Introduction to Part One
My great-great-grandfather, Clinton Hogue, and his brother Harvey, both served in the Civil War on the Union side. Harvey, pictured at right, joined the Ohio 115th and had many fascinating adventures, some of which are recorded here in these 'Excerpts from War Reminiscences', written in 1900. Part One includes some background material and several remarkable incidents. Part Two describes his capture by Confederate forces, his shipment to Andersonville, and his harrowing escape.
Civil War Reflections 1862-1865by Harvey S Hogue of Company G, 115th regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Letter of Introduction
While publishing a weekly newspaper at Highland, Doniphan County, Kansas, during the latter part of 1896, a short paragraph appeared narrating the writer's experiences during two days and nights as a prisoner of war in December, 1864. Following came a request from a number of old soldiers and other friends, that I publish, as convenience and space in the paper would permit, a reminiscent sketch of my war experience during the eventful days from 1862 to 1865; but more particularly was desired, that portion of my army service spent as a prisoner and within the sacred confines of a Confederate prison, or in army parlance, a "rebel-bull-pen." I responded to the request and, whether the story contained merit or not, there were those who took upon themselves the responsibility of complimenting me upon the effort.
Having now reached the time in life when the hey-day of youth, with its season of air-castle building and hopeful expectancy, and possible brilliant career (which has mostly failed of realization) is past, and feeling myself considerable of a back number, I concluded to place that "Prisoner Story" which was printed in a dozen or more issues of the Vidette, into a more compact form for preservation, and for the possible interest or amusement of my children and theirs yet to follow. Hence this booklet.
If by this means I have enabled you, my gentle reader, to pleasantly while away an hour, that might have been otherwise, I am content.
Hogue Family History
If the writer may have been "handed down" from a succession of distinguished and chivalrous ancestry, the history or any special knowledge of it is not convenient at this writing. It is said, however, by some of our "kin" that at a "propitious moment," of course, during the sixteenth century, three Hogue brothers - natives of Scotland, separated - one remaining on his native heather, one going to Wales, and one to Ireland. To the writer, however, a period of two or three hundred years appears more or less shrouded in obscurity, as to the careers, eventful or otherwise, distinguished or humble, of these three brothers and their descendants.
But in about the years from 1813 to 1815 two brothers by our name emigrated from the north of Ireland to America - "one of them settling in either Virginia or Pennsylvania, and the other in that part of Ohio then known as the "Western Reserve." From the latter came the writer's father, Moses Hogue, who was born in March, 1815, in the township of North Hampton, Summit County, at that early day a veritable wilderness - the earth everywhere being covered with a dense growth of brush and vine almost impenetrable except where the latter had disappeared in places, and paths for the temporary convenience of the American Indian and his companions in verdancy - the bear, panther, wildcat, and wolf with many species of smaller animals and reptiles of varied descriptions and capacities. These, from the Indian down, seemed to possess, to a trying degree, the prerequisites necessary to make life among the early settlers of that day more or less a burden.
The writer's mother, a Miss Margaret Gilkerson, born of Scotch parentage at Barnet, Vermont, evidently enjoyed in her own right a goodly share of that sort of enterprise and inherent courage necessary in a pioneer, as with no other companion than her brother, John Gilkerson, he, with him invaded this "wilderness" of woods and together they began the battle of life against odds which none properly understand and appreciate except those who have "tramped out the first thistles." My mother came from and was reared in a large family of old school Presbyterians known as Covenanters, and was a woman of sturdiest integrity. In rearing her own family the strictest of discipline was observed, and though the writer in his childish ideas of freedom, often felt that discipline irksome, he has many times since blessed her for it.
I first breathed the pure air of the bounding west in the same township in which my father was born and on March 21st, 1843; but childhood and youth were spent at a small town near by, known as Cuyahoga Falls, located on the Cuyahoga river, thirty miles south of the city of Cleveland on Lake Erie, and four miles north of Akron; the county seat of Summit County. Here the writer safely passed the ills and exigencies of youth, including the old "swimmen hole," skating canal, coasting hill and from three to six months annually in the "deestrict skules" until thirteen years of age. Two years were then spent in the old "Central School" or high school. At fifteen I was apprenticed to Samuel Wills for three years to learn shoemaking, This was in the spring of 1858.
