From the National Tribune, 5/4/1899
“A Kid’s” Reminiscence of the Fiery Front, With the Famous Old Iron Brigade.
By “DOC” AUBERY, Milwaukee, Wis.
A sentinel guarded our door, and there were soldiers below
us in the guard room. Our boys would sing “America” and “Star Spangled Banner,”
and I would be replied to with “Shut up, you Yankee.” After which they would
sing “The Bonney Blue Flag,” “Dixie,” and one other that goes - as near as I can
remember it, sung over and over again, and became rather tiresome -
Then here’s to South Carolina,
dear old South Carolina,
She is as brave as the bravest cane be,
And when she unfurls to the broad breeze of heaven
The thirteen bright stars, around the old Palmetto tree,
It’s then when you’ll stand back with your Star Spangled Banner,
For no longer shall she wave over these niggers to be free,
We’ll fight till we die, but we never will surrender
Our Bonny Blue Flag and the old Palmetto tree.
Around the Prison the sentinels could be heard every hour,
“Post number fo’ 10 o’clock, and all’s well.” Post No. 5 would catch it up and
the time would be echoed all along the line.
Time passed very slowly. My friend Baker, the 12th Mass.
soldier, slept under my saddle-blanket, which I had saved when my horse was
taken from me at Warrenton. We shared with each other what dainties we got. We
would send out by the guard for sweet potato pies, for which we paid $2 apiece;
a small loaf of bread, $1. As long as my $12 lasted we were all right. After a
few weeks we were informed that
WE WERE TO BE
This caused no little commotion among the prisoner, as our
little family of Baker, myself and the two sailors had grown to about 300
soldiers and citizens.
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1862; orders came to fall-in, and in line
we raised our hands and took oath not to aid or assist the United States
Government until properly exchanged. We were then told to take our places as our
names were called; those who had blankets to leave them at the foot of the
stairs. We were then given hardtack, and fell in when ordered. When my name was
called I lost no time in getting downstairs, and not having forgotten what Maj.
Turner promised me, went to his office. He was standing in the door and went
into his office, closed the door, opened the safe under his desk, and handed me
the money with the passes around it, at the same time advising me, as I was
going upon the boat, that it would be safer for me to put the money in a secure
place. I put all but a few dollars into my bootleg, shook him by the hand, and
with a good-by, fell into line with the rest outside in front of the prison.
While there we became the target for the taunting remarks of the spectators who
had gathered around.
“Hello, Yank; when yo’uns coming back again? Yo’uns want to
look out right sharp for Bobby Lee. He’s atter you-all right sharp.”
One good old lady came to me at the edge of the curbstone
and engaged me in conversation.
“Are you a soldier?”
“No, ma’am. I was selling papers in the army.”
She said: “Do you make dem papers what you sells? You
Yankees is right peart, and I all de time done said so.”
STARS AND STRIPES ONCE MORE.
Our guard had orders to move on with us, Baker and I kept
together. We marched through the streets to the dept, took a train composed of
freight cars, and started for City Point. When we reached there what a glorious
sight the Stars ad Stripes seemed to our eyes, as the flag floated proudly over
the steamer City of New York, which was the flag-of-truce boat, and ready to
take us to God’s country once more. We went directly to the boat, were counted
and checked off, passing between a rebel and a Union officer, who were there for
that purpose. Although crowded for room, and with little to eat, yet we felt
contented. It seemed a relief to us to be permitted to breathe pure air once
more. We appreciated our liberty. Every hour in prison seemed a day; every day,
We went down the James River, through the Hampton Roads,
past Fort Monroe, and landed the next day at Annapolis, Md. The soldiers went
into camp. I was discharged - told I could go where I pleased. So, after saying
goodbye to the boys, I took the train for Washington. On arriving there I bought
a complete suit of clothing, rid myself of those little friends that had stuck
so close to me, then sought the War Department, had my passes fixed up, and
started the next day down the Potomac. On a venture, I took a few Washington
Chronicles with me.
BACK WITH THE
I landed at Aquia Creek, and learned that the Iron Brigade
was at Belle Plain Landing. I having been away so long, I expected a reprimand,
and partly prepared myself for it. When I presented myself, I found one Jim
Whittier, a good-natured, quick-witted Irishman, had been detailed to run up the
papers in my absence.
“Where have you been?”
“Well, General, I have been to Richmond, where the brigade
has been trying to go for a long time.”
“Didn’t the boys tell you not to go back through the lines;
that Mosby was picking up every one he could get a hold of.”
“Well, General, the boys had to have papers.”
I didn’t say that Capt. Remington had to have that whiskey,
for it wouldn’t do to squeal on any of the boys.
[narrative continues on non-Richmond matters, and was
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