1865 Capt. H. B. S. Account of Libby Prison
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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The Wellsboro Agitator, Wednesday Morning, May 24, 1865, pp. 1 & 2

written for The Agitator

How I got into and out of a Rebel Prison

By Captain H.B.S., of Tioga County  [We have tried to identify this person by the initials and have ben unsuccessful so far. If you can do it, please let me {Joyce} know.] See comments below

I was captured at the battle of Gettysburg, on the 2nd of July, 1863. Being relieved of our arms, and as many valuables as our captors pleased to demand, we were sent to the rear, by order of Col. Hodge, of the 17th Ga.

We had not gone far, however, when we were met by a squad of ruffians who had fallen out of the advancing line of battle, and appeared to be plundering the dead and wounded without regard to friend or foe.

The Colonel to whom I had surrendered had [accidentally, I suppose], left me my belt, scabbard and revolver. One fellow, seeing it, cried out with an oath, - "come out of that belt!" whereupon I told him I had already surrendered and should not give up my belt until I saw an officer. This attracted the attention of others of the gang and one fellow brought his piece to a ready, with - "None of your d--d etiquette here, that’s played out. Cone out of that belt, or I’ll make a dead Yank of you d--d quick!"

I was never more fully impressed with the truth that "delays are dangerous," and accordingly came out of the belt. We were then taken to the rear, into a ravine, with orders to remain one hour, and then join the prisoners captured the day before. A few minutes were sufficient to prove we were not out of reach of Yankee guns, as our forces got a battery into position and shelled un furiously. I told the sergeant in charge that I was not partial to Yankee iron, and would prefer to get out of range. He affected great bravery, and said he knew his business and must obey orders. Presently a shell struck a small tree against which he was sitting, and produced, for us, a very favorable impression upon his nerves, many of us having already been wounded. He got his guard into line, ordered us into ranks, and moved us to the rear at a double-quick, where we found about a thousand prisoners, captured the day previous from the 1st and 11th corps.

Her we halted for the night. Some of us in attempting to escape, occasioned an alarm, when they got a battalion of infantry and two pieces of artillery into position, with orders to fire upon us in case of further demonstration. Thinking discretion the better part of valor, we lay down to rest. The morning of the 3rd of July dawned upon 1,900 anxious and hungry prisoners. At sunrise Gen. Lee came to the officer in charge and ordered him to remove us to the rear. They moved us about one mile south of the Emmetsburg road, and two from the battlefield. We were still in sight of our batteries, and on the left and center could see the troops maneuvering. The battle opened soon after sunrise, and raged with terrific fury until 11 o’clock, when it lulled for about an hour. We were anxiously waiting some news from the front, when Pickett’s division of Virginians, 11,000 strong, marched past us on the mission of death. It was a fine division of troops, well armed and equipped, general, field, and staff officers, splendidly mounted, and with that reckless tread and expression of countenance peculiar to Southerners. They went forward, taunting us with insulting epithets, such as -- "Halloo, Yanks! We’ve got you caged; you wear fine feathers, but are very tame birds. How’s Old Abe and Mr. Seward? Have they gone to Richmond, New York, or Boston? -- Think you’ll get a safe passage to Richmond? How many milish you got up here? We’ve whipped the Army of the Potomac with Georgians, Louisianans, Alabamians and Texans; now here’s a division of Virginians to do the business for you New York and Pennsylvania milish! Bring ‘em on if you want ‘em whipt! We rather fight you in Pennsylvania than in Virginia. We whipped you from Bull Run to Chancellorsville, and we can do it again here; and then up goes Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington; and then poor Old Abe and Mr. Seward will have to seek better quarters, perhaps in Canada. But never min; Lord Russell and Seward can make it all right. By the way -- who commands your army, Old Joe, of Little Mac? Or haven’t you got and commander?" etc. etc.

