Memories of the Battle of Gettysburg
and Point Lookout Prison

By J. H. Whitehead.

I was wounded July 3, 1863, at Gettysburg, in the charge made by Pickett's Division; left on the battlefield and captured. Who my captors were and when I was captured, I know not. I was wounded in the early part of the engagement and have no recollections afterwards whatever, of the battle. I have a faint recollection of passing a place where beeves had been slaughtered. I suppose they, (whoever they were) took me to the Walnut Trees, (a hospital for wounded confeds.) where I laid in the rain and mud for days, so I have been informed by an old friend and comrade who saw me there. He said I knew no one or anything, and as he could not do anything for me, left me to die. The first that I remember of was being at a barn and of the licks I received from the boy who brought coffee and tea to us. Severely as I was wounded, with my skull broken, one ball through my left hand and wrist and another through my right ankle, I could not get around but little. Consequently, I slept a great deal of the time, and whenever the boy found me asleep he would beat me with sticks or anything he could get his hands on first. He finally got so hard on me I had to appeal to the doctor for help. He said he would attend to him, and I presume he did, for I never saw him afterwards.

July 17th. some of us were sent to Baltimore, and spent two days and nights there. Here I met Bob McClure, one of my company, the first face that I had seen since I was captured that I knew. We were for only a short time, he being sent to Fort McHenry and I to Chester, Pa., I, with a number of badly wounded prisoners, arrived at Chester July 21st. The Hospital was in front of the Crozer Theological Seminary. The doctors and officers occupied the building. We were well cared for and well treated here. We were in this hospital until Oct. 4th. We were all sent to Point Lookout, where we landed Oct. 7th. We left one poor fellow there who must have died. He was screaming at the top of his voice, like he was crazy, as we marched out.

When we got to Point Lookout the trouble began. No wood, scant rations and copperas water to drink. At first we were given coffee, pickle, beef and pork, beans and sometimes fish, beef and Irish potatoes. After a short time coffee was cut off and rations reduced. Soap and vinegar, such as it was, was plentiful. Diarrheoa and scurvy prevailed to an alarming extent. Many a poor fellow went to his long home with these diseases. I have seen the dead hauled out by the four horse wagon load, and two wagons at a time sometimes. On one occasion there was a wagon going out loaded with the dead, and they were piled up so high that one of them fell off the wagon and the coffin bursted open.

We were guarded by the First, Second, Third and Fourth New Hampshire regiments, if I remember correctly. They were very clever fellows. They were sent somewhere else and were relieved by the thirty sixth U.S. colored regiment. The colored guards were hard on us; would shoot on any occasion without a cause or without notice. I was paroled Jan. 17th. 1865 and then left, with a disease contracted, never to be well any more.

J.H. Whitehead,
Company D. 18th. Va., Inf.
Hunton's (Garnett's) Brigade,
Pickett's Division.


Notes


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