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John B Anderson
There have been half a dozen John Andersons in my mom’s family over the past 175 years or so, and the photos of them are simply identified as “John B. Anderson.” Given his military dress, I’d say that this one is the one who was born to Daniel Anderson and Margaret Myers Anderson on December 29, 1846 and died April 10, 1931. The following letter was written by John Anderson to his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. George Myers of Bloomfield, Iowa: Dear Grand Father and Mother, I, after so long a delay, will endeavor to answer your most welcome letter. I delayed writing for the reason that I was going to have my photograph taken to send to you, but did not get it as soon as I expected. I am still going to school, and will all summer, for I will not be able to work for a good while. You wished to know my age and height. I am 15 years old, five feet eight inches high and weigh 170 pounds. Was fourteen months and twenty days a prisoner, and have served Uncle Sam ever since I was fourteen years old. Never was sick up to the time I was captured, and never missed a battle or skirmish that was my regiment. I was in till I was taken prisoner. Never was in the guard house and never was on extra duty more than half a dozen times. Never had to pack a rail but twice and never confiscated more than two or three hundred chickens, geese, and turkeys, and one-fourth that number of hogs, pigs and such like. Would not swear that I ever killed a rebel but I have had some very fair shots and it was not my fault if I did not. I can also say that they never killed me, but came very near it I don’t know how often. They found out they could not kill me with a ball and powder, so they thought to starve me to death, but they could not come that, though as near it is agreeable to me. Money cannot hire me to take another such campaign through the southern prisons, but many a poor fellow has starved to death, and who is to blame for it? Not me I know. I will as you wished it, give you a brief description of my prisoner life while down in Dixie. I was wounded and taken prisoner on the 19th day of September, 1863 at Chickamauga, Ga. I stayed at the rebel General Waltell’s brigade hospital with 40 to 50 other Union prisoners from different regiments till the 8th of October. While there we had as good treatment as could be expected, but no thanks to the Johnnys for it, for two of our own surgeons were there and dressed our wounds and did all they could for us; they were also prisoners but were allowed to remain with us. We went to Atlanta and stayed there for four days. They gave us corn meal and raw beef, and let us shift for ourselves, having nothing to cook in except what the boys happened to have with them. The night we started for Richmond they gave us ten crackers and a piece of meat to last us through. We were eight days on the road, and they had to do without unless they had money. I had ten dollars with me which kept me from suffering till about the middle of December. That is when I could get a chance to buy anything. But some of the boys had no money and they suffered a great deal for something to eat. We arrived in Richmond on the evening of the 21st and was taken to Libby Prison and drew what they called one days rations, but what our soldiers ate for one meal; and that was the last we could draw until the 23rd. Having kept up without our rations for some time, we were taken to what they called a hospital. It was a tobacco warehouse, and they put us in the third story without blanket, beds or anything else to sleep on, having taken my clothes, haversack, canteen, blanket and rubber. So we had to take the soft side of a board for a bed, with nothing to put over us, for near two weeks. when they gave each one a comfort, and sent each one to prison as soon as they got well enough; but a great many went to their last resting place. I was sent to prison November 10th. The prison was another house; it was very open and the rations for one day were not enough for one meal. I was hungrier after I had eaten my day’s rations than I was before I commenced, and from that till the next day’s rations all you had to do was to guess at the time that you would get out and get enough to eat once more. We left this prison on the 20th for another one down nearer the river where we stayed till the 12th of December, when they moved us to Danville, Va. and were put into the middle of some kind of buildings, but more open than the others. We stayed there all winter having drawn blankets and clothing before we left Richmond, which was sent through by our government, but the rebels got a good portion of them. Our rations here consisted of corn bread and beef, hardly enough to keep a person alive. We left there for Andersonville, Ga. April 15th and I was satisfied when I saw it. The boys looked as black as Negroes for it was cold weather and they had to burn pitch pine wood, the smoke from which will not easily come off, and they had no soap. We wereday 257 | year of 365
HAPPY NEW YEAR all you self-obsessed beautiful nutty 365'ers! THIRTEEN THINGS: 1. i wanted to play drums as a kid and setup upside-down trash cans in the garage, pounding out the theme to Mission: Impossible. This weekend i bought a drum kit for my son. 2. I used to travel alot for business and loved playing the game called "Don't Stop" where I weave in/out of people-traffic for as long as i can before i'm forced to stop. 3. I will not eat a raw tomato. I love tomato by-products - salsa, ketchup, spag sauce - but a raw tomato is the grossest thing ever invented. 4. For my entire adult life i've worn size 11-1/2 shoes. And then I went to a podiatrist who told me I was really a 13 and I was thinking: how the hell could i not know that? like, for years? shouldn't it be painful? it would be like discovering that safety-pin i accidentally left in my sphincter 12 years ago. 5. There's a home movie that exists somewhere that shows off a magic trick where I put 3 eggs into my underwear and then smash them. 6. I don't believe in god and with rare exception, the more religious a person is, the worse they treat others, which is what I thought the purpose of religion was. I'll take Kindness over Religion anyday. Wait, when I said i don't believe in god, i meant the god who is not Steve Martin. 7. I remember seeing "Help!" at a drive-in in my pajamas. The scene of Paul riding a horse during Ticket To Ride still gets me. I don't understand why on any rational level. 8. I think Stephanie Zacharek (salon.com) is the finest critic around. I don't think i've ever missed a column. Nobody writes as beautifully or deconstructs film better. I just wish she enjoyed "Little Children" more. 9. "Boogie Nights" is my favorite movie. Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite director, and Julianne Moore is my favorite actress. I don't know that i have a favorite actor. 10. David Foster Wallace's essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" will make you laugh Cheerios through your nose should you be eating Cherrios when you're reading it, so I wouldn't if i were you. 11. Sometime ago i stopped listening to albums by men with rare exceptions like Elvis Costello. Liz Phair's "Exile In Guyville" and "Girlysounds" are my favorite records. So is Aimee Mann's "Bachelor #2". 12. In a zero-based system, thirteen things would end at 12. In Zurich, to get to the ground floor you press the zero button in the elevator and i always thought that was the more civilized approach. 13. My favorite meal is from a local diner: an egg-white omelette, cooked very soft, with swiss cheese and turkey and smothered with medium-strength salsa. Wild rice and pineapple. Served with coffee and the LA Times. It's the only time i'm not interrupted the entire day.
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