National Tribune, 4/7/1904

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From the National Tribune, 4/7/1904

Adventures of a Tennessee Refugee.
By JASPER N. ACREE, Co. C, 1st Ky. Cav.


Soon after Gen. Burnside moved from Kentucky into Tennessee to occupy Knoxville, in September, 1863, a detachment of Wolford’s command, about 100 scouting in the Hiwassee Valley, encountered a heavy force f rebel cavalry, and in an ensuing skirmish seven of us were captured and sent to Richmond, where we were confined in “Libby,” a large tobacco warehouse with a brick floor, the windows facing one of the main business sections of the city. Standing by one of these windows I could see and hear a great deal of what was happening in the street. In the marts prices were fabulously high. People carried large rolls of money in their hands.

When I entered the prison the rebels took possession of my money, assuring me, however, that it would be returned when I should be exchanged, or otherwise released. A few of the prisoners managed to retain their money, in whole or in part. One young soldier, who had succeeded in keeping his money, was in the habit of displaying his roll of greenbacks in the presence of his fellow prisoners. One day he exhibited a $10 bill, and while a group was examining it, I casually read aloud the name of the register of the Treasury, “J. E. Chittenden,” engraved on the face of the bill.

“J. R. Chittenden you mean,” said he.

“No,” said I, “ the middle initial is an E, not an R.”

He persisted in his contention, and to settle the matter, I staked $20 against his $10 note that the letter was an E, the arbiter to be an old Chaplain, who knew nothing of our controversy. When the letter was pointed out to him he promptly declared that it was an E. His decision made me a winner, but the god man did not know that he had decided a wager. At first my conscience forbade my taking the bill, but, reflecting that he had more money and that the $10 might “come handy in an emergency,” I quieted my conscience and accepted the bill. If he had won, I could not have paid him until some time in the uncertain future.

Contrary to the regulations, the guards would occasionally permit people to approach the windows and sell provisions to the prisoners who had money. In order to provide myself with convenient change, I exchanged my $10 bill for $100 in small denominations of Confederate money. My $100, however, soon vanished. When I bought provisions, I divided with the hungry fellows around me, and when, in November, I was transferred to Danville I had only $2 left. [remainder of narrative details life and escape at Danville, and was not transcribed.]


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