MEMOIRS OF A
A TRIBUTE FROM A FRIEND
DR. TILLMAN B. JOHNSON
Perhaps there was never a more touching and beautiful funeral in Pulaski than that of Capt. James N. Bosang, in the Methodist Church on Thursday afternoon. The day was perfect. A great throng filled the auditorium. Masons from Pulaski and nearby towns were there in a body. Gorgeous flowers in great profusion were banked all about the platform. The music by the church choir was most appropriate, and well rendered. The pastor, Rev. Paul P. Martin, was at his best, both in reading the Scripture and in prayer.
Some other features made the service absolutely unique. Capt. Bosang was "called home" after a noble, patriotic, and Christian life of 92 years. He was one of nine children, and had nine of his own. Upon them and upon all who knew him, he left an impress that will be like a benediction from heaven. It was he who led our brother, James Trolinger, to faith in Christ, some 70 years ago, and the outstanding feature of the entire service on Thursday was the heart message of Brother Trolinger.
Of the 167 men from Pulaski County, composing the company over which our Brother Bosang was captain, in the Civil War, all but four have gone to their Eternal Home, and only twoBrother Trolinger and one otherwere at the funeral. God clothed Brother Trolinger with Himself on Thursday. He stood before us like a patriarch from the "long ago." He was calm, clear, logical, sympathetic and forceful. He spoke as if his friend and comrade of 80 years stood at his side. What a review, and what a pre-view he lifted before us!
His advice and appeal to Masons could not be improved. He lifted before them, and before us all, the ONLY standard that can guide the children of men to eternal peace with God. His tender love and sympathy for the children and other dear ones of Captain Bosang, touched every heart; and his deep soul-yearning for the salvation of us all, will be remembered to eternity. Such a funeral would be impossible without Christ; and the glad reunion for which we long and pray, will be impossible without Him Christ.
Pulaski, Va., June 21, 1930.
MEMOIRS OF A
Born May 2, 1838Died June 18, 1930
I WAS a member of the Pulaski Guards, which company was organized in 1859. At the time of John Browns raids at Harpers Ferry we hoped to be ordered into service to be present at his hanging, but greatly to our disappointment were not.
The officers of the company were J. A. Walker, Captain, (afterwards general); R. D. Gardner, First Lieutenant; Thos. I. Boyd, Second Lieutenant; George A. Morehead, Third Lieutenant.
The organization was kept up and regularly drilled and became very proficient in the drilling manuel of arms and discipline.
When Virginia seceded, we tendered our services to Governor Wise. The company decided to give all married men the privilege to withdraw from the company, but very few availed themselves of this offer. We were daily hoping and expecting to be ordered to Richmond. Late in the evening of April 15, 1861 the order came and runners were sent out to the country members to report the next morning at Newbern, when the company was to form and march to Dublin to take the train. The boys were coming nearly all night and we town boys were up and looking after them the best we could.
Oh, what a day the next was! The tears, the farewells, the parting with loved ones, the heartaches of those who were to be left. My brother Henry and myself had joined at the organization of the company. A younger brother, John, only 16 years of age, insisted on going with us and finally with the consent of our dear mother, Henry and I agreed he should do so, thinking it would probably be better for us all to be together. The company was all assembled at Newbern early on the 16th of April. We marched to Dublin, where it seemed nearly the whole county was assembled to see us off.
While we waited for the train, there was some speaking and much good advice given and many promises to see that those we were leaving should never want for anything in our absence; but I fear the promises were soon forgotten. The train finally came and we were soon aboard. We moved off amid the flutter of handkerchiefs, fans, canes and every demonstration they could make, we waving our plumed caps and cheering with all our might in return. We were going to war. How little we knew or thought of what awaited us. How many poor boys were bidding a last farewell to home and loved ones.
