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ences in
Civil War


Solomon Woolttfort,

Telling of His Capture and
Marvelous Escape from Prison
in the Civil War









Copyright, 1903,
by Solomon Woohvorth.


When the War broke out I was in business in State street,
Chicago, as a grocer and butcher.

We all thought the first six months would put an end to the
U War ; that the first quota of men, which was seventy-five thou-
^ sand, would be a sufficient number, but we found we had mis-
• calculated the strength of the South.
"^"^ Abraham Lincoln had to issue a proclamation for six hun-
dred thousand. Then he issued another proclamation, that
every slave that came within the reach of the army should be
free. He gave the South three months to make up their minds.
It was the opinion of most people they would come in as they
were, and enjoy all the rights they ever had, but they saw all
the Western States were being settled by the free North. Now
they knew, with no more territory than they had in the South,
slavery would be no good to them, so they decided to fight it
to the bitter end. Up to this time we had no success, but when
the three months were ended and we had started again, we had
success. We didn't have to take the slave back to his master



again, as the rotomac Army had done, but we armed him and
jnil liim hack in the ranks to fight his master as fast as the army
approaclicd tlie South.

The slaves had heard of Master Lincohi's proclamation; they
had flocked to our army.

Now the South dare not trust the slaves with their arms;
all thcv could use them for was building fortifications. Lin-
coln called for three hundred thousand men. The Democrats
were opposed to the War — they didn't want to go; so he let
them off at three hundred dollars each.

At this juncture of the war I thought if I didn't go out and
fight for my country I would have no right to own property
in the country. The price this country would cost would be
blood. My ancesters were all fighting people; my two grand-
fathers fought in the Revolutionary War and three uncles
fought in the war with Great Britain in 1812. One of them
was wounded and carried a bullet in his shoulder and drew a
pension until he died.

I considered the matter over and thought it was my duty to
enlist. We had thought, until this time, that young men
could put down the rebellion and the old men w^ouldn't have
to go out, but we found it assumed larger proportions than
we thought. So, when they called for the last quota of men —
six hundred thousand — we found the old men must go as well
as the young.

I sold out my store and prepared to enlist. I enlisted the
second day of y\ugust, 1862, in the 113th Regiment of Illinois
Volunteers. There were three regiments gotten U]:> by the
Board of Trade of Chicago. I enlisted in the third one. We
went into camp at Camp Hancock, on Lake Michigan's shore.


for three months. There I learned to handle the musket in
every shape. We fought sham battles and went on dress pa-
rade every day. Every third day we had to go on two hours
for fatigue duty, and once a week guard duty. Every day, at
nine o'clock, the bugle would sound for the sick to report them-
selves. The doctor would examine them and, if necessary,
would send them to the hospital. At night a line would form
around the encampment, of soldiers, about twenty-five feet
apart. The duty of the soldiers was to march up to the post
and to turn and march back again. When they were put on
duty they were given the pass word.

Every two hours they were relieved by the sergeant, who put
another man in their place. When the sergeant would get
within a certain distance he was halted, and would have to give
the password. If, however, they fail to give the password,
the soldiers would call the corporal ; then he would go out and
take him prisoner and march him up to the regiment head-
quarters. There they were put in the guard house and kept
until nine o'clock the next day. Then they would be exam-
ined by the officers.

There was a lady, who kept a lunch stand, in the regiment.
After they would eat their rations at the camp, they w^ould go
to her, and spend twenty-five cents for pies, cakes or sweets.
The next day they would be reported on the sick list and would
have to go to the hospital for two or three days. In this way
they spent considerable of their money, which did them no

I hold that such things shouldn't be allowed in an encamp-
ment of soldiers, for I have seen the folly of such things.