But poor fellows, they little knew the doom which awaited many of them. Little thought they that a single division of 5,000 of the same army of the Potomac which had caused many of them to bite the dust of Va., were anxiously waiting to meet them. The artillery opened more furiously than before and continued for about one hour, when it again ceased and a Rebel yell, which is familiar to every soldier announced to us that the charge was about to be made. They moved forward over the open plain which intervened between then and the heights on which our army was posted, with a determination and bravery worthy of a better cause. To within a short distance of our lines when they received a deadly volley from the allies of Abraham, who were strongly posted in earthworks which had been thrown up during the night. Nothing daunted they pressed forward with a reckless determination to carry the position; but the steady bearing of the veterans behind the works and the tremendous volleys which they dealt, soon taught them that it was a fruitless attempt, and they fled in confusion, crying, "Army of Potomac!" [So says an English officer who was present with Gen. Lee.] In vain did the officers attempt to rally them, and they were marched to the rear -- not by thousands, but by hundreds, and more than two-thirds of that splendid division which a few hours before had marched to the battle so certain of success, so buoyant in spirit, so free to tantalize a Yankee prisoner, now lay many dead and dying upon a bloody field. This decided the battle, and a retreat was at once commenced, not however until they had made an effort to parole the prisoners; but as our Government had issued orders forbidding any prisoner to give a parole under such circumstances, our only alternative was to march to Richmond. The remainder of Pickett’s division was detailed as a guard, and we were started immediately. All was confusion; and the different corps and divisions seemed to vie with each other to see which should get there first. The wagon train heavily laden with plunder taken from the merchants and wealthy farmers of Pennsylvania moved first; then came the prisoners, 3,500 in number, including 200 officers of all grades, from a Lieutenant up to a Brigadier General. In their anxiety to get us to the rear, they had forgotten [I suppose] that rations after a fast of two days, are as necessary to a prisoner as to a soldier under arms and accordingly marched us on without any.

Fourth of July there seemed to be some trouble with the train in front and we halted about noon. At the earnest solicitation of Gen. Graham, who was prisoner with us they issued a little flour, fresh beef and mutton. The first question was, what shall we carry it in? but a still more important one was how shall it be cooked, and what shall we cook it in? One suggested one thing and another something else, while some had heard their grandmother tell of baking bread on boards and sundry ways. I had my flour tied up in my handkerchief deliberating upon the best plan, when one fellow cried out [holding up a round stick] "Boys, I’ve made a discovery." "What! What! What!" "Why don’t you see? I can bake as good bread as any woman living except mother." -- Explain we are all ready to learn. "Just pour flour on this rubber blanket, put in the water, mix the dough, then wind it round this stick, hold it to the fire and bake it as you would roast an ear of corn. This is a sample of it," and he handed us a piece of the bread thus prepared. Down went the rubber blankets -- on went the flour and water and a more novel sight I never witnesses, and am not particularly anxious to witness a similar one. This question settles, we did very well while the rations lasted but when they failed it was not so easy a matter to procure rations as in the case of the cooking utensils, and we marched on without them. Many became exhausted and fell by the wayside before we arrived at the Potomac. But the rebel bayonet was invariably brought to their relief and they were compelled to march on or die. We arrived at the Potomac on the 9th of July, but the river being greatly swollen by the heavy rains they were unable to cross until the 11th.

They had a pontoon bridge in process of erection at Falling Waters, where they hoped to cross; but as our cavalry had succeeded in destroying it, they were compelled to cross at Williamsport [Maryland], four miles above. This was done by means of a ferry boat, but they had only succeeded in getting the officers over when the line broke, and the boat went down the river, and they waited until the water had fallen, so that it was fordable before the enlisted men could cross. I have neglected to mention that our cavalry made several attempts to release us before crossing, and in one instance has a severe fight with the ____ escort in front of us. In this skirmish they killed several of our men, and I remember of passing one house where two ladies lived alone, and several dead bodies were lying near the house; one was entirely divested of clothing and thrown into the porch, while another in the same condition was thrown into the street, and we compelled to march over it. As we passed the house one of the ladies came out and asked the officer in charge to allow one of us to go and remove the body from porch and bury it; but he cursed her and told her to mind her own business or she would need somebody to bury her. This is but one of the many instances of the treatment of our chivalrous enemies to the weaker sex. I might tell and truthfully too, did not common decency forbid it -- of the many outrages committed upon them by these ruffians, and simply because their brothers, fathers, sons, and husbands were in the Federal army, fighting for the old Flag.

