Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Journal of POW Sgt. John Clark Ely: Tired, hungry -- and his 'brightest day'

Train carrying Ely passed through Montgomery, Ala. (Library of Congress)

Once out of Andersonville prison, Sgt. John Clark Ely of the 115th Ohio Infantry put a little more heft and color into his journal, adding descriptions of scenery as he and his comrades headed west through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. They were excited about their impending freedom at a parole camp. They would remain under Confederate guard until that occurred. Entries are courtesy of Andersonville National Historic Site.

March 25, 1865 (Saturday)
Left Columbus, Georgia, for Montgomery, Alabama, at 9 a.m., country looks like it did when we came through two months ago, though saw fields of corn planted and winter grain, looks green like spring.  Arrived at Montgomery at 8 p.m. went from cars to boat for Selma.  All along the road today wore many flowers in bloom such as peach, cherry, plumb, crab-apple, honey-suckle, wood-bine, June berry, soft maple, dogwood and many little ones.  We arrived at Selma at 9 a.m. on boat Cherokee.

March 26, 1865 (Sunday)
Took us in a small stockade just out of town a little, quite a cavalry force came in p.m.  There is some very fine bottom land between Montgomery and Selma at Montgomery is some force of Johnnys camping there looking for a yankee raid. Had big time lousing company all day, cooked but little.

March 27, 1865 (Monday)
Left Selma and got again to Demapolis near noon, it is a very fine rich farming country all the way oak, hickory, elm and birch timber between Fansworth and Macon is very fine with lime understratus, corn up fine in several places.  Moss on the timber a great deal, country rather flat but it is very rich, went down Tombigbee again on the boat Marringo to McDowells Landing, took cars and for a wonder we were put in passenger cars, one car run the rear track before we had gone very far.  Spent some time getting same back on track.  How the Johnnys did pile off, arrived at Meridian 8 p.m., went again to the old stocks to stay.  Hope it may be the last night in rebel ()

March 28, 1865 (Tuesday)
Left early for Jackson, Meridian looks very much as when we left January 19th for Andersonville, Ga.  Distance from Meridian Jackson 90 miles, arrived at Jackson about 5 p.m., feeling pretty well, went out of town and camped, this place has been much knocked to pieces, the route from Meridian mostly woody, low land. Lake Stations a little place, I did not see a good plantation till we got within 5 miles of Jackson.

March 29, 1865 (Wednesday)
Commenced raining early and rained all day. Broke camp and marched to Clinton, an awful day.  Had to wade many streams from knee to waist deep and of the march today, 1/3 has been wading water.  Maj. Tracy and I went up to a Mr. Johnsons and go r supper and stayed all night.  Had a good supper and got our clothes dry, gave the lady my fryer for what we had twas to us good.

March 30, 1865 (Thursday)
Started out quite early, wind blew cool from West, no rain.  There is some very fine rich country between Clinton and Edwards Station and before the war, must have been very rich in agriculture, the buildings now destroyed show evidences of wealth no often seen in northern states.  The timber is mostly oak with some elm and hickory, soil clay loam mixed with sand, should think the water scarce in summer and not at anytime fit for house purposes, use cisterns everywhere here for their water for drinking and we () till finally we came to Edward station, 33 miles from Jackson and we marched all over the country out of the way and we were all very tired, sore and hungry.  One man died of exhaustion by the way.

March 31, 1865 (Friday).
Fine morning, started out and arrived at Blk River bridge at about 9 a.m. the place we have looked for now have found.  The country after leaving Edward Station is like river bottom land, very rich and still high enough not to be over flowed by high water.  I am very sore, also Tracy and Way.  Distance from Jackson to Blk River bridge 32 miles, from bridge to Vicksburg 13 miles, at the bridge we were counted and names called, a singular coincidence that men of Jacksons division, Rosses brigade who captured us were the guard delivering us over to our own men again.  Crossed river, took cars, went to parole camp 4 miles East of Vicksburgh, found Lt. Eadie, Capt. Lowry and all the boys of Co. C.  Oh this is the brightest day of my life long to be remembered.

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