A Biography of William Harrison
and Scott Black
[Copy kindly provided by Stephanie
HARRISON DARWIN was born March 20, 1841, at Flynn’s Lick, Tennessee. He was one of nine children of William
Green Darwin and Mary Burke. He
grew up in the Jackson County area of Tennessee, where living was said to be
When the War
Between the States broke out, being the Southern patriot he was, he enlisted
along with his brother John G. Darwin as volunteers in the Tennessee army July
30, 1861. Enlistment was at
Livingston, Tennessee. He was
assigned to Company G, 25th Regiment, Tennessee
Infantry. The 25th Regiment
was transferred to the Confederate States, October 1, 1861. He went into Camp of Instruction at Camp
Meyers, Tennessee, where he was mustered into Confederate services. He held the rank of Corporal.
involved in several small skirmishes with home guards and federal units along
the Kentucky line while at Camp Meyers.
real battle came January 19, 1862, where the 25th Regiment, under
Brigadier General Felix K. Zollicoffer’s
command, was engaged at the Battle of Fishing Creek, where the25th lost 55
On May 28,
1862, he was involved in the engagement on Farmington Road, Corinth,
Mississippi, under the command of Brigadier General Patrick R. Cleburne. He fought at Perryville, Kentucky,
October 8, 1862, under the command of Brigidier
General Bushrod R. Johnson’s Brigade, where the
25th Regiment suffered eight casualties.
fought and survived the Battles of Murfreesboro and Chickamauga. It is said he marched a total of 555
miles in sixty days.
1864, his regiment was moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he was involved in
engagements at Walthall Junction, Swift Creek, and Drewry’s Bluff.
He was captured and taken Prisoner of War, June 17, 1864, somewhere in
the Petersburg front. There were
not more than 20 members remaining in the 25th Regiment.
He was taken
to City Point, Maryland, June 24, 1864, then to Point Lookout, Maryland, PoW Camp. On
July 23, 1864, he was transferred to Elmira Prison Camp, New York, five miles
from the Pennsylvania line.
Elmira was a
converted Federal recruit center. It is believed that he was in the sixth
group of PoW’s to be
sent from Point Lookout.
mid-August, 1864, more than 9,600 PoW’s
were crowded into a compound that was meant to hold 5,000 prisoners. Because of overcrowding, hunger, extreme
winter weather conditions, harsh treatment by guards, and disease,
“Elmira was hell,” as described by a Texas Confederate
soldier. It had a 24 percent
mortality rate that could only be compared to the South’s Andersonville.
underwent a unique indignity when a group of townspeople (Yankees) erected
observation platforms outside the prison walls and charged a fee of 15 cents to
observe the prisoners as they endured life within the compound.
harsh treatment suffered by Federal prisoners in the South, food rations were
deliberately restricted to bread and water causing an epidemic of scurvey.
Prisoners were dying of starvation at the rate of twenty-five per
day. They were forced to eat rats,
apple peelings trampled in the mud and even gnawed at discarded bones when
found. A camp surgeon was overheard
boasting to have killed more Rebs than any soldier at
Of a total
of 12,123 Confederate PoW’s at Elmira, 2,963
died. Today, all that remains of
Elmira is a well-kept cemetery.
remained at Elmira until he took oath of allegiance May 15, 1865, when
war, he went back to Tennessee and married Julia A. Haile,
one-half Cherokee Indian, January 9, 1868, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
to Texas in the fall of 1876, and then to Arkansas in 1878. His family was among the earlier
settlers of Wickes, a small south-western town near the Oklahoma line in
Arkansas. There he and his family,
including his seven children, homesteaded acreage and built the Darwin house
one-half mile east of Wickes on Highway 4 in 1883. He was a farmer and owned and operated
the Darwin General Store in Wickes until his death on February 22, 1925. He died of cardiac disease at the age of
83. He is buried alongside his wife
Julia at Daniels Cemetery, southeast of Wickes. A Confederate Veterans tombstone marks
Darwin home stood until 1990, when it was torn down. An article on the Darwin family and a
picture of his home was featured in the <i>Ouchita Mountaineer</i>
magazine, Winter, 1996.
Tennesseans in the Civil War, Civil War Centennial Commission
Civil War Prisons, Kent State University Press
Muster Roll Records, US National Archives (NARA)
4) Memories of Keith S. Black