THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

 

JOHNSON'S ISLAND

A Visit to the Confederate  Cemetery of the Prison*
 

*SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS
Volume XXVII, Richmond,Va.  Jan -Dec 1899
Page 102 - 109
 





 
[From the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, November 7,1899.]

JOHNSON'S ISLAND 
A Visit to the Confederate  Cemetery of the Prison

Its Condition Described-Service on Decoration-Day-A List of Those Buried There-What Should be Done-A Fund Needed.

[The devoted effort of our noble women of the South, which has been so constantly efficacious, is confidently invoked for the sacred object stated.-ED.]

In company with a friend, your correspondent paid a visit to the now lonely burial plat on Johnson's Island, where over two hundred members of the Confederate army are buried.

Soon after the breaking out of hostilities between the North and South, in the war of 1861 to 1865, a prison camp was established on Johnson's Island, in Sandusky bay, about three miles north of this city, where were sent many officers of the Confederate army for safekeeping, until exchanged or the war was over.

The island is a picturesque spot, about three miles long and about three-quarters of a mile wide.

There is no regular communication with the island, and to reach the same one must charter a small boat, or he may be lucky enough to get to the island through the kindness of some fisherman, who goes in the vicinity to draw seines for fresh water fish.

The soil is good, and in places there are quite extensive openings where stone has been quarried for domestic use.

The old prison camp lay in full view from this city, and as the island is surrounded by a good depth of water on all sides, it was regarded by Northern men as a most safe and healthy spot for the establishment of a military camp.

There was a stockade of plank about the prison quarters at the time of its use, but which has now all disappeared. There yet remains two or three buildings where the officers of the guard had their quarters, and the old guard-house, to mark the spot.

Just east of the camp, which was situated on gently rolling land that dropped towards the bay, to the south, was a small earth fortification for the protection of the camp, should it ever be surprised by an attack of the friends of the Confederacy, who at that time were reported to be quite numerous in Canada, just across Lake Erie, thirty-five miles to the north.

Little remains of the old fortification aside its broad, sloping embankment, and even of this of the earthworks on the west side towards the camp has been nearly levelled to the ground near by. 

The old magazine, for the storing of powder and ball for use by those who occupied this fortification, has gone to decay, and as its walls and ceiling were of plank, old Father Time has done the work surely and well, for the top has caved in, probably never to be re-excavated in the present generation.

About twenty or thirty rods still farther eastward, near the eastern end of the island, is the lonely burial plot, where rest the remains of over 
200 officers of the Confederate army, who died while imprisoned here, and their remains were buried in  this little plot of ground, where the north winds whistle through the trees, singing a mournful symphony o'er the graves of more than one brave man who laid down his life at
his country's call.

The plot is enclosed with a wrought-iron fence, thus protecting the last resting place of many a loved one from tramp of horses and cattle and the heedless visitors, that occasionally pay a visit to this lonely spot.

As we opened the gate and walked in at the south end of the half-acre enclosure, eight rows of white marble headstones came into view, each bearing a withered wreath of evergreen, placed there by members of McMean's Post of the G. A. R., on Decoration Day in May last. Every year a committee from this post, or the Toland Post, at the Soldier's Home, near the city, visit this burial plat, and o'er the graves strew flowers and place wreaths upon the headstones of each of the 205 graves. While the duty is a sad one, it is always performed with willingness by members of the Grand Army who live here, and when
the exercises of the day are held, a fitting recognition of these sleeping warriors is made by the speaker of the day, who delivers the oration of praise to living and dead in terms to touch more than one honest
heart.

If we are rightly informed, it is thirty-seven years since the first interment was made, and while within the grounds there were a few small trees then, they now have grown to a good size, and whose friendly limbs outstretch o'er foe and friend alike, and as autumn 
comes the silvery leaves bedeck the lonely graves of those who lie 
buried here.
 

The plot certainly deserves a little better care than it now receives - through whose neglect we are not able to say. Some of the trees ought 
to be removed, the undergrowth taken out, and the graves and grounds lined up, so as to be more presentable to the visitor's eye. The expense would be but nominal, and it would add so much to the sad scene that presents itself as one gazes upon the last restingplace of so many young men of the same race and speaking the same tongue of those who held them in captivity until death relieved them of their heavy burden.

The following list will show who are buried here, and undoubtedly will be read by many, who will recall to mind the names and acts of more than one that are interred in this lonely place. The list of names is copied from the headstones place over each grave.

The writer has omitted the word "infantry" after each name that being understood by the reader:

J. L. Hood, adjutant, 59th Virginia.

A. C. Pitt, second lieutenant, Company K, 20th Tennessee.

M. H. Michael, lieutenant, 59th Virginia.

W. C. Raidy, Company G, 11th Kentucky cavalry.

J. M. Hill, captain, Company G, Dobbins' Arkansas cavalry.

J. P. Nolan, lieutenant, English's Mississippi battalion.

Robert Gamble, second lieutenant, 9th Alabama.

