Friday, June 10, 2005

Another Civil War Story

...and here is the story I found of a great-great-great-great uncle from the same branch of the family tree as the last blog entry who fought, was a prisoner of war, and fought again in the Civil War.

Charles Valentine Surfus was a private in Company E, 12th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He was honorably discharged at Cherwalla, Tennessee on December 25, 1863. He immediately re-enlisted the very same day in Company E, 12th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry as a veteran volunteer. It is surprising that he would re-enlist since he was taken a prisoner-of-war in the first really big battle of the war, the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing) Tennessee, which took place on April 6 and 7, 1862. The 8th, 12th, and the 14th Iowa Volunteers "composed four-fifths" of the troops that held fast under Benjamin Prentiss, in what became known as "The Hornet's Nest" in the battle. After some six hours of savage fighting, Prentiss, finding himself nearly surrounded by the enemy, surrendered his division at 5:30 in the afternoon of April 6. He surrendered some 2,200 men, half of his original force.

After the surrender, Charles V. Surfus marched with the rest of the prisoners some five miles to the rear and "spent a stormy night in a cornfield." From there they were marched to Corinth, Mississippi, where they were put on a train and taken to Mobile, Alabama. At Mobile, the officers and troops were separated; the men whose rank was lieutenant or lower were sent to "loathsome prisons" in Alabama and the officers to Selma. Eventually Charles and all the others, officers and enlisted men alike, were paroled (i.e. exchanged) at Aiken's Landing, Virginia on October 17, 1862. They were rejoined with those men of the Twelfth not taken prisoner and wound up at the Siege of Vicksburg. There followed four more years of fighting, marching, raiding and guarding after which Charles was discharged a first sargeant on January 20, 1866 at Memphis Tennessee. Charles returned to Bristow, Iowa after his final discharge where he spent the rest of his life engaged in the occupation of farming until he died in 1878.

On a side note, his wife Amanda Ann Surfus died on December 15, 1915. Sometime before her death she had gotten up rather hurriedly from bed for some forgotten reason and stubbed her toe on the bed. She got gangrene in her toe and had her leg amputated. She lived about 48 hours after the operation and died in the hospital in Waverly, Iowa.

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