Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Schuylkill County Victim of Rebel Cruelty

Cahaba, Prison Alabama.



Pottsville Miners Journal
April 29, 1865, Pottsville, Penna.

William E. Son of Mr. Thomas Wren of this Borough was interred in this Borough on Sunday Afternoon last. The remains were attended to the grave by the “Guard of Honor”, headed by the Pottsville Band, and a large number of citizens. William was born in Pottsville on the 9th f December, 1845. He enlisted in company H, 27th Reg. P.V. M. under Capt. Potts, June 17, 1863 and was discharged July 31st, 1863. He enlisted the following August in company K, 19th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He was captured by rebel forces under Forrest, near Memphis, April 27th, 1864. He remained in imprisonment in Castle Morgan, Alabama, for eleven months, enduring the hardships and deprivations which our men suffered who were prisoners. He was finally exchanged and reached Jefferson barracks, Hospital, Missouri, on the 7th of April, 1865. His weak condition when he left the Rebel prison, rendered him susceptible to disease. He contracted typhoid fever of which he died in that hospital on the 23rd. The terrible condition of four hundred prisoners who came on the same boat to Jefferson Barracks may be imagined, when we state that between the 7th and the 23rd, over two hundred of them died. The remainder were living skeletons and dying daily. Mr. Wren went on for the body of his son, and witnessed with painful feelings the condition our poor men were in. and there are some who say, “Forgive the leaders of the Rebellion.” Let the response of merciful, just men, “never”!” Never”! “NEVER!.”

Note: Cahaba or Castle Morgan, according to the book “Portals to Hell” was a red brick cotton warehouse at Cahaba, Ala. A brick wall inclosing an area of 15,000 square feet covered by a leaky roof with 1,600 feet of open space. With four open windows, and an earth floor.
The structure was merely a shell. The sleeping arrangements consited of rough lumber with out straw ir bedding of any kind..
The supply of water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing was conveyed from an artesian well, along an open street gutter for two hundred yards into the prison. In its course the stream gathered the washing of Confederate soldiers and citizens, the slops of tubs, and the spittoons of groceries, offices, and hospitals. It was an open sewer in the midst of a small town and the receptacle of the filth, solid and liquid, which the careless, indifferent, or vicious might cast into it.
It became so crowded that each man had barely enough room to lie down. Estimates suggest that each man in the prison had only six square feet of living space (U.S. Army regulations at the time required that military posts allow at least 42 square feet of living space per soldier.) The cooking was done by the prisoners themselves in the open area in the center of the prison yard. The sleeping arrangements consisted of rough bunks, without straw or bedding of any kind, under a leaky roof, which extended out from the brick wall. These bunks could accommodate only four hundred and thirty two men. There was a single fireplace in the building and fires were sometimes built upon the earthen floor of the barracks. The firewood, when furnished at all, was either green sap pine or decayed oak from old fields.

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