Prison Life at Fort McHenry. 77
Prison Life at Fort McHenry.
By Rev. Dr. T. D. WITHERSPOON, late Chaplain of tl?e Forty -Second Mississippi Regiment.
PAPER No. 1.
On the evening of the 4th of July, 1863, when it became appa- rent that the army of General Lee was in quiet and undisturbed retreat from its position before Gettysburg, I found myself in the midst of three or four hundred men of the brigade in which I served, who were too severely wounded to be transported to the rear. Two alternatives presented themselves, to leave these men in the hour of their distress, or to remain within the enemy's line. The decision was soon made ; and the consent of superior officers having been obtained, I stood by the roadway waving adieu as the little remnant of the gallant brigade tramped silently and sorrow- fully by ; and then turned to the tenderest and saddest ministry of my life, as under open flies, on the bare ground, or a mere pile of straw, these gallant men lay heroically suffering or unconsciously moaning their lives away. For a few never-to-be-forgotten days this ministry was permitted me, and then our field-hospital was broken up, the few surviving wounded were removed to the field- hospitals of the Federal army, and the Confederate surgeons and chaplains transported to Northern prisons.
On the very day before the order came to break up our field- hospital, tidings had come to us that the Colonel of the regiment in which I served, Colonel Hugh R. Miller, was lying mortally wounded at a private residence in Gettysburg, and had expressed a desire to see me. I reached his bedside just in time to receive his dying expression of his faith in Christ and his readiness to depart. Through the generosity of the kind family (a Maryland family)'at whose home Colonel Miller had been so assiduously and tenderly cared for, the services of an embalmer were secured, and the body skilfully embalmed and inclosed in a metallic case. The Commandant of the Post at Gettysburg, whose name I do not re- call, but who was a true gentleman as well as true soldier, on ap- plication being made to him to send the remains through the lines by flag of truce, did all he could to further this end. For he not only sent the remains to Baltimore in charge of one of the mem- bers of his staff, but he allowed Edwin Miller, the youthful son of the Colonel, and myself, his chaplain, to accompany the remains as escort with a letter to General Schenck, the Commandant at