We know from his official service record that RICHARD GOODHIND was captured at the first Battle of Winchester, Virginia on May 25, 1862. (As an aside, I would mention that over the course of the entire Civil War, there were three major battles at Winchester.)

In the days preceding that event, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, was in command of about 17,000 troops, approaching Union forces from the northern end of the Shenandoah River Valley.  The 2nd Massachusetts, the 3rd Wisconsin and the 27th Indiana regiments were all encamped at Strasburg, Virginia (about 80 miles due west of Washington, DC) when they received word on May 23rd that Union forces were under attack at the town of Front Royal about 12 miles to the east.

Historical marker along the roadside at Winchester, VA

After delaying until the next morning, Union General Nathaniel Banks ordered his 10,000 troops to move towards Winchester, Virginia, about 25 miles to the northeast.  But it was not until about 11 a.m. before the 2nd Mass was on the road.  Although it had been Jackson's intent to strike a blow to the middle of this long train of men and equipment moving northward, the majority of this convoy had already moved pass that point by the time he arrived with his men.

When the tail of the Union column was attacked, General Banks ordered the 27th Indiana infantry regiment back in defense, subsequently adding the 2nd Massachusetts as well.  As the rest of the brigade moved north to Winchester, these two regiments defended the rear.  Reaching Winchester at around 2 a.m., the men of the 2nd Massachusetts settled in for a fitful few hours of broken sleep, fully expecting their first big battle to begin at dawn.

Facing the enemy advance from the south in a perpendicular line along the right side of the main road, Brigade commander Colonel George H. Gordon placed the 29th Pennsylvania beside the road itself, then the 27th Indiana, the 3rd Wisconsin and finally the 2nd Massachusetts on his extreme right.  At 5 a.m., the attack began with heavy Confederate cannon fire from the left and Gordon’s cannons returning the fire in kind.

Along the extreme right end, two companies of the 2nd Massachusetts moved forward to engage the enemy: companies D and G (“G” being Richard Goodhind’s unit).  At this point, we can read the first-hand account of one of the regiment’s historians, Chaplain Alonzo H. Quint (The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65, 1867):

They took shelter behind a stone wall, and ‘opened a galling and destructive fire on the cannoneers and horses attached to the Confederate batteries.’  The fire was so sharp that some of the enemy’s guns withdrew, and some were silenced.  The skirmishers continued their fire ‘with a precision which was galling and dangerous in the extreme.  No one could mount to the crest of the hill without hearing the sudden report of their excellent long-range guns, succeeded by the whistling of balls near his person.  To drive out these persistent and accurate marksmen,’ the rebel Poague threw solid shot at their stone wall ‘but, in spite of the missiles and crashing stone around them,’ says Cooke, ‘the line of sharpshooters still gallantly held their position.’

As the larger battle moved quickly towards them, the regiments were ordered to withdraw towards the town of Winchester.  Along the way, companies to the rear of the line would stop to deliver defensive fire to the enemy, attempting to slow them down and allow the rest of the men to retreat. 

"The Battle of Winchester--Decisive Charge
Upon the Rebels at the Stone Wall" by A.R. Waud.
From Harper's Weekly. New York, April 12, 1862.

Once inside the town limits, street by street fighting continued as the 2nd Massachusetts and its brother regiments fled back through the town.  There are reports that civilians were also firing upon the retreating Union troops from the safety of their homes.

At some point in this withdrawal, Private Richard Goodhind was captured, along with 1,700 other Union troops. His unit, Company G, had the largest number of men captured during the battle, 25, six of whom were wounded; the next closest was Company D with 13 captured.  The number implies that his squad may have been captured largely as a group.  Whether he was captured defending the stone wall mentioned previously, or somewhere in the headlong retreat into Winchester or even in the accompanying street-to-street fighting, we do not know.  But we do know that he was now a “prisoner of war.”  He would not be re-united with his regiment for nearly seven long months. 

Thus ended the first real battle involving the 2nd Massachusetts during the Civil War in the first Battle of Winchester, a battle which has since become known as “Bank’s Retreat.”

Private Richard Goodhind, Prisoner of War

Richard’s official record of service gives this very brief summary of his time as a prisoner-of-war:

“He was captured May 25, 1862, during Banks' retreat, paroled and sent to Annapolis, Md., and rejoined his regiment at Stafford, C.H. during the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 13, 1862.”

