Union P.O.W.: Internment at & Escape from Libby Prison
123. [CIVIL WAR]. HOOD, John. Collection of autograph manuscript speeches about the Civil War and his experiences, written and delivered by Hood at various venues during the nineteenth century. Also included are other miscellaneous documents relating to Hood. All Hood’s speeches are in ink in his hand. All the documents were at some point in a fire and are lightly smoke damaged, especially at their edges. The collection consists of:
“LECTURE ON PRISON LIFE.” 174 pages (wanting pp. 44-45) on 87 leaves of ruled paper. 4to (24.5 x 19.5 cm). Includes 4 additional pages of “Outline of Lecture on Prison Life” on half sheets, which are his lecture notes for the main speech. Many leaves have marginal chipping touching a few letters, some leaves are torn or otherwise damaged. On the whole, however, basically complete and quite legible. The narrative is well written and insightful, briefly touching on his enlistment in 1862 but rapidly moving to his capture the next year and his experiences as a Confederate POW. After being captured near Rome, Georgia, he was taken to Libby Prison, where he spent nearly a year. His detailed descriptions of the struggle to survive prison life and the numerous escape episodes give what appears to be a fairly accurate picture of prison life there. He was finally transferred to Charleston, where he was used as a human shield. He managed to escape, only to be recaptured near Federal lines in Tennessee. His comments on the kindnesses showed him by the slaves, one of whom supplied him with a Confederate uniform, and sympathetic Southerners he encountered stand in contrast to his depictions of the cruel treatment afforded him by his Confederate captors. He was often transferred, and the narrative contains descriptions of Charleston, Charlotte, Columbia, Athens, and Goldsboro. He finally was exchanged in North Carolina right at the end of the war. This is a major, unpublished Civil War POW narrative. It was delivered at Greene’s Opera House, Rapid City, Iowa.
“MEMORIAL ADDRESS AT MOSCOW, ILL, MAY 30, 1892.” 40 pages on 40 leaves of ruled paper. 4to (24.5 x 19.5 cm). All leaves are somewhat stained. This lecture is a patriotic Memorial Day address and somewhat a biography of and tribute to John A. Logan. (See #5.)
“MEMORIAL ADDRESS AT LISBON MAY 29, 188[?].” 36 pages on 36 leaves of ruled paper. 4to (24.5 x 19.5 cm). All leaves are somewhat stained. Several leaves are adhered together. This lecture is a patriotic Memorial Day address.
“MEMORIAL ADDRESS AT ALEDO MAY 30, 95.” 47 pages on 47 leaves of ruled paper. 4to (24.5 x 19.5 cm). All leaves are lightly stained. Tied with string at left margin. This lecture is another patriotic Memorial Day address.
“LOGAN MEMORIAL ADDRESS.” 16 pages on 16 leaves of ruled paper. 4to (24.5 x 19.5 cm). All leaves are lightly stained. A memorial tribute to John Alexander “Black Jack” Logan (1826-1886), Illinois native and prominent Union Civil War general. After participating in the Mexican-American War, he was elected a Congressman from southern Illinois. During the Civil War, he progressed steadily in rank and was commander of the Army of the Tennessee forces at the Battle of Atlanta, although he was eventually relieved of command. Returning to Congress after the war, he was the founder of Memorial Day in 1868. His political career continued, and he was elected U.S. Senator and ran with James G. Blaine as his vice-presidential candidate. John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois, is named for him. See DAB.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Typed letter signed to U. Franklin Smiley, Austin, Texas, November 10, 1904, on Austin Electric Railway Company letterhead. 2-1/2 pages. 4to (27.5 x 21.5 cm). Creased where formerly folded, chipped, browned, and fire damaged, but with no loss of text. In this letter Hood gives a brief autobiography.
CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED. Two autograph letters signed, one from the Presbyterian Church at Galesburg, Illinois, April 30, 1889, calling Hood to be their minister; and another from the Presbyterian Church at Sparta, June 1, 1870, also calling him to be their minister. Both are signed by all on the appointment committee. Creased where formerly folded, stained.
CORRESPONDENCE & MILITARY PAPERS. One Hood autograph letter signed and sixteen accomplished forms and form letters concerning Hood’s pension application, 1864-1865. Included are returns of stores for Hood’s command and his original commission. All are creased where formerly folded. The commission is wanting text because of fire damage and is in poor condition.
CIVIL WAR POETRY. DEWOLFE, George G.B. (1835-1873). “R.J. Harmer, Quartermaster of 80th Illinois.” Autograph poem, 1-1/2 pages. 4to (25.5 x 20 cm). “Written in a few minutes in the National Hotel, Annapolis, MD, by the Wandering Poet of N.H.” Creased where formerly folded, lightly stained. An unusual piece of Civil War poetry. Harmer apparently served with and was imprisoned with Hood.
NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. One sheet on both sides of which have been pasted several contemporary newspaper clippings reviewing Hood’s lecture given at Greene’s Opera House (see #1 above). Although in general flattering, one commentator notes that Hood’s voice was a high-pitched, irritating disappointment, lacking resonance.
Illinois native John Hood (1838-1905), according to his biographical information above and other sources, spent his early life on a farm and graduated from present-day Indiana University in 1862. Instead of pursuing an intended career in politics and law, he joined the Union army in 1862 as a captain in Company F, 80th Regiment, Illinois infantry. He was captured in 1863 and spent the rest of the war as a POW. He then became superintendent of schools at Sparta, Illinois, before being licensed to preach. He spent the remainder of his life as a Presbyterian minister and is buried at Oak Hill cemetery at Grand Rapids.
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