|We now have a local history museum in Mansfield
representing the area in and near Mansfield including Richmond, Sullivan,
Rutland, Covington, Tioga and more
Visit the History Center on Main Street at 83 North Main Street where our library resources are housed. We also have a museum location at 61 North Main Street.
Regular hours are noon to 3 T, W Th or by appointment. Extended Summer Hours
Also visit us on Facebook -- Museum established 2012 - Memberships available, Donations welcome
If you have ancestors in our area, the History Center would like to meet you and show you what we know about your family and learn what you know that we don't. Mansfield area people are the core of what we value. Our genealogy database of nearly 100,000 individuals with local connections may include your ancestors. We also have filing cabinets full of resources and a thorough knowledge of our past residents, schools, and businesses. It's worth a visit.
I am interested in hearing from descendants of Abijah and Anna so that I can exchange genealogical information with them. I can provide their ancestry, and I hope they'll be able to update me on this line to the present.
Joyce M. Tice, January 2010
An Andersonville Prisoner’s Experience.
From the Elmira Advertiser.
Tioga, Tioga Co., Pa., Jan. 27, 1876
Dear Sir: -- As I was a Union soldier three years, and was ten months of that time a prisoner, and the greater portion of the ten months was spent in Andersonville Prison, and as Mr. Hill, from Georgia, has opened the ball, I propose to compare notes with him, as I know from actual experience that he has stated things absolutely false in regard to the healthy location of Andersonville stockade, and of the treatment to the prisoners, and of vegetables being plenty, and in regard to the pack of blood hounds kept at Andersonville, which I will show to the satisfaction of any reasonable mind, before I close this actual experience of my own which can be proved by any old Andersonville prisoner who has a good memory, or ordinary, as I have to quote from. I will enter into detail from the very first, in order to show the kindness of the confederate authorities and soldiers to us Union prisoners from the capture to the exchange. I was taken prisoner with 891 others, the first day’s fight in the wilderness. Before I was even under guard a rebel officer rode up in haste and snatched from my head a black felt hat, cramming on my head in return and old gray cap, saying as he did so, that that was good enough for a d—d Yankee. That was very kind. As I was placed under guard, another ran his hand in my pocket for money; another kind act. The confederate then marched us eighteen miles or Orange Court House. Va., in about five hours, and in the Court House yard took all our tent pieces and blankets, then marched us to Gordonsville, Va., and packed us into box cars from 95 to 100 in each car, and shipped us to Lynchburg, Va., and went through us for money, revolvers, and knives, all very kind again. They then shipped us from Lynchburg to Danville, Va., and packed us into the old tobacco factories and here the rebel guards were so very and everlastingly kind that they would shoot a Union prisoner on the second and third floors for simply getting up to a window to look out; that is if a guard on the ground below could see a man’s face to the window he would send a ball crashing through it, and did wound two severely, and there was not the least chance to even make an attempt to escape. All very fine, Mr. Hill. They again moved us on the 17th of May, 1864, to Andersonville, where we arrived the 23d. Here again they were so very kind as to go through us again, fearing, I suppose, that we were carrying something that was a burden to us, when we scarcely had clothes left to cover our backs, for they had relieved us of hats, coats, boots, money, revolvers, knives, tent pieces, and blankets. Anything they chose to take they went for as a hungry dog would for a good dinner. Now I doubt if Mr. Hill could cite to such an instance of extra kindness on the part of our Union soldiers to confederate prisoners.
