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55th Alabama Infantry (CSA)
Ancestor Info
Name: Andrew Lindsey WheelerRank: Captain Company: I

INTERVIEW OF CAPT. WHEELER IN 1930: The beginning of the War between the States found me a young man of twenty-three. In the fall of '61, I enlisted in Company 'I', 55th Alabama. John Norwood, Captain, General Buckner in command. When this Company took up its duties, I was left at home sick with chills. I joined my Company some time later at Fort Donalson, Tennessee. While going there the first of the war, I saw a dead man all covered with ice and snow. Our first battle was fought at Fort Donelson. There we surrendered to the enemy and were taken as prisoners to Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill. I remained in prison for several months, spent the greater part of that time in the hospital. Please let me stress the fact of our good treatment while prisoners. We were given the best of medical attention and plenty to eat-not much pie or cake, of course, but plenty of substantial food. After being exchanged we took a gunboat for Vicksburg Miss. And there we reorganized. I was elected third Lieutenant and placed in command under Joseph E. Johnson, Commander in Chief, Loring being General. Our first battle was fought at Baker Creek, near Vicksburg: thence to Jackson, Miss. No regular pitched battle was fought there but several of our men were killed by sharp shooters. Very well do I remember how we stripped a fifty-acre field of corn, near Jackson, Miss. Some ate the corn raw and others roasted it. We moved on from there to Resaca, Ga. There we had light fighting as we marched on to Atlanta. Just before the battle of Peachtree Creek, command was taken from Gen. Johnson and given to Gen. Hood. I was placed in command of Company I, 55th Alabama, in the absence of Captain Sisk. I went into battle as Junior Officer in command and came out uninjured and in full command of the regiment. This battle was the greatest slaughter that I witnessed during the entire war. Many of my most intimate friends were shot down by my side, but through Divine Providence I came through safely. After the battle the few that were left alive assembled near Atlanta with Gen. Hood still in command. We marched enroute to Nashville, Tenn., but before reaching there we met the enemy at Franklin, Tenn., where the next greatest slaughter I witnessed took place. In this battle, my position happened to be on the extreme right where there was but little fighting; the main slaughter took place on my left. Then I pressed forward near the enemy's line to a bordock hedge which was impassable and there I remained until the last of my company had fallen back and left me all alone. Well, I am not going to tell you that I WALKED away from the enemy while bullets were flying thick and fast at me. The only reason I can give you as to my escape was that the bullets and I were going in the same direction and through the aid of a large oak tree I made my escape. I have often wanted to inscribe these words on the old oak: 'Woodsman, spare this tree, touch not a bough, while in danger, it protected me, and I'll protect it now.' Afterwards, we assembled and marched to Nashville and remained there for several days without any fighting which gave the enemy time to reinforce down the river below Nashville. They came in on us at our rear, which forced us to retreat and started us on our long journey to Bentonville, North Carolina. There we had a hard fight and were successful in driving the enemy back. There I was in command of the pickets and scores of men were killed. After this battle, the Army was reorganized and made into full companies, and I was placed in command of my Company. Shortly afterwards, we surrendered at Greensboro, N.C. under Robert E. Lee. Six months after the surrender I came to Scottsboro, Alabama and married Elizabeth Jones, in 1865, and since that time my life has been very ordinary- my chief service being the rearing of five daughters and three sons. In providing for their various needs, I was busy and happy. On Jan. 26th next, I will be ninety-three (93) years old; have been a member of the Baptist church for more than fifty years; and am a firm believer in God. I long for the time to come when 'they shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks, and neither shall they learn war any more. A.L. Wheeler 1930

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