At Death's Door
A Yankee Soldier's
Story of Survival
in Confederate Captivity
By Jasper N. Hall
Edited by Richard A. Baumgartner
CHICKAMAUGA, Sundown, September 20, 1863: "A half dozen muskets were pointed at me and I was ordered to surrender. I had no alternative to do otherwise.
"The work of that bloody Sabbath was drawing to a close. The fighting ceased to be general, and the enemy at once took the best means of securing the hard-earned fruits of the day's conflict. I was hurried to the rear and joined a squad of near 200 other prisoners, and as night came on we remained on the field under a strong guard. One of the most painful recollections of someone who has gone through a battle is that of his friends lying wounded and dying, and who need that help which he is utterly unable to give. I suffered this and much more, for, as the weary hours wore away, the pangs of defeat and the consciousness that we had fallen into the hands of [the] enemy added to the terror of our situation."
For Sergeant Jasper Hall, a harrowing ordeal of survival was just beginning ...
Forced to surrender in the closing minutes of his first battle at Chickamauga, Ga., Sergeant Jasper Newton Hall (Company E, 113th Ohio Vol. Infantry) could not conceive of what the future held in store for him. He remained a prisoner for the next 585 days, placing him among the longest-held Northern captives of the Civil War.
During that period he was confined in Confederate prisons at Richmond and Danville, Va., and the infamous stockade of Camp Sumter at Andersonville, Ga. He attempted escape, unsuccessfully, at each location and was obliged by circumstances to rely upon forethought, quick wits, willpower and sheer luck for ultimate survival, which on several occasions seemed highly improbable. Struggling against hunger, thirst, overcrowded living conditions, typhoid, smallpox, dysentery and scurvy -- a disease that nearly killed him -- Hall watched helplessly as thousands of fellow prisoners suffered indescribable misery and were brought in squalor to death's door. When he finally was released and returned home in 1865, he weighed just 94 pounds.
A farmer and schoolteacher, Hall composed his engrossing narrative of capture and prison life 15 years after the war. Unlike many other postwar accounts (often inaccurate, exaggerated or embellished), his straight-forward story is surprisingly dispassionate and remarkably free of rancor toward a majority of his captors. For this Blue Acorn Press edition, editor Richard A. Baumgartner has supplied an introduction, epilogue and supplementary notes, as well as a selection of pertinent photographs.
Hardcover with dust jacket, 6 X 9 format, photographs, notes, bibliography and index. ISBN 978-1-885033-37-6
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