Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How I Became a POW, Part III

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

Tisdale was captured by the Confederates on May 24 and then taken to Libby prison, but later transferred  the infamous Andersonville prison.  Below is his first impressions upon entering. see May 24th 2011 "How I Became a Prisoner of War" for account of Tisdale's capture by the Confederates and May 26, "How I Became of POW Part II" for Tisdale's impression of the Libby Prison.
June 7th, 1864  (Andersonville prison)

. . . .At 2 p.m. were marched through the city about 3/4 of a mile and were soon on the way to Andersonville, Georgia.  Augusta, as we saw it seemed beautiful.  The citizens treated us civily and kindly, the boys willingly bringing us water.  A ride of some 250 miles and at noon of Tuesday, June 7th, were landed on a grassy plot with “Andersonville Stockwall” in our front. 
 Soon a wiry looking officer on a white horse rode along and gave orders “Fall in line.”  A squad of “blue jackets” for some reason were not obeying orders when the officer swore at them and ordered them into line.  This was our introduction to the prison commandant Captain Wirz.  He then displayed a  sheet of letter paper and called for a Sergeant.  It flashed upon me that this might mean some work to do and my dread of idle hours might be relieved, and I sprang forward to be told to count off 90 men and enroll them upon the paper that they made up the 3rd mess of detachment No. 76 that my duties would be to have supervision of them.  A daily roll call, a report, divide the rations, and for this work was to have double rations.
Just as the day close we were marched through the gates many of us feeling that the words “Abandon all ye who enter here” might have a real meaning to us.  Found it much worse a place than I had expected or that it had been represented to us by the citizens while en route.  So crowded that it seemed as if there was no room for us new comers to stretch out upon.  Got a ducking and laid down for the night wet but slept soundly.  Another shower during the night.
From the Library of Congress Collection


  1. My Great grandfather survived Andersonville as a Sergeant of the 3rd Mess of Detachment No. 76. He was moved on October 11, 1864 to Millen, GA and later to Florence, NC. In all he was in four Rebel prisons before being exchanged in 1865. Of his messmates two died in 1866 as a result of the horrid conditions in Civil War prisons. I urge those interested to read his diary at the link above.
    Mark F. Farrell

  2. Have you ever read John Ransom's Diary? He was also a POW who spent time at a few Confederate prisons, including Andersonville. His diary was first published in 1883, and again in 1963 with an introduction by Bruce Catton.