James Gilmore Tuttle was born the son of Israel and Temperance (Gilmore) Tuttle on October 21, 1839, in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. James was self taught during his early years and at ten years of age was working on ships sailing on the Great Lakes.
At the age of 21, James enlisted as a Private in Company F of the Fourth Michigan Infantry, on June 20, 1861, for 3 years service. He was taken prisoner, along with Private Stiles Wirts, also of Company F, on August 10, 1861, at Falls Church, Virginia. After his release as a prisoner, James was discharged for disability on June 20, 1862, and returned to Michigan. There, he married Margaret Jane Quillen, on July 22, 1862, with whom they would go on to have seven children. On December 30, 1863, James enlisted for 3 years service as a Private in Company A of the Seventeenth Michigan Infantry, and joined the regiment in Annapolis, Maryland on April 9, 1864. He was later transferred to Company B of the Second Michigan Infantry on June 3, 1865, serving with that regiment until he was discharged at Delaney House, Washington D. C. on July 28, 1865. After his final discharge from military service, James took to farming and eventually left Michigan, moving to Tennessee in his later years. James Gilmore Tuttle died on November 24, 1906, five years after he sent the following condensed account of his early military service to his daughter Mary Adelia Tuttle Hirzel, who died in 1903.
James Tuttle’s “Reminiscences” have been slightly edited and are shared through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, who received them as a donation from Mary Hirzel’s son, Frederic Carl Hirzel.
In April 1861, I enlisted in a company at Trenton, Michigan, which was being raised as part of the 4th Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry, for two years or during [duration of] the war. When the company was filled up we were sent to Adrian where the Regiment was to rendezvous. While there, and before the regiment was mustered into the U. S. service, a number of us had some difficulty with our Officers, and we left the company and joined other companies. I joined the Hudson Company, which was afterwards known as Company F.
[On] June 20, 1861, we were mustered into the U. S. service and were soon on our way to the scene of action. We made a halt of three days at Harrisburg, Pa., where we were issued some old fashioned flint lock muskets that had never been transformed into cap locks. It was expected that we would be attacked in Baltimore, so during our stay in Harrisburg we were drilled in street fighting. At the expiration of three days, we were given three rounds of ammunition, which we were forced to carry in our pockets, not having any cartridge boxes or bayonet scabbards. And in order not to punch holes in the roof of the car, we reversed them on our guns, and thus they projected beyond the muzzle of the gun and had nothing to to hold them on.
At Baltimore we disembarked at one end of the city and marched through town to the other depot without any difficulty, where we embarked for Washington. A rumor had some way become current that we would be attacked at the half way house about 20 miles from Baltimore. Troops were stationed at various places along the line. At one place, the soldiers ran down to the train and fired their revolvers in the air by way of salute. Our boys, supposing they were guerillas, blazed away and “Buck and Ball” went flying fast and furious for a few seconds, when the officers succeeded in stopping the firing. No one wanted to admit that they had fired. But every man that fired a shot had blown his bayonet away, so they were easily detected.
[We] arrived at Washington [and] we went into Drill Camp after having exchanged our almost worthless guns for Springfield Rifles. About the middle of July, 1861, we, as part of the Army of the Potomac, started on the march for Richmond. Our Regiment arrived at Fairfax Court House the evening of the 19th, where we were held in reserve while the greater part of the army engaged the enemy at Bull Run 1. I had not quite got the hang of strict military discipline yet, so on the morning of the 20th, I had a little argument with some of the company officers, with the result [being] that [I] got locked up in the Guard House, which was the county jail. I talked pretty bad to the Captain 2 and he threatened me with Court Martial. But as good luck would have it, he and the First Lieutenant 3 went to Bull Run to see the fight and were both taken prisoner. No one else caring to prefer charges against me, I was released in time to help cover the retreat of the demoralized army. We went into our same old camp at Washington (for) a week or two, when we crossed the Potomac and went in camp at Arlington Heights, when in a couple of days, we moved to Ball’s Crossroads. The morning of the 10th of August, our Company was on advance post when a considerable body of the enemy’s cavalry charged down on us and we made for the woods. S. H. Wirts 4 and myself were on the right of the company and became detached from the rest, when emerging from the woods, we found [that] we were entirely surrounded by the enemy, who ordered us to surrender, emphasizing their remarks by leveling their carbines at us. I don’t think [that] there is any apology necessary for surrendering under the circumstances. Mounted behind a couple of cavalrymen, we moved toward Fairfax Court House. There, we lay over night and [on the] next day, were taken to Centerville, where another small group of prisoners joined us. The guards at Centerville were very good to us. One of them told Wirts and myself that we had better sell him our canteens, as some of the fellows would be very apt to steal them. He offered $1.50 in gold for each for them. So we handed them over, as he had to get to his tent for the money, he took the canteens along but somehow forgot to return with the money. But I have always felt very thankful that we sold our canteens instead of having them stolen.
