Diary of Virgil Hester Walker

Civil War Experiences


Details of the past year of my life.

Captured Oct. 28th, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia by the 7th Regiment, Maine Volunteers. Was carried in the enemies line, turned over to the Provost Guard. Took to Corps Headquarters - Remained until 8 o'clock at night of 28th. Took the train for [Ct] Point-Virginia. Landed at 11 o'clock. Remained until the morning of 29th. [Names] [entered] and put in the pen for safekeeping - among all possible classes of men existing considerable [mixed] with the African Race.

On the morning of 30th was carried aboard the Boat - Daniel Webster set sail for Washington via Fortress Monroe - Landed at Washington on the morning 31st. Was assigned to the Old Capitol Prison - All implements down to spoons considered contraband - We taken our abode here until Dec. 16th confined in closed rooms - [?though] past our times as pleasant as we could under the circumstances -

On the date above mentioned was transferred to Fort Delaware, Del. where I am now writeing. Enjoyed the trip very much - some few made their escape and made their way to Dixie. Colonel Randolph Harrison of 61st Virginia Regiment was afterwards brought in again. As I cannot enter into closte details I must [?move] on - I lingered hear for sevin months under all ill conveniences.

The greater parte of the time starved and [?nearly ?barely] clothing sufficient to hide my flesh from the colde chilling winds that was continuosly making its appearance from the surfes of the water - Though after a time I found friends who was willing to administer to my [????] necessities - Whom I shall ever feel grateful to.

The highest number of Prisoner list at any one time was a short time previous to the fall of Richmond. Was something over 3000 officers and 8000 privates. At this time no exchange expected. After a short-time Richmond was evacuated, soon after following the surrender of General Lee's entire army. Was also followed by the surrender of General Johnstons - and a verry short time this two great [?prints] was followed the surrender of all organized forces East of the Mississippi River. At this time Jeff Davis with his officials [?fled] to make their escape. At this time the question arose among us whether or not not we was justifiable in taken the oath to the U.S. Government.

In a short time some commenced going out and continued until the 10th of June, 1865 when a general order was issued for a release of all men held as Prisoners whom had no charges against them-not above the rank of Captain. From that time some 500 per day was sent off up to this time. They are 2000 privates and 300 officers which will leave hear tomorrow the 18th of June, 1865. I shall complete my detail from hear to my home after I arrive there.

June 30, 1865

Landed home after a long and worrisome journey of seven days. Left Fort Delaware on 18th - came to Philadelphia. Remained in the City from 12 o'clock until 4 o'clock that evening - Citizens of the place treated [us] kindly - furnished us with rations and contributed many things otherwise - Taken the 4 o'clock train for Baltimore. Landed there at 8 o'clock. Marched through the place to a Union Relief Association and procured quarters for the Knight. Though very uncomfortably - Rested badly - Early next morning taken breakfast and set out for the Boat on which was to convey us through - Stored our baggage and remained until 6 o'clock that evening. Spent the day verry pleasantly in the city. Citizens verry kinde - The moste of the boys taken rather too much stimulation. Though fortunately at last quiet.

Set off at 6 o'clock. Sailed all knight. [Rained] very uncomfortable - next day landed at Fort Monroe at 12 o'clock. Changed Boats and got aboard one for Richmond. Sailed until 9 o'clock that Knight. Ankered and stood until day next morning - Set off early for Richmond Landed at [Ct] Point 11 o'clock. Remained but a short time set off again - after a long and hot sail we landed at the Ruins of the city of RIchmond. Marched through to Manchester wher we supposed to take the train for our next destination (Danvill) though had to remain until the next day 8 o'clock before she started - after pileing up on the top of the coach we got pasage - Road in desperate condition continously running off. Detained until early next day arriving at Danvill. Quite a change in the place - remained but a short time until we taken like pasage for Greensboro which place we reached without any difficulty at 8 o'clock P.M. Was compelled to be detained hear until 10 o'clock the next day for pasage to [High] Point. We drew rations cooked them and passed the Knight in the olde freight cars.

On the road Sunday morning it was raining. Taken the train for High Point. Landed at 10 o'clock A.M. - Made us halt. Set off on foot for Salem with our baggage on our shoulders - [came] out some two miles and highered a Negro to hall it to Olde Stewards - Was soon compelled to take off my Boots and set off barefoot walked all of the day through rain and mud very much fatigued. Reached our baggage at dark came out - to a school house and taken quarters for the Knight. Rested finely - next morning still raining.

Set off for Salem - arrived ther at 10 AM found quite dull treatment - found no acquaintances in the place. Came out to Cousin Martha Walkers. Taken the first meal [of] [on] my trip from Delaware. Stopped to rest and found I was unable to travall further. I remained until the next day and a Yankee soldier taken his horse and brought me home.

This being the 8th day of my travel. As a matter of course I rested a short time and am still at it yet - have not been off the plantation yet - Though shall set out in few days - cituations so completely changed it is no pleasure to visit them and in the mien time the people have changed with the other things. I could not imagine they could have been as much in the length of time though hope for the better. The clash of war has ceased in our land and Peace is onetime smiling on her [?????] countenance. People are delighted at the thought and striving to Render assistance to the Plow and implement of agriculture in preference to the sword. My tenure of service has been long and difficult to encounter. Three years and four months of which time I spent 9 months as a Prisoner of which time my suffering was to numerous to related.

As I am again released from bondage I shall be careful in the future - I hope our country may soon prosper and flourish. June 30, 1865.

Further entry in journal describing trip from home [Forsyth County] to Illinois. (Very difficult to make out some of the words)

Started from Home Sept 13th, 66 (1866) Camped at or near the Pilot Mountain. On the 2nd Knight - camped 2 miles west of [? Mt. Airy]. Started early on the morning of the 16th. Taken dinner at the top of the Blue Ridge at the Fancy Gap. From thence to [Hillsville] V.A. to [? Witherll] to Marion to Seven Mile Ford - to Alington to Wolson River to Clinch River to Osberns to [Fol???] Mt. to Walnut Ridge to Jonesville County [????] of Lee Co. V.A. to Cumberlain Gap [????] road [????] the log [? ???] to Barberville K.Y. to London to Mt. Vernon to Stamford to Danville to Harisville to Elderrado to [Salvi??] to Rough & Ready to Hendersonville to New Albany, Ind. to Greenville to Martinsburg To Salem to Orleans to [?ichaet] [camped ?] East Fork of White River at Woodes Ferry. to Fayetteville to Springville to Jonesboro to Cincinatti to Sailesberry to Smith Ferry on the West fork of White River to [?????? ] [?????] to [?ouseville] to Centerville to Terrehaut to Maxwell to the State line 8 miles West of Terrehaut. -

Oct 16th 1866 to Elbridge to Parris County [????] of Edgar Co. to Bloomfield to [Lackakillet?] Struck the Grand [Prarrier?] Oct 17th to [?????] Taken up and went to [?????] Oct 18th 1866.

1998, Terrence L. Brantley and Shirley Anne Francis Bush


Sources:

Printed with the permission of Terrence L. Brantley and Shirley Anne Francis Bush, copyright owners. Not to be copied or any portion reproduced without their written permission.

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