Sketch of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, With Reminiscences of Camp Douglas
Copley, John M.
Tennessee 49th Infantry Regiment
This is a first hand account by John M. Copley of the Tennessee 49th Infantry Regiment, Company B. He was captured at Nashville and sent to Camp Douglas where he experienced and described the horrors there.
John M. Copley was a young boy from Dickson County, Tennessee. As a fifteen year old, he enlisted in Company B, 49th Tennessee Infantry in Charlotte, Tennessee. In this narrative, the reader is taken on a journey with Copley from his enlistment in 1861 through the end of the war. The narrative particularly focuses on Copley’s participation in Hood’s fateful 1864 Tennessee Campaign and his capture amidst the indescribably staggering carnage of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864. Here, Copley as a soldier in Quarles’ Brigade, Walthall’s Division, was captured on the east side of the Columbia Turnpike near the famous Carter cotton gin. After an all-night march without rations, Copley and his fellow prisoners were taken to the Tennessee State Penitentiary where they awaited transportation by train to Louisville, Kentucky, and further transportation by rail to Chicago, Illinois. Here, at Camp Douglas, Copley, in vivid details, describes the wretched conditions and inhumane treatment he and others received as Confederate prisoners of war at Camp Douglas, Illinois.
A prisoner in our barrack was sick and hardly able to walk, but started to the hydrant for water; on the steps of the barrack
he met old Prairie Bull, who, without a word, drew his pistol and shot the prisoner down, breaking his thigh near the groin. The wounded man had to remain where he fell, from the early part of the night until the following morning, when he was taken out and died during the day. This inhuman wretch, this fiendish slimy serpent who would have made any one sick to have touched him, refused all aid and assistance to the wounded man; but promptly informed us that if we touched the wounded prisoner, he would shoot us all down like dogs. Such deeds as this were of frequent occurrence, and nearly every week some one was maliciously and wantonly shot by some villainous sentinel on the parapet.