We stopped off at Christiansburg to join the Montgomery Fencibles, the Highlanders from Blacksburg and took the train next morning and were joined by the Fort Lewis Company. On the same train was the Wythe Grays and Smythe Blues. Our destination was Richmond, Virginia, which we reached on April 18. The next day we were joined by the Grayson Daredevils. We were all taken to Richmond Fair Grounds, or Camp Lee, and quartered in the houses, horse stalls, etc., where we found other Virginia troops. Our company being the best drilled, many of us were detailed to drill the men of other companies. As well as I remember, we remained there about a month. We were then ordered to Harpers Ferry, where the Rockbridge Grays, with the companies already mentioned, was made the Fourth Virginia Regiment of infantry.
The Liberty Hall Company was soon added to the regiment, making nine companies with Col. J. A. Preston, commanding. This, the Fourth Regiment, with the Second, Fifth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-third, the five regiments forming the First Virginia Brigade (afterwards known as the Stonewall Brigade) General T. J. Jackson, commanding.
The general kept us very busy drilling and doing heavy guard duty, preparing us generally for what he knew was awaiting us. Our first battle was Manassas July 21, 1861. Our command; after a long, hard march from Winchester, had arrived near Manassas junction the day before. We commenced marching and manoeuvering very early in the day and finally our brigade, with others, was formed in line of battle to support the artillery, which was in position on the brow of a hill near the Henry House. Soon the artillery opened fire and the infantry was ordered to lie down. The enemy commenced to shell our artillery and for two and a half hours we lay there waiting. Finally the Yanks undertook to charge our batteries and then old Jack ordered us forward to charge. We did, and glad of the chance. We lost a lot of men by the shells bursting among us while we could do nothing but wait. I remember one shell that burst in the Fort Lewis Company, which was adjoining our company, that killed and wounded nine men and tore up the ground and threw dirt all over us.
When we started on that charge we soon changed the tune and had their infantry and artillery on the run, and, thank God, kept them running as long as we were able to follow. I remember when I was in prison of talking with a Dutchman who, in describing the stampede said some of the members of his command never stopped until they got to "Chermany," their homes.
That was a grand victory but dearly gained, as one remembers the thousands of brave men we lost. Our company went into action with sixty men and had twenty-one killed and wounded.
Our company had enlisted for one year. At the expiration of the term of enlistment a few of the men had enough and went home, but a large majority re-enlisted for the war (as they expressed it for forty years or during the war). On the 23rd of April, 1862, the company was reorganized. R. D. Gardner, (afterwards colonel), was elected captain; myself first lieutenant; Robt. Glendy, second lieutenant; W. H. Bosang, third lieutenant. Very soon Capt. Gardner was elected lieutenant colonel, I was promoted to captain, Glendy to first and Bosang to second lieutenants and J. F. Cecil to third lieutenant.
I was in nearly every battle my brigade was in, up to and including the fighting around Spottsylvania, until May 18th, 1864. I think it was when Ewells Corps was ordered in rear of Grant to intercept a wagon train of supplies, which was only a partial success as the enemy was soon reinforced and our forces had to fall back, that I saw General Ewells horse shot and fall on him. He was at once released by some of the men rolling the horse off him. Very soon afterward I was wounded myself and after lying in the brush for two days and nights was captured. I could have made my escape but found next morning that I was between the Yankee line of battle and an extra line of cavalry which was kept, as I afterward learned, in the rear of the line of battle to catch their stragglers and deserters.
After finding I was cut off from our own army and between the Yankee army and a line of pickets I knew my only chance of escape was to try to work around their lines to the right. I commenced cautiously to make my way but I had not gone far until I came to a large boundary of cleared land. This I knew I could not cross in daylight, but to my left I noticed what I took to be a branch running through this open land with thick low bushes along its sides. I kept in the timber until I had reached the branch and decided to try to cross the field. Most of the way I had to walk and sometimes crawl in the water to keep from being seen from the hill. When I got about halfway I found four Yankees on post where a road crossed, and I crawled up as close as I dared and lay there until dark. As soon as it was dark I slipped by them and very cautiously proceeded. After crossing the field I entered the timber again and continued slowly, making my way as best I could. It seemed to me the most dense darkness I have ever experienced. I sat down to rest and think. I concluded it would be best to wait for daylight, for I knew if I came across a picket in that darkness, be he friend or foe, he would shoot, so I unrolled my oilcloth and lay down without even a friendly star to look at.