J. Miller, third lieutenant, William's Arkansas cavalry.

C. B. Morris, lieutenant, Company I, 9th Alabama.
Thomas Ruffin, lieutenant, Company D, 4th North Carolina.

J. Coulter, citizen, Marysville, Tenn.

H. H. Cresswell, lieutenant, Freeman's regiment.

W. P. Norton, lieutenant, Company D, 22d North Carolina.

J. W. McRae, second lieutenant, Company E, 67th Georgia.

J. W. Jacques, lieutenant, Company F, 24th Tennessee.

E. N. Pucket, lieutenant, Company K, 12th Arkansas.

J. W. Day, captain, Company D, 55th Georgia.

W. S. Hilton, captain, Company F, 22d North Carolina.

H. Wilkinson, lieutenant, Company B, 9th Virginia.

W. W. Wynn, captain, Company C, 64th Virginia.

John F. Brigham, lieutenant, Company E, 14th Tennessee.

J. A. Lash, major, 4th Florida.

W. A. Stevens, lieutenant, Company K, 46th Alabama.

T. J. Lowis, captain, Company C, 3d Virginia.

B. B. Starns, lieutenant, Company B, 9th Alabama cavalry.

J. A. Campbell, colonel, 27th Mississippi.

John Welch, lieutenant, Company B, 40th Virginia.

S. V. Hamilton, captain, Company B, "Choctaw cavalry."

G. W. Swink, lieutenant, Company K, 8th Virginia.

A. B. Archibald, captain, Company D, 8th Confederate cavalry.

J. Dean, lieutenant, Company H, 28th Tennessee.

C. B. Nash, lieutenant, Company H, 6th Louisiana.

Francis Baya, lieutenant, Company H, 2d Florida.

F. J. Alexander, lieutenant, Company C, 4th Alabama battery.

M. C. Peel, captain, 8th Arkansas.

R. G. Love, first lieutenant, Company K, 1st Mississippi artillery.

P. Nichols, captain, Company B, 11th battery, North Carolina.

R. P. Bolling, lieutenant, Company H, 6th Georgia cavalry.

I. B. Wood, lieutenant, Company C, 10th South Carolina cavalry.

B. F. Lock, lieutenant, Company E, 4th Arkansas cavalry.

P. W. Lane, lieutenant, 23d Arkansas.

Josiah Bissell, captain, Company C, 8th Florida.

James E. Webb, captain, 8th Arkansas.

Willis Randall, lieutenant, Company G, 52d North Carolina.

W. E. Phillips, second lieutenant 4th Alabama cavalry.

John Nickell, surgeon, 2d Kentucky, "Mounted R."

E. B. Holt, lieutenant, "Bidy's Artillery," Lexington, N. C.

W. J. Porter, captain, Company D, 61st Alabama.

Peter Mackin, lieutenant, Company I, 16th Mississippi.

John W. Hanagan, colonel, 8th South Carolina.

J. M. Henken, first lieutenant, Company K, 12th South Carolina.

John J. Cobeau, lieutenant, Company B, 10th Mississippi.

S. T. Moore, second lieutenant, Company F, "King's R," Alabama.

J. E. Duncan, private, 22d Virginia.

F. T. Coppeys, lieutenant, Tennessee.

W. E. Killem, lieutenant, Company H, 45th Virginia.

A. J. Frazer, Company H, 15th Mississippi.

W. E. Wason, adjutant, 1st Tennessee.

F. F. Cooper, captain, Company K, 52d Georgia.

R. H. Lisk, citizen.

P. J. Raben, captain, 5th Alabama.

S. F. Sullivan, captain, 1st Alabama.

R. K. G. Weeks, second lieutenant, Company F, 4th Florida.

W. S. Norwood, lieutenant, Company E, 6th South Carolina.

B. C. Harp, lieutenant, Company I, 25th Tennessee.

J. C. Long, lieutenant, Company I, 62d North Carolina.

W. T. Norwood, lieutenant, 6th South Carolina, "Confederate States  army."

John O. High, lieutenant, 1st Arkansas battery.

John F. McElory, lieutenant, Company F, 24th Georgia.

N. T. Barnes, captain, Company E, 10th Confederate cavalry.

J. L. Land, lieutenant, Company A, 24th Georgia.

William Peel, lieutenant, Company C, 11th Mississippi.

D. L. Scott, second lieutenant, Company I, 3d Missouri cavalry.

J. W. Moore, lieutenant, Company B, 25th Alabama.

J. U. King, captain, Company K, 9th Georgia.

M. R. Handy, citizen, Hopkins county, Ky.

E. Morrison, private, 8th Alabama.

Charles H. Mattock, colonel, 4th Mississippi.

