Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Charles Ross, Civil War Prisoner at Andersonville

Child's Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, Vt., 1764-1887, described many of Waterford's leading citizens at the time, and the long passages were entered on this blog by James Cross (thank you, James!) back in 2011; you can access one part here, and here is the portion on the Ross family:
Jonathan Ross came to this town and located on road 47, in 1794. He reared four sons and two daughters, namely, Shubal, Eri, Royal, Abraham R., Mary and Lucy. Abraham R., the only son now living, was born in Waterford, in 1813, married, first, Hannah, daughter of Jonah and Hannah (Rice) Carpenter, in 1836, who bore him one son, Charles, and died in 1842. He married for his second wife Harriet N., daughter of John S. and Lydia Ricker, in 1843, and has had born to him one son, Aldace, who was born in 1843, and died in 1867. Charles, son of Abraham, was born in 1838, married Belle H., daughter of Charles and Nancy (Mason) Cutler, in 1866, and has had two sons and three daughters, viz.: Willie F., who died in 1884, Alice H., Carl A., Bertha L. and Mabel E. His wife died in 1884. Mr. Ross served in the late war, enlisting in Co. A, 11th Vt. Vols., in 1862, was promoted to sergeant in 1864, and, with fifty-seven others, was taken prisoner at Welden Railroad, June 22, 1864, and was one of fifteen who survived those terrible sufferings. He was promoted to 2d lieutenant, June 2, 1865. Mr. Ross is a farmer, and resides in the village.
Fortunately for those who'd like to know more, Charles Ross kept a journal, and large portions of it were published in Vermont History, the magazine of the Vermont Historical Society, in July 1957.

Edited by C. M. DESTLER 

THE DIARIES of Charles Ross of Lower Waterford, Vermont, are in the possession of Carl A. Ross, an attorney of Grass Valley, California. Together they cover the years 1860-65, one to a year. Small in size, they contain a pencil entry for each day. The last of a particularly long entry was written vertically across the earlier portion.
When the war broke out Ross was engaged in teaching and farming. So pre-occupied was he with his own affairs that neither the fall of Fort Sumter nor Lincoln's call for volunteers received notice in his diary. It was not until 1863 that he enlisted in the Eleventh Vermont Volunteers. During the winter of 1863-64, according to his diary, he was on duty at "Fort Totten" (note 1) on the outskirts of Washington, D. C. Before joining the Army of the Potomac in the spring of
1864 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in Company "A" of his regiment.
In the pocket of the 1864 diary was found a manuscript letter from his mother, a portion of which introduces the section of the diary here reproduced. On a fly-leaf was found Ross's will. The codicil, it will be observed, was written while he was in Andersonville. The quoted portion of the diary begins with June 23, the day on which Ross was taken prisoner. At that time his Division was engaged in flanking operations near Petersburg, Virginia.
The diary mentions no act of deliberate cruelty by the authorities in charge of Andersonville Prison. (note 2)It does, to be sure, detail the many hardships to which the Union prisoners were subject during a deten- tion prolonged needlessly by the Federal government's refusal to permit an exchange. (note 3) The diarrhea, scurvy and rheumatism that resulted from exposure, unfamiliar diet and overcrowding are graphi- cally portrayed in simple entries that worry about health and long for release. No mention is made of the famous Captain Henry Wirtz. On the other hand, the long list of members of Ross's battalion that died during five months' imprisonment bears eloquent witness to tragIc conditions within the stockade.
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Familiar traits of "Yankee" character are also depicted. Simple piety and staunch loyalty throw a shrewd business sense into sharp relief. Opportunities to turn a penny's profit by selling fry-cakes or lending money to needy comrades were not neglected. Even rheumatism could not restrain a flair for politics.
Ross's release came on November 15, 1864. It was a part of an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners. (note 4)
In common with others removed at that time, he was taken by water to Annapolis for hospital treatment. His joy at release, at receiving sufficient food, over mail from home and his furlough and return to Lower Waterford belong to all wars and ages. A few days later we find him writing: "Quite a pleasant day. . . . 1 am enjoying my eating at home very much. It does seem as if Mother never did cook as well. 1 cam [sic] eat so heartily and not have it hurt me any." (note 5)
Lower Waterford, June 13 th 1864
Dear Charles,
As Father & Aldace have written you since I have, I will try to answer

