The Story of the Wilcox True Blues
James Drury Flowers Civil War Story
Elkanah Burson's Speech on Memorial day
First Alabama Muster Roll
The Confederate Soldiers with Houston County ties
Wilcox True Blue Flag Returns home
"Tis something akin to the immortals that makes us long not to be altogether
unworthy of the fame of our ancestors, it is certain that if the child respects himself
he must honor his father and mother."
Elkanah Burson, Memorial Day Speech, April 26, 1879
1. Story of the Flag of the Wilcox True Blues
The “Wilcox True Blues” was the first company formed in this part of the State in early 1861, and was initially comprised of young men from east Wilcox County followed by young men from the Camden area. The ladies of the families of these volunteers decided to present the company with a suitable flag, and while the company was being organized, the women began to make the flag. Since the stores in Camden had no suitable material, Miss Adele Robbins of Canton Bend presented the ladies with blue silk dress material to be used for the flag. Mr. Samuel Tepper volunteered to paint the inscription on the banner which consisted of the words “Wilcox True Blues” on one side, and on the other side was depicted a steamboat, cotton boll, and a coiled rattlesnake. Mrs. Ella Thompson presented the flag to the company which the Honorable S.C. Cook accepted on its behalf. The company left Wilcox County in February 1861 as was engaged in the capture of Fort Barrancas and Fort McRea. The “Wilcox True Blues” then were organized into the First Regiment of Alabama as Company B and Judge Purifoy of Furman was made color bearer. Captain was I.G.W. Steadman, a medical doctor from Oak Hill. This regiment was the first one transferred to the Confederate service, and was ordered to Island 10 on the Mississippi River. On the way to this outpost, thinly clad, many of the young soldiers became ill. The color bearer, among the sick, was put off the boat a private residence at Tiptonville, Tennessee. There he and his colors were captured by Wisconsin troops, and sent to Madison where it was placed in a military museum.
Many years later, the museum was destroyed by fire, and it was assumed that the flag had been destroyed. However, in 1917, Miss Maud McWilliams of Camden was visiting her sister Mrs. Margueritte McWilliams Cook, in Lansing, Michigan, and happened to discover in a military museum there the “Wilcox True Blues” banner, which she recognized from the description given her by her father. When the word reached Richard Ervin McWilliams, an original member of the Company, and who later served as a Major in the Confederate Army, and who had spent many years trying to locate the flag, he wrote the Michigan State Auditor and the Grand Army of Michigan requesting its return. The flag was returned to Alabama in 1921, and was displayed at the Wilcox County Courthouse for a period of time. Later it was placed in the Department of Archives and History, where it rested for nearly 85 years, though in dire need of repair. The local Wilcox Historical Society spearheaded the effort including a fund raiser to have this flag restored, and through the special efforts of the ADAH, this is has come to fruition.
(The above information was excerpted from an article written by R.E. McWilliams, a Private in Company B, and which appeared in the Wilcox Progressive Era on February 10, 1921. Mr. McWilliams, the great-grandfather of our Vice President, Garland Cook Smith and her sister Jean Lindsay Cook, died on August 25, 1921).
2. How the True Blues Became Company B
Co. “K” (“Wilcox True Blues”, Wilcox County; company organized at Allenton, AL, 9 Feb 1861.
Officers and men were sworn into Confederate service on 8 April 1861, and mustered out at Pensacola, FL, 18 Jan 1862)
The Mobile "Red Eagles" had problems with discipline and morale from the beginning and disbanded on 14 Jan 1862, eliminating Co. "D". Co. "A" and "B", "Pioneer Guards" and "Eufaula Rifles", disbanded shortly afterwards and reorganized as the "Eufaula Light Artillery". That left seven companies. A substantial number of twelve-month men in these were willing to reenlist for two years:
Co. “C” (“Perote Guards”, Pike County) became Co. "G"
Co. “E” (“Rough and Ready Pioneers”, Pike County) continued as Co. "E"
Co. “F” (“Tallapoosa Rifles”, Tallapoosa County) became Co. "A”
Co. “G” (“Alabama Rifles”, Talladega County, became Co. "D"
Co. “H” (“Guards of the Sunny South”, Lowndes County) became Co. "C”
Co. “I” (“Clayton Guards”, Barbour County) became Co. "F"
Co. “K” (“Wilcox True Blues”, Wilcox County) became Co. "B"
New companies were designated "H", "I" and "K". Veterans reenlisted for two years or the war rather than three years as all others would have.
