John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

. (page 44 of 47)
Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 44 of 47)
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into obscuritv.

The first muster-out rolls were examined in part to-day.
We are to be mustered out on the twentj-'-fifth inst.

Shaw and Fullerton have been released and sent to the
Regiment. They are the men who deserted to the rebels
and captured our mules, at the Chattahoochee, last fall.
They are both scoundrels of the lirst order.

P'riday, July 21. — The ^26. Indiana has been mustered
out, to-day. Shaw and Fullerton, the great operators in
mules, have been re-arrested. They are to be tried. They
deserve hanpfinir.

Saturday, July 22. — The work of making our muster-
out rolls is going on rapidly. All are very anxious for their
completion. I am bus}^ making out a list of postoffice
addresses of all who have ever been in the Regiment.

Sunday, July 23. — Visited New Albany and preached at
Wesley Chapel in the forenoon. About dark I preached to



my Regiment, which proved to be my hist sermon to them.
The text was : " If thou hadst known, even thou, at least
in this, thy da}^ the things which belong unto thy peace ;
but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19:45. I
endeavored to show that while we have labored under some
disadvantages in reference to moral cultivation in the army,
that army life is really conducive to moral development.
The hypocrite is unmasked ; the really worthless is shown
to be such. He who can be spoiled b}^ camp corruption is

hardly worth saving. He is
but a poor weak thing at best.
A holy war, such as this,
makes men better, ph^'sic-
ally, intellectually and mor-
ally. I spoke at length on
several virtues which were
strengthened here. Those
who have become w^orthless
may blame themselves.

I pointed the boys to the
future and bid them be up
and doing, for there will be
sublime triumphing for the

Monday, July 24. — The remainder of our rolls were
completed and sent to the mustering officers.

Captain Davis and myself went up town to make inquiries
about iron fences. We found there two magnificent lions,
carved in Italy. We each oflered fifty dollars towards pur-
chasing them for our monument at Princeton. The price is
$850.00. Nobody seconds our eflbrts.

We had a Regimental monument meeting at two p. m.
It was determined to fence the monument, and an assess-

Company A.

* Was mustered in with the Regiment and remained with it until the
close of the war, being mustered out as Sergeant of Company A, July 25,
1S65. His father was Captain of the same Company. After the war Ser-
geant Davis returned to his home in Gibson county, subsequently, he
removed to Weston, Nebraska, where he has been living for several years.


ment of five dollars per officer and ten dollars per compan}^
was made to defray the expenses. The following board of
trustees was elected : Colonel Joseph Moore and James T.
Embree, Drs. W. W. Blair and James C. Patten, and Cap-
tains C. C. Whiting, William E. Chapell and Green

There was a meeting of the Christian Association at night.
Important resolutions were passed and the Association wi.s

Tuesday, July 25. — The 58tli Indiana Volunteers was
this day mustered on muster-out rolls. The rolls were sent
in charge of Lieutenant Hadlock to Indianapolis. We are
ordered to the same place lor discharge and final pa3'ment.
Many are excited. Some are drunk. I am busy.

Wednesday, July 26. — Turned over camp and garrison
equipage. Crossed to Jeffersonville and left on the train.
Arriv^ed in Indianapolis about eight p. m. The only acci-
dent was the knocking in the head of Clark Kirk. He
butted a bridge and the bridge knocked him down, but he
still lives. Some men are proverbially hard to kill. I
stopped at the Little Hotel. The Regiment is at the Sol-
diers' Home.

We were publicly received. We had dinner at the Sol-
diers' Home, and speaking at the State House Square.
Governor Morton made a few remarks and excused himself
on account of health. Lieutenant Governor Baker, General
Hovey and Meredith made speeches. General Buell made
a few remarks, as did also Major Downey. The affliir
passed off' pleasantly.

Regiment at Camp Carrington. Some have gone home.
Paymaster Martin is working on our rolls and will pay us to
the 31st. There is much restlessness amongst the men.
There is a great desire for citizen clothing.

Men all paid except a very few, and have gone home.
Farewells were hurried. The soldiers, as soon as they get
their "buzzards," as they call their discharges, hurry otT
home, like children released Irom school.