your last which was received in due time....
So you have really been in a fight a number of them too-& perhaps many more by this time. I expected as much, & was right glad to hear from you,- that you was alive & well. You are pretty near Richmond now & pretty near the swamps I should judge by the maps. Well I dont know how it will be with you, but of course you will know that we shall want to hear from you as often as possible. \Ve had just been over to North Danville to get your box....
We are at work doing all we can for the wounded soldiers. have sent two barrels of hospital articles & shall continue to work as long as we are fur- nished with means to work with, which I hope will be as long [sic] as there are sick & wounded soldiers to need the things we make.
We had town Meeting Last Saturday to see about getting up more Soldiers in case there is another call from the President which is expected soon. Our town missed it that they did not secme those we might have had last fall. Now they will have to get them as they can, or draft.
I kno·w that you must have wearisome days & nights now, such as you have never had before. I would gladly exchange my comfortable place of rest & fare that you might have a respite from your fatigue & exposure, if it were possible, but this cannot be,-so I try ev[e]ry day to commit you to the care of Him who is able to give you rest under the 'shadow of his wings' & 'cover you in the day of battle.' And "The Angel of the Lord encampeth round them that fear him and delivereth them."
We have gTeat encouragement to put our trust in God, & very little to put om trust in man.
If God be for us-who can be against us? If there is any thing I can send you for your comfort please let me know. I will put in a pinch of tea in this,
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in case you cannot get it. there will be enough to make you a cup some time when you need it.
With much love, from Mother.
Cold Harbor Va. June I nh 18646
If under the will of Divine Providence I should fall in this struggle the comrad that finds this will confer a lasting favor on my friends herein men- tioned if he would send this small Diary together with my watch to my brother Aldace W. Ross, Lower Waterford, Caledonia Co. Vermont. Let my ring on my left hand and my other trinkets go to the same person. My wallet and its contents to my Father A. R'. Ross at the same address.
May God save our country.
August I st 1864
My Watch
I have sold. The Contents of my wallet are nearly gone.
Charles Ross
Thursday, June 23, 1864
Last night we followed the
I st Division in a northwest direction about two miles and then rested in a road on our arms. I think by appearances we are trying to turn their right flank and cut the railroad and get possession of the river. Our Bat. with others was ordered out to support the sharpshooters who got possession of the railroad under the leadership of Lieut Col. Pingree. We went out to the road, formed a skirmish line and lay till just after noon, when we were attacked and driven and at last flanked and am now Prisoner
of war in the hands of the Rebs.
Friday 24
I slept very sound last night The Rebs marched us up to Petersburg and guarded us in an open field took our tents and Rubers[?] from us but did not get either of mine which I sold for the money. they marched us through the City of P. and down to an isleand where we were kept in the sun and heat nearly all day. Our names were taken and we were passed onto the island. where we shall very likely stay all night.
Saturday 25
Today we were again moved into the very heart of Rebeldom Richmond. We were called out and our names all taken [on?] the rest and about noon we we[re] put on the cars and taken to Libby prison. into a very dirty and crow[d]ed room. I think I never was in a more crowded place. terrible hot.
Sunday, June 26, 1864.
This morning they moved us out of the old dirty building and put us in to the

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Charles Ross
Bat. A. 1st Arty.
I nh Reg.
Verm't Vols.
old Libey building propper. It is by far more clean and wholesome. We were crowded till after our inspected and then were put on to a floor where we are quite comfortable. received today for the first time [illegible].
Monday 27
They have kept us moving from one room to another all day. We or a part of our Bat. got inspected just at dark. They took nothing of any value from me as I had destroyed all my greenbacks. It has been very hot today, but there are appearances of a thunder shower tonight which will make the air cooler.
Tuesday 28