3. Service of the "Wilcox True Blues" (Men of Wilcox: They Wore the Gray, Ouida Starr Woodson)
Early in February, 1861, men from East Wilcox county organized a company of volunteers, who would offer their service to Alabama. These men, about 100 strong, left their county on February 12, with I. G. W. Steadman as Captain. They went to Pensacola, Fla., and before the end of February were mustered into the First Alabama Infantry Regiment as Company B. At the time of the of the organization of the Regiment, Captain Steadman was elected Colonel of the First Alabama, and David Wardlaw Ramsey became Captain of the True Blues. For a year, the First Alabama remained on duty at Fort Barrancus, Pensacola. Being the oldest Alabama Regiment, the men of its ranks were the first called upon to re-enlist for the duration of the war. Seven of the Companies of the Regiment re-enlisted. About two-thirds of the men of the Wilcox true Blues remained in Pensacola.
Early March, 1862, the First Alabama was ordered to Island No. 10, on the Mississippi River, near the borders of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.
In 1898, Col. Steadman wrote a letter to the Birmingham Age Herald which told of the Regiment's service. He wrote, "Warm weather had begun in Pensacola, and we were ordered to send our heavy clothing home, and march as lightly clad as we could." He remembered that upon arrival at Island No. 10, the men found no tents, few utensils for camp life, and sufferings of the men of the Regiment were great.
Island No. 10 was under siege six weeks, during which time several communicable diseases broke out. Measles, mumps, and whooping cough were rampant among the men. Following the surrender of the Confederate forces, the enlisted men were sent to Union prisons in the far north. Col. Steadman's letter notes that mortality among prisoners at Madison, Wisconsin was high. He attributed the high death rate to the privations suffered prior to capture rather than any neglect by the Union authorities.
A muster roll, which was prepared in the early 1930s by Richard Ervin McWilliams, lists 13 of the True Blues who died during the terrible happenings of the spring of 1862. Col. Steadman and Captain Ramsey were taken prisoner and both were held captive in northern prisons for the duration of the war.
The Privates of the First Alabama were paroled in September of 1862. The Regiment rendezvoused in Jackson, Miss., where casualties were counted as being 300 men lost during the siege or during their time in northern prisons.
The Regiment was ordered to Port Hudson where they suffered another siege and capture. another 150 casualties were recorded for the First Alabama.
Picture Rank First Name Last Name Service Comments Captain I. G. W. Steadman Captain
David Wardlaw Ramsey POW Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio First Lieutenant J. K. Hawthorne Second Lieutenant W. D. McNeill Third Lieutenant Robert Powers First Sergeant J. P. Benson Second Sergeant J. P. Williams Third Sergeant W. J. Hawthorne First Sergeant Nick Stallworth First Corporal Preston Williams Second Corporal Frank Mobley Third Corporal E. A. Shannon Fourth Corporal Joseph B. McWilliams Private Andrew McMeehan Private Seaborne Flannagan Private R. Gaillard Private Robert D. George Private John Bragg Private David W. Carter Private J. H. Chappell Private N.P.E. Crook Private William P. Carter Private D. R. Maxwell Private E. C. McWilliams Private W. W. McConnico Private William Mims Private John F. Melton Private David P. Owens Private Judge W. Purifoy Private E. D. Harris Private W. R. Hawthorne Private Brustus Howard Private Nathaniel Ashley Private James Brown Private Thomas J. Blair Private C. W. Bodie Private John Bunkley Private Leslie Bloxom Private William J. Bailey Private W. D. Bain Private E. Burson Wounded Sharpsburg, Wilderness
2nd Manassas, August 20, 1862
16 Nov 1863
April 26, 1877
Private J. Decatur Caldwell Private John Childs Private Patrick Conner Private Robert Dampler Private John Dougherty Private Tence Fitzsimmons Private Gabriel Flowers Private Allen J. Grimes Private James L. Grace Private Thomas P. Gaillard Private J. Salter Grace Private William Campbell Private A. T. Chappell Private Benjamin Hardy Private W. Carstarphen Private C. W. Campbell Private J. F. Maxwell Private Hugh W. McKee Private J. S. McBryde Private David Flowers Private C. O. Miller Private Simeon K. Nored Private John W. Purifoy Private Henry Haddox Private William O. Richardson Private Thomas J. Holcombe
