Thursday, March 19, 2009

Frederick Scheuer Civil War Prisoner.

I live in St. Louis; am a barber; thirty-five years old. I enlisted in 1861, in March, in the Twenty-fourth Illinois regiment. I was wounded on the 8th of October, 1862, at Perryville. I was discharged from that regiment six weeks after; and then I enlisted on the 19th of December, 1862, in the Fourteenth Illinois cavalry, and then until 1864 I was in the Fourteenth Illinois cavalry. I was on the raid of General Stoneman, in 1864, through Macon, Georgia.

I was captured on the Chattahoochie River not far from Marietta Georgia. They marched us from where we were captured, nine days, to Andereonville. All we had to eat was three ears of corn a day on the march for nine days. One time we went to a house for something to eat—for a little corn bread, and the woman said she wouldn’t give us any—that she would give us poison before she would give us corn bread. Immediately after they captured us they took my hat, and boots, and watch, and ring that was given to me by my wife. I had pretty near $600 in greenbacks secreted in my drawers; they took it away from me and took all my clothes. The lieutenant saw a bunch in my drawers, and asked me what was the matter with my knee, and I told him I was wounded, and he took a knife and cut it Open, and took away all my money.

After we got to Audersonville I found a friend who said he would let me have some ground to lay on—just a sandy place. There was no tent or anything. The first that we got to eat theme was a tablespoonful of beans, and a teaspoonful of salt, and a pint of corn meal; and bits of firewood about a foot long that was for cooking. We had no knife to split it with, and had to split at with our finger nails. The water was in a slough, and very bad. We found a little spring over the dead-line. The dead-line was a little ditch ten feet from the stockade, and if a man stepped over that, or even touched it, the guards shot them.

We made strings out of old drawers, like fish lines, and put tin cups on the strings, and then threw them over the dead-line to the spring to get a drink of water. We were two days working on that, and then they stopped us from getting any more water there. One man was killed while getting water. The guard told us every man who got water there he would kill, although we never stepped over the line, and just threw our cups over.

Captain Wirz was in command of the guards there. He went every morning about 10 or 12 o’clock with the rebel guards inside. We lay in different places on the sand. There was no regular path; and when he was going his rounds if anybody was in the way he would kick them. I heard some of my comrades who were in the way and too sick to get out of the way, complaining because he kicked them. Sometimes he would put ten or fifteen men together and put a ball and chain of iron upon them; the ball would weigh fifty pounds. He would chain them there in company with one another, and they were so sick that if they wanted food they couldn’t stand up straight, and when they put on this fifty-pound ball and chain it just bore them down to the ground, and there they lay until they died.

I went into the Andersoiiville pen in July, and was there ten months. I dug a hole in the sand with my hands, about four by six feet, and would crawl in there for shelter when the sun was too hot. In rainy weather the holes would fill up with water. In the winter it was cold, and great numbers were frozen. We asked Wirz one time for. a little more wood and some straw, and he said, “I will see you die before I will give it.” One morning I heard him say, “Don’t give them any more salt, and we will kill them easier.” Before that we had a teaspoonful of salt. During that winter from one hundred to one hundred and fifty persons died every night. I would occasionally see the rebel officers in there, but they never spoke to us. They would come in to see if we had made any tunnels to get out. Almost every day I would see some one who had been shot for stepping over the dead-line, where they had gone for the purpose of being shot to end their misery.

Every rebel soldier who shot a prisoner had a furlough. Many of the men dug tunnels in order to get out, and some would get away and others would be caught by bloodhounds to be brought back with their legs all torn to pieces, and after they came back, they wouldn’t be allowed to have any rations for four days then they would die.

In December, 1864, they took away fourteen thousand of us to Florence, in South Carolina, at the time of Sherman’s raid. General Winder was in command, and we had a worse time there than at Andersonville. We had no shelter of any kind there; there we got no beans at all, and nothing but a pint of corn-meal made from rotten corn and the same rations of wood that we had at Andersonville. We were there in Florence for a long time; I can’t remember how long, because I was so sick. General Sherman took Savannah and Charleston, and then went for Florence to set us free. The rebels knew of it, and took the best of our prisoners out that could walk a little, and left nineteen hundred of us lying there in the sand, because we were too weak to walk. They left us without any rations. We were in this condition for some days.

General Sherman sent a battalion of infantry there. The rebels had all left, and there was no guard over us at all. On the fourth day I took a boot leg and tied it around my neck and crawled outside to find some bone or something to put into it to eat. I couldn’t walk and I had to crawl on my hands and knees like a dog. After I got outside I found some pork rinds and bones that the rebels left there, and I filled my boot leg with them and crawled back and made some soup. Some of our soldiers came up to see how many were alive; they asked us how long the rebels had left us, and I told them five days; that was the fifth day that we were without rations, except what I had picked up outside. We were almost naked, and our soldiers had no rations for us.

I took my boot leg and filled it again with pork rinds and bones; and then we were taken in some box cars to Wilmington, North Carolina, and there we got plenty to eat, but couldn’t get any clothing. A good many of us died during that time from eating too much. We were then taken to Annapolis, and then I lost my reason, and don’t remember what did occur. When I came to my senses, I was with my sister in Illinois, three months afterward. While I was in prison at Florence, my feet were frozen; and a large number of our prisoners were frozen in the same way some of whom lost their feet. I am lame for life on account of my feet being frozen. I can’t speak the English language very well. If I could speak it better, I could give a much fuller account of my sufferings during my imprisonment.


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