1865: Andrew F. Clarke to Sallie M. H. Fulton

These two Prison of War (POW) letters were written from Fort Delaware by Andrew F. Clarke (1841-1890) who first enlisted in the Confederate service when 19 years old at Corinth, Mississippi in the Newton Rifles, 13th Mississippi Infantry. His enlistment records indicate that his home was Decatur, Newton county, Mississippi and that prior to enlistment he was employed as a teacher. His parents were Rev. Nathan Lytle Clarke (1812-1906) and Evaline Delia Powell (1823-1859).

A post war cabinet card image of Andrew (Find-A-Grave)

Clarke was appointed a 3rd Sergeant shortly after his enlistment and and was promoted to a 2nd Lieutenant of Co. D on 26 April 1862. Less than a year later he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Clarke was wounded and taken prisoner at Knoxville, Tennessee, during the ill-advised assault on Fort Sanders of 29 November 1863. The 13th Mississippi led the assault on the northwest bastion of the fort—the focal point of the overall attack. The men of the 13th were the first into the ditch surrounding the fort and the first to place their flag upon the parapet where it was captured along with two other regimental colors. The attack was star-crossed, furious and short lived. In the twenty minutes of fighting, the 13th’s colonel was killed, and the Confederates lost a total of 813 men: 129 killed, 458 wounded, and 226 missing. The Federals, on the other hand, lost less than 20 men inside the protection of the embattlements. Clarke was one of 17 commissioned officers captured that day. (Source: Earl Hess’s Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee)

As a prisoner, Clarke was transported to Louisville, to Rock Island, to Camp Chase, and finally to Fort Delaware in late March 1864. When these letters were written, he had been at Fort Delaware for ten to eleven months. Despite his continued hopes for exchange, he was not released from Fort Delaware until 12 June 1865.

Clarke addressed the letter to 24 year-old Sallie Fulton of Baltimore’s 20th Ward—no doubt a Southern sympathizer who showed compassion for Confederate prisoner’s of war and frequently corresponded with them, occasionally even sending them money to allow them certain luxuries they might not otherwise have access to. Several letters to such correspondents have survived through the years—letters to women unknown to the prisoners except for their generosity. In 1870, 30 year-old Sallie was still enumerated at the 176 Preston Street residence of her parents, John B. H. Fulton—a wholesale Dry Goods Dealer— and Ann S. Wilson. By 1880, Sallie had married John Walter Hoover, a teacher, and lived at 243 Bolton Street in Baltimore.

Letter 1

Addressed to Miss Sallie M. H. Fulton, 176 Preston Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Fort Delaware
January 11th, 1865

Miss Sallie M. H. Fulton
Dear friend:

Your favor of 31st December came to hand on the 4th Inst. and found me in excellent health. The weather has moderated greatly and appears like our springtime in the far South. Our skating has disappeared and in its stead, we wade through the mud. We are getting along very well—have plenty to eat and good fires, so we manage to live comfortably. Rumors of exchange are still current but amount to nothing.

Have you heard from Lieut. Mosely since he went South?  We are expecting a “flag of truce” mail soon and will receive a letter from him, I think. Capt. [Daniel Murray] McRae is quite well today. I know you will consider this letter uninteresting but I can write nothing scarcely when limited,  both as to space and subject. I hope you will continue to write.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I am your friend, — Andrew F. Clarke

Letter 2

Addressed to Miss Sallie M. H. Fulton, 176 Preston Street, Baltimore, Maryland

U. S. Military Prison
Fort Delaware
February 17, 1865

Miss Sallie M. H. Fulton
Dear friend,

Your last letter came to hand in due time. I have been rather dilatory in answering it, hoping that I would be able to tell you that I was going to “Dixie” in a few days. I am sorry to say that such is not the case, though I’m still in hopes that I will get off before the present arrangement for exchange is broken.

I am in very good health and have been since my last. Capt. [Daniel Murray] McRae is well. I received a letter from my Father in Mississippi a few days since stating that he had just seen Lt. Mosely. He was well, or nearly so. I suppose you have heard from him by this time. We are getting along very well . Our treatment is very good—as good as we could expect.

The weather is very pleasant & the ice is rapidly disappearing & the prospects are that a batch of prisoners will leave here soon. Several thousand have already been paroled—mostly privates. Capt. McRae sends his regards & will write soon. I shall be glad to hear from you at any time. I am as ever your friend, — Andrew F. Clarke

Andrew F. Clarke’s monument in Covington, Hill county, Texas

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