Privates in Alphabetical order
Private Nathaniel Ashley Private William J. Bailey Private W. D. Bain Private Thomas J. Blair Private Leslie Bloxom Private C. W. Bodie Private John Bragg Private James Brown Private John Bunkley Private E. Burson Private J. Decatur Caldwell Private William Campbell Private C. W. Campbell Private W. Carstarphen Private David W. Carter Private William P. Carter Private J. H. Chappell Private A. T. Chappell Private John Childs Private Patrick Conner Private N.P.E. Crook Private Robert Dampler Private John Dougherty Private Tence Fitzsimmons Private Seaborne Flannagan Private Gabriel Flowers Private David Flowers Private R. Gaillard Private Thomas P. Gaillard Private Robert D. George Private James L. Grace Private J. Salter Grace Private Allen J. Grimes Private Henry Haddox Private Benjamin Hardy Private E. D. Harris Private W. R. Hawthorne Private Thomas J. Holcombe Private Brustus Howard Private D. R. Maxwell Private J. F. Maxwell Private J. S. McBryde Private W. W. McConnico Private Hugh W. McKee Private Andrew McMeehan Private E. C. McWilliams Private John F. Melton Private C. O. Miller Private William Mims Private Simeon K. Nored Private David P. Owens Private Judge W. Purifoy Private John W. Purifoy Private William O. Richardson
These soldiers were listed below in the 1921 article, below, but were not listed above
Not listed here, but included in the list of Mrs. Alice Whiting Waterman of the Dead of the First Alabama Regiment at Madison, Wisconsin:
W. H. Hadden, Company B, May 24
Henry Albritton, Company B, May 7
A. L. Spears, Company B, May 13
G. W. Spears, Company B, May 19
P. L. Drinkard, Company B, May 23
___________, Company B, April 2
4. The Wilcox True Blues, Wilcox Progressive Era, Feb. 10, 1921
The following muster roll of the Blues, the first company which left Wilcox county for the War in February 1861has been procured by Miss Kate Gaillard, a member of the Committee on History in the Society of the Daughters of the Confederacy. On the 12th of February 1861, "The True Blues" left East Wilcox for Pensacola, where their services were tendered to the State of Alabama. A few days afterward on the 18th of February 1861--twelve young men and youths from Camden and its immediate vicinity followed and enrolled with the Blues. As soon as the Provisional government of the Confederate States was organized the Blues unanimously transferred their services to the Confederate States. Its Captain, I. G. W. Steedman was upon the organization of the First Alabama Regiment elected Lieutenant Colonel and its officers were as follows:
Captain I.G.W. Steadman Captain David Wardlaw Ramsey First Lieutenant J. K. Hawthorne Second Lieutenant W. D. McNeill Third Lieutenant Robert Powers First Sergeant J. P. Benson Second Sergeant J. P. Williams Third Sergeant W. J. Hawthorne Third Sergeant Nick Stallworth First Corporal Preston Williams Second Corporal Frank Mobley Third Corporal E. A. Shannon Fourth Corporal Joseph B. McWilliams Private Nathaniel Ashley Wm. J. Bailey W.D. Bain Leslie Bloxom J. W. Bodie John Bragg James Brown John Bunkley Elkanah Burson Decatur Caldwell C. W. Campbell William Campbell Wm. P. Carter David W. Carter Wm. Castarphen J. H. Chappell A. T. Chappell John Childs Patrick Conner M. P. E. Crook Robert Dampler John Dougherty Clarence Fitzsimmons Sanborne Flannigan David Flowers Gabriel Flowers Joe P.. Galliard Galliard Robert D. George Salter Grace James L. Grace Hen. J. Grimes Walter S. Handley Benjamin Hardy John W. Hawkins I.C. Hawthorne W. R. Hawthorne Joseph Henderson Thomas J. Holcombe Brutus Howard James Ilig William Calvin Jones John E. Jones Thomas Kasey N. M. Linam L. W. Martin D. R. Maxwell J. F. Maxwell J. S. McBryde W.W. McConnico Hugh W. McKee Richard McMillan Andrew J. McMoehan Ed C. McWilliams John F. Melton O. O. Miller William Mims Simeon K. Nored Judge W Purifoy John W. Purifoy M. B. Ray Wm. O. Richardson I. Y. Sadler B. F. Sanders Thomas R. Sanders Daniel E. Schultz Robert Scott Ed Sesalone Joe W. Simpson William Soloman Jno.N. Stanford Silas Tucker Ed Wardroper W.L. Williams Dewitt C. Williams Andrew J. Wing W. L. Wooten S. M. Wooten, Jr. Joshua O. Wright
