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Corporal William Pittenger,  Company G., 2d Ohio Regiment Volunteers.

Corporal William Pittenger was duly sworn and examined, as follows:
            By the Judge Advocate GeneralQuestion. Will you state what position you hqld in the military service?
            Answer. I am a corporal in Company G, 2d Regiment Ohio Volunteers.
            Question. Will you state whether you belonged to the expedition fitted out in the Spring of 1862 by Gen. O. M. Mitchell, for operations in the State of Georgia?
            Answer. I did.
            Question. Please state the character of that expedition, the number of men engaged in it, its operations, and the final result.
            Answer. The expedition was planned between Gen. Mitchell and Mr. J. J. Andrews, a citizen of Kentucky, then in the secret service of the Government, Mr. Andrews asked for a detail of 24 men from the three Ohio regiments of the brigade commanded by Col., afterward Gen. Sill. Of these 24 men only 22 succeeded in getting through the lines. The object of the expedition was to destroy communications on the Georgia State railroad, between Atlanta and Chattanooga, by burning the bridges. For this purpose we intended to seize an engine and a train of cars, at a place where there could be no other engine and a train of cars to pursue us, and to run ahead, cutting the Telegraph wires, and burning the bridges behind us, if possible, until we should reach our own lines. Gen. Mitchell at that time was moving on Huntsville, and it was supposed that he would be there as soon as we could reach there. We started in citizen's clothes; we were ordered to dress in citizen's clothes, with side arms only, and we were to pass through the lines in squads of three or four, to meet at Chattanooga. We met no pickets or opposition of any kind on our way, there being no large military force there —nothing but camps of instruction for new recruits in that section of the country. From Chattanooga we proceeded to Marietta, Georgia, by rail, and arrived there on the night of 11th of April, at midnight. On the morning of the 12th, we took passage back again for Marietta toward Chattanooga, and at a place called Big Shanty, while the passengers, the engineer and conductor were at breakfast, we detached the engine and three box-cars from the train and started. There was no engine there to pursue us, but we were pursued by a hand-car. Mr. Andrews, the leader of the expedition, had a schedule of the road, and according to that schedule we had but one train to pass, at a station but a short distance from where we captured the train; and after that we intended to run the train through at full speed, and accomplish the object of the expedition. Unfortunately, however, that morning, for the first time, two other additional trains had been put on the road, making three that we had to meet and pass instead of one, and at considerable intervals. We were obliged to wait at one station for 25 minutes, and at the second we had to wait; and we were also delayed waiting for the third train; by this means we lost so much time that those pursuing came nearly up with us from behind, and we had no time to accomplish the object of the expedition. We attempted to delay the pursuit by taking up the rails, but they had forethought enough to take a party of workmen with them to lay the rails again. We proceeded until we were within some fifteen or eighteen miles of Chattanooga, when we got out of wood and water, and the pursuing train was so close behind us that we had not time to take in any more, and we therefore abandoned the train. Our leader, Mr. Andrews, told us to take to the woods and disperse, and save ourselves if we could. We were immediately pursued by the whole population. There was great excitement, all the planters and people of the neighborhood turned out with the dogs that they employed to hunt their negroes, and pursued us. Some of our party were taken that day and some on the next day; two were not taken until three weeks afterward, but all were finally captured. The party consisted of twenty United States soldiers, one citizen of Kentucky, who was on a visit to our regiment and went in the place of another soldier, and Mr. Andrews, our leader.
            Question. Who was Mr. Andrews?
