14th W. Va. Infantry

P.O.W. - Died at Florence, S. C.

Submitted by Greg Maxwell.

A Letter Written By James Maxwell
From The Military Prison, Florence, South Carolina

James Allen Maxwell was a member of Company F, 14th WV Volunteers. He was captured at the battle of Cloyd's Mountain on May 9, 1864. He was initially imprisoned at Andersonville, Ga., then transferred about September of 1864 to a new stockade at Florence, SC. The Confederates were concerned that Andersonville might be raided by the federals so a decision was made to transfer all able-bodied prisoners to other stockades throughout the South. In order to prevent escape attempts, the prisoners were told they were being paroled and transported to Charleston, SC for embarkment on Union ships to return home. The prisoners boarded a train for Charleston, which slowly passed through Macon, Georgia, where they were jeered by the local folk. Upon arriving in Charleston, the prisoners were dismayed when they were forced to board yet another train to Florence to be again imprisoned in the newly constructed stockade. The following letter was found in James' father's bible:

"Military Prison
Florence, SC
October 8, 1864

Dear Friends at home,

We are now at the above mentioned place. Our health is only moderate. Watson has good health. Freeland & myself are troubled with diorhea. We have good appetite all the while. J.H. Campbell & C.J. Williamson are here, but we have not seen them yet.

Our object in writing is to have a box apeace sent to us. Send us the following articles--one ham of meat apeace, a small cake of cheese apeace, some dry beef, coffee, pepper-red and black, dryed apples-1/2 bushel apeace, some butter and lots of crackers soda, sewing thread & needles, one pair of pants & shirt & socks apeace, one good blanket apeace. Send with a box apeace closely packed put up in little sacks. Send as soon as possible after the receipt of this. Your friends in prison

James A. Maxwell
George Watson
Stephen A. Freeland

[on reverse he continues]

Direct the boxes to each of us--Military Prison, Florence, South Carolina By way of Hilton Head. James H. Campbell wants a box of the same kind. Send us some sausage. Get the boxes on the way as soon as possible. Forward this letter around to each one."

James died about seven weeks later, on November 25, 1864, reportedly of starvation. The history of Florence Stockade, as reported at its website, indicates that the conditions there were as bad as Andersonville, if not worse. Apparently, the prison administration encouraged the prisoners to write home for food, clothing, and other supplies. When the supplies came in, however, they were confiscated for the personal use and consumption by the prison guards. It is unlikely that James ever got his box.

James Allen Maxwell of Hebron, Pleasants County, West Virginia, was mustered into Company F, 14th Regt, WV Volunteers in August of 1862. In the same company were his two brothers, Leander B. Maxwell and Darwin S. Maxwell, and his first cousin, Francis S. Maxwell. James was the son of Samuel Scott Maxwell and Eliza Lowery Maxwell. Samuel had founded Hebron about 1842 and was its first postmaster. James was 22 years old when he went off to war. He was captured at the battle of Cloyd's Mountain on May 9, 1864. The following obituary appeared in the March 3, 1865 edition of Alexander Campbell's Millenial Harbinger:

"My brother, James A. Maxwell, departed this life November 25, 1864 in the 24th year of his age, in Florence, S.C. Military Prison. He was a faithful soldier of the cross as well as of his country. I never knew him to use a by-word or slang phrase. So choice was he in the use of language, that he always had a sound speech that could not be condemned. He lived and died a faithful Christian under the oppressive hand of the enemies of our government. May we be ready when called" ---Leander B. Maxwell