In February 1862 the first Alabama Regiment, which was thoroughly drilled as a Heavy Artillery and Infantry Regiment, having served its term of one year were first of all Regiments in the Confederate Service called upon to re-enlist for the war. This call was responded to by about two-thirds of the above named members of the Blues. They organized by its election of the following commissioned officers as Company B. D. W. Ramsey, Captain, E. Galliard, 1st Lt., Joseph P. Benson, 2nd Lt., Joseph Henderson, 3rd Lt.
The Regiment reorganized as the First Alabama Regiment with I. G. W. Steedman as Colonel and Samuel Knox who was killed at the battle of Franklin as major. Nearly the entire Regiment was in April 1862 captured at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River, on the line between the States of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officers and men were held as prisoners of war for about four months. On their being exchanged in the early fall of 1862 this Regiment was ordered to Port Hudson in Louisiana. There it remained until the fall of that place on the 9th of July, 1863. The privates were parolled, and afterwards exchanged. The Colonel, I. G. W. Steedman and Lt. Colonel M. B. Locke, with all the commissioned officers who were their captives were from that time to the close of the war, held as prisoners. After an exchange of the officers captured and the body of all privates this Regiment went into active service in the army commanded by Generals Bragg Johnston and Hood, suffered severe losses and continued service to the end of the war.
I will endeavor to give the roll officers and men hereafter of the above company as Company B 1st Alabama Regiment, as it was reorganized in February 1862.
(The muster roll given above includes more soldiers than those listed originally by Ouida Starr Woodson and must include the 12 men who joined soon after the True Blues originally organized.)
5. Quotes from a letter from Dr. Thomas Lee to Dr. William Gulley from camp 7 miles north of Winchester, October 12, 1862 with information on the personal perspective of the War and Elkanah Burson’s (as soldier in the 44th Alabama) experience.
(Spelled as written) Also, a copy of the Memorial Day Speech given by the Honorable Elkanah Burson.
6. History of the First Alabama Regiment, C.S.A., Edward Young McMorries
The First Alabama was commanded by Col. Isaiah G. W. Steedman. That he was a gallant officer, and his men among the very flower of their native State, the official reports alluded to clearly show. The regiment was, as its number indicates, probably the first regiment formed in the state at the breaking out of the war. we all know tht in every Southern State, at that time, the men of these first regiments--the men who shouldered their guns at the first sound of the tocsin of war, were always among the best soldiers of the Confederacy. Consequently, we are not surprised to find the First Alabama frequently mentioned in the official reports of the transaction on Island Number Ten. General Leonidas Polk, in a letter announcing to General McCown the Confederate Commander of the island, that he had sent the First Alabama to reinforce him, speaks of the men as being among the best of Bragg's army. After the surrender of this little garrison to a force forty times its superior in numbers, they, with a large number of other Confederate prisoners, were sent North. A part were sent to Camp Doublass, near Chicago, and a smaller portion, which included these men of the First Alabama, were sent to Camp Randall near Madison, Wisconsin. They remained there, however, but about three months, when they were sent elsewhere, and it is believed were shortly afterwards exchanged. during this period of three monghs, 139 of these men died, 110 being of the First Alabama. Their deaths were undoubtedly the results of the suffering and constant exposure they had undergone in their heroic defense of Island Number Ten, which during the siege was constantly flooded in consequence of freshets of the mississippi river, the men being often compelled, as the official reports state, while manning the guns of the batteries, to stand for hours knee deep in the chilly waters of the river, for the siege was during the month of March. (See the report of Gen. Trudeau commanding Artillery at Island Number Ten, March 29, 1862, vol 8, Series 1, War Records, page 150.) Elsewhere we have given the names of these dead heroes. As they died, sometime at the rate of ten a day, they were laid side by side in a plot of ground on the edge of Forest Hill Cemetery, and that spot soon became known to the people of Madison, Wisconsin, as "Confederate Rest." and rest it was