Well, imagine our surprise when we arrived at Andersonville to be informed that we were going to be turned into what we called a bull pen, without a blanket, piece of tents, no barracks, no nothing to cover us from storm or sun. And the white prisoners we found there so smoked with the green pitch-pine smoke as to look more like mulatoes than white men. Our prison pen was made of hewn pine timbers, twenty feet long, set in the ground five feet, making a solid timber wall fifteen feet high, with a dead line on the inside twenty-five feet from the stockade, made by posts set in the ground three and a half feet high, with scantling spiked on the top running from one to the other. On the other hand their prisoners in the north had good barracks or tents, plenty of good food and good comfortable clothes and were issued anything that us Union soldiers ever had in permanent camp, which was more and better fare than any nation ever supplied their soldiers with on the face of the earth, taking statistics to prove it. And again, our northern people, especially the people of Elmira, not content with that, sent boxes of edible luxuries, tobacco, cigars, and a Christmas dinner, and allowed a full distribution of all the supplies sent from the south by the confederate’s friends. I suppose Mr. Hill would call this starvation, frozen fingers, toes, frog-pond drink, &c. I think I can inform Mr. Hill what frog-pond drink means, as I will now tell you just what kind of water we Andersonville prisoners had from the time the prison was first made until the breaking out of the large spring the 5th of August. The confederates erected a bake house to bake the corn bread, for that was all the bread they ever baked for us, and a cook house to cook the wagon load of mush, and fat, rotten, maggoty bacon, just above and on the west side of the stockade, from four to five rods from it, so as to pour all the grease, slime and slops from this building into the stream and help make the water healthy. And many and many a day there would rarely be any clear surface on the stream but one continual draining of the filth, and still to make the water more pure and salubrious, they made rears for the regiment of infantry on guard over the stockade, right over this little creek, causing all their filth to flow through to us prisoners, and not over ten to twelve rods from the stockade. When I read such speeches as Mr. Hill has made in the south within one year past and then capping them with the one made at Washington in Congress recently, it makes feel like wanting the chance to pour such water as we had, in Andersonville, down his confederate throat, until it washed his bitter heart clean of the secesh utterances and principles that he is giving to vent to. There were eighteen acres in the original stockade, and when they packed in 35,000 prisoners it was so crowded that they enlarged it on the north end five and a half acres, making it twenty-three and a half acres. In the center of the first eighteen acres there was a good, healthy black much swamp, that would mire a man to his arms, and this little creek flowed through the center of it. This, I suppose, according to Mr. Hill was what helped to make it a healthy location. This worse than foul water from this little creek was what produced nineteen-twentieths of the diseases, scurvy and chronic diarrhea being the worst and most prevalent, and I will show before closing this that the water had most to do with creating diseases there, and out of the 35,000 prisoners who were in Andersonville at that time, nearly one-third had no shelter or even a shade. A great many who had shelter or shade, one-half were of coarse government blankets, a small portion of tent pieces. A good many tore up their underclothes, shirts, drawers, &c., and sewed them together and managed to make a little shelter of them put up over a hole in the ground two feet deep. Others burrowed in the ground, making a regular cellar, and covering the top with sticks and pine boughs and then dirt. Your humble writer shared with five other comrades the whole shade of one single coarse blanket, and when it rained right hard, we all sat upon one piece of slab, which we kept for the purpose, and let the water run under us. But I suppose the good barracks and tents at Elmira were not a hundredth part as comfortable as all these convenience in Andersonville – according to Mr. Hill’s estimate.
