one Reb in front of each Yank, then old
Wirz gave the command to ready, aim. You may be sure my heart came up
into my mouth, and for a fact I thought the rebels were going to
retaliate; but instead of shooting they searched us, to see if we had
any arms concealed. Finding nothing of the kind, they put us back into
the prison.

The next day the same sergeant came in and inquired for men by the names
of Root and Tyler. Tyler being my name I knew it was me he was after,
but having the retaliation in my head you may be sure I kept still; but
one of our own men pointed me out. The Johnnie came up to me and said,
"You are wanted outside;" and looking around he found Root, and told us
both to follow him. Our comrades, supposing we were to be shot,
escorted us to the gate and bade us good-bye for the last time, as they
thought. The truth of the matter was we were taken out to help bury the
dead. As far as I was concerned it did not make much difference to me
what I did, for at that time I had the scurvy so bad I could have pulled
most any tooth out with my fingers, while some of them fell out

Well, we were taken before Wirz. "Now," said he, "if youans' wont run
away you can stay out here and bury the dead." We took the oath, and
were told to go to a small log cabin, where we found twenty of our men
who had already been taken out for the same business.


It did seem nice to get into a house which contained a fire-place and a
crane where the kettles hung. One of the men swung the crane out and
hung a kettle of beans over the fire. You bet I looked on with interest.
One of my comrades noticing me watching the cook said, "You had better
be careful how you eat or you will kill yourself." That night I lay as
near the fireplace as possible. The bubble of the bean pot was music in
my ear. I kept quiet until I thought my comrades were asleep, then
raising myself in a sitting posture, swung the crane back and took the
pot of beans off. With much difficulty I succeeded in finding a spoon; I
then sat as close to the kettle as possible, with one leg on each side
of it, and went in for dear life. "Hold on, there," said one of my
comrades, "do you want to kill yourself? I have been watching you all
this time." For a truth I thought I was badly used.

The next day the men concluded to leave me to take care of the cabin,
being too weak to be of much service.

The provisions were locked up in a big box, and the men went to work. I
swept out the cabin and walked out to see what could be seen. Walking
along I saw an old colored woman and her little boy, hanging out
clothes. He was very dirty and ragged. He sat on the bank of the creek
throwing crumbs from a good-sized piece of corn bread to the fish. I
went up to him and snatched the bread from his hands. He jumped up and
ran to his mother crying, "That man has got my bread." "Never mind,
honey; that man must be hungry."

The following day three more men were brought out to bury the dead. Our
cook as usual hung up the kettle of beans to cook for breakfast.

Some time in the night one of the new hands got up and helped himself to
beans, and before twelve o'clock the next day he was a dead man. You may
be sure I was more careful after that how I ate.

The next day the men took me out to help bury the dead. Upon arriving at
the place of burial I was yet so weak that I was of no service. So they
set me to bringing water for the men to drink. The way the graves were
dug was to dig a ditch six feet wide, about one hundred yards long, and
three feet deep. They then laid them as close as possible, without box,
coffin, or clothes, for the men inside stripped the dead as fast as they
died. Most of the prisoners were destitute of clothes, but it looked
hard to see from three to five hundred buried in one day without clothes

The prisoners of Andersonville were dying at a terrible rate, especially
those who had been longest in rebel hands. The rebels had deliberately
planned the murder of the Union prisoners by the slow process of
starvation and disease. It was at first slow but sure, and then it was
sure and rapid. I have counted three hundred and sixty lifeless
skeletons of our boys that had died in one day. You might walk around
the prison any hour in the day and see men closing their eyes in death.
Diarrhoea and scurvy appeared to be the most fatal diseases.

None can know the horrors of scurvy except those who have had it.
Sometimes the cords of the victim would be contracted and the limbs
drawn up so that the patient could neither walk, stand, nor lie still.
Sometimes it would be confined to the bones, and not make any
appearance on the outside. At other times it would be confined to the
mouth, and the gums would separate from the teeth and the teeth would
drop out. I have seen hundreds of cases of this disease in
Andersonville. I have seen many of our prisoners suffering with this
disease, actually starving to death, because they could not eat the
coarse corn meal furnished by the rebels for the Yankee prisoners.

