MDGenWeb A Visit to Andersonville

(By S.E. Lookingbill)

Extracted from the Sept. 9, 16, and 23, 1908 editions of "The Metropolis Herald", Metropolis, Illinois.
Submitted by Ann Laird

My wife and I left Paducah, Ky on Tuesday, August 18th for Andersonville Ga. after traveling 181 miles we came to Nashville Tenn. This is the capitol of Tennessee, a nice large city situated on high rolling ground surrounded by a good farming country. We spent the time in sight seeing, the next morning went out to the numerous parks and in the afternoon went to the capitol; here is a large handsome monument erected in memory of the once noted Stonewall Jackson, and one in memory of Robert E. Lee also several others. We were then invited to come in by the man in charge to see the interior of this fine building, after passing through several rooms we came to the Senate chamber with numerous large pictures on the wall, here I was surely amazed at seeing our martyred presidents' pictures, life size, especially A. Lincoln's picture without horns, as the Confederates were said to believe Lincoln had in 1861. Here are also pictures of Grant, Sheridan, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Jackson, Buel Anderson, and others all life size. There are large cannons on each corner of the block on which the capitol stands. We went up into the dome where we could see all over the city of Nashville.

On the 20th we started for Chattanooga Tenn. arriving there about 3 o'clock p.m. August 21st after a good night's rest and breakfast we took the street car for the National Cemetery, after looking all over the cemetery at the great monuments of all kinds and sizes we stopped at the Andrews monument erected with a small engine on top in memory of her sons who stole the engine at Big Shanty or (Kennesaw) as the place is called today. Those heroes captured this engine while the train crew was taking breakfast at Big Shanty and ran it near to Ringgold where it was abandoned. The Confederates captured Andrews and his companions, executing eight of them at Atlanta; some made their escape and others were paroled. Some years ago, the Government had the remains of Andrews and the other seven taken up and reinterred at the National cemetery where this beautiful monument is erected with all their names inscribed thereon. We then went to Missionary Ridge, here we stopped at Gen. Braggs headquarters who was in command of the Confederate army while Gen. Grant was in command of the Union army. This is surely a sight-seeing place. Here is the Illinois monument which cost the sum of $55,000 and other monuments in memory of their sons who died for the flag. Oh, what a great battle took place here, the trees and rocks yet show plainly the frightful carnage to this day. The cannon are here in position just as they were at that time, each piece in perfect order. How men ever scaled those heights to gain victory your humble servant can not tell.

General Grant is said to have told the soldiers to take the first line of breastworks and then stop, but the soldiers didn't stop until they had climbed the mountain, routed the enemy, captured the batteries, with thousands of prisoners. The cannon that are here are the identical cannon that were used on our men at this battle.

The next morning we started for Lookout Mountain, taking the incline at the foot of the mountain. This incline is over one mile long, as one car goes up another comes down. The grade, at some places is 67 feet in one hundred; after getting in the car the conductor locks the door and there is no way to get out until you reach the top of the mountain: you can't stand up without holding as the incline is straight up and down at places. This is the steepest incline in the world. We are now on top of Lookout Mountain, 2,500 feet above the sea level and 1,800 feet above Chattanooga. Here is where the "Battle above the Clouds" was fought. We are now standing at the Lookout. I'm above the clouds. Here is a hotel that is 365 feet long and containes 350 rooms. From this point we can see into seven states, and down at the base we see Moccasin Bend, the perfect shape of a foot; then down at another point we see the Cravens House--here an awful battle was fought and the New York boys came out victorious, climbing by rocks, bushes and vines they at last reached the top of Lookout Mountain and the enemy had retreated leaving guns and all behind, crossing through the city of Chattanooga to Missionary Ridge. Above Point Lookout there is a fine spring of water coming out between the rocks; we procured a bottle of this water and brought it home with us.

The Government has purchased 16 acres on Lookout Mountain and there is a nice rock wall fence on 3 sides about 5 feet high--here the New York monument is located costing $100,000. There are also monuments down at the Craven House and all along the base of the Mountain at this side. Nearly on the top is Ropers Rock where a Corporal of a Pennsylvania regiment named Roper fell off and was killed. Then on the top is Saddle Rock and Umbrella Rock; then west is Lula Lake; it falls 130 feet.

The next place of interest is Sun Set Rock. This is surely fine. On top of Lookout Mountain there are all kinds of gems--large and small; when this battle was in progress the Confederates could not use their guns on the soldiers on account of the steepness of the mountain; they broke large rocks loose and rolled them down the hill to kill the soldiers that were climbing up.

Oh, what a day we spent on Lookout Mountain. We came down at night, tired, but who would go to Chattanooga without going up the Incline above the clouds?

August 22nd, we left Chattanooga and arrived at Atlanta, Ga. This is surely a nice city. The streets are narrow, but are kept clean and here is Grant's Park, filled with live animals of nearly all kinds. This is surely a handsome place.

