This account by Henry H. Wirz, a Confederate captain at Andersonville Prison, comes from the September 9, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal. This account is addressed to James H. Wilson, who captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and was the federal officer in command at Macon, Georgia.
Wirz’ Account of Himself.
ANDERSONVILLE,Ga. May 7, 1865.—It is with great reluctance that I address you these lines, being fully aware how little time is left you to attend to such matters as I now have the honor to lay before you, and if I could see any other way to accomplish my object I would not intrude upon you. I am a native of Switzerland, and was before the war a citizen of Louisiana, by profession a physician. Like hundreds and thousands of others I was carried away by the maelstrom of excitement and joined the Southern army. I was very seriously wounded at the battle of the Seven Pines [May 31-June 1, 1862] near Richmond, Va., and have nearly lost the use of my right arm. Unfit for field duty, I was ordered to report to Brevet General John H. Winder, in charge of Federal prisoners of war, who ordered me to take charge of a prison in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
My health failing me, I applied for a furlough and went to Europe, from whence I returned in February, 1864 ; I was then ordered to report to the commandant of the military prison at Andersonville, Ga. who assigned me to the command of the interior of the prison ; the duties I had to perform were arduous and unpleasant, and am satisfied that no man can or will justly blame me for things that happened here, and which were beyond my power to control ; I do no think that I ought to be held responsible for the shortness of rations, for for the over-crowded state of the prison, which was in itself a prolific source of the fearful mortality, for the inadequate supplies of clothing, want of shelter, &c., &c. ; still I now bear the odium, and men who were prisoners here seem disposed to wreak their vengeance upon me for what they have suffered, who was only the medium, or, I may better say, the tools in the hands of my superiors. This is my condition ; I am a man with a family ; I lost all my property when the Federal army besieged Vicksburg ; I have no money at present to go anyplace, and even if I had I know of no place where I could go ; my life is in danger, and I most respectfully ask of you help and relief. If you will be so generous as to give me some sort of a safe conduct, or what I should greatly prefer, a guard to protect myself and family against violence, I shall be thankful to you, and you may rest assured that your protection will not be given to one who is unworthy of it. My intention is to return with my family to Europe as soon as I can make the arrangements. In the meantime, I have the honor, General, to remain very respectfully, your obedient servant, H. Y.[sic] WIRZ, Captain C. S. A.
Major General J. H. Wilson, United State Army, commanding Macon, Georgia.
The following editorial comes from The Prescott Journal of September 9, 1865.
The question of Negro suffrage in this State is exciting a good deal of discussion. The Democratic papers and talkers, believing Negro Suffrage to be unpopular, are untiring in their assertions that it is a principle of the Union Party and the leading idea of that organization.
The fact is, it is a principle of no party now. It will be supported by many, we think a majority, of the Union party, and by a good many strong Democrats, and it will be opposed by the majority of the Democratic party and by a good many Republicans. The Union State Convention may adopt it as a party tenant and may not.
We are not called to decide the question of negro suffrage at the South. That question is a very serious one, and most of the talk on it as yet, has been crude and unsatisfactory. It needs more time and knowledge to decide that question.
But in this State there is no need of hesitancy or doubt. The negro bears all the burdens of Government, and it is simple justice to confer on him its privileges. Are they ignorant? We will show you white voters more so. Is there an inborn repugnance to associating with them? We grant it ; but their names stood on the enrollment list with yours, and you made no objection. The companionship of the poll list is no closer than that.
Let us do justice. Give the colored man his right to vote, and then if you do not like it, when his right of suffrage is taken away, relieve him of all the burdens of Government, except such as other aliens living here must bear.
The following news from Missouri comes from the September 9, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.
Matters in Missouri.
A considerable portion of the clergy in this State refuse to take the oath prescribed in the new constitution. The St. Louis correspondent of the N. Y. Tribune gives the following account of matters in that State :
THE NEW CONSTITUTION.
