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I WAS born in Fairfield, Lenawee county, Mich., on the 19th of October, 1839. Enlisted in the service of the United States at Adrian, Mich., on the 2nd of August, 1862, in Company O, of the 18th Michigan Infantry. Was captured at Athens, Ala., on the 24th of September, 1864, and confined in Cahaba, Ala., or Castle Morgan as it is sometimes called.

The first night, April 25, 1865, on the boat several of us slept on the boiler deck in a coalbin as the other decks were so crowded. The next day we had a very pleasant ride. All were joyous and happy with the anticipation of seeing home and friends. The moment the boat touched the wharf at Memphis, Tenn., the boys began to jump off. I went with the rest and roamed about town until ten o'clock in the evening of the 26th of April when we went back to the boat and as they were going to take on coal enough for the rest of our journey we had to find new sleeping quarters. After roaming around on the cabin deck as best I could among the sleepers, I found a place between the smoke stacks, and spread down my blanket and was about to lie down, when one of the men near by said that he was holding that place for another man. I took up my blanket and found another vacant place large enough to lie down, but before I laid down was informed that it was being held for another man.

I made my way back to the stairs and found room enough by sticking my feet over the steps, laid down and was soon lost in sleep. I slept peacefully and quietly until awakened by the noise of the explosion. The first thought was that the hurricane deck had fallen in from being overloaded, but soon found out different. It was not long before it was all confusion, some singing, some praying, some lamenting, some swearing, some orying, and some did not seem to know anything. I soon made my way down stairs. In a short time everything available on the bow of the boat was thrown overboard. There were several bales of cotton and also some bales of hay but there were generally enough men that went over with them to load them down. When the gangway board was shoved over into the water there were a great many that went over with it. It was but a short time before the fire shot up and burned the boat to the water's edge. As the boat was crowded, the flames whipped down on them and those nearest the fire could not stand it and crowded back so that a great many near the edge of the boat were pushed overboard, as the railing that went around the boat had been torn off. I remained on the boat until the largest part or nearly all had gotten off. I took off my clothing, placed it between two sticks and tied them together with a pair of suspenders, with the intention of using them to aid me in floating or swimming, as I was not much of a swimmer. When I jumped off the boat into the water I lost them, I do not know how it happened.

The most that I was afraid of was that some drowning man would catch hold of me. While making for shore I passed four men astride of something, using their hands for oars, and one of them gave the orders so that they would work together. When I got to land, or where the land is most of the time, I found that it was covered with water. The trees were quite dense, and out in the woods a few rods I found a large tree that was floating in the water, climbed upon it and called to some others that were trying to find a place to get out of the water. Some came and got on the log with me, and several got another log near by. I had to rub myself considerably to keep warm, as I did not have any clothing on. Remained there about four or five hours, when a boat came along and picked no up. When I got on to the boat they gave me a sheet to wrap around me. When we arrived at Memphis some of the Christian Commission came on board and distributed some clothing (shirts and drawers) to those that were needy. I was taken to the Soldiers' Home, where in due time received a suit of clothes.

Of the company to which I belonged there were fifteen on board and only three of them survived; William Thayer, Fairfield; Michael Daley, Palmyra, now deceased, and myself. There were fifteen on board belonging to Company K, and only three were lost. Other companies of the 18th Michigan Infantry lost heavily, but I cannot give the numbers.

My present occupation is farming. My postoffice Weston, Mich.

Full List of Michigan Men  |  Reminiscences Of Survivors

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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