Floyd County Military Records


The Trials of a Union Soldier
By Lieutenant James M. Thornbury, 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry
Submitted by John D. Thornsbury


   From the Henry P. Scalf Papers in the Frank M. Allara Library at Pikeville College,

                  Pikeville, Kentucky; courtesy of Flo Ann Young.


   Editor's note: As poems go, this one isn't very good. But, it does have a good deal of

   historical detail, and it is probably the best example of literacy produced by any of the  39th's veterans.

 [Allegedly written on Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 10th, 1864]


                    On the ninth of January Eighteen and Sixty-four

                   I was taken by the rebels on the Big Sandy Shore.

                     My sword and pistol they quickly took away

                   I stood there in the snow and not a word could say.


                 My pocket book and money I quickly threw them down

                      And made them believe I surely had none.

                 They marched me to Witheville and there I took the car

                   From there I went to Richmond a prisoner of war.


                  And there I remained until three months rolled around

                   And during all this time my feet were not on ground.

                   In Libby Prison I was kept until the seventh of May

                   So quickly we got orders and then marched away.


                    We were then transported down to Macon town

                   In the state of Ga., one thousand miles from home.

                  My troubles there were great and not very much to eat

                   In the sun we were kept and nearly died with heat.


                   The fall of Atlanta was the cause of General Hood

                      To begin his retreat and that was very good.

                   And when the news of it came it did quickly sound

                   The prisoners they must leave and go to Charleston.


                     And when we got there near the ocean shore

                    The sound of Fosters cannon soon begin to roar.

                     The shells they did fly, the town begin to burn

                      And it was very funny to see the rebels run.


                  And it was not very long until we were carried down

                 To Columbia, South Carolina, the course is not known.

                   The camp was very bad what time that I remained

                  And not a house nor shelter to keep us from the rain.


                     So one day I concluded no longer would I stay

                  With boldness and courage I quickly marched away.

                     The Southern Confederacy,Oh it I left behind

                     And started up the river a better land to find.


                     And when I arrived at Knoxville, Tennessee,

                     I was treated like a brother and set at liberty.

                     And now I have met my friends in communion

                  Where the Stars and Stripes are waving for the Union.