Shouldering arms and presenting arms was very nice for the


first two or three weeks, and talking of war news. We had to
sleep on the ground at night. The bugle sounded at sunrise,
which was a signal to get up and prepare for company drill.
Many of the boys got tired of soldiering; it wasn't as it was at
home, where they could lay abed as long as they liked. Some
of them deserted. I was detailed to go with a party to hunt
a deserter and bring him back to camp. We went down to the
city of Chicago and surrounded his father's residence. It
looked pretty warlike when we surrounded the house with
loaded rifles, ordered to halt any one that came out. This we
did at midnight.

We had a very pompous lieutenant. He went up to the
front door like a commanding general; he demanded entrance
into the house by the authority of the United States. If they
didn't open it in five minutes he would break the door down.
The father came to the door and he was frightened out of his
senses; but the boy was not there, so we had all that scout for

The boys got tired of this kind of play and wished they had
never enlisted. About this time the army was defeated at
Harper's Ferry. They were paroled by Stonewall Jackson.
The boys thought they were going right home, but the Gov-
ernment thought otherwise and sent three regiments of them
up to us to guard. The boys were so mad because they didn't
go home that they were determined to desert and go home.
This took a very vigorous guard to keep them in camp, and
quite a number of them were shot trying to get out of the
camp. This duty we had about six weeks.

When we first went into camp there were about eighteen,
and we hadn't a man among us that knew enough to make out


a requisition to get rations. For one day we couldn't draw

A squad came in at night ; among them was a Mr. Conway.
This Conway had been a drunkard and his wife supported him
by doing washing. He was an Irishman and he had learned
how to draw rations; so, when they found out he could draw
rations, they voted him in orderly sergeant. To clothe an
Irishman with power then he likes to show it. Once in a while
we would be drawn up in line on dress parade and some stran-
ger would review us, with the view of being colonel of the
regiment. After three or four times there came one George
B. Hogue. He looked so grand sitting up there so straight
on that noble horse. He could give orders so distinct and
clear that the boys thought they must have him. Now, ac-
cording to military, we should have taken one of our own com-
mand and voted him in colonel, but, instead of that, we took
the one that was sent to us. He could rectify more whiskey
than any other man I ever knew and stand up on his legs. His
mother was a poor widow in Missouri, and had managed to
give him a little military education, but with the education he
imbibed all the bad habits going. There was a Mr. Brown.
Now he was pretty smart and the boys thought best to make
him lieutenant.

He was a street-car driver. Yes, and he owed me two or
three dollars. He was a corporal when we first went in, but
the boys jumped him right up to second lieutenant. There
came a day when the company presented him with a sword.
His wife was Goddess of Liberty, she presented him with the

We had a good many visitors that day. The lieutenant


swiing^ the sword and said it would never come back disgraced.
Tliere were a great many patriotic speeches made and a great
many rebels slain that day, before the regiment had gone down
South at all.

I got up and made a speech. I said the time for a reward
was after the work was done, and now, if Mr. Brown had been
down South, and had received a good deal of glory for his gal-
lant actions, then it would have been time to present him with
the sword for his bravery. It looked to me as if it was pay-
ing him before he had done his work. No farmer would think
of paying a man until he had done his day's w^ork.

Mr. Doe was first orderly sergeant and afterw^ards was ad-
vanced to major. In this capacity he stayed all the while we
were in the North. He drilled the regiment many times.
There came a day when we W' ent on dress parade with the whole
command — three regiments and a battery. Here we had to
march and counter march and perform the whole routine duty.
We also had to form a hollow square, and had to prepare to
receive a charge of cavalry. This means to kneel down on one
knee and put the breech of the musket against the other foot,
and hold it up at right angles, just high enough to hit a horse's
breast. The file behind you kneel the same w^ay, only the muz-
zle of the gun goes right over your shoulders, and, wdien a
command is in this attitude, they look very handsome. The
next we had to stand a dose of cannonading. They drew us
up in line in front of the line of cannons. I saw the boys be-
gin to look pale; they w^ished they were back to mother's apron
string again, but we got through with it without any of us
being killed. The gunners fired just as fast as they could, as
they were practicing to fire quick.