I will now give a description of the rations, what they were, and how prepared; and will say, before commencing, that if we had been swine we might have done right smart well at times, I reckon. As we were not, it was pretty tough learning how to eat fat, rotten, maggoty bacon, corn meal, ground cob and all, so that in sifting it, it would sift out nearly one-half, and about once a week they undertook to issue fresh beef, and in almost every instance it would be fly-blown before we could get it, so you can judge of the scent it produced. The cook house parties tried to cook for one-half of the prisoners one day and the other the next alternating, and I will inform you how they succeeded. The corn bread was in all manners of shapes, half-baked, burned, fresh without salt, and again so salt that we could hardly eat it; and when we did not get bread we received meal mush; that is poor cooked ration. This mush was made by pouring whole bagsful of meal into large caldron kettles, well seasoned with flies, as there was always a good supply on the water when ready to use, and it would compare with the bread – salt, fresh, raw, burned, and sour; and this pig feed was shoveled into large boxes in six-mule wagons and drawn into camp and again shoveled into large tin pails and issued to the hundreds by the solitary cupful to each man, and sometimes they cooked the little buggy beans by the bagful, pods, grit and sand combined. And I know by experience that starvation alone is the only means which can compel men to force down such stuff. I think if Mr. Hill could try a bill of Andersonville fare for his Congressional lunch for about one week, his perceptions, discerning right from wrong, would mould him into a genuine sorto’ tollable man, I reckon, right smart. We received raw rations every other day and scarcely had wood to cook with at all. To show how scarce wood was, a little bundle of weed, two feet long, split fine, six inches in diameter, sold for twenty-five cents. And getting used to the Andersonville rations was like the Irishman’s hanging – it was apt to kill before we got used to it, as nearly 13,000 died out of 35,000 prisoners. I will now show whether vegetables were plenty in and around Andersonville. I will give a list of prices that they sold for and then you can judge. There were never any vegetables issued at the prison, but Acting Adjutant Selman, of the prison, sold and traded for the following prices: a good sized water melon from $1.50 to $2.50 each; Irish potatoes, two inches in diameter, twenty-five cents; green peaches and apples, twenty cents each; onions from $1.00 to $1.50 each, according to size. This was our money, greenbacks. Flour per sack, 50 lbs., from $250, greenbacks, or $1,750 in confederate, per bbl. 40 gallons, making it worth about five to ten cents per tablespoonful. Our money was worth one dollar to seven of theirs, so you will understand the $1,750 in confederate money, or $250 our money per bbl. Eggs $3.00 per dozen; salt, 10 cents per spoonful, pepper the same; poor cigars, twenty-five cents each; a bar of soap, one inch square, and ten inches long, $3. Now you can judge whether there were plenty of vegetables. I have been twice without rations three days and once four days in Andersonville, and I can say from experience if Mr. Hill could go without food in perfect health, as I was then, about the time the fourth day rolled around, when his belly and backbone were touching, he would appreciate something to eat, and also the oath of allegiance that he has taken, and never go back on it as long as he lived and dream of it nights.
I have been an eye witness to the shooting of six of my fellow prisoners by the rebel guard, posted in sentinel boxes on top of the stockade, and these prisoners were all inside of the dead line where they belonged, and were not even talking to the guard, and two of them in particular lay in their blanket tent singing and trying to feel as well as possible, one guard killing both. These men were shot without any cause or pretext whatever. I also have been an eye witness to the shooting of seven prisoners, who walked across the dead line and asked the guard to shoot them to put them out of their misery of dying inch by inch with the scurvy and chronic diarrhea. Do you suppose the guard refused in a single instance? Not once. I will now speak of sights that would be seen every afternoon in the sick pen at the south gate, which beggars description, which can be proved by scores and hundreds of the Andersonville prisoners, who visited this place from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Cases of scurvy, where the legs, from the foot to the knee were swollen and bursted, mortified and the victim still alive. The scurvy never killed its victims until the swelling crossed the vitals. Cases of chronic diarrhea, where there was nothing left but the skin and bones, and a portion of the victim fly-blown and alive with maggots, and life not extinct. Now I have always claimed that the truth was not fit to publish, but as Mr. Hill has given occasion to compare Elmira to Andersonville, I think the public has a right to know the worst and what I have stated is God’s truth, and need not lack witnesses to substantiate it. The mortality of prisoners, when I first entered the stockade, the 23d of May, ’64, from 12,000 there, there was 23 per day, and it increased from that time until the first of Aug., as high as 76 per day, the highest average according to my diary. Four days in particular, 112 died per day, and one particular day, when it was very hot, 278, and I can inform Mr. hill it was not caused by small pox. Capt. Wirz undertook in his trial to aid himself by claiming that he build a dead house for the Union prisoners at Andersonville. I will state what that dead house is composed of, and how built, to show whether it was or would be any benefit to any man on trial for as gross crimes as he was guilty of.
