Detroit Free Press Favorite

William WENDT

I WAS born in Prussia, Germany, March 11, 1844, and enlisted in the service of the United States, at Romeo, Mich., May 25, 1863, in Company L, 8th Regiment Michigan Cavalry, and was captured at Knoxville, Tenn., November 15, 1863, and confined in the Pemberton Hospital and Libby, Andersonville, Millen and Blackshear, Ga., prisons.

At the time of the explosion I was on the hurricane deck, next to the stairway leading up from the cabin deck. There was just room for four of us. There were John P. Day, Company L, 8th Regiment Michigan Cavalry, Geo. Meade, 21st Regiment Michigan Infantry, John Kiney, 8th Regiment Michigan Cavalry, and myself. I was awakened on the 27th of April, 1865, by the water splashing over my head. Thinking that the boys were throwing water, I jumped up to see who it was, when I heard the cry of fire. Then I spoke to my mates and told them to get up for the boat was on fire, at the same time getting my clothes ready, still being half asleep. John Biney got up and stepped backwards and fell into the river, Geo. Meade did likewise, and I have never seen them since. I did not see John P. Day until we met in Memphis, after we were picked up. When I got wide awake, the boat was burning quite fast. I took in the situation at once. I was not able to swim. I started to go down to the cabin deck, but the stairs were gone, so I walked down on the wreckage towards the water's edge. There were some that had pieces of the deck and I tried to get on with them, but they were already crowded; I got a blind from one of the cabin doors and went back. It seemed to me as though the boat was lying on its side. Just as I was going to let myself into the water I came in contact with something that seemed to be a scantling, and for fear the blind would be insufficient to hold me up, I took that also. Now came the difficulty to get out of the crowd, for it was very densely crowded on that side of the boat. I had no sooner got onto my blind than some one jumped onto my back, taking me down under the water and losing my hat, but I stuck to the blind and scantling; finally got out of the crowd and drifted down with the current, for it was very strong. I had not been drifting long when I saw a light from a boat that was going down the river. Some of the boys were hailing it. I don't know whether any of them got on or not. I kept floating on down the stream until I came in contact with some limbs of trees. I grasped one of them and it happened to be very lucky for me, for the water was deep there and my blind and scantling shot away from me. It was just beginning to get light and I began to look around me. Many of the boys had landed here, some on drift wood, some on trees, and some on a little log but close by me. About ten o'clock A. M. a steamer came up the river and picked us up. I was so benumbed that it rendered me helpless for awhile. They took me on board and carried me back to a hospital in Memphis.

Occupation farming. Postoffice address, Capac, Mich.

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