Nothing of importance occurred after we crossed the river, save that hunger and fatigue did its work with us. I had suffered considerably on the march from a lameness in the foot, occasioned by a hurt at Chancellorsville, and with many others when we arrived at Strasburg were exhausted and unable to march farther. They came to our relief with bayonets; but I told them the remedy was of no avail in my case, as I could and should march no farther. The guard told me I must march or they had orders to bayonet me, and would do it. Just at this moment a surgeon came up, who was a little more humane, and asked me what was the matter. I told him that I was lame and unable to march and would consider it a great favor it he could get me into an ambulance. He told me he had no transportation, but if I could do any better, he would give me a parole of six days to report to Stanton, a distance of 72 miles. I finally consented to do so; he gave me the parole and left me. After this I knew very little of the rest of the prisoners, save two others who were with me till we arrived at Stanton. Here we were closely packed into cars and sent on to Richmond. I think some of the rebel boys on the train could out Yankee any Yankee I ever saw by way of trade. It was astonishing to see what a mania they had for buttons, knives, pencils, pens, greenbacks, or anything belonging to a Yankee. -- They had pies, gingerbread, cigars, tobacco, and confederate money, to exchange for such articles.

We arrived at Richmond on the 18th, and although we had been struggling so long to reach the Rebel Capital, it was by no means a welcome sight to us under the circumstances by which we were surrounded. We were marched to the Libby Prison, which was formerly a tobacco warehouse, 150 feet long by 100 feet wide, and four stories high. Here we were subjected to a rigid search by a fellow named Turner, who as we afterwards learned was the inspector of the prison. Some of the officers had succeeded thus far in retaining their canteen, rubber blankets and overcoats; these were unceremoniously taken from us and many of the officers remained without blankets until late in winter, when some were received from our government and Sanitary Commission. His mania for greenbacks was only equaled by the boys before mentioned. He first demanded our pocket books, and when we refused to surrender them to him he subjected us to a search more rigid than before; commencing with out boots and terminating at the crown of the hat. I retained what money I had by placing two dollars in my pocket book and handing it to him when demanded. -- He told me if that was all the money I had he would not take it as I might need it. I thanked him for his kindness and returned it to my pocket. This was an exception to the rule, as in most instances he kept the last dollar, and when one officer asked him for a dollar with which to buy tobacco, he slapped him in the face and said he would return the money when "Abe Lincoln returned his niggers which he had stolen." As I have never hears that Mr. Lincoln has returned the "niggers," I suppose he is as good as his word and still retains the money.

The search completed, we were shown to a room in the third story, 50 feet wide by 100 feet long, and told that is would be our place ob abode until our Father Abraham should call for us. Subsequent events however, proved that they were mistaken. A few days after they removed a lot of State prisoners -- as they called them -- from an adjoining room, and we were allowed the privilege of it, which made us more comfortable, so far as room was concerned. Those State prisoners were citizens who had refused to fight for the rebels, and many of them had been suffering in this condition since the commencement of the was, and told us their only hope of release was in the success of our arms. One old man, sixty years old told me he had been there seventeen months, and added, "God only know what it is ____, unless it is because I have a son in the Federal Army. Knowing what I did of the men by whom I am surrounded, I have been very careful as to what I have said, but I long since learned to pray, and my prayer has been for the government for which my father fought and under which I have enjoyed so many blessings. I may fall victim to their cruelty, but I have a noble boy who has a loyal heart and wields a loyal blade. God bless him!" and he turned and wept. Words are inadequate to the task, and I will not attempt to describe the condition of many of these poor men. The rations of the Libby were of a very inferior quality, and I have the testimony of many surgeons who were with us, that they were insufficient in quantity to sustain life for any great length of time. They consisted of a small amount of bread, bacon or beef, a little rice or beans, made into what they called soup and served up to us in the same pails which were used for scrubbing and white washing. I have frequently seen it literally covered with rice worms and black bugs. As the number of prisoners increased, they found it difficult to do the cooking themselves and furnished us a stove for each hundred men, after which we did our own cooking and as far as possible, dispensed with the bugs and worms. It was however, impossible to dispense with them entirely, as the beans were literally willed with them, so we discarded the name of beans and designated them by the very appropriate name of "little buggies." The beef or bacon was at last entirely dispensed with, and "tax in kind" -- as they call it, substituted in its place.

