THE SOUTHERN SOLDIER BOY
A Thousand Shots for the Confederacy
JAMES CARSON ELLIOTT, Company F, 56 Regiment N. C. T., C. S. A., 1861-'65, Shelby, N. C.
Historical Incidents, Reminiscences and Personal Experiences, Covering the nine months siege of Petersburg and both Prison Pens, etc., etc. Plain facts more interesting than Fiction, all from the standpoint of a Private Soldier
Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, Raleigh, N. C.
Copyright, 1907, by James C. Elliott.
A readable book should instruct, entertain and amuse. The author, outside of the historical interest of this little book, has aimed to cover a broad-enough field for all classes of readers to find some nourishing food—at least in the way of variety and shifting scenes—from the standpoint of a young private.
And in order to understand his viewpoint, a brief sketch of the author is admissible. Born in Cleveland County, N. C., about midway between Charlotte and Asheville, July 12, 1845. His father, a small slaveholder and a farmer, he was brought up to work on the farm and was well practiced in the use of firearms, and was well seasoned in the fox-chase and hunting sports. His father was an ardent Whig, and they got their political inspiration from William G. Brownlow's Knoxville, Tenn., Whig. (See Brownlow's and Pryneis' debate on Negro slavery.) Brownlow proved conclusively that slavery was of Divine origin; that it had always existed and always would exist, because the Bible said, "The heathen you buy with your money shall never go free, but shall be an inheritance to you and your children forever." But when hostilities began, Brownlow sided with the Union and was the War Governor of Tennessee. The war spirit ran high in our section and all the boys were eager to take a hand in the fun of chasing the invaders out of our country. The first Manassas battle started them back the way our smart men said they would go. And I thought the fun would all be over before I would have a chance to share in the glory. But they kept coming in larger swarms. After I had organized and drilled with the Home Guards, I saw there was still a prospect to get to the front in time to take a hand. Two years had dragged along, the battle of Gettysburg had turned the scale, more than half of my early in friends had been knocked out when I entered the army for a three-years' term at the age of 18 years. We had understood at the first that we must fight three to one, but to whip that many Yankees was not thought to be much of a job; but when I waded in, it was quite evident that we must fight five to one. But we still thought they must be whipped, all the same. The numbers come up to our expectations, but we were sadly deceived in their fighting qualities. When they first came our climate did not agree with them, but the longer they stayed the harder they were to persuade away; and they finally worried us out, until we had to let them alone; and after staying with us awhile we learned they are as good as we are. From a distance, they are inclined to view us with a critic's eye, as through a glass darkly; but when they come down and bring their washing, they get a clearer view. Then, and not until then, the veil is removed away, and all our problems stand revealed in open day. Progress comes through evolution and revolution; where moral forces lag physical force compels the way. The only issue now is in patriotic rivalry of the sections. The heritage of one is the property of all.
"Oh! carry me back to old Virginia," "The old Kentucky home," "Carolina," "Oh, for Carolina," "Away down in Georgia," "On the Sewanee River," etc., are refrains not equaled in the more frigid region. Then we have "Dixie," covering the whole Southland. All these are now held in common by our whole people. Whoever heard of any one ever wanting to be carried back to New England, where the natural resources are mainly ice, granite, rock, codfish and beans. Still we are all proud of the hardy New Englander who makes the desert blossom as the rose wherever he pitches his tent. His hard environment has been a blessing to every other part of the country, forcing him to seek greener pastures in balmier climes, and to disseminate his energy and frugality in those more leisureful sections that need encouragement to greater thrift. It was the combined qualities of the Virginia cavalier and the New England Puritan that made Stonewall Jackson invincible and Robert E. Lee the highest type of the American patriot.
THE SOUTHERN SOLDIER BOY.
JAMESTOWN AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE.
The English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, was the beginning of the highest civilization in the liberty of man and the establishment of the purest and best political government the world has ever known—perfected through many vicissitudes, stands as the beacon light of human liberty for all the world.
THE JAMESTOWN EXPOSITION.
The 26th of April, 1607, is the date that will linger in history after many a dreary record of battle and coronation has been swept away. For on that date the first permanent colony of English speech made its landing on the soil of North America. It is fitting that the three hundredth anniversary of this event should be marked by the opening of the Jamestown Exposition.
The founding of Jamestown was not a step in a struggle, but a trophy of victory. And, though it began the westward march of the Saxon tongue, which has long since encircled the globe, it marked the victory less of a race than of a civilization. It was really the dedication of a continent to individual liberty; it was the definite announcement that the worn-out systems of empire should not usurp the new western land. It was a trophy gained in a hundred years of such warfare as the world has rarely seen, but it was a thousand times worth the price.
When the peoples of Europe landed on the shores of the sixteenth century, they were a curiously assorted company. Germany was still playing the solemn farce of the Roman Empire, whose real existence had terminated a thousand years before. Spain had just driven the last armed infidel from her borders, and was preparing to use in foreign conquest the military excellence she had developed in her long crusade at home. Italy, divided into a dozen small states, had carried civilization as high as a purely city civilization can go, and was ready to decline. France was halting between two opinions, but, on the whole, leaned strongly toward the course of European aggression, which she pursued for centuries. All these countries were organized on the military plan. The individual counted for little among them; commerce counted for less; all who were not soldiers could escape contempt only by becoming priests. In England and Holland a different organization prevailed. There the civilization was industrial, rather than military. Commerce was accounted a worthy work; not so high as fighting, of course, but still perfectly respectable; and the individual enjoyed a freedom and security unknown elsewhere.
Which type of civilization would endure? That was the great question before the world. Would the soldier and aristocrat, or the merchant and artisan, survive in the struggle which had already begun? The sixteenth century passed, and the contest was decided. The sturdy mechanic had outworn his armored and tinseled lord. Italy was ruined; Germany broken in two; Spain hopelessly wrecked; France, bled white by civil war, was gasping for breath. But England and Holland stood erect and at ease; and, pausing only to make sure that the victory was theirs indeed, went forth to possess the world. Jamestown and New Amsterdam were the first efforts of the free northern peoples to possess the land they had won.
And not only was Jamestown the first English colony on the continent, but it was the first white settlement that deserved the name of colony at all. The adventures of the Spaniards were not colonizing, but conquest. They were crusaders, going forth to found kingdoms, not settlers seeking out homes. They went to the most densely inhabited parts of the new world, simply because only a dense population of slaves could uphold the costly military type of Spanish civilization. The English came as homemakers. They sought out the unsettled parts of the land, and these they covered with a working civilization. Bad as slavery afterward became in this country, it never had a twentieth part of the influence on our life that the same institution had in Spanish lands. The result is history. The industrial civilization which had beaten militarism on its own ground in the old world, outstripped it with ridiculous ease in the new. Spain had a century's start, yet to-day two-thirds of the white people on the Western continent speak the English language and live within the borders of the United States.
A TRIBUTE TO VIRGINIA.
Here is to Virginia, "The Old Dominion" State. At last with the young Confederacy linked her fate. Go search the annals of history back to the days of Abraham; trace Jewish civilization; compare Greek and Roman progress; weigh the Crusaders of the Middle Ages and the Reformers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Then look to the English people who first wrested the great Magna Charta—the Bill of Civil Rights—and human freedom from King John, and implanted these principles first in Virginia with the best blood of England, producing a Washington, a Jefferson, a Patrick Henry, a Madison, a Monroe, a Marshall, a Tyler, a Wise, a Robert E. Lee, a Stonewall Jackson—with thousands as high-toned and patriotic. There she stands superb! With her honor, her chivalry, her patriotism and valor. Her high standard of civilization, unequaled and unexcelled by any people in any age, in any land. In the most trying crisis of any age she bore herself grandly, nobly. As Mother of Presidents and Mother of States. It was her lot to suffer most of all. For four years invaded by hostile armies and burdened by her own defenders, in the great struggles that swayed back and forth. Her homes despoiled, her fields trampled, her sons slain, and her soil drenched in blood. She was steadfast, generous and hospitable to the last. She fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and cared for the sick and bound up the wounded. And not a word of complaint ever came from a Confederate soldier that she ever failed to do what she could for him.
Virginia was all this, notwithstanding she was handicapped by negro slavery, insidiously introduced by Dutch traders. And when it was known that Africans had sense enough to set plants and worm tobacco, New England sagacity and enterprise were quick to supply the demand for slaves and to stock the market until Virginia cried, Hold! Enough! Negro slavery held her on the low plane of an agricultural State—a producer of cheap raw products. Yet history shows no example of such progress as was made in the civilization of the Negro race. George Washington freed his negroes and turned them loose upon the community. Thomas Jefferson foresaw that a government could not remain half slave and half free. But the steady increase in slave property and its broad extension prohibited its ready abolition. Virginians were not the people to be dictated to by the very people that had pressed slavery upon her. She stood for the right to manage her domestic affairs as she pleased, and was quick to resent outside interference. The clash was inevitable and had to be fought to a finish. North Carolina, her faithful daughter, loves to honor and cherish her Alma Mater. As Virginia, so were all the Southern States—brothers all standing shoulder to shoulder in a common cause.
HISTORY OF CO. F.
A LIST OF THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF COMPANY F, FIFTY-SIXTH REGIMENT N. C. T., C. S. ARMY, WITH A SKETCH OF ITS SERVICE FROM SPRING OF 1862 TO 1865.
This was one of the last companies raised in Cleveland County, and was composed three-fourths of married men. I joined the company as a recruit, 17th of August, 1863, at Halifax, N. C., and was with it constantly in all its service except from the 28th of July, 1864, to the 15th of October, 1864, when I was away at hospital and on sick furlough. It was organized into the Fifty-sixth Regiment at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, when its Captain, H. F. Schenck, was elected Major, and B. F. Grigg was elected Captain. Captain Grigg was First Sergeant, and having served six months with First N. C. Regiment, and having participated in the first battle of the war at Big Bethel, Va., and being a good drill master, naturally succeeded Major Schenck as Captain. Lieutenants, Dr. V. J. Palmer, Dick Williams, Alfred Grigg (after Williams was killed); an Irishman by the name of Purse served as Third Lieutenant for a while. Sergeants, A. J. London, Frank M. Stockton, William London, Pink Shuford, Rufus Gardner, Hezekiah Dedmon. Corporals, T. Jefferson Hord, Thomas J. Dixon, Benjamin A. Jenkins, Lawson A. Bridges, Graham Wilson.