It was composed of brush and poles and crotches, four crotches set in the ground with poles laid in and then fine brush thrown on, forming a shade, and nothing more. And half of the time they could not lay more than half of the dead side by side in that. And each morning they loaded the dead onto the four and six mule wagons, like so much cordwood, and buried them in shallow tranches, with nothing but the little clothes they had on around them. I suppose Mr. Hill would term his humanity. There was a pack of bloodhounds kept at the prison for the purpose of chasing and hunting escaped prisoners. Mr. Hill saying to the contrary notwithstanding, and they were 12 in number; and there were four small fortifications, one at each of the four corners of the prisons, with from 10 or 12 pieces of artillery to each one all loaded with grape and canister. One volley from the 40 to 50 guns would entirely annihilate the whole mass of prisoners. And there was an understanding with us prisoners, from the confederates, that if our troops came within five to six miles of us that they would annihilate us before they would allow our troops a possibility of recapturing us. We had one God-send in Andersonville, as we termed it, and that was the breaking out of the spring between the dead line and stockade, on the 5th of August, 1864. We had a rainy spell of weather from the 28th of May until the 22d of June, when this spring, which was not running water enough to more than fill a one-fourth of an inch hole, and during the wet weather never enlarged, and when the ground was fairly cracking with heat, the 5th of August, and the mortality perfectly fearful, this spring burst out in the night and ran a stream which would fill a five inch hole: and then the Confederates allowed us to make a leader and bring it inside of the dead line, and it was a God-send indeed. And the mortality in less than five days was reduced from 76 to 21, and in ten days was reduced to 16. So much for pure water.
When Sherman was at Atlanta, Ga. The confederates feared he would make a dash into Andersonville and liberate us; they accordingly began scattering us around to different prisons through the south. I happened among those sent to Florence, S.C., where they built another stockade, and as I was sick with fever and helpless seventeen days, I know something about the confederate hospitals. I was in sixth ward, and this hospital was nearly equal in construction and material to Capt. Wirtz’s dead house, one row of crotches set and poles laid in and then large pine limbs leaned up against the poles making a shade, but we did not need the shade, as it rained every day for eight days, sometimes all day and night, and I owe my life almost to red pepper tea that I had and blackbury tea that two of my comrades made for me, who could help themselves. And to show what good things they had, while I was the weakest, the doctor gave me a teaspoonful of black liquid, one morning, which put me in such convulsions that I kicked a spot my length as bad as a horse would have pawed, and not able to help myself on my feet at that. I was sent into the stockade as soon as I could walk with two canes and boys that I was raised with did not know me. Our rations at Florence were only half what we received at Andersonville, but of a better quality. We received here one pint of flour or one pint of rice, or one half of each, sometimes a little sorghum molasses, and once in a great while sweet potatoes, but never a whole one for a ration, have seen a common sized one cut into three and four rations, and that must be, according to Mr. Johnny Reb. Hill’s doctrine, magnanimity. Our rations here were so close, and going without meat ninety-five days and with but very little salt, it actually forced hundreds of our prisoners to take the oath of allegiance to the confederacy and as for punishments inflicted, they were the worst at Florence, South Carolina, by half. There was a number of our prisoners at Florence put into what was called the dungeon for different offences, and in this worse than a den of terror, a man would literally rot alive. We had a counterpart of Capt. Wirz there at Florence in the form of Lieut. Barrett, or as we called him the red-headed devil, for he was the evil one himself. He would often come into the stockade, and if the prisoners happened to stand in a huddle, or a crowd, where he wished to go; and if they did not open a road for him, quick as a flash he would draw his six shooter and fire promiscuously.
