From the National Tribune, 9/3/1903
Results of a Daring Enterprise.
EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE:
[author relates in a lengthy paragraph his capture on July 5, 1863 at
Greencastle, Pa., and subsequent journey to Richmond - not transcribed]
...After a brief stay at Libby
Prison, we were transferred to Belle Isle, where Lieut. Boisseux was in charge.
On the second day there we were relieved of all valuables, money and watches
especially. I had a few dollars in my pocket book, which I threw back over the
dead line, at the same time calling Lieut. Boisseux a thief. Infuriated, he
seized a gun and would have run the bayonet through me had not one of the guards
interfered in my behalf. However, he gave me a violent kick and ordered me to go
after the pocket book. Instead of going, I called to the boys on the other side
to throw it over to me, which they did. When the Lieutenant found there was
little wealth in the pocket book he was evidently disappointed, plainly showing
that he was disgusted with me for not having a more plethoric wallet.
However, when he ordered a
thorough investigation of my scant habiliments the money I had sewed up in my
pants was revealed to his rapacious gaze, and, of course, he eagerly took it
The prisoners were permitted to
bathe in the James River, and Lieut. Boisseux, treating me with distinguished
consideration, put me in charge of the detachments of bathers, my compensation
being extra rations. He ordered me to not let more than 40 go into the water at
one time. Again perversely insubordinate, I let out from 75 to 80, and gradually
increased the number to 150. After two weeks duty at the “bathing resort,”
Boisseux, probably afraid I would take the entire encampment “in a-swimming,”
transferred me to the Commissary Department. My duty was to go on the boat to
Richmond for bread, a ration of which was about enough for a two-year-old child
to eat at one meal. In addition to the bread, a little bean soup was served -
one or two beans in a cup of liquid, that represented a dead horse or mule.
My sojourn at Belle Isle was in
July and August. When a detachment of prisoners went out, Aug. 25, 1863, Lieut.
Boisseux told me to accompany them, although my name was not on the list for
exchange. He sent me along as an “extra,” because he had insulted me, and I had
had the courage to defend myself.
I well remember the “red-headed
Sergeant at the gate.” I think he was killed when our troops entered Richmond -
JOHN CLEMENS, Co. L, 1st N. Y. (Lincoln Cavalry), Canton, O.
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