I was very tired and soon asleep. I was awakened next morning by the beating of drums. I hardly thought possible it could be our army, but I must know for certain. I arose from my downy bed of leaves feeling very much refreshed by a good, sound sleep, rolled my oilcloth up and proceeded in the direction from which the drum beats came. I dont think I had gone more than a half mile when, upon taking a little raise, I saw not two hundred yards in front of me the Yankee camp. Oh, but it was a blue world to me in more than one sense. I did not take time to turn around; I just sat right backwards into the brush and did some walking on hands and knees. I knew if I was caught then I would be shot for a spy.
After I had gotten off some distance I sat down and tried to study the situation. I was satisfied there was little chance to reach our army. I knew they were fighting and marching every day, yet I dreaded to surrender and go to prison. I finally concluded to change my course a little and make another effort. About 11 oclock I got a glimpse of a man dodging behind a tree and I immediately followed his example. I wondered why he had not shot as he saw me first and I thought he must be a Yank. We commenced a game of peep. After seeing him peep around his tree and quickly jerk back I concluded he was afraid of being shot at as I was. I stepped out and soon he did the same and upon a better view of each other each of us recognized the Confederate uniform. No, not uniform, but clothes that the Yanks did not wear. I had on a little cap, short, dirty gray roundabout, a pair of jean pants, the color I cant describe, and a pair of cavalry boots. As he advanced a few steps two others showed themselves and we soon met. They were from a regiment of my brigade so we sat down and exchanged experiences. They, like myself, had been separated from their command since the night of the battle. They had been in every direction only to find Yankees in their front and that morning had stopped at a house where they were told the Yanks were shooting every Confederate they caught, pretending they thought them spies or bushwhackers, and only that morning had killed the son of the old man they were talking with. We concluded the thing to do was to surrender, and as I did not want to surrender to foreigners, I proposed that we try to make our way back to the post that I had lain so close to as I heard them talking and knew they were Americans.
In the afternoon we came upon them and after getting as near as we thought prudent I tied my handkerchief to a stick and stepped out where they could see me with my flag of truce. Two of them came over to me and I told them there were four of us who wished to surrender. We were taken back on the hill to headquarters and the Colonel was informed there were four Johnnies outside who had come in. The Colonel came out and gave us a friendly "hello." He noticed the dingy gold lace on the shoulder of my faded jacket, and said, "you are an officer and what command?" I gave him my name, Capt. of Co. C, 4th Regiment, Stonewall Brigade. We entered into general conversation and he asked me how we thought things were going generally. I tried to make him believe we were well pleased and very hopeful. Then he asked several questions about our members and other things. I asked him to excuse me for not answering and he commended my course and invited me into his little tent. Soon the lieutenant colonel and major came in and I was introduced to them. They were all three nice gentlemen and after a short while one of them noticed a ring I was wearing with a Masonic emblem. He asked me if I were a Mason and I replied I was. It so happened they were all three Masons and that made me at home at once, and we spent a pleasant evening. The Colonel said if I would give him my promise to not try to escape l would not be kept under guard but have the liberty of the camp, to which I agreed so long as in his camp, but no longer. I was expecting to be sent to Fredericksburg next day so let him know I could make him no promise as to this trip. That night after they had talked the matter over they asked if I had any money. I had not, so they asked me as a Mason to accept $5, which I did.
The next morning we started for Fredericksburg, I in a wagon, the others afoot. Upon arriving at Fredericksburg we were taken to the guard house. Soon one of the guards came to me and we struck upon a conversation and he asked me what command I belonged to and I replied, the 4th Virginia Infantry. "Why," he said, "you were in the fight at the Wilderness on the 5th." I told him I was and had a brother killed there. I then asked if he was in that battle. He replied he was and said, "our regiment, 153rd N. Y., was engaged with the 4th Virginia Regiment and on your second charge you cut our regiment up so badly that what few were left were sent back here for provost guard."