1 Manassas, Virginia
2 Captain Samuel DeGolyer
3 First Lieutenant Simon B. Preston
4 Private Stiles H. Wirts, also of Company F
From Centerville, we were taken to Lynchburg, where we were put in a nigger jail one night, the filthiest place [that] I ever saw a human being put into. And to make matters worse, it was teaming with all kinds of vermin and as soon as it got dark, we had to fight to keep the rats from eating us alive. I have suffered torture in my life, but that night was the worst, by far, that I ever experienced. The next day brought us to Richmond, where a great many prisoners (that) were taken at Bull Run 5 were confined in tobacco factories 6. A considerable number of the 1st Mich. Infantry (3 months men) were among the lot. Sergeant Wirtz 7, (afterwards Captain) [the same man] that was hung at the close of the war for inhuman treatment of prisoners, had charge of us.
My Captain (DeGoyler) had made his escape a few days before we arrived and he succeeded in getting through to our lines, and was afterward in command of a Battery known as DeGolyer’s Battery 8, that done good execution during the war, but the Captain was killed. Peace to his ashes. My Lieutenant Preston wanted to take me as his orderly, but I declined.
5 The First Battle of Manassas, or First Bull Run, was fought on July 21, 1861, and was considered a Confederate victory.
6 One of the early tobacco factories that was used to house Union prisoners in Richmond was Ligon’s Warehouse and Tobacco Factory, a three story building that was located on 25th Street and Main. It’s very possible that Tuttle may have been referring to this building.
7 Sergeant Henry Wirtz later became the commandant of the infamous POW camp, Andersonville
8 Battery H of the First Michigan Light Artillery, was named after it’s commander, Captain Samuel DeGolyer, who was mortally wounded on May 25, 1864, outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi. DeGolyer had served as a Captain and later, Major, while in the Fourth Michigan Infantry.
At the time, our people held, confined in Fort Warren 9, 151 privateersmen, whom they were trying for piracy. And if they had convicted them, they would have hung them. So the Rebels selected the same number of us to correspond in rank with the Fort Warren prisoners, to send to Charleston, S. C. as hostages and notified our government of the action. Gen. Wilcox 10, who was then Col. of the 1st Mich. Infy., Col. Cochran 11 of a New York Regiment, S. H. Wirts and myself, were among the number. My Lieutenant again urged me to be his orderly and had all the arrangements to effect the appointment made, but notwithstanding, it was explicitly understood that in case the privateers were hung, we would meet the same fate. I politely, but firmly, refused.
Charleston Courier Newspaper Article dated September 14, 1861
So in due time, I became a boarder at the Charleston Jail, where we arrived about nine o’clock at night, and was assigned to cells by messes. I think there was about 10 in our mess. [In] the morning, we elected a man by the name of Drury 12, for orderly of the mess, that is, to draw our rations and cook them. [At] about 8 o’clock, we drew our rations and Drury, who was an editor, went down to the kitchen to cook our breakfast. [At] about ten o’clock, on inquiry, we were told that Drury was reading a paper, [he] never came, and [we had] no breakfast yet. 2-3-4-5 o’clock and every inquiry elicited the same answer, and still no breakfast. And by that time, other messes had commence getting their supper. Finally, [at] about half past seven, Drury made his appearance with our breakfast. We poured in a broadside of compliments at his celerity, expressed our amazement that he should be able to get our breakfast in only eleven and a half hours. [We] felt of him to see if he had broke any bones or otherwise injured himself etc. For all of which, he promptly tendered his resignation, which was promptly accepted and Jonas Barker elected in his place. Later inquiries developed the fact that Drury, finding the frying pan and kettle (of which there was only one each) in use, had bespoke the next turn, then sat down to read his paper, and became so absorbed that he did not notice when another cook appropriated his turn, thus it was, the same thing was repeated until the last one of the other cooks had got their supper. In the jail yard was the gallows upon which we were to expiate our “Crime” in case those privateersmen were executed. It was simply a strong perpendicular post about ten feet high, with a horizontal beam projecting from one side on top, and well braced and a platform about five feet above the ground connected to the post on the opposite side. [It was] large, and strong enough to to hold a square iron weight of about four hundred pounds, with an eye bolt on top, to which a rope was fastened reeving 13 through shives 14at both ends of the beam. When the victim would stand up with the noose around his neck, there would be about one foot of slack rope. Then, with [the use of] a lever attachment, the weight would be released and there you are. Not very elegant, but comfortable.
