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    Manuscript and letters of Civil War POW A. W. McCormick

    Civil War: Captain Andrew Wilson McCormick Archive , containing 109 manuscript pages, 88 letters, and more. Most of the manuscript and all of the letters are war-related, giving the perspective of Union Captain McCormick as he is captured by the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh, and later, as he is captured again during the Red River Campaign and sent to Camp Ford in Texas. In all, Captain McCormick, a former newspaper editor, served sixteen months as a Confederate POW which he chronicles in fascinating and historical detail.

    Andrew McCormick (1830-1905) served as the editor of the Marietta Republican and postmaster of Marietta, Ohio, before enlisting in the Union Army as a captain on October 21, 1861, in the Ohio 77th Volunteer Infantry, "G" Company. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Shiloh (April 1862) and captured as a prisoner of war. After his release, he was recaptured at the Battle of Marks' Mill (Arkansas, April 1864) and imprisoned at Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas, for ten months. When he mustered out on March 12, 1865, he was a lieutenant colonel.

    Captain McCormick's manuscript is neatly written in what appears to be another hand ca. 1892 and possibly in response to a call for papers by the Commandery of the State of Ohio Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, which published parts of McCormick's account in 1903 in volume five of Sketches of War History, 1861-1865 (Cincinnati: The Robert Clarke Company, 69-87) under the title, "Sixteen Months a Prisoner of War." The manuscript is lightly toned.

    The manuscript conveys "facts in my own life and experience," beginning with McCormick's birth in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, in 1830 and ending in 1892. Along the way, he recounts his early experiences as an editor and publisher and his involvement in the presidential politics of the 1850s, particularly his role in the 1856 Democratic National Convention to elect James Buchanan. But most of the manuscript - eighty-four of the 109-pages - recounts the young captain's service during the Civil War, beginning with his recruitment following the attack on Fort Sumter.

    Beginning on page sixteen, McCormick provides a detailed description of his actions during the Battle of Shiloh. As the battle progressed, he recorded that on April 7 his company was overwhelmed by Confederate cavalry: "I ordered my men to fix bayonets. . . . The [Confederate] cavalry then halted a few paces from us, and emptied their revolvers into our ranks at a distance safe from our bayonets. Many of our men were shot down, my right arm being broken by one of these shots, among the casualties." The Confederate cavalry then "dashed among us with the sabres and took prisoners by the score. . . . I found some Texas Rangers standing over me demanding my surrender. . . . My first Sergeant A. J. Duval, replied to such demand, 'No, never; I will die under the stars and stripes!' and was instantly shot dead." According to the manuscript, McCormick was taken to General John Breckinridge's tent (the two knew each other from the 1860 presidential campaign) where their conversation - recorded in detail - consisted mostly of Breckinridge questioning the caption on the strengths and weakness of the Union force. The compelling narrative continues when, later, McCormick must convince the doctors at the Confederate hospital not to amputate his arm.

    The POWs' journey east included several stops at Confederate hospitals in Mississippi, then on to the prison camp at Montgomery, Alabama, where McCormick met Captain Henry Wirz, the Confederate officer executed after the war for his treatment of POWs at Andersonville, Georgia. McCormick's manuscript contains examples of the maltreatment he and the other Union officers received before they finally ended up at Libby Prison in Richmond, a POW camp "which had the reputation of being worse than any we had left." But they were soon paroled and allowed to ride a Union steamer to Annapolis.

    McCormick next served under General Frederick Steele as he marched toward Little Rock. The manuscript tells of the expedition and capture of the city in September 1863. But when Union operations moved into south Arkansas, McCormick was again captured by the Rebel army as he escorted a supply train from Camden to Pine Bluff. Twelve hundred other Union soldiers were also captured and "started at once for Camp Ford, near Tyler Texas." Upon arriving at the camp, McCormick found that "It was an open field of perhaps six acres, with a stockade around it made of logs about twelve feet long, split in two, and set firmly in the ground, with the flat side in. There were then but two or three trees in the enclosure, which would afford poor shade to protect nearly 3000 prisoners from a burning southern sun. . . . The rations given us was a pound of beef and a pint of corneal per day, to each man." Despite the threat of death to all who attempted to escape, McCormick and four others made an escape attempt - wonderfully recounted in the manuscript. They were captured about forty miles northeast of the camp after passing by a plantation and rousing the attention of several dogs at the slaves' cabins. The death threat was not carried out and McCormick and the other prisoners languished at Camp Ford until February 1865 when an order for their parole was issued. McCormick recounts his return to the north and his reunion with his family.

    Most of the eighty-eight letters are addressed to McCormick's wife, beginning in January 1862 and ending in June 1865. The letters offer much more of the officer's thoughts and daily activities as a soldier than the manuscript. Only five days after being wounded and captured at Shiloh, McCormick writes from Corinth (April 12, 1862), "My Dear Wife, I am wounded in my right arm and am a prisoner at a Hotel in Corinth. I was in a great fight from Sunday morning till Monday . . . the bullets whistled around me thick as hail. . . . On Tuesday the 7th was attacked by the Texas Rangers and another battalion, when I got a revolver shot from a Ranger, which broke my right arm just below the Shoulder." McCormick's next letter is dated October 14, 1862, shortly after he was freed from prison. After he was captured again in Arkansas, he wrote five letters from Camp Ford, all dated in 1864 (June 18, June 20, July 7, September 1, and October 1). In these letters, the captain writes of other officers and soldiers, his regiment's "noble actions" at the Battle of Marks Mills, and the dire conditions of the camp ("We have lost twenty three men by death since we reached here. . . . There are many, however, somewhat troubled with Scurvey and other diseases, such as diarrhea, chills &c"). In the letter dated October 1, McCormick includes a list of the dead from his regiment and asks that his wife have them published "for information of their friends." Finally on February 26, 1865, McCormick writes to his wife from New Orleans "as a free man once more." The letters are toned (some unevenly) with minor soiling.

    Also included is a printed eulogy (four pages) following McCormick's death and issued by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Ohio. Additionally, four pages removed from the McCormick family Bible are included. They consist of the title page; "Marriages" page; "Births" page (the births of McCormick's six children, dated 1852 through 1868, are listed); and the "Parents' Register" page. The eulogy and Bible pages are toned with some foxing.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
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