We had another God-send at Florence and it came in the dropping dead of General Wickler, in the streets of Florence, while walking apparently in good health at 9 a.m., I think on the 6th of February. I say I think it was on the 6th of February, the writing in my old diary is so dim that I can scarcely make it out in many instances. But while looking for the date, I found something that will compare with Mr. Hill’s frozen fingers and toes, as an offset. It happened on the 12th of December, 1864, at Florence prison, on Monday, is the day of the week, which reads like this: Ten men frozen to death last night and fifteen more chilled so that they will not recover owing to the poor emaciated condition of the prisoners, and we had scores of cases where young and old men lost their minds entirely, forgetting their names, regiment and where they came from. Can Mr. Hill produce a like instance with the confederates in our hands. The confederates at Florence received, as was reported to the prisoners, about five thousand suits of clothes and blankets from the Sanitary Commission. The first we knew of it we saw the rebel guard wearing our sanitary blankets and clothes. And at the time we should have received these clothes and blankets we had 10,000 prisoners, and if there were 5,000 suits of clothes and blankets, it would have furnished every other man, but we did not do quite as well as that, for we only received ten caps, six blouses, three pairs of pants, eight pairs of stockings, eight shirts, and ten blankets to each 100 men; so you can judge about what proportion Mr. Hill’s friends applied to their use. They actually made a confederate flat out of one white and striped sanitary blanket at Florence, and then tried to compel a number of our prisoners on parole of honor to raise the pole, and then tied them up by the thumbs, so that their toes could scarcely touch the ground, for two hours each, for refusing; they said they would die rather than help raise a confederate flag. Now I would like to ask if the entire amount of everything that was sent from the South, to the confederate prisoners North by their friends was not in all cases, without an exception, received by those that they were sent to?
Florence prison was made across another swamp, similar to Andersonville, the water naturally was worse; for it was full of decayed vegetables. It contained a fine sediment, which was always in it, and would not settle, showing it to be decayed vegetation. I saw one instance of an extreme hankering for meat, for you can well imagine that a man would naturally long for meat, after going without it for ninety-five days. This instance was of an old Frenchman, who found a dog’s head in the creek, and went to eating it with the hair and skin on ravenous as a wolf. I don’t suppose the confederates at the North ever were reduced to quite such an extreme as this while enjoying their good, wholesome government rations and extras sent in by the Elmira ladies. I am glad that here in the North we have a God-loving and merciful people.
Now some may wonder and say it cannot be possible that a man could freeze to death in South Carolina, but consider the condition the men were in. When a man is completely wasted for the want of nourishment by lack of food, and nothing but the body of a shirt without sleeves, and barefoot, and pants tattered to the knees, and then take such weather as we had in November and December while there, and not wonder at all. As far as I know the minds of Andersonville prisoners, it was the general opinion and general answer of the whole prisoners that Davis was to blame for the whole of our treatment, for if he had showed the least disposition to have bettered our circumstances he would have listened to our appeals and petitions that were sent him from Andersonville and when our petitions availed us nothing that we sent to him, we got up a new petition with a man representing each northern State and sent them by Jefferson Davis’ permit North to petition for an exchange to our government authorities and that did us no good, and then we thought our government had forgotten us, and so we went to praying, hoping, trusting, watching and waiting, and we had to wait a long time after that, for these petitions were all sent in July, 1864, and we were not exchanged until February, 1865. I hardly know where to stop. But to sum it all up if Mr. Johnny Reb. Hill is not numbered with the conquered of the past he certainly can be numbered with the conquered of the future, for there never was such a confederate Hill yet, nor ever will be, but what could be successively climbed by Union soldiers.
And as for Jeff Davis, after our government authorities have paid $100,000 for his capture and let him go free without a trial, and if our authorities cannot take care of him without his getting back into Congress, I think the old Andersonville prisoners had better take it in hand, for a desperate disease requires a desperate remedy, and I think it would not bother any of them to make a prescription that would fit the case, and save all trouble hereafter. If he had been disfranchised at the close of the war he would have been out of our way. Capt. Wirz was only a third rate man. He was tried and hung. He was only a willing instrument in the hands of Davis. Why not hang Davis? Yet I would go from old Pennsylvania to New Orleans to see the show.