Those still living at this date (June, 1906,) marked by an *.
*Allen, Rufus; Allen, William; *Beam, Joseph; Blanton, Arthur; *Blanton, Frank; Barnett, W. Riley; Beaver, David; Bookout, Silas; Bookout, Marmaduke; Bedford, James; *Blanton, William; Chitwood, J. Marshall; Cabiness, Thos. P.; *Crowder, Spencer A.; *Crowder, Mike; Crowder, Joseph; *Crowder, John; Carter, John; *Carter, W. Jackson; Cogdall, Allen; *Cogdall, Adney; *Cogdall, Perry; Chitwood, William; Davis, Thomas; Davis, J. Pinkney; Daugherty, Samuel; *Elliott, James C.; Eskridge, Simeon; Eaker, Jesse; Finch, James; *Fortenbury, Mark; *Fortenbury, Anglis; *Gantt, Iley; Gibson, Oliver P.; Gaines, Barlet; Green, William; Glodden, Hosea; *Grigg, John; Grigg, T. Goode; *Grigg, Levi; Hoard, Sabert; *Hasten, Samuel; *Hasten, William; *Hasten, Frank; Haynes, Mijamon; Hamy, Judson; Justice, Lewis; Jones, Starlin; Kirby, Monroe; Kennedy, Alexander; Ledford, McKee; Ledford, John; Louis, Peter; *Lutz, Luther; Lutz, Frank; Lucas, Christopher; London, Thomas; London, Anonymous; London, Sidney; London, John; Moore, Spencer; Moore, Asbury; *McMurry, Bartlett; Michael, Luther; Maynard, a South Carolinian; *Nowlin, Anderson; Nowlin, John H.; Nowlin, Thos. L.; Newton, Big Son; Newton; Newton, Little Son; Norman, James; Powell, James S.; Powell, James; *Powell, Isaac; Powell, Christopher; Price, Peter; *Peeler, David; *Peeler, James; Phillips, Noah; Pryor, Pinkney; Philbek, David; *Randall, Isaac; Richards, Wesley; Revels, Wesley; Sanders, Griffin; Sparks, Albert; Smith, Elijah; Smith, J. Marcus; *Spurlin, Jefferson; Spangler, Johnson; *Suttle, D. B. F.; Thompson, George; *Teseneer, John A.; *Wolfe, W. Cathy; Webb, John; Webb, Frank; Wesson, Dobbins; *Weathers, Sidney; Weathers, Albert; Wellmon, William; White, Moses; *Wright, Sanders; Wright, Winslow; Wright, Riley.
Making in all 135 men and officers, with probably a few more that died before I joined the company. John H. Nowlin had served three years in a Mississippi regiment before he was transferred to Company F, and he had been wounded twice. O. P. Gibson was transferred to Forty-ninth Regiment, and was severely wounded. Isaac Randall exchanged with Maynard, and went to a South Carolina regiment, and was in the regiment blown up at the Crater. Christopher Powell was transferred from Thirty-eighth Regiment. William Blanton was company commissary. He was elected Lieutenant in Captain David Magness' company, Thirty-eighth Regiment, and transferred. George Thompson was then company commissary. Dobbins Wesson was regiment mail boy, then Rufus W. Gardner took his place. William Green shot and killed himself while hunting deserters. David Philbeck was the first man to die; he died of measles. Ben. A. Jenkins was the last man to die; he died in Point Lookout prison.
The Fifty-sixth Regiment N. C. Troops served under Generals Bob Ransom, Martin Pryor, and then under Brig-Gen. Matt. W. Ransom, with Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth and Forty-ninth Regiments N. C. Troops. For more than a year the Fifty-sixth operated on the line from Petersburg, Va., to Wilmington, N. C., in protecting that railroad and coast country. In the spring of 1863, the Fifty-sixth was deployed on picket duty in Gum Swamp, below Kinston; the Federals cut it off and attempted its capture. After some resistance by several companies, they all took to the swamp and escaped, losing a few captured, and field officers losing their horses. Company F was detached, and got away in good order. This little escapade was the source of much merriment with the other regiments, who "poked" much fun at the Fifty-sixth for running at Gum Swamp.
The Fifty-sixth represented all sections of North Carolina, as follows: Co. A, Captain Hughes, Pasquotank County; Co. B, Captain Roberts, Robeson County; Co. C, Captain White, Currituck County; Co. D, Captain Graham, Orange County; Co. E, Captain Lockhart, Northampton County; Co. F, Captain Grigg, Cleveland County; Co. G, Captain Lanemills, Henderson County; Co. H, Captain Graves, Alexander County; Co. I, Captain Harrell, Rutherford County; Co. K, Captain Alexander, Mecklenburg County.
About the 1st of September, 1863, the Fifty-sixth Regiment, except Companys B and E, were detained to assist the Home Guards to arrest deserters and conscripts, and for five months operated in the counties of Randolph, Davidson, Moore, Montgomery, Chatham, Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany. During this time we arrested and sent two thousand men to the front that the militia were unable to manage, killing and wounding thirty-five in making these arrests. During the last two months of this service Company F furnished a provost guard of eighteen men, commanded by Sergeant F. M. Stockton, at regiment headquarters, Ashboro, N. C. About the 20th of January, 1864, the regiment gathered in camp at High Point, N. C., and drilled ten days, and then joined General Pickett's command of six brigades—Hoke's, Ransom's and Clingman's N. C. Brigades, Barton's, Kemper's and Corse's Virginia Brigades. All met at Kinston, N. C., on the 30th of January, 1864, and made an expedition against New Bern, accompanied by a regiment of cavalry, First N. C., under Colonel Dearing, and several batteries of artillery. Set out 31st of January, and struck the enemy at Core Creek on Deep Gully at 3 a. m. on the first day of February, 1864. The Fifty-sixth was with Corse's Brigade. Hoke's Brigade made the attack on the fortified position, supported directly by Corse's Brigade. Some of the forts and block houses were flanked, and the fighting was continuous until 9 a. m., when all positions were taken and the enemy in full flight for New Bern. We got all their camp equippage, five hundred prisoners, four pieces of artillery, commissary and quartermaster supplies, and pursued them ten miles to New Bern, invested the town, and skirmished around for thirty-six hours, then fell back. While on the skirmish line at 1 a. m., 2d February, we saw a Federal gunboat blown up. Our naval forces had gone down Neuse River in open boats and surprised and captured this vessel, and after taking the prisoners off, blew it up. The enemy were ready to evacuate as soon as we should make the assault, but from some misunderstanding of orders the attack was not made, and General Barton was afterwards court-martialed and acquitted.
We came back to Kinston and hanged twenty-five of those prisoners who were found to be deserters from our army. Then we went to Weldon and put up winter quarters where we had been in camp the summer before. About the 14th of February, a detail was made of twenty-five men from Company F and twenty-five men from Company K, under command of Captain Grigg and Lieutenant Shepherd, to help move the Federal prisoners from Richmond, Va., to Andersonville, Ga. We were on this service until 26th of March. These prisoners were in a pitiable plight and infected with small-pox. William Allen and Pink Pryor caught it from them; don't see why we all did not. During this time or early in March the Brigade made an expedition against Suffolk, Va., and after a running fight with negro cavalry, took that town, but did not hold it long. Capt. Cicero Durham, in command of a skirmish line, drove all before him and charged into the cavalry line and single-handed cut down several men with his own hand. Gilbert Green, of Capt. Jud. Magness' company, was killed in the town, fired upon by some negro troops from a house. The house was fired, and when the negroes jumped out they were shot down. Green was the only man we lost.
On the 14th of April, 1864, we were under light marching orders to leave our knapsacks and carry one blanket. The men were all in fine condition, and of Company F, one hundred answered roll-call and set out on the expedition for Plymouth, N. C., under Gen. R. F. Hoke. The forces consisted of Hoke's and Ransom's N. C. and Kemper's Virginia brigades, First N. C. Cavalry Regiment, and several batteries of field artillery. We went by rail to Tarboro, and on the 15th set out for Plymouth, 65 miles distant, or three days' marching. We arrived at Plymouth Sunday morning, 17th. The cavalry rushed forward and picked up first picket posts, followed by infantry. As they brought prisoners back, we noticed one horse shot in the nose, and a little further on a dead Yankee in the road.
General Hoke sent a truce flag and demanded the surrender of the post. General Wissils, in command, indignantly replied, "Take it." General Hoke replied, "Remove all non-combatants within twenty-four hours." We threw up earthworks that night. Next day sharp skirmishing took place until the twenty-four hours had expired, then a heavy skirmish line was thrown forward and all the enemy driven inside their defenses; then thirty pieces of artillery were brought into position and we began to shell the town. The enemy replied with great spirit, and a terrible duel raged from near sunset until 10 p. m. We were in front of our guns, lying flat, while the shot and shells from both sides hissed, whizzed and bursted over us. While we were engaged with the main fortifications, Hoke's Brigade was taking a detached fort up the river by direct assault.
In addition to the land batteries, the gunboats in the river were hurling huge shells at us. The next day, Tuesday evening, Ransom's Brigade worked its way around east of the town and, after a sharp skirmish fight, drove the Yankee pickets away from a deep creek, where we put in a pontoon bridge and crossed over and took position after dark under a picket and artillery fire. Here we formed for the final attack. The firing soon ceased, as we did not reply, and we lay in line of battle and got a good night's sleep. At first dawn of day we were standing in line in the following order; Twenty-fifth on the right next to the river, Fifty-sixth next, Eighth (from Clingman's Brigade, which was with us in place of Forty-ninth) in center, then Twenty-fourth and Thirty-fifth on the left, the field officers walking up and down the line quietly talking to the men. "North Carolina expects every man to do his duty. Pay close attention to orders, keep closed up, and press forward all the time. The sooner we can get into the town the better for us."