In the month of June it rained continually for twenty-one days, and it
is not strange diseases multiplied and assumed every horrible form;
there were thirty-five thousand prisoners during all the rainy time,
without shelter, lying out in the storm, day and night.

As I was going to the well for water, the third or fourth day of my stay
outside, I met Wirz and two confederate officers. Wirz said, "What are
you doing here?" I told him I was carrying water for the men who were
digging graves. "Well," said he, "If you don't get inside of that gate,
double quick, I will have a grave dug for you, and prepare you to fill
it." You may be sure I went in, and was a prisoner inside again.

About this time Mrs. Wirz took a great liking to one of our little
drummer boys. She took him out and dressed him in a nice fitting suit
of gray. The boy was only eleven years old, and very handsome. The
little fellow put on his suit of gray, and Mrs. Wirz said, "How do you
like your clothes?" "I do not like them at all," replied the boy. "Why,
what is the matter?" "I do not like the color." Mrs. Wirz liked him all
the better for the bold spirit he manifested. She then made him a suit
of blue, and also a nice red cap, and thenceforth he went by the name of
Red Cap.

Red Cap would come in every day or two and tell us what was going on
outside. He told us Mrs. Wirz quarreled with Wirz every day because he
did not try to prepare some kind of a shelter for the prisoners. She
wished him to let a few of us out at a time to cut timber to make our
own shelter with. No, he would not do that. Finally Mrs. Wirz told him
if he didn't do something for the relief of the prisoners, she would
poison him; "For," said she, "I cannot sleep nights; my dreams are one
continued nightmare, and I will stand it no longer." Mrs. Wirz was a
true southerner, of the kind called creole; but for all that she had a
great deal of humanity about her. She continued her threats and
pleadings, but they were of no avail. She finally did give him a dose of
poison. He had been threatened so much that when he did get it he knew
what was the matter, and took something to counteract it. After that
"Old Wirz" let us out oftener for wood.

Dr. John C. Bates, who was a kind-hearted and humane rebel surgeon,
testified as follows:

"When I went there, there were twenty-five hundred sick in the hospital.
I judge twenty-five thousand prisoners were crowded together in the
stockade. Some had made holes and burrows in the earth. Those under the
sheds in the hospital were doing comparatively well. I saw but little
shelter excepting what the prisoners' ingenuity had devised. I found
them suffering with scurvy, dropsy, diarrhoea, gangrene, pneumonia, and
other diseases. When prisoners died they were laid in wagons head
foremost to be carried off. Effluvia from the hospital was very
offensive. If by accident my hands were affected, I would not go into
the hospital without putting a plaster over the affected part. If
persons whose systems were reduced by inanition should purchance stump a
toe or scratch a hand, the next report to me was gangrene, so potent was
the hospital gangrene. The prisoners were more thickly confined in the
stockade than ants and bees. Dogs were kept for hunting the prisoners
who escaped.

Fifty per cent of those who died might have been saved. I feel safe in
saying seventy-five per cent might have been saved, if the patients had
been properly cared for. The effect of the treatment of prisoners was
morally as well as physically injurious. Each lived but for himself,
which I suppose was entirely superinduced by their starving condition.
Seeing the condition of some of them, I remarked to my student, "I
cannot resurrect them." I found persons lying dead among the living.
Thinking they merely slept, I went to wake them up but found they were
taking their everlasting sleep. This was in the hospital, and I judge it
was worse in the stockade. There being no deadhouse I erected a tent for
that purpose. But I soon found that a blanket or quilt had been cut off
from the canvas, and as the material readily served for repairs, the
deadhouse had to be abandoned. The daily ration was much less in
September, October, November and December than it was from the first of
January till the twenty-sixth of March, 1865. The men had never had ten
ounces of food every twenty-four hours. The scurvy was next to
rottenness. Some of the patients could not eat on account of the scurvy;
their teeth were loose; they frequently asked me to give them something
to eat which would not cause pain. While Doctor Stevenson was medical
director he did not manifest any interest in the relief of their
necessities; the rations were less than ten ounces in twenty-four hours;
some men did actually starve to death on it. There was plenty of wood in
the neighborhood, which might have been cut to answer all demands for
shelter and fuel."