Civil War Stories
My apprenticeship completed in 1861, found the American people greatly excited. In fact the whole country, north and south was one vast sea of humanity disturbed from center to circumference with pain and anxiety depicted on every countenance. The country was in the throes of a civil war. My elder and only brother, out of a family of four children, Clinton Hogue, had responded to the first call for volunteers, and was at the front from the beginning in '61 and where he remained in the 19th regiment, afterwards consolidated with the 20th Indiana volunteer Infantry, four years, and until every rebel had laid down his arms. Clinton Hogue enlisted as a private soldier, participated in over thirty battles in the army of the Potomac, was severely wounded at Antietam, and also at Fredricksburg, and was discharged in July or August, 1965, as a Lieutenant of his company.
Results of the first years conflict between our brothers of the north and south, demonstrated that the strife was no boys' play and that every available able bodied man north of the Mason and Dixon line would probably be needed to put down the rebellion. The writer spent a year in suspense. I freely confess that I recoiled from the idea of men killing one another, and did not want to enlist. From my earliest recollection to be present at the killing of a pig, chicken or even an insect, produced more or less of nervous trepidation, and the murder of a man by one of his kind seemed to me the most atrocious of all horrors. In fact, comparing myself to my associates, both boy and man, I secretly felt that of all men I was certainly a coward. Possessing these apparent natural weaknesses, the idea of my responding to the calls for soldiers, which were now coming thick and fast, was not a continual feast, and yet I felt that duty demanded the sacrifice of me.
I frequently talked the matter over with mother, and while she naturally shrank from the possibility of losing both her sons she was willing to make the sacrifice, if it was found absolutely necessary. The first year of the war witnessed many defeats on the part of the northern forces, and but little if any real progress had been made toward suppressing the insurrection.
It was now July, 1862. Thousands of men loyal and true, were coming from every potion of the north in response to president Lincoln's call for troops. My time had eventually come. The weakness which I attributed to personal cowardice yielded to a better impulse; a call to duty which I could not easily put aside. Recruits were being enrolled at our town, Cuyahoga Falls, for the 104th Ohio Infantry. My name went in with others, and in a few days I bade my patriotic mother good bye, not, however, until she had equipped me with a very important weapon of warfare, a Bible, and exacted two special promises; first, that I would read my Bible through if spared, and second, never to gamble. I kept both promises and have many times since been thankful that she induced me to make them; for one of the most destructive pitfalls into which hundreds of the young men of our armies of '61 to '65 fell, was the habit of gambling.
My regiment was organized at Camp Massillon, Stark County, Ohio, and when it was found that 1,100 men had been enrolled for the 104th, the company to which I had been assigned was placed in the 115th, then being organized at the same camp. We were soon sent to Columbus, Ohio, and detailed to guard a camp of rebel prisoners, for a short time only, however, for in September we went to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky, to do provost duty with an occasional scouting party in the interior of the latter named state, between Covington and Lexington. In June, '63, a couple of hundred of our regiment were sent up to West Virginia, landing at Parkersburg, and from there sent out to intercept a band of rebels who had destroyed several miles of railroad. We found no enemy, however, and no fighting.
During our stay at Covington and in July or August of 1863, the writer, in a squad of thirty men, were mounted and sent to Boone County, Kentucky, to capture some noted rebel officers reported to be recruiting for the rebel army. Our headquarters were established at Burlington, the county seat, with the court house for barracks. I recall no period of our service where so many of the pleasantries of life were interspersed with our daily duties as soldiers. Uncle Sanford was "mine host" at one of the hotels, and the place was continually replete with the many little graces on the part of the entire family so essential to making home what it should ever be, a retreat for the highest and sweetest enjoyment. The landlord was a kind, noble-hearted, typical southern gentleman, hospitable to a fault. In fact, we found this to be a very prominent trait in a Kentuckian. We were feted and feasted here and at the private dwellings throughout the city, not having any use for our government rations during our stay of a month or more. One of the hotels was kept by an ardent southerner who boasted openly of his sympathy with the south, but it was not an infrequent thing for him to insist on a half a dozen of the boys having a free lunch with him.
Our daily routine here was scouring the country adjacent for the rebels heretofore mentioned. Following the lead of our guide, Captain Calvart, a resident of Burlington, we hunted the country over, but never found our men. One trip I remember well. We were in the saddle two days and two nights, and during the latter many of us slept. Toward morning the writer was fast asleep and evidently his horse was too for he feel into a ditch probably ten feet deep. Neither one was hurt but most thoroughly awakened. An hour before daybreak we surrounded a farm house, and waited until daylight, for the cheering information that our bird had taken the wings of the morning. A special incident of this trip is here remember, which illustrated to the writer, and somewhat to his surprise, that his nervous misconstruction or cowardice, was evidently not the kind to prompt him to desert a fellow in distress.
