Lieutenant Lawson H. Carley

Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry

The Dashing Young Cavalryman

First Lieutenant Lawson "Lot" Carley of Company E, Fifth Iowa Cavalry, served his nation proudly and found his life shortened due to the hardships he endured during imprisonment at Andersonville. During the war he served with distinction. The following brief biographical notes are followed by the portions of a diary which he maintained during the conflict/his imprisonment.

Lieutenant Carley, like most of his comrades in the Fifth, rallied early in response to President Lincoln's call to suppress the Rebellion. A twenty-one year old cooper enlisted on the 27 August 1861, enrolling at Dubuque, Iowa.

He enlisted as a private, but his leadership skills were evident. By the time the regiment reenlisted as a "veteran" unit at the close of their three year initial commitment, Carley was on the verge of becoming a First Sergeant. This promotion was officially made on 31 August 1864. Carley had been captured a month earlier during an engagement at Rock Mills, Georgia. His company was involved in a cavalry raid with the purpose of cutting railroad lines.

He was destined to spend nearly four months at Andersonville, Savannah and Millen Prisons, where his health would be devastated. Due to exposure and inadequate nutrition, he developed "chronic diarrhea and scurvy" which plagued him until his death in 1885. Pension documents affirm that like so many of his peers who would sacrifice their health in their nation's service, "prior to his entry into the service… he was a man of good, sound physical health."

After he was paroled at Savannah, Georgia on 20 November 1864, he was admitted to the Hospital at Annapolis, Maryland. A thirty day furlough over the Christmas holiday was followed by several months during which he was still physically unfit for duty. Carley was "discharged" from the enlisted ranks on 27 February 1865, with the same date of promotion to Second Lieutenant. He served as one of the officers of the company until his final discharge in August of 1865.

At the beginning of the Lot's fragmentary diary there is a roll, presumably of members of Company E present at Crawfish Springs on 20 September 1863. Some names are marked with an "x," possibly referring to those who died or were captured. The spelling of some names is uncertain.

1. Bartle
2. Wockes
3. [illegible]
4. Ellis
5. Morgan
6. Ramsbottom
7. Carley
8. Carden
9. O'Connell
10. Shunan
11. Copland

1. Shannon (X)
2. Curley (X)
3. Bartle (X)
4. Stoker
5. Turvy (X)
6. Ellis (X)
7. Morgan (X)
8. Ramsbottom
9. Gordon
l0. O'Connell
11. Tulby
12. Copland (X)
13. Wbick
14, Russel
15. Smith
16. Wilson
17. Allen
18. Triller
19. Burk
20. Shelaberger
21. Gardner
22. Burns
23. Kennedy
24. Fisher
25. Franklin
Co. E, 5th Iowa Cavalry
Sept 20th' 63 Crawfish Springs

The diary proper begins on Saturday, 30 July 1864

Saturday, July 30, 1864
David caught and killed unjustly near (?), Alabama--was shot through the head about 3 pm.

Sunday July 31, 1964
I was captured 4 mi. north of Rockville, Alabama about sundown, by 7 armed men. Was marched back to Thorntons and held over night.

Monday, August 1, 1864
Walked to (?) had our lunch at Liberty Mill ate dinner with Capt J T Baggin of the 87th Confederates.

Tuesday, August 2, 1864
Dicksonson & Soner came into the jale this afternoon. We left on the cars at 4 pm, got to West Point at dark. Was locked in jale. (?) was there.

Wednesday, August 3, 1864
Got in the cars at 7 o'clock. Travelled all day, stayed at Columbus in the cars all night.

Thursday, August 4, 1864
Andrew Yuler killed about 10 am. Shot in the head. Lived about 7 minutes after he received the shot. Cars started at 11 am. Arrived at Fort Naly at 4 pm.

Friday, August 5, 1864
Layed in the cars all night. Train started at 2 pm. Arrived at Andersonville & was logged in Prison at sundown in 6 Detachm, 2 mess.

