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1). GOD FORGIVE THEM, I CAN T! By John D. Feagin, Sr. One of the horrendous aspects of the Civil War was t h e d e p rivation of prisoners in both the e northern an d so uthe r n p risoners of war camps.Prisoners on both sid es su ffer e d inco nceivable misery. one of the worst camp s wa s Ander so nvill ePrison in Georgia. It was overcrowd ed wi th onl y on e sourc e of water, a dank stream runnin g throu gh th e cente r of th e compound. A wall composed o f logs c ut fro m the ne arby for est surrounded the priso n grounds . A dead line surr ounded th einterior of the pr ison. I f a prisone r crossed t he deadlin e the Rebel guar ds wer e under order s to shoot. P risoners di ed by the hu ndred s of disease, ma lnutrition, an d thirst. O n a hot A ugus t the 13th day in 1 864, a sudden s torm appeare dan d by s ome accounts, a ligh tning bolt cam e from the da r k cloud s and struck the earth . A spring of w ater cam e gushi ng f rom the ground. The thi rsty men rushe d to wh at became k n own as the Providentia l Spring. Som e me n were pushed ov er the deadline and sho t. After the war was over, some of the northern prisone r s w e r e sent home via steamship. One of these steamer s wa s t h e ag ing Sultana. The Sultana was extremely over crowd ed w it h ove r 2000 prisoners on board. Just above M emphi s Tenn ess ee, the Sultana s boilers suddenly explod ed, cr eatin g an i nfern o of steam and fire. Many prisone rs die d insta ntly. S ome o f the prisoners were sent flyi ng int o the Mis sissipp i Rive r where they drowned. The l oss o f life was w ell ove r a thou sand and is thought t o have b een greater t han th e lives los t during the sink ing of th e Titanic. A reporter who was sent to the National Military H o m e i n J anuary of 1906 interviewed one individual tha t ex pe rien ce d these tragedies and lived to tell about i t. The young reporter from the Dayton Daily News sto o d i n t h e midst of the venerable old warriors at the So ld ier s ho m e and gazed around, looking for a likely indi vid ua l to in te rview. Some thing drew his attention t o th e ol d man sit tin g in the corner. The man with the l ong g ray h air flecke d wi th occasional strands of black . The o ld ma n appeared t o b e in a contemplative mood a s he ofte n did . He, like oth ers , remembering the past t hat haunte d the m on a daily bas i s . Thereporter coul d not help bu t noti ce the ugly whit e s car that ran fro m the top of th e old m ans forehead al l th e way past hi s left eyebrow an d down t o his cheek. A n old w ar woun d the reporter surmi sed. Th e reporter had pi cked hi s ca ndidate.What follow s is the s tory of Private Wi nfiel d S cott Pottle, Compan y G, Ohio 54 th Volunteer Infant ry . It i s a story of an A merican trage dy, and it is a sto r y of on e American s tri umph over monu mental odds. All of us didn t go out at the same time, said Sco t t P o t tle. My brother Wallace and I enlisted in 186 1 i n th e 54 t h Ohio Infantry, which was called Platt s Z ouav es. W alla c e was 20 years old and I 16. My mother di ed be fore t he wa r . Myyoungest brother, Ves, only a ki d 13 ye ars old ,was c ra zy to get to the war and my fathe r knew h e woul d run awa y , so he decided to enlist himse lf and ta ke Ve s with him . Th ey joined the 94th Ohio i n 1862. Ve s went a long as a d rumme r boy, but he carrie d a gun in S herman s march to th e sea . He got along al l right too, a nd was t he only one o f us no t wounded. M y father was wou nded at t he Battle of S tone Riv er, an d invalided home. The company Wallace and I belonged to was made up al m o s t e ntirely on Xenia boys. We had a pretty warm ti m e o f i t at t he battle of Shiloh. You can read all abo u t tha t i n the his tories . Wallace was shot in the rig h t breas t an d left hand in that fight, and they sent h i m to the h ospit al and the n discharged him for disabili ty . Consumpti on se t in a few y ears later and he died 1 0 ye ars after th e war. Somehow or other my name was published in the rep o r t s o f the battle as being one of the dead. A committ e e w a s appo inted in Xenia to go south and look after t h e boy s o f our c ompany, which had been pretty well sho t u p. M y fath er was o neof the committee, and he brough t al on g a coffi n to tak e my body home in. We were in ca mp a t Sh ewall, Ten n., whe n the committee came along . I can t reco llect jus t what h e said when he saw how l ive I was , but i t s natura l to supp ose that he was some what surpr ised. When Sherman started out to reinforce Rosecrans , I w a s o n e of the detail men. A party of Forrest s Cav alry a tt ack e d us along the road, trying to take Sherman . We pu t o u t a l ine to protect the wagon train and giv e Sherma n a c ha nce t o get back. Forest charged and som e Johnny R eb soc ke d me o n the head and arm with a saber . See thi s scar o n m y arm, a nd this dent in my head? Th at s wher e they cam e fr om. The y took 206 of us prisoner s that tim e. The Reb s ha d me penne d upfor 18 months. F irst I wa s put at Bell e Isl and wit h a big batch of corr alled Yank ees. Then al l but 10 0 men w e resent away. Gen eral Ben Bu tler had thre atened t o kill 10 0 Rebels an d I was one o f the 100 Yankee s kept ba ck to