And if Mr. Johnny Rev. Hill’s war fever rages as bad for a time to come as it has for the past year, and Grant takes the third term, which means war according to Hill’s dictionary, here is one old Andersonville prisoner ready for roll call.
--A. S. Reynolds.
p.s. – I forgot to mention the Andersonville prisoner, whom Mr. Hill spoke of in his speech as testifying in Capt. Wirz’s trial. As for his testimony, it was a good confederate one, as that was his principle to the back bone although he was called a Union soldier and captured by the rebels as such. He has been openly heard to say that he hoped the Confederacy would triumph. This was said in the Andersonville prison, and accordingly he appeared in the Wirz trial without notice or invitation. I can give his name if I desired, as I know him well. And this is the reason why Mr. Hill makes mention of his evidence in his speech, because it suited him, as he mentions no others, and there were a goodly number of Andersonville prisoners there besides this prominent one.
The Andersonville Prisoner’s Experience Continued.
From the Elmira Daily Advertiser, Feb. 16th. 
I stated in my other letter that I would write from the capture to the exchange.
I will first correct the name of the confederate General dropped dead in the street in Florence, S.C. It was General Winder, instead of Wickle, as you published it, but if you could read my writing as near as that, you did well.
I did not explain why we claimed General Winder’s death as a God-send, which I will now. Gen. Winder received orders from Jefferson Davis at Richmond, to begin at Libbie Prison and Belle Isle, Va., then at Salisbury, N.C., Florence and Charleston prisons, S.C., and Andersonville, Ga., as a quantity of prisoners were reshipped to that place, and Cohobby, Prison, Ala., and give orders to each prison commander to cut us down from one-half rations to quarter rations, and as our half rations were barely sufficient to keep soul and body together, we believed that the good Lord did strike him dead, while in the enjoyment of health and on this death-dealing orders from Davis, to prevent the untold sufferings that would necessarily have followed and added to our sufferings which were already unendurable, and when we heard in prison of his death and the circumstances attending it, we claimed it as another God-send.
I forgot to mention in my first that while the Confederates were moving us from Lynchburg to Danville, Va., we were three and one-half days without rations, and this was before we reached Andersonville; a pretty good imitation we thought for us 892 prisoners, who had not yet been in the Confederacy eight days, as this happened from the 9th to the 13th and we were taken prisoners the 5th of May in the Wilderness. Also when they moved us from Danville, Va., to Andersonville, we had no rations for three days. We were on the road from the 17th to the 23d, so you see we were one-half of the time without food. I happened to be put into a car that had been used for shipping corn, and I picked up about three quarts of shelled corn, and when my teeth got so sore eating it, parched the balance and got along quite well.
There were instances of shooting prisoners at Florence, S.C., similar to those of Andersonville, but not as many. Two men were shot in Florence prison in November, 1864, inside the dead line. The guard and prisoners had been talking together only a short time before he shot them. It was immediately reported through the camp and I saw them after they were killed, and minuted it in my diary. There were several instances of prisoners who walked across the dead line and asked to be shot to be put out of their misery. Some were killed, and in few instances the guard refused them at Florence. Three days in particular I was strongly inclined to commit the rash act myself, but when I thought of the dear friends at home in the North, loving parents and sisters, and the black-eyed girl that I left waiting behind me, who is now my affectionate little wife, these spurred me on, and I finally concluded that the old proverb was true to the letter, "that there is hope as long as there is life." I do not think we would have been paroled as soon as we were if Gen. Schofield had not marched on Wilmington, North Carolina. The Confederates were anxious to hold this place as long as possible, so they accordingly packed us as usual into box cars and shipped us prisoners to Wilmington, and sent a flag of truce with orders to Gen. Schofield that they were anxious to exchange prisoners.