There is now some talk about resistance to the New Constitution in disloyal counties. It is reported from Jefferson city that the Governor has information that a secret shipment of fire-arms was lately received in Callaway county under circumstances calculated to excite suspicion that certain parties intend to organize an armed opposition to the new constitution. It will not prove a healthy operation, even if undertaken with a large force from Callaway county. Many Union men, particularly soldiers, believe Callaway got off too cheap at the close of the war any way, and would rejoice to go into the county to assist in the suppression of a new rebellion. The spirit of opposition in St. Louis is confined to the refractory preachers. There is now in session a conference of the ministers of the Methodist Church South, whose proceedings are watched with interest. Thus far they have merely compared notes as to the extent of the conversions in the rebel army, several rebel Chaplains being present.—Probably the legislature will have to provide the machinery for carrying out the new constitutional provision imposing an oath on preachers, though they are now debarred from performing the marriage ceremony.
SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE OATH.
About three dozen lawyers have already subscribed to the new oath, and many more will doubtless do the same at an early day. The rest of the profession are in a quandary. Probably the most puzzled man in the community, is the Judge of the Circuit Court, who is a rabid anti-Constitution man, and figured as a politician in stump speeches against it. It is predicted he will allow lawyers to practice who have not taken the oath ; if he does, an impeachment by the Radical Legislature is threatened, so the Judge is between two fires. If he requires the oath as a condition precedent to the appearance of lawyers, he will be accused of backing down, and if he does not, his official seat is in danger.
GEN. POPE AND JUDGE BREWER.
Gen. Pope [John Pope] has had a tilt with Judge Brewer,¹ of the Kansas Circuit Court, by refusing to surrender 40 Indian ponies seized by the military on behalf of the Indians as stolen property. Judge Brewer has issued a writ for the arrest of Gen. Pope for contempt of court, which he says shall not be returned unexecuted during his term of office. Gen. Pope has the equities of the case on his side.
MISSOURI AND PACIFIC RAILROAD.
There remains only 17 miles to finish on the Missouri and Pacific Railroad, and that space is already far along towards completion. All the bridges, culverts and grading are finished, and ties and rails are being laid with great rapidity. The rains of the past four weeks injured the grading somewhat and required several sections to be done a second time, but the prospect is fair for the opening of the road through to Kansas City before October.
A SUIT AGAINST DISTINGUISHED REBELS.
A suit has been commenced in the Johnson county Circuit Court, by a Union soldier named Bryan Hornsby, against several distinguished rebels—including Sterling Price, James S. Rains, Stephen Cockerill [sic]² and others—for $50,000 damages, for false imprisonment early in the war. The result of this suit will be the signal for many others. Price and Rains both own property in this State, which will amply cover the verdict if one be rendered in the plaintiff’s favor. This process was successful in East Tennessee, but it has never before been tried in Missouri.
1. David Josiah Brewer (1837-1910) was at this time a judge to the First Judicial District of Kansas. Upon graduating from law school, Brewer moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to start a law practice. He then left for Colorado in search of gold, returning empty-handed in 1859 to nearby Leavenworth, Kansas. He was named Commissioner of the Federal Circuit Court in Leavenworth in 1861. He left that court to become a judge to the Probate and Criminal Courts in Leavenworth in 1862, and then changed courts again to become a judge to the First Judicial District of Kansas in 1865. He left that position in 1869 and became city attorney of Leavenworth. He was then elected to the Kansas Supreme Court in 1870, where he served for 14 years. In 1884, Brewer was nominated by President Chester A. Arthur to the U.S. circuit court for the Eighth Circuit. In 1889, after 28 years on the bench, Brewer was nominated by President Benjamin Harrison to the United States Supreme Court. Brewer was confirmed by the Senate and received the commission the same day, joining a court that included S. J. Field, his uncle. Brewer was an active and influential member of the Supreme Court.