9 Fort Warren was situated on the 28 acre Georges Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts
10 General Orlando B. Wilcox
11 Actually this was Colonel Michael Corcoran of the Sixty-Ninth New York Infantry, captured at Bull Run, Va. July 27, 1861
12 Private George D. Drury of Company C, First Michigan Infantry, captured at Bull Run, Va. on July 21, 1861
13 Reeving refers to the configuration of the rope, blocks and drum of a hoist.
14 A “sheave” is a wheel with a groove for a rope to run through, as in a pulley block.
An officer drew up a petition to our Government at Washington, asking clemency for the privateersmen in consideration of our situation. But the only name he got on it was his own. We claimed that we had placed our lives at the disposal of our country, and that our Government was fully cognizant of the situation, and that we would not embarrass it with any such petition. Of course, a great many of us thought that we weren’t fit to die, but as compensation, the rest thought we weren’t fit to live. So the petition was dropped. I will say just here, that our Government, either through the pressure brought to bear, or other reasons, did not convict the privateersmen, and they were held as prisoners of war. I think we were in the jail about two weeks when arrangements were completed, and we were moved to Castle Pinckney, an old dismounted fort on a small marshy island out in the harbor, I think about 1 ½ miles inside of Fort Sumpter.
The Castle Pinckney was [built] in the shape of a horseshoe, with the toe calks looking out to sea, and the heel calks toward the city. The sally port 15 was between the heel calks. The fort was surrounded by a palisade which was pierced for rifles, although but little of the palisade remained standing. I don’t remember how many embrasures there were, but the rear of them had been filled with brick work so as to form rooms for our reception. They had been fitted with a sort of two story bunk bedsteads with ticks of rice straw, which was all the furniture or bedding of any kind they contained. And the rice straw soon pulverized so that by shaking it all in one end, it made a respectable pillow, and that was all. When the door was closed, all of the light and air [that] we got was what came through the portholes. But of the later, we sometimes got more than we desired, when the wind was cold and raw from the ocean. Our mess consisted of 17 persons. Over the casemate ran the parapet on which was mounted one or two old, out of date, cannon, [used] to fire salutes with. Just outside the palisade, a ditch of considerable size had been cut through, which the tide ebbed and flowed and in which we were allowed to bath when the tide was full. At such times, the island would nearly be covered with water. The outhouse for necessary conveniences were outside the palisade. Three prisoners were allowed to be out at a time, with no guard 16 outside the sally port. If for any reason, a man wanted to stay out longer than usual, when one went in, he would tell the guard [that] there was only one man out. When the guard supposing a man had passed in unnoticed would pass out two more. And by allowing [the] time to elapse and repeating it, [it] was possible, and frequently happened, that there could be four or five more out than the quota. In passing in again, we would pass in one at a time. I have no doubt [that] the guard wondered sometimes, but they never made any remarks.