Hoke's and Kemper's brigades were on the west side. They fired the signal guns, advanced their picket lines as if they were going to assault from that side, while we quietly moved forward and covered half the distance before the fire was opened upon us. Then began the shower of shot and shell. The two regiments on the right soon struck their cattle lot, and we had a drove of cattle in front of us, but coming to a lagoon and swamp we had to let the cattle pass back through our line. Then through water and slush four feet deep we made our way through the swamp and re-formed under cover of a little hill. The three regiments on our left passed around the swamp. We then raised a yell and rushed forward upon the intrenchments and were soon in possession of them, the Yankees falling back and taking shelter behind the buildings, kept up a steady fire upon us as we advanced rapidly. Our field artillery soon came in and opened fire, while the Twenty-fifth swept along the river and captured a fort, and the other regiments drove the balance of the enemy into the big Fort Williamson, on the south side of the fortifications. The Fifty-sixth split into three sections. Maj. John W. Graham advanced the center faster than the wings and soon planted our flag on the west fortifications. This was a signal for Hoke's and Kemper's brigades to come in from that side. On Monday night of the first attack, at midnight, our ironclad gunboat, Albemarle, came down the river and cleared it of all the Yankee shipping, sinking and running off all their gunboats. The Albemarle was firing into Fort Williamson. General Hoke demanded the surrender of this fort, but General Wessel was slow in giving answer. When General Hoke began to form his Brigade to assault it, the Stars and Stripes were hauled down and a white flag raised. After three hours of hard fighting, the town with entire garrison, consisting of two fine New York and two Pennsylvania infantry regiments, with cavalry and strong artillery force, and besides the killed and wounded, 2,800 prisoners. The post was strongly fortified and well supplied with military stores and much mercantile goods. As soon as the surrender was made, all our troops were turned loose to help themselves to anything they wished—grocery and dry goods stores richly stocked to select from. Being more than sixty miles from a railroad, and the enemy still close by at Roanoke Island and Washington, we could only supply immediate needs. We were marched out of town that evening.
Nearly all the loss was in Ransom's Brigade, which numbered about six hundred killed and wounded. The Fifty-sixth lost ninety men. Company F—John Webb, shot through the breast; Peter Price, through the lungs; Hosea Gladden, in bowels, and died; Anderson Nolan, Allen Cogdall, Adney Cogdall and William Chitwood were all severely wounded; Thomas Cabiness and several others wounded. Dr. Lieut. V. J. Palmer was very seriously wounded by having back of thigh cut with piece of shell.
After resting until the 25th of April, we struck out for Washington, N. C. Thirty-five miles march brought us there on the 27th at 10 a. m. The enemy's pickets were driven in and we skirmished around there and were shelled from gunboats until morning of the 29th, when the town was evacuated. Leaving the Sixth Regiment of Hoke's Brigade to garrison it, we moved via Greenville and Snow Hill, crossing Neuse River below Kinston on a pontoon bridge that we carried with us, on to New Bern, crossing Trent River on our pontoon, and going down south side of Trent River, struck the Beaufort railroad, capturing a cavalry picket post of seventy-five men. We laid siege to New Bern and were soon under heavy shelling from the Yankee gunboats. Barton's Virginia Brigade had joined us below Kinston.
After reconnoitering and getting into position twenty-four hours for attack, General Hoke got orders at noon, 7th of May, 1864, to hasten to the relief of Petersburg, Va., that General Butler had landed at City Point with a force of forty thousand, while General Grant was pressing General Lee with overwhelming force through the Wilderness battles. Raising the siege of New Bern, we marched back to Kinston, arriving there the 9th at 8 a. m., where we found trains ready to transport us to Virginia. At 1 p. m. we arrived where Butler's cavalry had cut the railroad between Weldon and Petersburg and were burning bridges and depots and tearing up the road to cut us off. We (Ransom's Brigade) followed close after them all that evening until after midnight, when they left the railroad after tearing up and destroying twenty miles of the road. Here we rested until 8 a. m., May 10th, when trains came out from Petersburg after us. Boarding the cars with loaded guns, we arrived in Petersburg at 11 a. m. As soon as our train rolled in we could hear the popping of musketry on suburbs, and the greatest excitement prevailed. The citizens, women and children, turned out to greet us. Beautiful ladies showered bouquets of flowers upon us as we marched the streets, with such exclamations as, "We are safe now. These are the brave North Carolinians who have driven the enemy from their own State and have come to defend us. These are the brave boys that took Plymouth," etc. We were marched down the Popular Lawn Hospital grounds to a gushing rock spring, beautiful shade trees and green grass, where we rested until next morning. As soon as we were settled the white ladies and colored aunties began to pour in upon us with great baskets of everything good to eat and gave us a bountiful feast. Early next morning we moved out and took the Turnpike road towards Richmond, leisurely marching all day while our cavalry were rubbing against the enemy on our right with frequent brisk skirmishes. Out a few miles from Petersburg we passed over the ground where Hagood's Florida Brigade had checked the enemy's advance from that quarter a few days before. The thickets were shattered and remnants of equipments were scattered about, and the bloody places where many had fallen were still visible. Arriving near Drury's Bluff, we lay down to sleep in line of battle beside the Turnpike, facing east. About 2 a. m. the rain falling in our faces woke us, and soon our pickets close by commenced firing. We retained our position until day. Then we moved out on a country road to the right and coming to a turnpike turned into a wheat field at a farm house and formed line of battle in a pouring rain. Two good companies were taken from each of our five regiments and deployed as skirmishers under the command of Capt. Cicero Durham. They did not get out of our sight until they opened fire on the enemy. We then marched a mile east of Turnpike and occupied a good line of earthworks while heavy skirmish fighting was kept up all day. Companys G and I of the Fifty-sixth were on the firing line. Captain Durham made the enemy think we were anxious for a fight. He would charge and drive their skirmishers back on their battle lines and then fall back, and as soon as they advanced, charge and drive them back again, picking up some prisoners every time. Thus it went on all day, while the rain fell in continuous showers.
Next morning, 13th, all was quiet on the lines. In the afternoon we, the Thirty-fifth, Forty-ninth and Fifty-sixth, moved west of Turnpike and, crossing the railroad, occupied some earthworks on a commanding position. The lines ran west then southwest. A nice dwelling stood back of the corner. Generals Hoke and Ransom had dismounted and gone into the house. The Forty-ninth on right, Thirty-fifth center, Fifty-sixth on left. We were stretched out single file to cover the ground. The enemy was drawing our attention down the railroad towards Petersburg by firing some shells at us, all of which were falling a little short. We were in fine spirits, hoping to see the enemy advance to the open in front, but it had been discovered that the enemy had outflanked us and a force gone around. Captain Durham was deploying his skirmishers in a small field near the house and in our rear. Company H of Fifty-sixth was sent on the skirmish line. Colonel Faison, of Fifty-sixth, was out there, and sent orders to Captain Grigg for eighteen men. I went with them, and we lined up with Company H. Just back of the field was a dense pine thicket. Colonel Faison said: "They don't need you; you Company F men can go back to your company," and he walked back with us. Then the Yankees massed in that pine thicket, ran up to the fence and poured a volley into us. Generals Hoke and Ransom mounted their horses and came over the earthworks through Company F. Ransom, seeing a part of the Fifty-sixth on turn or angle would be exposed to an enfilading or flank fire, said: "Colonel Faison, take your regiment down and form on the railroad." Colonel Faison said, "Major Graham, take those three companies on the left we had about-faced down and form on railroad." Company F went with Major Graham, while Colonel Faison kept the other seven companies there and helped to repulse the Yankees until all could get out. The Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth were nearby, and came to the railroad and we formed with them. Captain Durham followed us and was taken off his horse in Company F. One arm was broken and he was shot in the side. His arm was amputated and he died in a few days. Thus ended the career of one of Cleveland County's bravest boys that did battle for that cause. A battalion of picked men was being organized for him to do all the sharp-shooting and skirmishing for the brigade.
Our company, H, had not deployed, and one over half was shot down. We privates all thought had Colonel Faison obeyed Ransom's order to take his regiment out, Thirty-fifth and Forty-ninth would have been captured. As soon as they could stand the Yankees off, they came to the railroad, and we all went up the railroad to the next line of defense, abandoning that line. The Yankees followed us up and fortified a position, and kept up a fire on us all day and night during 14th and 15th. General Ransom was wounded in the arm about 9 a. m. on 15th, standing in rear of Company F, exposing himself, I thought, unnecessarily, in company with some other officer. I was looking at him and expecting it when he was hit. Beauregard had now come up from Charleston and gathered up eighteen or twenty thousand men. Tradition says Jeff Davis told Beauregard to drive Butler away from there; Beauregard said he could not take the responsibility with the force he had.
Jeff Davis told Beauregard to drive Butler away from there. Beauregard said he could not take the responsibility with the force he had. Jeff Davis: "I will take the responsibility." Beauregard: "All right, then I'll do the fighting." On the night of the 14th and 15th of May our Company F was ordered out in the open field in front of our breastworks on picket or vidette duty, and lay all night in the open field under fire from the enemy's sharpshooters.
We did not return the fire, or they would have killed us all. As it was, they could only guess at our position in the dark. The bullets were striking the ground around us with a noise as if they were as large as goose eggs. Mike Crowder was severely wounded while we were taking position.
On Monday morning, 16th of May, a very dark, foggy morning, Hoke's division, I think, with Barton's Virginia Brigade leading the charge, assaulted Butler's right next the river, breaking his strongly fortified line and capturing two thousand prisoners the first dash. Then pressing his broken flank with a strong force and throwing regiment after regiment against his front, carried the entire line by 10 a. m. Ransom's Brigade, commanded by Col. Leroy McAfee, made a front attack west side of Turnpike road, Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth and Forty-ninth leading, supported by Thirty-fifth and Fifty-sixth regiments. When our regiment got in the enemy's earthworks their whole line was falling back. James S. Powell and W. Cathey Wolfe, Company F, were wounded. We saw President Davis and General Beauregard together on the field.