This concluded the testimony of Dr. Bates, and considering that he lives
in Georgia it need not be said that he testified reluctantly to the

Charles W. Reynolds, of Company B, Ninth Illinois Cavalry, writes his
experience: "We reached Andersonville about 2 o'clock P. M. on the first
day of April, 1864. We got off the cars in a timbered country with a dry
sandy soil. About three quarters of a mile off we could see a large
enclosure composed of timber set on end in the ground, with sentry boxes
set along the top, and that was the Andersonville prison pen. The old
Dutchman, as he was called, Captain Wirz, riding a white horse, came
along and escorted us to the prison gate. Here he left us with the
guards and himself went inside to learn what part of the prison to
assign us to. While we were waiting outside of the prison gates a lot of
Yankee prisoners came from the woods with arms full of fagots that they
had been gathering for fuel. At first we thought they were a lot of
negroes; but as they came nearer we saw that they were Yankee prisoners.
They were as black as negroes, and such downcast, hopeless, haggard and
woe-begone looking human beings I never saw before. They said they were
glad to see us, but would to God it was under better circumstances.

"After a while the prison gates were opened for us to pass through. As
we entered a sight of horror met our eyes that almost froze our blood
and made our hearts stop beating. Before us were skeleton forms that
once had been stalwart men, covered with rags and filth and vermin, with
hollow cheeks and glowing eyes. Some of the men in the heat and
intensity of their feelings exclaimed, 'Is this hell?' Well might Wirz,
the old fiend who presided over that rebel slaughtering pen, have
written over its gates, 'Let him that enters here leave all hope
behind.' It may be that some of the readers of this little book think
there is a good deal of exaggeration, but I want to say right here that
it is impossible to write or tell the horrors of Andersonville prison so
that anybody can understand or realize them."

It was getting along toward fall and the rebels told us there was going
to be an exchange. Oh, how my heart did jump. Could it be possible that
I was to get back to see my kind old mother, and my wife and little ones
who had mourned for me as dead? If I could only write the feelings that
overcame me I know you would feel happy for me. It, however, turned out
to be false. We also heard that General Sherman was getting close to us
and the rebels began to move us out of the way.

The greatest portion was taken to Charleston, North Carolina. There were
seven thousand of us left. In a few days they marched the rest of us out
and shipped us to Savannah. We arrived there the next day, the hardest
looking set of men you ever set eyes on. They marched us from the cars
to a new stockade they had prepared for us. As we marched through the
city the citizens gathered on each side of the street to see the Yankee
prisoners pass. As we marched along some of the citizens said they felt
sorry for us, others said we were treated too well. They finally got us
to the gate and we were marched in. We were then in hearing of our own
guns. This stockade consisted of about ten acres. But after all the
citizens gave us more to eat than they did around Andersonville, for
they sent in beef and other things that we never got at any other
prison. We did not stay long at Savannah. They took us from there to
Thomasville, one hundred miles south of Savannah. On our way from
Savannah two of our men made their escape. The guards were stationed on
top of the cars and the prisoners were inside. Two of our men made a
desperate jump for liberty. We were going at the rate of twenty miles an
hour when they made the jump. When they struck the ground they tumbled
end over end. The guards blazed away at them. I could see the dirt
flying all around them where the bullets struck, and we were gone, and
so were they, and I found out since that they got through to our lines
all right.

