Man Survives Antietam, Chickamauga, Bull Run to End Up as Prisoner in Andersonville

The Civil War takes veteran through hard-fought battles at Antietam, Chickamauga and Bull Run, and he survives infamous Andersonville Prison.

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My great-grandfather Thomas was a Civil War veteran who fought through many of the most difficult battles of the Civil War: the Battle of Antietam, of Chickamauga, Bull Run, as well as other hard-fought battles during the Civil War. Great-Grandfather Thomas was captured by the Confederates and sent to Andersonville Prison, where he was an inmate for at least six months to a year.

The prisoners of that deplorable prison suffered miseries of hunger and thirst, as they had only boards or shacks out on the open ground for protection from the cold or heat and the rain storms. Their food was of the poorest quality, usually only corn cobs, and oftentimes no water to drink.

Then they were compelled more often to drink from polluted pools on ground, which through the mercy of God was given the suffering soldiers through the refreshing showers of rain that fell so mercifully on the sun-baked ground floor of the infamous prison. Soon the soldiers became infested with sores on their bodies from the stench that they had endured too long.

Well, as a climax to this true story of the Civil War, Northern and Southern armies exchanged prisoners six at a time at first, more later on. So one fateful night, in desperation, six of our inmates of Andersonville Prison, Great-Grandfather included, decided to dig a tunnel under the stone wall of the prison.

Now for the most beautiful ending of our story. A beautiful lady in snow-white garments, supposedly an angel, appeared outside on the brink of a small ravine. She told them they would soon be liberated. She then disappeared.

The following morning, near sunrise, a man came galloping up on a fast horse waving the names of the six prisoners to be exchanged immediately. Great-Grandfather was one of the fortunate six included. He lived to a ripe old age, raised a fine family near New Madison, Ohio.

Carrie Pitts Omeara
Wellington, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.