We leave Atlanta and arrive at Macon, Ga.; this is a fine city with broad streets and beautiful parks. It is Sunday and we will rest; tomorrow morning Monday, August 24, we leave at 8:15 for Andersonville, Ga., our destination--at which place we arrive about noon. This a small hamlet perhaps about 75 or 100 inhabitants. We now "Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching" over to prison where I was confined for over eight months in 1864. The prison ground is fenced in completely with a wire fence; there is but one gate-way and the road that leads from the depot leads to this gate; on the north side of the prison pen, passing through this gate about 200 yards, we see Providence Spring to the right we set our grips down and went to the spring. Oh, what beautiful water. I brought a bottle of this water home with me. There is a fine stone house erected in 1901, at Providence Spring and this Inscription is on the wall: "The Prisoners' cry of thirst rang up to Heaven; God heard, and with His thunder cleft the earth and poured his sweet water came rushing here."

On another side of this house is the inscription: "God smote the hillside and gave them drink, August 16, 1864". There has been a great deal written about Providence Spring and what caused the water to come out of the earth at this place. I will state that I was there at the time God gave this spring to us, and this spring came through prayer for water. The water furnished the stockade by the branch became so unfit from the filth on the outside and from the cook house and stables that there was a general cry for water from all over the camp and God heard the cries of his people and gave them Providence Spring. The Confederates at the time, and even to this day, call this Providence Spring, and say that God answered the soldiers' prayer for water.

We now pass up the north west line of the stockade and come to a neat cottage built just on the extreme corner of the prison grounds; here we found a hospital home while at Andersonville, Ga., the home is kept by Hon. Alonzo Turner and his estimable wife. Mr. Turner was formerly a member of the 4th Michigan Calvary. After registering we were assigned to our room, which was the "Illinois Room". Later we started out over the north side of the stockade. The first attraction was a large poll 115 feet high with Old Glory floating thereon: just to the left about 40 feet, is Mrs. Turner's monument, who formerly had charge of these grounds. Then on the right of the pole is Wisconsin monument, 40X60 feet at base, erected in 1906. Inscribed are the following lines: "In memory of her sons who suffered and died in Andersonville prison, March 1864 to April 1865." South of Wisconsin monument, 75 feet, we came to Rhode Island monument, 12 feet square at base and 20 feet high, with names of soldiers carved thereon who died at the prison. Then south we come to a board or a marker that has this inscription: "Here is where 16 members of the 16th Wisconsin died in eight days from starvation." We then go south east 120 feet to the Massachusetts monument. Inscription: "Erected by the Commonwealth in memory of her 767 dead sons who died in Andersonville 1864 and 1865." Then east 75 feet we come to Michigan monument, base 16X24; on top is a full-size woman bowed down weeping with a wreath in her hand; this is the inscription; "Erected by Michigan to her soldiers and sailors who were imprisoned on these grounds from 1861 to 1865." Then south 125 feet, we come to Ohio monument 30X20 feet at base and 60 feet high. Inscription: "Dedicated to her 1055 loyal sons who died here in Camp Sumpter from March 1864 to April 1865." On the opposite of this monument, is carved the sentence: "Death before Dishonor".

There were a great many wells dug by the soldiers during 1864 and 1865, but never was there water in any of these wells, so far as I know. The main object in digging the wells was to tunnel out to freedom under the stockade. The soldiers would dig down about, say 20 feet, then commence a tunnel. There are about 80 of these wells at different parts of the prison grounds today; the most of them are in perfect form and shape, some 20 to 60 feet. Around the top of these wells are trees, bushes and vines some of the former being from 8 to 12 inches in circumference. Through the ravine that ran through the prison pen from east to west, there are trees and bushes--a dense wilderness--some trees 15 to 18 inches through the base. Along the west line, where the crossway was next to dead line--there is a wagon bridge. All of the stockade and dead line are gone, but there are posts in the ground in intervals indicating where the stockade and lines used to be. All over the prison pen there are markers at each place. A soldier that was at Andersonville, in 1864 can readily find every point of interest as there are markers and guide boards all over the prison pen today. I found my old home without any trouble, as I lay 75 feet south east of the gate on the south side 60 feet from the scaffold where the raiders were hanged and 25 feet from a well or tunnel, about 100 yards above the ravine on the south side.

I will now give a few of the many inscriptions on boards erected at Andersonville prison pen.

"From June 1 to Oct. 31, or 153 days, there were 10,187 deaths from starvation in the prison."

"August 8, 1864, the number of prisoners in the stockade is said to have been the highest for any time during occupancy; there were on that date 33,114."

"There were in all 52,345 prisoners confined on these grounds. The first came here February 25, 1864; the last one left April 17, 1865."