Our loss was three thousand killed and wounded. The Turnpike road, over which the wounded were carried, was drenched with blood. The Yankee loss was five thousand killed, wounded and captured. Butler fell back to Bermuda Hundreds, under cover of his gunboats. General Hoke took his old brigade, Clingman's North Carolina, Barton's, Kemper's and Corse's Virginia brigades and hastened to General Lee at Cold Harbor, leaving Ransom's North Carolina, Grace's Alabama, Walker's South Carolina, and Wise's Virginia brigades to look after Butler. These were put in command of Gen. Bushrod Johnson, and remained as Johnson's Division until the close of the war.
Next day we followed Butler and fortified a position close to him and where we were shelled from his gunboats. We extended our picket line to within a few hundred yards of Butler's. On the morning of the 20th of May we got orders to wash our shirts. We had left our knapsacks at Weldon, N. C., on the 14th of April, and had had four weeks of strenuous campaign in North Carolina and two weeks in Virginia. Six weeks without a chance to wash or change our shirts, and now we had no vessels to warm water, so the only chance was to wash in a small creek. Our shirts from sweat and grime had gotten so dirty and stiff they would almost stand upright. Shirts were washed and hung on bushes to dry, but before all got dry, or at 1 p. m., we were ordered to fall into line for another battle. We wanted Butler's picket line for our line to crowd him closer and fortify our picket line. Both picket lines had rifle pits and were hard to take at best. The Thirty-fifth and Fifty-sixth were ordered to take the picket line in front of our brigade. The Thirty-fifth deployed and charged forward, followed by Fifty-sixth in line of battle. The Thirty-fifth was driven back, and Fifty-sixth charged up and found a strong line of battle in the rifle pits. When we got in forty or fifty yards of them we were ordered to fire, lay down, load, shoot. When we had fired five rounds under a terrible hail of bullets at so close range, some one said, "They are flanking us." Then the order to retreat. We were in an old pine field with some undergrowth of oak bushes, while the Yankee line was on the edge of a dense wood. We fell back and rallied when some regiments of Walker's South Carolina Brigade came in on our right and with a yell charged on the Yankees, who were advancing on us. The Twenty-sixth lined up with them and helped to drive the Yankees back to their line of rifle pits. Our line lay down and kept up our fire on them until our ammunition was pretty well spent. The Fifty-sixth had ninety-six killed and wounded. Company F lost four killed and nine severely wounded and several slightly wounded. Our killed were left where they fell and were buried by the enemy. They were Second Lieutenant Dick Williams, a brave soldier and a man loved by all his company; privates Thomas P. Cabaniss, Christopher Powell and Winslow Wright, all good soldiers. Powell and Cabaniss were single men. Cabaniss was killed by my side, and my left cheek was blistered by a hot bullet. Frank Webb and J. M. Smith died of their wounds. Jefferson Spurlin lost a leg and Johnson Spangler lost an arm. Sam. Daugherty, Peter Louis, Morman Bookout, B. McMurry and Monroe Kirby were all severely wounded. That night we fortified our picket line, and General Walker reconnoitering his position was wounded and captured. We were so close to them that firing was kept up all night and for several days following. On the evening of the 22d a truce was had to bury some dead between the lines. And the graves of our dead were visited. A few days after this a skirmish line from our brigade charged and took this Yankee skirmish line which had cost us so much on the 20th of May. Here we lay in the burnt woods, within a few hundred yards of the enemy, firing and shelling every day until the 1st of June. Our brigade crossed James River on a pontoon bridge and passed through the Seven Pines battle ground to the Chickahominy River, where we spent a few days in sight of the enemy's position on the north side, the picket of each making the river the line. We then came up to Chafin's farm or bluff and spent about a week, until the night of 15th of June. We marched all night to Petersburg, Va.
Grant had now advanced the head of his column, and our little force of four brigades must hold him in check until Lee could come. So we had to vacate our lines between the Appomattox and James rivers and throw our main forces in defense of Petersburg, where we arrived at sunrise. The Fifty-sixth was sent up the north side of the Appomattox to guard the cotton factories from a cavalry raid, while the other four regiments went to the front and were fighting all day. During the day Butler's forces destroyed the railroad between Petersburg and Drury's Bluff. After dark we joined the brigade on the Turnpike and started back toward Drury's Bluff. We only went a few miles, feeling for the Yankees, but were kept on foot nearly all night. Next morning, 17th, some flat cars came after us and landed us in Petersburg, and we hurried to the front. Grant had taken some of the outside lines, and we formed a line in a corn field and threw up breastworks under shelling and picket fire. While fortifying our line, Joseph Crowder was killed and James Bedford and Simon Eskridge were mortally wounded. About 2 p. m. Grant began to assault our line next to the river on our left, and kept it up for a long time. Our boys would yell when they would drive them back and pass the word along the line, "Repulsed with great loss; hold your position at all hazards; Lee's army will be here at 10 to-night." Near sunset they took the position held by Wise's Brigade. We were under moving orders at once, and a little after dark the Thirty-fifth and Fifty-sixth, and probably some of our other regiments, joined Grace's Alabama Brigade to retake the lost ground. The full moon was an hour or two high. After a quick but desperate struggle the line was retaken, to be abandoned next morning. All our historians give the Alabamians all the credit and none mention the North Carolinians. In the night and through the woods I thought at the time all our brigade was there. I know the Thirty-fifth was next to us and sustained heavy loss. About 2 a. m. we fell back to a new and last position in front of Cemetery Hill, now known as the Crater, leaving a strong skirmish line with orders to hold as long as they could and to fall back as slowly as possible. This was to enable us to fortify another line which had only been staked off the day before.
At daybreak on the 18th we were standing in single file, half line of battle, when we heard Grant's massive columns charge on our skirmishers and take the last ditch between them and Petersburg. Our artillery was all in position on our last line. Lee's army had not come, and Grant only had a half line of tired and worn-out soldiers in his front, standing in open field between him and Petersburg. The Fifty-sixth in the night battle was on the left flank, and did not suffer like the other regiments. Of Company F, Noah Phillips, was killed, Spencer Moore and Wesley Revels captured.
When the enemy got those earthworks, we expected them on us at once. Having only seven or eight tools to the company, we fell to work with our bayonets to make a hole to squat in. We had bluffed them so the night before that they thought Lee had arrived, and waited several hours before they drove in our brave skirmishers that held them in a wood until we had a good ditch. Though we had had but little sleep and rest for three days and nights, we moved dirt in a hurry. We occupied a most commanding position. Fifty-sixth covered the ground now known as the Crater. Some branches, broad fields, with some skirts of woods lay in front of us. About 10 a. m. our skirmishers were driven in after an heroic resistance. Then the long blue lines came gleaming on. The officers galloping over the field, while battery after battery were taking position under the fire of our artillery and opening fire on us. Then to our left, winding down a ravine, we saw Longstreet's column coming in, and soon came crowding up our ditch Anderson's Division, South Carolinians and Georgians. Most of these regiments were very short, and I was eager to note what these battle-scarred veterans who had just been fighting for a month through the Wilderness thought of the situation. Tired from an all-night's march, but as soon as they got in position they stripped blankets and piling handfuls of cartridges on the breastworks got up on the parapet, took a look in front and said, "This is a good place; we would like for them to come on ten lines deep, so we won't waste any lead." Then they quietly sat down. We were now too much crowded, and our regiment was ordered out and I was ordered to help carry some boxes of ammunition that belonged to our company. The Fifty-sixth started back in a run across a broad field under heavy fire. Longstreet's men objected to our taking the ammunition, and while we were parleying about it, Captain Gee, of Ransom's staff, came along and I called his attention to it, and he said, "Oh, leave it here, those men may need it." We were now left and started around to go up the ravine and came up with Lieutenant Davis, of Company G, Fifty-sixth, who said: "Fifty-sixth is just ordered back to rest. A part of the companies on the right of the battery (at Crater) are still here. The Yankees had opened such a heavy fire they would not try to get out. There is going to be an interesting time here, and I want to see it out. If you will stay with me I will take care of you." Six or seven of his company were with him. Soon Sergt. Wm. London and Isaac Randall of Company F joined us. Peter Price, who had been shot through the lung at Plymouth, was wounded in the thigh as they fell back, and Mayor Graham was wounded in the arm. We were now about one hundred and fifty yards to the left of the Crater battery. At about 1 p. m. three lines of battle made a desperate effort to break our lines on the right. We could see them form an advance like they were on dress parade, raise their cheer and rush close to our line; then our volleys would knock them into confusion. In the meantime they were bringing line after line down to the branch in our front, where they could find cover under the hill. We would let them get about midway in a field, then we could get about two rounds into them before they got under cover. Soon they began to charge us from this close quarter, but two or three rounds would drive them back under cover shelter. Finally they crawled up the side of a hill and massed seven flags within two hundred yards of us, and lay there until night. The heavy firing of musketry and artillery lasted until midnight before we could get out. Captain Roberts, of Company B, Fifty-sixth, had his head shot off. One tall, dark-eyed South Carolinian was shot in the head and killed by my side. He was a brave man, taking deliberate aim every shot. One other man was wounded close to me.
A. P. Hill's corps got to Petersburg at night of 18th. Next morning Jesse Lattimore, of Company F, Thirty-fourth N. C. Regiment, visited us, and was still in good spirits of whipping the Yankees. We told him they hadn't brought men enough with them and their regiments were too small. After resting twenty-four hours we moved right and worked on some fortifications.
On the evening of 24th of June, Wilcox's Division attacked Grant's left, supported by our brigade and a part of Johnson's division. It was called the battle of Huckleberry Swamp. The enemy was strongly entrenched, and we fell back after dark. We were only slightly under fire. We recalled that Lafayette Beam, of Capt. David Magness' company, Thirty-eighth Regiment, was killed that evening. We occupied Scales Brigade camp, and about midnight they came in on us and we all lay and slept until late next morning.