Since the shower last night it has been quite cool and comfortable here in this floor. The third floor of the middle set. I think from the appearances our rations today were no larger than yesterday. Indeed I am inclined to think I did not get as much. my bread was burned our floor has been quite quiet all day. our rations very wa[r]mly divided.
Wednesday, June 29, 1864
A coole night last We received our rations this morn. early & were put into box cars.-so in a car. And started for Lynchburg, Va. We were very much crowded as we had no seats. My legs got so cramped that I could harly moove. At dark we were riding with a prospect ofdoing so all night. It is very rough. The guards do what they can for us. We suffer some from want of watter. Our canteens being taken our little pails of tin have to answer. There is a good deal of fault finding, with reason, too.
Thursday 30
We arrived in Lynchburg about 2 in the night but did not get out of the cars till daylight. I got no rest of any amount, & feel awfully cramped up. We left the cars at daylight and were marched to an island where we drew 4 days rations and are then to start for Danville Va on foot. We left and went out about S miles and camped in a wet meadow, ful of Poisin Ivy. our march was not very hard. Lynchburg is a pretty rough dirty old town, mostly filled with Hsopitals.
Friday, July I
Were started this morning very early and have come 20 miles by the Mile Posts beside the road. Stoped in or very near the Stanton river. We got wet through to the skin in a thunder shower, a pretty heavy one it was too. Hope no one will feel the bad effects of it. W e arrived in camp about 6 in the eve. and then had a good chance to wash and cook. I am standing the march this far pretty well.
Saturday, July 2 , 1864.
An early start again this morn. Have traveled pretty hard today. We lay last night on the very banks of the River and when we got into the column we were pretty well behind. Water has been pretty rough today, and very scarce. Our Guards are getting played [out]' And they have called out the citizens with their old guns & fowling pieces, boys and all have rurned out. Some so small they are not able to carry a gun so they take Revolvers.
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Sunday 3
This is a pleasant sabbath morn. If I was at home I would quietly attend church. But instead I have marched about [0 miles. We got into camp in good season so that I have washed and feel quite refreshed. our rations are about out and the time quite! I suppose we shall not draw tiII we get to Danville. The guards are geting short also as well as cross. Were even guarded by Gurrillas the day of the [illegible].
Monday 4
A curious "Fourth" this. We were started in pretty good season and arrived at Danville about 2 in the P. M. are now in an old tobacco Store house without any watter or rations. I hope we may be luckey enough to get our rations tonight for we are very hungry. All we get tonight is a small piece of boiled meat.
Tuesday, July 5, 1864.
Nothing done today only lay still in prison and draw rations and get ready for a reported early start tomorrow morn for Georgia. We have drawn rations today pretty plentifully. More than all together before and more than we shall get for a long time to come.
Wednesday 6
Left Danville this morning and arrived at Charlotte about 8 in the eve. We had a hot rough ride. Crowded into box cars 80 in a box. If we had not got good rations at danville we should have perished on the road. We were glad to leave D. but I think things grow no brighter.
Thursday 7
Layed over today We arrived at Charlotte about 9 at night were taken out into an open field beside a brook where we got very good water and a good chance to wash. We left and came to the crossing where we Iayed over and drew three days rations of three hard bread and a bit of bacon a day. No good water.
Friday, July 8, 1864.
Left Charlotte at 7 and arrived at Columbia S. C. just after dark. a part of us were allowed to sleep on the top of the carrs and I g[ot] a pretty good nights rest. We were very much crowded today in the cars, over 75 in one box. I think the boy[s] in the cars must have had a very hot time last night.
Saturday 9
A pleasant hot morning and were ordered to leave the cars and sit on the track. It was very hot and a good many of the boys came near fainting of being sun stroke. At noon we were put in to the cars and left for Augusta and Macon and then the prisin Shall be glad to get rid of the cars.
Monday, July 1I, 1864.
Arrived at Andersonville this morning were divided into squads and turned

