Great Uncle Jacob–Civil War POW

First Published April 24, 2011

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War this month…

Our family learned some time ago that our great grandfather’s brother, Jacob Yeaple, died in captivity during the Civil War.  A sad fact, but just a cold fact until our cousin Terry Moran recently found a detailed record.  It turns out Jacob died at Belle Isle (Richmond, VA).  Our relative came alive for me as I continued to read about Belle Isle.  We learned that he had been taken prisoner of war on October 10, 1863 and died the following year while still in captivity at 44.  He really came to life, as I envisioned him proud in his uniform as I continued to read information we didn’t know before.  Jacob was born in Marbletown, NY in 1818 and had gray eyes, sandy-gray hair and was 5′ 10.”  My Dad born well over 100 years later, has gray eyes and had sandy hair as a young man too.

Further information about Belle Isle found on Wikipedia brought tears to my eyes.
The island served as a prison for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. Between 1862 and 1865, the island was home to about 30,000 POW’s and as many as 1,000 died, though accounts vary with the South claiming the death rate was low, while the North claimed it was very high. [1]
…A list of prisoners who died at Belle Isle is available. The Battle of Walkerton was the result of a failed Union attempt to free them.
In April 1864, Peter DeWitt, Assistant Surgeon at Jarvis Hospital, Baltimore, received a number of prisoners recently released from the Prisoner of War camp at Belle Isle. He described the “great majority” of the patients as being:

“in a semi-state of nudity…laboring under such diseases as chronic diarrhoea, phthisis pulmonalis, scurvy, frost bites, general debility, caused by starvation, neglect and exposure. Many of them had partially lost their reason, forgetting even the date of their capture, and everything connected with their antecedent history. They resemble, in many respects, patients laboring under cretinism. They were filthy in the extreme, covered in vermin…nearly all were extremely emaciated; so much so that they had to be cared for even like infants.”[2]
May God Bless you Uncle Jacob for your immeasurable sacrifice.
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About gailyeaple

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