Here I must go back a few days to the Battle of the Wilderness. My younger brother, John A. Bosang, had for several days, by the doctors orders, been with the wagons. He had been quite unwell and was also barefooted, not having the sign of a shoe. The day of this Wilderness fight our command was marched and countermarched for half the day before we seemed to find the enemy. Finally we formed in line of battle and just then my brother came limping up. I met him and tried to persuade him to go to the rear as he was unfit to go into action, but he refused to leave us. Being a noncommissioned officer his proper place was in the rear of the company, but we were ordered forward. I looked down the line and Johnny was in front. I told him to get back to his place and remain there. Those were the last words I ever spoke to him and the last time I every saw him.
Almost immediately the enemy opened fire on us. A galling fire from the front and another force on our right gave us a heavy enfilading volley. We were ordered to fall back which was done. The enemy did not follow so we reformed and by that time more of our troops had moved up on our right and we all made another forward move. This time we had nothing to contend with but the force in our immediate front which we soon disposed of. Being an officer I could not go back to see about my brother but sent a detail to bury our dead. He was shot through the heart. Dear little brother, I hope we shall meet again. He was only about 18 years old. It was then the guard and I made our fighting acquaintance, and no friends could have treated me more kindly than the Yankee boys who had very probably killed my dear brother, and I had done all I could to have them killed. Such is the fortune of war. The Yankees told me that there were then about forty thousand of their wounded men in town.
I was kept there about a week, taken from there to Bell Plain, a boat landing, where we remained one night. At Bell Plain we were formed in line to be searched, a big Yankee sergeant doing the searching. They would order the men to take everything out of their pockets and the sergeant would examine to see there was nothing left. When it came my turn I had nothing but a handkerchief and my five dollar greenback that had been given me. He asked how I came by the money. When I told it was a present he wanted to know from whom. I said I would rather not say. With an oath he said I could not have it. I could not let my money go if I could help it, so I said some officers who were Masons gave it to me. The lieutenant in command, who was standing by, told the sergeant to give my money back and make no further search. Ah, that was a relief; I not only had my money but another friend. He invited me up to his tent and it is hardly necessary to say he was a brother Mason.
He asked me to share his tent for the night, for which I thanked him but declined, telling him I preferred to stay with the other prisoners. He said if there was anything he could do for me he would gladly do it. I soon went down where the other prisoners were. They had some little tent flies to sleep under and they were preparing supper. After a while the lieutenant sent for me again and set out a large bottle of whiskey and asked me to drink. I told him I never drank, but if he had some to spare I thought some of the other prisoners would likely enjoy it. He poured a pint cup full for me and when I went I took it with me and let the men have a sip around which they seemed to enjoy.
The next morning we took a steamboat for Washington. I was taken to a hospital; the others to prison. I never saw any of them again.
I was well treated in the hospital where I remained about one month. Then I was transferred to the old Capitol Prison in Washington City. I do not know why it was called the "Old Capitol." It was a large old building on one of the main avenues and not far from the capitol of the city and I imagine it had once been a hotel. It was about the 1st day of July when I was taken there and not another prisoner was there. I learned that about one week before, some three hundred prisoners had been taken out and sent to some other prison. At dinner time I was called to the mess-hall for dinner. I had a very good dinner and made the acquaintance of a spritely young negro, who served in that department. Being the only boarder, I was permitted to remain in the mess hall as long as I wished. John was quite friendly and told me many things connected with the prison and prison rules. I told him that I appreciated his kindness and the good dinner he had given me and asked if it would be possible for him to get a blanket or two for me, as I had nothing but an oil-cloth and there was nothing in my room.
He scratched his head and thought awhile and said, "it is against the rules, Boss, but I likes you and I am going to see what I can do for you. After I cleans up I will be up in your room." I thanked him and told him I had a little bit of money and would divide with him. I returned to my room, hoping John would see his way clear to keep me from having to sleep on the floor with only an oilcloth for covering. In an hour or so my friend came in with a small iron bedstead or cot, and returned soon again with a straw tick, two blankets and a clean sheet. He said there being no prisoners there was less help about the kitchen and dining room, so he had borrowed this outfit from that department. To say I appreciated this kindness would be putting it mildly. He made up the bed and did all he could for me. I had three dollars left of the five I had been given and gave John one of them. He hesitated about taking it but I insisted, so I had a good bed and had made a good friend who was to favor me more than once while I remained there.