When we arrived at Thomasville our guards marched us back in the woods
about three miles. They did not have any stockade at this point, so in
order to keep us from making our escape they had a ditch dug all around
us. Four more of our men made a break for liberty at this place; three
of them got away, the fourth was shot and died in two days afterwards.
We stayed at Thomasville two weeks and then our guards marched across
the country to a small town called Blacksheon. As we were marching
through the country the colored people came out on the road to see the
Yankees go by. We were in a deplorable condition, the larger part of
the prisoners were almost destitute of clothes, and as we were forced to
march along in the cold biting wind, there were a good many of the
prisoners died on the road. Most of the men were without shoes. Their
feet looked more like big pieces of bloody meat than like human feet.
They could easily be tracked by their poor, bleeding feet.

As I said before the colored people gathered on each side of the road to
see the Yankees by. Seeing an old lady standing close by the road I
spoke to her and said: "Aunty, what do you think of us, anyway?" "Well,
mas'er, I'se very sorry for you." Well, to state the fact, the tears
forced themselves to my eyes in spite of all I could do to hear one
sympathizing word, even if it was from an old colored woman.

When we first started from Thomasville one of the guards came up to me
and said, 'Yank, I want you to carry this knap-sack. I told him I was
not able to carry myself. "It don't make no difference to me whether you
can carry yourself or not; but you will carry this knap-sack as far as
you go, or I will blow your brains out." So I was forced to carry his
knap-sack, which weighed about forty pounds.

Some of the time I thought I would fall, but I managed to keep along
until the first day noon, when we made a halt, and the rebel gave me a
small piece of meat. "Now," said the Johnnie, "I have given you a good
ration, and I hope you will carry my knap-sack without grumbling." We
started on, but had not gone over five miles when I gave out. I could
not go any farther; so down I went my full length on the road. "Get up,
you d----d Yank, or I'll run you through with this bayonet."

If he had done so it could not have made any difference with me, for I
had fainted. A confederate officer made him take the knap-sack, and he
put it on another prisoner. I staggered to my feet and went on and on.
Oh, would this thing never end! But finally we did get through to
Blackshire, more dead than alive. That was the terminus of the railroad
that went through Andersonville. I was glad to get where I could rest.
To lie down and stretch out at full length was more delightful than I
can describe. Ah, would this thing never end, or was I doomed to die in
rebel hands? I want to say right here that there were seventeen
thousand, eight hundred and ninety-six deaths of Union prisoners at

We went into camp about half a mile from the town. The next morning they
marched us through town. The colored folks came from all sides to see
the prisoners and their guards go by, all dressed in their holiday
clothes, for this was the day before New Year's. One old colored woman
had a piece of sugar-cane. She was some distance ahead, standing close
to the road, watching us go by. Many of the guards made a grab for the
piece of cane, but she avoided them every time. Just as I got opposite
her she darted forward and handed me the cane. The rebel guard raised
his gun and brought it down over the poor old woman's head, and she fell
in the road like one dead. The last I saw of her, her colored friends
were carrying her off. However, I heard the next morning that the woman
had died during the night, of the blow she received from the rebel
guard. You may be sure I was pleased to get the sugar-cane, and it was a
great thing. The cane was very refreshing and nourishing, and I felt
very grateful to the poor old colored woman who lost her life trying to
give me something to eat.

They marched us up to the cars. We were put in box-cars. Just as the
guards had got us loaded a handsome lady came riding on horseback and
began talking very earnestly to one of the confederate officers. Our
guards told us she was pleading with the officer to make us a New
Year's present. She finally got the officer's consent, and two large
wagons drove up to the cars, and each prisoner got a good half pound of
pork, and it was good pork, too. Oh, how thankful we did feel to that
good lady for making us that nice present. It is a singular fact, that
always during our despondent times there is sure to break through the
black clouds a ray of bright sunshine.

We lay in box cars all night, and next morning went through to
Andersonville. We arrived there about ten o'clock the same day. On New
Year's day, 1865, we were ordered out of the cars. It was a very
unpleasant day. The wind was blowing cold from the north, and we huddled
up close to keep warm. The rebels were all around us and had fires. We
were not in the pen, but just outside.

