From the National Tribune, 4/11/1901
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
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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