That nice clean bed induced me to retire early. I was soon asleep, but, oh, what an awakening awaited me! I seemed to have hardly gotten to sleep when I awoke itching and burning with something crawling all over me with thousands of hot feet. Did you ever smell a mashed bed-bug? I rolled out of my little bed scratching and slapping.
There was a gas jet kept burning in my room all night and I could see them by the hundreds, chinches, all over me, all over my bed. The sentinel posted in the hall, hearing the racket, opened the door and inquired what was the matter. I told and showed him; he gave a very broad grin and retired. I brushed them off my clothes, stripped and threw my clothing as far from me as I could, knocked them off my body and shook out my sheet, replaced it, rubbed off what climbed back on my legs and jumped in bed. I slept but little that night and in the morning I gathered up my clothing and disposed of what bugs I could find. At breakfast, I told John of my nights experience. He sympathized with me but could do nothing but suggest that we scald the bedstead, which we did. We examined the bedding and thought the trouble would at least be very much lessened, but alas, the next night was no better. I thought of the three hundred prisoners who had recently been removed. I was up the greater part of the second night and in walking the floor noticed the walls of the room over which the bugs were running in streams and gangs. I called the guard in to see them and he actually looked sorry for me and said the damn bugs must expect me to do the feeding of the 300 men who had been taken away.
It is said necessity is the mother of invention, so in trying to think of some way to better my apparently helpless condition, I knew they could only get on my bed by climbing up the legs of the bed, which were small. All at once the thought occurred to me to get some pint cups filled with water and place the legs in the center of the cups and maybe they could not swim. I called my friend, John, gave him my idea and asked if he could furnish the cups. He said he certainly would and did. I cleaned my bed and bedding thoroughly, filled my cups with water, and placed each leg of the bed in a brimming cup of water, and it was a complete success. Oh, the good, undisturbed sleeping I had. I found but very few that even attempted to swim and they were drowned.
I had been here about a week when a batch of ten prisoners was brought in. They came to my room early next morning and the first question was, "how have you lived so long in this damned chinch harbor? We did not sleep a minute last night." I showed them my bed and my defense and they wanted to know how I got a bed, saying they had lain on the floor when they lay at all. I told them a friend had furnished the bed. I did not want them to know my friend, John, has secured it for me as I knew they would try every means to get him to help them and this would probably end by him being reported and discharged or punished. Among these prisoners was a little fellow, Lieutenant Fred Ford, of North Carolina, and after the second night, I let him share my bed, which we could only do by lying on our side and both always turning at the same time. Those officers were all jolly fellows, but one, Col. Baker, a tall, fine looking fellow, was especially full of fun and mischief. The windows had no sash or glass in them, only iron rods, on the second story. The colonel spent most of the time looking out of that window. It was against the rules of the guard for any one passing to speak or bow to the prisoners, but when the colonel would see a man riding by he would raise his hat, bow and make all signs of recognition. Half the time before the fellow passing would have time to think, he would check his horse and bow and look, thinking Baker was an acquaintance. The guard would immediately arrest him and take him before the commandant of the prison. We never knew what was the result but guess nothing more than a reprimand and caution.
While we were in this prison, General Early made his raid into Maryland and threatened Washington. We could see the smoke from the artillery and the confusion in the city was terrible. They and we were almost sure he would capture Washington, which he could easily have done had he known their lack of troops and the general demoralization of their men, but he only scared them very badly for a few days and passed on.
About the first of August quite a lot of prisoners had been brought in and we were taken to Fort Delaware. When we knew we were to be taken out, we formed a plan to try to capture the train by overpowering the guards, but we were too strongly guarded. Eight well armed men were stationed at the ends of each car, four inside and four outside, on the platform, but my little bedfellow, Ford, determined to try to escape. He came to me and told me he was going to jump out of a window, which he did near the Relay House, not far from Baltimore. I had tried to persuade him not to do it and when I found he had jumped through a window, while the train was running at full speed, I had no other thought but that he was killed. But he escaped serious injury and finally got back to his command, and was later captured again and returned to prison.