One of our little drummer boys stepped up to the fire to warm, when old
Wirz came along and ordered him back. The boy started back, but seeing
Wirz going away went back to the fire again. Wirz turned, and seeing the
boy, drew his revolver and shot him dead. The little fellow fell in the
fire. I could not hear what the rebel guards said to Wirz, for the wind
was blowing the other way, but this I do know, he took their arms away
and put them in irons. They then counted us off and opened the gates,
and we marched in. We were prisoners in Andersonville once more. Well, I
must say my hope of getting out was very small; for even if I had been
permitted my liberty I could not have walked five miles. There were only
about seven thousand of us, altogether; so you see we had plenty of
room; in fact it looked almost deserted. I had been used to seeing it
crowded. We had no shelter of any kind, so four of us clubbed together
and dug a hole seven feet deep, and then widened it out at the bottom so
as to accommodate four of us. It was all open at the top, but it kept
the cold winds from us.

It finally came my turn to go for wood. There were six of us picked out
to go. One of the six was a very sickly man, and could hardly walk,
without carrying a load. He could not be persuaded to let some stronger
man take his place, so out we went, sick man and all. We went about half
a mile from the pen, and every man went to work picking up his wood.
Finally, we started for the stockade; but the sick man could not keep
up; he had more wood than he could carry. We went as slow as our guards
would let us, in order to give him a chance. Just then Wirz came riding
along on his old white horse, and seeing the sick man some twenty yards
behind, said, "Close up there, close up there, you d----d Yankee." The
sick man tried to hurry up, but stubbed his toe and down he went, wood
and all. Wirz sprang from his horse and ran up to the poor sick soldier
and kicked him in the stomach with the heel of his big riding boot, and
left him a dead man. "That is the way I serve you d----d Yanks when you
don't do as I tell you." The rest of us went back to the prison pen,
sick at heart.

How was it our government left us there to die? We knew the rebels were
anxious for an exchange, and we could not understand why our government
would not make the exchange. I know this much about it, if our
government had made the exchange the rebels would have had about forty
thousand able-bodied men to put in the field, while on the other hand
our government would have had that many to put in the hospital. The
rebel sergeant came in every day and said, "All you men that will come
out and join our army, we will give you good clothes and rations." There
were a few that went out, but they went out simply to make their escape.
As far as I was concerned, I would have died before I would have put on
their gray uniform.

We had no snow, but had cold and heavy rains. One night, just as the
guard called out "Twelve o'clock and all is well," our hole in the
ground caved in, and we had a terrible time struggling to get out; but
we finally got out, and there we sat on the ground, that cold rain
beating down on our poor naked bodies. When it did come daylight, we
could hardly stand on our feet. One of my poor comrades died before
noon, and another in the afternoon, from the effects of that cold storm;
so there were only two of us left.

In about a week from the time our place caved in we were taken out to
get wood again. As our little squad marched out, about fifty yards from
the stockade I saw a good sized log lying there. It was about eight feet
long and two feet in diameter. I saw that the rebel guard was a kind
looking old man, and asked him if he would be so kind as to help me get
the log inside of the stockade. "Now," said he, "If youans won't try to
run away, I will help you." I gave him the desired promise, and he laid
down his gun and helped me to roll the log in. That was the second time
I had received a kind act from one of the rebel guards. The other time
was when the rebel Captain gave us three quilts. I got a couple of
railroad spikes from one of my comrades, and split the log all up in
small strips, and then we fixed our cave up with a good roof, and I must
say it was really comfortable.


One day, when the Rebs brought in our meal, an old prisoner managed to
steal one of the meal sacks. He stole the sack to make him a shirt. He
cut a hole in the bottom for his head, one in each side for his arms. It
made the old gentleman quite a shirt. Wirz missed the sack, and refused
to issue any more rations till the sack and man were found. He found the
man and took him out, and put him in the stocks and left him there all
night. In the morning when he went to let him out the man was dead.