It will be remembered that the tax levied upon the people by the rebel government is but a small percentage of it payable in money, and the remainder in produce in the case of a merchant. This is called tax in kind. The planters generally pay theirs in corn, turnips, cabbage or potatoes. For a long time our rations consisted of a small piece of corn bread, one small turnip, a small bit of cabbage or a potato -- this state of things continued until about the first of November, when an arrangement was entered into between our government and the rebels to allow the prisoners on either side to receive such articles of food and clothing as was necessary to their comfort, subject only to such inspection by the proper officers, as to prevent any contraband matter being transferred to either party. For some time this arrangement was strictly adhered to, and the goods promptly delivered, which afforded us a great relief; but when the good people of the North began to open their hearts and purses to the wants of the prisoners, and a large amount of goods was sent by government, Sanitary Commission and relief associations of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, it was too great a temptation and true to the principles inaugurated by Floyd and others during the administration of the "Patriarch Jeems," they commenced to plunder and steal the goods. It was no uncommon thing to see the rebel officials and guard at the prison wearing the clothing which should have been issued to Federal prisoners who were starving and freezing on Belle Island, and to see the rebel newspapers boasting of sending the coffee and other rations [which they had solemnly promised to deliver to these men] to Lee’s army, and making derision of the men for eating a dog. This seems like a hard story, but I have seen a man who helped to kill, dress and eat the dog, and he showed me some rings and other things which he had made of the bones.

I have seen men brought into the Libby hospital with their limbs frozen, who had been subjected to two amputations of the same limb, one below, and the other above the knee, it having frozen after the first one was performed. -- Dr. Labal, the surgeon in charge, told me he had seen fifty cases of this kind or similar ones. We realized a great benefit from the efforts of the Rev. Dr. McCabe, Chaplain of an Ohio regiment, as also the Chaplain of the 5th N.Y., Dr. Boudrie, in procuring reading matter and trying to promote the better interests of all. This they did by sending out by a sergeant of the prison, and buying books which had been in the book stores before the war, and paying for them in Confederate money which some of the officers had. A large number went into the classics.

It was no uncommon thing to hear a medley of "Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians," or Phonography, Greek, German, French and Spanish reciting at the same time. The climax of all our pastime in the Libby was the reading of a paper written by one of the chaplains before mentioned, called the Libby Chronicle. This paper was read twice a week. At the hour of reading, a crier was sent through the different rooms to announce "the reading of the Libby Chronicle in upper east room."

All other things were for the time suspended, and all rushed eagerly up to hear the latest exchange news, spicy editorials, the latest dispatches from Braxton Bragg, and the more recent proclamations for fast days by Jefferson Davis.

Nothing of importance occurred to relieve the monotony of prison life until the 7th of February, 1864, when it appeared from the roll call that one hundred and ten had taken leave of their prison abode. How they had succeeded in getting out was a great mystery, but that they had started for Abraham’s bosom there was no doubt. We had hung a rope out of the window to make it appear that the guard had been bribed, and they had gone down the rope, and some of the officers even intimated that Major Turner, the commandant of the prison, had pocketed a large amount of greenbacks for letting them out. In the meantime the guard, officers and all, were arrested and placed in Castle Tender, and General Winder, the commissary of prisoners, told Turner that he could have six hours to give a satisfactory explanation of the affair or he would arrest him. This was rather an unpleasant prospect for the young man, and he instituted a thorough search from basement to attic.

[Continued - May 31, 1865, pp. 1&2]

Unsuccessful in the first, he repeated it, accompanied by the adjutant of the prison and a small Negro. They went into the basement, and the appearance of the Negro at the window ____ an adjoining horse shed, announced to us that the tunnel had been discovered, and we had nothing more to hope for in the way of escapes, at least for a time. The guard was at once released, and strenuous efforts made to recapture the fugitives. Fifty-five of the hundred and ten were recaptured, and subjected to the most brutal treatment which rebel malice could invent. May of them were kept in cold, camp cells in the basement of the prison from ten to thirty days, fed on corn bread and water, and when they came out their shoes and clothing were covered with green mould. In one instance an officer was kept twenty-four hours in a cell where the water was a foot in depth.

