One Soldier’s Experience

This article was originally published in the March, 2018 issue of Rock Hill Reader the Magazine. By Dr. Martha Benn Macdonald

Euranus Johnson and John A. Fewell, probably excited over going off to fight for the Confederacy, never imagined they would not return home together at the end of the war to the family farm near Yorkville, South Carolina, to enjoy Christmas, birthdays, picnics, weddings, family gatherings, and more.

John A., a private in Company E., began his duties on November 26, 1861, and was killed nine months later at the Battle of Second Manassas on August 29, 1862, and was wounded in the kidney in Chattanooga in October of 1863, where he was captured.

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Despite this injury, he had to join other prisoners for the long journey to the Yankee prison at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana, originally the site of the State Fair. Probably hospitalized, we wonder if he saw the old black cat prowling around the hospital kitchen and gnawing on scraps killed and then fried up for the prisoners’ lunch. Wonder if Euranus heard about prisoners who, for disobeying a harsh order, were sent to the prison’s dungeon, deprived of food, or shot to death. We wonder if the hospitalized Confederate prisoners knew that those guards in blue forced prisoners to run in circles in outdoor pens on freezing winter days, snow covering the ground, as they held one shoe in their frozen hands. Many lost their toes. One Confederate died when a Yankee guard stripped him of his clothing, then bathed him outside in a tub outside, scrubbing him down with a kitchen broom, the temperature down to zero degrees. Not once, but twice! We hope those suffering in the hospital never witnessed or learned of the deprivations of their cell mates.

SGT Uranus Johnson Fewell’s headstone. Beth Shiloh Presbyterian Church Cemetery

Most prisons in both the North and the South were bad, some, of course, worse than others. Obviously, Camp Morton was one of the worst.
When the war ended, Euranus and other Confederate prisoners were exchanged with Yankee prisoners on the James Rivers near City Point, Virginia, in late March of 1865. There, he began the long trudge home to the Fewell farm near Yorkville, probably wondering what he would find. No longer able to farm because of his severe injury, Euranus was able to teach school.

That he received a good education at the Kings Mountain Academy in Yorkville, South Carolina, before the war was wonderful, and his experiences in the War, along with his devotion to God, helped him grow as a teacher and scholar. He married, and he and his wife had five children. He served his community, dying of consumption at the age of 47 years and 17 days. Euranus Fewell was buried at Beth Shiloh Presbyterian a short distance from the farm. Wonder why he was named Euranus? Perhaps his mother or father might have been interested in astronomy, a course which was part of the school curriculum in the nineteenth century.

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