From the National Tribune, 4/11/1901

An Old Prisoner.

EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: I have been a constant reader of your valuable paper for many years. I was a partner in misery with John McElroy at Libby, Belle Isle, Andersonville, Savannah and Millen, and I always read everything that he writes, and hunt around to find it. I was the owner of the famous Millen ax. The way I managed to obtain and keep it would doubtless be interesting to many, if it escaped the waste-basket.

I am beginning to believe that I am the only survivor of my regiment - the 16th Pa. Cav. The Government considers seven years’ absence a good ground for divorce or widowhood for a woman, and it has been much longer than that since I saw one of my regiment. I was captured Oct. 13, 1863, at Catlett’s Station. Whether the Johnnies killed all the rest I have no means of knowing, since I can never hear from any of them, and it looks as if I am alone left to tell the tale.

All of the prisoners who were on Belle Isle will remember the terribly cold New Year’s Day of 1864, and that the cold spell lasted a long while. Every night the prisoners who were barefooted would run down the streets to keep from freezing, and the noise and excitement would keep the others who were better clad awake. Every morning there would be a long line of dead to take out for burial. How we would stand at the north gate and watch for the boat which brought our rations from Richmond.

One day there came over a young fop, who got to expressing his opinions so freely that he forgot to look out for his blanket. I snatched it, and passed it back to a poor young fellow who had lately come in, and who had been stripped of nearly everything. The boy slipped behind me and off to his tent, where he hid the blanket, and then came back to get my name, company and regiment. The way the fellow that lost his blanket talked was shocking to hear. I wonder if that boy is still alive, and where he lives?

I have two boys - twins - in the army in the Philippines. They are in Co. F, 23d U. S., and have now been in the army three years. - B. C. McWILLIAMS, Co. F, 16th Pa. Cav., 1510 Main Street, Fort Scott, Kan.


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