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According to my Great Aunt (now in her ’90’s), my great-great-grandfather Levi Eslick Jr. was an unrepentant Confederate who spent 2 years in a Chicago federal prison camp when his regiment surrendered at the battle of Ft. Donelson. Unfortunately, he also belonged to the original Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee, right after the war. Here is the story of what happened (from the Internet):

On February 8, 1862, the 3rd Tennessee Infantry reached Fort Donelson, Tennessee, on the Cumberland River, with 750 men present. The 32nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment, which included four companies from Giles County, replaced the 23rd Tennessee Infantry as a part of Brown’s Brigade. As Colonel Brown was in command of the brigade, Lt. Colonel Thomas M. Gordon commanded the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. Brown’s Brigade was in the worst of the fighting of the Battle of Fort Donelson. The 3rd Tennessee Infantry lost 13 men killed and 56 wounded. Practically all of the rest of the regiment was surrendered on February 16, 1862. The officers were taken to Fort Warren, Massachusetts and Camp Chase, Ohio. The non-commissioned officers and privates were taken by steamboat to Camp Douglas, Illinois. Colonel John C. Brown was offered his freedom, but chose to suffer the same fate as his men, who spent the next seven months as prisoners of war in northern prisons.

The intense cold of Camp Douglas, Illinois, located on Lake Michigan near Chicago, took a heavy toll on the men of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. A few managed to escape, but most suffered through the winter with insufficient clothing and food. At least a dozen men of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry died within the confines of Camp Douglas. Others of the regiment had died on the trip northward and officers suffered and died in other prison camps. Finally, after seven long months, the men and officers of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry were loaded on boats and taken down the Mississippi River to be paroled and exchanged.

According to some records my sister found, Levi Eslick Jr. was subsequently in 6th Tennessee (Wheeler’s) Cavalry unit. I don’t know how common it was for soldiers to switch regiments, but he had at least one brother in this cavalry unit and I wonder if after he was back from his stint as a POW, he wanted to be with family. He was very young in 1862 when he was captured. Just 20 years old.

Levi POW
Levi POW

Hi Martin,

Further to the email I sent earlier this evening, attached are two photos of Levi Eslick Jr. The first is Levi and Maldo’s wedding photo from 1880 and the second from when they were much older. They lived in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Levi’s younger brother was also captured at the Battle of Fort Donelson, but died in Camp Douglas (Chicago) along with many other Confederate POWs. Levi was released during a prisoner exchange and continued fighting until the end of the war.

My Great-Great-Grandfather, Dr. Newton Jenkins, was also from Tennessee and he fought in the War between the States, but less is known. He also survived and lived to be an old man. I have a photo of him as well, when he was a young man.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.


Levi & Maldo
Levi & Maldo
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