Prisoner of War autograph album, 5 ½ x 8, containing 115 autographs of Union Officers, including two who were condemned to death in retaliation for the execution of two Confederate agents for recruiting within Union lines. President Lincoln agreed to exchange the condemned Union Officers -- Captains Henry Sawyer of the 1st New Jersey and John M. Flinn of the 51st, Indiana – for Robert E. Lee’s son, Gen. William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. The exchange was successful [research included].
The Union officers signing this album used their full name, rank and their regiments, representing at least 16 states. Twenty-five pages are signed on one side only with another six pages signed on both sides, averaging four autographs per page.
Biographies are included on more than half the POWs. At least 18 were captured at Gettysburg. While many of the prisoners were housed at Camp Oglethorpe POW Camp, Macon, GA, some were also sent to Libby Prison and some to Camp Asylum or Camp Sorghum in Columbia, SC. Some of the signers spent time at multiple camps. The original POW owner of the album obviously spent time at more than one camp as some signers were at one camp or the other. POWs were sometimes moved from one prison to another when Union forces were perceived as getting closer. The album contains a printed page executed in beautiful calligraphy identifying it as “Autographs U.S. Officers, Prisoner of war, Libby Prison, Richmond, VA,” likely added post war.
The 115 signers represent a wonderful combination of experiences. In addition to the histories of Flynn and Sawyer, William Fitch Conrad of the Iowa 25th Infantry was captured at Vicksburg and taken to Libby Prison in May 1863. He was transferred to other prisons until November 28, 1864, when he eluded the guards and headed for Union lines. For 40 days, he was in the wilderness until finally reaching union lines near Knoxville, TN. A number of the POWs voted while at the camps. [Research included]
The signatures are nearly all legible with a few exceptions. Here is a list of nearly all:
S.P. Gamble, Melville Small, E.L. Powers, L.P. Ramie, James M. Caully Jr., S.R. Colladay, Edward Kumkel, J. Remie, Eugene Hepp, George L. Schell, George W. Grant, F. H. Alves, George M. Van Buren, George Garrett, W.L. Gray, Wm G. Ely, H. Crocker, E. Chas Parker, H.E. Mosher, H.A. Hubbard, A.W. Locklin, Wm B. Avery, Wm D. Lucas, C.A. Adams, H.R. Bending, Geo B. Coleman, Henry H. Hinds, C.H. Drake, Freeman Gay, J.F. Newbrandt,
R. Clark Knaggs, Lewis Wieser, S.A. Sugarhart, John F. Porter Jr., Wm M. Kendall, E. Szabor, Geo W. Warner, George S. Goull, Henry Sawyer, John W. Kennedy, Horace Morey, George H. Starr, Adam Dixon, Louis R. Fortesew, E. J. Pennypacker, James A. Penfield, Eli Holden, Robt Scofield, Wm H. Follett, Chas B. Smith, Guy Bryan, E.B. Parker, B.F. Lownsbury, Geo W. Chandler, Jos A. Green, Lester D. Philips, Wm E. Rockwell, A. Benton White, Thomas H. McKee, J. Howard Jenkins, Charles H. Morgan, Geo H. Morisey, C.D. Dillin, D.M. Stuart, W.F. Conrad, Wellington Willits, A.P. Henry, D.O. Kelley, W.W. Hunt, Geo H. Forsythe, J.J. Hine, John W. Lewis, E.L. Hayes, John A. Arthur, John Cutler, Emile Frey, D.H. Spretze, J.C. Sterris, M.M. Moore, Edward L. Harris, Thomas Huggins, Francis Murphy, Wm L. Hubbell, D. Bartram, Sam Mervins(?), Chas G.A. Peterson, Henry C. Davis, William H. Locke, Adam H. Lindsey, Wm J. McConnela, John D. Babb, B.F. Blair, C.H. Riggs, J.R. Mcell(?), John M. Flinn, Butler Cobs, Richard Dinsmore, Chas Hasty, Geo C. Houston, H.H. Mason, George R. Lodge, Leopold Mayer, Robert Fisher, R. Curtis, C.R. Hiffley, B.H. Niemeyer, Chas G.A. Peterson (a duplicate?), S.E. Cary, David Whiston, A.J. Wooley, Matt Boyd, C.L. Allstoodt (?),Henry Dietz
Those signing fought in many of the major battles of the Civil War and represented many notable regiments, including the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry, commanded, for a time, by Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the 11th PA Infantry, the oldest unit in continuous service. Other prisoners came from the famous 6th PA, known as the Lancers for their use of 9-foot lances and the 151st PA, known as the Schoolteachers’ regiment because 60 of its members were school teachers. The famous 1st VT was involved in 76 engagements.