We reached the basement from which the tunnel started by taking up the brick from a fireplace and going down the chimney. It was sixty feet long, running from the basement of the prison across one street, where the horse shed referred to made a good concealment for the terminus. Thence they passed through a gate into the street. One difficulty to be got over was a lamp in front of this gate. The third man out, a Lieut. Johnston, of Kentucky, climbed the post and extinguished it, greatly to the relief of his fellow fugitives. Every effort was then made by the rebels to prevent like escapades in the future. An order was issued by the commandant of the prison, forbidding us to look out of the windows, and instructing the guard to fire upon any prisoner violating the order. After this order was issued, I saw the sentinel stand with his piece ready for some minutes, waiting his chance to shoot a Yankee. They finally killed Lieut. Forsythe, of Ohio, and wounded several others.

Things soon assumed their former quiet, and they were beginning to send some of the enlisted men to Georgia and other places South, when Kilpatrick made his raid to Richmond. He came within a few miles of the city, surprised and captured a portion of the garrison of one fort. This occasioned great alarm; -- and fearing he might succeed in getting into the city and releasing the prisoners, they put a large quantity of powder under the prison, and told us that in case our forces came in and attempted to release us, they would blow us to h--l. Some have tried to dispute this; but I have seen a written statement of a rebel officer to the truthfulness of it, likewise a not, written to an officer by a citizen of Richmond, warning him to beware of the danger in case our forces occupied the city.

Nothing more of interest occurred, save a few special exchanges, until the 7th of May. At noon Inspector Turner appeared, and read an order to us to be ready to march to Petersburg in an hour, for exchange. We had hoped that the Government would release us before the campaign opened; and some were jubilant over the prospect of so speedy a release. A few hours were sufficient to undeceive us. We were marched to the Danville depot, packed into freight cars [as filthy as cattle could make them] at the rate of 50 or 60 to the car. They placed a guard at each door, with orders to allow no man to get out under any circumstances. The weather was very warm, and as many of us were suffering with diarrhea, you can form some idea of our condition. We remained thus for twenty-four hours, when we arrived at Danville, Va., and halted four days.

Here we were placed in old buildings which had formerly been used as government store houses. On the 12th of May we were again packed into the cars as before, and ordered to Macon, Georgia. At the solicitation of many of us, they consented to allow two out of the car at a time when they halted. We were five days on the trip, and greater suffering than many of us endured can hardly be imagined.

We arrived at Macon on the 17th. It is a town of considerable importance in the interior, the rebels having a large rolling mill and other public property there. Here, instead of being placed in prison buildings, as we had expected, we were turned into a lot containing about three acres, surrounded by a stockade fence twelve feet high. On the outside of this fence, and near the top, was a sort of platform upon which the sentinel walked, and several pieces of artillery were planted. In the interior of this enclosure there was nothing, save a few small trees and an old building which was reserved for hospital purposes. For a time even this was a sort of relief, as we could again breathe the pure air -- a blessing of which was had been deprived for many months previous. But the scorching rays of the southern sun soon began to do its work upon us. Many officers fell victims to disease; and but for the fact that they came to our relief with a little lumber, of which we constructed sheds, many more of us must have fallen. The rations were little or no better than they were at Libby; all things considered we were not so comfortable.

Quite a number of the officers who escaped from the train on the way from Richmond were now being brought in. Many of them had been hunted down by Negro hounds, and in a number of cases they were badly bitten. In one instance the man died before he got to camp. Some may tell us that they would not have treated them so had they not escaped; but be it remembered that it is a right conceded to prisoners of war in civilized countries to escape if they can, and is not an offence.

On the 14th of July I had succeeded in getting a rebel uniform and awaited a favorable opportunity to escape. I went up to the gate and rapped. The sergeant came and opened it, saluted me and I passed out. I went up to town, staid some time, got what information I could, and a map of the country, assumed the duties of a conscripting officer, and started for Atlanta. I had an order purporting to be from Gen. Johnston, ordering me to certain districts in Georgia on conscript duty.

This was the first time I had breathed free for a year; and you can judge something of my feelings. I found the people generally willing to assist in arresting the conscripts, and one man carried me twelve miles, and regretted that he could not do more.