John Doe, when he came to the regiment, he had some friends
there. They thought he ought to be made orderly sergeant.
So, after a while, they made him orderly. When the regiment
was made complete, they had to have an adjutant. He had
some pretty warm friends in the command and they thought
he would be a suitable one for adjutant, consequently they made
him adjutant. In this capacity he served until the regiment
went South.

Every morning we had roll call. There would generally be
some one that wouldn't come back at the limit of the pass, but,
if they came in two or three days, they vvould give them a slight
punishment and put them in the guard house for a few hours,
or, perhaps, extra police duty. Those that didn't report at the
limitation of the pass were marked as deserters.

I noticed, after a week or so, they dropped his name, and
didn't call it. Then we began to inquire into it and found out
that both the lieutenant and sergeant got a hundred dollars a
piece for letting him off. We made him furnish another man
in his place. They had to pay him a hundred dollars, so they
only made a hundred out of it.

John Doe was a fast young man and had a good many lady
acquaintances, so he took it into his head, one day, to march
the regiment all over the city. Where he had any fancy we
had to march on that street, so he could show himself com-
mander of the regiment. We marched down State street, La-
Salle street, Dearborne and Washington streets. He had a
great many acquaintances in the last-mentioned street. We
had to go through the manual of arms — shouldering arms and
presenting arms. Face right and face left. Then we broke


into columns and marched up the street. This was in Novem-
ber, and in a pelting snowstorm all day long.

Our camp was two miles from the city, so you may know
that, after we had marched four miles and then all over the
the city, an angrier lot of men I never saw — when they got into
camp, tired nearly to death, and did it all to gratify that sirnple-
ton's pride. We wouldn't have done it if we had the other
commanders. This is all the glory he ever gained.

The officers issued orders for all to report at headquarters to
sign their pay. In this way they got all the soldiers in. Then
they gave orders that they couldn't leave camp any more as no
passes would be granted.

The next day Adjutant Fuller appeared on the ground. Up
until this time we had been in State service. Now we were
mustered into United States service. We were drawn up in
line and the adjutant rode along the line and read the military
tactics. He read how the soldiers must implicitly obey. If
there was any that didn't like the tactics they are told to step
out two paces in front, and I stepped out. He rode up to me
and says: "What does this mean? Are you going to rebel be-
fore you go out?" I told him that I heard him read that the
soldiers must obey the orders of the officers. If any of my
officers should order me to surrender, I couldn't obey it. He
said : "Shoot him, and I'll bear you out in it." The boys had
lots of fun over it, and said I w^as one of the highest officers.

Now we had rations issued to Cairo. I shall never forget
the day we marched away from Chicago. It was snowing as
hard as it could snow. It had been advertised in the city papers
that we were to go a certain day. The women were bidding



farewell to their loved ones — never expecting to see them again,
and there was plenty of crying done, and wringing of hands.

I was glad that I didn't have any family to leave. I had a
young lady whom I had done a great deal for. She was my
fiance. There were many promises to write letters every week.
The women stayed at camp until we were out of sight. They
waved their handkerchiefs as long as we could see them. I bid
Chicago good-by, for I never expected to see it again.

We were crowded into the cars — about a third more than the
capacity of the car could hold. This way we had about three
hundred and fifteen miles to travel. We reached Cairo four
o'clock in the morning. We disembarked from the cars and
they drew us up in line and we had to stand for two or three

Our officers hadn't sense enough to draw rations for us.
They got us aboard the boat, then took possession of the cabins
and put a guard to each door. Now my readers must know
we had no rations issued to us in Cairo to carry us to Mem-
phis for two days and two nights. The ofKicers held high car-
nival all the way from Cairo to Memphis. They had plenty
to eat on the boat and plenty to drink. We could hear them in
their debauch.

We arrived at Memphis and disembarked there, and an an-
grier lot of men you never saw. We went one mile back of
Memphis city, and went to the camp.