The POWs fought at Gettysburg, Antietam, First and Second Battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, the Appomattox Campaign, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House, Hatcher’s Run, Mine Run Campaign, Siege of Yorktown, Seven Pines, Cedar Mountain, Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Atlanta Campaign, Bentonville, Sherman’s March to the Sea, Overland Campaign, Hatcher’s Run, South Mountain and Winchester, Five Forks, Appomattox among many others.
Overall, the prisoners came from regiments in Pennsylvania (3rd, 6th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 57th, 142nd, 13th), Missouri (4th, 10th), New York (2nd, 5th, 6th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 94th, 97th, 104th, 132nd), Connecticut (1st, 6th, 18th), New Jersey (1st), Ohio (61st, 34th, 82nd) Indiana (73rd), Iowa (7th, 12th, 25th), Michigan (7th),Wisconsin (2nd), Iowa (7th, 12th, 25th), Wyoming (10th), Kentucky (15th), Massachusetts (11th, 13th), Rhode Island (1st) and Vermont (1st).
Most POW prisons were overcrowded and conditions horrific with many prisoners being abused or dying before being paroled.
LIBBY PRISON was located in Richmond, VA. It primarily housed Union Army officers and became notorious for overcrowded and dire conditions, second only to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. By 1863, Libby was packed with some 1,000 prisoners and many Union men would perish there from disease and malnutrition. Following the Union occupation of Richmond in 1865, the prison was used to detain Confederate officers. While visiting Richmond in April 1865, Abraham Lincoln pronounced to the throng of people gathering near the prison who were clamoring to tear it down, that the building should be left standing as a monument. Two decades later, a group of Chicago investors with plans to move the building and open a Civil War museum, had the building taken apart piece by piece – all 600,000 bricks – and reassembled it in Chicago. Construction ended in 1889 and the building was well stocked with Civil War relics and art from one of the investors, Charles F. Gunther, a candy manufacturer. The museum was quite popular but was dismantled in 1899 and its pieces sold as souvenirs and salvage.
CAMP OGLETHORPE was opened in Macon in 1862. The site was enclosed by a rough stockade on 15 to 20 acres. The living arrangements consisted of sheds or stalls or shelters constructed from materials found within the stockade.
Some of the biographies note that the prisoners spent time in South Carolina POW prisons. Two existed in Columbia.
CAMP ASYLUM was held on the grounds of the State Lunatic Asylum in Columbia, SC. It had a 12-foot high brick wall surrounding it and several barracks. The camp housed 1,200 officers. It operated from December 12, 1864 to February 14, 1865. When Sherman’s army was approaching Columbia, the Confederates moved the prisoners, transporting them to Charlotte, then to Wilmington, NC.
CAMP SORGHUM, located in South Carolina, near Columbia, was originally a five-acre field on a hill overlooking the west side of the Saluda River. At one point, Confederate authorities transferred 1,300 federal prisoners to prevent them from infecting the local populace with yellow fever. A few tents were available. Many prisoners built makeshift structures by digging holes in the ground and covering them with tree branches. Because the diet consisted of cornmeal and molasses, the Union prisoners began calling their site “Camp Sorghum.” Some prisoners bribed guards to escape. Others feigned illness to go to the hospital outside the camp’s boundaries as a ruse to escape. Nearly 400 escaped.
The album is in very good condition with expected age wear, some toning to pages. A spectacular example of Civil War history from dozens of regiments, which fought in many major battles.
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