Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How I Became a Prisoner of War

This entry is From The  Civil War Diary of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale, Company I, Thirty-Fifth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers 1862-1865.  This diary can be found at www.civilwardiary.net .

Tisdale was a prisoner of war at Andersonville and tells about it at length including all the grim details in his diary. However, in this entry he tells how he first became a prisoner of war.

May 24th 1864  (during battle of North Anna)

. . . .Continuing the advance we were met with such a shower of shell, grape, and cannister combined with a sudden downpour of rain that our little were broken and orders were given to fall back to breastwork which our reserves had thrown up in our rear.  In the scrimmage our regiment line was broken up as we fell back through the woods.  Suddenly found myself alone with three of our 35th and the main body of the 56th.  Going up to General Leddlie, I asked for the whereabouts of the 35th.  He said they were all mixed up with the other regiments and I had better go in with 56th.  Joined them and tried to find some of the 35th, but in vain, and soon concluded that the place for me was with my own regiment and started back to the river.  Soon came upon Captain Hudson, and Co. H., who were doing picket duty on the left.  He did not know where the rest of the regiment was.  We remained in quiet for near an hour when a downpour of rain came on in the midst of which the rebels succeeded in getting on our flank, which caused a “grand skedaddle” on our part towards the river.  We stopped to give a wounded man some water.  I got separated and found myself alone and mid the rain, mist and wood began to be in doubt as to the line of retreat when I came upon Lt. Creasy, and two other staff officers chatting unconcernedly and so felt all right and kept on coming out to open field when I came upon a line of skirmishers lying upon the ground.  Marched towards them supposing them our own men when suddenly a half a dozen or more jumped up took  aim and yelled out “drop that gun”-kept towards them yelling out “don’t fire on your men”, only to receive a second yell from them.  Then to suddenly realize that death or surrender was my alternative and with a feeling of shame and mortification, threw down my gun which I had hoped to carry home (with scar of rebel bullet received at Jackson, Mississippi) as a memorandum of the war.  Was soon taken in charge by a member of the 7th Alabama with a reproof for not dropping my gun at their first call, and the remark that in “another minute you would of been a dead man.”  Marched to the rear was relieved of rubber blanket, shelter tent, and cartridge box, and found myself with about 25 more unfortunates.  Was humiliated to find myself alone of the 35th at first but not for long, for soon came in the three staff officers, and five comrades of the 35th.  Were marched about a mile to Andersons station where we found more of wearers of the blue and by night we numbered about 70.  Our guards treated us well.  As we stretched out upon mother earth another shower greeted us so that with our previous duckings we were so well soaked that our weary bodies soon forgot it all in “nature’s sweet restorer balmy sleep.”
Federal troops occupying the north bank of the North Anna River, Virginia
Timothy O'Sullivan, photographer.  From the Library of Congress Collection.

1 comment:

  1. I see that you did not miss the part about his loss of the the rifle. On July 13, 1863 a Sergeant of the 7th RI was killed by a minnie ball while standing directly in front of Henry with the ball then passing through him and striking Henry's rifle saving his life.

    Mark Farrell