It must have been very frightening for young 19-year-old Private Richard Goodhind after he was captured that late May day.  He had been mustered into service at Roxbury, Massachusetts exactly one year earlier to the day.  He had managed to live through his first major battle, only to become a prisoner-of-war.  By this time, he must have heard many stories of other Union soldiers who had been captured, perhaps who were mistreated, perhaps who were never to return to their unit or their homes so far away.  Fortunately for him (and those of us who are his descendants), he was to return.

The system of dealing with prisoners during the Civil War was “messy,” to say the least.  Neither the Union nor the Confederate military commanders had any experience with the issue of war prisoners; there had simply never been a Civil War before this to establish a precedent.  Neither side had wanted to recognize that prisoners-of-war would require administration.  In truth, neither side had expected the war to last very long.  They were sorely mistaken.

After just a few large battles, it became clear that it would require organization and communication between the warring factions to deal with the subject of prisoners.  For us today, with the experience of several world wars and dozens of lesser ones behind us, the manner in which prisoners were handled during the first part of the Civil War will seem a bit strange, even naïve.  But it nevertheless happened.

Based upon a European system for parole and the exchange of prisoners that had been in effect as late as the War of 1812, each side of the conflict would basically return soldiers to their own lines designated as “parolees.”   As odd as it might sound, these men would most often be furloughed back to their homes with orders to refrain from further military duties, only to return to active service once an official exchange of their person could be arranged for from the other side, rank-for-rank; a “one-for-one” swap, so to speak.  However, there was also an accepted “tiered” system that could free additional enlisted men based upon the rank of a counterpart officer (e.g. say, 15 enlisted men for each Colonel, for instance).  It should be of no surprise to anyone that men furloughed home in such cases often did not return to their units when recalled to active service!  Such absences were labeled as desertions.  As of the spring of 1862, the Union leadership decided that furloughs weren’t working and all but abandoned this policy.

But even stranger than this situation, without furloughs home, each side of the conflict was expected to guard its own personnel, captured by the other side, until they were properly exchanged!  For the North, that meant that Union soldiers would be guarded by other Union soldiers until such time as their release could be arranged (i.e. “parole”). 

Even though Richard Goodhind was “paroled,” according to record, on May 31, 1862, just 6 days after his capture, it does not appear he was ever released as many other parolees were previously. 

For many years, we did not know where Richard Goodhind served his time as a prisoner of war.  Recently, we acquired his Civil War pension file which provides his service history, month by month.  Even so, the various forms in the file seem to contradict each other, thereby making a trace of his location difficult.

One of the forms, a “Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records,” states that, following his capture, he was first sent to “Acquia (sic) Creek.”  Aquia Creek is a waterway which empties into the Potomac River in Maryland.  At one time, there was a Confederate stronghold there.  I have found very little that would explain why he was sent there.  Perhaps it was just for initial processing as a prisoner.

A different form in the pension file provides the following chronology of the next few months:

July 1862 Gain July 12, Warrenton, from missing. Absent, prisoner of war, paroled.
Aug. 1862 Absent wd + in hosp. Aug. 9
Sept to Nov 1862 Absent with leave, prisoner, paroled

This seems to indicate that he may have been wounded (“Absent wd”) and was in a hospital on August 9, 1862.  But by then he would have been a prisoner for over 2 months.  How could he have been wounded so late into his imprisonment?  Such an event is not documented in any other record or by any kind of oral history within the family.  Moreover, this form does not indicate where these months were spent.

Another card on this form shows that Richard is documented for the purpose of a muster roll at Annapolis, Maryland on October 31, 1862.  However, on the line recorded whether he was present or absent for the roll, it reads “Not stated.”  I cannot say what that might mean.  Was he there or not?

The city of Richmond, VA as seen from the prison
camp for Union soldiers on Belle Island

If we go back to his official record of service, it also stated that “He was captured May 25, 1862, during Banks' retreat, paroled and sent to Annapolis, Md.”  What is most likely is that he spent the majority of his months in captivity at Annapolis, Maryland as there was by then a burgeoning prisoner of war camp there, aptly named “Camp Parole.” And that name does appear on another form in the pension file.

