Detroit Free Press Favorite


I WAS born in Whiteford township, Monroe county, Mich., November 21, 1842, and at the present am living in the city of Menominee, Mich. Enlisted in the service of the United States at Ridgeway, Lenawee county, Mich., on the 31st of July, 1862, in Company E of the 18th Michigan Infantry. After a short stay in camp at Hillsdale we proceeded to what we supposed was the front, but which was Kentucky. After tramping through most of this State and spending one winter at Lexington, we finally, in April or May of 1863, boarded the cars for the front, but we were again mistaken and only got as far as Nashville, Tenn., where we halted at a large building called "Zollicoffer Building." We remained there two or three days, spending most of our time in killing graybacks as they were thicker than fleas on a dog. From there we went into camp, which was very much better, and I thought if this was the front it was about as nice as could be. Soon, however, our fun began. Being on duty almost every other day it was fun for a time, but soon became a drudge. We remained there a long year, and then the glad news came for us to pack up and go to the front. This was some time in May or June. We started for the seat of war, or what we supposed to be it, arriving at Decatur, Ala., in the night and pitched our tents just outside of the city, on the hills that were covered with the filth and rubbish of the city.

On the 23d of September it was reported that a band of "Johnnies" were tearing up the track near Athens, Ala., and a detail of about 400 men was made from our brigade and boarded a train of flat cars some time in the night. Crossing the river and waiting until daylight, we then proceeded as far as we could on the cars, then going on foot for a short distance we were suddenly fired upon by the enemy. The firing was returned by us and the enemy fled. Our orders were to go to Athens, so we went on. Getting in sight of Athens, what did we see? "Johnnies" all around us. Hundreds of them in our front and rear. We fought with them the best we could and tried to get to the fort, as our dear old stars and stripes were still flying. But alas! as we had got almost there the gates swung open and out marched our boys in blue. What could we do but surrender? It was with long faces that a flag of truce was sent to the commander that we had surrendered. Soon we were surrounded by the "Johnnies," asking for something to eat. It seemed to me as though they were about starved, and we soon found that our captor was Gen. Forrest. When I heard this I thought my time had come, as the massacre at Fort Pillow was fresh in my memory.

We did not remain long at Athens but were hurried off to a Southern prison, Cahaba, Ala., where we were fed on corn meal for almost six months when the glad news came that we were to leave; some thought for Andersonville, others thought for home. It proved to be the latter. After riding in dirty box cars and then marching, we arrived at Big Black river on the 21st of March, 1865, and remained in camp, which was four miles from Vicksburg, for three or four weeks. Then the glad news came that we were to go North and be exchanged.

We marched to Vicksburg and went on board the steamer "Sultana." We were a jolly crowd, but our joy was of short duration. Everything went along smoothly until we were about eight miles above Memphis, when the explosion took place by which so many lives were lost. As for myself I had no thoughts of dying just then, so I looked around among the wreck and found a box, carried it to the side of the boat and waited until the coast was clear; then threw it overboard and jumped in after it. It seemed to me as though I was going down to the bottom, but such was not the case. Soon coming to the surface of the water I seized the box and started down the river for shore, or any place where I could get out of the water. After floating and swimming about four miles I landed safely on a small willow tree. Soon after getting nicely fixed on the branches, making myself as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, a man by the name of Williams, of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, came floating along and caught hold of a log that was fast to the tree. After watching him a few minutes I descended from my perch and helped him upon the log, held him there for two hours, and was rewarded by seeing him come to life again, as he was as near dead as any one I have seen who was not dead.

Early in the morning of the 27th of April boats were seen coming up the river searching for the victims of the disaster. Some of the poor fellows were hanging to the trees, some were on logs, and some were found in almost every conceivable place. At about eight o'clock I was picked up, taken on board a steamer and about twelve o'clock landed at Memphis. Remaining there four days, I again started for the north, this time with fear, thinking that we might meet with the same catastrophe, but we landed safely at Cairo, Ill., there boarded the train for "Camp Chase," Ohio. Arriving there I remained two weeks and then was sent to my native State, where I was discharged from the service.

My occupation, mail carrier.

Full List of Michigan Men  |  Reminiscences Of Survivors

(Reminiscences also linked in Full List of Men)

Sources For Your Research


Civil War Files On This Site

Michigan Civil War Files | 1883 Michigan Pensioners | 1894 Civil War Veteran Michigan Census
African Americans Who Served From Michigan | 1st Michigan Sharp Shooters Co. K | Loss of the Sultana
Honor Roll Interments in Michigan