National Tribune, 9/13/1883

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From the National Tribune, 9/13/1883



I was a member of the Twenty-first Illinois volunteers, and at the battle of Chickamauga, in company with about one-third of my regiment, fell into the hands of the rebels. After the battle we were packed in cars like cattle and taken to Atlanta, where we were confined in the stockade and stripped of everything that we had except our shirts, pants and shoes. From Atlanta we were taken to Richmond and thrust into Castle Thunder, where we were again searched for any loose change that we might have about us. Some of the boys managed to keep their money by secreting it in the hem of their pants. After we had been in Castle Thunder for a few weeks, we were removed to a large tobacco factory called the Royster House. This house had three floors, and 500 prisoners were confined on each floor. Our rations consisted of a small piece of light bread and a piece of what we called “mule” bread, issued at 9 o’clock every morning. One of my mess sold his watch, worth $10, to the guard for some bread – 15 loaves – and every member of our mess agreed to pay a certain amount to him for their share if he should live to get back to God’s country. After the war I married and moved out here to Kansas to make a home for myself, and I had not been here long before I came across the comrade who sold his watch, and my wife raised and sold enough chickens to pay off the debt which I owed him. We were almost starved in this prison, and I was so much reduced that I could barely walk, but one of the rebel sergeants had me sent to the hospital, and I was lucky enough to be one of some 250 ex-prisoners who were exchanged from this hospital. On our way down the James River that night several of the boys died on the boat. Just as it began to get light we saw the old flag – the stars and stripes – floating from the boat that was waiting for us, and oh! how the boys did cheer! When we had been transferred to the exchange steamer we found a hearty meal waiting for us, and doubtless we would have killed ourselves eating, if we had been allowed to eat as much as we pleased. We were landed at Camp Parole, Annapolis, and after I had been there about a week or so and was able to move around, I got on the scales and found I weighed 125 pounds. My weight when captured was 195 pounds. So you see I lost seventy pounds, although I was only three months a prisoner.

I should like to hear from some of the comrades of my old regiment.

Co. B, 21st Ill. V. I.


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