Shocking Cabinet Card Photo and Autobiography of Andersonville Prison Victim John Wales January. A sepia-tone, circa 1880s, full-length seated portrait in excellent condition, showing his leg stumps with his prosthetic legs right beside. On the back is glued a portion of his printed "Auto-biography." It tells the story of how his legs came to be in that condition due to imprisonment at Confederate prisons at Andersonville and Florence. It reads, in part: "I was born in Clinton county, Ohio...In the fall of 1862, the 14th Ill. Cavalry organized in Peoria, and I enlisted in Co. July, 1864...I was taken by six rebel soldiers to Andersonville...I was stricken down by an attack of "Swamp" fever...I was a victim of gangrene...My feet and ankles 5 inches above the joints presented a livid and lifeless appearance, and soon the flesh began to slough off...I begged [the surgeon] to cut my feet off... I secured an old pocket knife and cut through the decaying flesh...At the close of the war I was taken by the rebs to our lines at Wilmington, N.C. in April 1865, and...learned that I had been reduced from 165 pounds to 45 pounds...Everyone of the Union Surgeons who saw me said I could not live; but contrary to this I did and improved... 12 years after my release my limbs had healed over..." After his ordeal, this brave soldier with the incredible will to survive returned home, got married, and fathered six children. January received local and national attention with his story being told in Harper's Weekly and several other newspapers. He became active in G.A.R. encampments where he sold these images. The Illinois Adjutant General's Report said this about him a few years before his death in 1906:

    "John W. January was a prisoner of war at Andersonville, GA and Florence, SC for about sixteen months. From the effects of scurvy superinduced by starvation he lost his feet, which he himself heroically amputated with a pocket-knife, no surgeon in the prison being willing to perform the operation. He arrived at David's Island, New York, a mere skeleton, weighing but 45 pounds, and after seven months treatment in hospital was restored to bodily health. All things considered, Mr. January's case is perhaps the most notable example of nerve and bodily suffering in the annals of the War..."

    His story was told in an article entitled "John January and the Pocketknife" that appeared in the February 2004 issue of Civil War Times (clipped article included).

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    24th-25th Sunday-Monday
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