The next night we took position on the branch to the left of the Crater. We had always felt pretty safe in the earthworks until here Grant began to shell us with mortars, throwing huge shells up to fall on us or to burst over us and the fragments rain upon us; so now began the most serious time when we could not get rest day nor night except under incessant fire. The left of our brigade rested on the Norfolk railroad, and we held this position in the open fields under a July sun for six weeks, the regiments changing position every week. Our food was miserable—musty meal and rancid Nassau bacon. Our bread was cooked at the wagon yard on canal, west side of Petersburg. When the bread had been cooked twelve hours it would pull out like spider-webs. We were on picket or fatigue duty nearly every night. One-third had to stand to arms all the time, and from 2:30 a. m. all had to stand to arms until sunrise. The two lines were on an average five hundred yards apart.
On the 11th of July, while working on a covered way to the rear, I was wounded in the left arm above the elbow, the ball grazing and bruising the inside of the arm. I was disabled and sent back to field hospital for a few days, during which time I caught measles. Then after a week in the trenches I was sent back to the hospital at Richmond. The men were now breaking down faster under the awful strain and bad fare; many were taking typhoid fever, and nearly all had dysentery. A train load of sick and wounded were being shipped to Richmond every day.
I left on the 28th of July. It was known that the Yankees were undermining our works, and we were tunneling all around to meet them, but our tunnel at the Crater missed them about fifty feet. On the 30th the Crater was exploded under Elliott's South Carolina Brigade, formerly Walker's, on our right. I shall not attempt a description of that memorable event farther than to say Ransom's Brigade, commanded by Colonel Rutledge of Twenty-fifth, held its position and helped to retake the lost ground, though none of our historians seem to be advised of that fact. Up to this time, Lieutenant Grigg, Perry Ross, Arthur Blanton and Alexander Kennedy had been wounded, and soon after Starlin Jones was mortally wounded. When I convalesced I found John Carter and Dobbins Wesson in the same ward with typhoid fever, and I went to see them every day. One evening when I called, Carter said he was glad to see me, that he wanted to talk with me, for he was going to die. I tried to encourage him, but he said he could not live long. He said he was not afraid to die, that he had always tried to live right, and that it was a great consolation that he had never done anything that would reflect on his people left behind. Thus, before the rising of another sun, a good and true man passed to his reward. A few days after when I visited Wesson he told me that he was in great trouble, that his wife had quit writing to him, etc. I tried to encourage him, when the ward master beckoned to me and said, "You need not pay any attention to him. He is delirious and don't know what he is talking about. He jumped out of the window and we had to catch him and bring him back. If you know his people you can write them that he will not live until to-morrow morning." I wrote them to that effect. He was a brave and faithful soldier and loved by his comrades.
Of the twenty-five of Company F that died that summer of sickness, I will mention four of my mess, who were all good and true soldiers and participated in all the battles up to squat. Thomas Davis, Riley Barnett, John Ledford and Thomas L. Nowlin. While I was away, Ransom's Brigade was in the battle of Ream's Station on Weldon railroad, in August, and Louis Justice and Migamon Haynes were killed. Sergt. F. M. Stockton, Luther Lutz and William Chitwood, and probably others, were wounded.
I got back to the company the 15th of October, after a sixty-days furlough, and found our brigade resting left of Appomattox River. Here we remained through the long, hard winter, under fire day and night. During this time Lieutenant Purse was wounded, also Wesley Richards and Sergeant William London mortally wounded. I can not see how we escaped so well, but we learned to lay low, dig holes and contrive bomb-proofs. Then Spencer Crowder used to say that we had Uncle Johnnie London to pray for us. Spencer tried to quit swearing, and we thought he had succeeded, but the last battle we were in he cursed the Yankees as bad as ever. We fortified our position and had portholes for our sharpshooters made of sand bangs and iron plates. Besides the hard fare, we suffered for want of fuel. Our company only got eight or ten sticks of green pine wood per day most of the time. During the winter we got coffee and some canned beef, which helped us greatly. Governor Vance tried to give us a Christmas dinner, but it was only a quart of little Irish potatoes. Our wages were raised from $11 to $15 per month, but they quit paying us at all and owed us for three or four months at the close. The following prices prevailed: Bacon, $10 lb.; pork and beef, $5 lb.; peas, $1 qt.; corn meal, $1.25 qt.; rice, $1 lb.; salt, $1; sweet potatoes, medium, $1 each, and everything else in proportion.
On the 15th of January, 1865, I was detailed to report to General Ransom's headquarters for special duty, and met a force of several others from brigade. We were taken in command by Lieut. A. Clate Sharp, of Forty-ninth, to boat wood down the river and canal for the men in the trenches. We were soon comfortably quartered at our wagon yard. Here we went seven miles up the canal and two miles up the river into another canal, where we got the wood. This was a real picnic all the time. With three men to the boat, we would bring down four cords of wood on a boat. While out there I would often see General Lee, nearly always by himself, riding around leisurely. I got rations from home and fared sumptuously, while the poor fellows in the ditches were having it rough. They were now trimmed out to one man to the yard. About the first of March about a dozen of Company F concluded they had enough of it, and all started for home, taking their guns with them. They had gotten information from me that there were no guards next to the river, and succeeded in getting through. I will not name them here. They nearly all had been good and faithful soldiers who had borne more hardships than I. They had been in those bleak and bloody trenches for nearly nine months. The annual spring campaign was coming on, and every private knew that resistance could not much longer be sustained. On the 15th of March my detail ended, and we were relieved from the ditches and went to Hotches Run, ten miles away.
Grant was pressing Lee's right, and about 3 a. m. on March 25th, Lee attacked Grant in front of our old position next to the river and carried it with little or no loss. We went in to hold it, and after day they attacked us with a heavy force, and holding the lines on both our flanks, after two hours of hard fighting, turned our right flank and compelled our right to fall back or surrender. The enemy held a fort close on our left, and when they came swarming over the hill on our right and pressing our front we had to surrender with two thousand on that end of the line. All of Company F that were together, thirty-four in all, including Captain and Lieutenant Grigg, Lieutenant Dr. V. J. Palmer, had been in front of our line, and seeing the predicament, slipped out and escaped without coming back through the company. George Thompson was mortally wounded. This was the last of Company F, except five or six rallied by Lieutenant Palmer. The spring before we started out with one hundred, this spring we had forty men in line.
We took our position an hour or two before day. The Yankees had three strong lines of earthworks, with stockade in front, but they only had a skirmish line holding it, while their comfortable encampments were in the rear. We could easily have taken the lines on our left to Appomattox River when we first went in, but it was soon strongly reinforced. As we were marched back to the rear we met battery after battery of field artillery coming in. An artilleryman said, "Johnnies, if you had held them works an hour longer we would have had five hundred guns and cannons playing on you." We were soon back in our camps and marched around through them for three miles to General Meade's headquarters. In some camps the men were playing ball and frolicking like no enemy was near. Others were falling into line of march; others had muskets stacked ready to fall in at a moment's notice. Far back in the rear endless columns were marching to the left flank of their lines to outflank Lee's right. At Meade's headquarters we were joined by two thousand more of our men who had been captured that morning on Hotche's Run. About 2 p. m. we were reviewed by General Grant and President Lincoln, riding horseback, followed by a troop of cavalry and a number of fine carriages containing officers and ladies. They marched by us and returned and came back by us, where we were in the open along the road. We were then put on some flat or freight cars and shipped to City Point. There we were put inside their large barrack inclosure where their own men were kept under the same guard with us. The next morning they gave us some boiled fat pork and a handful of hardtack. As we came down we passed through Sheridan's cavalry camp of thirty thousand strong.
On Sunday evening, March 26th, General McHenry, a white-headed old man, commanding the post, got upon a barrel and made a speech. He said the war would soon be over, and that President Lincoln had offered amnesty to all who would lay down their arms or desert the Confederate army and come over to the Union side, and that they would be allowed to go North and work. He said that no doubt some of us had wished to desert and quit fighting and had not had a chance to do so, and now he would give us a chance to take the oath of allegiance to the United States if we would volunteer to do so. He would send such up to Washington and see if President Lincoln would accept it and allow them to take the oath and go North and be free from war. When the call for deserter volunteers was arranged, the greatest fun started among the four thousand prisoners. They would make all kinds of humorous remarks about the deserter volunteers. When one would step out, "You are welcome to him; he is as cowardly as any of your hirelings. There goes another; we are glad to get rid of him, for he never was any good," etc. About thirty volunteered and were removed from their fellows. Then he called for three hundred volunteers who wished to be exchanged at once—sent up to Richmond, where they could go to fighting again. We raised a yell, and about two hundred rushed forward. He then called, "Come on, all who want more fighting." There was much stir, comrades hunting up each other so as to keep together. Company F rallied and joined the fighting column, except five or six, who held back and afterwards went up to Washington with the deserter volunteers. We were marched to the wharf and put on a steamboat that carried us to Point Lookout Prison, Maryland, instead of Richmond for exchange. At the time we volunteered so briskly we did not believe we would be exchanged, and its very evident that not many wished to be, for they all believed that the war would be over in a few weeks.
While on the wharf a nice, clever old citizen came up to me, a beardless boy, and entered into a conversation. He said, "It is very fortunate for you that you were taken prisoner. You are in the hands of a civilized and Christian people who will treat you well and you will not have to fight any more. The war will be over in six months, and you can then return to your loved ones at home." I heard him patiently, and he felt he was making a good impression on me. Then I retorted: "You are putting it off for six months now, are you? I thought you said you would whip us in three months at the start." He turned away and seemed to lose interest in me. I was from the inside and could have told him the war would be over in six weeks.