indeed, as these poor fellows, who, succumbing to the hardships of war, laid them down in their last sleep, martyrs to the cause they loved. For nearly five years after the war the site of those graves was almost forgotten. Amng strangers who could not be expected to sympathize with the sentiments which had imbued these boys in gray and led them to offer their lives upon the altar of their country, it would perhaps in time have become completely obliterated but for the facts that there came to live at Madison, Wisconsin, a widowed, southern-born woman--Mrs. Alice W. Waterman of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She learned of this lonely little corner in Forest Hill Cenetery and expended her means to beautify it. How she did it, let the people of Madison, whose sympathies she awoke for those, our dead comrades, tell us, as we find it in the Wisconsin State Journal of May 29, 1885, published at Madison, and from which we now quote:
"The knowledge of the fact that many of her countrymen lay neglected, and almost forgotten among strangers at the North, far removed from the homes of their youth and the loving care of those whom they were near and dear, touched a tender spot in the heart of the lady, and she resolved to do what lay in her power to beautify the resting place of the strangers. She heaped up neat mounds over each grave, planted trees in the plat and an evergreen hedge along the east and south sides, cleared away the weed , trimmed the grass, and had a rude board fence, which has since been removed constructed around the plat. Then she secured head boards, had them appropriately inscribed with the names of the dead, their company and regiment, as well as the date of death.
"Her work was commenced during the time Gen. Lucius Fairchild was Governor and that gentleman displayed the charity of a true soldier for a fallen enemy, by doing various little acts of a kindness tending to aid Mrs. Waterman in the work which her sympathetic nature inspired. Governor Washburn, who succeeded Gov. Fairchild, went a step further than his predessessor in office, for upon a Memorial Day when he was the State's Chief Executive he led a party of old Union solders into Confederate Rest, and with his own hands strewed floral offerings upon the graves of the boys in gray. This custom has generally been followed since it was established. Gov. Washburn was the first Chief Executive in any of the Northern States to exhibit such charity, but his conduct has since been very generally emulated where Union and Confederate soldiers lie buried together. Hon. B. J. Stevens, while acting as Mayor of Madison last year, showed great kindness to Mrs. Waterman and offered to assist her in any manner he was able, while the cemetery Commissioners--Gen. C. P. Chapman, Deming Fitch and Darwin Clark--have of late years been very thoughtful in their attentions.
"Mrs. Waterman has an affectionate way of referring to the buried Confederates, whose graves she guards so tenderly, as 'My boys.' She says she planted hedges around the plat to keep the cold wind off my boys,' and it affords her pleasure to know that when the sun rises in the morning, it shines warmly in the faces of 'my boys." She planted white lilac amid the graves because they will blossom even if she is 'not there to watch them,' and her object in setting out two butternut trees was, as she puts it, so "that the children will go there to gather the nuts, and thus make the place more pleasant by their presence.'"
Chapter IX: Official Report of Col. (Surgeon) I. G. W. Steedman; and His Reminiscences of Prison Life
An "authentic" statement for the Tribune. while awaiting Mr. Greeley's acceptance or rejection of the proposition that was made to him in our issue of yesterday in reference to the treatment of prisoners of war in federal prisons, we are anxious to give him further evidence of the truth of the statements we have published, in order to strengthen the appeal to his benevolence and sense of justice. We, therefore, give editorial prominence to the following letter, which we guarantee is a faithful copy of the original written by the subscribing parties and addressed and delivered to the Colonel commanding the post at Johnson's Island:
Prison Hospital, Johnson's Island,
November 16, 1864
Col: The undersigned officers of the Confederate States Army (prisoners of war) are in times of peace practicing physicians. We are now acting as surgeons to our prison hospital.
