Private Daniel William Lugenbeal
Company F, 135th Ohio Infantry
Enlisted in the service of the United States as a private in Company F o the 135 th
Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, at Columbus, Ohio, May 2, 1864. Was captured at North
Mountain, West Va., July 3, 1864, and was taken to Andersonville, Ga., July 27, 1864; remained
in the stockade until October 1, 1864. I went out on parole of honor and helped build six sheds
on the south side of the prison, my quarters were near the depot and I could go a mile from my
quarters without any guard. When I got out of prison I weighed only a hundred pounds, but when
I was on my homeward trip I weighed one hundred and sixty-six pounds – so much for stealing
sweet potatoes and peanuts.
March 27, 1865, I left Andersonville and was sent to the Black River, Miss., for
exchange, and thence to “Camp Fiske,” which is two miles [actually four] back of Vicksburg,
where I remained about three weeks. While here President Lincoln was assassinated. We then
went on board the steamer “Sultana,” and on the evening of April 26 th we landed at Memphis,
Tenn. While there I laid down to sleep. They took on coal and started again for God’s country.
Went about seven miles when I was awakened by a terrible roar and crash. I was on the second
deck, my partner’s name was Joseph Test [Pvt. Josephus Test, Co. C, 153 rd OH Inf.], from
Dayton, Ohio. A piece of timber ran through his body, killing him almost instantly. I tried to help
him but I could not. Then I went down stairs and the like I never saw and hope I never will
again. The boat was now on fire. Reader! Imagine you are on a burning boat with twenty-one
hundred men, on a dark night, what do you think you would do? Well, I will tell you what I did.
On board the boat was a pet alligator. He was kept in the wheelhouse. It was a curiosity
for us to see such a large one. We would punch him with sticks to see him open his mouth, but
the boatmen got tired of this and put him in the closet under the stairway. When I came down
stairs every loose board, door, window and shutter was taken to swim on, and the fire was getting
very hot. I thought of the box that contained the alligator, so I got it out of the closet and took
him out and ran the bayonet through him three times. While I was doing this a man came to me
and [p. 225] said the box would do for he and I both to get on. My intention was to share it with
him, but I did not speak and I do not know what became of him. I took off all my clothing except
my drawers, drew the box to the end of the boat, threw it overboard and jumped after it but
missed it and went down somewhere in the mighty deep. When I came up I got hold of the box,
but slipped off and went down again. When I arose to the surface again I got a good hold of it
and drew myself into it with my feet out behind, so that I could kick, the edges of the box
coming under each arm as it was just wide enough for my breast and my arms coming over each
edge of the box; so you see I was about as large as an alligator.
There were hundreds of men in the water and they would reach for anything they could
see. When a man would get close enough I would kick him off, then turn quick as I could and
kick someone else to keep them from getting hold of me. They would call out “don’t kick, for I
am drowning,” but if they had got hold of me we would both have drowned. It was about six
miles from land. While the boat was burning we could see the trees on the shore, and kept our
heads that way and swam fast as we could, but the boat burned down, sank and left us in utter
darkness. We could not tell which way to go and it was a very lonesome place to be in.
Now I would only try to steady my box when I would get in those whirls as I floated
down the river. [whirlpool] I can speak of seeing two men after I started on my voyage; it was
now very dark and I could see an object only a few feet. The first man I met in the darkness, [p.
226] that lonely night, as he was passing me said, “Here goes your old tug boat.” I did not
answer him, as I had tug enough of my own. The next man that came near me asked which way
we were going. He asked me a third time and said that he believed that we were going right
down, meaning we ere floating down the river.
I was taken up three miles below Memphis by a gunboat called the Essex, and was taken
from there to the Gayoso Hospital; was put in ward A, remained there some days, drew clothing
and got on board the Belle of St. Louis, came to Cairo, Ill., and then to Columbus, Ohio. 1
1 Lugenbeal reminiscence in Berry, Loss of the Sultana, 224-27.