be s laughte red if Butle r carried out his p lan. Tickl ish busines s t hat! Luckil y for us Butler chang ed his min d and we we r e sent on t o Libby. Then we didn t know whethe r we wer e luc ky or no t. That was a fierce no te. It was s o crowd ed a ma n could nt straighten out. The y kept me in L ibb y only thre e wee ks, and Andersonville wa s our next hot e l. The only imp ro vement was that it was no t so crowde d . O ur food was ran k , the water warm and horr ible. On e day aft er a thunders torm , a spring of clear wat er bro ke out betwe en the stoc kade an d the dead line. Ther e wa s a great rus h for the w ater, an d I was among the bun c h pushed over th e line. Th e Rebel gua rds opened fire a n d I got a bullet i n my sid e . And there w e lay, ourco mra des couldn t help u s, the y dared not cros s the dea d line . We lay about an hou r wh en the Captain of t he Gu ard orde red us removed. Fo r a wh ile there was more o f o ur blood i n that spring tha n wate r. Finally the time came for us to go north. Twenty tw o h u n d red of us Yanks were put on the steamer Sultana . I sl e p t un der the same blanket with George White, i n the ba c k pa rt o f the boat . Just above Memphis abou t 3 o cloc k i n th e morn ing, there was a terrific explos ion. I wa s in t he wa ter bef ore I knew what was going on . I grabbe d ont o a plan k and b y queer coincidence , Geo rge White , my bla nket mate , got ho ld of the same plank . We got ou t of th e crowd of s trugglin gmen and hollere d for help . A fisher man came alon g and too k us ashore . Fifteen hun dred poor d evils lost the ir lives i n tha t disaster. While I was in the hospital In Memphis, I saw m y n a m e i n the newspaper as one of the drowned. I gues s I m t h e onl y survivor of that affair in this county n ow. Thu s e nded t he interview . In his application for a pension, Winfield Scott Pot t l e g i ves an even more graphic description of his exper ie nc e s i n prison and undoubtedly that of thousands of o the r p ri sone rs when he writes ... In my dreams I go through all of the horrors of s t a r v ing to death and awaiting to be shot and awake wit h p ar ch e d tongue, that awful pain in my head bloodsho t ey e s an d m y heart nearly Jumping out of me that I d on t be liev e I n Doctors and therefore don t go to the m oft e n . I hop e an d pray that you will take Into consi derati o n that I ha ve we nt through all the horrors of th e Rebe l P risons fro m Octobe r 11th 1863 until March 1865 , als o th e horrors o f being dro wned being a survivor o f tha t terri ble disaste r the blowin g up of that ill fat ed ste amer Sul tana. Hopin g and prayin g that you will co nside r all of th is will be w ith what grea t lots of evid enc e I now have i n will be suff icient to giv e me aprop er r e rating or a p roper allowanc e of my pension . Ofte n time s I see with m y eyes open and s ee myself so we a k from hu nger, crawlin g around crying fo r water and so methi ng t o eat God forg ive them, I can t. Winfield Scott Pottle received his pension of $1 7 . 0 0 p e r month for thelast time on March 4 , 1908. H e fo ugh t hi s l ast battle and departed this life for a b ette r on e on A pri l 18, 1908. In June of 1999, our family visited the cemetery a t 3 r d a n d Gettysburg Streets on the Westside of Dayton , Ohi o . Wi nf ield Scott Pottle has a plain white headst one lo ca ted i n Se ction P, Number 30. It is behind and t o the r igh t of h is father s stone when facing the larg e monumen t . I woul d estima te it to be about 100 feet di stant. Th e s tone is s imply mar ked W.S. Pottle with hi s unit o n it . We place d some coin s under the headston e inscrip tio n side to mar k our visit. The 1888 92 Dayton City Directory shows W. S. Pottle wo r k i n g as a veterinary surgeon and living at 103 S. Eucl i d A ve nu e, W.S. Dayton, Ohio. He is previously liste d a s wor kin g a s a horse shoer and living at 925 W. 3r d St. , S.W . Dayt on ,OH. This address is only 3 block s fro m wher e the Wri gh t Brothers lived at 1210 W. 3rd , S. W . Dayton , OH. Th e Wri ght Brothers Oroville an d Wilbur were fri ends of th e Pott les and they knew eac h other w ell. Medical He died from the effects of imprisonment in A n d e r sonville and the stresses of fighting in the Civi l Wa r.
Name: Winfield Scott Pottle Note
Born: Nov 1844 at Near Eaton, , , OH
Married: Abt 1867 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Died: 18 Apr 1908 at Dayton, , Montgomery, OH
Other Spouses: Caroline Rupert
Father: George Wellington Pottle
Mother: Mary Charlotte Harman
Name: Caroline Rupert
Born: Abt 1848 at Near Chambersburg, , , OH
Died: May 1884 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Name: Pearl Dewitt Pottle
Born: 25 Jan 1871 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Died: 7 Mar 1937 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Wife: Emma Winnie Rieck
Name: Rupert Scott Pottle
Born: 4 Jul 1873 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Died: at Indianapolis, , , IN
Name: George Edward Pottle
Born: 24 Aug 1874 at Dayton, , Montgomery County, OH
Died: Abt 1901 at Spanish American War Philippine Islands, , ,
Name: Elsie Berniece Pottle
Born: 24 Sep 1882 at 915 W Third St, Dayton, Montgomery County, OH
Died: 24 Mar 1956 at Evans, , Erie county, NY