15 A sally port is a secure and controlled entryway into a fort or prison
16 The fort was garrisoned utilizing the Charleston Zouave Cadets as guards
Details were made every morning for police duty, that is [to] sweep and clean the court inside the fort. These details were made by the officers of the guard and were made from the prisoners. As the duty was for sanitary purposes, and was really more for our benefit than for the enemy, we always performed the service cheerfully. But just outside the palisade was a small parade ground on which was ten or fifteen cords of wood, and it was given out that a detail would be made to pile the wood and clean up the parade ground. The detail were always made at night for duty the next day. It so happened that I and another man were the detail. We conferred together and agreed that it would be giving aid and comfort to the enemy (or words to that effect) and agreed not to do it. The next morning I was the first one notified and as politely as I could, I refused to obey the summons. I was then ordered before the commander, who expostulated with me. But I peremptorily refused to clean off a parade ground for the enemy of my country to drill upon. He thereupon ordered me confined in an old bomb proof magazine utterly devoid of light, and almost of air, until, as he expressed it, I came to my senses. I was given a pint of cold water and one “hard tack”. I might have survived the short rations, but not being allowed to go out for any purpose, the close air of the room became so offensive with putridity that it prostrated me , and on the third [day] I was unable to eat or stand up. But the guard gave me the water, which I drank and wished for more, but would not ask for it. The guard, I suppose, reported my condition to the Captain 17, who sent for me to be brought to his quarters. I, a man, young and in perfect health three days before, was reduced to the straits of walking between two guards with an arm over the shoulder of each to support me to the Captain’s quarters. I know that my condition touched the Captain, for he showed it in his look, and in his voice when he spoke. He asked me if I was willing now to do my duty. I said yes, I am willing to do my duty as I see it, but, I said Captain, I will die before I will clean up a drill ground for the enemies of my country. He turned to a Sergeant standing near and said “He is the most stubborn man I ever saw. Take him to his quarters and tell his comrades not to bother him with questions”. It was then that I learned of the devotion of Wirts, who was only a boy seventeen years old, and a member of my company. He was quick witted and seemed always on the alert to take advantage of any and all circumstances that showed for our betterment. When I was confined in the magazine, he tried repeatedly to get me in something to eat and desisted only when the guard threatened to shoot him if he was caught near the magazine again. The other man that was detailed was never called upon to work as my stand in the matter settled the question.
17 Captain Charles E. Chichester was the commander of the Charleston Zouave Cadets, the state militia rifle unit that was garrisoned at Castle Pinckney as guards. After the Union prisoners left in late December of 1861, the Charleston Zouave Cadets were disbanded in early 1862 with some who were students returning back to school as they were allowed, and others enlisting in the service of the Confederate military. Chichester volunteered for duty in the Confederate army and was transferred to the 15th Heavy Artillery (Gist Guards) and stationed at Battery Wagner. Later, after the men of the 15th Heavy Artillery were transferred, he was detached from the company and placed in charge of Battery Wagner where he served for a few years. It’s interesting to note that the prisoners held at Castle Pinckney were actually prisoners of the state of South Carolina and guarded by young men in their state militia unit, the Charleston Zouave Cadets, rather than being held as captives under the Confederate Military that had taken them prisoner. Research for this footnote was provided through the courtesy of William Floyd.
At one time I [had] conceived the idea of taking advantage of the situation to try and make my escape. So in company of two others of whom I knew but little, we gained the freedom of the island by methods previously mentioned, and it being dark, we proceeded to construct a raft out of some boards from an old out house, and got all ready for the tide when it commenced to ebb. When one of the men asked me if I didn’t think it was pretty risky, I told him I did, but I had come prepared to shoulder all risks in order to attain the object. He said he believed there was too much danger, and he would not go. Then the other man backed out and as the raft was too cumbersome for one man to handle, I was compelled to abandon the project. But before I went to bed, I had partly matured another plan for escape, wherein there would be only myself to deal with. The next day when I went out to bathe, I took two of the palisade posts about 10 feet long and spiked them together, and used them to swim on. I would lay down on them when I could easily reach the water on each side and use my hands as paddles. But the float was so heavy that I could give it but little headway. So I made two paddles that would fasten around my wrists with chords, and with loops lower down for my hands, allowing the paddles to extend about six or eight inches below my hands. On trial I found I could propel my ship through the water considerably faster than the best swimmers could swim. I practiced on it every day and became quite proficient in handling my craft. Every night before we were locked up, the roll was called, only instead of calling the roll, they counted the men. It frequently happens that a man would be in bed with his blanket drawn over his head and his body being plainly outlined, he would be counted just the same. I tried an experiment by putting a stick of wood in my bed and hiding under the bed. The stick was counted without creating any suspicion.