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into the Bull Pen likee a drove of cattle, & such a place. I think I never felt so bad about anything as coming into this place. Found Milton Barley here and James Ranson, boy[s] I never thought to meet in this place. I am pretty tired. We are get up a fair tent our of our Blankets.
Tuesday 12
I dont really like the idea of spending a year or two in such a place as this. My health will not remain firm I fear if I do. I am in hopes we shall get an exchange before a great while I am sure all hands here would enjoy it very much.
vVednesday 13
Nothing bur corn and bacon for our living. I dont think I should be as healthy on corn altogether as on our living. George Moore & I have bought a water pail and the rest of our mess are to have it with us. It cost us $2.00. Sergts Chase & Aldrich and Fairchild and I guess N. Martin & H. Aldrich are in the mess and all are to share equal when we get home.
Thursday, July [4, 1864.
The forenoon was very warm bur after dinner showers came up and clouds which made it quite cool, but I cant say pleasant for there is anything but what is pleasant going on in this camp. I am so dirty and feel so corney I cant hardly live. I do hope there will be some exchange or Parole soon for many are dieing.
Friday IS
It was quite warm this morning but this afternoon it was cloudy and quite comfortable. I am feeling not very well as I have the Wild-Ax-handIes some. Andrew St. John died last night & was carried out this morn.
Saturday 16
This has been a pleasant hot day. The wind has kept us from being very uncomfortable. I have layed in my tent for the most part of the time and have not eat much, as I have a touch ofthe dioreah. I am growing weak, but hope I am not any worse. Baxley is a very kind fellow, does all for me that any one can under the circumstances.
Sunday, July 17, [864.
The first Sabbath I have spent in the Stoccade & I earnestly wish it was the last. No news of any reliance today. I have read my bible and layed in my tent most of the time. My Diorhear, is a little on the amend I think. still I am weak. Baxley made me a present of some beer.
Monday 18
A cloudy day today. I am glad of it so we can have a decent time. I am on the gain. On thing is sure. We had a good dinner. George Moore cooked som dumplings and we had some sour sauce. It was only small, & corn. There is now a rumor we are to go to Alabama. I hope we shall not go for we are futher enough away now.
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Tuesday 19
Warm and hot today. If it were not for the wind it would be almost un- bearable. There are a thousand & one rumors in the prison about being left here to die, & being taken out by a raid from Sherman. I do not Know what will happen but I do hope we may get out by some means or rother[?]. It is to me a miserable life.
Wednesday, July 2 0 , 1864.
A warm pleasant day. I am feeling better now-a-days. Hope I shall be able to do my share of the duty soon. I am weak and the boys find fault because I dont do more, but they should not, for they eat the greater part of my rations. Baxley is a very accommodating fellow and I must try and repay him in some way. The Rebs. began building fortifications today. Should not be supprised if we were awakened some night by a Yankee relief of the guard.
Friday 22
A warm day. More new men coming in almost eveL'y day. A squad from Grant came in today. No very incourageing news. They were not taken much later than we at Petsg. I wish I was in a tent by myself or out of this. We do not disagree very much however as I always say nothing The Rebs are still hard at work. I hope they will get what they are preparing for.
Monday 25
Hot today, I am thinking we shall get pretty lazy here for there is no chance for us to move around at all. There are plenty rumors now about camp about our geting Paroled or Exchanged. I hope one will come soon, for this is a most horrid place to Keep men in such a stench and so much filth and dirt. God only can support me. My messmates do not look to Him for strength, are rough swearing fellows. I wish they were differant. Am almost of a mind to leave them.
Tuesday, July 26, 1864.
. . . Our rations now are geting short every day. We get not half enough to satisfy us nor enough to keep us in health. I am almost beginning to think they intend to starve us, a very small piece of meat and about a pint of boiled rice. I wish we had a real smart sergeant I think we would get more. Am glad I have nothing to do with it. I only issue to a part of our 90 men.
Saturday 30
... We boys divided rations today and each made out to get a decent living by some speculations. Lant[?] and G. P. had a bit ofa spat. I cannot side with either, but most say that G. P. I think was in the wrong in speaking as he did. He often speaks without any thought and very sharp & mean. Rumors are at a high pitch about our being Exchanged. I hope they may be true.
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Sunday 31
One more hot sabbath has passed.... I would have enjoyed this day Oh! so much could I have been at home to attend meeting today. May God prosper us and speedily bring about the time when this nation can learn war no more. Hard rations tonight & hard rations all the time! The "Rebs" are geting a little excited I am thinking for they are choping all the trees about this camp as fast as possible.
Monday, August I , 1864.
"Hard! Hard indeed was the contest for freedom & the struggle for liberty" ow I reckon the same will apply to our case. We stay here live on sour corn bread and maggotty bacon, small at that. Some times I almost think they intend to starve us clear down to skeletons and then kill us outright. May my health be spared me to see our lines, the "old Flag" and Home, once more! The Johnnies are busy at work now cutting the forrest about the camp to prevent a charge on this place. I got a chance at an old Papper from our lines
today it seemed very good.
Tuesday 2
. . . In the afternoon there was a very heavy thunder shower that nearly deluged everything. Our tent will get raised in someday so that the water will not run into the tent. We drew boiled rice tonight and only half rations at that. We shall nearly starve tomorrow. The camp was inspected today by a surgeon and our new Comrnander.7 It is reported that there is to be a change in the rations. I hope it is so.
August 4, 1864.
. . . We boys are getting into the speculations of the day and are living a little more decently now, although I doubt the exact honesty of the business. We only do as others do, I dont know as we can be blamed. We are geting short of wood. Shall have to get an ax and cut into our stump. Rumor is dying out I reckon a little.
