From the National Tribune, 5/4/1899

“A Kid’s” Reminiscence of the Fiery Front, With the Famous Old Iron Brigade.
By “DOC” AUBERY, Milwaukee, Wis.

A sentinel guarded our door, and there were soldiers below us in the guard room. Our boys would sing “America” and “Star Spangled Banner,” and I would be replied to with “Shut up, you Yankee.” After which they would sing “The Bonney Blue Flag,” “Dixie,” and one other that goes - as near as I can remember it, sung over and over again, and became rather tiresome -

Then here’s to South Carolina, dear old South Carolina,
She is as brave as the bravest cane be,
And when she unfurls to the broad breeze of heaven
The thirteen bright stars, around the old Palmetto tree,
It’s then when you’ll stand back with your Star Spangled Banner,
For no longer shall she wave over these niggers to be free,
We’ll fight till we die, but we never will surrender
Our Bonny Blue Flag and the old Palmetto tree.

Around the Prison the sentinels could be heard every hour, “Post number fo’ 10 o’clock, and all’s well.” Post No. 5 would catch it up and the time would be echoed all along the line.

Time passed very slowly. My friend Baker, the 12th Mass. soldier, slept under my saddle-blanket, which I had saved when my horse was taken from me at Warrenton. We shared with each other what dainties we got. We would send out by the guard for sweet potato pies, for which we paid $2 apiece; a small loaf of bread, $1. As long as my $12 lasted we were all right. After a few weeks we were informed that


This caused no little commotion among the prisoner, as our little family of Baker, myself and the two sailors had grown to about 300 soldiers and citizens.

Sunday, Dec. 10, 1862; orders came to fall-in, and in line we raised our hands and took oath not to aid or assist the United States Government until properly exchanged. We were then told to take our places as our names were called; those who had blankets to leave them at the foot of the stairs. We were then given hardtack, and fell in when ordered. When my name was called I lost no time in getting downstairs, and not having forgotten what Maj. Turner promised me, went to his office. He was standing in the door and went into his office, closed the door, opened the safe under his desk, and handed me the money with the passes around it, at the same time advising me, as I was going upon the boat, that it would be safer for me to put the money in a secure place. I put all but a few dollars into my bootleg, shook him by the hand, and with a good-by, fell into line with the rest outside in front of the prison. While there we became the target for the taunting remarks of the spectators who had gathered around.

“Hello, Yank; when yo’uns coming back again? Yo’uns want to look out right sharp for Bobby Lee. He’s atter you-all right sharp.”

One good old lady came to me at the edge of the curbstone and engaged me in conversation.

“Are you a soldier?”

“No, ma’am. I was selling papers in the army.”

She said: “Do you make dem papers what you sells? You Yankees is right peart, and I all de time done said so.”


Our guard had orders to move on with us, Baker and I kept together. We marched through the streets to the dept, took a train composed of freight cars, and started for City Point. When we reached there what a glorious sight the Stars ad Stripes seemed to our eyes, as the flag floated proudly over the steamer City of New York, which was the flag-of-truce boat, and ready to take us to God’s country once more. We went directly to the boat, were counted and checked off, passing between a rebel and a Union officer, who were there for that purpose. Although crowded for room, and with little to eat, yet we felt contented. It seemed a relief to us to be permitted to breathe pure air once more. We appreciated our liberty. Every hour in prison seemed a day; every day, a week.

We went down the James River, through the Hampton Roads, past Fort Monroe, and landed the next day at Annapolis, Md. The soldiers went into camp. I was discharged - told I could go where I pleased. So, after saying goodbye to the boys, I took the train for Washington. On arriving there I bought a complete suit of clothing, rid myself of those little friends that had stuck so close to me, then sought the War Department, had my passes fixed up, and started the next day down the Potomac. On a venture, I took a few Washington Chronicles with me.


I landed at Aquia Creek, and learned that the Iron Brigade was at Belle Plain Landing. I having been away so long, I expected a reprimand, and partly prepared myself for it. When I presented myself, I found one Jim Whittier, a good-natured, quick-witted Irishman, had been detailed to run up the papers in my absence.

“Where have you been?”

“Well, General, I have been to Richmond, where the brigade has been trying to go for a long time.”

“Didn’t the boys tell you not to go back through the lines; that Mosby was picking up every one he could get a hold of.”

“Well, General, the boys had to have papers.”

I didn’t say that Capt. Remington had to have that whiskey, for it wouldn’t do to squeal on any of the boys.

[narrative continues on non-Richmond matters, and was not transcribed


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