By a survivor of Andersonville
April 13 1904 Morris ChronicleINTRODUCTION
For sometime I have thought, in a few brief sketches, to give a kind of reminiscent history of the capture of others and myself, from Morris, members of Co. C, 152d Reg. N. Y. S. Vols., and our confinement in Andersonville and other southern military prisons. More than forty years have passed since the commencement of the greatest war of modern times, and the greatest civil war, I believe, the world has ever seen. To day there are men and women past the middle age of life who were in that day too young in years to comprehend anything of the great event; and therefore all knowledge which they and the generation still younger possess is obtained from the pages of history or in memorial stories from the pen or lips of those who participated in those events, and their ranks are thinning out. Probably that which is of greatest importance to our country resulting from the fearful struggle of '61 to '65, is well preserved in the pages of general history; but that which has to do with the little part of each one of the minor common participants will soon be lost - the stories of the personal experiences of those millions of men who participated actively in the field and the other millions of men and women at home who bore the burden of sorrow and anxiety, and deprivation in every way. Could this minor history all be written what an interesting volume it would make.
General history records, on a battlefield so many thousands killed and wounded, so many captured for military prison, and so many thousands died of starvation and disease. We are given the definite sum in lives and dollars which the results have cost. But the real, the true cost, who can compute that? Every one has suffered and borne sacrifices himself. Every individual has been first or foremost in some experience about which the public knows nothing, except that it sees a united effort of many bringing about results which have now passed into history as a grand whole.
Did you ever attempt to realise from comparison the loss sustained in some of the great battles of the civil war? More men were killed in some of these battles than there are voters in Otsego county. For instance at Gettysburg the total killed outright numbered more than 6,000, while the total loss of both armies during those three July days in 1863 was more that 43,000. If these deaths had been sectional through the country how well we could understand the great loss! But the country was affected by one from here and another there with months intervening before another loss came to us - and we recovered from on wound before we received another, and we do not suffer so much from the blows that fall upon the hearts of strangers; our Christian charity has not yet made many of us to such exalted love as that.
These reminiscences will relate to the capture and imprisonment of the volunteers who served with me in Co. C, 152d regiment, and I shall endeavor to speak of each one. I have no memoranda of dates or events and what I write must be purely from remembrance.
CAPTURED BEFORE PETERSBURG
On the 21st of June, 1864, we executed flank all day as quietly as it is possible to move a large army, and although we common soldiers knew nothing of locality or project, we did realise that the signs were ominous. We wound through valley and forest roads a long and weary march, and under cover of the night were again forwarded to a position just outside a piece of wood at the edge of an open field. Formed in battle line very quietly, and immediately went to work building a kind of temporary breastworks of old logs, rails and whatever we could utilize for the purpose that would afford any protection against the storm of shot and shell that we knew would break upon us at daylight. Spades were brought forward finally and we dug a shallow trench, throwing dirt over our accumulation of drift, thus forming quite a formidable defence against a front attack of infantry. Daylight came and with it as we had anticipated a salute,very pointed, from a rebel battery out of sight and reach, and so accurately did they get down to us that we were constrained to humble ourselves with faces in the moist dirt of the new trench for a time, until the first burst of their favors had passed over (and quite a few poor fellows were killed or mangled by the bursting shells along the line), but we knew with the slackening of the artillery there would be work for us, and we rose to meet the oncoming charge of the gray live of rebel infantry under the stars and bars, the insignia, not of freedom and independence, but of treason and human slavery, and we turned them back to the cover of the woods from which they came, with contempt of their effort. We were so crowded in our cover that we improvised an arrangement of our own, for we fought as we pleased in such circumstances; some lay low under cover and loaded the muskets and passed the to others in front who fired and passed them back to be recharged. Comrades James Miller and George Reeve were so passing guns to me, and all I had to do was shoot at a gray coat when I saw it. Our attention was wholly to the front. A gray coated color bearer came out of a wood some twenty or thirty rods in front of us and again attempted to rally the line to a renewed charge. They were our special attention, and I am happy to say the effort was a failure, so much so that the colors lay on the field and none dared attempt their rescue.
But now came the surprise. On turning to reach for a loaded gun I was very uncourteously, but strong adjectively, invited to throw down my gun and become the guest of the C.S.A., as represented by a line in the gray livery not two rods in our rear with ready muskets drawn. On additional emphasis to their invitation we were constrained to regard so pressing an invitation and we had not the heart to refuse, it was accepted and we were prisoners. Our line had been flanked and our company was the most exposed one on the line.
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