I had divulged my secret to Wirts who was to keep the dummy in position when needed. I had also told some others and I think, in fact, it was generally known in our mess. As there was a search light on fort Sumpter, I determined to keep close under the fort, thus keeping inside of where the light would strike the water. And about nine miles outside the bay lay our fleet, which was the objective point. I finally selected the night for the venture, conditioned only on wind and weather. But how often do we miss our calculation; another man belonging to another mess had made himself a pair of paddles fashioned after mine and the night before I was start, he took my float and went ; but he had not arranged to be accounted for, and so was soon missed. I was terribly disappointed but wished the poor fellow success. But he failed, being driven on Sullivan’s Island, where he was recaptured three days after. We were immediately transferred to Charleston Jail again, where we remained until the New Years following.
At Charleston Jail, our mess retained all of its original 17 members but was divided into two squads to accommodate the size of our cell. Their were eight in our squad and nine in the other. Wirts, through his ingenuity, managed at one time to capture about 20 double blankets belonging to the jail, which he with characteristic liberty, divided among his comrades, giving me two, and keeping two himself. They were very acceptable as we had to sleep on a cold stone floor and had only the straw tick between us and the floor, the straw having pulverized and the dust having mostly leaked out. But in a few days the blankets were missed and when the search was over, Wirts was the only one that retained his blankets, and his supreme cheekiness carried him through the ordeal. At another time, he captured thirteen loaves of bread from our bread wagon that came in to sell to the prisoners. On Christmas Eve, we had the grandest upper I ever helped eat.
In our squad we had organized what we called the “Supreme Court” and I was judge. We merely carried it for past time. For some fancy offense, John Starkweather 18, of Detroit, was arrested and brought before me and was promptly found guilty, and was sentenced to have his next ten days rations confiscated. Of course, the sentence would never have been carried out, but as a compromise, he proposed to get as good a supper for Christmas Eve as he could, and a quart of whiskey, for our squad. The offer was accepted, and he was granted immunity for all future offenses. When the time came, a large camp kettle full of what we called Skause, and composed of sweet potatoes and cabbage, salted, peppered, and thickened with hard tack, constituted the supper. And what a supper for men that were half famishing, and the beauty of it all was that there was plenty to satisfy everyone. Then came the whiskey. Of course, our rations would be necessarily small, so John carefully divided it into eight parts, and as he didn’t drink, put his share in a small bottle to use as a hair restorative , his head being as bald as a baby’s. When our whiskey was drank we concluded that a bottle was just as good to rub on a bald head as whiskey, so [we] took the whiskey, and gave his head a thorough rubbing with the bottle. We drew five days rations at a time, and generally when we drew them, could have eaten the whole at one sitting. But by making trinkets 19, and in various ways, we added a little generally to our subsistence.
18 Private John Starkweather of Company A, First Michigan Infantry, captured at Bull Run, Va. on July 21, 1861.
19 This may have been the point in time when James Gilmore Tuttle took a bone and carved the bolo slide that’s seen in the photographs below.
On the morning of January 1st, 1862, we should have drawn rations, but instead were put on board cars and started for Columbia, the capitol of S. C. On account of stoppages and delays, it was about nine o’clock at night when we got to quarters at Columbia, where after fasting all day, we were given a small ration of hard tack and locked in. Our quarters was the jail and long barracks divided in six rooms to represent that many messes. The barracks was a board shanty with board partitions, the boards running perpendicular. The messes were numbered from right to left as we faced the shanty. At night we were locked in about seven o’clock, but not counted. In the morning when we were unlocked, we were counted. The two doors were fastened together with one bolt and locked, thus one and two, three and four, etc. An officer and a guard made the rounds in the morning. Opening door no. one, the guard would keep no. two bolted while no. one was being counted. When the officer came out, the door of no. two would be opened and no. one bolted until two was counted, then both doors would be locked until all were counted, when they would all be opened for the day. I belonged in mess no. two. We had loosened a board in each partition, driving a nail at the top so that it could swing in order that we might visit as we chose when locked in. As the count was kept by total, and not by mess, , it did not make much difference where a man was when counted. One dark rainy night, I took the axe in our room when we were locked up, and as soon as we were all locked in, I told the boys to strike up the “Anvil Chorus”, a noise that was characteristic of its name. When I commence to chop a hole through the floor, they all looked amazed, but soon went on with their noise. That was to be the signal for John Archer of the 1st Mich. Infty. and S. H. Wirts to get our best clothes which we had in a box fastened up over the door waiting [for] the occasion. I soon had a large enough hole cut. Lifting out the boards which had been cut so they could be replaced, [I] crawled down through and commenced to dig a passage to the back part of the shanty which was against the fence, which