Saturday, August 6, 1864
Found Whited, Tibbetts & W Mason. Slept on the ground last night, without tent or blanket. Dickinson and Soner came in today.

Sunday, August 7, 1864
Found Caligan and Lipincott. Slept on the ground last night as the night before. Our rations are cornbread & fresh beef, salt & beans.

Monday, August 8, 1864
There is considerable talk about an exchange to commence on the 15th… rote to my wife.

Tuesday, August 9, 1864
Wrote to J W Cunytt at… Nashville.

Sunday, August 14, 1864
Reported that officers are exchanged.

Monday, August 15, 1864
No signs of our exchange yet…

Tuesday, August 16, 1864
I have slept for three nights in the new barracks on the ground.

Wednesday, August 17, 1864
I feel very weak--can scarcely put one foot before the other. There is talk of an exchange going on.

Thursday, August 18, 1864
eel very well, but have not much strength. Poor Hanover lays close by dieing. He speaks of his wife, child & Father. We can not assist him.

Friday, August 20, 1864
The weather continues fine. blazing hot sun comes down on the thousands that have no shelter. Many die of that cause daily and many of starvation.

Saturday, August 20, 1864
Moved into the bks… 103 died in Hospital. 6 prisoners came in, reported that Kilpatrick hit the RR… Sherman & Grant still at Wash.

Sunday, August 21, 1864
Weather cool; quite rainy for he last 24 hours. Men are dieing at the rate of 125 every day.

Monday, August 22, 1864
But--few prisoners come in today. There has not been an average of 5 per day for the last 5 days.

Tuesday, August 23, 1864
Weather hot. Not anything unusual occurred today. Prisoners that come in from Kilpatrick say no exchange likely…

Wednesday, August 24, 1864
risoners that come in say hat there is a prospect of a speedy exchange…

Thursday, August 25, 1864
Washed my shirt & drawers & took a bath this morning. Am in good spirits. Have hopes of getting out of this fall. Played Whist with Nelson.

Friday, August 26, 1864
Nothing occurred of note.

Saturday, August 27, 1864
Rained hard last night. weather quite warm.

Sunday, August 28, 1864
Was captured 4 weeks ago today. Am still in hopes of getting exchanged this fall. Took a bath.

Monday, August 29, 1864
Do not feel very well today. Feel more dispondent than I have at any time since I have been a prisoner. Weather cool.

Tuesday, August 30, 1864
Weather quite warm. Roll call at 10 o'clock. Have a touch of the blues.

Wednesday, August 31, 1864
Have not got over the blues yet. More than two thousand prisoners have died this month.

Thursday, September 1, 1864
Am in good spirits today. Have hopes for an exchange soon. There is 108 of our regt. in the camp today.

Friday, September 2, 1864
Last night was quite cool. Rainard has a severe attack of the Ague today.

Saturday, September 3, 1864
Nights are quite cool. Reports are in camp that Grant has fought a heavy battle at Twin Oaks & taken 20,000 prisoners, & Sherman has cut Hoods army to pieces.

Sunday, September 4, 1864
The morning is pleasant. Rainard has a light attack of Ague.

Monday, September 5, 1864
It is cold and foggy this morning. Prisoners that came in from Sherman report… that our forces occupy Jonesborough.

Tuesday, September 6, 1864
Weather this morning is pleasant. Our camp feels joyful… Washed my shirt this morning. 18 Detachments get orders to leave this 12 pm.

Wednesday, September 7, 1864
Three Detachments left this am at 7 o'clock. Two left at 2 pm. 7 Detachments with ours left at 12 pm. Got on the cars between 60 & 70 men in a car. Rec'd a chunk of cornbread & bacon for two days.

Thursday, September 8, 1864
Arrived at Macon at 8 am & layed over till 4 pm. We were not allowed to get off from the cars. Many refugees have their furniture on the cars… Sherman's men.

