Looking for Information on the 56 Illinois, Andersonville Prison, and the General Lyon Disaster

Joined
Aug 2, 2019
While piecing together accounts of transportation accidents involving Andersonville prisoners on their way home, I came across come mentions of the burning of the General Lyon off of Cape Hatteras in April, 1865. Can anyone tell me more about the regiment (which reportedly lost all but 5 of the close to 200 members who were on board), or the sinking, or the handful of men from the 56th who were held at Andersonville? As near as I can tell, the Andersonville men were not on the General Lyon, and so their lives may have ironically been saved by the fact that they were POWs at Andersonville.

Thanks in advance!
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
While piecing together accounts of transportation accidents involving Andersonville prisoners on their way home, I came across come mentions of the burning of the General Lyon off of Cape Hatteras in April, 1865. Can anyone tell me more about the regiment (which reportedly lost all but 5 of the close to 200 members who were on board), or the sinking, or the handful of men from the 56th who were held at Andersonville? As near as I can tell, the Andersonville men were not on the General Lyon, and so their lives may have ironically been saved by the fact that they were POWs at Andersonville.

Thanks in advance!
William Matthew Jennings.gif

William Matthew Jennings: Residence Gallatin County IL; a 32-year-old Farmer. Enlisted on 11/7/1861 at Gallatin County, IL as a Corporal. On 2/27/1862 he mustered into "D" Co. IL 56th Infantry. 11/1/1862 transferred from company D to company F. He was Drowned on 3/31/1865 at Steamer "General Lyon". He was described at enlistment as 5' 7", dark complexion, dark eyes, black hair. Born in 1829 in Caldwell County, KY
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
First reports said that of 500+ on board the transport General Lyon, only 28 were saved including all the ship's officers!

there's a CW Navies Message Board discussion HERE.

see also:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070712201941/http://www.lib.niu.edu:80/ipo/1994/ihy940238.html


Sources include " the Official Records of the Army, series 1, volume 46 and the Official Records of the Navy, series 1, volume 11, as well as Record Group 92, Quartermaster Records and the House of Representative Executive Document No. 337."
 
Last edited:

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
This article that appeared in The New York Herald., April 03, 1865, page 4, column 4. includes a list of names of the crew who were left behind in Wilmington hospitals; a list of those picked up by the General Sedgwick; a statement from Cyrus Williams (F/3rd PA Arty) who was saved; and the names of the members of the 56th Illinois who were killed in the disaster.
1618204609667.png
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
This article that appeared in The New York Herald., April 03, 1865, page 4, column 4. includes a list of names of the crew who were left behind in Wilmington hospitals; a list of those picked up by the General Sedgwick; a statement from Cyrus Williams (F/3rd PA Arty) who was saved; and the names of the members of the 56th Illinois who were killed in the disaster.
View attachment 397417
Thanks, @lelliott19! There is also a pretty hair raising account in an issue of the National Tribune published around 1908 or so, written by a soldier who was on the ship that pulled the 28 survivors out of the water. It appears that my original suspicion was right, and the four guys from the 56th who were at Andersonville probably only managed to make it to the post war years BECAUSE they were POWs.

Wow.

At least one of them was exchanged after the General Lyon burned. The next step is to figure out the circumstances of their capture (on Aug 16, 1864), and how their second Lieutenant, Thomas O'Hara ended up at a prison that generally didn't hold officers. Near as I can tell, there were only 5 guys from the regiment at Andersonville, and four of them made it out.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
Top