Tlie Government settles with the officers, and many of
them are oft' for home. I am still in Indianapolis.

Thursday, August 3. — At 5 :50 a. m. I left the city of
Indianapolis, and at two p. m. reached Bloomington —
"home from the wars."

My campaigns are ended and my "Field Notes" are fin-
ished. These jottings have been hurriedl}^ penned ; I have
not paused to correct mistakes. I have been compelled to
use such materials as I could get. Let no one

"View me with a critic's eye
But pass my imperfections by."

My army life has been pleasant. The scenes of glorious
war will live in mv memor}/^ forever. The comrades of my
campaigns have a warm place in my affections. But happy
peace has come again to our land. May she abide with us

To Almighty God I give thanks for my preservation. Him
do I beseech to still guide our people, and most tenderly
care for the poor, the oppressed and the suffering. Amen I


From Chickamauga to Richmond — How Sergeant W.
B. Crawford was Compelled to Make the Jour-
ney — Some of the Experiences of a Prisoner of
War — Taunts and Jeers by the Way — Thieving
Propensities of the Captors — Likewise their
Inhumanity — Their Utter Indifference to the
Wants of the Prisoners — Sickness, Hunger and
Starvation — Incidents in Pemberton Prison — At
Danville — Tunneling — In Hospital — Exchanged
— Under the Stars and Stripes Once More — An
Entry Into the Better Land.

THE story of the experience of Sergeant William B.
Crawford, of Company B, as a prisoner of war, while
it may not be materially different from many others, will
serve to illustrate the privations and hardships of the soldiers
who were so unfortunate as to fall into rebel hands.*
He was captured in the second day's fight in the bat-
tle of Chickamauga. He was sent, with other Company
Orderlies, al'jout a mile to the rear, to draw rations
for the Regiment. When they returned to where they left
the Regiment, they found it had moved up to the front line
of battle, and were, at that time, engaged with the enemy.
As it was not practicable to distribute the rations then, and
as rations were very valuable to the soldiers under the cir-
cumstances, it was wisely determined to guard them until
such time as they could be issued to the men. It was
thought there would be a lull in the battle soon, when this

* This account was written by Chaplain I light, from Sergeant Craw-
ford's own statement soon after his return to the Regiment, at Chattahochee
river, in 1864. It was evidently the intention of the author to ha\e the story
appear in that part of the Regimental history, but the compiler has thought
best to leave it for the concluding chapter.


could be done. But, instead, the tight grew hotter, and it
was not long until there was a break in our lines. It was
the result of our men trying to execute the fatal order of
General Rosecrans, directing General Wood to "close up on
Reynolds' left." In the confusion that ensued. Sergeant
Crawford, with his squad of men, attempted to save the
rations. They started with them to the rear, as they sup-
posed. Soon they were caught in the mass of our broken
columns, and each man had to look out for himself. Ser-
geant Crawford was separated from the rest, and in trying
to find them he found himself in the presence of a squad of
rebel cavalry. They were a Company of Texas Rangers,
and were picking up "Yankees" without much ceremony.
Crawford w^as halted, and relieved of his gun and equip-
ments. He was then rushed ofl'a mile or so to the rear, and
turned over to another squad of rebel cavahy, who had a lot
of other prisoners. The}- moved on over the Chickamauga,
crossing on the dam at Lee & Gordon's Mills, taking the
road to Ringgold. On the way, they met a number of rebel
soldiers going to the front. There was great rejoicing among
these soldiers, over their victory, and they were very insult-
ing in their language to the prisoners.

Late at night the Union prisoners, now about fifty in num-
ber, were placed in an old house. Next morning the}- were
sent, on foot, to Tunnel Hill. Here their number was
increased to about i ,500, and the appearance of things was
ver}' discouraging to our men. They were marched through
a gate into the road. At each side of the gate stood a rebel
officer, who ordered our men to give up their canteens,
knapsacks, gum blankets, etc. Those who refused to do so
were relieved of these things by force.