We had a good voyage. Stopped a half hour at Fortress Monroe, where there was a great deal of shipping, including war vessels of all nations. We arrived at Point Lookout, Md., at sunset. Our names were recorded and we were overhauled and ushered into prison. There were about three thousand there when we arrived, on the first boat load of the spring campaign. We were assigned quarters in tents already occupied. I thought they would be glad to see us and hear from home, but they seemed mad and asked very few questions that night. But we soon learned that talking was not allowed after dark, as white guards walked the streets inside, while negro sentinels were on the outside parapet. We were always interested in the new-comers, who continued to come for two or three weeks, until the number was increased to twenty-three thousand. Point Lookout lays between Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River, and is nearly surrounded by water. The prison on the Chesapeake side was drained into that bay, and was an ideal place for a military prison, and was considered one of the most healthful prisons. It was enclosed by a high plank fence with two gates, opening to bay and one for entrance on southeast corner. It was divided into ten or twelve divisions, with nearly as many cook-houses, one chapel and school-house, eight wells, no two of which contains the same kind of water. The water was strong coperas, alum, and some nearly fair freestone. The Confederate government had an agent there, a Methodist preacher by the name of Morgan and a South Carolinian. His business was to look after the welfare of the prisoners, to distribute clothing, etc., very little of which was distributed after we got there. He ran the schools and regulated religious worship in the chapel. We got for a day's ration three-quarters of a pound of loaf bread and six crackers, one pint of soup with a spoonful or two of beans and potatoes in it. About one-quarter pound of fat boiled pork two days, one-half pound fresh beef or mutton one day, and one-half pound of fish (mackeral or codfish) four days in each week. We had no fuel and had to eat fish raw. We got plenty of soap, but nothing to warm water with to wash. We had access to the bay for washing and bathing. There were several details to work on outside of prison, for which we got tobacco and some extra rations. When outside about the wharves we could get a little wood, such as barrel staves, chips and pieces of planks. There were two or three hundred men taken out every fair day to work, and I got out a good deal, was on a regular detail for two or three weeks, which was a great help. The hospital grounds adjoined the prison, and many were in the hospital. It was reported that the death rate some days was more than twenty. Only one of our company died there—Benjamin Jenkins.
Lee's surrender was celebrated by firing signal guns for twenty-four hours. Then Lincoln's death was honored by all flags half-mast and firing one-half-hour guns for twenty-four hours.
Those fellows who volunteered to take the oath and were sent to Washington had been refused by President Lincoln, but they were all discharged first. Major A. G. Brady was in command of the post. We got no mail or papers. There was a bulletin board for posting orders and news.
There were negroes who had been captured in the Confederate army that remained true and preferred staying with us instead of taking the oath and going free. Also a large number of English sailors, blockade runners, West India negroes, and political prisoners all together. When they began to discharge us about the 6th of June, thirty-two were called out at a time and stood under the Stars and Stripes and took the oath of allegiance together and subscribed to the same in the record books. I got out the 12th of June, and was landed in Richmond on the night of the 13th. Here we were bountifully supplied with rations and given railroad transportation. Everything had now changed. Richmond and all the principal towns were swarming with Federal troops. We remained in Richmond two days on account of a washout, and did not reach home until the 20th of June.
I will state that Lieut. V. J. Palmer and the four or five men with him were captured at Five Forks when the lines were broken. About the first of April, Lieutenant Palmer had his men to load for him, and he stood on the parapet and fired as fast as the guns could be handed to him, until he was surrounded. In the last battle, on the 25th March, 1865, Lieutenant Palmer, with several others, took a position in front of the lines in some narrow drain ditches, where they could keep up a continual fire, while the main line only fired when the enemy advanced in force. During this time T. J. Dixon shot down a brave Yankee at close range, and said, "Boys, don't shoot him any more." L. A. Bridges brought down several of the bravest Yankees at close range. The Yankee who took Bridges' gun said, "You have been using it; it is pretty hot." Bridges said, "Yes, I got it from you and have made the best use of it I could. You can have it; I reckon it belongs to you."
Among those who were never seriously wounded or sick, but were always in their places, were First Sergt. Andy London, who stood at the head of Company F in every battle; Sergt. H. Dedmon, Spencer A. Crowder, Jno. A. Tesseneer, Flay Gantt, Samuel Hasten, Graham Wilson, T. J. Hoard, Sabert Hoard, Joseph Beam, David Peeler and L. A. Bridges. Lieut. V. J. Palmer and Alfred Grigg were always at their posts except while disabled by wounds. Peter Price died last July, James Finch died last year, Lieut. Alfred Grigg moved to Kentucky, Jno. Grigg to Louisiana, Frank Hasten to Tennessee.
SUPPLEMENTAL TO HISTORY OF COMPANY F.
The names of Joseph Hasten and Ephraim Wilson, who died early in the service, and Jesse Willis, a senior recruit who served faithfully to the end, were omitted. These are all I can get up. My comrades at this time can give me but little information. People ask how I can recollect so well after so many years. I kept a diary of all important events. Then my mother, who is still living, has all the letters I wrote home during my service in the army. I had nine first cousins in the regular army, and only two survived the war, and they were both severely wounded twice, and I am the only survivor, though I have an uncle living, my mother's brother, Dr. Thos. L. Carson, who was at General Lee's surrender.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT AT SHELBY.
The Soldier's Monument at Shelby seems to be all that could be desired from anyone's standpoint. There's nothing boastful, nothing flattering or inconsistent. It simply expresses a patriotic duty performed in the greatest crisis in the history of our country. That generation passed through an ordeal second to none in the annals of modern history. Their descendants by whom it is erected have no apologies to make. The massive granite column, to last for ages, will tell the simple story of pride in the heroic fortitude of such ancestry—and will ever be an inspiration to the rising manhood of coming generations. It is most fitting that it is erected now after more than forty years of candid deliberation. If it had been erected thirty years ago it would only have represented our fallen heroes. Ten years ago, when it was first suggested to rear a monument for all Confederate soldiers, living and deceased, the living generally protested, thinking it egotistical or boastful to erect a monument to themselves. But the Daughters were too enthusiastic to wait for all the old soldiers to die, and now all old soldiers approve their course and are most grateful for the monument to their comrades, which by and by will stand for all.
The statue on the monument is a good specimen of the stalwart private soldier, and would well represent Private Charles Blanton, of the Fifty-fifth N. C. Regiment, who once captured fourteen prisoners on the skirmish line. Having heard his comrades tell of this heroic deed a few years ago, I asked Mr. Blanton how he did it. He said: "We were ordered to drive the Yankee skirmishers back and locate their battle line. As we advanced on them we saw several taking shelter in a rifle pit, when six or eight of us made a rush to take the pit, and when I got there they ducked down and looked scared, and I ordered them to thrown down their guns and get out of there quick, and they obeyed promptly. As I stepped behind them I saw that I was alone—the others having all been shot down—and seeing their battle line laying flat close by, ordered my prisoners to double-quick to the rear, and I trotted them out all right. When I commanded them to surrender, I thought my comrades were close by, and I had them under good control before I knew any better."
Mrs. Stonewall Jackson refusing a $1,200 pension, while indigent widows and veterans only get a pittance, may cause them to get $150,000 more than heretofore. It is the happiest thought that our countrymen still appreciate most highly the principle that money can not buy. Mrs. Jackson belongs to history, linked to a name that will live through the ages, an inspiration to the highest ideals of patriotic devotion, that bring most desirable achievements that untold generations will be proud to honor.
A PATRIOTIC RECRUIT.
The soldiers life, even in the most strenuous and dangerous campaigns, finds some relief in jest and laughter, like flowers strewn along the thorny paths of hardships. When you hear an old soldier boast of his exploits and miraculous escapes, you can credit him for having been both a good forager and a good dodger. The best soldiers are ambitious, patriotic, jovial, patient and uncomplaining.
When our Company F, Fifty-sixth Regiment, had been in the Camp of Instruction a few weeks, a young, enthusiastic recruit came in. He showed all the marks of a good soldier, even to a very fine opinion of himself. He was eager to take a stand in the front rank from the start; and he was speedily supplied with the regulation equipment. Then he called on some of the boys at a game of marbles, who interrogated him about his outfit, and inquired if he had got his marbles. He: "Do I get marbles?" They: "Of course every soldier is allowed a set of marbles." He: "And where do I get my marbles?" "You will find your marbles at the Colonel's tent, but when you go after them you must salute the Colonel." He: "Salute how?" "This way: Catch your hat with this hand, raise the other hand, fingers extended, and strike out this way." After practicing him for awhile, they told him that would do—he had it right. Then he bolted for the Colonel's tent with all the assurance with which he would accost a township constable. The Colonel was a West Pointer and as dignified and austere as the Czar of all the Russias. After saluting the Colonel, he said, "Colonel, I have just come in and drawed my outfit and have called in to get my marbles." The Colonel: "The h—ll you say! Report to your quarters at once or I'll have you put in the guard-house." When he came back, he looked like a bucket of cold water had been thrown on his patriotic enthusiasm. They inquired, "Did you get your marbles?" He: "No!" "What did the Colonel say?" "He cussed me and threatened to put me in the guard-house."
The reader can imagine what a laugh they had at the breaking in of a real good soldier, who proved faithful to the end. But ever afterwards, whenever he got on a "high hoss," some one would ask him what the Colonel said when he went after his marbles.
A BAD CASE OF ITCH.
In the fall of 1863, while my regiment, the Fifty-sixth North Carolina, was on detail service arresting conscripts and deserters in the middle and western counties, our company headquarters then being at Hannah's Cross Roads in Davidson County, a stout, strapping boy of 18 came from Catawba County to join the army with us. He had two uncles in our company who were off with a detachment; and he, being a stranger to all present, and noticing that he had a bad case of itch, all stood aloof from him. After he had been in camp a few days Iley Gantt got a short furlough to visit his sick wife. He, noticing Gantt's arrangements for going home, inquired what he was going home for. Ike Powell said, "We are sending Gantt home because he has got the each." He: "Well, I've got the each." P.: "Yes, I see you have, and what did you come here with the each for. We've got trouble enough here without the each." He: "Well, if you say so I'll go home too, for I am getting mighty tired of this place anyhow." P.: "Well, that would be the best thing you could do." He: "But I've eat up all the rations I brought from home, and I 'haint got nothing cooked to eat, and I can't cook—never cooked any in my life." P.: "Then I'll tell you what you do; you go to Capt. Grigg and tell him you want a man detailed to cook some rations to do you home; tell him you are going with Gantt, and that you will stay away from here until you are plumb well of the each." The young recruit bolted to the Captain, who soon set him straight on army rules and regulations.