We went from Baltimore by boat to Fort Delaware. This prison is on an island near the head of Delaware Bay between the States of Delaware and New Jersey, the hottest place in summer and the coldest in the winter I have been. We arrived there late in the evening and after taking our names, rank and the command to which we belonged, we were searched and turned in to the bull pen. The first man I saw whom I knew was Lieutenant James Kelley, of my own company. He had recognized me and he was laughingly throwing his arms about. I thought he had gone crazy, but as soon as he could he clasped me in his arms and almost cried he was so glad to meet me again. He took me to Division 34, where he shared his blanket with me. When I awoke next morning I heard the men talking about one of the prisoners being taken with small pox. He had been taken from the bunk just over ours, so that frightened me and I felt sure I would catch it and for two or three days I imagined I felt the symptoms of small pox. I found out that there were more taken out almost every day with small pox, after the first day. I was hungry for five months, day and night; our rations consisted of a slice of bakers bread about 1 1-4 inches thick or two or three crackers with a small slice of pickled pork, a cup of weak coffee and at dinner time about the same amount of bread and a cup of soup or greasy water, in which occasionally a bean or two would be found, but mostly seasoned with flies. There were about twenty-five hundred officers then penned up in an enclosure of about two acres surrounded by a high planked fence or stockade. The buildings ran around the enclosure and were planked up and down and divided into divisions. Each division accommodated two hundred men, and two tiers of bunks or shelves were around the room, the floor being the first or lower bunk. I was fortunate enough to have a middle or second bunk, which was considered the best. There was but one stove to each 200 men, and they allowed us enough coal to keep that stove red hot and in the cold weather the men were packed around it like sardines. Those not in reach of the heat walked the floor and waited for their turn to get near the fire. When I would be near enough to warm some one would say, "Captain, give me your place when you are warm." Another would make the same request of No. 2 and so on until probably six or eight would have in turn the promise of my place. So it went day and night. Nobody was allowed to have more than one blanket but by doubling that gave one blanket to lay on and one to cover with.
When I had been there about five months, one morning I met a fresh fish (new prisoner). He asked me if I could make rings out of guttapercha buttons. I told him I could if he had two buttons, and I would make a ring and put a heart set in it if he would give me the other button. I told him to call back next morning. I had never had a button or even attempted to make a ring, but I was determined to have his button. I went to Capt. Bob Stuart, who made rings, and borrowed a file and a knife and went to work. I completed the ring with a heart set made of a piece of oyster shell. He was well pleased with his ring and I with my button. I went to work and made a very nice ring out of my button and sold it to Capt. W. F. Nicholson for seventy-five cents, and oh, but didnt I feel rich! The next thing was to decide how to invest my riches. After due deliberations, I decided to buy a file for 25c; 5 buttons, 25c; tobacco, 10c, and meal 10c, which left me 5c capital. From that time I managed to buy something extra to eat. I dont mean extra good but over and above my mess rations.
Probably a month or six weeks after this, several prisoners came from Point Lookout and two of them had some shoemakers tools, lasts, etc. I soon saw they did not know much about the business; and I told them I was a good workman and proposed we should form a partnership to which they readily agreed, they to furnish the material and I to do the work, 1-3 of proceeds to each of us. I would say here one could buy anything he wanted through the sutler, and that there was plenty of money in the prison. Prisoners who had friends in Baltimore, Washington, or anywhere within the Yankee lines, were well supplied, yet, if a fellow had no friends outside, he got nothing from those who did have money. As soon as our material came I went to work footing boots (footing boots is putting new feet to old legs, making them almost as good as new.) For such boots we got $15.00 per pair, which gave me $5.00 for my share, and I would do a pair a day, and then not begin to do all the work wanted. I commenced to live high, had a bunk-mate to do the cooking and we ate to make up for lost time.