We adopt this method of informing you, (if you are not already informed of it), that the prisoners confined here are suffering seriously from want of food.
1st. We make this painful announcement from our personal experience, and observation among our comrades.
Food is a constant theme of conversation among them, and we are repeatedly told, "We are hungry' we do not get enough to eat." Instances are not infrequent of repulsive articles being greedily devoured; rats, spoiled meat, bones, bread from the slop, etc.
Secondly: We wish to demonstrate to you from physiological data, that the ration issued is insufficient to maintain health. Prof. Dalton says: "With coffee and water for drink, we have found that the entire quantity of food required during twenty-four hours, by a man in full healty, and taking free exercise in the open air, is as follows:
Meat (Butchers)...................................16 ounces avoirdupois
Butter, of fat..........................................31/2 ounces avoirdupois
381/2 ounces avoirdupois
That is to say, rather less than two and a half pounds of solid food." (See Dalton's Physiology, page 115)
Col. Hoffman, commissary General of Prisons, in his published order regulating the ratios of prisoners
(Col. Steedman goes on in this manner .....until his signature of the letter listing the problems within the prison...)
Military Prison History, and Incidents--Memoranda Supplied by Col. Steedman
"After the surrender at Port Hudson, all the commissioned officers of the garrison, about 160 in number, were sent by steamboat to New Orleans as prisoners of war. On our way down the river we schemed to overpower our guards and capture the boat, but no proper opportunity offered. We were confined in New Orleans nearly two months, first in the custom house and then in Mr. Conner's residence, a wealthy banker. Gen. Banks treated us with all possible consideration compatible with the rules of war. Upon request we could obtain paroles to attend social gatherings given by the citizens. The people of New Orleans overwhelmed us with the kindest attentions. Many of us were suffering with malaria, contracted during the siege. the surgeons and physicians of the city visited our prison and gave us gratis all needed medical attention.
"In September, 1863, we were sent by see to Governor's Island, New York harbor, thence by rail to Johnson's Island in Lake Erie. We had left this prison for exchange about one year previously. We found the situation materially changed. Many more prisoners occupied the buildings. Officers captured upon many battlefields were confined here. Public sentiment throughout the North was more embittered towards the South, and prisoners were made to feel it upon all possible occasions. The Winters of 1863 and 1864 were very severe upon those of us from the extreme South. We were poorly clad for such a rigorous climate, and housed in such flimsy buildings. The prison soon became very much crowded as disaster met our armies. During 1864 and 1865 the average number of officers confined here was about 3,000 at one time reaching 3,200.
"Soon after reaching Johnson's Island, at the request of the prisoners, and by consent of the prison authorities, Col. Steedman was put in medicl and surgical charge of our prison hospital, the colonel being, as already stated, an M.D., having graduated in the class of 1859 from the University of Louisiana at New Orleans. He, with his four assistants (one of whom was Capt. L. #. Locke of Alabama Cavalry) also line officers as well as M.D.'s were thus enabled to perform valuable service to fellow prisoners.
"The great subject of thought ad private talk among prisoners was how to escape prison and get to 'Dixie,' to rejoin our commands in the field. We were secretly organized into companies and regiments and evr ready to take advantage of any opportunities offered. All manner of schemes were discussed, manhy of them foolhardy and impracticable. The only feasible one was planned by Lieut. Beale of Virginia which involved an expedition from Canada to capture passenger boats on the lake, seize the United States gunboat Michigan, prisoners to overpower the prison guards and take their arms. Escorted by the Michigan we were to land in the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, and make a desperate dash for West Virginia. The plan was partially executed, but not to completion. Lieut.Beale was afterwards courtmartialed and hung.
"The winter of 1864 and 1865 was especially severe and hard upon the Johnson's Island prisoners. It was extremely cold, the thermometer reaching 20 degrees below zero.
