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Asbury Thornhill to the editor of the National Tribune

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Asbury Thornhill to the editor of the National Tribune


Date:  1870 – 1879




Letter Page 1st


To the Editor National Tribune


Seeing in your issue of May 29 reminiscences of inmates of Camp Ford.  I will endeavor to give my experiences.  I was not one of the first “Settlers” of that noted pen.  A detail from our regiment (2nd Kan Cav) with two companies of colored troops was on guard duty 12 miles north of Ft. Gibson near Flat Rock Creek Cherokee nation where contractors were cutting and putting up hay for Government.  On the 16th of September 1864, the enemy put in appearance.  One brigade of Indians under command of one Steinweitz and one brigade of Texans under command of Gen. Ganough.  Our forces was commanded by Captain Barker Co. D. 2nd Kansas Cavalry.  We cut our way through the brigade of Indians but the Texas brigade was to much for us and we was forced to surrender.  Our Commander, Captain Barker managed to escape the hospitalities of Camp Ford that was in store for his command.  The Johnnies killed all the colored men but 8.  These lucky ones had been freed before the war.  As soon as our capture had been consumated the enemy busied them - 


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selves’ destroying mowing machines, hay wagons and every thing that could not be taken away.  There was about 60 white prisoners and the 8 colored once before alluded to.  Our captors took up their line of march and when we reached Cabin Creek they took in a Sutter Train destroying what goods they could not carry off.  Colored troops from Fort Gibson attacked the enemy who loaded us into the Sutter Wagons in order to hurry wagons in order to hurry us beyond the reach of recapture.  When our Confederate escort reached Dokesville Chocktaw nation a Special  [XXXXXX]  Detail Escorted us to Tyler Texas as the 8 Colored prisoners was left at Dokesville.  Their fate we never knew.  When we reached Camp Ford we found that some 3,600 yanks had preceded us and was enjoying the hospitalities of that famous rebel prison pen.  During our stay there our diet was very simple consisting of one and a half pints of corn meal and 8 ounces of the front quarter of beef per man per day.  One day the mill was out of repair and shelled corn was issued to us.  During the latter part of our imprisonment, two ounces of bacon was issued us per day instead of beef.


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In May 1865 we was taken to Shreveport LA:  where we took a boat for mouth of Red river.  The march from Tyler to Shreveport took six days.  Our rations per man was one pint of corn meal mush a day.  At mouth of Red river we was exchanged and went on board of one of Uncle Sam’s boats and was taken to Camp Distribution New Orleans.  Many of us on reaching Camp Distribution was hatless.  Shoeless.  Clad only with Shirt, drawers and backs.  With thankful hearts we received a good Square meal of hard tack and Sow belly.  A change of raiment was given us which added materially to our comfort.  My bedding while in Camp Ford consisted of one gunny sack.  After staying 8 days at Camp Distribution, we went to Little Rock Ark. thence to Fort Smith then to Fort Gibson, then to Fort Scott Kans.  From there to Lawrence and lastly to Ft. Leavenworth where about the first of August 1865 we was mustered out.  I must not fail to mention that one of our boys carried the Stars and Stripes through Tyler concealed under his shirt.  If alive would like to hear from him.


A. Thornhill Co. D. 2nd Kans. Calv


La Fontaine   Wilson Co.   Kansas.




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