This was done in order to delay the taking of the place by the Union troops as it would have required a week’s time to have made the exchange and shipped us from there. Schofield replied, I will attend to that after I take Wilmington. The Confederates being foiled then shipped us to Goldsboro, North Carolina, sixty miles from Wilmington; this was on the 17th of Feb. 1865, and on the 19th reshipped us to Wilmington again, and undertook the same game with General Schofield as at first, but he had no time, as his troops were sending shot and shell into the suburbs of the city, and the citizens became perfectly panic stricken and left the place in whole train loads all that day and the 20th, and some resorted to their bomb proofs, which shelter they were well provided with. They fired two of their ferry boots, 200 bales of cotton and 1200 lbs rosin, making a right smart fire, I reckon. The rush of the citizens to the cars caused 600 of our prisoners to be marched, or attempted to be marched 13 miles to the north-east branch of the Cape Fear river: and you can imagine what sort of a march we were capable of, a few well ones, the majority very poor, and the remainder not able to go at all. Well, the cavalry guard began to encourage the poorest ones at once by belting them with their sabers and threatening to shoot them, turning their attention to the rest of us who could manage to navigate.
The Confederates began to be anxious about getting out of the way of our troops, and to take us along, for if we were recaptured we would not have counted on an exchange. The morning of the 21st the counted us, that is after we made the thirteen mile march, and found that they had succeeded in getting through with 500 out of 900, leaving 400 along the road, and these 400 were picked up the 21st by our own Union troops; as during the 20th, Schofield had taken Wilmington had actually overtaken us, and if the railroad bridge had not been burned, would have saved the Confederates the trouble, of exchanging the remainder of the 900, that is us 500 across the river from them. I assure you, it was pretty hard when we were almost in sight of our own soldiers, to be put on cars and again sent to Goldsboro. The trains on this road could not run over ten or twelve miles at a time, before their truck axles would heat and be all ablaze, and then they would stop and cool them with water; and in the four times that they run us over this road, they picked up their wood and broke up and chopped rails to fire their engine with. We could see that the confederacy was on its last legs, when they came to that. The night of the 25th the Confederates made out our paroles and on the 26th started us towards Wilmington again. You can judge the route must have been quite familiar to us by this time, and I can assure you that everything along the road this last time, looked quite different than it had before, for this reason, we knew then that we were going towards God’s Land, as we termed the north. We were shipped to the north-east branch, as that was then the line between the two armies.
The first Union man was saw was the hale and hearty Brig.-Gen. Terry, as fine a specimen of a man as seldom falls to the lot of any one to meet with, and the brass buttons in his nice fitting coat, actually looked as large to us as the size of a fist, and as we approached him, he greeted us saying, "come on boys, we’ve enough for you yet," and I assure you he was a good sight for sore prison eyes to behold. Hale and hearty – well fed, looking happy. I was among the first fifty counted, and I shall have to narrate an incident that took place there. About the fourth or fifth man counted was a cousin that is I understood he was a cousin to Gen. Terry, and when they got hold of hands it seemed as if they could not let go, and all I could do was to stand spell-bound, with the tears running down my face, with my heart swelling up into my throat, until it seemed as if it would burst and gaze at them. The one well fed, in as good shape as he could be, contrasted with the other ragged, emaciated, woe-begone looking person, I never shall forget it as long as I live. Old age could never erase it from my memory, and I cannot write of this scene that happened eleven years ago the 26th of the present month, without the tears blinding me so that I can scarcely see, actually experiencing the same feeling all over again. After being counted, we crossed the river on a pontoon bridge, and found there quite a force of white and colored troops; and in justice to the colored troops I must not forget to mention their kindness to us prisoners. They had just drawn five days rations, and they almost, to a man, emptied their haversacks, scarcely saving anything for themselves, doing more than three times for us what the white soldiers did right across the road. They would look at us devour their hard-tack and pork with broad grin, verifying the Scriptures: "That it is more blessed to give than receive." We were marched back to Wilmington, that is, those of us that could be got there in that way, and the balance were brought in ambulences. We were in Wilmington from the 27th of Feb. until the 2d of March, ’65. While there we espied through the grated window of the jail, the red-headed Lieut. Barrett, of Florence Prison, second in command under Col. Ivison, the latter quite a decent man for a Confederate. We naturally enough went for him, but through the interposition of a strong Union guard and a strong jail we did not succeed in getting at him. If we had there would not have been a grease spot left of one Confederate.