"The furor raised in the North by the alleged cruel treatment of Libby and Andersonville Federal prisoners led the Washington government to retaliate in a manner on Johnson's Island prisoners who were all officers. Our rations were reduced to a minimum compatible with life. Disease became broadcast among us, especially chronic bowel diseases, scurvy and erysipelas. Scores of cases of scurvy occurred throughout the prison, the result of insufficient quantity and quality of food. when the attention of the Federal surgeons was called to this deplorable condition of the prisoners, extra rations were given us, consisting chiefly of the fresh vegetables of the season. In a few weeks all scurvy disappeared. This is a proof positive of the insufficiency of our food.
"The above facts are contained in an official protest made by our hospital surgeons at the time. All exchanges of prisoners had ceased in 1863, except the desperately sick, who were sent home to die. The policy had been openly adopted to imprison and feed us, rather than exchange and fight us again. This barbarous policy resulted in the inhuman imprisonment of tens of thousands of Confederates and Federals. Our efficient and most gentlemanly commissary, Capt. Brad Sullins, died in the prison hospital during this winter. He is buried in the Confederate cemetery on Johnson's Island with our other dead. Smallpox also broke ut in the prison, requiring the building of a pest-house in one corner of the yard, and our Confederate surgeons also had charge of these cases. By judicious idolation and vaccination, the disease was kept in control, the nurses being officers who had previously had smallpox.
CAPT. J. R. MACBETH CONTRIBUTES TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR THE RELIEF OF FELLOW PRISONERS
Col. Steedman pays the following tribute to his deceased collegemate and prison comrade, Capt. J. R. Macbeth of the 1st South Carolina Artillery. While an inmate of the prison he was dangerously ill, and was nursed to health in the prison hospital. He was so grateful for this service, that he became a nurse in the hospital for many months. Later, he was made hospital steward. Captain Macbeth was lucky in having a wealthy father, then mayor of Charleston, S.C. In his own right the Captain had large funds in New York and Liverpool as a stockholder in a blocade running company. He donated twenty-two thousand dollars for the relief of his fellow prisoners, besides lending money to many others. He received a special exchange through General Sherman, rejoined his command and lost an arm at Bentonville, N.C., the last battle of the war.
"In the spring of 1865, the Port Hudson prisoners were ordered to City Point, near Richmond , for exchange J
Joyfully we boarded box cars for Baltimore, thence by steamship to City Point. On the Chesapeake bay the ship was enveloped in fog and lay at anchor many hours. Smallpox broke out in the hold among 500 or more sick and wounded prisoners; also gangrene attacked the wounds of the poor cripples. Col. Steedman was again called upon to take charge of this "pest hole," doing his duty to the best of his ability. He regards this as the most crucial test of his physical and moral courage during the war.
"To our dismay we were landed at Point Lookout in Chesapeake Bay, a great Federal hospital and prison. Here we learned that the military operations around Petersburg had stopped this proposed exchange. We were at Point Lookout when President Lincoln was assassinated. Wilkes Booth, the assassin, retreated down the Potomac , and the negro guards over us conceived the idea that we prisoners had some connection with the assassination. I was most reliably informed that the white officers of this negro command had great difficulty in restraining them from butchering us. I felt the danger most acutely at the time. At night in my hearing a negro sentinel called out to us, 'hush up there you d--d rebels, or I will send a bullet 'searching' among your guts;' we were only talking in a low tone in our quarters.
"From Point Lookout we were sent to Fort Delaware on the Delaware bay and kept imprisonment until the close of the war. My brother, Capt. S. D. Steedman, and myself were released on June 28, 1865. A book could be written on this subject of imprisonment and the heroic fortitude with which our First Alabama officers endured their hard fate. We were cut off from all hope of deserved promotion in rank, which hope is dear to all soldiers.
"The only consolation our friends can take in this imprisonment of nearly two and a half years is that many of us, if exchanged, would have died on the battlefield, where so many of our beloved comrades now lie in unknown graves."
7. From a newspaper article in the Wilcox Progressive Era, February 19, 1921, "Confederate Flag"
In the early days of 1861 at which time our people of the Southern States saw and felt that their interest and welfare as a people, and our rights as States were no longer respected by the Federal Government, determined to secede from the Federal Government and form an alliance of all the Southern States for their mutual protection and future welfare.
