Thirty-nine years ago Captain H.R. Hubbard and Furman McGibbons were inmates of that hell upon earth Andersonville prison. Six or seven years later they met for a brief period and from that time to this, thirty-two years, they have never met until last week when Comrade McGibbons started from his home in Sioux City, Iowa, for a tour over the ground he trod as a soldier, and came by here to meet his old Comrade and Captain, H. R. Hubbard.
No man can describe the meeting of these veterans who suffered a thousand deaths in that hell hole—no man could attempt to picture the review of that companionship, as they sat on the lawn of the Captain's home near Boston Mills—a companionship, a comradeship which dates from the time they enlisted at Mendon, Ill., in Company A, 119th Ills, Infantry, to eh present and will continue until they shall have "joined the innumerable throng," gone before and perhaps still longer. We cannot tell of the happiness, the joys, the sorrows, the woes, which were crowded in the brief period between '61 and '65, but will tell of of a few incidents connected therewith, as Comrade McGibbons told them to us. Said he:
"Hubbard was my lieutenant, afterwards captain. No braver, better, kinder solder ever donned the blue. We boys loved him because he love us. He asked us to go nowhere that he would not go—his command was always 'Come on, boys.' The welfare and comfort of his men was his first consideration and he would sacrifice self at any time for the least of them. As an illustration of this fact I want to show you the contents of this package" — and he opened it and disclosed an elegant shirt—"while in Andersonville it was almost impossible to make our rags cover our nakedness—my shirt literally fell to pieces—I was a delicate lad and very ill—the captain drew the remnants of his garment from his shoulders and placed them on mine. I protested, but he said, "It is all right, Furman, I know where I can steal a gunny sack and make me a shirt, besides I am big and stout.' True, he was big in frame, but while he was the champion boxer and saved many a poor man from abuse by reason of his skill, I could place my thumb and index finger around his thigh, which today I could not span with both hands. This shirt is to replace the one he gave me that day. If he were to give me his farm today I would not be equal to the gift of that ragged shirt. Another illustration is furnished by the fact that he did not disclose to his captors that he was a commissioned officer preferring to pass as a private rather than he be separated from his men.
"I was taken from that prison and we were separate. For the benefit of our boys who were in the Spanish war and whom I have heard complain of their transportation; when they were being carried in tourist sleepers and sometimes went from morning til night with nothing to eat, I will tell how I was conveyed from Andersonville. One hundred of us were packed in an old fashioned freight car—not nearly so large as the cars of this day—so closely that we could not sit down. Thus we stood for two days and nights without food or water.
"About six weeks afterwards I was walking in the Charleston jail yard when I heard a voice call: Furman Mc! It came like a voice from heaven. I knew it was the captain, but could not locate him. I looked around and finally saw him pass an upper window of the workhouse. He had called me and then stepped back that the guard might not see him. It was against orders to appear at the window and a sight of him would have been his death warrant. I strolled as near the window as possible and with my back towards it, while the captain stood out of sight, we conversed with each other. I procured some paper, wrote a letter and wrapping it about a stone, watched my chance and threw it into the window,. He replied in like manner. He informed me that after I left he sold a swatch which he had preserved by hiding it in a pocket of his shirt, made under his arm, and had sent me half the money. I never received it but that fact detracts not from the noble act of sending. We were again separated and met no more until out of the service, when were together at Mendon, Ill., in 1872.
"This is our next meeting and you have no idea of that change wrought in the thirty-one years that have intervened. I am going back over the field and to Andersonville, to once more and for the last time, see that hell upon earth where thousands of brave boys were crushed beneath the burden of inhuman indignities heaped upon them, and could not resist the desire to once more great my old captain, who is more than a brother to me."
Additional "original" editor notes:
[The above was published in one of the Kansas papers and Capt. Hubbard sent it to Mr. Geo. H. Baldwin, who kindly handed it to us (ed. note: not sure who us is?) Capt. Hubbard and Mr. McGibbons were former residents here and will be remembered by a good many of our readers.]
#1 photo of H. R. Hubbard (shown)