We were shipped the 2d for Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., arriving there on the 4th, and there we had to divest ourselves of all our old prison garments and take a bath in a bath house, built for the prisoners. I was anxious to bring home my old prison shirt as it had only twenty-nine patches on it. I took cold while in the bath house and had a relapse of the fever that I had while in Florence, as I had not entirely recovered from it. And expecting every day to get my parole furlough kept me up, and when it did come I got within a hundred feet of the train and dropped helpless, and was put on and helped through from Camp Parole by one of my old comrades, Orson Spurr, to Troy, Bradford Co., Pa., and was so low that I was left within ten miles of my home in Sullivan township, this county. Dr. A. D. Robbins, now of Corning, then of Mainesburg, this county, and Dr. Rockwell, of Troy, held a council over me and concluded to have me removed on a feather bed the remaining ten miles, and when I reached home I would not have weighed over ninety pounds, and in less than sixty days, under the care of Dr. Robbins, and loving friends, and enough to eat, weighed 156 pounds. So you see it was by the skin of my teeth that I reached home. And this Orson Spurr that helped me through as far as he could, and appeared while in prison to be one of the strongest ones, died the second day here in Mansfield, after reaching home in apparent health. And I doubt if there is one Andersonville prisoner in a hundred that is not left with some old chronic complaint that will, in all probability, shorten their years. I know that this is my case, and if I had not possessed an iron constitution and will, would never have lived through to relate this bitter experience, making the largest dark spot in my life. I carried the old calloused sores on my hips, caused by lying sick so much, more than six months after I was well.
Who blames me or any other prisoner for holding a grudge against Petticoat Davis. He might better have been born a woman in the start than to try in his old age to fit himself to their garment. And I trust and hope that when Congress sees fit to remove his political disabilities that it will be when water runs up hill and grass ceases to grow, if they will wait until then us Andersonville boys will hold our peace.
If Mr. Hill is anxious to have Jeff Davis in Washington, I propose that Congress, instead of removing his disabilities, exhibit him as the Confederate elephant in a good suitable cage, with conveniences for messing him on buggy beans, corn cob meal, sour mush, &c. Well, in fact, the Andersonville bill of fare would do, take it as a whole. And to be exhibited in full dress, i.e., skirt and crinoline and bonnet, at 25 cents a sight until he pays back the $100,000 paid for his capture, provided he should live long enough. I think he would appear better in woman’s garments than he would in Congress before loyal men, unless it was Mr. Hill, who cannot appreciate the oath of allegiance long enough to take it, for his speeches in the south are not in accordance with it. And, as Mr. Hiss has said, if they had to submit to a Republican President for the four years to come, and be ruled by force, which is simply being defeated by ballot, that if they must have war, let it come, he was ready. We do expect to elect a Republican President for the next four years, and if we cannot have peace in any other way, we will fight for it, as we have done before, and can do again.
--A. S. Reynolds.
Tioga, Tioga Co., Pa.
Home, Sweet Home!
‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which seek through the world, is ne’er met with everywhere!
Home, Home, Sweet, Sweet Home!
There’s no place like Home!
There’s no place like Home!
An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain!
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gaily, that come at my call—
Give me them – and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, Home, Sweet, Sweet Home!
There’s no place like home!
There’s no place like home!