            Answer. He was a citizen in the employ of the Government; he had been employed in the secret service of the Government; he told me about several of his expeditions; among others, he stated that he had visited Fort Donelson before it was captured; we were all, 22 of us, taken to the jail, or rather to the negro prison in Chattanooga, and confined there in a lower apartment, or dungeon of the building, only about thirteen feet square, and about the same height, and partly under ground, having only two windows on opposite sides not over eighteen inches in diameter with triple rows of bars. The ventilation there was so imperfect that it reminded me more of the Black-Hole of Calcutta than anything else. When the first of our party were taken there to the jail there were others, Union men of Tennessee, who were confined there in this same room; as others of our party were taken and brought there, some of these Union men were taken out, until, finally, there were none there but the 22 of our party. We were placed in irons, were handcuffed, and chained twos and twos with chains; I think there were two parties of three coupled together, but the remainder were coupled in twos. The trapdoor of the building, the only entrance, was raised only to let down our meals, which was lowered to us in a bucket by a rope, twice a day. Our fare was very scanty, and we were reduced so as to be scarcely able to walk, although before we had all been well, hearty, strong men. We were confined there, I think, a little over three weeks, and when we came out, at the end of that time, we were scarcely able to walk; some actually staggered along as they marched to the cars. While we were there, Mr. Andrews was tried before a Court-Martial, under the orders, I believe, of Gen. Leadbetter, or those of Kirby Smith, his superior. His sentence was not announced until we had left there. After we had been confined there about three weeks, Gen. Mitchell advanced to Bridgeport, producing a great panic in Chattanooga, and they transferred us south to Madison, in Georgia. We remained there until they found that Gen. Mitchell did not intend to advance on Chattanooga, when they brought us back. By this time we had been put under the charge of a captain, who interceded for us and procured us some little better quarters. We were allowed to occupy an upper story of the jail, a room of the same size but having larger windows, and three instead of two. We remained there a few days; I do not remember exactly how long, when twelve of us were taken to Knoxville, and the remainder were kept in Chattanooga. I was one of those who were sent to Knoxville. Shortly after we had gone to Knoxville, Mr. Andrews's sentence was read to him, and, in accordance with that, he was executed at Atlanta, Georgia, on the 7th of June. At Knoxville, some of our boys were put on trial as spies. Only seven were tried, and the trial occupied but a very short time Although we were allowed the privilege of employing counsel, yet we were not allowed to hear the pleas of counsel. When our men demanded the privilege of hearing the plea of our own counsel, and of the Judge Advocate against us, they refused it. The first one who was tried demanded that privilege, and they refused him, and said they would not allow it, which, of course, amounted to a refusal for all. Our lawyer, however, visited us, and read his plea to us I suppose that it was the same which he read in court, in which he contended that our being dressed in citizen's clothes was nothing more than what the Confederate Government itself had authorized, and was only what all the guerillas in the service of the Confederacy did on all occasions when it would be of advantage to them to do so. And he cited the instance of Geo. Morgan having dressed his men in the uniform of our soldiers, and passed them off as being from the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment and by that means succeeded in reaching a railroad and destroying it. This instance was mentioned to show that our being dressed in citizen's clothes did not take from us the protection accorded to prisoners of war. The plea went on further to state that we had told the object of our expedition; that it was a purely military one for the destruction of communication, and, as such, lawful according to the rules of war. What reply the Judge Advocate made to this we never had any means of knowing, as we were not allowed to hear it. Members of the Court-Martial, however, visited us, and told us that from the evidences against us we could not be convicted as spies; that we came for a certain, known object, did not visit in their camps at any place, did not remain about them or seek to obtain any information of them, and therefore we could not be convicted as spies. Shortly afterward they transferred us twelve to Atlanta, Georgia, where those who had remained in Chattanooga had been previously taken. After remaining there for a short time, an order came for the execution of our seven comrades who had been tried. It was at that time entirely unexpected to us, although at first it would not have been. Sentence of death was read to them, and they were immediately tied, without any time for preparation being allowed them. They were told to bid us farewell, and "to be quick about it," and then they were taken out of the prison, and we could see them from the window, in a wagon escorted by cavalry. In the course of something like an hour or so the cavalry returned without them. That evening Capt. Forakers, the Provost-Marshal, called upon us. We asked him how our companions had met their fate. He told us like brave men. The next day we conversed with the guard who was guarding us; with one in particular, who described the scene of the execution where he was present. He told us of the speech that one of those men, named Wilson, from my regiment, had made on the scaffold; and also told us that two of the heaviest men, had broke the ropes when they were hanging and fell to the ground. They afterwards revived and asked for a drink of water, which was given to them; and they requested an hour to prepare for death, and to pray before they were again hung up. That was refused them, and as soon as the ropes were adjusted they were compelled to ascend the scaffold again. The guard told me that Mr. Wilson had spoken very calmly; had told them that they were all in the wrong; that they would yet see the time when the old Union would be restored, and the flag of our country would wave over all of that country; that he had no bad feelings towards the Southern people; but considered that it, was only their leaders who were to blame for the course they had taken. He also said that although he was condemned as a spy, he was none; but was a regularly detailed soldier, and died perfectly innocent of the charge against him; that he did not regret to die for his country, but only regretted the manner of his death. That is the substance of it as far as I can recollect. We all expected to share the same fate as our companions.
            We remained there confined very closely in the City Jail. A special guard was placed over us from and before the time of the execution, on the 18th of June, until in October. We were all, fifteen of us, kept in the same room all the time—a room not much larger than this (the Judge Advocate General's office). I said there were fifteen of us—the fourteen surviving members of the expedition, and a Capt. Fry, a Union officer of East Tennessee, who had been sent from Knoxville with us, and confined in the same room with us, as they considered it the securest part of the building.
            Question. What knowledge, if any, have you of one of your companions in this expedition—Mr. Parrot—having been seized and scourged by the Confederate authorities? State all you know on the subject, either from your own knowledge, or from his statements, or from the statements of Confederate officers.