I offered him Confederate money for his trouble, but he refused to take it, saying he wished to do something for his country. He then gave me some papers and a letter to carry to his brother in Atlanta, and I left him. All things went on well, and I had already taken about a hundred names of conscripts and deserters, when I began to be very sick. I halted to rest in a piece of woods on a plantation -- remained there some hours and was finally discovered by a Negro. He manifested some surprise at seeing a confederate officer in that condition, and wanted to help me to the house. I told him I had only stopped to rest and could go to the house alone, Here I made a mistake by not telling him who I was; but like some of the gentlemen who have such a great attachment for Queen Victoria and dominions, I thought the "Nigger" was not to be trusted. I went to the house and asked a boy for a drink of water; he brought the water -- remarked that I did not look well, asked me to walk in and take a seat. Unable to march farther I complied with his request. Presently his father, a man about forty years of age -- came in. Unfortunately for me, he was quite an intelligent man, and had been a Colonel in the rebel service. I told him I was there by request of his son; he said it was all right as he was happy to extend any hospitality to a soldier, and asked me to stay all night. Before retiring, I inferred from some remarks made by the old lady, that he suspected something wrong. I knew my only hope was in refusing to show him my papers should he demand them -- as he would see that they were not what they purported to be. Morning came, and as I had expected, he demanded the papers. I told him that as I was an officer, has had no right to demand papers of me as of citizens and soldiers, and I should not show him my papers, that I did not know but that he, himself, was a deserter.

He replied that if I refused to recognize his authority to arrest me he would not do so, but as he was willing to render me all the assistance he could, he would carry me twelve miles to a town, where a battalion of cavalry was stationed, I could hand in my list of deserters and they would assist me in arresting them. I knew to refuse to ride with him would be but to admit that there was something wrong, so I told him to bring round his carriage. As we were about to start, his wife came out and said: "Now Mr. Brown, you don’t know who you’ve got there, if there is any killin’ done, I want you to kill him, -- I don’t want him to kill you." He told her he had known women to do well attending to their own business, and drove off.

I knew that as soon as he turned me over to the battalion of cavalry mentioned, an investigation would be ordered, and the discovery of maps and spurious papers on my person might lead to serious difficulty. Watching an opportunity I threw my maps and papers away, told him I was a Federal officer -- an escaped prisoner of war, that I did not consider it a crime to escape, and hoped he would not attempt to maltreat me. He said he suspected that such was the case, and that I was from New York, from my accent, that he had formerly been in New York City in the law business -- did not blame me for trying to escape -- would do the same himself under similar circumstances. -- He also told me he did not think it safe to turn me over to the Captain commending the cavalry, as he was a very severe fellow, and did not know what he might do. He accordingly turned me over to a Lieutenant who was home on a leave of absence. He treated me very well -- carried me back to Macon, and located me in the stockade. I was soon taken with a violent fever and at length placed in the hospital. We had very little surgical attendance, and improper diet, consisting of bacon and cornmeal. -- For a long time I little expected to see New York again. Many died around me from sheer neglect, while one -- a Captain from Wisconsin, was literally murdered by a surgeon in attempting to amputate his limb.

Another, a Lieutenant of the 45th New York was shot dead in the stockade while dipping some water from the spring to drink. In connection with this, I think of another instance of cruelty perpetrated upon Capt. Irsh of the same regiment, by a Capt. J. Kemp Tabb, the commandant of the prison. He had manifested a willingness to take watches or any valuables which we had to sell, and give us the money for them. Capt. Irsh gave him his watch and told him to sell it for $200, or return it. After several days the Captain asked him for the money; he handed him fifty dollars, told him that was all he could get for it. He [Irsh] refused to take it, and was taken out bucked and gagged for two hours. This is but a single instance of the cruelty of this Tabb. I might tell how freely he used his revolvers -- how he struck an officer with a musket for refusing to do some menial service, and how he forbade a chaplain to pray for the restoration of peace, the success of our arms or the President of the United States. But his deeds are recorded in the Great Book, which we are told shall be opened.

Late in August, we went to Charleston, S.C., and were placed in the jail yard, workhouse, and other places, within range of Gen. Foster’s guns. The sound of Federal artillery was not unwelcome to many of us who had so long been inmates of rebel prisons, but it was not a very pleasing sensation to hear a 300 pound shell crashing through the building, while pieces of slate, brick, boards, and other things were flying in all directions. In one instance a piece of shell weighing from ten to twenty pounds struck the building in the third story, passed through three rooms where thirty or forth officers were quartered and lodged in the basement. We were kept there until about the middle of October, and during all this time, although a continual shelling of the city was kept day and night, strange as it may seem, but one officer was hurt, and his was but a slight wound in the arm by a piece of shell.