LONGSTREET'S CORPS WAS ON THE WAY TO CHICKAMAUGA.
The same fall I was at High Point, N. C., and saw Longstreet's Corps pass. The trains all stopped there and I mingled and talked much with them. I never saw soldiers in higher spirits. As they had come through Raleigh, they had destroyed the late ex-Governor W. W. Holden's Raleigh Standard printing press. They exhibited papers fastened to sticks like flags, with handfuls of type. Holden had been advocating peace and they considered him a traitor to the South. They said those western Yankees had been having things their own way out there, but Lee's men were going to give them something that they would not forget soon. "We will put them in a trot like we have been chasing them out of Virginia." They were traveling on freight and flat-cars, with as many on top of freight boxes as inside.
About a week after that we were at High Point again, conveying some arrested conscripts to Raleigh, when train load after train load of Federal prisoners passed going from Chickamauga to Richmond. The trains stopped and we talked with those western prisoners and found them very sassy and determined about the Union. One big, red-whiskered fellow said to me: "What you fellers doing back here so far in the rear?" We replied: "We have plenty of men at the front to attend to you fellows. We are just resting and having a good time." He replied, "Yes, d——n you; I guess you are back here hunting for conscripts and trying to force good Union men into your d——d army." His train pulled out and we let him go at that, but thinking from the grit he displayed that he must be a Tennessean or Kentuckian.
SHOOTING AN OUTLAW.
While operating in Randolph County, N. C., in September, 1864, we wounded in the foot and captured a man who had not been in the army but was said to head a band of outlaws. His name was Northcut. He was tried by a little drumhead court marshal and shot on short notice one mile north of Ashboro as we were leaving that section for Wilkes County, where there was a strong Union sentiment hard to hold down. After operating in the mountains several months, where much apple brandy, fat beef, milk and honey abounded, we returned to Randolph and the adjoining counties of Davidson, Moore, Montgomery and Chatham, where there was much work to do. Here we began pressing property, especially horses and feed, from the disloyal to force them to bring in their conscript sons, and soon a number of our company was mounted, only intending to use the horses while operating in that vicinity; but Governor Vance, being advised of it, complained to the Confederate War Department and threatened to turn his militia loose on us and drive us from the State if such conduct was not stopped and all property pressed promptly turned over to the original owners—and we had to come down off our high horses and take it afoot again. Up to that time I had not developed quite courage enough to steal a horse, but was caught red-handed with a good mount in this temporary "critter company."—a furloughed man having given me his horse. So my dignity was shocked when I had to come down from my self-promoted position to a flatfooted infantryman again.
REMOVING FEDERAL PRISONERS FROM RICHMOND, VA., TO ANDERSONVILLE, GA., FEBRUARY AND MARCH, 1864.
I was on a detail and made three trips via Raleigh, Charlotte, Columbia to Branchville, S. C. These prisoners had been confined on Belle's Island, in James River, and were in a most pitiable condition—half starved, half naked. Most of them had been in prison for months and very few had a change of garments. They were ragged, lousy, filthy and infested with smallpox, and most of them had diarrhoea and scurvy and were so weak that when they would swing down out of box-cars their legs would give away when their feet struck the ground, and they would fall in a heap on the ground. I don't think they got anything to eat except a little bread and meat, mostly cornbread. They were transferred in box-cars, forty packed into a car. We sometimes stopped at Raleigh to change cars, and always stopped at Charlotte twelve to twenty-four hours. We ran up the Seaboard to where it crossed the Statesville Railroad, then in the woods. A small branch ran under both roads east and north of crossing, with embankments on south and west, and we put them out there, where they had free access to the branch. One night several crawled up a drain ditch from branch along railroad and got out between the guard; others were caught in the act and stopped.
Old man Tyree, of Company K detail, whose home was not far away, said he could get some bloodhounds that would run them down. He was sent after the dogs and they were put on their tracks after they had been gone four or five hours, and followed them about thirty miles and caught them. The next time we stopped there, at 2 a. m., they, the prisoners, seemed restless, a number being up and moving around near the guard lines. Two or three made a break through the guard lines and escaped in the darkness. Several shots were fired at them, which awoke and roused up the whole camp. They were ordered to lay down, but would not obey, even when the officers ordered us to fire into them. But instead of firing into them, as we were ordered, tried firing a few shots over them, which had the effect to make them lay down. The officers then went among them and told them if anyone got up before day he would be shot down. But still, occasionally, one would get up and a guard would fire over him. At last one of the guards shot and killed one. That might have been omitted, though we had orders to do so. All the guards deplored that rash action. An old, sick Irishman fell in the branch and died that night. I noticed after the war six or eight graves at that wayside camp. Those who escaped that night probably got through, as we never heard of them again.
While on guard in the car with them some of them twitted us about being afraid of our officers. I told them our officers were kind and treated us well; that I had been in the army seven months and had never seen a man bucked and gagged; and, turning to a serious-looking Irishman, who was listening with interest, but had said nothing, I asked him if he had ever seen anything of that kind in their army. He answered, "Yes, my friend; I've been bucked and gagged meself many a time." That was a clincher for me that ended the discussion. The bad treatment of prisoners on both sides makes one of the darkest pictures of that war. We understand statistics show the mortality to be 13 per cent on the Federal side to 9 per cent on the Confederate. My own experience in a Federal prison at the close of the war, while very disagreeable, was much better than those poor fellows were getting with us. But when we take into consideration the superior resources of the United States, they were, to say the least, equally negligent and resentful to their helpless enemies. Point Lookout Federal prison will be treated on in another chapter.
NAVIGATING THE APPOMATTOX RIVER.
It has been mentioned in a former chapter that I was on a detail in winter, commencing the 15th day of January, 1865, to boat wood for the men in the trenches. The detail for Ransom's brigade, composed of six men from each of the five regiments, commanded by Lieut. A. C. Sharpe, of Forty-ninth Regiment. Those from my regiment, Fifty-sixth North Carolina, were Company B, .... McMillan; Company D, .... Parker; Company F, J. C. Elliott (this writer); Company G, Wm. A. Condrey; Company I, Thomas Robbins; Company K, Calvin Deweese. We went back to the canal, which ran seven miles up the river, then two miles in the river up into another two-mile canal, and then into the river again. One mile above the basin or boat landing at Petersburg there were several locks through which boats were raised and lowered, and just below the locks there was a small creek, which ran through a stone culvert under the canal. General Lee had built a high dirt dam across that creek and backed the water on the Yankees and drowned out a part of their lines and forced them back. Besides, this big pond protected our position in that quarter. While we were waiting a few days to get our boats ready, this big dam broke loose and the water came in a solid wall about forty feet high, and striking the canal culvert swept it away, and also cleaned out the south side railroad bridge just below. Then the canal had to cross this creek on a wooden trestle, and while it was being built we had to haul wood at night on railroad from towards Richmond. The enemy had a battery on the Chesterfield side that shelled any trains that moved on that road in daylight. When we first went back to work it was several days before we were furnished with cloth tents, and during that time we had to look out for such quarters as we could find. So our fifty-six contingent prospected an old wood wagon shop, near by our brigade wagon yard. We found this old shop occupied by an old, dilapidated darkey—Uncle Tom—who was supporting himself by cobbling cooperage. After a survey of these premises we informed Uncle Tom that we had decided there was plenty of room for him and us, and we proposed to move in with him at once. While Uncle Tom did not seem at all flattered with our company, he did not openly protest, probably thinking it useless to do so. He said he could make out with one side if we could with the other side, with a common fire between on the ground, while there was a raised floor on each side. We also learned Uncle Tom had another lodger in the person of a young Georgia cracker who professed to belong to a pontoon corps. Uncle Tom had the appearance of being well raised—one of the old-time colored gem-en, who had but little patience for po' white folks and especially soldiers of uncertain reputations. It was a cold, mid-January night when Uncle Tom got down his heavy comforts and made his bed. He had more cover than all of us, and a couple of us insisted that we sleep with him. But Uncle Tom drew the color line on us and objected most emphatically to any such close relations. He said he was used to sleeping by himself and could rest better, besides, he was afraid of dem ar buggers. He was very careful about letting his bedding come in contact with our blankets. We were kind to Uncle Tom, and he soon became reconciled and quite sociable. While here one day our Georgia cracker shouldered his gun and made a foray several miles up the south side of railroad in quest of pork or anything else to eat. He returned that evening with about a bushel of corn. He said he found some cars loaded with corn on a side-track and had broken in and helped himself. He said, "As I come along up yonder I met General Lee. I saluted him as politely as I could, but he looked at me powerful hard, and I thought he was going to ask me where I got that corn, but he didn't. He was going out to where his big dam had broken loose, and was near where the canal was washed out. I stopped and watched him pass there, and he never looked out that way at all. I don't believe General Lee cares a damn about his big dam breaking and washing out the canal and railroad." There were a few fat hens that ranged in our wagon yard. The next evening our cracker took a handful of his corn and passed innocent-like near a large, gentle hen, and dropping a few grains on into our shop quarters, the hen, following, was soon inside and the door was closed; and that hen failed to return home to roost. Uncle Tom was out at the time and never knew where that chicken came from. The next morning, when Uncle Tom was shown how thick the grease was on the pot, he said, "That sho' is a fat chicken." Then we told him if he had joined our mess and let us sleep with him he would have had a share in the chicken pot. He said he never did care a great deal about chicken any way. A few days later we got a good, new cloth tent and moved out and left Uncle Tom and his Georgia cracker alone. After the canal was mended, and we were running our boats, our cracker friend proposed to go up the river with us to forage for turnips; said if we would give him transportation he would divide the "catch" with us. After reaching the woodpile and while we were loading he reconnoitered the neighborhood and said he had located a healthy looking turnip patch; it was pretty close to the house, but thought he could raid it all right after dark. After supper the old man Baldwin, of the Twenty-fifth North Carolina, a rough-looking old mountaineer, who looked like he might have had experience in such raids in time of peace, said he would go with him, and they cheerfully set off. After they had been gone about an hour old man Baldwin came pulling in, puffing and blowing, and said "they put the dogs after us and shot at us. I didn't git but a handful and I dropped them as I got over the fence." Soon our cracker came in, looking like he was suffering a great bereavement, and when we laughed, he said, "I didn't think they would be so d——d particular about a few turnips this far out in the country." So we were all disappointed about our turnip soup. It would have been so nice with a few peppers. The navigation of the river was dangerous during high water. One night, while we were up in the second canal, the river rose several feet and was booming as we came out into it, and the strong current carried our boat against a drift on a small overflowed island, and came near sinking or capsizing it. Then the only way we could get off was down over a rough, shoaly slough, where she went like a bucking broncho. The next boat after us was manned by Alabamians, and they went over the lower rock dam that turned the water into the canal; being good swimmers, they got out, but lost their boat.
