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April 12- May 24, 1863. Concerning Two Who Escaped


 Lieut. Col. J. R. PAUL,
Commissary of Subsistence, Fourteenth Army Corps:

I beg leave to tender to you the circumstances and facts concerning a detachment of men sent from Shelbyville, Tenn., one year ago this April, 1863, with a view to collect if possible their loss in money and rations when absent. On the 7th day of April, 1862, a request was made by Brig. Gen. O. M. Mitchel, then commanding Third Division, Department of the Ohio, at Shelbyville, Tenn., that the several commanders of brigades through their intermediate commanders, colonels, should request of the captains of their respective companies to furnish a detachment of men (which should be a voluntary act on the part of the men) for the purpose of engaging in a hazardous expedition, such as scouting in the enemy's country and endeavor to effect a purpose of material aid to the Government in the form of cutting off communications between Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Corinth, Miss.

After due consideration of the matter twenty-two volunteered their services from the different regiments and companies and left Shelbyville, Tenn., the 7th day of April, 1862, all under command of a Mr. [J. J.] Andrews, of Kentucky, noted for his daring and skill, having been engaged in such exploits before. Mr. Andrews was empowered with the authority sufficient to arm and equip them as the necessity of the expedition should demand, and by order of their commander, Mr. Andrews, they furnished themselves each with a Colt revolver and other necessary equipments, &c. In due time they met at or near Atlanta, Ga., as formerly agreed upon, and took possession of a locomotive, tender and two box cars, uncoupling at the time the regular train hands were at breakfast, and started toward Chattanooga, Tenn., with the view of burning certain bridges and thereby accomplish the design contemplated in the start. But by making some too hasty movements or not fully taking into consideration the necessary precautions, and in consequence of a speedy pursuit their attempts were foiled, and it resulted in the capture of the whole party after making fruitless efforts to escape. They were all lodged in jail in Chattanooga, Tenn., and from there taken to Knoxville, Tenn., and there eight of them were tried by a Confederate court-martial, sentenced and taken to Atlanta, Ga., and hung amidst the howling and jeers of a lawless mob of rebels.

The balance were lodged in jail in Atlanta to await trial and there remained confined over six months. They appealed to the provost-marshal of the place at various times to know what was going to be done with them, and after learning they were to be subjected to the same kind of treatment as their comrades a plot was contemplated and resolutions formed to break jail and escape if possible the treacherous designs of the rebel authorities and bloodthirsty mob who were present and threatened them daily, which was carried into effect the evening of the 16th day of October, 1862. Keys were made of the bones taken from meat they were fed upon and consequently they were enabled to unlock their handcuffs and shackles. When the jailer returned, after bringing them their supper, to take the dishes out of their cell they forced the keys from him and unlocked the door of each cell and fled, dividing off in pairs and each pair taking a different direction. They were run by bloodhounds, shot at and subjected to various kinds of treatment and the severest of hardships, such as living five and six days without food, traveling barefooted, sleeping in hollow logs, wet caves, &c., and by traveling only in the night with the North Star as their guide, the following-named persons below finally succeeded in arriving safely to their regiments and companies at various times, with the loss of the sums set opposite their names: Private William Knight, Company E, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, $60; Sergt. Wilson W. Brown, Company F, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, $29; Sergt. John R. Porter, Company G, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, $30; Corpl. Mark Wood, Company C, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, $125; Private J. Alfred Wilson, Company C, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, $15. Others who were not among the lucky to escape at first have since arrived safely via Washington, D. C., and been compensated for all their loss in full by the Secretary of War and assigned as a mark of honor a brevet lieutenancy and furloughed home for thirty days; a notice which we are happy to make of them, and which is no doubt justly their due.

Therefore we, the officers of the Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, do each and severally ask and request most respectfully in consideration of the loss of the above named enlisted men and trials they have undergone that they be compensated for said loss of private moneys and equipments and for rations not drawn; all which I have the honor to submit for your consideration.

I am, very respectfully, &c.,


Colonel, Commanding Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[First indorsement.]

April 20, 1863.

 Lieutenant-Colonel FLYNT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fourteenth Army Corps:

This letter and the accompanying accounts are respectfully referred to you. I am satisfied of the correctness of the accounts. The men were sent from the division of General O. M. Mitchel while I was connected with it. Most of their comrades suffered death on the scaffold. These escaped by most daring measures, and I think it just that they should be paid for the loss of private property and also commutation of rations during the time of their absence from their commands.

 J. R. PAUL,

Lieut. Col. and Commissary of Subsistence, Fourteenth Army Corps.

[Second indorsement.]

Murfreesborough, April 20, 1863.

Respectfully referred to Colonel Neibling to know if the men herein mentioned are as worthy of the compliment as those already complimented by the Secretary of War.

By command of Major-General Thomas:


Captain and Aide-de-Camp.

[Third indorsement.]

Murfreesborough, Tenn., April 27, 1863.

The within-named soldiers are as worthy if not more so than those complimented by the Secretary of War. They made their escape and endured unaccountable hardships and privations for weeks while in the enemy's country before reaching the Federal lines. They also participated in the battle of Stone's River and behaved with great gallantry.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[Fourth indorsement.]

Murfreesborough, April 29, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded.

The within-named soldiers of the Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry appear from the accompanying statement of Colonel Neibling to be as worthy of remuneration and honorable mention for their losses and daring conduct while on the expedition referred to as their comrades who have already been so deservedly rewarded by the Secretary of War.


Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

[Fifth indorsement.]

Murfreesborough, May 1, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded to the Adjutant-General of the Army.

The Secretary of War having made a special case of men engaged with these in their enterprise the accompanying papers are respectfully transmitted for his action.


Major-General, Commanding.

[Sixth indorsement.]


Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.

The action of the Department alleged in the latter part of this letter is not of record in this office.


Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Seventh indorsement.]

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 21, 1863.

The men referred to in this application will be placed upon the same footing as the other members of their party.

By order of the Secretary of War:



[Eighth indorsement.]

WAR DEPARTMENT, May 24, 1863.

Respectfully referred with reference to the claims for commutation of subsistence to the commissary-general of prisoners.

By order of the Secretary of War:



The war of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Series 2 - Volume 5, 1899, U.S. Government Printing Office




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