            Answer. That occurred before I was myself captured, after leaving the train. Mr. Parrot himself gave me a complete narrative of the transaction as soon as we reached Chattanooga, where we were all taken after a time. In addition to his statement I heard the statement of his companion, the man taken with him, and one of those subsequently executed, who told me substantially the same story that Mr. Parrot did—that Mr. Parrot received over one hundred lashes to make him confess the objects of the expedition, the names of his companions, and particularly the name of the engineer who ran the train, all of which he refused to do. It was said by the Confederates that this flogging was inflicted by a mob; that "they took him and whipped him" —that was the expression they used. Afterwards when we were going to Madison, at the time when we were taken away from Chattanooga, a Confederate officer called upon us at a station where the cars stopped, and spoke to Mr. Parrot in my hearing, and told him that he admired his courage and hardihood in refusing to confess under the flogging he had received, and also stated that he was sorry they had beaten him so severely.
            In October, Col. Lee, who was then Provost-Marshal, having taken the place of the former Provost-Marshal, came to us, and told us that he had received a letter from the Secretary of War of the Confederacy, inquiring why we had not all been executed. Col. Lee told us that he had replied that he was personally unacquainted with the affair, but he supposed it was probable that there were some mitigating circumstances in our cases, and had referred to the Court-Martial which tried the others for those circumstances. One or two days after that the jailer was overheard talking with an officer of the guard, and telling him that the remainder of our party were to be executed also. From this we supposed that the Secretary of War had ordered it, and we determined to escape if possible. On the evening of the next day, after we had had our supper, when they opened the door to take out the buckets in which our supper was brought, we seized the jailer and held him, opened another room of the prison, in which others were confined, went down stairs and seized the guard-there were seven of the guard-and then attempted to make our escape, and eight of us succeeded in getting off before the alarm was given. The others were captured; four on the same evening, and two others the next day. I was one of those captured on the same evening. Shortly after that, they removed us to the barracks in town, where we were better treated, more kindly treated than we had ever been before that. We remained there until December, when we were sent to Richmond. We were first taken to the Libby Prison, and told that we were to be exchanged. They sent a very light guard along with us, trusting to our belief that we would be exchanged; and so believing, we went along quietly and mad no attempt to escape, which we could easily have done. We were taken to the Libby Prison and kept there about an hour, and then transferred to the criminal prison, Castle Thunder. Here we were put into a little room up stairs, of which three sides were only weatherboarded, and there we remained during the months of December and January, without any fire, and with a very scanty supply of clothing, as they had taken all our blankets from us when we left Atlanta, with the exception of two small ones, which we had managed to secrete when we left the barracks. This was the only covering we had during those two months for all six of us there. We were very destitute of other clothing at that time-nearly out of it, in fact. About the 1st of February, however, they wanted that room, with a number of other rooms on the same floor, for hospital purposes, and transferred us to a large room down stairs on the ground floor, which was assigned Union prisoners. Here we enjoyed more liberty than we had before, and remained until a special exchange was made. They attempted to exchange us as citizens, leaving our name on the citizens list from Castle Thunder, although we had our names marked as soldiers, and our companies and regiments were down on the prison books; and, in the charges and specifications given to the seven of our comrades who were tried and executed, it was admitted that they were soldiers, and their companies and regiments were named.
            Question. Were the men engaged in that expedition detailed by the officers, or did they volunteer? Under what circumstances did they enter upon that expedition?
            Answer. Gen. Mitchell issued an order to the Colonels of the three Ohio regiments in Sill's brigade to have a man detailed from each company-for the captain of each company to select a reliable man of his company for this purpose. They were then sent to the colonel's quarters and told what they were wanted to do—that they were wanted to dress in citizen's clothes and obey the orders of Mr. Andrews. The expedition was not explained to us then, but we were told that we were to obey Mr. Andrews's orders, and to go with him on a secret expedition. The object of the expedition was explained to us that night by Mr. Andrews, who assembled us together about a mile from Shelbyville after it got dark, and there gave us the main outlines: that we were to go into Georgia to Marietta, to make our way there as well as we could, and there to seize a train, and he would be with us all the time after reaching there to direct us how to proceed.
            Question. The leading object of the expedition was to cut the communications and destroy the bridges?
            Answer. Yes, Sir; the capture of the engine and train was merely a means to that end.
            Question. Have you any evidence of the estimate which was placed by the Confederate authorities upon the importance of this expedition had it been successful?
            Answer. I have a paper here now, one of the most influential in the State of Georgia, at least, called The Southern Confederacy. The copy which I have is dated April 15. 1862. We seized the train on the 12th of April, and this paper was printed three days after, and before they had learned the full particulars of the capture. I will read a portion of that article.