Friday, September 9, 1864
Savannah, Ga. Arrived here at 8 am and were put into a stockade about 100 yds square. It contains 9800 prisoners. We drew soap, vinegar, salt, meal rice & bacon.

Saturday, September 10, 1864
I have got qtrs with Brainard, Haummer & Sergt Downs of 20th Ohio. For cooking our vctls we drew one tin bucket & one skillet for each 25 men.

Sunday, September 11, 1864
The nights are cold and the days very hot. We have one blanket for 5 of us…

Monday, September 12, 1864
Five tunnels were dug last night but it was so light we could not make our escape. Three of them were discovered this morning.

Tuesday, September 13, 1864
They worked on the tunnel last night. We hope to get away the first dark night. The Rebs are digging a large ditch outside the stockade to prevent tunneling. I believe we will fool them yet.

Wednesday, September 14, 1864
The morning paper says that Mead and Sherman have agreed to exchange their prisoners. The detachments were reorganized. Did not mark on the (?) last month.

Thursday, September 15, 1864
The Rebs are building another stockade adjoining this. I was put into 5th detachment 2nd Mess. Reported that our (?) is moving up the river.

Friday, September 16, 1864
There was considerable excitement in town last night. From what we hear the Rebs are expecting an attack. No further prospect of exchange.

Saturday, September 17, 1864
Morning cloudy. Had a bath & washed my shirt. Moved into the new stockade. Our rations were stopped because a (?)…

Sunday, September 18, 1864
Yesterday, papers stated that Sherman has made a special exchange of our prisoners to be sent forward from Macon. Last evening, weather cloudy and raining.

Monday, September 19, 1864
Had Sick Call for the first time since we came here. Haines got medicine for the Ague & Diarreah.

Tuesday, September 20, 1864
Some fellows stole the slop bls last night and our rations were stopped this morning til they were found. The thiefs are carrying wood under guard.

Wednesday, September 21, 1864
Mollasses & Lard was issued today in lieu of 12 rations of fresh beef. Haines (Hammer) has not had the Ague today. Had a heavy rain today…

Thursday, September 22, 1864
This is the first day without rain since the 17th. Heavy cannon was heard all day down the river. Same rations today as yesterday. I am cook today--dumplins for dinner.

Friday, September 23, 1864
The carpenters finished moving in the Deadline 20 feet. Morning cloudy.

Saturday, September 24, 1864
Some of the prisoners that was sent to Sherman's lines for exchange that were rejected came in today. Weather clear.

Sunday, September 25, 1864
Last night was very cold. Some more of Sherman's rejected men came in. A Committee got up a set of resolutions to send to Lincoln.

Monday, September 26, 1864
A set of resolutions to be taken through to our president by a chosen delegation was read and unanamously adopted.

Tuesday, September 27, 1864
The delegation was selected. One from each Detachment. Chas Edwards was one of the 12. P Bradly goes as chairman.

Wednesday, September 28, 1864
Reported that a special exchange of the Savannah prisoners is to be efected at the (?) about 700 of the Andersonville prisoners came in this evening.

Thursday, September 29, 1864
Quite a heavy shower of rain last night. Morning pleasant. 900 prisoners came in from Andersonville this evening.

Friday, September 30, 1864
We were issued two days rations yesterday and today we are short. Reported that 1000 will leave here within a week. Perhaps to Millen.

Saturday, October 1, 1864
Drawed two days rations about 10 am. There is a report in camp that Richmond is in our possession & that Lee is in full retreat… (?) Lynchburg.

Sunday, October 2, 1864
Every thing is very quiet in camp. We havent heard any church bells as usual, neither any cars to be heard til 4 am. Richmond reported ours.

Monday, October 3, 1864
The first that I saw this morning as I rise up in bed was Tibbets looking like a skeleton. He came in with 500 from Andersonville last night at 10 o'clock. Didn't draw rations til...

Tuesday, October 4, 1864
Dreamed that I shook hands with May & Em & Mrs. Daich (?) last night. The first two dead men were taken out of the stockade this morning.

