Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Enos Madison Philpott - the family connection to Andersonville Prison

Family lineage: Enos Philpott 1; Rebecca Philpott 2; Lula Jane Johnson 3;
; Charles Thomas Copeland Sr. 4; Charles Thomas Copeland Jr. 5

1817 - 1864

This third child of David and Sarah Philpott (featured in an earlier post) was born in Virginia, but grew up in Georgia.  It was there that he married Adaline Fuller, with whom he had 10 children.  According to census data, he and members of the Philpott family lived near each other in Troup County, just across the county line from their father's Heard County plantation.

It's possible that these tracts of farmland were deeded to the Philpott children around the time of their widowed father's marriage to Exonia Foster, in order to ensure that his adult children would receive a portion of the estate before rewriting his Will naming only his second wife and children of their marriage.

Like all families of that turbulent time, the Philpotts' life was to change forever after the Civil War began in 1860. Whatever had seemed important before that year was forgotten, and the family turned their energies to supporting the Confederacy by either joining the military or providing other services for the cause. 


Farmer Enos Madison Philpott was 47 years old in 1864 and had children ranging in age from 4 to 23.  He had chosen to contribute to the Rebel cause by raising crops and livestock to feed the troops.  But it was becoming more and more obvious as time went by that the Confederacy desperately needed  to find ways to use their manpower more effectively, thereby freeing up more soldiers from non-combatant roles to join the fight. 

Finally Enos made the tough decision to take a more active role in the war.  So he turned over the management of the farm to his wife and the oldest of his children and traveled to Atlanta, where, on April 27, 1864, he enlisted and was assigned to serve in Company C under the command of Captain Early Baker in Colonel J. H. Fannin's Georgia Reserves First Regiment. 

According to his muster records, he was 5' 10", fair complexioned, with blue eyes and dark hair. The regiment to which he was assigned was composed of students, clerks, farmers, mechanics and even a dentist. They came from 19 Georgia counties and were young boys, old men or wounded veterans who were considered not strong enough for combat but could easily fill other very necessary roles in the war effort. 

According to “U.S. Civil War Soldiers Records and Profiles,1861-1865”, Enos was assigned to be a guard in Andersonville Prison, which had  opened two months before. Its site had been chosen mostly for its remoteness and safe distance from coastal raids. Its main purpose was to house the overflow of Union prisoners who were being held in and around Richmond, Virginia until a prisoner exchange could be finalized.

It was built to hold a maximum of 10,000 captives and 1,000 guards, but was expected to decrease in size once the exchange took effect. However, after that plan fell through, the population in the prison exploded. Within a few months of its completion, Andersonville was housing 30,000 prisoners and more than 2,000 guards.


The prison was hell on earth for those imprisoned men who were given nothing for their basic needs - not clothing, food or even enough room to lie down within the vast pen. Even worse, the nearly naked prisoners suffered from swarms of insects, cold, heat, filth, and disease usually generated by what became a contaminated water supply in the creek.  Lawlessness prevailed as desperate prisoners took anything they could from weaker men in order to survive. 

We often think of prison guards as aggressive, perhaps cruel and much better off than those they guarded.  Yes, in a way these guards could have been considered better off - but not by much.  When hungry or thirsty, they could at least leave the prison occasionally to forage for food and clean water.  Remember, this  was not their chosen career, and they had been recruited from the youngest, oldest and weakest men available.  They lived in constant fear because, with no training, these almost 2,000 men were expected to detain and keep under control up to 30,000 battle tested veterans without getting beaten or killed themselves. 


Those who survived could thank the brave women living 
outside the walls who tried as much as possible to save lives, while ignoring the very real danger of spending time in a place ridden with disease and populated by desperate men.  Despite their best efforts, however, the numbers were still shocking.  The death toll by the time Andersonville was closed in April of 1865 was 13,000 prisoners and 226 guards - one of whom was Enos

His muster records show that he died on October 27, 1864 as a result of “disease contracted in the service of the Confederate States” (dysentery) and was buried outside the walls of a prison which had taken in its first prisoners only a few months before.

Shortly after Enos' death, General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta, which led to the transfer of the few able-bodied inmates to prisons in Savannah and South Carolina so that they wouldn't be freed to fight again for the Yankees. However, the most infirm and ill stayed in Andersonville until it closed forever.

Clara Barton
With the war finally ended in July, the U.S. government appropriated the prison's burial ground and established it as a national cemetery. A month later, the famous Civil War nurse, Clara Barton, surveyed the cemetery in order to help identify and mark the graves of the Union dead.

Finally, after three years, the Union soldiers who had been temporarily buried in the local vicinity were re-interred at the Andersonville National Cemetery. However, the graves of the Confederate guards remained outside the cemetery walls until 1878.  

We can be thankful that the women of Americus, Georgia stepped in to right that wrong. These ladies, who had been actively raising money to erect a monument in their city, identified a much more important need for that money and that was to honor those Confederate soldiers who had died while serving the Confederacy faithfully and doing the best they could during very difficult times.  These men had been lying forgotten for more than ten years - neither honored nor remembered. 

Once everyone was on board with the decision, the  donations were used to dis-inter those Confederate bodies and bury them in Oak Grove Cemetery.  If their names were known,  they would be buried in their family plots. But those whose families weren't known would be buried in an honored place where the Stars and Bars fly over the grave sites and with 43 marked as " Unknown". Enos was one of the "unknown".

His widow, Adaline, and the children continued to live in Troup County until some time before1887 when she and a few of the younger children moved to Randolph County, Alabama.  It was there that she applied for a pension under the "For Relief of Widows of Confederate Soldiers Act" and was approved in 1887, 1889 and 1891. In the applications she stated that her husband, E. M. (called Madison in the 1891 application) "was a Private in Company C of the 1st Regiment of Georgia Volunteers and that he came" to his death from disease contracted in the service of the Confederate Sates and that his death occurred during the late war; that she had not re-married, was a resident of Alabama and that her estate did not exceed $1,000 in value.  The petitions were signed with her mark and notarized.  There is no record of her life after these pension applications.