Henry F. W. Little.

The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion online

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had been put upon the scaffold and the rope put about
their necks, he was back and the rope around his neck also.
The prisoners were asked if they had anything to say for
themselves why they should not be hung ; only one said
anything, he declared his innocence of the crime for
which he had been tried, but confessed to having commit-
ted murder sometime previous, so they concluded to hang
him for that. After prayer by the chaplain, the spring
was touched and the six guilty men received their just
deserts. The rope of one broke, and he fell to the ground
with the cry, ' For God's sake, save me, save me.' He
was immediately seized, the drop put into place, and the
rope tied and again swung off, this time successfully.
From this time forward the stockade was as quiet as a
Sabbath morning.

" Sometime in the early part of July, the surgeons ap-
peared to become very solicitous for our welfare, and desired
the prisoners to be vaccinated, as they feared small-pox
would break out in the prison. A number of the prisoners
consented; this was a fatal mistake, for when the virus
began to work gangrene would get into the sore and eat
the flesh from the muscles and veins and bone of the arm,
necessitating the amputation of the arm, which would
invariably be followed by death. Of all the cases of am-
putation which came under my observation, but one

" During the months of June, July, and August, the
death-rate reached its highest figures, averaging over one
thousand per month. Those wiio died during the day

New Hampshire Volunteers. 549

were brought to the gate and laid side by side, like sticks
of cord wood ; those who died during the night remained
where they were until morning, when they were brought
and laid beside their fellows, when the dead cart would
arrive and convey them to their burial place. Soon after
the war ceased the government had a cemetery made at
Andersonville, in which those who died in prison were
buried, and men are constantly employed by the govern-
ment to care for this cemetery. Flowers are grown upon
the graves and the walks and everything about the ceme-
tery are kept in perfect order, while from a flagstaff from
sunrise to sunset the flag which these men loved so well in
life, floats over their silent graves !

" On the first of June, it commenced to rain, and rained
ev^ery day for twenty-one days, and about this time three
hundred prisoners were brought in who could find but
little or no shelter, and were obliged to lie upon the wet
ground nights ; in consequence of this, at the end of three
months only thirty-four of the three hundred were left to
tell the story of their suffering.

" In the latter part of August, I began to be troubled
with scurvy, which first showed itself in my gums, then in
the cords of my legs, which began to swell and contract, my
legs being bent back at the knees so that my heels almost
touched my hips, and I was unable to take a single step.

" About the first of September, the authorities began to
remove the prisoners from Andersonville, as they thought
General Sherman was going to come down there to liberate
us. In the middle of September, orders were given to
my detachment to be ready to maixh at a moment's notice,
and that all persons who could not take care of themselves
must be left behind in the hospital ; as I knew this was
almost certain death, I determined to make every possible
effort to get away with my detachment ; this seemed hope-
less, as I could neither see nor take a single step. About

550 History of the Seventh Regiment

6 o'clock in the evening, a friend procured me some
cold water with which I bathed my knees freely, rubbing
the cords vigorously, which so relieved me that I was
able to walk for half an hour. I then gave them another
good bathing, and, after eating a few mouthfuls of food
which I had left, I lay down for the night. The follow-
ing morning as I had no breakfast to get, I gave my knees
another good bathing and rubbing, and as I was on the
point of again practicing, the order came for our detach-
ment to fall in, which was very fortunate for me, as it
found me in a good condition for marching. When the
order was given to march, they told us to lock arms two
by two ; this gave me a guide and so enabled me to get
by those who were inspecting us as we marched out, and
I can assure you I was glad to bid adieu to that prison of
horrors, Andersonville.

"When we arrived within one hundred yards of the
depot, the column was halted, and as my limbs were pain-
ing me I sat down upon the ground ; this was a mistake,
for my legs resumed their old position, and when the col-
umn moved I was unable to take a step. Two of my
comrades said I shouldn't be left behind, and seizing me
under each arm, helped me along, dragging one foot after
the other on the n-round ; as we had to cross three railroad
tracks, this was a very painful experience. I was placed
in a box car with other prisoners, and soon the train
started for Savannah, Ga., where we remained thirty-six
hours, being kindly treated and well fed. We were then
put aboard a freight train and sent to Charleston, S. C.
On our arrival at that place, I was lifted from the car and
placed upon the ground. Soon two of my comrades came
running along and stopped to speak to me. I asked them
where they were going ; they said we were close to a river
and they were going to take a bath, as they had been
unable to do so for more than six months. As I expressed

New Hampshire Volunteers. 551

a desire to enjoy the same blessing, they promised as soon
as they had finished their bath to come and give me one
also, which they did, much to my comfort and benefit.

" As they were taking me into the water, a rebel soldier
(who had been a prisoner at the North and been ex-
changed) came along, and asked what was being done,
and what was the matter with me. Upon being told, he
handed them a towel and some soap, saying, ' give him a
good wash,' and immediately went away. As they were
bringing me out of the water, after my bath, the soldier
returned, and gave me a pair of cotton pants and a shirt,
saying they were much better than the rags which I had
been wearing. After I was dressed, he gave me a ten-
dollar bill, saying I would find a use for it before I got
home. Of course I thanked him heartily for his kindness,
and have always regretted I did not learn his name. My
comrades then carried me and left me near the railroad
track where they had found me. Soon I, with others
who could not walk, was put into an open wagon, and
driven through the city to the other side of it, where we
were to remain for a while ; when passing a bakery in the
city, the same soldier who had befriended me came out with
three loaves of bread, and throwing them into the wagon,
said they were for the blind man. I got one of them,
the other two were divided among the rest of the team.

