War Between the States

Written by a Lieutenant of the 41st Tennessee Infantry

From Camp Chase Prison and Columbus, Ohio in 1862

"This attempt to escape- in obedience to the first instinct of nature, has nearly dissipated any hope which I might have entertained of a parole."

"I desired to see you for it was in relation to a parole, & having as I thought incurred to no small degree the displeasure of commandant of the post by my attempt to escape."


#1: 5 3/8 x 8 1/2, in ink, written by Lieutenant T.D. Overton.

Camp Chase, O.[hio], May 3rd, 1862

Dear Cousin,

You have probably received my last in which I wrote you to direct your letters to Sandusky. On the way I escaped, but was detected & brought back to this place. This attempt to escape- in obedience to the first instinct of nature, has nearly dissipated any hope which I might have entertained of a parole. If you have any time to spare, I would like very much to see you as soon as it suits your convenience. I am ashamed of myself for imposing so much upon your good nature. The only excuse, & that a shabby one which I can give is that arising from the force of circumstances. Answer soon & tell me when you can comply with my request- apparently foolish, but to myself very important.

Your Grateful Cousin,
T.D. Overton

Light age toning and wear. Very fine.

The Sandusky referred to in Overton's letter is Sandusky, Ohio, the home of Johnson's Island Prison, no doubt where he was originally being sent for confinement. His escape and ultimate recapture landed him instead in Camp Chase Prison, in Columbus, Ohio, and as he wrote he thought this had ended any chance he had of being paroled.

#2: 2 pages, 7 3/4 x 10, in ink, written by Lieutenant T.D. Overton.

Columbus, Ohio, May 7th, 1862

Dear Cousin,

I am very happy to inform you that I have been released on parole & am now in the enjoyment of the liberties of this city. You may imagine the nature of the transition from camp to the city. I feel as if I had been a beggar & transferred from a hovel to a palace. I wrote you not long since with a request to visit me at Camp Chase. I did not state why I desired to see you for it was in relation to a parole, & having as I thought incurred to no small degree the displeasure of commandant of the post by my attempt to escape, I believed the letter would not be mailed if I gave my reason for wishing to see you. I am doubtless considered by you to be one of those persons who believe in the adage, "one good turn deserves another," for I have presumed upon your kindness continually & "to cap the climax," have requested you to leave home & your own affairs to indulge a caprice of that "distinguished personage" T.D. Overton who has already made himself contemptible by his presumption at the time of writing my last. I was so completely overcome by despondency resulting from an ineffectual attempt to escape & the consequent destruction of all reasonable hope of a parole, which had been granted without my knowledge that I scarcely knew what I did. My love to your Mother & sisters & say that I hope I can get my parole extended to Newport, that I may have the pleasure of visiting & cultivating an acquaintance with the family at whose hands I have experienced so much kindness.

Your Grateful Cousin,
T.D. Overton

Light age toning and soiling, with some edge and corner wear.

T.D. Overton, served as a 1st lieutenant in the 41st Regiment Tennessee Infantry. The regiment surrendered on February 16, 1862, when Fort Donelson fell. Based on that date, and the dates of the Overton letter's, it's possible that's where he was captured before being confined at Camp Chase. Not only are the content of these two Confederate P.O.W. letters excellent, it's very interesting to see how the prisoner exchange and parole system worked early in the war. By 1864, there were no longer prisoner exchanges being conducted which increased many fold the suffering that was endured by all prisoners, blue and gray alike.

Very desirable pair of Confederate P.O.W. letters.

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