The 15th of March our Brigade was relieved from its position between the Appomattox River and the Norfolk railroad, where it had stayed continuously for nearly nine months, and moved about ten miles to the right on Hatch's Run. We came back to Petersburg and were in battle of Fort Steadman, in front of our old position, a sketch of which has been given.
INCIDENTS ON THE LINES.
The Yankees always showed a disposition to be friendly and wanted to talk to us, but our officers would not allow us to talk much, but had us to keep up a sharpshooters' fire on them all the while. However, we would occasionally exchange a few compliments. We used to inquire if they had any more Negroes they wanted buried; if they did, to blow out another hole and send them over and we would cover them up. One night, in front of the Twenty-fifth North Carolina Regiment, they changed their line, moving a section back a little. We inquired what they meant, and if they had an idea of leaving us. They replied, no, they expected to be neighbors for some time yet, but that the Twenty-fifth North Carolina was a little too close and was stealing their rations. The Twenty-fifth was a mountain regiment, every company west of the Blue Ridge, and was known in the brigade as the old roguish Twenty-fifth. It had a good fighting record.
One morning a large hawk came flying along between the lines. Both sides opened fire on it, and it became bewildered and lit on top of a tall poplar on City Point road, midway between the lines, and was soon shot out, both sides cheering and claiming it.
On March 25, after repelling a number of courageous assaults, our right falling back and being near a fort on our left, and assaulting columns pressing our front, we ceased firing to surrender. Our captors came up with flashing eyes and the loveliest smiles on their countenances and shook hands with us in the most enthusiastic manner. I could comprehend how good they felt when we ceased firing on them and they saw that they had gained a great victory. But as I passed through that fort, in and around where the dead of both sides lay thick, and saw a lot of freckle-faced Michigan boys vigorously firing on our men who were running back trying to get out, I felt like I wanted my gun again. Then, as we were carried to the rear, the bullets from our side came singing over us and knocking up dust in the road, our guard said, "Run, Johnnie, run! Run, Johnnie, run!" Our interest being the same, we were soon out of range.
REMINISCENCES OF POINT LOOKOUT PRISON.
When we got there, the 27th of March, 1865, Negro troops guarded the outside walls and white men patrolled inside after night, and I saw nothing to criticise in the prison management; but those who had spent the winter there told some horrible and ludicrous stories of outrageous treatment by the Negro guard which, for awhile, guarded both outside and inside. A Negro guard would hear some one say, "Lay over or let me have some more cover." If the Negro guard heard it he would say, "Who dat talking in dar. Send him out here quick or I'll make you all come out." Then, after double-quicking him around and making him mark time with his bare feet on the snow for a while, he would say, "Now pray for Abraham Lincoln. Now cuss Jeff. Davis. Now pray that some colored gemmen may marry your sister—den I let you go back." Some of these men said they could never die satisfied after they got out until they killed some Negroes on general principles.
A NEGRO SERGEANT WHO CLAIMED HE CARRIED WHITE LADIES' HAIR.
When I went out one day on a work detail I carried out to sell a watch chain made of the hair from a horse's tail or mane, and showed it to a Negro sergeant, who seemed to greatly admire its artistic beauty and inquired if the man who made it could make one of a lady's hair—that he wished to have one made from a lock of his sweetheart's hair that he possessed. I said I did not know; probably it would be too fine—when he answered, "It's no nigger wool; it's white lady har; my girl am a white lady." I answered, I don't know whether he can work it or not.
BEGGING CRUMBS FROM A NEGRO'S TABLE.
One morning as I went out with the stable detail, as we were passing a Negro house, a six-year-old boy came to the door with a plate full of crumbs and crusts to throw out, when we asked him to give it to us. He gleefully held it out, while we rushed for it like hungry hogs. I got a handful. Then I thought; then I hesitated—subjugated, humiliated and degraded to begging the crumbs from a Negro's table. Then all the proud English, Irish and German blood in my veins rose up in protest, and I dashed it to the ground, though I was hungry enough to have licked all the plates in a whole Negro quarter.
TWO PATRIOTIC SOLDIERS AND ONE WHO WAS OUT FOR THE BOUNTY.
One day while working at the quarters of a German artillery company, located on the isthmus next the Potomac side, an American Yankee soldier came around and raised a friendly conversation about the war issues and boasted about how he had fought for the Union and how much longer he would fight. A Louisianian made issue with him and showed all the enthusiastic patriotism for the South. When they had exhausted their patriotic vocabularies the Yankee passed on, our German guard, a young, good-natured fellow, remarked to me, "I bees no war man; I does not want to fight." Then I inquired how he came to be in the army, and he replied, "Oh, I bees a poor man; I has no money; they gives me three hundred dollars bounty, and I bees soldier." Then he remarked, "Our company all voted for McClellan; Lincoln loves the Nigger too much."
ON THE WHARF DETAIL AND WANTING TO STEAL SOMETHING FROM UNCLE SAM'S PLENTIFUL STORES.
Several of us were in the big commissary prying around to get into the bean and potato barrels, when a wagon drove up and a Negro commanded us, saying, "Four you men go upstairs and bring down some cracker boxes and load dis wagon." I got in the push and, as soon as we reached the cracker boxes we give a box a fling from the top of the pack and bursted it, when we all began eating like hogs. In a minute here came the Negro. "What you-ens doin' dar? Dems our rations youse eatin'." "A box fell and bursted, and we are gathering them up as fast as we can." "Well, dat's all right, but don't you-ens eat no mo'." "Can't we have these scraps." "Yes, you may; you may have dem scraps." We already had our pockets stuffed.
At another time, working around the commissary, I filled my pockets with beans and potatoes. These were the only full messes I got while in prison. The largest detail was known as the Fort detail, building and sodding a fort on the Potomac side. About three hundred men were worked on it. They got about three square inches or five cents worth of plug tobacco and a little drink of whiskey per day. The other details only give one pound of salt pork and a pint of vinegar for ten days' work. Working ten days for a pound of pork was rather low wages, but most of us were glad to get such an opportunity to get out. If we could pick up as much as the staves of a flour barrel we could sell it for ten or fifteen cents inside of prison, and a little money went a long way. Mackerel sold at five cents per pound, and a pound and a half loaf of bread for ten cents. The cheapest tobacco sold at one dollar per pound, and the men suffered as much for tobacco as for bread. The most of the users of tobacco would swap a piece of bread for a chew of tobacco. Tobacco retailed mostly by the chew. Tobacco was the most common medium of exchange. All of the smaller gambling concerns used pieces of tobacco cut up in chews, the larger cuts passing for five or ten chews. Rev. Morgan, the Confederate agent, conducted a school, which I attended some. Several preachers came in and preached to us, and the Catholic priests visited us occasionally, besides our local preachers held open air exercises frequently. The death of President Lincoln probably delayed our release. After the Confederacy went down we were aliens without government or protection in our native land. The proposition to take the oath of allegiance with full rights of citizenship under the old flag of our fathers seemed as good as we could expect, and we were soon anxious to do so and return home. About the 6th of June they began to discharge us. On the 11th of June the following was posted on the bulletin board: "All men whose homes are in Virginia and North Carolina who wish to return via Richmond, whose names begin with D and E, will be discharged upon taking the oath of allegiance to the United States on to-morrow—12th June." So, before sunrise, I was on the front line of the penitents and on my knees awaiting for the blessing of being transformed from a rebel of the deepest dye into the marvelous light and liberty of a free, full-fledged, loyal American citizen—with all the privileges of a free "Nigger." As one of the colored soldiers had told me a few days before. He said, "De'l turn you out some dese days—den you'll be just as free as we is—and we is just as free as the birds." The stars and stripes were stretched under the overhead ceiling of the school house; thirty-two of us stood under the flag that I had fired a thousand shots at, and, without mental reservation, took the oath and subscribed to the same in the records. I was marked, Occupation, Planter (that sounded bigger than farmer); age, 19; eyes, blue; hair, auburn; complexion, fair; height, 6 feet 3-3/4 inches. I weighed 170 pounds when I went there, and got away with 145 pounds. We missed that day's ration and they gave us six hardtacks and a half pound of cod fish, which I eat at once. We (three hundred of us) arrived at Richmond after dark on the 13th of June. It was raining and we all held together and were instructed to report to the Provost office at capitol. As we marched the streets the ladies would remark, "Oh! look, there is our men; I am so glad to see them. Poor fellows, they are just out of prison." The officer of the guard at the capitol informed us that no provision had been made for us, and advised us to go to the New Market for shelter and to report back at 9 a. m. Here we were furnished transportation—"free cars." This we took to the commissary and got rations. When we got to Richmond I had not eaten anything for more than thirty hours. A store keeper that night gave me two loaves of bread and some small fishes, dried herring, which was divided with my comrades, Virgil Elliott and Felix Dobbins. When Richmond was evacuated the people were destitute and most of them on the verge of starvation. So now the United States Government had nearly all of them to feed, white and black. When we went to get our rations two men drew together. I told my comrade to get our meat and I would get our bread. Avery, a consequential mulatto gentleman, waited on me, and when he weighed up my crackers, I said, "Meat for two men, please," and he throwed it up quick and pushed it to me. So I got a double ration of meat.