" After I had been in Charleston a few days, I was
taken sick with chronic diarrhoea, and I knew unless I
could get help soon, I could n't stand it but a short time ;
but fortunately for me, three or four days later I was
admitted to a hospital, where I received good medical
attendance, proper food, and had a good bed, and the
greater part of the time during four days and nights, I
enjoyed a restful sleep. In about two weeks I was so far
recovered as to be able to walk. As fast as the prisoners
got well at the hospital, they were sent to Florence or
Columbia, S. C.

552 History of the Seventh Reihment

" When I was nearly recovered, I asked the doctor if he
was troino- to send me to the stockade as soon as I was
able to (:jo. He said he would be obliged to do so, as men
were d3'ing for want of care which could be given them in
the hospital. I told him I should certainly die if I was
again sent to the stockade, and it would be just as well
for him to save m\ life as an\-, and a great deal better for
me. I settled it in m\- own mind that if it could possibly
be helped, I would not again go to the stockade.

"When I was pronounced well, I was placed on full
diet, and could get all the food I wanted ; as we always
knew a day or two before a squad was to leave, I would
secrete a part of my food, and the night before a squad
was to leave, I would eat so much as to make myself sick
and unfit to be sent away. This I did at two different
times, and the cloctor understood m\' condition and told
me not to do it an\' more, as he had decided to keep me
as long as anyone stayed ; and I remained in Charleston
imtil I was exchanged.

'' On the morning of November 28, a messenger came
from the provost marshal's office at Charleston, the mes-
senger was a prisoner like myself, and he told me that we
were going to be exchanged, and ambulances would arrive
in about an hour to carry us to the city. This seemed too
flood to be true, but the ambulances came and took the
worst cases and started for the cit\-. At the provost mar-
shal's office we were met with the intelligence that the
Yankees had captured the railroad between that city and
Savannah, and we must return to the hospital. This news
was soon contradicted, however, and we started Ibr the
depot, and were put into box cars on a freight train and
started for Savannah, where we were to be paroled ; and
although it was liut ninety miles it took the train nineteen
hours to reach the city. They were so afraid the Yankees
would capture the train that they would stop every two or

New Hampshire Volunteers. 553

three miles to telegraph to see if the road was clear. We
left Charleston at 10 p. m., the 2Sth, and reached Savannah
at 5 p. M., the 29th.

" On the morning of the 30th, we were taken on one of
their steamers down the harbor and transferred to one of
the United States vessels, and it would be hard to find a
happier set of men than we were when we found our-
selves once more under the protection of the stars and

" After we had been on board our vessel about one hour,
they brought us each one hard-tack and a piece of fat pork
about an inch square ; this was the sweetest and best
meal I think I ever enjoyed in my life. The vessel we
were on carried us to Hilton Head, S. C, where we were
transferred to the steamer ' George Leary,' which had
been fitted up for our use to convey us to Annapolis, Md.,
where we arrived December 4. Here we received new
clothing and the best of care, and were paid our back
ration and clothing money.

" I remained at that place two weeks, and having
received a furlough I went to Philadelphia, where I re-
mained three days. I then started for New Hampshire,
and arrived safely home at 4 o'clock in the afternoon of
the 23d of December, just three years, one month, and
twenty-four days from the time I enlisted. I shall not
attempt to describe my feelings on reaching home, for it
would be impossible to do so.

" For want of space I have omitted a great many par-
ticulars with regard to the horrors of Andersonville, as
well as a great many other incidents of prison life which
would no doubt have been interesting and instructive, but
the foregoing narrative will suffice to give a faint idea of
the sufferings endured by prisoners of war, while in the
hands of the Confederate authorities."

554 History of the Seventh Regiment

George Whitefield Abbott.

George Whitefield Abbott, son of Nathaniel and Mary
Fitts Abbott, was born at West Boscawen (now Webster),
N. H., on March 13, 1837. His father was a tarmer, he
also remaining with him on the farm until he was nineteen
years of age.

His grandfather was a soldier of the Revolutionary
War, serving in Colonel Peabody's regiment. Soon after
his discharge from the service he took up wild forest land,
making himself a farm and building a log house for a
home. The same farm was the home of the subject of
this sketch, although he does not remember the log house.

Finding farming too monotonous for his nature he
obtained a position in a store in Boston, but returned to
New Hampshire in 1861, entering the grocery business
with his brother at Fisherville (now Penacook), but the
following year he disposed of his part of the business to
enter the service, enlisting in August, 1862, being assigned
to Company E, Seventh N. H. Volunteers.

He followed the fortunes of his regiment, and was
severely wounded at the battle of Olustee, Fla., on Febru-
ary 20, 1864.

After remaining in hospital at Beaufort, S. C, until the
following May, he rejoined his regiment at Yorktown,
Va., just in season to go with them with the Butler ex-
pedition to Bermuda Hundred, on the James River.

At the close of the war in 1865, he returned to Pena-
cook, N. H., and again entered the mercantile line, follow-
ing that and manufacturing until the present time.

After several years of retail trade in both the dry goods
and clothing business, in 1882, he, in company with Joseph
E. Symonds, who was also a member of Company E,
Seventh Regiment, formed a copartnership for the manu-
facture of tables, desks, bookcases, etc., which business

New Hampshire Volunteers. 555

was rapidly developed until it demanded the employment
of about tbrty men, and*is to-day one of the largest of its
kind in New England.

In addition to the duties of his own business, he is presi-
dent of the Penacook Electric Light Company, a director
in the New Hampshire Fruit Company, and also a director
in both the Concord Street Railway and the First National
Bank of Concord, N. H.

He was presidential elector on the Republican ticket of
1892, and was representative from Ward i of Concord in
the legislature of 1895 ^"

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 43 of 52)