Posted By Norman Gasbarro on September 9, 2012
At the end of April and beginning of May 1864, the captured men of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment were marched and transported south to Andersonville Confederate Prison. Their story was told by one of the members of that regiment, who compiled accounts of the regimental history, including the journey to Andersonville, Georgia.
History of the 103d Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry [103rd Pennsylvania Infantry], by Luther S. Dickey, was published in 1910 by L. S. Dickey in Chicago. Dickey was a Corporal in the regiment and Sgt. Samuel M. Evans served as collaborator for the work.
The book has been digitized by Google and is available as a free download. Click here and then follow the instructions in the red box (EBOOK-FREE) at the left side of the page. The book is available to download in several formats.
The story of the journey to Andersonville is told by Dickey.
From Plymouth to Andersonville Military Prison
(from 20 April to 2 May 1864)
At noon, the Plymouth captives were trampling over ground made familiar by many a march, under very different conditions. On either side was a strong guard of Confederate soldiers, who, although natives of the state, but with few exceptions, were friendly disposed towards their defeated foes, and manifested no offensive exultation over their hard earned victory… A halt was made after dark, four or five miles west of [Jamesville], and a cornfield was selected by the captors as the place of bivouac…. The second day’s march… 22 April, was not so severe. Shortly after noon a halt was made near Williamstown, a town which had felt the devastation of war more than once at the hands of many of those who were now captives in their midst. Here, as everywhere, the entire community had turned out to gaze at the “Yankees.” Considering the treatment that at least one expedition from Plymouth had given this town… the reception accorded the captives left no ground for complaint. The postmaster of the town was among the visitors, and proffered his services to get letters through to northern friends. About the middle of the afternoon the march was resumed and continued until a little before dark, when a halt was made in a North Carolina meadow…. The site of this resting place was convenient to excellent water…. Consideration was shown to the sick, and in every way that did not jeopardize the safety of those in their charge, the guards acted in a humane and Christian manner. At times during the march there was little evidence of captor and captive…. The less than two thousand prisoners represented four states of the North: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania…. When the jovial spirits among the prisoners started on that most popular Yankee marching song, “John Brown’s Body Lies Mouldering in the Grave…” no sign of protest was made. even when that verse was reached that was most likely to arouse the passion of the Confederate soldier, “We’ll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, as we go marching on,” evoked only a smile…
Brig. Gen. Ransom, who commanded the right wing of the Confederate force, which assaulted and carried the Federal left at Plymouth, had been its colonel, and subsequent to the war, represented North Carolina for twenty-one years in the United States Senate….
An early start was made and during the forenoon [of 23 April] the town of Hamilton was reached and a rest was made until noon the next day…. A new set of “Johnny Rebs” took charge [and] their treatment of the prisoners was fair and considerate. On Sunday the 24th, the late Plymouth garrison was regarded by the natives surrounding Hamilton as a “circus….” About noon the prisoners were formed in a line and a careful search was made for [those] who had formerly served in the Confederate army and deserted. A number were detected and taken away, and met the fate, no doubt, which the laws of war, of all nations award to such…. A march of twelve miles from Hamilton was made on Sunday afternoon….
On Monday, 25 April, the bank of the Tar river was reached after a ten mile march. A place to bivouac was assigned the captives near the Tarboro Bridge where they remained until Friday morning, 20 April. Tarboro was the most pretentious town on the Tar River and carried on considerable traffic with Washington before the Federal army too possession, the river being navigable between the two points.
During the three days stay at Tarboro, “Yank” and “Reb” carried on a heavy traffic and men were fortunate enough to have the Elizabeth City Bank money found ample opportunity to use it here with advantage. The citizens [took] advantage of the necessities of the prisoners held everything at an extortionate price…. Tarboro being a railroad town, marching was now at an end, except to and from stations…. During the forenoon [of the 29th April] the depot was reached and the box cars were boarded, and by ten o’clock the train was moving toward Rocky Mount… A stop was made at Goldsboro, 56 miles distant from Tarboro by rail, where rations were issued, consisting of three hard crackers, and a small piece of bacon. Wilmington was reached during the night, but the prisoners were kept locked in the closed cars until after daylight, when they alighted and marched to a ferry boat which was waiting to convey them across the Cape Fear River…. During the afternoon the captives took their departure from Wilmington for the metropolis of South Carolina, passing several train loads of Confederate soldiers en route to join the army in the direction of Petersburg and Richmond.
A surprise was given the captives on their arrival in Charleston, Sunday 1 May… to find many evidences of loyalty to the stars and stripes and numerous evidences of sympathy were in evidence…. However, the stay was limited to two or three hours, when platform cars were boarded, bound to Savannah, Georgia. The open cars, although offering no protection from the Southern sun, presented an uninterrupted view of the surrounding country, even permitting a hazy glimpse of Fort Sumter from the bridge crossing the Ashley River. However, before the journey on these cars came to an end [there was] a drenching rain.
At Savannah a change of cars was made, the last change of this pilgrimage, for before another day had come the journey was at an end. Previous to reaching Macon a stop was made, rations issued, and the prisoners permitted the privilege of a good wash in running water. Another stop of a couple of hours was made at Macon and about six o’clock the journey was resumed, and in three or four hours, between nine and ten o’clock, Andersonville station was reached, and the final railroad journey of the men who had so gallantly defended the town of Plymouth, two weeks before was forever at an end. As the men left the cars, a careful count was made, and after a short march an open field, with inviting fired, was reached, where a halt was made for the night.
Early in the morning, Capt. Henry Wirz made his appearance, who with bluster and profanity, intermingled with sinister imprecations, introduced himself to the Plymouth captives by supervising their formation into detachments of 270 – subdivided into messes of 90, each detachment and subdivision being under the supervision of a sergeant captive, whose duty is was to draw and issue rations and call the roll, the latter being done under the supervision of Confederate guards. Early in the forenoon, 3 May (Tuesday), the enlisted men of the Regiment, approximating 400 in numbers, entered the Andersonville stockade.
While all this was transpiring, the Union officers back at Roanoke Island began to take count of the missing men of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry. Muster rolls were consulted and every man who did not answer at muster call was marked as “captured at Plymouth, North Carolina, 20 April 1864.” Only four men were left from the regiment and they had either been on furlough or in the hospital at the time of the battle loss and capture of the regiment. These men formed the core of the detachment that awaited new recruits to bring the regiment up to strength. It took a while for the recruits to arrive and in the meantime, African Americans who were refugees were given weapons and asked to help to defend the island.
On Tuesday, the story of the replacement troops at the garrison on Roanoke Island will be told and the post will conclude with a list of the men who served in the 2nd Company G of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry, most of whom were from the Lykens Valley area.