Chancellorsville Prisoners

Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#1
I apologize if this has already been discussed somewhere - I did a search but hadn't located a thread (yet!) My great-great grandfather's brother was taken prisoner at Chancellorsville...but eventually went home, and was listed as a deserter. From notes left by an older cousin who has since passed, this has been a question mark but no one in the family talked about the war at all (even though 3 brothers served, and if my research is correct, one of them was at Appomatox during the surrender - that should have been a happy war story!) Anyway, apparently based on certain theories we're not sure he actually deserted, and he doesn't have any living blood descendants anymore so there's really no one to tell his story. I haven't been able to track down where soldiers from the 148th Pennsylvania were held...and if some of them may have been released due to over-capacity and sent home with the instructions they were not permitted to rejoin their units, but the union army didn't recognize these agreements and listed them as deserters. Anyone have any knowledge on the subject?
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
9,885
#2
What was his name?
There are a number of soldiers listed as captured at Chancellorsville who later returned to duty with the regiment. See Joseph W. Muffly, Editor, The Story of Our Regiment: A. History of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers Written by the Comrades. (Des Moines, IA: Kenyon Printing, 1904).
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
5,570
Location
Texas
#3
What was his name?
There are a number of soldiers listed as captured at Chancellorsville who later returned to duty with the regiment. See Joseph W. Muffly, Editor, The Story of Our Regiment: A. History of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers Written by the Comrades. (Des Moines, IA: Kenyon Printing, 1904).
Rice C. Bull had a pretty good account being in the 123rd New York Vol. Inf, and having been captured at Chancellorsville. It's in his book: Soldiering The Civil War Diary of Rice C. Bull

Kevin Dally
 

lelliott19

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
4,750
#5
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#6
His name was Hugh Carnahan. We know he didn't return to duty...but thank you for the link to the book! That might at least tell us a little more about the circumstances, where he was, etc. Based on when he enlisted, I think Chancellorsville was his first engagement. It's still possible he did desert, plain and simply, we just don't believe it, or have always thought there was more to his story. I'm not sure if that's based on someone vaguely remembering hearing something passed down verbally that's since been lost, or based on what previous generations knew about him as a person.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#7
As I think about it, I think there was mention somewhere they thought he might have escaped the prison camp and gone home. In that case, if he's not mentioned on any parole records, that may have been what happened.
 

lelliott19

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
4,750
#8
1548723338165.png

<Companies A-I omitted>
1548723280538.png

Source: The Story of Our Regiment: A History of the 148th Pennsylvania Vols, p. 40.

Pvt John Fox, enlisted Sept 26, 1862, also listed as "missing on picket line at Chancellorsville" evidently returned to the regiment. He was killed August 15, 1864 at 2nd Deep Bottom.

Pvt Josiah Jacobs, returned as well. He died June 16, 1864 of wounds received at Cold Harbor June 3, 1864.

Pvt James F McNoldy wrote an account of what happened to the men on the picket line:
1548724185062.png

1548724243145.png

1548724279062.png

1548724317627.png

Source: The Story of Our Regiment: A History of the 148th Pennsylvania Vols, p. 426.
EDIT TO ADD: It looks like the ones who returned to the regiment made it back about the time of the Battle of the Wilderness - late April or early May 1864.
 
Last edited:

Zella

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
1,658
#9
Hi, Kasey, just wanted to give you a head's up that I had your thread moved to the Ancestry forum from General Discussions, just to make sure all our resident genealogists saw it. Looks like you've already received some great info, and hopefully, you'll get even more!

Welcome to CWT, by the way. :smile:
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#11
View attachment 260272
<Companies A-I omitted>
View attachment 260271
Source: The Story of Our Regiment: A History of the 148th Pennsylvania Vols, p. 40.

Pvt John Fox, enlisted Sept 26, 1862, also listed as "missing on picket line at Chancellorsville" evidently returned to the regiment. He was killed August 15, 1864 at 2nd Deep Bottom.

Pvt Josiah Jacobs, returned as well. He died June 16, 1864 of wounds received at Cold Harbor June 3, 1864.

