By Al Benson Jr.
Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s it used to be a common thing for either people who had fought in the War of Northern Aggression or someone in their families, to write accounts of their activities while in that War and have these printed up in limited editions, mostly for succeeding generations of their families and maybe a few close friends.
Although that practice pretty much died out later in the 1900s it did not, thank goodness, perish entirely. Quite often interesting historical facts can be gleaned from such publications—things that will never make it into the history books and are at variance with the sanitized versions of history most of us have been fed.
Recently I received, via email, a chapter out of just such a book, one not written until 1998. The title of the book is Campaigns of the Wise Guards–Pinckney Barfield–Walking Away from Death. . The author is L. B. Hammett and the Pinckney Barfield mentioned in the book’s title is the author’s grandfather.
From what I can gather Mr. Barfield joined a company called the Wise Guards in Georgia in 1861. He was eventually appointed 2nd sergeant and eventually transferred to Co. B of the 22nd Battalion of the Georgia Heavy Artillery.
Sergeant Barfield ended up being a prisoner of war and his observations about that were interesting. It was noted that, at Castle William, the Confederate POW’ were treated with “…the greatest consideration. The guards were Americans and the men were treated well. For all of that, Sergeant Barfield made two attempts to escape, both of which failed. However, both times he was brought back and not shot. I remember, years ago, seeing a movie about the War of Northern Aggression in which the hero was captured and when someone asked him about it he said “A good soldier always tries to secape.”
The narrative continued: “From Castle William, Pinckney and fellow-prisoners were moved to Fort Delaware at Pea Patch Island, New Jersey on the New York, Pennsylvania state line.”
The author quoted a Los Angeles Times article written in 1984 by Charles Hillinger which said: “…Stories about the suffering—from scurvy, smallpox, pneumonia, malnutrition—have passed down through the generations, making Pea Patch Island difficult to erase from the minds of the descendants. Many visit to look for the signatures of their ancestors on the brick walls of the cell blocks (at Fort Delaware).”
Sergeant Barfield noted: “We remained there (Governor’s Island) three months then were transferred to Fort Delaware, one of the worst prisons on earth and we remained there five months. We were exchanged in the winter of 62.”
The author noted, of the guards at Fort Delaware that “Union guards inflicted horrendous suffering upon Pinckney Barfield and thousands of other Confederate prisoners—How truly bad it was will never be known!” That’s right, it won’t—at least not as long as Yankee/Marxist “historians” are the ones to write the “history” books. They will continue to dwell on the horrors of Andersonville and totally ignore places like Fort Delaware and Elmira, giving the impression the Confederate POWs lived in near country club conditions.
The author noted the comments of another Confederate POW at Fort Delaware. He said: “We get hardly enough food to keep us alive—three slices of bread a day, a cup of unsweetened coffee, a cup of very thin soup and a cup of gruel…Soldiers are dying like flies around us.”
Fort Delaware has always been of particular interest to me because the commandant of that horrible place was one Albin Schoepf, a Hungarian socialist who came to this country in 1851. He was one of “Lincoln’s Marxists” and at Fort Delaware, apparently he was not alone.
The author observed: “At Fort Delaware Pinckney learned the true meaning of the horrors of war.” Sergeant Barfield himself noted “There we were under German guards and many of the men died from ill treatment and improper care. We were there six months, and during the time, I found the true meaning of war.” Pinckney observed that he had seen men standing in groups, while talking about home and loved ones. The guards, not caring how many they killed, shot in among them claiming of course, the prisoners were plotting to escape. Many died of exposure. Pinckney said every morning the dead were stacked in carts, one a-top the other in heaps, to be dumped like so much trash and hauled away.” Barfield also said “We were confined in a large fenced place and the only shelter from the weather was to be ill and brave enough to try the hospital…I got sick with so much exposure, poor treatment and bad food, but I stayed away from the hospital shed and prayed for an exchange of prisoners. If there was an exchange, my only chance was to remain with the well men.” When the exchange did come, two friends helped Barfield out, literally holding him up between them so he would not appear sick.
Interestingly enough, one of the things they complain most about at Andersonville was the lack of shelter from the weather. Why was that never an issue at Fort Delaware? The weather there was a lot more severe there than in Georgia. However, we are not supposed to notice little things like that and the “historians” would rather we didn’t so it’s never mentioned.
Donnie Kennedy and I, in our book Lincoln’s Marxists (Pelican Publishing) deal with Albin Shoepf on page 205-207. His socialist mentality and the amount of brutality he allowed his guards. We noted, on page 206 that: “In cruelty and death, the torture endured by Confederate prisoners under General Schoepf ranks with the worst ever suffered by American prisoners of war, including those held by the Japanese in World War 2.”
What Sergeant Barfield and many others suffered at Fort Delaware clearly displays the Marxist mentality so many refuse to look at. Think about this—if the Marxists in Lincoln’s armies were willing to do this to Southern prisoners back then, what do you think present-day Marxists will be willing to do if they ever take complete control in this country (as they are attempting to do—from the White House on down)? How many millions died under Stalin and Mao? Think it will be any different here? If you do then you are really a candidate for belief in the Tooth Fairy.