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[Article contributed by Sharon Strout]

[Article contributed by Sharon Strout]

Buchanan, Virginia (Newspaper name uncertain)

January 19, 1912

What a Confederate Soldier Saw and Experienced During 1862-1865,

by Dr. J. K. Simmons

In Two Chapters, Chapter One

I was wounded and captured in battle of South Mountain Maryland just at sun down, Sept. 14th 1862, on the top of South Mountain, to the left of the turnpike, going from Boonsborough to Frederick city, MD. Pickets division marched back from three miles of Williamsport MD, to Comptons Gap, where Gen. Garlandís and the other two brigades went into action.Gen. Dick Garrett [Garnett], who was commanding Pickets old brigade was ordered back to the turnpike and go near the tavern on the top of the mountain, and take a wood road on left hand side of the pike to the top of the mountain, but when we got on top we had to lie by a cliff of rocks and through a narrow gap in a rock fence at which point a federal battery had range.When our company was passing a bomb exploded and a piece cut the shoe of my right foot causing a flesh wound.I hopped about fifty yards and filed to the left as the last man of the 28th VA Reg., Col. J. B. Strange of the 19th VA, came up to the head of the regiment.As he came up he saw a Federal Videt.Col. Strange commanded him to surrender and come to him; at that a line of battle that was in ambush not more than fifty or sixty yards in a dense forest opened fire on us.And Col. Strange was shot through with nine minie balls.Our brigade laid down behind an old rock fence and repulsed some four lines of battle, the fifth line came up and our line had to fall back and just as our line started to retreat I was wounded in my left hip.I was lying down putting a cap on gun at the time I was wounded:I was captured wounded by one of Wilsons Zuave of New York.I tried to get up and bayonet him but from my waist down I was paralyzed.So he captured me and by the assistance of a comrade they dragged and carried me about a hundred yards when I groaned and they let me drop.After I came to myself a number of lines of battle marched over and by me during the night.

††††††††††† Sometime in the night a Federal soldier came to me and filled my canteen with water, which I used on the wound.

††††††††††† The next morning a little strip of a coward of a second Lieut. came where I was and began to curse and abuse me with all kinds of language, but I was giving him about as good when a surgeon came and ordered him to go to his Command and told him that he was going to report him for abusing a wounded prisoner, and ordered me to be carried to the front of the mountain to Mr. Conradís barn, where there were some thirty wounded, about as many Federals as Confederates, and there we were from Monday morning until Saturday with nothing to eat except some potatoes and old Irishman dug and cooked for us.He was our cook, nurse and butler.On Wednesday night a drunken Confederate surgeon came by but he did not even look at our wounds.All the treatment our wounds got was what we did for ourselves, or helped one another, the best we could do when the old Irishman would bring us some water.My pants were so bloody and shot to pieces that I had to throw them away.I asked Mr. Conrad if he could give me a pair of clean pants and he brought me a pair of old corduroy pants that I suppose he had hanging in the attic for ten years, as they were full of mud-dauber nests, but I beat them out and put them on as they were better that the ones I had.

††††††††††† On Friday night some Southern sympathizers came out from Frederick city and had our wounds attended to, and on Saturday I was put into an old crooked four horse wagon-bed and sent to Frederick City, where I was put into Bailey tobacco factory, and a Mr. Countz and his daughter took charge of me and got me something to eat and fixed me a bed.The next day the factory was filled with wounded Confederates, and Dr. Smith of Baltimore with a number of Medical students was put in charge of the Bailey hospital.I remained here for ten days in charge of the southern sympathizers, then I, with some other wounded Confederates and Federals were sent to the General Hospital of West Philadelphia, where I remained until November 1st, 1862.As long as I was in this hospital I fared well, as I got same treatment as the federals, being in the same ward with them and got the same rations, which were good, had the same surgeon, wardmaster and nurses, and the same privileges.There were six Confederate in the ward with over a hundred Federals.There were twenty-two thousand wounded and sick Federals in the hospital.

††††††††††† On the first of November our squad of Confederates, who were in ward HH were sent to Fort Delaware where we landed on the morning of the 2nd.We were put into a large open barracks where we could not have fire, as there were no stoves or other arrangements for fire by which we could warm ourselves.That you may better understand let me give a description of Fort Delaware.It is situated on an island out in the middle of Delaware Bay, high enough for four rows of cannon, strongly built of massive stone with a wide ditch or canal all around it with drawbridge.Now, outside of this were the barracks, which made three sides of a square, they were some three hundred feet on each side of the square, making about nine hundred or a thousand feet around the three sides, and there was no division or separate rooms and most of the doors were down or open, there were two rows of bunks on each side, one above the other, made so your head was toward the wall and your feet toward the center of the barracks.The barn racks were next to the bay and the wind would come up from the bay in fearful hurricanes and carry the mist all through the old barracks.They were weather-boarded up and down and not stripped and the cracks were from a quarter to a half inch wide.

