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قراءة كتاب The Bright Side of Prison Life Experience, In Prison and Out, of an Involuntary Soujouner in Rebellion

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‏اللغة: English
The Bright Side of Prison Life
Experience, In Prison and Out, of an Involuntary Soujouner in Rebellion

The Bright Side of Prison Life Experience, In Prison and Out, of an Involuntary Soujouner in Rebellion

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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made me glad that the stove had been given up. The only trouble with the new arrangement was that one had to lift the pipe and top in order to build or replenish a fire. Sometimes I have a vague impression of someone's having climbed to the top of a distant cabin in the gloom of the night, and when this thought comes to me I seem to see a man standing, in bare feet and scanty clothing, upon the top of that cabin, with the moon trying in vain to secure a good look at him through the thick clouds, and tremble with the fear that he may awaken the sleepers within as he cautiously uplifts their stove-pipe through its hole in the roof. The vision comes like a recollection of a dream, and I often wonder whether the man who secured my stove-pipe for me did not tell me where he got it, and that in so vivid a manner as to leave me with a memory of it like unto that of one who was present.

In February our regiment went with a boat expedition. The object of the trip was unknown to us, but we were stopped by a fort at the head waters of the Yazoo, and returned to camp at Helena after an absence of about forty days. During this time my company was detailed for boat duty up the river, and we had a sharp fight with some rebels on shore, till we landed, drove them off and burned some cabins. No one was seriously hurt. The casualties of the expedition were not large, and the most serious resulted from the guerilla warfare of the rebels along the banks of the rivers, which was finally stopped by landing and burning a few buildings.

We were assigned to provost duty when we returned, and this continued until the latter part of May, when our quarters were moved to the river bank.

Now commenced a system of constant drill for all the troops, which almost caused a mutiny. Daylight each morning found us in line of battle, and the work was laborious. This was continued till the 4th of July, when the battle of Helena occurred.

This battle is a matter of history, and with its details we have nothing to do in this narrative. Suffice it to say that there is little question in the minds of those who were there as to what saved the day for us. We were, as was usual, in line of battle at daybreak when the attack was made.

The command of our troops was transferred to General Steele soon after the battle, and in September we were moved on the fall campaign to Little Rock, which place was occupied without much trouble, and there we remained for the winter.

Minor skirmishes and battles in which Company B was engaged have not been noticed, as the object is to chronicle only the principal events which led up to the prison life and efforts to escape.

In February we started on the slow march to join Banks at Shreveport, and reached Camden about April 1.

 

 


CHAPTER II.

CAPTURED.

Three weeks later our brigade was ordered to escort an empty supply train from Camden to Pine Bluff, and we started on April 22, 1864, about 1300 strong, the force consisting of the 43d Indiana, 36th Iowa, 77th Ohio, one section of the 3d Missouri Battery, and a detachment of the 1st Indiana Cavalry under Major McCauly, the whole commanded by Gen. F. M. Drake, now Governor of Iowa.

Crossing the Washita river, we camped for the night about three miles out. The following two days were Saturday and Sunday, and we advanced little by little, being frequently beset by the enemy, and having constant skirmishing, until about 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, when we reached Moro river bottom, and camped until the pioneer corps had completed repairs on the road ahead.

This stream could scarcely be called a river, and yet, when high, it flooded quite a district. At the time of our crossing it was hard to tell where the real channel lay, the whole bottom being one vast marsh, across which was an old corduroy road, or rather a broken line of logs, some visible and some not. Water was to be seen only in spots, and there was nothing which had even the appearance of a river, but when one stepped off the apology for a road he soon found that the earth was saturated with water, which oozed up like the liquid out of a full sponge when stepped upon.

 

GEN. F. M. DRAKE.

 

The teamsters were contrary, and would not move until the road was in a decent condition. They had light wagons, and a little effort on their part would have enabled us to cross over into the Saline bottom that night, when the after-events would have been avoided. But the road was in a bad condition, and it was Sunday afternoon; so we lay there.

Everyone in camp felt a foreboding of evil to come, and when we arose on Monday morning it was with a feeling of keen apprehension and distrust.

We crossed at will, my company being at the head of the second regiment.

On reaching the solid ground beyond the bog we were met by an aid, coming back from the leading regiment, and he called out excitedly to Maj. A. H. Hamilton, who was at the head of our column: "Move your regiment forward, Major, as fast as possible. The rebs have appeared, fully 2000 strong."

We hastened on, and, as we gained the higher ground, the rapid shots of a fierce engagement came to our ears from just over the ridge.

The fight was in the woods, and a hot one. We moved up, and were deployed, but soon all was confusion. The rebels seemed to be everywhere, and, after a brief struggle, it became every man for himself. We had but forty rounds of ammunition with us, and that was soon exhausted, when we learned that we were cut off from our train in the rear.

Sergeant John S. Wood and I were standing near a tree, with Private Jasper Barker between us, and Barker was shot down. We could see that we were largely outnumbered and that there was no well-regulated fight. About twenty-three of the fifty-six men in Company B had been killed or disabled and the rest had no more ammunition. The men on our flanks were melting away by death and retreat, and we finally gave it up and sought safety in the rear; but there was no escape, for we were completely surrounded.

Dodging around, and losing men by capture at every turn, the few of us left at last had to surrender to a little squad under Sergeant Davis. They rode down on us, yelling wildly and flourishing their sabres, but we gave up, with no casualties save the serious injury of Annan L. Silvey, who broke his gun across a tree when called upon to give it up, and who received a sabre stroke for his pains. Most of the others had done the same thing before the rebs came up, when it had been seen that capture was certain.

The sergeant let me keep my sword, but it was taken away later on.

We were marched along toward a corral which the rebels had made for their prisoners, and on the way we had to submit to involuntary trades with our captors for what they chose to give us in return for anything of ours which they saw and fancied.

One fellow made a grab for my hat, but his grasp was eluded with a quick motion and a "No you don't," but the latter remark had scarcely been uttered when an enormous fellow, who wore a big, greasy sombrero with flapping rim, reached out a hand that seemed as large as a small ham, with "By God, Yank, I will!"

And he did, his great, broad-rimmed hat being forced down over my ears with a force which made my head ache—at least I think it was the force, but my head ached steadily until that hat had been exchanged for

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