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Civil War prisoner's letter: 'Hopeing the scene may soon change'

By the CNN Wire Staff
Cpl. Charles H. Knox wrote a letter to his wife while being held prisoner at a Civil War prisoner camp in Georgia, in 1864.
Cpl. Charles H. Knox wrote a letter to his wife while being held prisoner at a Civil War prisoner camp in Georgia, in 1864.
  • Georgia Southern University acquires letter written by prisoner of war
  • The Union soldier wrote it from Confederate prison camp near Millen, Georgia
  • Georgia Southern students have unearthed more artifacts from prison site

(CNN) -- Enduring privations of his own as a Civil War prisoner in Georgia, Cpl. Charles H. Knox was concerned about his wife and small child back home in upstate New York.

Eight days before Camp Lawton was evacuated as Union forces closed in, Knox wrote to his wife, Frances, saying she might consider selling the family cow to raise money.

Georgia Southern University Museum in Statesboro on Thursday announced the $2,100 acquisition of Knox's letter and medals from private collections. The correspondence is the only known surviving letter from Lawton prison, which was built near Millen, the university said.

More artifacts unearthed at site of Civil War prison in Georgia

In his letter, Knox expresses hope that he will be part of a prisoner exchange between Union and Confederate forces.

It was not to be. Knox, a member of the 1st Connecticut Cavalry captured by Confederate forces in May 1864 during the Wilderness Campaign in Virginia, was returned to the notorious Camp Sumter, commonly known as Andersonville.

In his letter, Knox refers to the North as "God's Land" and the South as "Cecesia," a reference to its secession from the United States. "Little Charlie" is his 4-year-old son.

Knox also kept a diary about his experiences as a prisoner. He was paroled at Andersonville on February 27, 1865, near war's end, and resumed his career as a carpenter. He died in February 1895 at age 70.

Knox's letter:

Lawton Prison, Ga November 14th, 1864

Dear Wife, haveing a chance to send a line into God's Land-- & hopeing you may hear from me by it I write a few lines hopeing they will reach you in safety -- I have written to you every month since I was captured the 5th of May, last & have seen hard times since, but now hopeing the scene may soon change, for we all look for an exchange of most if not all of the Prisinors that are here -- God knows I hope so... for I am tired of (Cecesia) I have been a Prisnor 6 months & 9 days & I think that will do for this time, but I must change the subject .. I have not heard from any of my Friends since the last letter I got from you, about the 28th of April, last, but hope you & Little Charlie are well to all the rest of my friends at home, hope you have not suffer'd for Provisions or Clothing & not let my absents trouble you to much. I am here & shall get out some time & hope that will be soon, but don't know -- if you want any money write to Martin if he is alive for that he is oweing me, it is nine dollars & a half that will help you some; do that you think is for the best as it regards our affairs perhaps you had better sell the cow if hay is dear, there will be some money due me when I get out & get into our lines: & I think that I shall get a furloe & get home to see you & C -- I think there is no use of your trying to get a letter to me for it will never be delivered to me if it should come here -- my health has been good since here but am rather poor but will soon recruit up when I get to our lines, & will come & see you & the rest of the folks So good by

Yours affectionately C.H. Knox

Addressed to:

Mrs. C.H. Knox

Schroon Lake

Essex Co--

New York