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I am an avid genealogy buff.  I have researched my family for many years now and I thought it would be interesting to add some of my research here.  This is a short biography I have written on my great great grandfather who served in the Confederate States Army.  This is mostly about his service in the “war between the States”

D N Hodgens

David Newton Hodgens 1834-1899 South Carolina to Alabama by way of Elmira POW camp...

David Newton Hodgens is the son of James Madison Hodgens and Margaret Elizabeth Farr of Greenville Co, South Carolina. David, along with his father, and grandfather, John B Hodgens, moved to Alabama from South Carolina between 1840 and 1850. While at least two of David’s brothers had already settled into families of their own and remained behind in Greenville County, South Carolina, another four of his brothers and sisters made the move to Alabama and settled in Bibb and Shelby counties.

David was accepted for membership in the the Cahaba Valley Church of Christ (Baptist) the “fifth Sabbath in September of 1850“. He met, and later married Mary Florence Miles, daughter of Tillman Lee Miles of Bibb Co, Alabama. David and Mary were married on the 5th of September 1859. He and Mary had three little girls before the “War Between the States” and after his return from Union POW camps they had 7 more children.

He was indeed a CSA Veteran – enlisted as Private, Company C, 10th Ala Inf. near Montevallo, Alabama on the 10th March 1862.  His enlistment bonus was $50.00.

RECIEPT ROLL FOR BOUNTY; not dated; Remarks: Enlisted 20 Mar 1862 at Montevallo by Lt. Worthington for war period. Bounty paid $50.00 signed D.N. Hodgens

His military service included several battles, being wounded and furloughed for several months to recuperate from those wounds, and then returning to service, being captured and, hardest of all, surviving Union POW camps.

1) Present at the Battle of/ Seize of Yorktown, Va. April 1862
2) Wounded at the Battle of Richmond, Va. June 27, 1862
3) Present at Battle of Bristow Station, Va. October 14, 1863
4) Captured at the Battle of the Wilderness, Va. May 6, 1864

Among his Civil War records we find a description of the wound that caused him to be furloughed for recuperation:

“I certify that I have carefully examined said David Newton Hodgins of Captain Moore’s Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of the effects of a gunshot wound in the right thigh. The flexes muscles have been so seriously injured that I further declare that he will not be fit for duty in any of the departments of the government for the next four (4) months. W.P. Reese Surgeon.”

We also find his description:

31 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and by occupation when enlisted a Farmer

as well as a pay voucher from about the time he was wounded and furloughed for recuperation.

2 Aug 1862; Voucher #98 Remarks: To D.N. Hodgins Co. E, 10th Ala Vols CS Army. For monthly pay from 10 Mar 1862 to 31 Jul 1862 being 4 months 21 days at $11.00 per month, $51.33. I certify that I have endorsed this payment on D.N. Hodgins descriptive roll. Recieved this 2nd day of Aug 1862 from Capt. John Pracer Quartermaster C.S. Army the sum of $51.33 being the amount and in full of the above account.  Witness D.N. Hodgins

In a copy of a letter he wrote to his parents during a rest before battle, filled with endearing words for his father and mother, he expresses the aura of defeat that is being accepted by the Confederates. He predicts the war will be over in six months and fears “a foreign power might move in the vacumn caused by the two expended armies”. He mentions the scarcity of food and says he “offered two dollars for a biscuit, but no one would sell me one.”

On the 6th of May 1864 he is captured in the midst of the battle and confusion that would later become known as “The Battle of the Wilderness”.

On the 15th of August 1864 he is shown on the rolls of Pt. Lookout Prison Camp, Maryland. The document states that he is being transferred to Elmira Prison Camp, New York. He was listed as assigned to the “10th Ala, Company C” and shown as captured “near Spottsylvania“. Confederate prisoners of war were routinely transported from the prison at Point Lookout, Maryland by rail to Elmira.  So it was with David.

