By a survivor of Andersonville
September 14 1904 Morris Chronicle
My waiting at New York as nearly as I can remember, was about three weeks. No restriction was put upon our movements and I roamed at will in whatever direction fancy lead me, determined to improve the last opportunity I might have of seeing the sights the city afforded. I visited Central Park several times, the Battery, where at the time of the riot had been quartered for some time, to view the shipping, the furled sails of which gave the harbor the appearance of a dead spruce swamp with its bare masts and spars in the winter season, the close reefed sails having the appearance of frozen lines of snow resting upon them. I visited the best churches and theaters, and listened to some of the most eloquent ministers and singers of the day. Most of the time I went about alone, but occasionally with some comrade accompanying me. No one ever interfered with or molested in any way with us. I still wore the plain uniform of a private infantryman, which received neither consideration or attracted attention.
But I am not going to attempt a description of the sights or incidents. I am in a hurry to get home. Settlement and discharge were obtained at an office in some other street, the name of which I have forgotten. The business hours of every day, which consisted of four to six with the hard working officials, we passed within the vicinity so as to catch our names when they should be reached on the rolls, and as one after another of our names were called we stepped forward and our discharge was made out and together with the amount due was passed to us and the contract between the government and man was closed.
On the 27th day of June, 1865, my time came. Just two years and ten months from the day on which I had been sworn into the service I received my discharge and returned to citizenship. I immediately visited the Hudson River railroad station and procured my ticket to Utica, that city and Deposit then being our nearest railway towns, boarded the first outgoing passenger train and in due time was put down at Utica. From there we took the stage for Morris. I do not recollect who was driving at that time. We came the Winfield route reaching Morris about 4 o'clock. As I drew near the old home town my mind was about equally divided with interest in the familiar objects and scenes and anxiety in the thought of what news was in store for me. Were parents, brothers and sisters prosperous, living and well, or had destruction, sickness or death visited them? Almost a year had passed since I had heard from them. A little time and yet what experience it had brought to me what might it possibly have brought to them? We drew up to the grocery store of W.R.B. Wing, where V.J. Hoke is now doing business, to fulfill some errand, and having no baggage to look after I clambered down to the walk where I was soon surrounded by acquaintances and friends, and hand-shakings and congratulations were the order. I saw the aged postmaster, Harley Sargent, approaching, his form was shaking with sadness, and when he took my hand for a time he could scarcely speak from the pressure of feeling that came over him. Stanley Sargent had been my best friend, schoolmate and comrade. When I was taken prisoner I lost sight of him. He was serving in the color guard, carrying the regimental flag. Of course I had heard no word from him. Later I learned he had been taken prisoner in an engagement with the enemy, had probably been taken to Salisbury prison and had died there. We had gone away together and my return alone brought home to the father's heart a crushing weight of sorrow, while sorrow and sympathy lay heavily upon my own as he told me the story.
Strange is it not than an incident which brought rejoicing to one home should bring sorrow to another? not that Mr. Sargent was not glad at my returning, but it reminded him so forcibly of his son, my friend, who would never come. And how many homes were there from which the loved ones had gone forth never to return. When opportunity permitted I asked after my parents. You can imagine with what anxiety I waited the reply, and the relief I experienced in the answer that all were well. Another came to me saying, "Your father and mother have just driven into town and are at Moore's store on the corner," (the building now occupied by the bank), and there I found them, and here I may as well drop the curtain. The meeting of mother with the son who was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found, is not for other eyes to see. Alas that we ever are compelled to part with them, but thus is it willed.
What shall I say in conclusion. Many towns- people who have discovered the authorship of the series of reminiscences have kindly told me they had found information, entertainment and interest in reading them, no only those in years whose memories extend back to the days that witnessed their occurrence and who personally knew the comrades who have been mentioned or of them; but the younger generation as well, even some scarcely more than children have been interested, and thus have my hopes been more than realized. In their writing I have striven to present in simple manner and language some of the incidents and experiences of my own witness or of those associated with me in captivity.
War is a calamity to be dreaded and it seems as though an age of civilization must soon be obtained when it may be dispensed with, and still if we look back in history we may almost believe that the upward steps which mark most prominently the advancement of christianization and civilization are indicated by its wars.
Space will not permit an exhaustive review, but we may briefly examine the history of our own country. In the first place by conquest barbarism was supplanted by Christianity in the subjugation or extermination of the tribe of the Indian race. Again with institutions more free and liberal than the world had ever before seen an independent nation was wrested from monarchical tyranny in the struggle following 1776. In a war with Mexico indemnity was found in barbaric, uncivilized territory. The Civil war redeemed to independence of deed and conscience four millions of bondsmen whose greatest crime is constituted irredeemedly in their color, and now the Spanish- American war presents a spectacle approaching the sublime. A nation making war to liberate downtrodden tributaries from tyrannical misrule, to bestow upon them education, civilization, Christianity and independence. Who shall say the Divine Hand is not. if not in the earlier wars, visible in this? "His word shall not return unto Him void," and in all these wars is there a question for arbitration? Would the savage dispossess the wilderness, the mother country her colonies, Mexico, Texas and California; would it have settled the slavery question or redeemed the Philippines? While war is a horror to be deplored it is also a scourge in the Divine hand by which nations chastise or are chastised to the accomplishment of His will, the end of which is man's good. But, forgive the digression, I am not advocating war. I have seen and tasted something of its horrors and they are bitter indeed. I have simply strived to demonstrate they are of Divine origin and in His will are unavoidable, this ennobles even war to him who battles by His side; but I will digress no further.
For the present at least I bid you good bye. At some future season, with the editor's permission, I may try and present to you some reminiscences of battle scenes and incidents, and until them permit me to subscribe myself sincerely yours,
J. N. Daniels, Morris, N.Y.