“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post #6 – Exchange and Return Home –

Little Doctor on the Black Horse

Exchange and Return Home

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

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David was very lucky to have been assigned to a “good prison” like Libby. Fred Wickham, one of my father’s three soldier brothers, suffered many months in the notorious Andersonville. [1] The stories he told of prison life were very different from David’s. The men slept on the floor, close packed for warmth. When they became cramped, someone would call out, “Everybody over!” and they would have to turn at once. They were often close to starvation. Some of the guards amused themselves by drawing a line inside the wall of the grounds, over which no prisoner must step. Then they would throw bits of food outside the line and when a starving prisoner reached for it, they would shoot him. When Fred was exchanged, his group met an equal number of Southerners at Philadelphia, possibly from Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay. These men were in good condition. When they saw the men from Andersonville, many of them burst into tears. When Fred arrived home, he was so gaunt and old-looking that his sister did not know him. He was about 20.

Andersonville

Andersonville (image from the website Andersonville Prison, February 1864 – April 1865

 

In November, David was exchanged and granted a long furlough, so that he was able to spend that Christmas with his family in Norwalk. What a precious interval that must have been, with his dear Hattie, and the four little girls, Mamie, Hattie, Aggie and baby Fanny, who was almost a year old. He remained in Norwalk until March. During David’s absence, Grant supported by Sherman and Thomas, & now in command of the armies in the Southeast, had won the battle of Lookout Mountain, relieving the pressure on Chattanooga. General Grant was then made Commander-in-Chief of the Union Forces, with General Sherman commanding the armies of the Southeast.

Footnote:

[1] There is some question that it may have been Salisbury. (HBWB)

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harriott-wickham-1915-20-2About the Author: Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton   (1890-1981) was born in Norwalk, Ohio to Frank and Agnes Wickham. Her father was the youngest of twelve children of Frederick and Lucy Wickham, early settlers of the Firelands, and her mother was the great-great granddaughter of Platt and Sarah Benedict, who founded the city of Norwalk. Educated at Norwalk High School and Wooster College, she became a teacher. She marched as a suffragette and worked for the Labor Department during World War I. After the war, she went west to teach school, and became one of the last homesteaders, proving up a property near Wheatland, Wyoming. She married Angus Barton in 1924 and they raised four children on the homestead through the Dust Bowl and World War II. In the late 1940s, she and her Angus moved to Ohio, where they spent the rest of their lives. During the 1950s and ‘60s, she wrote “Little Doctor on the Black Horse,” poetry, and short stories, some which were published in various journals and magazines.

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

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