Wednesday, October 5, 1864
6 dead men were taken out this morning. 2 pm the naval prisoners are preparing to leave.

Thursday, October 6, 1864
Prisoners (sailors) left last night at 12 o'clock. A report is now circulating that (?) going to exchange 5000 of his (?) immediately.

Friday, October 7, 1864
A report in circulation that the alyens in town are trying to have us paroled or exchanged, because it is difficult for them to feed us.

Sunday, October 9, 1864
Last night was a very cold night. 9 men were found dead in camp this morning. The day is chilly.

Monday, October 10, 1864
Had another cold night last night. 6 men were found dead this morning. Detachment 1,2,3 & 4 are to leave at 4 pm. 1000 sick to be exchanged is in the papers.

Tuesday, October 11, 1864
We marched out of the stockade last night at 4 pm. Got on the cars at 6 this am. Arrived at Minnen and marched into the stockade… at dark. 4 Detachments in all 1200 men 20 were here before.

Wednesday, October 12, 1864
Miller, Georgia. The stockade is new and contains 25 (?). Spent the greater part of the day getting wood & logs. Men are arriving from Savannah. The yellow fever got among the prisoners at Savannah. Hood is in the rear of Sherman.

Thursday, October 13, 1864
Was up the greater part of the night splitting shakes to build with. We are divided in thousands, 1 oven 2 kettles and two wells to the division.

Friday, October 14, 1864
Got an axe and our Mess was out til 10 pm getting building timber last night. Thomas at Chatanooga. Sherman at Atlanta. Hood between them.

Saturday, October 15, 1864
Great news in the papers of the North. Lincoln has assured the people that the prisoners should be released before cold weather. Tibbets is with me.

Sunday, October 16, 1864
Got the axe & worked hard all day. Tibbets cooked dinner for us.

Monday, October 17, 1864
Worked til 12 o'clock last night splitting shakes. Partly built our house today have a good appetite.

Tuesday, October 18, 1864
Got a spade and covered our house with dirt. Johnson came in from Macon today. H is well.

Wednesday, October 19, 1864
I made a bargen with the guard to trade him my boots for his shoes & two plugs of tobacco.

Thursday, October 20, 1864
Went into the stockade and made a trade with the guard last night. Traded one plug of tobacco for a vest for Tibbets.

Friday, October 21, 1864
Tibbets feels some better. The Rebs turned us out of our qtrs & searched… Loyd (?) got on a stump and commenced to speak. The guard was about to shoot him down.

Saturday, October 22, 1864
Rebel papers say the old (?) of exchange is resumed. 1000 prisoners from Georgia to be exchanged immediately. Savannah to be the point of exchange.

Sunday, October 23, 1864
Had quite a heavy frost this morning. The first of the season. Our house is comfortable.

Monday, October 24, 1864
Tibbets is with us. He is very weak. Rebs are assertaining if the mens time out and if they have familys & if they are foreigners.

Tuesday, October 25, 1864
Tibbets has not changed much since yesterday. I washed him all over to day.

Wednesday, October 26, 1864
Tibbets is getting very weak can not hardly help himself. He has the diahrrea and Brainard is making him some tea of Blackberrys to warm him.

Thursday, October 27, 1864
Tibbets is much worse. Last night he couldnt get out in time for a pass of (?). He has to be helped to the sink today. 20 shoemakers went outside to work. 13 men took the oath of allegiance and joined the 1st Georgia Rangers.

Friday, October 28, 1864
Tibbets is getting very weak. Had a special roll call, and all foreigners whose term of service had expired were invited to join the Confederate Army. About 500 took the oath.

Saturday, October 29, 1864
Tibbets feels very stupid is in a kind of sleep all the time. Has no more command of himself than a child. Appears better this evening.

Sunday, October 30, 1864
Tibbets was speachless at 4 o'clock this morning. He dies at daylight. About 6 o'clock rumors of an exchange are afloat through camp. Camp will be cleaned out in 6 days.