2. Francis Marion Cockrell (1834-1915) was a prominent member of the famed South-Cockrell-Hargis family of Southern politicians. He practiced law in Warrensburg, Missouri, before the Civil War. In 1861 he joined the Missouri State Guard (Confederate). After transferring to the Confederate army and being promoted to colonel, he was an important leader in the Vicksburg Campaign. Cockrell distinguished himself at the Battle of Champion Hill (May 16, 1863), and also took part in the Battle of Big Black River Bridge (May 17, 1863). Cockrell was promoted to brigadier general on July 18, 1863. He went on to fight in many of the battles of the Atlanta Campaign, and participated in Hood’s Tennessee Campaign. In April 1865, shortly before the end of the war, Cockrell was captured in Alabama, but was paroled after a few weeks. After the War, he returned to his law practice. In 1874 he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri and served from 1875 to 1905. From 1905 to 1910, Cockrell He was appointed to the Interstate Commerce Commission by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. He served on the Commission until 1910. Cockrell then became part of a commission which negotiated the boundaries between the state of Texas and the New Mexico Territory, which was about to become a state. In 1912, he became a director of ordnance at the War Department.
1865 September 9: More on Jefferson Davis–Speculation on His Trial, Connection with Wirz; a Pardon Revoked and a Colonel Attacked
The following summary of the news comes from the September 9, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal. Due to the length of the article it was split into two parts, this being the second part, with the first part published yesterday.
Governor Fletcher [John C. Fletcher], of Missouri, has written a letter declaring that the constitutional provision requiring preachers and teachers to take the oath of loyalty, will be enforced by the employment, if necessary, of the entire military strength of the State.
A public meeting was held in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday last, at which resolutions were adopted avowing sincerity in the taking of the oath of allegiance, acquiescing in the results of the war, (the abolition of slavery included), and expressing confidence in President Johnson [Andrew Johnson] and Governor Pierpont [Francis H. Pierpont].
It is reported that the brother of Alexander H. Stephens has received permission to visit the rebel “vice-president” at Fort Warren.
Davis [Jefferson Davis], Clay [Clement C. Clay] and Mitchell [sic: John Mitchel], are now permitted to read newspapers. The letter of Davis to his counsel, Gillett, is the only communication which he has as yet been allowed to send off.
The Lincoln monument fund (at Springfield, Illinois) now amounts to $50,600.
It is said that the President and Secretary Stanton [Edwin M. Stanton] favor an early trial of Jeff. Davis, by a civil court—Knoxville, Tennessee, being preferred by Mr. Johnson as the locality of the proceedings ; that, if the trial shall be held before Chief Justice Chase [Salmon P. Chase], it will take place at Norfolk, Virginia, which point will suit the friends of the prisoner ; and that, when the trial shall occur, General Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] will take a prominent part in the prosecution of the rebel chief.
The report that Davis, in a conversation with a visitor, had disavowed all knowledge of the existence of Wirz [Henry Wirz], and of the cruelties perpetrated at Andersonville, is pronounced untrue. The only person who has had an interview with Davis, beyond the officers in charge, is a son of the President’s ; and the conversation on the occasion of his visit, related merely to the physical condition of the prisoner.
Herald’s Richmond correspondent says orders revoking the pardon of Mr. Dudley,² president of the York River R. R., emanated from President Johnson himself in consequence of Dudley, subsequent to receiving the executive clemency having indulged in strongly disloyal language.
Col. Mellon,³ of Vicksburg, was attacked by a band of robbers, near that place, a few days ago. He killed three or four and succeeded in making his escape.
FORTRESS MONROE, Aug. 31.—Jeff. Davis has been attacked with erysipelas¹ for the second time since his confinement ; the first attack was very slight, but this one is more severe, although not looked upon as serious. The health of Mr. Clay is improving.
1. Erysipelas, Greek for red skin, also known as “Ignis sacer,” “holy fire,” and “St. Anthony’s fire” in some countries), is an acute infection that typically has a skin rash on any of the legs, toes, face, arms, and fingers. It is an infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics, usually caused by Beta-hemolytic group A streptococcus bacteria on scratches or otherwise infected areas. It can recur in 18-30% of cases.
2. An Alexander Dudley of King and Queen County, Virginia, was pardoned by President Johnson on July 6, 1865. The Richmond and York River Railroad was instrumental to the Confederate war effort on the Peninsula, but was wrecked during the Peninsula Campaign.
3. Probably Thomas Armour Mellon (1826-1873), who was colonel in the 3rd Mississippi Infantry, CSA. He had served in the Mexican War in the 5th Mississippi Infantry at Vicksburg (1846), and lived in Hinds County, Mississippi, which is the next county over from Vicksburg (Warren County).
1865 September 9: The Powder River Expedition; the “Murders” of the Wrights in Missouri; Paymaster Fraud in Virginia
The following summary of the news comes from the September 9, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal. Due to the length of the article it was split into two parts, this being the first part and the second part will be published tomorrow.
News from General Connor’s¹ Indian expedition is to the 21st instant. It had obtained several small successes over the savages, who were all in rapid motion northward, with the whites in pursuit.
It is stated that among those who will take advantage of the order authorizing the granting of passports to paroled rebel prisoners, are Generals Lee, Longstreet, Ewell, Beauregard, D. H. Hill, Wheeler, Malone [sic], Buckner and Gardner. Lee proposes going to London, where he will finish the history of his military campaigns.
The Catholic Archbishop who has jurisdiction of Missouri, has issued a circular asserting that priests cannot take the oath of loyalty required by the new constitution “without a sacrifice of ecclesiastical liberty.”
A Catholic Priest at Jefferson City, Mo., announced in his church, on Sunday last, that he had not determined to take the oath of loyalty required of preachers by the new State constitution, and that, in case of interference with him by the authorities, he should expect to receive the assistance of the congregation.
About 5,000 Indians have already arrived at Fort Smith, to attend the council there on the 1st proximo,² and 10,000 more are expected.
General Wright, who is supposed to have lost his life by the wreck of the steamer Brother Jonathan, on the Pacific coast, is not the major general of that name formerly in command at Cincinnati [Horatio G. Wright], but Brevet Brigadier General Wright, ranking colonel of infantry of the regular army, in which he has served for nearly forty years.
General Ruger [Thomas H. Ruger], commanding at Raleigh, North Carolina, has declined to comply with a request of Gov. Holden [W. W. Holden], for the surrendering to the civil authorities of those citizens arrested by the military for an assault upon freedmen.
The report that the sales of government horses and mules had been stopped is pronounced to be without foundation. It was set afloat by speculators. Some $4,000,000 has already been realized from these sales.
Clement C. Clay, who is in confinement at Fortress Monroe, is reported to be quite unwell.
The investigation at Rolla, Missouri, into the matter of the killing of Judge Wright and his sons, has resulted in the exonoration [sic] of Col. Babcock and his command from all blame.³
Our generals on the Rio Grande are reported to be hobnobbing with the Maxirailjanists, and expressing friendship for the empire.
Carl Schurz, who is on a government mission to the South, has arrived at Vicksburg.
President Johnson [Andrew Johnson] has decided against the establishment of a bureau of pardons.
No decision has as yet been come to in the case of Alexander H. Stephens and R. M. T. Hunter, though the wife of the latter has left Washington with the conviction that her husband will soon be released on parole.
Some paymasters in Virginia, in connection with the National banks at Norfolk and Richmond, have swindled soldiers out of large amounts of money—the men being paid in 7.80’s (instead of legal tender) upon which they had to submit to a heavy shave. The perpetrators are under arrest.
Secretary Stanton [Edwin M. Stanton] has ordered the discharge of the 81st, 97th, 106th, 95th, 130th, and 72d Illinois infantry ; Co. G, 8th Illinois cavalry, and the Elgen (Illinois) battery.
1. Patrick Edward Connor (1820-1891), an Irish immigrant, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1839 and was honorably discharged in 1844. In 1845 he became a naturalized citizen and in 1846 joined the Texas Volunteers, which were mustered into federal service for the Mexican War. In 1850 he headed west to the California gold rush. Connor was in command of a California Militia unit when the Civil War started. He recruited enough men to turn it into the 3rd California Infantry with Connor as colonel. His regiment was ordered to Utah Territory to protect the overland routes from Indians and quash any Mormon uprising that might occur. As senior officer Connor became commander of the District of Utah and established Fort Douglas in a commanding position over Salt Lake City. In March of 1865 a new District of the Plains was created with Connor as commander.
Connor made his reputation for his campaigns against Native Americans, starting with the Bear River Massacre on January 29, 1863, in which his command killed between 200 and 400 Shoshone Indians, including women and children. After the Bear River Battle (or massacre), Connor was appointed brigadier general in the Volunteer Army. From July to September 1865, he led the Powder River Expedition against the Dakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians, who were attacking travelers along the Bozeman Trail and overland mail routes. This Expedition is what is being referenced in the news item here. On the whole, the Expedition was “a dismal failure.” Still, Connor was brevetted a major general of Volunteers before being mustered out of service in 1866.
2. Latin, meaning occurring in the next month after the present.
3. Judge Lewis F. Wright (1815-1865), and four of his sons—Tarlton, 28; Elias Davidson, 21; Lewis F. Jr., 20; and Benjamin Gilbert, 17—were “cruelly and inhumanly murdered on the road side on the route from Rolla to Houston, some five miles southwest of the former place. The murders, as we are informed, were committed by a squad of Miller County militia, some nine in number, under command of Col. Babcoke,” according to the St. Louis Republican of August 21, 1865. The Wrights were charged with being connected with bushwhackers and with helping another son, Anthony, in the killing the year before of a Union militia captain. The Holt County Sentinel of September 8, 1865, contains Colonel Thomas J. Babcoke’s version of the story. There was a huge outcry against the killings in newspapers throughout Missouri and neighboring states, the judge being a popular community leader. A state legislative investigation exonerated Babcoke/Babcock and his militia, who had an order from Missouri’s governor authorizing him to form a special posse to arrest the Wrights. Babcoke/Babcock claimed the five men were attempting to flee when they were killed. Thomas Jefferson Babcock/Babcoke, Jr. (1824-1916), was born and grew up in Ohio; lived in Miller County, Missouri, during the late 1850s, 1860s, and 1879s; and lived in Cherokee County, Kansas from at least 1900 to his death in 1916.
1865 September 9: Wisconsin’s Adjutant General Cautions Soldiers Not to Part with their Discharge Papers
This week we have only The Prescott Journal issue of September 9, 1865, for news articles.
STATE OF WISCONSIN,
ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE, }
Madison, Aug. 25, 1865. }
GENERAL ORDERS }
. .No. 13. . }
To Discharged Wisconsin Soldiers :
It having become evident that there are persons in this State seeking to take advantage of ignorant or thoughtless soldiers in the purchase of discharge papers this is to caution all soldiers against parting with their discharge papers under any consideration whatever.
It is not at all improbable that Congress will at an early day recognize the service, at least of those who, enlisting in the first years of the rebellion, did not receive the large bounties of the latter years,—and perhaps all others—by a grant of Government lands.
Such grants, or any subsequent bounties, can be claimed only upon proper proof, in which your discharge paper will be required, and the soldier who sells his, puts his title to any such benefits entirely beyond recovery, excepting in the purchase back again of the discharge at such an extravagant rate as the speculator may impose.
Aside from the money value which may be attached to an honorable discharge from the service, in the future, it will have to those who shall come after you, if not now to yourselves, a value beyond that of money.
It will be treasured among the mementos of the past, and your name therein recognized as among the patriot heroes who left home and the pleasant paths of peace, to risk all for the laws and liberties of the Commonwealth, and whose valor has stricken down forever the envenomed foes of the Republic.
In any view of the matter, your discharge paper is worth more to you than to any one else. The person who seeks to purchase it of you has no good object in view. Do not part with it.
By order of the Governor.
. .AUG. GAYLORD, Adjutant General [Augustus Gaylord].
1865 September 2: Death of Governor Brough; Provost Marshals’ Offices to be Discharged; News of Davis, Clay, and Mitchel
Following are smaller news items from The Prescott Journal of September 2, 1865.
— Gov. BROUGH of Ohio, died on Tuesday last. [John Brough]
While in La Crosse, this week, we viewed a few things around that town, with a more genial, vigorous people, we have never known.—Found JOE ELWELL running the Daily Republican, making it a live, spicy sheet. The office is well stocked with new material and presses, and showing every evidence of prosperity at which we rejoice greatly.—Had the pleasure of meeting “HEARTSEAGE,” the pleasant lady contributor to the Republican. The name is comfortably suggestive one, and her writings sparkle with pleasant sentiment and quiet satire. We shall read them with even more pleasure now that the charm of acquaintanceship with the writer is added.—Called a few moments at “BRICK” POMEROY’S well ordered office [M.M. “Brick” Pomeroy]. Brick, as is well known, is bundle of contradictions. Personally affable and courteous, and politically loathsome, it can truly be said of him, as JOHN RANDOLPH once said of a cotemprorary [sic], that “like a rotten mackerel, he shines and stinks, and stinks and shines.”—Spent a little time pleasantly with Gen. WASHBURN [C. C. Washburn], and met Dr. CAMERON, who kindly furnished us with a certificate of exemption from the next draft. He does not see so much of hernia now as he did.—MILTON BARLOW, who should be elected President of “Gideon’s Band,” still contributes to the virtues and good fellowship of La Crosse, and Postmaster LOR TADGE [?], cares nothing about caucuses, and refrains from “figuring” as much as ever.—Called at MICHEL’S Brewery, the best in Northern Wisconsin, and viewed TOM. DAVIS’ splendid livery stables, where the horses have bedsteads to sleep on nights. La Crosse is thriving. Everything about it gives evidence of fast increasing business and wealth.
— The New York Times has good authority for the statement that Mr. Robert Lincoln, son of the late President, is shortly to be married to a daughter of Secretary Harlan [James Harlan].
The following was received at the Provost Marshal’s office at Madison last Wednesday,
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22.
To Lt. Col. G. R. Giddings, A. P. M. G.
Require your provost marshals to discharge their deputies and special agents not heretofore discharged and all of their clerks at the end of the present month.
Signed, .JAS. B. FRY. [James B. Fry]
The correspondent of the Philadelphia Enquirer at Fortress Monroe writes under the date of August 20th :
There is at present nothing to write of Davis and Clay [Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay]. Both of them are enjoying the best of health, and are becoming accustomed to their case mate life, agreeably diversified as it is by their daily out-door walks, the perusal of the papers and the daily visits of Chaplain Kerfoot. And as their trial is deferred day after day and week after week, their once severe regimen much ameliorated, these prisoners are laying the flattering unction to their souls that if ever they should be brought to a tribunal to answer for their enormous crimes, their sentence will be lenient in the extreme. Ostracism would suit them exceedingly well.
John Mitchell [sic: John Mitchel] is sick. He has never complained ; this dogged ingrate never murmured save once, and that was occasioned by his glimpse of Davis and Clay enjoyed their out-door promenade, a privilege denied him. The physician who visits Mitchell daily, not withstanding his sullenness, has given it as his opinion that Mitchell [sic] is laboring under the insidious attacks of pulmonary consumption, and that in a few more weeks he will be prostrated if not allowed out-door exercise and a more generous diet than the soldiers’ fare upon which he has hitherto subsisted. On the conscientious representations of the doctor, Mitchell’s [sic] diet was changed two days ago, and a full and true statement of his physical condition forwarded to the War Department, with the request and recommendation that he too be allowed the privilege of out-door exercise accorded to Davis and Clay.