Friday 5
. It is hard work to find much to do in this miserable place. We cook a few cakes and sell them to enable us to get enough to live. If we dont trade we dont get half enough to eat. Lant does a pretty good thing at the business. I do hope we shall free from the place. I never was in such miserable circum- stances before.
Saturday 6
W e routed out early this morn about 3 o'clock and began cooking cakes and at daylight we had a nice lot and Lant sold them most all for money. Meal is geting high as there has not been much drawn for a few days. T. R. Preston of our Bat died today. He had the diorhea very hard and had no shelter. It is sad [to] See men die as he did just for want of care. It is impossible to do anything for a sick man. May God protect us all and give speedy relief.
Sunday, August 7, 1864.
Another Sabbath spent in this miserable place. I am more discontented 011 sunday than any other day.... We boys have kept pretty quiet all day. I went out and bought a bone to make soupe of and think it will make a good thing for us. We had a bit of bad luck this eve as by accident our Pot of Fat got tiped over. so we cant fry cakes for the market. we must make it up in some way.
Tuesday 9
This is a rough kind of a day for us prisoners. This forenoon it was very hot and oppressive & this afternoon it has rained very hard and as it is impossible for us to keep dry we suffer very much. a very heavy rain. The stockade fell in in four places, and in the midst of the rain the Rebs turned out and maned the guns and raileyed at the breaches in the wall. Poeng Hall died last night, poor fellow. he was sadly neglected. Still we could do nothing for him, simply because we had nothing to do with. It is a tough place to put a man. God support us.
Friday 12
. We leveled up under our tent this morning and then I went down and stoped nearly all day with Baxley, as he has plenty of room in his tent. I think he is a very fine fellow, has been put in charge of his 90, and it will be well attended to. Rumor is again heavy that we shall be either exchanged or Paroled the middle of this month.
Tuesday, August 16, 1864.
Like my new quarters thus far quite well. I have a very good place to sleep and sleep well for the ground. Edward White is trying to be sick. I do not think it will amount to anything serious. He is afraid of the scurvy. Also his wound troubles him a good deal. I hope we may get out of this for his [sake] for so long as he remains in this pen he will never get over his wound.
Wednesday 17
... Since I left and came down here I do not go hungry near as much one thing is sure. I am not as far from water and have plenty of tent room. The boys have desolved the firm at the old tent. Guess they had some words. I am out of it anyway. they can fix it.
Thursday 18
... I do not know what it is that keeps my health so good. Many others are dying. Sergt Farnham is very sick. His brother died yesterday. About 100 per day are dying now what will become of us. God only Knows Milton Baxley fears he is taking the scurvy.
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Friday, August 19, [864.
. Our boys at the old tent are really getting quite by the ears. Am real glad I am not in the mush. Like my present tent mates very well Sergt. L. G. Farnham, G. D. Emerson.8
Saturday 20
. A few prisoners came in this afternoon they were taken near Atlanta. It is not in our hands yet. We in our 90 just turned Gavagan out of being Sergt and put Chase in his place.
Sunday 2 [
Again Gods holy day has arrived and I am still in this bondage. I earnestly pray that my release may come ere an other of Gods days do. I have enjoyed very good health since I have been here. vVe have lost from our Co. since we came in here 6 men. Sergt Farnham and his brother, Emerson, Hall, Preston, St. John.
Friday 26
I reckon we shall get coacted yet if it continues on hot as it now is. I am thinking that when Dog days play our then it will be more healthy. I am feeling a little bad. My stomach is bad and I have a cold. If I could I would take a sweat and break up the fever.
Saturday 27
I am feeling pretty rough this morning my bones are lame my head aches. I feel bad in[t]ernally. I am going to try and get right by diet. I dont lmow how I shall make out but I am going to try. Ed. is geting pretty hard up thinks of going to the hospital. Would if I were he. a heavy run of trade now on this Street, nearly equal to market at N. Y.
Tuesday 30
Milton has washing his pant today so that I can mend them they are in a pretty bad condition. The boys of my co. are getting down on me a little I guess or the Sergts. are. But I dont care I reckon I can get along some way without their help They will have some money to pay me when they get into our lines.
Wednesday, August 31, 1864.
Have been stirring about pretty busy today for a sick man. First I washed all over and washed my feeting. then beside attending to my rations I have worked all the afternoon on Miltons pants. They were in a pretty sad condi- tion. I got them dome in very fair shape.
Saturday, September 3, [864.
This is my birthday annaversary 26 years old today. I am feeling very weak. am obliged to go to the sink pretty often which is in consequence of the medi-
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cine. My stomach is very much improved So much so that I shall not take any more medicine. Quite large number from the Hospital came in this morn to make room for wounded from Macon for it is reported that Sherman is advancing that way.
Monday 5
· .. We hear very good news by prisoners just come in from S. Adanta is in our possession I suppose, and Hood is hard used up. I hope S-next time will be [?] for us.
Tuesday, September 6, 1864
· .. There is a great excitement in camp as the Reb Sergts came in and ordered the 1st 18 Detachments to be ready to move out at a moments notice. How the thing will turn I do not know. I am of the opinion that it is only a change of Prisons to avoid a recapture.
Friday, September 9, 1864.
One day more has passed and we are still in the Bull-pen although quite a Ilumber ofour detachments have left within the last 24 hours. I am in hopes we shall get off before long, although I must confess I dont see bur a small chance as yet. I am almost persuaded that we are going to our own lines. Still I fear to be deceived. Quite a large number of prisoners are reported to be waiting for an Exchange at Savannah which I hope is the case. A. Stickwell
