The following story of the Civil War comes to us from Jean G. Schnitz of Boerne, Texas. Like so many, her great-grandfather came to Texas after the horrors of war.
Jean’s great-grandfather was George Troupe Scudder, and he enlisted in a Georgia infantry on May 8, 1862, under Joseph E. Johnston. Eventually, he was captured and held as a prisoner at Camp Douglas, near Chicago. His stories of prison life mirror so many others.
George Troupe Scudder almost died of starvation while in prison. He also came close to freezing to death until a New Jersey newspapaer editor named William Ira Scudder visited the prison to do some interviews. While there, the editor heard of a man who bore his surname, and he asked to be allowed to visit George.
After that meeting, William Ira Scudder sent George the box of warm clothing that probably saved his life during the harsh Illinois winters. George was so touched that he later named his first born son William Ira Scudder.
According to George Scudder, the food fed Confederate prisoners consisted of scraps left over by the Union soldiers. On the days when there were no scraps, the prisoners did not eat. On the days that there was food to be had, it was served in buckets…just scraps thrown in buckets..as the southern boy remembered slopping his hogs. Of course, the men ate with their hands.
George Troupe Scudder survived prison conditions, and moved to Graford, Texas where he told stories of the prison for the rest of his life. He told of his fellow prisoners being beaten or killed if they complained about the food or tried to get better food. He told of shootings and “bayoneting” of prisoners who did not conform to the rules of the prison.
Until his death in 1916, George Troup Scudder was a confirmed Yankee hater. His home in Graford was across the street from the Post Office, and family stories have it that he refused to sit on his front porch because he could not stand to look at the “Union” flag hanging there. He sat on the back side of the house until the flag was taken down at the end of each day. Then, he moved to the front porch.
Mr. Scudder was serious about his hatred for Yankees. He even refused visits from his daughter-in-law because her father had fought for the Union.
Seem a little silly? Seem like all of this was a long, long time ago? Let me put it into perspective for you. I knew my great-grandmother well, and she was born during Reconstruction. That gets me right back to a first-person account.
When you think about it like that, it’s not very long ago at all, is it?