Monday, October 31, 1864
I hear that the Charleston prisoners are expected here in a few days.

Tuesday, November 1, 1864
About 1500 of the Andersonville prisoners arrived here this morning. Saw the new moon directly in my front this evening.

Wednesday, November 2, 1864
Commenced raining about 4 o'clock this morning & quit at 2 this pm. Between 6 & 700 prisoners arrived from (?) this morning. All the 17th Iowa… are with them.

Thursday, November 3, 1864
Rained all day. Brainard went out to work on prison hospital. He is on parole.

Friday, November 4, 1864
Cleared up last night and is quite cold this morning. Raining some this evening.

Saturday, November 5, 1864
Morning cold and frosty. Very pleasant during the day. About 50 lately captured prisoners came in this morning.

Sunday, November 6, 1864
Cold and frosty. Brainard came in on a pass of an hour. One of the new prisoners Sergt Hale of the 12th Ill, came in to bunk with me.

Monday, 7 November, 1864
Great news of the exchange in the papers to commence next week at the rate of 1000 daily. Are going to have an election tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 1864
Pols opened at 8 am and closed at 9 pm. 8622 voted. Lincoln received a majority of 969.

Wednesday, November 9, 1864
Exchange news very exciting. Reported that 10 bad sick and wounded Rebs are to arrive here today. Last rumor false.

Thursday, November 10, 1864
Raining in the morning. Chilly north wind blowing all day. Think I will go out to work next month if not exchanged.

Friday, November 11, 1864
Rained a little this morning. Fine weather later in the day. Rebs recruited about 200 men from the prisoners. Reported that Lincoln is elected.

Monday, November 14, 1864
From the 29th of February last, to the present date, there have died of Federal prisoners at Camp Sumter 12464.

Thursday, November 17, 1864
Took a parole and went outside the stockade as carpenter to work on prison hospitals.

Friday, November 18, 1864
Went into woods, cut down 6 trees and squared them & by 10 ft. long. Car loads of sick and wounded prisoners left to Savannah.

Saturday, November 19, 1864
Worked till noon then blacked my face… put my blanket out and flanked the guards. Got in with sick and wounded…

Sunday, November 20, 1864
Arrived in Savannah at daylight. Got on the boat at 4 pm. Was on board of our transport eating pork, hard tack & drinking, coffey. The stars and stripes floating over a happy set of men.

Monday, November 21, 1864
Raining all day. We are expecting the transport at the mouth of the Savannah river and the batch of about 100 Yanks arrived & were received on the transport.

Tuesday, November 22, 1864
Washed all over & got a new suit of clothes of the sanitary commission…

Wednesday, November 23, 1864
At 1 pm the good ship M(?) Bassit hove anchor and steamed out on an ocean all Vermillion are ride… home-ward bound for Annapolis MD.

Thursday, November 24, 1864
The weather is fine and has the appearance of continuing so during the trip.

Friday, November 25, 1864
Weather still continues fair. A cooling seas around Cape Hateras, some men are sea sick.

Saturday, November 26, 1864
Annapolis, MD. Passed by Ft. Monroe and into the Chesapeak Bay at 9 o'clock this am. Arrived here at dusk. Was detailed as nurse in the Hospital immediately upon my arrival.

Sunday, November 27, 1864
Had turkey for dinner & supper. Some of the patients were to Baltimore. I have been appointed Ward Master.

Monday, November 28, 1864
Got a pass and Brainard and me went out to Parole camp.

Tuesday, November 29, 1864
Some few men sent to their regts today. Since have been hear I have written to… Mrs. Tibbets.

Wednesday, November 30, 1864
Scrubbed out the Ward this morning and had my hair cut.

The compiler of this information is appreciative to the great-grandson of this veteran, Clark L. Carley, for allowing us to enhance the story of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry by relating the experiences of his ancestor, Lieutenant Lot Carley.

Read Carley's Entire Diary
Return to the Fifth Iowa Cavalry Personnel
Return to the History of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry