A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 25 November 1864

“Nov 25–a little warmer to day.  But very muddy.  The mortality of camp is Very great.  From 40-50 a day. How long will we last.” — James Eberhart

James expressed the growing depression of the camp in his diary on 25 November.  Prisoners in Salisbury, including Jens had little to do except think about survival.

Salisbury trenchesIf a prisoner was sick, he was taken to the hospital which provided a roof over head and not much more.  The dead  bodies were carried off in carts to a location outside the compound to be buried in a common grave.  The names of those who died were not recorded.  Presently at the site, now a national monument, there are long rows that are designated as the burial trenches for the Salisbury soldiers.  (see photo.) [1]

At Andersonville, a prison of the same style as Salisbury and a notorious Confederate prison made more famous by the book of the same name by MacKinlay Kantor, death was as commonplace as at Salisbury.  Dorence Atwater, A physician’s assistant and Union soldier, recorded the name of many soldiers who died at Andersonville and where they were buried–at some risk to himself.

“In the spring of 1865 families from around the country were sending [Clara Barton] letters inquiring as to the whereabouts of their loved ones, as the Army had no system in place to notify next of kin when a soldier died. Barton began publishing lists of missing soldiers in the newspapers. On June 22, 1865 [Dorence] Atwater wrote Barton a letter introducing himself to her, and asked for a copy of her missing soldiers lists, suggesting that he could provide information on many of those listed. Barton then contacted Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and asked that she be given access to the Atwater lists, which by this point were in the possession of the army and being copied.” [2]

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I am working (finally) on my Kinship Determination Project.  I am setting a goal of a minimum of 500 words per day–no matter what.  I am just trying to get the story written as this seems to be a struggle for me.  Sometimes the words flow, but for me right now–they aren’t.

[1] photo used with permission from http://www.GoRowan.com, accessed 4 November 2014.

[2] Andersonville National Historic Site, “Myth: Clara Barton organized the expedition to Andersonville, identified the graves, and established Andersonville National Cemetery,” National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/bartonmyths.htm : accessed 4 November 2014)



3 comments on “A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 25 November 1864

  1. Mary Swenson says:

    Once again, my gratitude for learning about my great-grandfather Jens T. Dahle!

  2. a gray says:

    What and excellent post.

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