[The “Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records”  is additionally important for a notation near the side that reads “see Goodtime,” indicating that some of his records may have been misfiled under that surname instead of “Goodhind.”]

1 http://shockoenews.com/2008/08/08/civil-war-walking-tours/

Life in Camp Parole, Annapolis, Maryland

In 2012, R. Rebecca Morris wrote a book for the Ann Arundel County Historical Society, A Low, Dirty Place: The Parole Camps of Annapolis, MD 1862-1865.  This book affords us the most accurate evolution of parole camps in that area to date.

Ms. Morris notes that as of July 1862, just a month after Richard had been captured, Union prisoners-of-war were directed to the grounds of the Naval Academy at Annapolis and to nearby St. John’s College.2  Within a short period of time, thousands of additional captured soldiers arrived, severely overtaxing the under-supported system for feeding, boarding and providing medical services to the prisoners.3  Lice infestations and diseases, such as dysentery, spread rampantly amongst the underfed and inadequately clothed men.4  As the weather became increasingly cold, these prisoners, living either in tents staked to the cold, wet ground or completely out of doors, fell to sickness and death.

Strangely enough, from the inception of the prison camps at Annapolis, soldiers who maintained good conduct and kept out of trouble would be allowed leave the prison camp to enter the town of Annapolis and actually buy goods and services from local merchants.5  However, since Union soldiers did not receive their pay while prisoners of war, most men could not afford this option.  Many men would request money from family in letters they wrote to loved ones back at home.6  [Unfortunately, we have no physical evidence, such as letters, to indicate that young Richard was one of those men who wrote home.]  But not all Union men saw daily life outside the prison camp as a preferred alternative to camp life.  One of many such soldiers wrote back to his family that he found Annapolis “a one horse place - a hundred years behind the age; no gaslights, no pavements, no businesses." 7

The "New" Camp Parole, 1864 8

In early September 1862, the prisoners of Annapolis were moved to a “new” Camp Parole, about 2 ½ miles outside of the town.  The exact location of the camp is not known today.  Although initially, camp life did improve, it was shortlived. Additional prisoners continued to arrive, further stressing the delicate system then in place.9

Within the camp, the men were not able to perform any military duties, including activities such as parade drilling, which might have reinforced military decorum and discipline; thus, morale and unit loyalty deteriorated.  The availability of gambling and alcohol purchased in the town contributed to robbery and infighting in the camp.  There are even reports that soldiers took to defecating freely throughout the camp to demonstrate their disrespect for their living conditions and their own commanders. On September 22, the prisoners destroyed several buildings in the camp in their frustration.10

2 Morris, pgs. 2-8.
3 pgs. 8-9.
4 pgs 21, 23.
5 pgs. 10; 25.
6 pgs. 35-36.
7 pg. 10.
8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parole_camp. No known restrcitions on publication.
9 Morris, pg. 26.
10 pgs. 26-27.

The Long Night Ends

We don’t know why Richard Goodhind remained in captivity from the end of May until at least November of 1862 after being paroled.  It may be likely that he did not have the financial capability to return to Massachusetts, requiring him to remain at Annapolis until he was recalled to his unit, at which point the Union would have arranged for his return.  Returning to the “Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records” for a moment, there is a notation that Richard was transferred to “Alex, Va,” an abbreviation for Alexandria, Virginia, in November of 1862.  Perhaps this was to facilitate his ultimate return to his unit.  Again, we don’t know from these records.

We do know that he was finally reunited with his regiment, the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, at Stafford Court House, Virginia on December 19, 1862, nearly 7 months after his capture at the first battle of Winchester on May 25. While a prisoner, he had missed both of the bloody battles at Cedar Mountain, Virginia and at Antietam, Maryland.  But in this next year lay ahead two of the most significant and brutal battles of the entire war: Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.  He did not miss those.

Richard Goodhind in the Civil War
How the Union Army was organized
About the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Chronology of service for the 2nd Mass Infantry
Listing of Enlisted Men in 2nd Mass (last name starting with a "G")
Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Gettysburg
2nd Massachusetts Infantry at Gettysburg
Gettysburg Photo Gallery
Richard Goodhind's Pension File

More about the 2nd Mass Infantry (off site)

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