(Theodore Eads signed on with the Fifty-First Illinois Infantry on January 4, 1864. He was nineteen years old at the time, working as a clerk and living in Springfield. He was taken captive at Franklin on November 30, 1864 and spent the rest of his war service at Andersonville. After the war he lived near Corning, Iowa, farmed, and raised Berkshire hogs. His memoir of getting out and going home—after reincarceration in Andersonville—appears below. His prisoner-of-war records show that he was paroled at Jacksonville, Florida on April 28, 1865, reported at Camp Parole, Maryland on May 11 and at Benton Barracks, Missouri on May 21. He was mustered out on May 30, 1865 at Springfield.)

One of the Last to Leave Andersonville

To the Editor the National Tribune:

Permit to state in your valuable paper that in a prior issue of The Tribune an ex-prisoner of war stated that the last squad of prisoners that were released from Andersonville prison were released at a place other than between Baldwin and Jacksonville, Fla. I beg leave to differ with the ex-prisoner, as I was the last prisoner that stepped out of Andersonville the latter part of April, 1865, and was also among the squad that he stated were taken to Macon, Ga., and subsequently brought back to Andersonville.

After we had signed the parole at Andersonville, we took the cars—Wirz and family along with us—and thence were transported to Albany, GA., whither we had once previously been taken and brought back to Andersonville. We were then marched to Thomasville, Ga. Another prisoner and I escaped at Albany, intending to try to get back to Union lines, but about 12 o'clock that night we woke up an old planter to get something to eat and information as to what direction to pursue, and were persuaded by him to get to the squad of prisoners in camp at Albany as quick as possible, as we were on our way to be exchanged. We, however, concluded to turn our direction to Thomasville, whither the squad was to be marched the following day. The next night about 12 o'clock, we reached the suburbs of Thomasville, where the prisoners were in camp. Passing along the road we came upon the major commanding the squad, lying on a cot, and reported to him. He asked where we had been, and we told him we had been foraging and had left his command at Albany. He remarked, using his own language: "You are the darndest set of Yankees I ever saw." He chatted very friendly with us a few moments and then told us to report to the officer of the guard. We did so, and the boys of our acquaintance got up, built a fire, and they had a good square meal as far quantity was concerned as they had for a long while, as we had two haversacks as full as was comfortable for a 125-lb. boy to carry.

The following day we took the cars, and from there were transported to Baldwin, Fla., and half-way between there and Jacksonville we were released. It was suggested by some of the officers that we march into Jacksonville in a squad, but it was of no avail, and it was one of the worst route-step marches ever witnessed. The strongest got in about midnight, and the rest were continualy dropping in until noon the next day, April 29, 1862. We staid there for several days, and then took a steamer on the St. John's River to Fernandina, Fla. We remained in camp there for a number of days, and were then put on board the ocean steamer Daniel Webster, and from there were taken up the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis, Md. I would like to learn the name of the boy that escaped with me at Albany.

Theo. Eads
Co. C, 51st Ill
Corning, Iowa

The National Tribune,
July 10, 1884.
Theodore Eads, Compiled Service Record, 51st Illinois Infantry, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.