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Return from Rock Island

Grave of John W. Hodges in the Old Hardin Cemetery, Ripley, Mississippi


Editor Sentinel: - 

Perhaps it would interest some of my old comrades and certainly the young people of our county to know something of the route I was forced to travel and the number of miles covered in reaching my home from Rock Island prison during the war between the states. I left Rock Island for exchange on the 13th day of March, 1865, and passed through the following named cities. From Rock Island to _____ Junction, 180 miles; Toledo, 203; Cleveland, Ohio, 60; Pittsburg, Pa., 249; Harrisburg, 150; Philadelphia, 113; Baltimore, Md., 90; Ft. Henry, 5; Point Lookout, 135; James River, 144; City Point, 60; Akins Landing, 86; Confederate boat, 4; Richmond, 20; Camp Lee, 8; Danville, 142; Jonesboro, 48; Saulsbury, N.C., 52; Charlotte, 45; Blackstock, S.C., 57; Ashford Ferry, 29; Newberry, 16; Abeville, 45; Washington, G.A., 42; Covington, 90; Atlanta, 42; West Point, 86; Montgomery, 85; Randolph, 62; Backs Ferry, 16; Tuscaloosa, 35; Columbus, Miss., 58; to my home south of Ripley, 100. Total 2,557 miles of which distance I walked at least 500 miles. On the trip I paid $4.00 for one sweet potato and 50c for one boiled egg. Reached home April 19.

Yours truly,

Jno. W. Hodges, Sr.
Clarysville, Miss.

John Weatherall Hodges enlisted in the "Tippah Farmers," Company H, 34th Mississippi Infantry, on March 18, 1862. In July 1862 there was a notation on the regimental muster roll that he was entitled to pay as a musician. He was captured at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, on November 24, 1863. 

From Civil War Talk

Confederate Prisoners, Taken in Chicago 1864. Camp Douglas POW Camp.

In 1863, at least two British observers made significant observations on the dress of the Confederate Army of Tennessee: Lt.Col. Arthur Freemantle and Mr. Henry Yates Thompson:

"The men were good-sized, healthy, and well-clothed, but without any attempt at uniformity in color or cut; but nearly all were dressed in either gray or brown coats and felt hats. I was told that even if a regiment was clothed in proper uniform by the Government, it would be parti-colored again in a week, as the soldiers preferred wearing the coarse home-spun jackets and trousers made by their mothers and sisters at home. The Generals very wisely allow them to please themselves in this respect, and insist only that their arms and accoutrements being kept in proper order."

(Freemantle, Three Months in the Southern States, 1864, pg. 155 — referring to Liddell’s Brigade of Arkansas Troops in June 1863)


Rebels at Rock Island, Illinois

Tumblr_mryn9szwtM1rd3evlo1_500Rock Island Rebels in Illinois Confederate Prison

From the collections of the 
Kentucky Historical Society
Accession Number 2000PH05.p45

The prison was built in mid 1863, and not yet completed in December 1863 when the first prisoners were incarcerated. 468 Confederate prisoners captured in battles at Chattanooga, Tennessee were the first to arrive, although, over 5000 total would swell the population of Rock Island Prison in that month alone.

There were over 12,000 total prisoners imprisoned at Rock Island during the Civil War.  Recorded deaths numbered almost 2000. 

Temperatures when prisoners began arriving in December 1863 were below 0 and sanitation was deplorable due to the overcrowding.  Disease broke out swiftly, including a smallpox epidemic which killed hundreds of prisoners in the first few months of the prison’s existence.  Prisoners were buried next to the prison.  In the spring of 1864, the bodies of dead prisoners were moved, a hospital built, and sewers installed.  These measures improved health conditions tremendously and ended the smallpox epidemic.

In June 1864, the government ordered rations to be cut at Rock Island, in response to the treatment of Union prisoners at Andersonville.  Malnutrition and scurvy resulted from these orders contributing to the death toll of Confederate prisoners at Rock Island Prison.

From: The Civil War Parlor

A Handwritten Newspaper, Produced by Confederate POWs




Confederate prisoners of war confined at Fort Delaware produced this newspaper by hand in 1865. The New-York Historical Society holds one of four surviving copies, each of which was likely passed around and read by multiple prisoners. The paper numbers four pages in total.

Like camps holding Union prisoners in the South, Fort Delaware, located on the Delaware River, was not a pleasant place. More than 40,000 Confederate POWs cycled through the brick-walled prison between 1862 and 1865. Overcrowding, poor handling of sanitation, and short rations resulted in the deaths of many prisoners. (Astonishingly, 56,000 men fighting on both sides died while imprisoned during the conflict.)

Read the full article at The Slate

Horrible death of Confederate prisoners.

The Daily Dispatch: February 17, 1863.

The death by freezing of twelve Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas, Ohio, has been noticed. The 65th Illinois (Scotch) regiment, on guard there, held a meeting and protested against the condition of the camp and barracks. The Chicago Times has the following particulars of the death of the prisoners:

Word was brought to the city last evening that during the night of Sunday, twelve of the Confederate prisoners confined in the pens at Camp Douglas were frozen to death. It is asserted that on Mondaymorning they were found in the miserable handful of hay in their bunks frozen stiff, though to all appearances in the enjoyment of perfect health the day previous. The barracks at Camp Douglas are well known to be totally unfitted during the prevalence of such weather as the present, for the use of anything, scarcely cattle. These in which these prisoners are confined are many of them destitute of stoves; the windows in some of them are broken out, and through the holes and the cracks in the sides and the apertures in the roof the cold wind freely enters.

It is said that the local officers at the camp, actuated by a humanity their superiors might pattern after with profit, have done all in their power to make the condition of the prisoners comfortable. But there are those above them who have a terribles in to answer for. It were mercy that, after their capitulation, our cannon had been turned upon these prisoners, and butchred them where they stood, than that from a far Southern clime, without any preparation being made for their comfort or protection they should be transported hither, to meet with scarcely anything worthy the name of shelter, the fierce rigors of a Northern winter-- to be murdered by neglect — to endure the tortures of a death by cold.

From The Richmond Daily Dispatch