In the middle of February the guards told us they didn't think we would
have to stay much longer, as the south was about played out. Could it be
possible that we were about to get home again, or were they about to
move us to another prison, and simply telling us this to keep us from
running away? Finally we were ordered out and put on flat cars and sent
through to Salem, Alabama. There we were ordered off the cars. As we
stepped out on the platform a rebel citizen came up with a stove-pipe
hat in his hand. He had it full of confederate money; and as we passed
him he gave each one of us a bill. I got a fifty-dollar bill for mine
and I traded it off to an old woman for a sweet potato pie, and thought
I had made a big bargain at that.

The guards marched us to a pen they had prepared for us. They opened the
gates, and we marched in. Now you could see a big change in the guards
and rebel officers. We were used better in every respect. That night the
rebel band came up and serenaded us, and finally passed their
instruments through to the Yankees, who played Yankee Doodle, Hail
Columbia, the Star Spangled Banner, and a good many other pieces. Then
they passed the instruments out, and the Johnnies played the Bonnie Blue
Flag, and Dixie, and a good many more rebel pieces.

The next morning they marched us out to the depot, and we got on to flat
cars again, and were sent through to Jackson, Mississippi, where we were
ordered off the cars and formed in line. The rebel officers said, "You
will have to march on foot to Vicksburg," and we had to take an oath not
to molest anything on our way. Then the guards were taken off, and only
a few rebel officers sent to guide us through to Vicksburg. We were
three days in marching through, if I remember right. Finally we came in
sight of our flag, on the other side of Black river from us. What a
shout went up from our men. I never shall forget it. It did seem as if I
could fly. I was going home for sure; there was no doubt now. As we came
up we found a good many ladies that had come down from the north to meet
us. They brought us towels, soap, shears, razors, paper and envelopes,
and even postage stamps, and our government had sent out new clothes,
blankets and tents. Oh, this was a perfect heaven. We washed, cut our
hair, and put on our new clothes. The clothing was not issued just as it
should have been, but every man helped himself. I got one number seven
and one number twelve shoe. By trading around a little, however, I got a
pair of twelves; so I was solid. Then I looked around for my comrade,
who had slept with me for the past six months, but could not find him. I
saw a man standing close by me, laughing, but I did not know it was my
comrade I had slept with, until he spoke to me. It is impossible for me
to make you understand the immense change made in us. From dirt and
filth and rags, we stepped out clean and well dressed.

When I came through to our lines I weighed just one hundred pounds. My
average weight is one hundred and ninety. Some of the men were worse off
than I. You may be sure, my dear readers, I did feel thankful to God for
my deliverance. I had a praying mother away up north, and do feel it was
through her prayers, that I got through to our lines once more.

We got some coffee and hard-tack, and pitched our tents about five miles
in the rear of Vicksburg. Well, my dear readers, it did seem nice to go
into camp in our own lines. I was almost rotten with the scurvy, and so
weak that I could hardly walk, and my skin was drawn down over my bones,
and it was of a dark blue color.

Our men died off very rapidly for the first few days. Finally, our
doctor had our rations cut down, and the men began to gain. My mind at
this time was almost as badly shattered as my body, and didn't become
sound till I had been home two years; and the fact of the matter is, I
never have become sound in body. I have the scurvy yet; so bad at times
that my family cannot sit up and eat at the same table with me; and as
far as manual labor is concerned, I am not able to do any. The
government allows me four dollars a month pension, which I am very
thankful for.

Our camp was on the west side of Black river. After we got in the rear
of Vicksburg, we were put on what was called neutral ground, and the
rebels had their officers over us. We were not exchanged, but our
government made this bargain with the rebels: If they would send us
through to our lines, our government would hold us as prisoners of war
until they could come to some kind of an understanding. The fact was,
the seven thousand that I came through with never were exchanged, but
were discharged as prisoners of war. It has been now twenty-two years
since the war, and there may be some things that are not correct, but
you may depend that everything is as near true as I can remember, in my

After we had drawn our clothes and tents and got our tents pitched, and
drawn our rations, the first thing done was to write up to Belvidere,
Illinois, to my wife and mother, to let them know that I was through to
our lines. Oh, what rejoicing there was away up in my northern home.
When they first got my letter my wife exclaimed, "Will is alive! Will is

As I have said, ladies from all over the northern states brought to us
books, papers, writing-paper and envelopes. So it seemed like a perfect
paradise to what we had seen for a long time. Finally I got a letter
from home. I cannot describe to you how happy I did feel to hear from my
wife and little ones once more, and from my dear old mother. She wrote
they were all well, and so anxious for me to come home. My brother who
had left me on the side hill, had been captured, but made his escape. He
had died shortly alter reaching our lines, and my other brother had died
at Nashville hospital. So out of three brothers I was the only one
likely to get home.