††††††††††† On the seventh of November it snowed and the snow blew into the barracks from two to six inches deep.There was no way for the prisoners to keep the snow out or to keep warm, and the authorities at the fort would not do anything for us.There were seventy-five wounded prisoners here who had come from different prisons up north, and from battle fields.Some of these boys were so bare of clothes that they could scarcely hide their nakedness, so they walked day and night to keep from freezing.Most of these boys were on crutches, and did not have any clothes that would keep them warm, no blankets, no straw to sleep on, and if we would set an old camp kettle with a few sticks, or coal, the old Pennsylvania Dutch guard would come in and throw it out and curse us and try to find the ones who brought it in and made the fire.

††††††††††† I have seem them double-quick one legged and one armed men for half hour at a time at the point of the bayonet, or beat them over the head with the breech of their muskets.

††††††††††† The squad that came with me had gotten some money up in Philadelphia, and we bought some blankets from some Federal prisoners, and by three of us doubling up, and we had good clothes that we got in Philadelphia, we kept comfortable.We stayed in these barracks some seven days after the snow fell.On the fourteenth, they moved us inside of the fort and put us into an old barracks with four rows of bunks at each end, one above the other, and four bunks long, in the center there was a double row, each bunk would hold two men.Between these rows of bunks were two passageways of fifteen feet for us to walk in, so you see some had to stay in bed when others were up.We had two stoves, one in each passageway.These quarters were better, but we were inside of the fort a high wall to scale, with a guard on top, our doors locked and a guard on the outside.Sometimes we went for a week to ten days for water to drink, as all the fresh water came from Brandywine, fifteen miles away, and we had to get snow and melt it.Our rations consisted of two cups of coffee, made from salt water out of the bay, per day, one pound of hard bakers bread for two days, one cup of bean broth, 3 oz. of bacon a day.They made men on crutches do police work, and for the least offense they went into the dungeon.

††††††††††† On the night of the 14th of December 1862 we left Fort Delaware, the 15th we spent at Fort McHenry, night of the 16th was put on a transport, which had a regiment of cavalrymen, a battery, and I do not know how many cattle, rations and other war supplies, but they took care to put us old rebs down into the hull of the old ship with all the above over us.We arrived at city point the morning of Dec.18, and at Petersburg the same evening.

††††††††††† Thus ends my first experience in a Northern prison.Later I will tell what I saw and experienced at Point Lookout in 1865.

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Buchanan, Virginia

January 26, 1912

What a Confederate Soldier Saw and Experienced During 1862-1865,

by Dr. J. K. Simmons

In Two chapters, Chapter Two

The second time I was captured it was on the 6th of April, 1865, at Saylors Creek, where the greater portion of Geníl Picketts Division was captured.Our division had been marching all night of the 5th of April and the morning of the 6th with Geníl Hancockís 5th army corps on our right and Geníl Phil Sheridan on our left, until we came to Saylors Creek, where Phil Sheridan charged our empty wagon train that we had been guarding.Geníl Pickett advanced at double quick, and placed his men in a line of battle and held Sheridan in check for some two hours, when Geníl Pickett moved GenílTerryís Brigade to the right, after which Geníl Pickett ordered Geníl Corse and Geníl Stuart to about face and make a left wheel and when the angle of a half square was formed, Terry and Hunterís Brigade to give gradually to the right.Just as soon as this order began to be executed, Sheridan made a charge and came around our right flank and broke the lines of the 58th VA Regiment and rode us down and I was ordered to surrender and found two pistols leveled at my head and involuntarily my hand opened and down went my gun and the tears came in my eyes, as I knew I had to go to some Northern prison again.All of Picketts Division that had not been captured at Five Forks were captured except those that were on the skirmish line.

All who had been captured were marched to Geníl Custerís head-quarters where we spent the night as comfortable as a prisoner could expect on a battlefield after a rain, in the mud knee deep.

On the morning of the 7th we started back under guard to City Point, from which place we were shipped to the various Northern prisons.The officers to Johnsons Island and Elmira, the privates to Bermuda hundreds, Fort Delaware and Point Lookout, MD.

I, with most of my company was sent to Point Lookout.