The prisoners were then sent to Dalton, under guard of
the Georgia militia. At this place they remained on the
night of September 21, 1864. Here the rebels pretended to
issue rations. Some of our men received a cup of flour, and
a few little pieces of bacon, but most of them received noth-
ing. Sergeant Crawford found, among his fellow prisoners,



several ot our Brigade, whom he collected together as far as
he could. They were put on the cars, which were very
much crowded, and started for Atlanta. The people were
everywhere verv insulting — the women especially so. They
would put their handkerchiefs about their necks, and make
gestures, to indicate that, in their opinion, the Yankees
ought to be hung.

When Atlanta was reached, the prisoners were formed in
line, near the depot. While they were waiting here, a great

crowd of people tilled the
streets, curious to get a
sight of some real, live
Yankees. A little girl,
standing bv the side of
an old woman, was heard
to remark, " Why ,
grandma, I do not see
any horns."

One of the prisoners,
who heard this remark,
said to the old lady,
"These are all young
Yankees, and their horns
have not grown yet. Just
wait until the next lot of
older ones come along,
With great simplicity and
wonder, the old woman asks, "Is that so?" She was,
evidently, ready to believe the ridiculous myths that
had grown out of the ignorance and bitter hatred that
those people bore toward the Yankees. The prisoners were


Company B.

and you will see the horns.

* Was niustored in at Camp (jibson as Corporal, and served his full term
of enlistment with the Regiment (except the time he served in rebel prison)
and was mustered out as Sergeant. November ii, 1S64. After returning
home, he prepared liimself for the ministry. He has for several vears been
one of the prominent and intkiential ministers in the Cumberland Presbyter-
ian Church, and has held some important jiastoral charges. His present
home is in- Oakland City, Indiana.


marched to the Bull Pen, where they were deliberately
robbed of their pocket knives, great coats and woolen blank-
ets. The weather was exceedingly cold, and the men suf-
fered all night. Every man w^ho was accustomed to swear-
ing poured out oaths loud and deep on their heartless cap-
tors. Even the prayers of the righteous, if answered, would
not have been v^ry beneficial to the rebels. Five days'
rations were issued to the prisoners, which consisted of
eighteen small crackers and a piece of bacon — altogether,
about as much as is our regular rations for one day. Next
morning they were crowded into box cars and started for
Augusta. At all stations there were crowds of people to see
the Yankees, and the same insulting remarks were repeated.
At Augusta the prisoners were marched into the court house
square, and guarded all night by the Georgia militia. This
militia was composed of the young blooded aristocracy of
the town, and was most contemptible.

Resuming their journey next morning, thev went to Char-
lotte, S. C, thence to Weldon, N. C. Then they passed
on, through Petersburg, and, on the ist of October, they
arrived at Richmond. Thus, eleven days had been occupied
in getting from the battlefield to this place, and the hunger
and hardship had told severely on the men. Many of them
were sick. But this was only the beginning of their sor-

The prisoners were placed under cliarge of the city Bat-
talion of guards and marched down street. Passing Libb}^
Prison, the officers were marched into that building, while
the men were placed in Pemberton Prison, near by. The
latter was a large three-story building, which was turned
into a prison for this emergency. They were marched in,
two hundred at a time, and assigned separate apartments.
There was only space enough allowed for each to lie down
on, and there was a great scramble for the most desirable
location. Sergeant Crawford was fortunate in being among
the first of the crowd to get in, and secured a comparatively
comfortable location.


Soon after the i ,200 prisoners had been located, a rebel
officer came into the room and called on all who had money
to come forward and give it up. He stated that he would
record the name, Company and Regiment, and the amount,
and when the prisoners were exchanged their money would
be returned to them. If any declined to comply with this
request, the officer stated that they would be searched and
their money would be confiscated. On the advice of some
who had been prisoners before, and had received back the
money which they had given up, nearly all came forward
and handed over their change. Qviite a large amount was
collected by this rebel officer — and that was the last the men
ever saw of their money.