was also boards. I soon had a hole burrowed under the fence and found [that] it opened into a narrow lane about eight feet wide. From what I could see, I had made up my mind [that] we must climb over another fence and enter a yard from which we would emerge into the street if not caught. Having completed my reconnaissance, I returned and a few minutes later, we climbed the fence and went to the gate, which was a tight double gate with a hand hold through it, and through which I was looking when a man opened it and came in. Seeing us, he asked what we were doing there. I said “Playing I Spy”; He said” You had better find some other place to play it”, and I said “All right” and walked out, the others following. It being Saturday night, and the market just on the corner, the street was crowded. We had on U. S. Army regulation caps and pants, but a brown Sanitary Commission overcoat his our dress coat and blouse, and perhaps saved us from detection. The orders were to follow me without speaking a word, which was implicitly obeyed. A great many people eyed us closely but no one challenged us. When we started we went due west, but the first cross street I came to where the lights were less numerous, I turned north, thus again to the west, repeating until we were in total darkness and had got some distance from the town, before we spoke. I had made arrangements to be accounted for by having a man come in from no. 3 every morning, then after they had counted our mess, he would return to no. 3 and two of our mess go with him, and by not showing their faces, would not be detected, which, I was afterward told, worked quite successfully for over a week. When six more broke out the same way, and in accounting for them they made too many, when the guards made a recount and found nine short.
Our objective point was East Tennessee, the inhabitants of which was said to be loyal to the Union. Our traveling had to be done altogether at night and sometimes we would travel all night in the wrong course and take the next night to get back. Provisions were hard to get. We had no money and would not have dared to run the risk of trying to buy if we did have. I did hail a black men where a number of them were plowing in a field, who proved to be the overseer, and he told me [that] there were no white people on the plantation, there not being any women folks and the men had all gone to the war. He brought us something to eat and told me the housekeeper wanted to see me for I had not allowed the others to show themselves. So when night came, I went with him to the house. He had guards placed around while I went in the house and eat a good hearty meal of corn pone, fat pork, rye, coffee, & sweet potatoes, which tasted awful good and filling. I saw some books o a shelf and following a natural instinct, I took some of them to examine while I eat. Among them, I found an atlas with a map of the United States on one leaf. I asked the housekeeper to give me the atlas, but she dare not do it. So watching my opportunity, I tore out the leaf [that] I wanted, and secreted it.
Our light during our interview was a pine torch carried by a little darky. When I left the house the overseer went with me to guide me back to where the boys were, and I told him [that] there were two more and called to them, and they came up and he then guided [us] to a place where we built a fire. And while the boys were eating, he gave me a great deal of useful information. Some of the time we would have nothing but ripe corn to eat, which we would roast and then shell and boil in our tin cups. Of salt, we had plenty as we laid in a good supply before we left the prison. We wanted meat very badly, and at one time in an old shanty, where we found a quantity of cow peas, and put up for the day, we managed to kill a few mice and cooked them, and while I eat my share of them, and probably would again under the same circumstances, I don’t feel that I can recommend them as a popular diet. About two weeks after we left prison, John Archer broke a bone in his ankle in jumping off a fence which we were climbing. We necessarily went into camp where we remained about a week, happening to be in a good place. And while there, I got a goose one night, which we cooked and ate entire. Notwithstanding, it was tough as leather. Finally we broke camp. Wirts and I having made a pair of crutches for John from crotches of saplings, on which the poor fellow painfully hobbled along. But after four days he threw them away and went without them. Our usual method was to travel as far as we could and then bivouac near the road without fire till daylight, when we would look up a suitable place to camp for the day, where we would make a fire, cook if we had anything to cook, wash our socks and feet, one being awake all the time while the other two slept. Thus we managed to keep a very good guard. We had good stout sticks which answered the purpose of canes and would have stood us in good play if we had been attacked by dogs, of which we had considerable fear. On the 31st night of our wandering, Wirts who had had a cold when we left and had been getting worse, gave way and dropped down in the road. He told us to go on and leave him but we would not do it. But by helping him, we got some distance from the road where we made a fire (we always carried kindling and had a good supply of matches). It was raining, and was quite cold and uncomfortable. I took off my overcoat and spread it over Wirts and done the best for him [that] I could, and when it got light enough to see, I found our position was untenable, and we thought our safest way would be to take the road until we found a better place . We had gone about two miles when we run into a squad of fifteen men who were watching for us. Of course there was nothing for us to do but surrender, and while I regretted it for myself, I was rather glad on Wirts account.