Thursday, September IS, 1864
· .. There was quite a lot of sick went our this afternoon. So I reckon the road is clear.9 A lot of our boys are trying to flank out.lO I am sure they are not in a great gain by the thing. I am having a good lot of sick to see to now.
Martin & Aldrich Also Ed. White. E. S. Chase
Saturday 17
One morc week is past and gone spent in this horrid place. one more man from our Battery has gone to his last long home. C. K. Wells died this morning. 12 in all from our single Bat. God only can preserve some of the rest of us. Why I am sustained is to me a mystery. I hope there is no trouble with the Exchange. I do really want to [get] our of this place. 2 0 0 0 of Shermans men are ordered to be ready to go our tonight. I hope they will go. It looks very much like rain.
Thursday 22
A decent pleasant forenoon. I have been at work all the time nearly boiling molasses for "ihite and the Hudsons. Our Detachments are all formed over into 4. Co's or 4 car loads to a detachment. Chase is still in our squad. G. P. M. made a stand for rank here in this pen. Lance is feeling pretty bad now and
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swears dreadfully. vVhite has come into the tent with Martin and [me?] since all the sick are ordered to the Barrack.
Monday 26
. Lance Aldrich is pretty sick. I think he has a kind of cramping fever. I sometimes think that he may not get over this turn. But I hope for the best. I am sorry I cannot eat the beans furnished here for they are a good part of our living. I guess the general opinion is that there is no general exchange only moving us out of the way of Union Georgia and Sherman.
Thursday 29
Cool and pleasant again. Yesterday I swapped my pen for 6 potatoes and three peppers pretty dear eating but I need them. one in a tight place will do almost anything. I am afraid of the Scurvy. Still as yet I observe no symptons. Lance is no better. He takes on very bitterly. Is as noisy being sick as he is when well. May God speed an exchange.
Friday, September 30, 1864
. Sam Mackie has a chance to go out on parole of honor and has gone. Lance has gone up to the Barracks. I think it will be very much better for him. I reckon we are destined to stay in this Bul Pen all winter. They have stoped taking men out for some reason.
Saturday, October 1
Warm again today. I have not done very much only lay in my tent and issue the rations Lance has gone out to the Hospital, which is a good thing for him. Have read a good lot in the Bible today. Am not through with the book of Isiah. I am gering more proffit from such reading than a little. May God in his mercy spare me to see my home once more.
Wednesday 5
.. vVhite has gone to the Barrack I think at a late hour He may get well but I fear not. I have been very busy all day. Between moving him & dealing rations my time has been well occupied. A train load of prisoners left last night. Rumer seems to confirm my fears as most of the Rebs say there is no exchange. May God grant one speedily. White left some accounts in a book with me to collect.
Sunday, October 9, 1864.
What a terrible Sabbath this has been. I never thought it was God's holy day till it was passed. Our camp was reorganized today. We are all on the south side of the creek, and arranged in hundreds. A good preperation for the wimer. The wind has blown very hard and nearly all day and it is going to be
very cold tonight. our new tent is not very comfortable because it is damp. We shall suffer.
Tuesday II
at so cold last night as usual. very pleasant and star light. I am not a little feared about my foot. It is paining me more today than usual. I also have something of a diorhea. Hope I shall not get weak and poor. God only can save me for I am confident that tl1is living and sleeping will soon finish me. Still I hope to out live the Rebs and punish them for their missuse to me and many others.
Wednesday, October I z, 1864.
A pleasant day again. This morn we had a very thorough Roll-Call under Guard. All flanking must be stoped. We were ordered also to move our tents into line so as to form streets. got it nearly completed and then were ordered that we might hold on as we might not be right this time. My diorhear is no better, although I am in good spirits. last night about 1 0 0 of Sherman's men came in Prisoners. I am sorry to seem them but am glad to learn the news. Election is going all right. "Old Abe" is all right.
Thursday 13
A general change in the arrangement of the camp today. We are to have our Detacht together and in such bounds. Very limited in extent. This is indeed a hard place for aman. I am feeling pretty badly today, am very weak Hope God will support me and at the last bring me off more than conqueror through Him who died for me.
Saturday, October IS, 1864.
. . . Harry ichols died today making the fourteenth that I know have died since our capture. Have been writing for the Orderly today. Cappied a roll for him. Did not do them very well, as I am not in writing order now. We are geting along very well with our tent. Hope to get our tent along without any trouble but fear if things do not alter soon there will be a row. Harry
Sunday 16
More bad news for our Bat. Another of our good boys have gone to their last rest. Joseph B. Brown died last night or this morning. am sorry to loose him but Gods will must be done. I fear many more of this Kind of days will have to be spent in this place before we get out. God only can support us. Had a good wash in the brook with soft soap and feel much better. We are very hungry now. Our rations are very small. J. B. Brown
Tuesday, October 18, 1864.
This morning George P. Moore and I took our leave of the big tent with the orderly and are now domiciled near the Deadline at the head of the street. Gear. is now very good but I am expecting that he will take a turn soon for
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the worse. One thing is sure I am not going to knuckle to him one single bit. It is not strickly honest as he himself admits. Shall watch him pretty cloosely. One more of our boys are gone. James W. Taylor did this morning.
Wednesday 19
... Geo. and I did not sleep very warm last night nor shall we tonight unless he takes hold and does more towards geting the brick and mud. It has to be carried from the other side of the stream and it is hard work fed as we are. I have had the good luck to get hold of an old Coat-waist which I hope will do me a lot of good.
Thursday 20
... My legs are very lame today. I think it is owing to my sleeping with cold feet. I hope I am not going to have the Scurvy. Our fireplace has pro- gressed a little today. Harvy Aldrich died today at the Barracks.
