My Capture and Imprisonment

Do you search local newspapers to find minor tidbits about an ancestor and find gold? That’s what I found when searching the Warren county papers on NewspaperArchive for my second great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford. Washington Marion Crawford was captured during the civil war and spent time in several prisons, including Andersonville.

The ‘gold’ that I found was a poem he wrote about his capture and imprisonment

My Capture and Imprisonment

Kilpatrick is a jolly soldier,
and I’m of his command,
and by a defeat of his,
I was left with a rebel band.

In the month of September,
In the year sixty-three,
The army was laying idle,
And Kil that couldn’t see.

So he being thus uneasy,
And anxious for a fight,
Requested General Meade,
To let him do his might.

His request being granted,
His command was called together,
On twenty-first of September,
In cold unpleasant weather.

We marched that day to Madison,
And found the rebs hard by,
I’m sure you’d laugh If you could see,
The way we mad them fly.

We lay that night on our arms,
And arose at early morn,
Made a breakfast on hard-tack,
and roasted rebel corn.

At nine o’clock we started,
General Buford on the pike,
Kil goes round to the right,
With intent the rear to strike.

We came around in evening,
And crossed the Rapidan,
Met the rebel column,
And fought them five to one.

General Stewart seemed quite uneasy,
But did the thing up well,
He turned around a battery,
And threw in shot and shell.

Then Kil deployed his skirmishers,
And went in for support,
But before it could reach us,
We had a reb escort.

We were then marched to Orange,
And lay there under guard,
On the cold and frozen ground,
In the Court House yard.

Next day we went to Richmond,
Expecting moderate times,
In a few days, or weeks at most,
To be sent to the Yankee lines.

We lay that night in Libby,
And half way took our case,
Being bitten by Confederate lice,
Which are far worse than fleas.

Next morning bright bright and early,
They ordered us in ranks,
Searched us and took our money,
Without returning thanks.

We went next to belle-Isle,
Where in the sand we lay,
The whole winter through,
Wearing life away.

We left there in the Spring,
For a more sunny clime,
To a prison post in Georgia,
Where I composed my rhyme.

This prison post of theirs,
I a large stockade pen,
Built for keeping prisoners,
and used for starving men.

We left there in the fall,
In the year eighteen sixty-four,
And praying to the God above us,
To see our friends once more.

But now alas
To our sad fate,
We were taken down to Charleston,
To a little longer wait.

Our treatment here
We thought was good
We ate corn meal and beef,
And a small stick of wood.

We next went to Florence.
In South Carolina State,
My heart sunk within me,
When I entered the prison gate.

For two months here we staid,
And whiled the hours away,
By cooking a pint of meal
On each successive day.

On the eighth day of December,
The glorious news did come,
That we could leave this wretched place,
To go to a Northern home.

And now I bless the day
That gave me my release,
And pray to God the time is near,
When we will have a happy peace.

Marion Crawford

“My Capture and Imprisonment,” Williamsport Warren Republican (Williamsport, Indiana), 13 April 1865, page 1; digital image, Newspaper Archive (www, : viewed online 23 February 2023).

4 thoughts on “My Capture and Imprisonment

  1. Quite a remarkable find. My ancestor from Indiana was in Andersonville and survived, a mere skeleton after six months there. He lived until 1930. A remarkable man (but he didn’t write any poems).

  2. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  3. That is so cool! Not the suffering, of course, but that you found the poem.

    And yes, I search newspapers all the time and find amazing little tidbits, including a letter to the editor where my 2nd great-uncle protested a report from the previous week that claimed his wife had died suddenly in bed unattended (I went back and found that article), when, in fact, she had been ill for a long time and had died with him by her side, as well as their daughter. That’s a very recent find. My post for this week is about another one, concerning one of my 2nd great grandfathers. Newspaper research is so much fun and so revealing.

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