Every time that we wanted to go outside of our camp we had to go to the
rebel Colonel and get a pass. One morning I went up to headquarters to
get a pass. I wanted to go down to Vicksburg, but could not find a rebel
officer in camp. It was the day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
Our officers had let the rebel officers know it the moment they had
received the news of the assassination. The rebel officers had made a
general stampede during the night. They were afraid that when the
prisoners of war heard of it they would want to retaliate. I do think
that the rebel officers were wise in getting out of camp.

When the news came that Abraham Lincoln was killed there was silence in
the camp. Every man you met looked as though he had lost all the
friends he ever had. It was days before the men acted like themselves

We finally received orders to embark for St. Louis, and at the same time
received news that the rebel armies were surrendering on all sides; so
we were sure that the war was over. We marched down to Vicksburg to take
a steamer for St. Louis. When we got on the levee we found only one boat
ready to leave. Our officers then divided us up and put three thousand
of us on board the "Henry Ames," and the balance had to wait for another
boat. It was my luck to get on the first boat. I never will forget how
happy I did feel when the big wheels began to revolve, and she made out
into the broad Mississippi. I was on my way home, sweet home, where I
would have a good bed, and sit up to the table and eat with my family
once more. Oh, happy thought! It seemed to me as if the boat only crept
along; I wanted to fly; I was sick of war and rumors of war; I did not
want any more of it in mine. It was all the officers of the boat could
do to keep their prisoners in subjection. They were running from one
side of the boat to the other for every trifling thing they saw on the
banks of the river. They were free men once more, and were going home;
no wonder they were wild.

We finally got to St. Louis. We were then marched up to Benton
barracks. When we arrived there we heard that the other prisoners we had
left at Vicksburg had embarked on board the steamer "Sultant," and when
just off from Fort Pillow her boilers had exploded, and out of three
thousand and five hundred prisoners only three hundred were saved. How
hard it did seem for those poor men, after going through the hardships
of Andersonville, and almost in sight of their homes, to have to die. I
knew that my folks did not know which boat I was on, so I hastened to
let them know.

We staid in Camp Benton about three weeks and got paid for rations that
we did not eat while prisoners of war, and three months' extra pay. My
pay altogether amounted to seventy-six dollars. They then sent us across
the Mississippi and we took the cars for Chicago. The citizens all
through Illinois heard of our coming and out of every door and window we
saw the welcome waves of handkerchiefs and flags; and they had tables
set in the open air with everything good you could think of to eat upon
them for the prisoners of war. We finally got to Chicago, and then there
was a grand scattering of the prisoners. They went in all directions to
their homes.

From Chicago I went to Belvidere. My father, mother, wife and little
ones live about four miles south of town. There were ten or twelve who
belonged in and around Belvidere, and when we got off the train there
was a large crowd of citizens there to meet us; and such a cheer as they
set up I shall never forget. There was a carriage waiting to take me out

As I came in sight of the old farm house the feelings that came over me
I shall never forget. The carriage stopped; I got out and stepped to the
gate; my old mother stood in the door; we gave one another a look and I
was in her arms. "Oh, this is my son, who was lost and is found; who was
dead and is alive again." And surely, if ever the fatted calf was killed
it was killed for me. Then, oh, how good it did seem to have my wife and
little ones around me once more; and sit up to the table and eat like a

Now, my kind readers, I will bid you good-bye, and some time in the near
future I will give you the remainder of my recollections of the war.


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