Sarurday 22
Today as yesterday my legs were all right till noon then they began aching and were worse if possible than yesterday. I dont know but I shall be obliged to go to the Barracks. I am thinking I shall feel and be better to get sleeping on boards. Bought a vest pattern of Warren Phillips, and an old back. Have to pay a very big price for so poor an article. $2.00. I am very lame now with the Rheamtiss.
Sunday 23
Very pleasant this morning. The coldest too of the season. Saw ice for the first time this morning on the water pail. Four months ago this eve we were capured and an unluckey time it was for Bat. "A." I earnestly hope that not one month more will pass over our heads before we are released. My Rheu- matism is pretty bad today. It does seem as if my legs would drop off they ache so.
Tuesday 25
Another pleasant day has arrived. My lameness being no better I made a shift for the Barracks. Got admitted & am going to stop a spell. I am sure I shall sleep very much better nights. It was a pretty hard job for me to get over here this morning but I am here & intend to stop. Am going to bunk with C. A. Hale for a spell till something new turns up.
Friday 28
Pleasant again today. Think I am better off here than in the Detachment, for I do not have to sleep on the ground and the moisture does not fall on me so much. Then too I am away of the one man that I dislike very much. Warren is not much better today.... Hope he will be arotmd in a few days. My legs are no better. 4 more of our boys have come to the Barracks l\1artin Fairchild Aiken & Patten.
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Monday 31
Rumor proved itself true this time. two Detts and three Hundreds went out tills morn. The rest are expecting to go soon. I am well contended to stay where I am for I think till an exchange this is the best place. I am geting to be a pretty lame fellow for a young man. Am in pain nearly all the time.
Tuesday, November I
. There has been a general cleaning out of the Barracks & every man is either sent to the Hospital or to the Detachment. It was my luck to be sent to the Hospital so here I find myself on the ground in a tent with two strangers & every appearance of rain. I am very much afraid I shall not sleep very comfortable as I have not near enough clothes to keep my Rumatic legs warm. I have learned that Newcomb Martin died this morning.
Sunday 6
This is the first Sabbath I ever spent in a Hospital. It has been very quiet but no attention has been paid to the sacredness of the day at all. I would so like to hear a good sermon from some good chapliin. I do so hope that there is an exchange of the sick on the way. If I could only get into one of our Hospitals I think there would be some chance of my geting well. Good speed the day when we may all arrive in our lines.
Tuesday, November 8, 1864.
Rain came last night about three and still is coming. W e are to have an Election today for Pres. Lincoln & McClellan are the candidates. Lncoln gets mine. Had a good time last eve in the Street Stump Speeching. Some pretty sharp things were said. McC-s speakers were a little scarce. Election came off and gave "Honest Old Abe" 15°1 majority in tills camp.
Wednesday 9
. I am no better of my lameness.... I find it is hard for me to move around very much. I am bound to keep on my feet if possible. Do so hope that the exchange rumor is true. Warren is on the gain. Martin Sanborn died in the Hospital this P. M. M. S. Sanborn
Friday, November I I , ,864.
My Father is 5I years old today and it is just 4 months since Bat. A. went into the stocade. Now where are they. I am geting no better of my lameness these cold days and nights are just too much for my clothing. I suppose the Prisoners have all left the Stocade and I do hope we shall soon leave for more comfortable quarters or for our lines as the Rumor goes. . . .
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Sunday 13
... I would that I was today with my dear friends in quiet old Waterford. Should enjoy a quiet blessed Sabbath days privileges. Now I hear nothing but cursing and ungodliness. May God in his goodness very soon cause the present exchange of sick to reach this camp. I am no better of my lameness. Cannot sleep warm any way I can manage God is merciful and on him will I put my trust.
Monday, November 14, 1864.
. . . The Surgeons are in camp today examining us for transportation. They take neither the strongest or the weakest. I am to go. But where is the ques- tion. Some are very sure it is for exchange. I hope it is.
Tuesday IS
Pleasant after all. My rain has not come yet. Great is the excitement in camp this day. the surgeons are in through with their inspection and those whose names were taken are off. I am one of the luckey or unluckey ones. am now on the cars waiting for a start. Where we are going is more than I Know. We are now in Macon. \\There next?
Wednesday 16
lext into the Bull-pen at Milan.!I That is the way I very much fear our ex- change is going to end for us. There is a promise that we shall go to Savannah on Friday We slept on the carrs all night or after we arrived at Milan and came on here today. I hope it is true that it is only a gounding of a Steamer that is Hindering us. But I fear very much....
Friday 18
Some bustle in camp today. A lot of men were taken out to the Depot, over a thousand. They say we are to go tomorrow. It is pleasant bur there are strong signs of rain. I am pretty lame today. My stay in Camp Latten has not been much benefit to me. I do so hope we may get off tomorrow. Am most starved here. The boys of our Co are all doing pretty well save Stevens & Doying who are going with us.
Saturday 19
It did not rain much after all last night, only for my pain should have rested pretty well. Left camp Latten this afternoon and got on the cars where we now are. We got rations enough for one good meal which I made. Was very hungry, as I have been a thousand times. I hope this time there will be no delay bur that we shall reach our lines all right. Many a poor fellow is feeling greatly Encouraged.
Sunday, November 2 0 , 1864.
Gods holy day has once more arrived and to me it is a happy one. I am now on board of one our Transports. Yes I am in our lines at last a Paroled prisoner of war. Am on board of the Steamer George Larey where hard bread and Pork and hot coffee are plenty Am not half thankful enough
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Waterford Post Office Salutes Veterans Day -- Today!

