A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 23-31 January 1865

Jens Dahle and James Eberhart are both prisoners in Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. James writes in his diary:

Prison Trench Burial“Jany 23-31-

We have Missed our Ration one day.  This week 200 has died this week. There wont be many of us left.”  — James Eberhart1

The bodies were collected daily and taken to the “dead house” to be counted and loaded onto a one-horse wagon. At 2:00 PM each day this wagon of the dead would be taken about ¼ mile to an abandoned cornfield where the men were buried. Eighteen trenches of approximately 240 feet each were eventually needed. These trenches are visible today.2

See photo at above.3  Prisoner labor was used to bury the (eventually) 3200 bodies who died from early November to February 1865.

James is now only writing once every three to five days and has reduced the amount of words in each entry to two to three lines.  Usually there is a note about the weather, whether they received rations and the body count.  The number dying per day is mounting.

It is a dark time.  No relief in sight.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  I have attended SLIG in SLC and the PMC conference.  Since I am writing this before the conference, I am sure I have blogged about the experience or will soon.

1 James W. Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.
2 “Salisbury, NC”, Civil War Album (http://civilwaralbum.com : accessed 1 January 2015).


3 comments on “A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 23-31 January 1865

  1. a gray says:

    What an excellent post!

  2. Dana Leeds, The Enthusiastic Genealogist says:

    I have missed reading most of these posts as I didn’t realize how wonderful they’d be. I will have to go back and read them! What a sad time in our history and your family’s history.

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Thanks for your comment. For the record, Jens is not my relative. I had a wonderful opportunity to research his Civil War experience. I learned so much. As a consequence I am able to blog about the experiences of a parallel participant, James Eberhart.

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