Letter from Maj. J. A. Bering
to the Commissioner of Exchange
following his recapture
Camp Ford Feb. 9th 1865.
Col. C. C. Dwight, Com. Of Exchange
Sir: I take the liberty to address you in behalf of Lieut. W. J. Srofe and myself. We were captured with our Regt. At the battle of Mansfield La., April 8th 1864, and taken to this place. We did not think that there was any prospect of exchange last summer, so on the 20th day of August last, we made our escape from here and started for Little Rock. It being the nearest from here to our lines. When within 40 or 80 miles from Little Rock, we were recaptured by the enemy's pickets and taken to Camden, Ark. Where we were kept until Sept. 30th, when with a number of other prisoners we were sent back to this place. On the 9th of October, we passed our Rgt. near Shreveport. They were on their way to our lines for exchange. I made an effort to be sent on with them, but could get no hearing. When we arrived here the Col. Comd'g the Prison said that we would be considered prisoners from the date of our recapture, the 2nd of Sept. Which will make us the latest captured prisoners in the Department. Capt Birchard the paroling officer has informed us that we have forfeited our claim to an exchange until all the other prisoners here are exchanged. They say that this is the only way they have of punishing us for running away. What I ask of you is that you will be so kind and make a request for us to be sent forward at the next exchange that takes place. If it is not done, we will undoubtedly be kept until the last man here has been exchanged, which I think will be doing us great injustice if our Authorities let the Rebs have their own way about it. Hoping that you will give my request a favorable hearing, I remain your
J. A. Bering, Major
48th Rgt; Ohio Veteran Inft.
Col. C. C. Dwight
Commissioner of Exchange
Dept. of the Gulf
From the OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 8, Part 1 (Prisoners of War):
CAMP OF NATIONAL PRISONERS,
Near Tyler, Tex., February 11, 1865.
Major General E. R. S. CANBY,
Commanding Military Division of West Mississippi:
GENERAL: The undersigned, officers of the U. S. Army, held as prisoners of war at this camp, take the liberty of addressing you, desiring to call your attention to the fact that there are officers of our army now held at this place and at the guard-house in Shreveport who we are assured are held by the Confederate authorities as punishment for attempting to escape to our own lines. We have always supposed that it was the right and duty of a prisoner of war to make his own escape when possible, and that it was contrary to all rules and usages of civilized warfare to punish him for so doing. Major Bering and Lieutenant Srofe, of the Forty-eight Ohio Infantry, are among the oldest prisoners in camp. They were in Shreveport when their regiment passed through Shreveport for exchange in October last. Major McCauley, of the First Indiana [Cavalry], and Lieutenants Fleming and Fulton, of the Seventy-seventh Ohio Infantry, are now and have been for some time in the guard-house at Shreveport for attempting to escape. Their regiments are now going forward for exchange, but the agent of exchange refuses to send them forward. Being the oldest prisoners here we expected to have gone on this exchange, as we supposed it was the rule of our Government to exchange the oldest captures first, but, as it seems not to be, we would endeavor to exchange ourselves, cheerfully undergoing all the hardships and dangers of an attempt to travel some 400 miles through the enemy's country were we assured that we would be protected in so doing by our authorities. It is poor encouragement if we know that when recaptured and our regiments are exchanged we are retained in prison. We are sure it is only necessary to call your attention to the matter to have it corrected. We shall look anxiously for the action of our Government in the cases referred to.
J. A. Bering, major Forty-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry; William Prescott, captain, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; John W. Watts, captain, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; P. H. White, captain Mercantile Battery; J. H. Stevison, captain, Seventy-seventh Illinois Infantry; Elias Fraun-felter, captain, One hundred and twentieth Ohio Infantry; Thomas Hughes, first lieutenant and regimental quartermaster, Twenty-eighth Iowa Infantry; William B. Milliken, first lieutenant, One hundred and twentieth Ohio Infantry; Harvey Applegate, first lieutenant, One hundred and twentieth Ohio Infantry; Samuel P. Dill, captain, One hundred and seventy-third Regiment New York Volunteers; Henry J. Wyman, first lieutenant, Seventy-seventh Illinois; Charles Nolton, first lieutenant, One hundred and seventy-third New York Volunteers; A. H. Hazlett, first lieutenant, Fourteenth Iowa Infantry; J. M. McCulloch, captain, Seventy-seventh Illinois Infantry; Thomas Sheridan, captain Company K, Eighty-seventh Illinois; David Mefford, captain, Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry; John M. Defriese, second lieutenant, Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry; T. S. O'Conner, first lieutenant, Second Indian Regiment; Gaza Haraszthy, Company B, Eighteenth New York Cavalry; G. S. Goodwin, first lieutenant, Seventh Missouri Cavalry; B. Hitchcock, first lieutenant, First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry; S. S. Edwards, first lieutenant, Seventy-seventh Illinois Volunteers; C. W. Johnson, first lieutenant, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; George W. Huston, first lieutenant and regiment quartermaster, Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry; R. S. Taylor, first lieutenant, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; J. W. Paulen, first lieutenant, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; W. C. Harned, first lieutenant, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; W. C. Pool, first lieutenant, One hundred and thirtieth Illinois Volunteers; C. A. Payne, first lieutenant, Eighteenth New York Cavalry; P. S. Cone, lieutenant, Chicago Mercantile Battery; C. F. McCulloch, second lieutenant, Seventy-seventh Illinois; W. J. Srofe, first lieutenant, Forty-eighth Ohio Volunteers.
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