The yellow fever now began to rage fearfully, and they removed us to Columbia, the Capital of the State. No preparation had been made for us there, and we were taken about two miles out of the city, turned into a lot and a guard thrown around. Here we remained for seventy days without any sort of shelter. The rations, in the meantime, being reduced in quantity, and of the most inferior quality. -- They consisted of a pint of corn meal, frequently ground cob and all, and never boiled, a little rice, about salt enough to salt two days rations out of five, and about one gill of sorghum syrup, such as the poorest molasses I ever saw North does not approximate to. Many of us were running the guard and escaping, I, together with three others, got out, and after marching seventy-five miles was again taken up, brought back to Columbia, and placed in jail. But as there were others whom they wished to punish, they soon released us and sent us back to camp. Finally, in order to stop our escaping, they offered any soldier who would kill one of us a furlough of sixty days. The consequence was that quite a number of the guard got furloughs at the expense of a Yankee’s life. Lieut. Young, ______ 4th Pa. Cavalry was shot dead one evening while sitting by the camp fire in the center of the Camp.

[Most of this paragraph is very blurry]

The 12th of December we were removed to _______ and occupied a portion of the grounds of the Insane Asylum which was surrounded on three sides by a brick wall twelve feet high, and on the fourth side by a stockade fence, separating us from the main building. This, by the way, would have been quite an appropriate place for some of us, had we been ______ treated, as quite a number had become _______. Here we remained bill about the 1st of Feb. 1865, when, ____ the yellow fever -- but Gen. Sherman began to rage in the vicinity.

We were ordered out, packed into the cars and started for we knew not where until be brought up at Charlotte, a town in Southern North Carolina. The most intense excitement prevailed at Columbia and places where we halted on the way. Public documents were being packed and shipped for safety to parts unknown. Supplies and munitions of war were no sooner loaded by the authorities than they were unloaded by the citizens who took possession of the cars and told the military that they [the citizens] built the railroad and now they would use it to get out of the way of the arch Yankee Sherman. It was amusing to see editors and other gentlemen of the press who had hitherto been looking for the "last ditch," who could fight a tremendous battle with the quill, packing up their little machinery and streaking for the cars with gigantic strides. It was still more so to see what a display of white feathers was made by the troops. Men who could shoot a Yankee prisoner as deliberately as though he was a dog were trembling in their boots and importuning us for papers recommending them to the clemency of Gen. Sherman should they fall into his hands. We told them while we had no objection to leaving a paper requesting the General to hang every mother’s son of them we could not conscientiously ask pardon for them. Two companies stacked their arms, said they would not fight nor march a mile, but when they were told we were going for exchange they consented to go, hoping to get to our lines.

A Charlotte, we were again turned into an open field and told that we were to be paroled immediately and sent home. This we supposed was but a rebel trick to keep us from running the guard as they were becoming so badly demoralized that it was not difficult to do so. -- Many of us availed ourselves of the opportunity and left them. I went with a party of five but was taken up the third day, brought back to camp, and greatly to our surprise they had commenced to parole. Two hundred of those who remained in camp had already started for the land of plenty. Next day, Feb. 20th, they paroled us, and we followed them; 22nd arrived at Raleigh the Capital of North Carolina. -- There seemed to be some misunderstanding with regard to the point of exchange and we were halted there until it should be settled.