The Governor of Alabama, with the Governor of other Southern states, made a hurried call for troops in their respective States to proceed to the Southern ports and to take possession of the forts and arsenals.
The young men of East Wilcox, together with some young men at Camden, met and formed the first Company in this part of Alabama, and possibly, in the state. this company was named Wilcox True blues. The good ladies of Camden and vicinity met and decided that the company must have a suitable flag. And while their sons and their neighbors sons were organizing the Company, the good mothers, sisters and sweethearts made themselves busy making the flag. The first thing was to procure suitable material. On examination in our stores in Camden, they failed to find suitable materials. At which time, a young lady from Canton Bend, Miss Adele Robbins, now Mrs. Adele Robbins Spencer informed the ladies that she had a blue silk dress which she would gladly give as material for the flag. The material having been had, the next thing was to procure an assistant and Samuel Tepper of Camden volunteered his service, and in due time after the Company was formed, the ladies, through Miss Ella Thompson, presented this flat to the company, and Hon. S. C. Cook, in behalf of the company, accepted the flag.
The Company with the flat, left Wilcox sometime in February 1861 proceeding to Pensacola, Florida, and was among the first company to take the Forts Barrancas and McRae. On arriving at the Forts the First Regiment of Alabama was formed and regiment mustered into service for 12 months and the Wilcox True Blues was made Company B, in the Regiment and Judge Purifoy was color bearer.
The first Alabama Regiment was stationed at Fort Barrancas during the year 1861. The Federal Government sent their fleets and blockaded our ports. At the close of the first enlistment in 1862 many of the Company did not re-inlist, but equally as many boys from the school of the County promptly took their places, while those who didn't re-inlist joined other commands and went immediately into active service.
The first Alabama Regiment, about the first of march 1862, was ordered to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River to blockade the river at that place. The regiment while at Pensacola was clad in very light uniforms with little or no wraps. While proceeding to Island No. 10 they were met by very cold weather, and many of the company caught cold, took pneumonia and died. Judge Purifoy, our color bearer, was among the sick and he, with the company flag was put off the boat at a private residence at Tiptonville, Tennessee, some distance below Island No. 10. Here the color bearer and flag were taken by Wisconsin troops and the flag was sent to Madison, Wisconsin and placed in Military Grand Army Republic. Sometime after the close of the Civil War, we learned through News Correspondents, who gave a description of the flag and the name "Wilcox True Blues" that the flag was at Madison, Wisconsin.
We wrote to the state officials of Wisconsin and learned through them the flag was held in a Museum by the Grand Army Republic. After extended correspondence with Grand Army republic and Board of State Auditors, we were informed by Mr. Road, the Custodian of the Museum, that in 1904 the Military Museum at Madison, Wisconsin, was burned and nearly everything was lost, but in looking through the rubbish if the flag was found he would advise us. Not having had further information, we naturally concluded the flag ws burned. But in 1917 Miss Maude McWilliams was visiting her sister, Mrs. Marguerite Cook at lansing, Michigan, and while there she was looking through the Museum at Lansing and saw the flg and recognized it from the name "Wilcox True Blues" and from what her father had formerly told her about the flag.
We immediately wrote the board of State Auditors and members of the grand Army Republic at Lansing, in behalf of the very few survivors of the old Company requesting the return of the flag. The Board of State Auditors with the Grand Army Republic generously voted to return the flag and stated that now after fifty years and the Great World War, all sectional lines should be abolished.
The flag was duly received and is now on exhibition at the headquarters of Camp F. K. Beck, S.C.V., in the Clerk's Office in the Court House where the members of the old Company now living and the descendants of members who served under the flag and the public generally are most cordially invited to call and see the old relic. After a short time the flag will be placed in our museum in Montgomery, Alabama, as a permanent home where our descendants can and will honor and respect it.
R. E. McWilliams, Sr.
Private, Company B., First Alabama Regiment
Copyright 1996 These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you. The errors are my own. But, perhaps they will give you a starting point. All original writing is copyrighted. Webmaster
Copyright 1996 These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you. The errors are my own. But, perhaps they will give you a starting point. All original writing is copyrighted. Webmaster