We never saw Mr. Brown or Mr. Doe after we all took the
boat at Cairo, but we knew they were in the drunken debauch.
The next we heard of them they had resigned and gone up
North. Mr. Brown went driving on the street cars again and
Mr. Doe went back to his old trade, piano tuning, and this



ended all their military glory. We stayed in camp here about
one week. We had to stand picket every night, expecting to
be shot by the Rebels.

Colonel George B. Hogue filled himself with whiskey and all
went outside the lines. He came slashing through the brush
after dark and he happened to come up in hearing distance of
my post. I ordered him to halt, but he paid no attention. He
thought because he was colonel he had a right ; but I ordered
him twice more to halt, but he didn't halt. I had previous or-
ders that, after I had hollowed halt three times, I should shoot
them, and I was sorry afterwards I didn't do it. I knew it was
the colonel for I had a little inkling of the plan. I called for
the corporal and took him prisoner. When he came up to me
there was a great bustle in camp and they called for volunteers
to go out and make a raid on the rebels, but when we got out
I found the raid on the Rebels was a raid on an old cow.
Whitcomb was the boss of the raid and he shot her. We took
her hide off and cut her up and took her into camp. We left
the hide and horns outside, where we killed her. The next day
the owner came to camp and showed the horns to the officers.
He said if he could find anything that the horns belonged to, he
would punish the men ; but he could not find anything they be-
longed to.

There was a great secret in camp as to where the boys were
going. This time they were going to attack a Rebel Major,
and I thought he had a squad of troops with him, so they got
me to volunteer to go, but when they got there it was a poor
widow, left alone. It frightened her nearly to death, but they
went on and robbed the hen roost and all they could get their
hands on, and we returned to camp with a cart load of poultry.



Now we got orders to march out to Tallahassee, about forty-
five miles distant, and there was a stream of fire the whole dis-
tance. Rebel houses and stables burning. It was a very dry
time. Everything you touched a match to it burned. The air
was so full of smoke it was fairly stifling to breathe.

Before I left I\Iemphis I sent all my clothing and knapsacks
back to Chicago. The rest of them didn't send theirs. It
was a very hot day when w^e started out of Memphis. The
mercury registered ninety. You could have picked up a load
of overcoats they threw away, it was so warm. When we
were all ready to march, with the knapsacks on, we had to
stand still two hours and a half, for the colonel to get sober
enough to lead us.

AVe had a matron with us and she was detailed to stand and
fan the colonel for two hours. He was lying on a sofa taken
from a Rebel's house in the woods. All the way trees were
cut dov/n and fell across the road, and they amused themselves
by firing at us while we cleaned them out of the road.

When w^e got to Tallahassee it was a dark night. We en-
camped in a cornfield. It rained like everything and I took
my blanket and laid on a bunch of rails. All you could hear
was just a little squeal of a pig. I was left in charge of a hun-
dred men to guard a lot of stuff we couldn't carry. We were
there two days; then we went about five miles up the river.
We had to build a new bridge with the Rebels firing at us all
the time. When we completed the bridge we crossed over and
went up five or six miles to a Rebel camp. After days of
fighting we routed the enemy. Then we got orders to march
back to Memphis again. We stayed there for about a vv^eek.
Then we had a battalion drill and all kinds of drills.



We arrived at Milligan's Bend in the forenoon. They had
just got their Christmas dinner prepared, but when they saw
our army coming they pulled up stakes and left in a hurry, leav-
ing their dinner all ready prepared on the table. Our officers
enjoyed the dinner very much.

We commenced disembarking part of the troops on the levee.
Our lieutenant-colonel rode up and down the levee, two men
holding him on the horse, and he was swinging his sword,
telling how he cut the Rebels.

When we got ready to march he was on the boat again, too
drunk to go with us. The other officers, colonel and major,
were also too drunk to go, and stayed on the boat. All to lead
us then was a captain of Company B.

We marched on the levee and the Rebels went into a swamp
and kept up a steady fire on us. We went off the levee and
took a road that led back to the railroad about five miles.
There we tore up the railroad and made a fire of the ties and
heated the rails until we could bend them. This was the only
railroad that Texas had to supply the wants of Vicksburg.
We returned to the boats again under a strong Rebel fire.