To go back a few days, our command drew half pound of musty corn bread on the night of the 1st of April, and on the night of the 5th, two nubbins of corn, the last rations from the Confederate States.On the 9th near Black and White Station, we drew some raw beef without salt or any way to cook it, and no bread.On the 11th we drew four small crackers for each man.On the night of the 12th we were crowded into an old army corral at City Point, where the mud and litter was from a foot to three feet deep, and during the night it rained in torrents, and in the morning it was a loblolly of mud, manure and water.Here we stayed until about two oíclock p.m., of the 13th when we were placed aboard a transport.After we got aboard the steamer we got a good square meal of good light-bread and ham, the only good meal we got from the U. S. Government.

On the night of the 14th we landed at Point Lookout.After being examined to see if we had any arms or anything objectionable to the rules of the prison about us, we were assigned to different divisions of the prison.The tent I occupied was shared with O. S. Simmons, N. P. Simmons, W. B. Trevy, and Henry Lipscomb, a cook in Company A 28th VA. He passed himself through the prison as a white man.

Maj. Brady was in command of the prison.The guards were negroes.Some of the prisoners recognized their own negroes as their guards, and there was one negro there that some of our county men recognized as one of Breckenridges servants.

Point Lookout is situated between the Chesapeake bay and the Potomac river and forms a sharp point, in this point the prison was situated, with a solid fence some twelve or fourteen feet high, with a walk-way all around on the outside near the top of the fence so the guard could see over the camp.And on the outside there was a line drawn all around, about six feet from the bottom of the fence that they called the dead line.The rest of the prison was divided into divisions with a street running through each division from one side to the other.At one end of the street was the cook house for that division, with tables where we drew our rations, at the other end was the bay, with a gang-way out in the bay and where they let the men bathe.

Each division had one or two wells to get their water from.The water was a copperas water and some of the wells were so poisonous we could not use the water at all.

As I said before, we arrived here on the night of the 14th of April, the night Lincoln was killed, which was impressive, as the flag hung at half mast the morning of the 15th.

When we got there we found some six or seven thousand Confederates who had been taken prisoner on other battlefields.We remained here until the 20th of June 1865, when after taking the iron clad oath, we were released and arrived at home on the 27th of June 1865, barefoot, hatless and in rags.

Now to what I saw at Point Lookout.As I said above, Maj. Brady had his dead line, which meant if by accident or in any way you stepped across this line or even reached into it for a hat that had been blown there by the wind, you were shot at without any warning, and they did kill some, for that is what they meant.If the lights were not put out the moment the drum beat taps, a minie ball went through your tent, or if any noise of any kind at night a minie ball would be the warning, and some poor fellow would be wounded or killed.We could go bathing in the bay but if we got near the post that was placed out in the bay, a guard would send a minie ball after us.If we would lean against or put our hands on one of the posts that supported the guard walk-way they would send a ball to tell us that was forbidden.For the most insignificant offence, a barrel shirt made of a barrel, the prisoners had to use at night when the gates of the bay were closed and doubled quick back and forward through the streets of the prison.

Maj. Brady would ride into the prison now and then, and if any of the prisoners would be in squads he would try to ride over them, or would take his riding whip and cut them with it over their heads.If anyone went to ask him a question he would strike them with his whip or sword.To tell all of the cruelties practiced by Maj. Brady and his colored troops is impossible in this sketch.

As I said above, the water was a copperish, sweet, brackish and poisonous water.If you would put a white handkerchief in it and let it stay over night, it would be colored as if it had been in copperas dye the same length of time.In less than a week after we got there our tent was black.It caused dysentery and all kinds of bowel trouble from which many died.If a man went to the hospital, he remained on the Point and only a grave could tell who slept in it.

I guess you would like to hear about the bill of fare, so here it is: Breakfast, 1 cup of coffee, 3 small crackers, 2 oz of meat: Dinner, 1 cup of bean broth, with, possibly the skin of one bean: Supper: 1 cup of coffee and three small crackers, on extra occasions, rotten codfish raw and no way to cook them, yellow corn meal, bitter, no salt or anything to mix it up in or bake, not did we have anything to make a fire so we could cook our meal or codfish.These were days to remember.Sometimes on noted days we had salt herring.We grew fat you bet.I went in weighing 195 lbs, and came out weighing about 130.

This was what happened after the surrender of Geníl Lee and of all the Confederated forces, by a government that had plenty.

You have heard time and again of Andersonville, NC [note: actually Andersonville was in Georgia], how the Confederates treated their prisoners, but never a line of how the North treated hers.The North could have fed their prisoners, but they did not do it during the war, why not after the surrender?Somebody was to blame.

What I have written about the prisons, I was in and saw.I have been told by those who were in other prisons that they fared in like manner.

You may ask why have you not sent this to some paper before this?I did, but for some reason it never appeared.

THE END.

†††††††††††

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