            (The witness then produced the paper, and read from the article referred to.)
            Question. How came you in possession of that paper?
            Answer. The officer of the guard in charge of us had it and laid it down, and I took it and have carried it secreted about my person ever since, which accounts for its soiled and worn condition. I would refer to the entire article as the best answer to your question, as to the importance attached to the expedition by the Confederate authorities.
            (A copy of the article referred to is hereto appended as a portion of this deposition.)
            Question. Were you personally acquainted with Mr. Wilson who made the address upon the scaffold before the execution
            Answer. Yes, Sir!
            Question. Will you state to what company and regiment he belonged, and from what part of the State of Ohio he came?
            Answer. He was a member of Company B, of the 2d Ohio Regiment—my regiment. He had resided in Cincinnati a long time, and came from there. He was a shoemaker by trade, a man between 30 and 35 years of age, and had travelled a great deal over the United States, working at his trade. He said he had a family of two children; his wife was not living.
            Question. Will you please give, if you can, the names of all your comrades who were executed, with the companies and regiments to which they belonged?
            Answer. There were George D. Wilson, Company B, 2d Ohio Infantry; Marion Ross, Company A, 2d Ohio Infantry, the Sergeant-Major of the Regiment; Perry G. Shadrack, Company K, 2d Ohio; Samuel Roberson, Company G, 33d Ohio; Samuel Slavens, Company D, 33d Ohio; John Scott, Company F, 21st Ohio; William Campbell, a citizen of Kentucky; and J. J.  Andrews, a citizen of Kentucky also, and our leader. William Campbell was on a visit to our regiment at the time this detail was made. The captain of one of our companies asked him if he would go in the place of one of the soldiers, and he agreed to do so. We always said, when questioned about him, that he was a soldier.
            Question. Will you state what you know, if anything, in regard to the origin of this secret expedition—by whom it was planned, and when?
            Answer. I do not know of my own knowledge; but Mr. Andrews told me that he himself, in his visits to the South, had noticed that this thing could be accomplished, and that it would be of great benefit to us. He had proposed it to Gen. Buell, who did not give him much encouragement. Afterward he proposed it to Gen. Mitchell, who gave him more encouragement, and gave him permission to take eight men from the 2d Ohio regiment, which he had been with considerable, and attempted to execute the plan. The men were given him, and he proceeded in the same way that we did to Atlanta; but on arriving there, he found that the engineer whom Mr. Andrews had engaged to run the train for them was not there, on account of having been pressed to run reinforcements to Beauregard at Corinth. For this reason they were obliged to give up the plan, and go quietly back as passengers to Chattanooga, and then return through the country to our camp. Mr. Andrews then told Gen. Mitchell that from all he had seen in that expedition he still considered the thing easy of accomplishment, and asked for a larger detail of twenty-four men from the three regiments, which he obtained. He asked to have some engineers selected, so that there should be no possibility of a failure the second time like the first. There were consequently four men in our party who could run engines; only one, however, did so on that expedition. None of those on the first expedition went on the second: entirely new men were selected the second time.
            Question. Will you, if you can, give the names of the members of that expedition, in addition to those spoken of in this testimony- that is to say, the witnesses who are to depose here, together with a Mr. Mason, and the seven who were executed?
            Answer. They are as follows: William Knight, Company E, 21st Ohio; Wilson H. Brown, Company F, 21st Ohio; Daniel A. Dorsey, Company H, 33d Ohio; Mark Wood, Company C, 21st Ohio; Alfred Wilson, of the same company and regiment. This was the only instance where two men were taken from the same company. Martin J. Hawkins, Company A, 33d Ohio; John Wollan, Company C, 33d Ohio, and John R. Porter, Company G, 21st Ohio. These eight I have just named were those who succeeded in making their escape, and were not retaken at the time that we were. We saw in a Confederate paper an extract from The Cincinnati Commercial, stating that the two last named, Wollan and Porter, had succeeded in reaching our lines, in a very destitute condition, at Corinth, which was then in our possession. We were told by Col. Lee, the Provost-Marshal at Atlanta, that three of those who had escaped had been shot and left in the woods; but we did not know how much dependence to place upon that.
            William Pittenger,

Company G., 2d Ohio Regiment Volunteers.

Ohio boys in Dixie: the adventures of twenty-two scouts sent by Gen. O. M. Mitchell to destroy a railroad; with a narrative of their barbarous treatment by the Rebels and Judge Holt's report, New York: Miller & Mathews,1863




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July 17, 2007 -  Added A Federal Railroad Adventure - "Andrews Raiders"
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May 9 - Added article: Our Captured Correspndent
May 9 - Added page for Prisons and Prisoners and a page for Libby Prison
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May 7, 2007 - Steamboat Sultana pages created