Mes racines / my roots

Henri Césaire Saint-Pierre


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Jean Casgrain


Simone Aubry Beaulieu


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The Devil at Andersonville:
This text transceibed by B. Conrad Bush was sent to me by Mike Brown

APPEARANCE OF THE DEVIL.

A Startling Apparition to Frighten the Andersonville Guards

Henri C. Saint-Pierre, Co. F, 76th NY


National Tribune, February 26, 1903

To the Editor:

Occasions for merriment at Andersonville were few and far between. Some of them, however, are worthy of being recorded, and among those which fell under my observation, that which I am about to relate is not perhaps the least amusing.

At the time when it took place, I was employed in the bakery outside of the walls of the stockade.

The four or five regiments which were entrusted with the duty of standing guard around the stockade were composed of Georgians. Many of them were more boys, and the others, old men, who had never seen an enemy in the field. They were an ignorant and superstitious lot of fellows.

Every evening they were distributed by groups around the stockade, each group being a section taken from the various companies of the four or five regiments, as they were detailed in turn to do guard duty. Those groups composed the “corps-de-garde” from which the sentries who stood on the little square platforms on the top of the wall of the stockade were to relieve each other.

As night fell a smoky fire built with pine knots was lit by each one of those groups, and the members of the sections of companies thus distributed around their camp fires would while away the time by talking and jesting among themselves.

In the month of June, the second wall of the stockade had not yet been erected and tunneling was going on from the in-side on a grand scale. Each tunnel had to start from a deep well dug as close to the “dead line” as possible. It would pass underneath the “dead line,” then underneath the heavy logs standing side by side at a dept of seven or eight feet in the ground, which formed the wall of the stockade; and when it was calculated by the conspirators that they had reached a sufficient distance outside the wall, the tunnel was given a slight bend upwards until it reached the crust of ground, some 30 feet outside of the wall.

The bakery was being worked day and night without any interruption. We were divided into two squads, one of which worked during the day and rested at night, and the other began work at 6 p.m. and kept at it until the following morning.

In order to make the labor less onerous, each section would divide the task among its members in such a manner as to alternate in doing the heavier work.

One night in June it was my turn to carry in water from the little creek adjoining the bakery. Section 1 of Co. A of the 4th Ga., had their campfire on the top of a small hill right across the creek, at a distance of about 30 feet from the southwest side of the stockade. The night was pitchy dark, and the reddish, smoky fire that burnt at each section gave to the scene a weird appearance.

It was about midnight. Several of the boys around the camp-fire across the creek, were lying on the ground, apparently asleep; others were roasting sweet potatoes and chatting whilst sitting around the fire.

I was just returning from the creek, carrying a pail full of water in each hand. The air was sultry and I felt sleepy. Suddenly my attention was awakened by shouts or rather shrieks from the direction of the camp-fire across the creek, not more than 25 paces from where I stood in a straight line. On turning my head in that direction, I noticed that the pile of burning pine knots was heaving up and being moved from underneath by some mysterious power. Sparks and embers were flying in all directions. At the same moment I was horrified to see a dark, disheveled head emerging from the ground in the very midst of the camp-fire. No sooner had this head made its appearance among the flying embers and the dark, rolling smoke, than it let out a yell-and such a yell! –the most unearthly one I ever heard in my life.

This was responded to by shrieks of terror on the part of the youthful guards, who, taking this apparition for that of the Prince of Evil breaking forth from the depts. Of hell itself, had taken to their heels and were running away for all they were worth.

In less time that it takes to mention it, the wary Yankee (for he was one) had pulled himself out of his uncomfortable position, and was making for the woods close by without any one trying to impede him in his flight.

None of his comrades made any attempt to secure their escape by following him out of the hole from which he had just emerged.

By a strange coincidence the tunnel-diggers had happened to strike right underneath the spot where the group of Section 1 of Co. A, 4th Ga., had built their campfire.

I never heard of the daring Yankee after that date, but the strange incident of his escape was long remembered by the Georgia regiments. For many days afterward it proved source of considerable merriment, and gave rise to frequent comments of a rather sarcastic nature a the expense of the group of Section 1 of the 4th Ga. Whenever one of them was met by any of his comrades of the other sections, or, even, of the other regiments, he was sure to be hailed with: “Well, Joe, did you see the devil last night?”

Judge H. C. Saint-Pierrre, Corporal Co. F, 76th N.Y., Montreal, Canada.



ST. PIERRE , Henri Cesaire, Q. C. enlisted under the name of HENRY, LOUIS.-Age,21 years. Enlisted at Buffalo, to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. F, August 10, 1863; deserted, November 26, 1863, while on the march. [Since he ended up in Andersonville his disappearance on the march should be changed to captured by the Confederates.]




Jacques Beaulieu
jacqbeau@canardscanins.ca
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