Pvt James F McNoldy wrote an account of what happened to the men on the picket line:
View attachment 260275
View attachment 260276
View attachment 260277
View attachment 260278
Source: The Story of Our Regiment: A History of the 148th Pennsylvania Vols, p. 426.
EDIT TO ADD: It looks like the ones who returned to the regiment made it back about the time of the Battle of the Wilderness - late April or early May 1864.


Wow! Thank you! I had found the first part of your post, but hadn't made it to the 2nd part yet. Definitely sheds some light on the situation, but still not sure where he might have fit in the account. Other sources I've seen showed he deserted from Camp Parole itself, but he wasn't officially listed as a deserter until October. Could be it just took that long for the records to catch up, if he was potentially one of the ones that "just procured civilian clothes", but whether he was one of the original 4 or not, it's hard to say since 8 of them were listed as "missing from picket line" and as both you and the text pointed out, some of those statuses changed as the soldiers were located. I also have to remember that sometimes desertion was not an act of cowardice, but a survival mechanism, especially seeing the conditions described above, if he had reason to believe he wouldn't make it out of camp alive. Or, he was one of the four on his way the first time, and felt duty called to return to his family (though I don't believe he was married yet, at the time.) It looks like his parents were both on the 1870 census so they wouldn't have passed during that time, but maybe one of them took ill, so hard to say what really happened! This definitely has some good information, though!!
 

Zella

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
1,658
#13
No problem - thank you!!
You're welcome! :smile:

I also have to remember that sometimes desertion was not an act of cowardice, but a survival mechanism, especially seeing the conditions described above, if he had reason to believe he wouldn't make it out of camp alive. Or, he was one of the four on his way the first time, and felt duty called to return to his family (though I don't believe he was married yet, at the time.) It looks like his parents were both on the 1870 census so they wouldn't have passed during that time, but maybe one of them took ill, so hard to say what really happened!
It's very possible there was a need at home. What did his parents do for a living? Even if there wasn't a health emergency, there may have been a business or farm that required his attention.

My dad's family is all from Western North Carolina, which was the scene of brutal partisan fighting during the war. At first, I couldn't make sense of the pattern of desertions in their CSRs. Then I realized it actually tallied up rather well with when things got nasty at home. In fact, I even found notations from their officers that mentioned they were AWOL but expected to return.

I've become curious about the role of literacy and desertion, too. I've noticed a bit of a correlation between illiteracy and repeat desertions in my family. Of course, nothing there is conclusive, but it makes me wonder if they were leaving their post to go home because they weren't able to receive letters with updates.

All of that's to say, there could certainly be a lot of factors at play!
 

lelliott19

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
4,750
#14
Wow! Thank you! I had found the first part of your post, but hadn't made it to the 2nd part yet. Definitely sheds some light on the situation, but still not sure where he might have fit in the account. Other sources I've seen showed he deserted from Camp Parole itself, but he wasn't officially listed as a deserter until October. Could be it just took that long for the records to catch up, if he was potentially one of the ones that "just procured civilian clothes", but whether he was one of the original 4 or not, it's hard to say since 8 of them were listed as "missing from picket line" and as both you and the text pointed out, some of those statuses changed as the soldiers were located. I also have to remember that sometimes desertion was not an act of cowardice, but a survival mechanism, especially seeing the conditions described above, if he had reason to believe he wouldn't make it out of camp alive. Or, he was one of the four on his way the first time, and felt duty called to return to his family (though I don't believe he was married yet, at the time.) It looks like his parents were both on the 1870 census so they wouldn't have passed during that time, but maybe one of them took ill, so hard to say what really happened! This definitely has some good information, though!!
Right. Here's my interpretation of what McNoldy says happened. They were captured from the picket line at Chancellorsville and made prisoners by CS Army. They were marched to Richmond where they were imprisoned at Libby Prison, then Castle Thunder, and finally Belle Isle. After 17 days imprisonment, they were paroled (but not yet "exchanged.") They were sent aboard a steamer from Richmond to WhiteHouse Landing where they boarded another steamer to Annapolis.