An Encounter With A Drunken Irishman
It was a rainy day and probably a dozen or more of us were lounging about the offices on the second floor of our headquarters (the Court House), reading or amusing ourselves with cards when William Lyons, a stout, impulsive and intensely excitable Irishman, came up the stairs with an unusual load of "old rye." He was in that unfortunate condition understood by the boys as "crazy drunk." Becoming angered at Charles Sheldon at some frivolous matter, with gun in hand, he started for Sheldon and raising his gun said, "I'll shoot you," and fired. The ball lodged in one of Sheldon's legs, when he fell to the floor.
For some cause, which the writer never understood unless it was panic, everyone of the boys, except Sheldon, Lyons and I had run down the stairs. The now fairly wild Irishman rushed at his victim and was in the act of braining him with the butt of his gun. The scene, for some reason I could not explain, did not excite me but I instantly determined that he should not commit the deed, and with all my power jumped on to him, pushed him aside and grappled his gun. Lyons then turned on me with the look of a demon. We both held to the gun. He seemed to possess the power of ten men and in all my life before or since, I have ever gone through a more thorough and exhaustive lesson in physical culture than then for a period which seemed to me half an hour but suppose not more than five minutes, and Bill Lyons was my teacher. He fairly made me buzz in a whirl about him, then with a fearful jerk threw me at least ten feet away, and following aimed a blow that, had it hit its mark, would have prevented this narrative. I dodged, however, and again seized the gun, determined this time to stay with him, and did so for some time, but he made another of his swoops and threw me bodily clean over a lot of board seats piled up in the room.
This barrier between us now gave me time to take a new supply of fresh air, and by the time he had reached me again I was ready for another tussle. We clinched and I was being whipped about the room at Lyons' own sweet will, when a number of boys came from below to my rescue. The crazy man was soon overcome, tied, and taken to the jail where he spent the rest of the day and a good part of the night raving like a maniac.
Something like a year or more after, Bill Lyons was accidentally killed by M. C. Tifft of our company. He left a young wife at home to mourn his violent taking off. It is not my purpose, however, to speak disparagingly of Lyons, for when sober, and he was not often drunk, he was a whole-souled, honest and upright young man and one of the warmest of friends.
A Confederate Prisoner
At another time during our stay at Covington, Kentucky, a detail, in which the writer was included, escorted some Confederate prisoners from Cincinnati to Lexington, Ky., via railroad. At a small station on the way the prisoners were permitted to leave the train for water. Each guard had in charge a number of prisoners. The writer's squad all returned to the train save one who held back, seeming determined to remain at the town if possible. I urged, but he hesitated, good naturedly, of course, but lagged. The warning whistle to start sounded and my prisoner seemed deaf. I threatened and pricked him with my bayonet, but he hasted not. Our Lieutenant called out, "Make him get aboard or shoot him."
The train was already going and gaining on us. The prisoner hearing the Lieutenant's order made a searching look into my face, and then being certain that I would not shoot, ran just fast enough to get left. I could not shoot and he knew it. The train went and I remained with my man. I would not have killed him for a world and have been thankful many times since that I did not, though I took a great risk in undertaking to hold him under the circumstances. My prisoner then said, "This is my home, my people live just a mile in the country and I want you to go with me there. I cannot go away without seeing them. I will prove to you that I am reliable," and he did so by taking me to the various business men of the place. All of whom endorsed him (the prisoner) as both reliable and honorable. We went out and took dinner with his people. They all treated me with the greatest kindness and consideration.
We remained till toward evening. The next train going south found us aboard and I took a receipt for my man from the prison clerk at Lexington about midnight. I would have as soon been killed myself as to have killed my prisoner under the circumstances.
A Quiet Year
In October, 1863, my regiment was sent to Tennessee with headquarters at a somewhat extensive fortification just north at Murfreeboro on the grounds that witnessed the closing scenes of the battle known as Stone River.
We erected winter quarters out of cedar logs, and here we spent a quiet and uneventful year. A large part of the regiment, however, served as guards at bridges on the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad.
Personally, I was peculiarly favored in being located so long at places and in comfortable quarters, for having quit school at the age of fifteen I found upon entering the army and coming into contact with so many young men of my own age, that in the things which I should have been informed I proved woefully ignorant. So before we had been many months in the service J. M. Darrow and myself had some books sent us with which we spent a portion of our time, profitably, no doubt, for besides acquiring some light it occupied time which otherwise might have led us into card playing or amusements of less value. Of course, most, if not all, of us learned to play cards, but in many cases the game rendered some of the boys barely fit for anything else.
The dramatic story of Harvey's capture and escape continues in Part Two...