This lasted until I took pneumonia working so constantly so far from the fire. I was taken very suddenly and very bad and I was sent out to the hospital and for some time was delirious most of the time: I dont know how long I was in this condition, but it seemed to me a long time. When I could think at all I felt sure I would die and did not care if I did. One morning I awoke hungry and the nurse brought me the half of a soft boiled egg and a very small piece of toast. I told him if he would bring me something at dinner I would give him a half dollar. He promised. The nurses were Confederate prisoners, who had taken the oath and we called them galvanized. At dinner time, besides the little I was intended to have, he brought me two thick slices of fat pork and a pint cup of greasy soup. He didnt care if he did kill me, so he got the 50 cents. I ate my allowance and one slice of meat and drank about half my cup of soup. I was still hungry, but knew it was very imprudent to eat so much when I had been so long without eating anything, so rested a little and studied the case. I decided to finish the meat and soup and if it killed me to die with a full belly. I laid back and went to sleep and improved right along and that dirty galvanized scamp got about all I had for extra rations.
When I finally got well and was sent back to the prison my partners in the shoe business had been sent away, taking with them their outfit, so I had to fall back on the guttapercha jewelry business, which helped a little.
There were many incidents of my prison experience that would probably interest you, but I am tired of writing. It was decidedly the hardest part of my war experience. While there I often wished I had lost an arm or leg, for in that case I would have been exchanged. After Lees surrender, we were given the privilege of taking the oath of allegiance, but some of us would not believe our army had surrendered. About three hundred of us refused to take the oath and afterwards regretted if for we were kept there until well along in July before we were given another opportunity. This time we knew there was nothing else to do, so we were loaded on to a steam-boat and taken to Baltimore, reaching there on a Saturday evening and lay over till Monday. I had 75 cents left and decided to have one good square meal if my 75 cents would get it. I went to a fish restaurant and ate as long as my money lasted.
In leaving there I took the wrong direction, and being ashamed to ask my way, I think I must have walked ten miles before I found our quarters. We were sent to Fortress Mcaroe, thence to Petersburg and from there to Lynchburg, where I met A. W. Williams, one of my company. He went my security for a new hat and loaned me a little money, 15 cents of which went for a saucer of ice-cream, the first I had tasted during the war. Oh! my, it was good.
We took a freight to Christiansburg and that night I slept under an apple tree. Next morning several of us boarded an engine and tender and reached Dublin July 25,1865. There was a quarterly meeting going on in a little school-house on the hill near where Mr. J. H. Darst afterwards lived. I did not go to church but went to see my old grandmother Trinkle and Aunt Ellen Cecil and struck for home at Newbern.
I still had my short jacket and part of my jean pants. There was just enough of the legs left to go into the top of my long boot legs, the rest having been used in prison to halfsole the seat of my pants. I walked my best but it seemed I was progressing very slowly, but at last I had my dear mother in my arms, both of us crying for joy. I was the only one of the three who had returned. Johnny was dead, and Henry was in Mexico.
I soon began to inquire into affairs at home. I found my mother, with the five younger children, had been having a hard time and did not have enough to subsist on for one week. I knew something must be done and quick, so I went to my uncle, who had been at home on detail since the first year of the war, borrowed $35.00, bought some shoemakers tools and leather and I went to work at once. I got all the work I could do at good prices, and oh how thankful I felt to know that I was enabled to take care of mother, sisters and brothers as long as dear mother lived and until the others were able to care for themselves.
Brother Henry had been badly wounded at Manassas Junction, and was discharged from service on account of disability. He afterwards formed a company at Dublin, was wounded at Wytheville in Averills raid and I have been often told by those were on the ground that the assistance of the little band he commanded saved Wytheville from being burned. He was afterwards promoted to major. When he returned from Mexico after the war he did not remain at home long, going to California, where he died.
Thus, ends this little personal sketch which my children have insisted on my writing. I wish I had written it earlier when I might have made it more interesting. One forgets many things in 50 years, but what little I have written is without exaggeration and I hope may prove of some interest to my children and friends.
J. N. B.
March 15, 1912.