By the 26th of August, 1864 David was shown on the rolls of Elmira Prison Camp, New York as having been assigned to the “10th Ala.”  Elmira Prison Camp became known as the most notorious camp of the North.  Originally known as Camp Rathbun and located in Elmira, New York, it was refitted for use as a prisoner of war camp in the summer of 1864.  The sheer number of arriving prisoners soon overwhelmed the facilities at the camp.  During the course of this camp’s existence, from the summer of 1864 until the end of the war, it housed approximately 12,000 Confederate enlisted men. Nine hundred of these prisoners were not housed in barracks until the first week in January 1865. In New York state. In the cold. During the summer and fall months the weather was mild and these conditions had been bearable. These 900 prisoners were housed three in a tent until they were moved into barracks. The tents were erected on the parade ground in front of the previously existing Union army barracks. The tent’s floor was dirt but each tent did have a stove for heating purposes.  To make matters worse monthly clothing shipments to the prisoners were delayed and there were insufficient blankets. The following excerpt is from Nine Months in a Northern Prison by Sgt. G.W.D. Porter from the July, 1878 issue of the journal “Annals of the Army of Tennessee.” :

…The writer, with about five hundred other prisoners of war, arrived at Elmira about the first of August, 1864, after a confinement of forty-five days at Point Lookout. I spent the first day in a thorough examination of my new abode, and its advantages as a home until fortune would release me from its durance. It contained several acres of ground, enclosed by a plank fence about fourteen feet high; some three feet from the top on the outside ran a narrow footway, or parapet, of plank, supported by braces. On this the sentinels walked day and night, being enabled from this height to command a view of the entire prison. On the inside, large globe lamps were ranged at regular intervals, which were lighted shortly after sunset and extinguished after fair daylight, thus rendering it impossible, even in the darkest night, for anyone to approach without being discovered. Near the center of the enclosure, and on the north side, was the main entrance, by large folding doors. East of this point, on the outside about fifty yards from the enclosure, was a large observatory, upon which hundreds would crowd daily to get a view of the prisoners-many to gloat, perhaps, on their sufferings; some to gaze in wonder and awe upon the ragged, bobtailed crew who had on many fields conquered their best armies; and some, no doubt, to sigh for an exchange of these men for fathers, sons and brothers who were suffering kindred miseries at Libby, Salisbury and Andersonville. A single tree-a walnut-stood opposite the observatory, and its shade was particularly grateful during the month of August. The south, or rear, line of the enclosure stood on the bank of the Chemung. Through the center ran a deep channel, cut by the river at high tide, the upper and lower ends of which were dry part of the year; the middle always contained water to the depth of two feet or more. During, the hot months, the prisoners suffered greatly from heat at night, owing to their crowding in tents. In October, materials and tools were furnished, and wooden barracks were built. During our tent life, two blankets were furnished to six men; one stick of green pine or hemlock, from four to six feet long and rarely over six inches in diameter, was the daily allowance of fuel for six men; no tools were allowed to cut and split it. J. W. Daniel was woodchopper for our mess, patiently hacking the wood in two with an old case knife, and splitting it with the aid of a railroad spike and a rock. The routine of roll call was most exactingly carried out in spite of bad weather, no one being allowed to break ranks under the most urgent circumstances until the signal was given. Owing to the diet, crowding and other unwholesome surroundings, bowel complaints were exceedingly common and severe, and the requirements of the disease often subjected the unfortunates to a brutish befouling of clothing and person while standing in ranks awaiting the leisurely completion of a simple routine task. Majors Colt and Beale were at times not only unkind, but also unjust and oppressive. Beale, on one occasion, aroused all of the inmates of the prison on a bitter cold night, and made them stand in line until he ascertained how many had United States overcoats, and where they got them. He then had the coats carried to his quarters, where the tails were cut off, and the mutilated garments restored to their owners. These officers had men tied up by the thumbs to make them reveal suspicious plots. An instrument of torture called the “sweat box ” will bear describing to the uninitiated. They were made of stout planks, of different dimensions, so as to gauge the victim’s size. They were secured upright to a post, with a hinged door, and when a culprit could be squeezed in, so much the better for the violated law. An aperture for the nose was the only evidence of charity in their construction. When a prisoner was to be committed, he was marched to successive boxes until one was found to suit; with his back to the entrance and his arms close to his side, he was thrust in and the door closed with a push and fastened.Ward inspection was held every Sunday morning by a captain or lieutenant. On these occasions none were excused from attendance The presence of every man had to be verified; and if any were found in the privies, or on the road therefrom, they were dragged to the guardhouse, where a mysterious performance added terror to the situation. The guardhouse had two rooms-the rear one for prisoners; as the victim entered the door a blanket was dropped over his head: and he was forced to the floor and robbed of every thing he had. He was then left half-suffocated, without an opportunity of knowing who did the deed. Many of the Federal officers were brutes in the human form. One, whose name I have forgotten, was a fiend. He was a tall, humped-back Scotchman, nicknamed by the boys “Old HogBack,” but he was a hog all over. On several occasions I have seen him kick sick men off of the walk with his heavy boots, simply because they were too feeble to get out of his way quickly enough, or did not care to get out in the mud and water to let him pass…