A  note from local historian Helen Pike:

Hello History Folks!
Bell atop the Davies Memorial Library and Waterford Post Office.

Our postmistress, Lillian, asked for help spreading the word about the light refreshments she's serving this afternoon in honor of Veterans Day (USPS will be closed Saturday).

I agree to put the word out to our history list because it's a opportunity to honor the veterans we know as well as those we remember. 

It's also a nice community meet-up. 

Here are a few other reasons to drop in:

If you haven't had a chance, come experience the captioned history displays in the lobby of this building originally constructed as a general store in the late 1700s.

Take a look around the entire space and you might pick out the elements of when the Davies family converted this building to both the public library upstairs and a community center downstairs off Maple Street.  Don't believe me? lol. When you next see WHS member and walking tour guide of the village, David Morrison, ask him to tell you about the roller skating parties he attended there!

You also can see what's left of the community kitchen if you step up to the post office window. 

Ah, Waterford, where our history is hidden in plain sight!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Northeastern Speedway: Waterford's Living History

Donna Heath, WHS president, welcomes guests and lead presenter (standing, right) Paul Bellefeuille.
Waterford residents Paul and Lisa Bellefeuille brought two "old-timers" with them this evening, October 25, for Paul's presentation on the Northeastern Speedway at the Waterford Historical Society meeting. One was Reg Garand, one of the six "founding fathers" of the Waterford, Vermont, racetrack that operated from 1959 to 1966. The other was Pete Racine, 94-year-old race car driver and stunt man who recently set a Guiness World Record for rolling a race car at his age --  and whose racing career began in the 1950s. With Paul Bellefeuille leading the evening and providing visuals of the old races, the two special guests shared a lot of their history.

Reg Garand explained that the original six men formed an association to bring better racing for spectators: "There was racing going on in the area but what these guys felt was, the spectators weren't getting the show they paid for, and the racers weren't getting the prizes they deserved." They created what was at the time a top of the line facility, with stands and medical backup, as well as the track.

Reg Garand, left, and Paul Bellefeuille.
In 1955 or '56 the United Racing Club had already started in St. Johnsbury, with 75 to 80 racers. The car racers would go to Monroe, Barnet, and Webster Flats (beyond Lyndonville), but they wanted a place "here" -- at first they hoped to buy a land parcel in St. Johnsbury but the neighbors said no, and then Charles Ely (now also 94 and living in California) found Yvette Lewis's place and arranged to use her field for a track.

The men put together the needed $3,000 for the startup with the help of a local banker, who made a personal loand of $500 to each of them for 90 days. They also instigated a racing commission in Montpelier to make their effort work.  They created a dirt track and built wooden stands to seat 300 to 400 people -- but the first race drew 1,000 spectators! So about 20 men collaborated to build more stands in a hurry, to seat 1,000 for the next race -- and instead, 2,000 arrived! Reg said, "We couldn't keep ahead!" The crowd finally stabilized at about 6,000.

It felt great to advance to a track with real stands, since the area predecessor had been "Marko's field" in Concord, where people sat on dirt banks to watch the races and came home covered in mud. A similar track existed in East Lyndon, too.

Paul Bellefeuille and Bill Willis reminisce about the Speedway.
Pete said the track's ending happened in the process of regional tracks going to pavement. Although the Northeastern Speedway finally also did this, the costs per car for that kind of racing -- where the rear end had to be refitted, and a $200 tire could end its life in just 20 minutes -- became too high for the local racers.

Reg began racing in 1948-49 himself; he recalled that admission in the early years at the track was $1, with kids under 12 free.

Pete Racine, a racer rather than a founder, began racing in 1949 at Webster Flats. He had grown up and worked in St Johnsbury, and was only away from the area for his four years in the Marine Corps in the Pacific.

"I helped build the track along with everybody else," Pete said. He remembered one scary moment when the cement walls they were pouring began to give way, and the men all pushed their cars against it to hold it in place!

Pete estimated that the cost to re-fit a car from dirt track to pavement was $150 to $200, and included a reinforced body and no tin that could cut you. Dirt track racing was much less dangerous! Also, paving the NOotheast Speedway track ended up costing about $10,000.

Pete's car numbers were chosen in part to make them easy to apply with masking tape, and change as needed; he ran with 69, 77, 78, and 6. He always had a pit man -- at first his brother, and later other friends. Reflecting on the racers' club now, he estimated 125 members and said, "I hope every one of them is a good friend of mine."

Before viewers watched Pete's stunt driving with ramps and occasional rolls, he reminded them that the point of his show was to demonstrate how high he could go on the ramp WITHOUT rolling the car.

The footage Paul Bellefeuille showed resulted from Reg Garand shooting the races with an 8-millimeter camera.

Paul's introduction to racing happened long after the track had closed (which happened around the time he moved to St Johnsbury at age 5). A former racer, Johnny Gammell, used to come chat with Paul at the snowmobile dealership where Paul worked.

The first time he was offered some of the track land, the deal wasn't right for him. But when he saw "history" being bulldozed, he sprang into action and bought as much as possible of the original track site -- which by then was overgrown with trees. Aiming for the track's 50-year anniversary, which would be in 2009, gave hi a year an a half to clear and restore the land. He did this by hand with Allen Pike; they cut trees, raked, seeded, and on July 18, 2009, exactly 50 years after the track's original opening date, they held a celebration of its restoration.
Reg Garand's 8-mm footage of a Northeastern Speedway race.