From the National Tribune, 9/5/1889
at Belle Isle.
EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: I was taken prisoner at the battle
of Bristow Station, Va., part of the Fall and Winter. Lieut. Bousseiu, the
Confederate commanding the Union prisoners, took 1st of us boys, the
youngest out of the 6,800, outside of the prison-pen and gave us a tent close to
his own, and we fared a little better by thus being on the outside. I had quite
a conspicuous job while on the island, and made many friends among our boys.
After the drummer would beat the breakfast and supper calls (we had two meals a
day only), I would take my stand at the main gate, alongside the Confederate
guard, and from my book would call the 68 Sergeants out with men enough with
each Sergeant to carry the food in for each 100 men. Inn doing this I got
acquainted about as much as anyone on the island. On Sunday, the 27th
of December, 1863, the boys on the outside happened to see the scow coming over
from Richmond, and Gen. Winder being on the scow, of course we came to the
conclusion that some of us Yanks were to be paroled. And we were right; 500 were
counted off, and the most of us boys sneaked into the line and were counted. We
did not know whether we were going to Andersonville or Annapolis, Md., but we
made our minds up to take chances and we struck luck, for we were sent to
Annapolis, and were finally exchanged about the 1st of May, 1864, and
sent directly to the front, and from that time until we were discharged, go
where I would in the Army of the Potomac, I would find some of the boys that
knew me. I would no know them until they would say to me, “Hello Jersey!
Ain’t it time to call the Sergeants out for our rice and cornbread?” Then I
would know that they were on the island at the time I was.
If the NATIONAL TRIBUNE has space for this, any of the boys
who were on the island October, November and December, 1863, cannot help but
remember Little Jersey calling the Sergeants out for their rations. - GEORGE W.
NICKUM, Co. D, 12th N. J., National Soldiers Home, Va.
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