"The number of known dead are over 13,000; unknown dead over 1,000."

"James Selman was sutler for interior of prison or stockade for C.S.A."

"Religious meeting ground east of the dead line, close to the west side of prison pen just above Providence Spring. This spring came in answer to prayers for water, Aug. 16, 1864."

West of Providence Spring on the outside of the stockade, about 200 yards is where the cook house was located; here were cooked corn cob husks and rotten peas for the prisoners of war, 1864 and 1865.

We are now at the notable brook which ran through the prison pen. This brook is about five feet wide and about six inches deep. These are sample inscriptions:

"November 30, 1864, A.H. Lohmyer of Company B, 35th Ohio, Inf. shot by guard. January 1, 1865, Thomas Conner, Company T; 2nd Pa., Art., shot by guard in trying to get a drink of water at the dead line."

Captain Wirtz, who had charge of this prison was about 40 years old; rather tall, a little stoop-shouldered, sallow skin, thin lips and a sneering cast of countenance.

Quarters of Lieutenant Hubbard, 119 Illinois, 8,000 prisoners here sworn to secrecy and fidelity in organization to break out of prison.

In all, there are about seventy-five boards or markers on these grounds giving descriptions of the terrible hardships the prisoners endured in 1864 and 1865.

The total number of prisoners captured by the Unions army during the Civil war was 175,811; total died out of this number 12,960.

Total confined in Andersonville Prison, 52,345; of this number 12,883 died; to say nothing about those that died at Bell Island, Castle Thunder, Libby Prison, Camp Florence, Camp Tyler, and other prisons.

There were nearly as many prisoners died in Andersonville in one year as died in all the Northern prisons in four years.

On a board at the branch is this inscription: "July 13, 1864, Wm. A. Wright was killed by a guard while getting water at dead line; had broke no rule, but was shot so soldier could not go home on furlough for 30 days."

"March 2, 1864--A poor one-legged prisoner who placed one hand on dead line while reaching for the crutch fallen from feeble grasp, was mortally shot by guard at this place."

"May 30, 1864,--Charles Hudson of Ohio shot by a guard and killed for reaching past dead line for water."

The dead were daily laid in long rows at this place between the dead line and stockade wall. Bodies by the score often laid in the hot broiling sun all day long.

We now pass around the stockade to see the fortifications, breastworks and rifle pits are just as they were, except some are filling up slowly from rains, trees and bushes.

We are now about done at Andersonville and will go to the National Cemetery, about one-half miles northwest. This is a beautiful place. Hon. Byrant of Iowa is in charge. There are 145 acres of this tract. Twenty-five acres are inclosed by a good brick wall fence with four large iron gates to enter from each point. There are buried here 13,921 soldiers which are known and 927 unknown, making a total of 14,850.

Here is Pennsylvania's monument with a full-size soldier standing on top. This is surely a fine piece of work "Erected to the memory of her sons who died in Andersonville 1864 and 1865, "death before dishonor"."

A nice monument erected by the state of New Jersey to her sons who died in Andersonville. Then further south we come to Iowa monument. This is the finest monument on the ground and cost $75,000. "Erected by the state of Iowa to her sons who died in prison pens in 1864 and 1865." Inscription on one side: "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, or any heat, for the lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of water. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."--Revelations 7-16-17. On opposite side; "Death before Dishonor." "God smote the Side Hill and gave them drink, August 16, 1864."

Then on the east side of National Cemetery they are making preparations to erect a fine monument for the state of Ohio. Then northwest another large monument will be erected this fall for New York. Then south, Indiana will erect a full granite monument this fall.

This is Friday, August 28th, and our work in done and we leave Andersonville at 2:25 p.m., for Macon, Ga. We leave Macon next morning for Atlanta; arrive at Chattanooga, Sunday morning; after breakfast we took street car for Chickamauga Park, about eight miles from the city. This park contains about 700 acres. There is a large body of young soldiers stationed here with splendid buildings for their camps, and Oh! what a contrast to the soldiers of 1861 to 1865.

There is a good many monuments in this park; we have pictures of them all at our home.

Sunday night we took the train for Nashville, then Monday morning start for Paducah. Oh, how weary and tired we were! Arriving home with a large assortment of all kinds of souvenirs and relics which anyone can see by calling at our home.

S.E. Lookingbill
Late of Company C 6th Maryland Vol., Inf., 2nd Brigade 3 Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac

(Note--Samuel E. Lookingbill was born in Maryland April 10, 1845. He moved to Massac County, IL in the late 1800's or early 1900's. He was an ordained minister in the Baptist church. He died January 9th, 1929 at his home on West 8th Street in Metropolis, and is buried by his wife, Eliza E. at the Pell cemetery near Brookport. His last wife, Elizabeth (Gebhardt) Laird, Sommers, Lookingbill survived him by 14 years. He had no children at the time of his death).

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