Then we received orders to come on to Vicksburg, which
took about twenty-four hours. When we got there we had
to fight an enemy strongly posted on Walnut Hill, just back of
Vicksburg. The boys found it was no fun in fishing up tor-
pedoes. We had two men stationed on each side of the boat,
and when the grapple caught on to a chain they had to raise it
up carefully and cut off the torpedo. It was dangerous busi-
ness and a great many were killed in doing it.

I saw the bow of the boat all blown off by the torpedoes
while the other regiments went up to fight the enemy. We



were left behind to guard the fleet, and our colonel had the
command of the force that was left to take care of the fleet.

One night we were all ordered out under arms, supposing
we had to meet the enemy, but it turned out that it was some
mules that had gotten loose in the canebrake and the colonel
thought it was the Rebel's cavalry. We had to stand under
arms all that night, and dare not light a match. That was
New Year's night and the ice froze hard enough to bear a
person. The colonel was so drunk it took two of his servants
to put him to bed and he didn't know where the command was,
or anything about it. We stood until daylight and then went
into camp on our own accord. There were thirty men who
went into the hospital and never did any more duty. Among
them was a captain of Company H.

He brought to us a company of all able-bodied men and they
were dressed in a uniform of their own. This man was a
well-to-do farmer and got up a company of his friends. I
went to see his widow after the War, as he had requested me
to do, and told her just how her husband died.

The colonel got sober enough to ride his horse by nine
o'clock. Then we were drawn up in line, and the colonel con-
gratulated us, saying we stood all night long expecting to be
fired on by the Rebels.

Now I told our captain to tell the colonel that, if he wanted
to test the bravery of his regiment to get on his horse and ride
towards the enemy, and I told him there was not a man in
his regiment but what would follow him. Then I said to
him, "You need not test your regiment by making them stand
in the mud all night long." More than thirty of them have
gone into the hospital and may never come out. After four



hours' fighting they gave us a cessation of fighting for two
hours until we could hury our dead.

We dug a long ditch the width of a man and put six hundred
into it. They were brought in on a stretcher; then they were
buried and covered up and a board put at each end of the
grave with the number of men buried there, which was six
hundred and fifteen.

I was posted right in front of the enemy's line. When they
came to relieve us we found out that the army had all retreated.
Now there was a race for life, and the moment we were drawn
off they knew the army had retreated.

They started with their cavalry in haste after us. I couldn't
run as fast as the other boys did, so I got out of the road and
went into the canebrake while the cavalry went by me; then
I went into th.e road again and went on. The cavalry went
as near the fleet as they dare and then they came back. So,
when I heard them coming, I run for the canebrake again
wdiile they went past. When I got down to the fleet they were
away out in the Azoo where I could just make them hear.
Then they sent a boat to let me on, and when I got on
they had a good deal of fun with me. They thought the Reb-
els had captured me; but I told them the Rebels weren't smart
enough to do that.

The fleet v/ent on to Milligan's Bend. There I volunteered
to General Sherman to go inside the Rebel lines, but he told me
if there was any need of anybody to go inside the Rebel lines,
he would let me know.

We stayed there al)out a week. We had some skirmishes
with the Rebels. We lost one of the government wagons.
The boat tipped and the wagon ran off into the river. The



water was about eighty feet deep but they never tried to
raise it.

Now we sailed again to Young's Point. Here we disem-
barked and went into battle array, and from Milligan's Bend
we went up the river. AVe went to the mouth of the White
River; we were there two days. I stood picket out in the
swamps after two days. We went up the river fifty miles to
Arkansas Post. There we disembarked and the officers issued
rations. We had them about half cooked ; then we got orders
to fall in and prepare for battle and left our rations on the
field. I had four or five hard-tacks in my haversack. They
had to do me two days.

When we marched we marched under the enemy's fire. We

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