Back at Annapolis, they were sent to the Camp of Parole to await exchange. While there, four of them got tired of waiting to be granted a furlough so they took "french leave" (AWOL) Avoiding pickets along the way, they got as far as Westminster when one of the 4 got sick. They surrendered themselves to the Provost Marshall - probably expecting to be treated gently since they had come in voluntarily.

Instead, they were thrown into prison at Fort McHenry with rebel prisoners and deserters. <Obviously, from the way McNoldy wrote this, they did not see themselves as deserters.> Soon they were released from Fort McHenry back to Camp of Parole to await exchange and, at least McNoldy, Fox, and Jacobs made it back to the regiment around the end of April or early May.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#16
You're welcome! :smile:


It's very possible there was a need at home. What did his parents do for a living? Even if there wasn't a health emergency, there may have been a business or farm that required his attention.

My dad's family is all from Western North Carolina, which was the scene of brutal partisan fighting during the war. At first, I couldn't make sense of the pattern of desertions in their CSRs. Then I realized it actually tallied up rather well with when things got nasty at home. In fact, I even found notations from their officers that mentioned they were AWOL but expected to return.

I've become curious about the role of literacy and desertion, too. I've noticed a bit of a correlation between illiteracy and repeat desertions in my family. Of course, nothing there is conclusive, but it makes me wonder if they were leaving their post to go home because they weren't able to receive letters with updates.

All of that's to say, there could certainly be a lot of factors at play!
They were farmers, and that would have been high farming season. They also worked in the lumber mills and...oh...lightbulb!! At SOME point...the family lost half their farm because they couldn't afford the taxes. Thankfully we still have half the acreage in the family but...I need to check the timing on that, because I don't know when it happened. I wonder...hmm...
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#17
They were farmers, and that would have been high farming season. They also worked in the lumber mills and...oh...lightbulb!! At SOME point...the family lost half their farm because they couldn't afford the taxes. Thankfully we still have half the acreage in the family but...I need to check the timing on that, because I don't know when it happened. I wonder...hmm...
1878 property map of our township shows they had 100 acres...not sure what they started out with, but we ended up with 60 remaining. guess I need a lot more information to figure out that end, and sounds like a trip to Chancellorsville may or may not help with the other end! Where would I find the prison records, as well kept as I'm sure they were at the time?
 

Zella

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
1,658
#18
They were farmers, and that would have been high farming season. They also worked in the lumber mills and...oh...lightbulb!! At SOME point...the family lost half their farm because they couldn't afford the taxes. Thankfully we still have half the acreage in the family but...I need to check the timing on that, because I don't know when it happened. I wonder...hmm...
There was a thread I started on here a couple of months ago where we all chatted about what our ancestors who didn't serve were doing. A very high percentage of them were farmers, which made a lot of sense. :smile:
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#19
They were farmers, and that would have been high farming season. They also worked in the lumber mills and...oh...lightbulb!! At SOME point...the family lost half their farm because they couldn't afford the taxes. Thankfully we still have half the acreage in the family but...I need to check the timing on that, because I don't know when it happened. I wonder...hmm...

Well, it turns out that wasn't it - the land parceled off much later, but it was worth a shot!
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
38
Location
Northwestern PA
#20
This may actually start bleeding into a different topic, but...is anyone familiar with this document? It's apparently a descriptive list of deserters in the Civil War. I'm wondering about its accuracy? I found Hugh on here, but some of his information is different than I've seen in other places. It also brought to light, because I hadn't looked at it before, he was only 18 when he enlisted, 19 when he was captured. According to this, he didn't desert until March of 1864, but I've seen October 1863 in other places. For the purposes of this list, did they maybe go by the date the other soldiers were returned to the regiment? It also lists him in a different company, and has a different enlistment date. I don't think there was more than 1 Hugh Carnahan in the 148th Pennsylvania.

https://digital.libraries.psu.edu/digital/collection/digitalbks2/id/90581
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top