…the recollection of the quantity and quality of the food doled out at the model humanitarian at Elmira in the years 1864-5… here’s the ration: The strong sustained life on four ounces of sour light bread and three ounces of salt beef or pork for breakfast; for dinner, the same amount of bread was allowed, and, in lieu of the meat, a compound called soup, but in reality nothing more than hot salty water, in which bags of peas or beans had been boiled, but which were carefully removed and kept for other uses than to make animal heat for cold, starving prisoners of war. This saltwater diet will account for the large number of cases of scurvy and dysentery, which carried off, so many. A great number of the men were in rags, and but a small quantity of clothing was issued by the United States Government. Of that received from home and friends, the amount was restricted, and only obtainable on a permit approved at headquarters. When the mercury got down to 35 degrees below zero in the winter of 1864-5, I saw numbers of my comrades with frostbitten hands, feet, ears and faces.

Of these prisoners approximately 3,000 died. 

For the most part the soldier’s physical condition on arrival at Elmira was poor. The prison records show that prisoners typically died from Typhoid Fever, Chronic Diarrhea and Pneumonia. While the records do not specifically show other causes, written recollections of soldiers, both of the North and the South, do show that the cause of death was often at least partly due to malnutrition. It is evident that military officials, many with a strong hatred of the South, had some part in preventing adequate supplies of food being furnished to the prisoners. This prison was located in a fertile, rich, agricultural part of New York State where food shortages just did not exist. The same reasons were true for the shortages of medical treatment of the prisoners. While some of the local military officials protested the lack of supplies, the reality is there was not enough supplies requisitioned to provide proper medical care. The most tragic sight was that of the small pox hospital which mainly consisted of several remote tents where the sick were moved and literally forgotten. It was not uncommon to see a stiff frozen body lying outside a tent waiting to be loaded on the buckboard for transportation to the cemetery.

According to release documents found for David, he was shown to be released on the 29th of May 1865, and yet again, that he had been assigned to the “10th Ala. Company C.”  Beginning in February of 1865 prisoners at Elmira who swore an allegiance to the Union were classified for release. Groups of approximately 500 men at a time were each given a food ration, money and or transportation vouchers and placed on a train for City Point, Virginia. City Point was the major Union army supply depot in northern Virginia and from there each prisoner was provided assistance to his home destination. Those soldiers who remained at the prison camp until the end of the war, and who survived the prison camp, were similarly released in groups at the end of the war and provided the same assistance for returning to their homes in the South. However, due to the overall condition of transportation, especially in the South, travel was poor at best and it is very conceivable that these men had a difficult time reaching home

On David’s release from Elmira POW Camp in New York, he started home with other troops, but had to ride in a wagon because the bullet wound in his leg hadn’t yet healed. The wound became worse and he was eventually taken into a home by a Mennonite family and nursed back to health. Their names were June and Emmit. He vowed he would name his next child for that family. That son, born 21 April 1866, was named June Emmit Hodgens.

After the war, he returned to farming and teaching school. Soon, however, the urge to preach the gospel prevailed and he became a full time minister. He served on many boards and committes and was instrumental in establishing several churches in new areas spreading north through Shelby County toward Birmingham. One such monument reads:

EARLY HISTORY OF PLEASANT VALLEY FREEWILL BAPTIST CHURCH  After a full night of prayer, Pleasant Valley Church and Cemetery was founded in 1876, by the Reverend Andrew John Davis, Sr, and the Reverend David Newton Hodgens.

Rev. David Newton Hodgens is named in several Alabama Baptist Histories as a pioneer Baptist Minister and the minutes of early churches mention his work in forming the Cahaba Valley Baptist District.

What’s on my Kindle today?
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Currently listening to:
April In Paris (Prime Cuts) by Thelonious Monk

Current weather – big fluffy white clouds, 93°F, calm