One of the leaders of our captors was a very kindly old man, whose house was nearby, and where we were taken and given a good breakfast. Horses were then procured and we were taken to Winsboro, about 30 miles distant where we arrived late in the afternoon and turned over to the sheriff and given good clean quarters in the “Hotel Jail”. On recommendation of the guards that brought us to Winsboro, the sheriff kindly gave us the parole of the town until nine o’clock at night, when we were expected to be at our quarters. The people of the town treated us very nicely, according us perfect freedom of speech and action, and my remembrance of the town is very pleasant.
The next morning we were taken to Columbia again, arriving where we found the rest of the prisoners had been sent to Richmond, we were told, for exchange. The prison had been kept in a terrible filthy condition, and the guards told us that as soon as we cleaned it up we would be sent there for the same purpose. But we absolutely declined to clean the prison, and in consequence, was placed in separate cells, where we were kept the eight days succeeding on one pint of water, and one hard tack and five ounces of soft bread a day, not having any water given us for ablutions. And what they did give us was brought in a pint cup and was always partly spilled out. Of course we suffered intensely, but we were partly compensated by hearing the men sneeze that were cleaning up the prison and yard. For when the boys got orders to move they scattered pepper all over the floors and yard for the benefit of whoever should clean up. At the expiration of eight days, we were turned out in the yard where was a hydrant, and told to get cleaned up [and] ready to start to Richmond. We lost no time in obeying the order and in less than two hours was on our way to Richmond, where we were surprised to find all [of] the other prisoners. We were put in tobacco factories [for] a few days, when the large storage warehouse of Libby and Sons was fixed up for us, and we were removed thither. That was the first occupation of the building as a prison. It was a large building, plain and square, without any pretense of architecture whatever. It was encircled by streets occupying an entire square. It was built on something of a side hill sloping toward the South. On the north side, it was three stories and on the south side, four stories high. On the south side of the street on the south side, was a canal, which large vessels navigated. And beyond we could see the James River. The building was divided from basement to attic in three equal parts by two brick partitions. We were in the third story of the middle division, and in our room and the room above us were about nine hundred prisoners. In the room directly beneath us were the officers (prisoners). In each room was a sink and a bath tub, which was entirely inadequate for the demands upon them. The piping was defective, and sometimes the waste pipe would get clogged, which made it very disagreeable, both for the floors on which it happened and the floor below, as the waste water would necessarily flood both floors.
When we lay down to sleep at night, the floor was covered with humanity, we tried to keep a small open passage to the sink where a man could get along if he had light, but at nine o’clock we had to put out our lights and then woe betide the poor fellow that lay in the way of the man running crossed lots to the sink. Our messes were broken up and rebel coos had charge of the culinary department. They had pot ash kettle in an arch in the basement story where they cooked. They generally gave us cow pea soup, the peas never being sorted and I verily believe there was two bugs to one pea. Once a week they gave us Irish Potatoes and I have seen them shovel the potatoes into a basket from the bin, and put them in the kettle without sorting out the rotten ones, or washing them, or even sifting the dirt from them. Our rations were extremely small and any pretext that could be seized upon to make them still smaller was promptly used. From the time we entered “Libby”, I had commenced to make a plan of escape and had about got it perfected when we were paroled. About nine hundred of us were paroled but most of the officers were kept. We were taken down the river on two flags of truce boats from which the boys captured the Rebel flags. About five or six miles above Newport News we met Ericson’s Monitor. When we got to Newport News, we saw the Cumberland which had been sunk a few days before by the Merrimac. Then we we transferred to one of our own transports and steamed away for Washington. It was the 10th of May, 1862. We were discharged [from] the United States service, as there was no cartel in force for the exchange of prisoners. Receiving my discharge, pay, commutation of rations, clothing, etc., I returned home to Michigan, having been in service eleven months.