R. E. M.

W. W. Davis, private, 35th Mississippi.

W. N. Swift, lieutenant, 34th Georgia.

A. Kelley, lieutenant, 10th Arkansas.

J. D. Conway, private, 19th Virginia cavalry.

J. Middlebrook, captain, 45th Georgia.

J. B. Hazzard, captain, 24th Alabama.

J. P. Vaun, captain, Company E, "Bell's R," Alabama.

D. H. McKay, lieutenant, Company D, 46th Alabama.

J. R. Jackson, captain, Company H, 38th Alabama.

H. S. Dawson, lieutenant, Company H, 17th Georgia.

D. D. Johnson, lieutenant, Company A, 48th Tennessee.

J. B. Hardy, captain, Company I, 5th Arkansas.

W. T. Skidmore, lieutenant, Company D, 4th Alabama cavalry.

M. D. Armfield, captain, Company B, 11th North Carolina.

G. W. Lewis, captain, Company C, 9th battalion Louisiana cavalry.

J. N. Williams, captain, 6th Mississippi.

J. T. Sigon, lieutenant, 55th Virginia.

F. G. W. Coleman, lieutenant, 7th Mississippi.

J. E. Threadgill, lieutenant, Company H, 12th Arkansas.

J. C. Shuler, captain, Company H, 5th Florida.

B. J. Blount, lieutenant, Company H, 55th North Carolina.

J. D. Armington, lieutenant, Company H, 32d North Carolina.

James Lawson, lieutenant, Company C, 18th Mississippi cavalry.

John C. Holt, lieutenant, Company C, 61st Tennessee.

Samuel Chormle, Blunt county, Tenn.

J. W. Johnson, captain, "Green R," Missouri S. A. S.

J. B. Cash, lieutenant, 62d North Carolina.

Hugh Cobbe, private, Company E, 5th Kentucky.

J. B. Hardy, captain, 15th Arkansas.

Mark Backen, captain, Company D, 60th Tennessee.

J. R. H.

E. M. Orr, lieutenant, 62d North Carolina.

S. W. Henry, captain, 19th Tennessee cavalry.

S. R. Graham, first lieutenant, Company J, 3d Texas cavalry.

J. A. McBride, lieutenant, Company H, 60th Tennessee.

J. Reeves, Company J, 1st Georgia cavalry.

J. Ashby, Kentucky.

Samuel Fox, colonel.

E. L. Moore.

Daniel Herrin, Poindexter's Missouri cavalry.

J. W. Collier, lieutenant, 18th Kentucky.

John M. Kean, captain, 12th Louisiana artillery.

W. McWhister, captain, Company H, 3d Missouri.

R. Hodges, Memphis, Tenn.

E. Gibson, lieutenant, 11th Arkansas.

D. Christian, Company E, 128th Virginia.

S. W. C.

William Johnson, Pindexter's Missouri cavalry.

Peter Cole, private, 60th Virginia.

J. W. Gregory, captain, 9th Virginia.

W. Veasey, lieutenant, 10th Kentucky cavalry.

B. Anderson, private, Missouri State cavalry.

J. Hupteller, lieutenant, 1st battalion, Arkansas.

S. G. Jetter, company H, 31st Alabama.

D. D. Keller, private, 2d Tennessee cavalry.

J. M. Dotson, lieutenant, 10th Tennessee cavalry.

W. P. Harden, lieutenant, 5th North Carolina.

L. B. Williams, lieutenant, 63d North Carolina.

G. W. Gillispe, captain, company D, 66th North Carolina.

C. B. Jackson, Guir's, Va.

J. E. Scruggs, colonel, 85th Virginia.

E. M. Tuggle, captain, company H, 35th Georgia.

A. E. Upchurch, captain, 55th North Carolina.

J. P. Pedden, second lieutenant, "Hamilton's battery.

J. Barnett, lieutenant-colonel, 9th battalion, Louisiana cavalry.

W. J. Hudson, lieutenant, 2d North Carolina.

D. E. Webb, captain, 1st Alabama cavalry.

J. W. Mullins, lieutenant, 6th Tennessee.

J. D. Cassaway.

In addition to be above list, there are fifty-two graves, on the headstones of which are engraved the word "Unknown."

Two graves among the number have evidently been cared for by
loving friends. The first is that of

G. W. GILLISPE,

CAPTAIN COMPANY D, SIXTY-SIXTH NORTH CAROLINA INFANTRY.

DIED SEPTEMBER 9,1863; AGED 26 YEARS.

Below this inscription there are engraved several Masonic emblems.

The other stone bears this inscription:

W. T. NORWOOD,

LIEUTENANT, SIXTH SOUTH CAROLINA INFANTRY.

DIED JANUARY 11, 1864; AGED 30 YEARS.

"ANINNUS OPEBUSQUE PARATI."

There ought to be some stone or monument erected over this group of men, and a fund provided for the care of the spot where sleep so many loved ones, to the Southern heart most dear. Who will start the proper way to begin?

W. H. H. BLACKMAN.