After these "preliminaries" had been attended to, and as
the prisoners had nothing more in the way of personal prop-
erty that was worth stealing, they were permitted to rest for
the night. They were without blankets and had nothing
but the hard floor on which to sleep, yet they had been so
long without sleep, that they were not long in sinking into
unconsciousness. Next morning the men were divided oft'
into Companies, with a non-commissioned officer in charge
of each, to facilitate the issuing of rations. Sergeant Craw-
ford's squad fell in with that of Sergeant-Major Potter, of
the 2 2d Michigan, which made a Company of thirty-four
men. This was about the average size of the Companies.
Rations were then issued to the men. One pound loaf of
bread was given to every two, and about as much cooked
beef was given to thirty-four men as one man could eat.
This was cut up into small bits by the Sergeant of the squad.
One man then turned his back and answered the question
propounded, in reference to each piece, "Whose is this?"
Thus, the scanty rations were divided, but there was not
enough to satisfy the appetite, and the rations of bread grew
smaller all the time. After two weeks only corn bread was
issued. It was made of unsifted meal. A slice about four
inches long, two inches and a half wide and one inch thick,
was a day's rations of corn bread. There was no coftee


nor any other item of diet save bread, meat, and occasion-
ally a few grains of rice. The meat was a thin slice, usually
of beef, not more than three bites to the man ; sometimes
they would take it all at one bite. Often tlie meat would be
tainted and full of maggots, but it was not thrown away
on that account. Some days there was no meat, and a few
dirty, rotten sweet potatoes would be substituted. Under
such diet it is not strange that the men were fast wasting
away. Sergeant Crawford says he was so weak he could
scarcely stand alone, on account of this process of starva-
tion. Many of the men became sick, and when they became
very bad they were removed to the hospital. Man}^ were
dying from actual starvation.

The first Sunday morning a minister appeared in the
prison for the purpose of preaching. It was rumored among
the boys that he was a rebel preacher, and they declined to
hear any gospel from that source. But when he stepped
into the middle of the room and announced himself as Chap-
lain of a New York Regiment, a change came over the
feelings of the boys. They listened attentively and joined
in the service earnestl}'^ and reverently. He came from
Libby Prison, and there was much interest in hearing tVom
our officers confined there. He promised to come back and
preach again, but never did. It is said the rebels would not
permit him to do so.

The days wore on and the men continued to wear out.
They occupied themselves in various ways to pass the time.
From the bones of beef and other material, many of the men
made rings, charms and various other ornaments.

An addition was very unexpectedly madt; to the stock of
materials for rings as well as to the rations. One day some
rebel officers came in, followed by a dog. In the great
crowd the dog was separated and forced into the sink.
While some kept him from making a noise, one cut his
throat. The officers soon passed out, thinking, perhaps,
that tlie dog had gone home. No sooner were they gone
than the dotr was divided antl cafied oil' 1)\' a man with liis


back turned. The meat was cooked by the men, and eaten,
and was pronounced good. Those who had it, were begged,
by all passing, for some. The bones of this dog were quite
an addition to the materials for making rings, etc. Very
few of the canine species ever were put to such good use.
Sergeant Crawford regretted that he did not get any of this

At first the prisoners did not think that the rebels would
take greenbacks ; but soon they discovered an inordinate
desire, on the part of the rebels, for this currency. The
officers had robbed them for two reasons — they wanted to
steal the money, which they did, and secondly, they could
not trust the guards. But still, there was considerable
money in the prison.

It was soon Ibund that the guards would trade when there
were no ofiicers present. The guards were watched very
closely. But between twelve and four o'clock in the morn-
ing the officers would be away. Most of the trading was
done through a hole in the back wall, in the lower room.
There were loose bricks, which were kept in this in the day
time. The guards would come from their quarters on the
outside and trade with the prisoners. At first, our men gave
one dollar for four loaves of bread. Some of the men had
rebel money, but they (the rebels) did not want it. They
refused their own mone}^. Our men soon found that such
was the thirst for their money that they could get thirteen
loaves for a dollar. At the same time, two dollars per loaf,
was the smallest price in rebel money ; and five dollars per
loaf, was often paid. The rebels could not be hired to go
and get bread with their own money. It was only when they
had bread at the hole, and there were no greenbacks, that
they could be induced to take their own money. The rebels
soon learned to be trick}^, and would often run oft' with the
money without giving anything in return. Sergeant Craw-
ford lost a watch in that way. It was a partnership watch.
A guard oftered him one hundred and twenty-five loaves,
but he asked one hundred and fiftv. He asked him to let him