As we came out of the cars they marched a company of cadets [as they called them] or boys from ten to fifteen years old and had evidently seen mother very recently, and in front of us and ordered us to face toward the cars. The reason they gave for it was that they did not wish us to look at some ladies who were present at the depot. I honored their judgment, as most of them [the ladies] had a quid of tobacco, cigar, or ____ of snuff in their mouth. We remained there one week without shelter or rations, save a little corn meal. In the ____ many of our enlisted men were being brought from Salisbury and other places for exchange. To describe the condition of those poor men is a task of which I am wholly incompetent. To exaggerate it is impossible. -- Most of them were naked, except for old pieces of blanket around them. Underclothing, or in fact anything which you would recognize as an article of wearing apparel was in many cases among the things they wore. Many of them literal skeletons, unable to stand or walk, a large number of them had become idiotic -- did know their own names, the command to which they belonged. I saw some of the men of my own regiment with whom I was well acquainted who did not know me. I gave them a piece of bread, and they laughed over it like children. In this condition they were thrown into the cars and left without rations, water, or any assistance, and when I saw them they had been in that condition for sixty hours. They were ______ at Raleigh -- some of them left in the streets, while others were left in old leaky cars unable to get out; they were wallowing in their own filth like swine, while the stench was insupportable. But I will not attempt to speak farther of their fearful condition as only the pen of him [the Recording Angel] who has been writing the past history of Rebellion since the first rebellious spirit was expelled from heaven is equal to the task. I turn from the dark picture and thank God for the success of Federal arms which has resulted in their release -- the overthrow of rebellion, and pray that speedy justice may be meted out without a mixture of mercy to the perpetrators of those crimes.

Joyce Tip Box -- December 2007 -
If you are not navigating this Tri-Counties Site via the left and right sidebars of the Current What's New page you are doing yourself a disservice. You can get to any place on the site easily by making yourself familiar with these subject and place topics. Try them all to be as familiar with the site's 16,000 plus pages as you can. Stop groping in the dark and take the lighted path. That's also the only way you'll find the search engines for the site or have access to the necessary messages I may leave for you. Make it easy on yourself. 
Hi, Joyce and Pat ...

It's possible that H.B.S. is Horace B. Seeley.

Searching Google, I found a site which prints the complete text of a book called "The Capture, The Prison Pen, The Escape, Giving An Account of Prison Life in the South." This book was written by Willard W. Glazier. It describes experiences very similar to those described by H.B.S. in the Agitator. Glazier and H.B.S. both spent time in Libby Prison and at Camp Oglethorpe in Georgia.

To see the site on-line go to <http://www.archive.org/stream/captureprisonpen00willrich/captureprisonpen00willrich_djvu.txt>

In an appendix, Glazier lists the names of men who were imprisoned with him. If you want to see the lists, scroll down (a long way) to where the lists begin. Horace B. Seeley is listed as a Lieutenant, although in official U.S. records he musters out as a Captain. You can also find him as a Captain here <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nysteube/tr/trciv.html>

Seeley lived in Steuben County, New York, but I believe he had kin and ancestors in Tioga County.
Any thoughts?
Tom Sparrow
I think Horace Bradley Seeley was born in Brookfield Township, Tioga County, about 1840. I believe he is the son of Arthur and Melissa Seedley. They show up in the 1850 Census as follows:

SEELY ARTHUR W. 33 m Conn Farmer 130
Melissa M. 32 f Pa
Horace B. 10 m Pa
Sally M. 9 f Pa
John G. 6 m Pa
Orlina L. 4 f Pa

I believe Arthur was the son of Luman Seeley who was also living in Brookfield in 1850.

Horace (listed as Harriss Seely) shows up in 1870 in Clariton County, Missouri. His brother, John G., is on he next farm.

Also, check out <http://www.seeley-society.net/vets/vet-horacebseeley.html>

Thanks for the information on Horace B. Seeley. Here is some additional information I received. [found on a mailing list]

RE: Capt. Horace Bradley Seeley, 86th NY Inf. Co. K. Civil War Vet.

He is buried in Edgewood Cemetery (Block 7, Lot 68) located in Chillicothe, Missouri. Head stone is a small white U S government stone in medium to poor condition. Your information matches the information on the stone. In fact, your information made reading the stone a lot easier as the lettering is
almost gone. There was no further information on the stone and I did not find an obituary in the local paper. During that time period, local obituaries
were not usually printed.

This helps in the research I and others have done on Horace B. Seeley. Apparently after his release from Prison, he was promoted to the rank of
Captain, according to pension records obtained. Again Ted, thank you for the information!

Laura Tyler

Hi Laura,
I do have some info for you, hope it helps, sorry it has taken so long. Horace was a prisoner at Libby, he was captured at Gettysburg July 2nd 1863 in the battle of the Wheatfield, and his rank at the time of capture was 2nd Lt. I am working some more info and will get back later
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 07 December 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice
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