see the watch, and then he ran off with it. As often as the
guards were caught they were punished. The prisoners
were also closely watched. One night, when a great crowd
was collected about the scuttle hole, an officer came in.
There was a great rush for their beds. The officer of the
day was called in ; all the prisoners were ordered to get up.
It was one o'clock in the morning. They were formed in
four ranks, on each side of the room. The guards were
ordered to walk between the two ranks. They were
ordered to require the prisoners to stand without uttering a
word until day. This cruel order was not strictly enforced ;
some of the men were allowed to sit down. But no sooner
was a noise heard on the stairs than the sentinel would
motion with his hand for them to rise up. Such, was the
despotism exercised over these poor, ignorant men. When
any of them were detected trading with the Yankees, they
were sent to Castle Thunder, or punished in some way.

Up to this time the cellar was terra incognita. The pris-
oners, having much leisure time, concluded to press their
discoveries in that direction. A hole was cut through the
floor, by the aid of saws made out of case knives. Through
this they lowered themselves into the cellar. Here was
found a large quantity — perhaps four hundred two-bushel
sacks — of tine table salt. As the meat given to the prison-
ers was not salted, this was a pleasant addition to the rations.
The prisoners on the other side of the liouse were less enter-
prising. ]5ut when they were informed, througii the cracks
cut in the partition doors, of the discovery of the salt, they
concluded to examine their part of the cellar. They found
about fifty hogsheads of sugar. Immediately, after the man-
ner of men, commercial relations were established between
the two departments. Holes were cut in the partition doors,
and salt exchanged for sugar. Only a spoonful could be
passed at a time, owing to the smallness of the holes. This
was slow work for the salt men. At the end of two days,
they determined to make an advance on their neighbors' ter-
ritory, according to the custom of nations unsatisiied with


the products of their own soil. A hole was battered through
the brick partition wall of the cellar, and soon our side was
in the land of sugar. Salt sacks were ripped, the salt poured
out, and then filled with sugar. Large quantities of this
sugar was eaten by the hungry men, without producing any
injury. But the men were too noisy and greedy. An
examination was made into the cause of all this confusion,
and the purloining of the salt and sugar was discovered.
The bird that laid the golden egg was dead. The carts ran
all day, removing the salt and sugar, which were the prop-
erty of speculators, who had it stored for the day of enor-
mous prices. They got but little sympathy from even the
rebels. It was a big event in the history of the prison.
When those who had been in this prison meet now, the
question is often asked, "Were you on the salt or sugar

About this time a North Carolina soldier shot two Virgin-
ians. There was great jealousy between the soldiers from
these States. The North Carolinians were accused of hav-
ing too much sympathy for the Yankees.

Sergeant Crawford's residence at Pemberton Prison
ceased November 15. On the plea of being better able to
feed them, many of the prisoners were removed to points
farther south. Another, and perhaps the chief reason,
though not publicly assigned, was the deep-laid plot of Col-
onel Streight and others in Libby Prison to overpower the
guards, release the prisoners, sieze the armory, capture
Richmond, and escape to our lines. But the men in Pem-
berton Prison knew nothing of this plot. It failed, on
account of the treachery of some officer in Libbv.

Sergeant Crawford was taken sick on the night preceding
his removal, and continued ill for two weeks. Seven hun-
dred prisoners passed out, in single file, each receiving a
small corn cake for his day's rations. The men, gnawing
their corn bread, were formed in four ranks, presenting a
very pitiful spectacle. Some were barefooted, and many
without hats ; some were without coats, and some without


shirts. The citizens who chanced to pass along the streets
manifested no S3'mpathy. As the men passed Libby, where
the officers were, hats, blouses, shoes, boots and shirts were
thrown out to the men. This was very creditable to the
othcers, as they were but little better off than the enlisted
men. The}' were marched over James river, and put on a
train bound for Danville, Va. The train started out about
nine a. m., and at midnight they reached Danville. Craw-
ford saw some of the prisoners escape on the way, but he was
too ill to make the attempt.

At Danville the seven hundred prisoners were placed in a
tobacco warehouse, which was called Prison No. 3. The

Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 44 of 47)