Updated date:

Abraham Bates Tower: Civil War Veteran

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.

Abraham Bates Tower

Abraham Bates Tower

Andersonville Prison Survivor and My Great-Great Grandfather

Years ago, I read Andersonville by MacKinley Kantor and was appalled at the starvation and hardships that the prisoners endured there during the Civil War. Little did I know that my own great-great-grandfather was a prisoner there after being captured at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.

Unfortunately we often don't become interested in our genealogy and family history until late in life. By then, many of the people who could answer our questions are gone. I'm lucky that my parents are still alive at 87 and my mother put in many years of dedicated research on the family tree. When older relatives passed away, many of them left their photos and memorabilia to my mom. She became the family historian.

Here's what I was able to find out about Abraham Bates Tower, my great-great grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.

(photo from our family album)

Abraham Bates Tower's Pocket Diary from the Civil War - August 4, 1865 - A List of Men in the 93rd Indiana Infantry

My ancestor's pocket diary.

My ancestor's pocket diary.

Follow the 93rd Indiana Infantry - in the Civil War

Abraham Bates Tower's Civil War Pension Record lists him as Company G. My mother's research found something showing him enlisted with Company B (possibly a misreading of a handwritten document). There is a complete listing at Civil War Archive online. Not all of the locations show up on the map as some place names may be too small or have died out.

  • August 28, 1862 - Abraham Bates Tower enlisted here as a private - New Albany, Indiana
  • until March 1863 - Corinth, Mississippi
  • until March 1863 - Memphis, Tennessee (not clear on the Corinth & Memphis)
  • March 13, 1863 - Helena, Arkansas
  • May 3-14 and May 18-July 4, 1863 - Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • Siege July 10-17 - Jackson, Mississippi

In trying to understand my ancestor's experience in the Civil War, I'm mapping out the movements and battles of the 93rd Indiana Infantry. Abraham Bates Tower was a private with Company G of the 93rd. Follow along with me as I try to visualize the movements of the 93rd Indiana Infantry.

Here's a link to the 93rd Indiana Infantry Officer Roster - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Volume 3, by W.H.H. Terrell, Adjutant General, Indiana, 1866. You can view the entire book online.

I Looked for a Book about the 93rd Indiana Infantry - but only found letters and diaries of other Indiana regiments

I'll probably get a few of these to read so I'll have some concept of the day-to-day life of Abraham Bates Tower as an infantryman.

  • A Fierce Wild Joy (Letters from 48th Indiana Volunteer Infantry)
  • Off to Atlanta with the 27th Indiana Infantry
  • Fighting for Liberty and Right (75th Indiana)
  • History of the Seventy-ninth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War


Field Rations for a Civil War Soldier - Even at the best of times, the food looks pretty skimpy

Photo from Zazzle: Field Rations by bhbphotos

Photo from Zazzle: Field Rations by bhbphotos

Abraham Tower Suffered Starvation, Dysentary, and Scorbutus at Andersonville

Andersonville Prison in Georgia was notorious for the starvation suffered by Union soldiers there during the Civil War. Why did it happen and how did the prisoners survive the brutal conditions there? You can read more about it at Starvation at Andersonville Prison.

You may be wondering What Is Scorbutus? It's an old-fashioned word that you might find describing an American Civil War soldier. This health problem caused the deaths of many in years gone by.

Abraham Tower Was Captured at Guntown

The area where the battle took place is called both Brice's Crossroads or Guntown. The outnumbered confederate troops pulled off a stunning victory against the Union here on June 10, 1864.

Around 1500 prisoners were captured. Among those was my ancestor, Abraham Bates Tower. He would spend the next six months as a prisoner of war.

A Re-enactment of the Battle at Brice's Crossroads - The 145 anniversary of the battle

My Ancestor Was Sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia

Learn More about His Experience

To further understand my ancestor's Civil War experience, I visited the museum and prison site. You can see my photos of that trip at Andersonville Prison Photos. It was 150 years ago that the Civil War ravaged the United States. One particularly dark memory is the thousands that died at Andersonville Prison. These photos show it as it is today.

In reading many diaries and books on Andersonville, I've created a timeline. It will help me and others trying to understand their ancestor's experience in this Civil War prison. You can see it at Andersonville Timeline 1864.

A Documentary about Andersonville Prison

In December 1864, He Was Paroled

  • Abraham Tower Leaves Andersonville Prison
    My Civil War ancestor survived 6 months at Andersonville Prison. In December 1864 he was released. Here's what I've been able to discover about this part of his experience.

Here's How a Civil War Soldier Dreams of Arriving Home

Library of Congress picture available from Zazzle: Civil War Soldier Being Welcomed Home

Library of Congress picture available from Zazzle: Civil War Soldier Being Welcomed Home

Abraham Tower Survived Andersonville

For Abraham Bates Tower, it was quite different. He was released on parole December 6, 1864 weighing only 73 pounds. He spent some time in a Union hospital as his health was seriously affected by starvation and scurvy in the prison. When he returned to Indiana, his wife and children were no longer there. Thinking he was dead, his wife had moved to Missouri to live with her sister. Abraham finally found them. He died in Tyro, Kansas on February 8, 1930 at the age of 93.

The photo on the right shows Abraham with his family later in life. He had four more children after the Civil War and my great-grandmother was one of them.

An emaciated Abraham Tower with his wife, Nancy, and a grandchild.

An emaciated Abraham Tower with his wife, Nancy, and a grandchild.

abraham-bates-tower

Find Information about Your Civil War Ancestors

If you've come this far in looking up information about Abraham Bates Tower, perhaps we are distant relatives. If you are descended from A.B. Tower, please click on my profile picture, and then on the CONTACT button. I'd love to hear what you know about the family history.

© 2010 Virginia Allain

Have You Explored Your Family's Civil War Background?

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on December 19, 2012:

@BarbRad: I've read a number of books on Andersonville while researching my great-great grandfather's life. You're right it is a most distressing topic.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on December 19, 2012:

For some reason, few of the images are loading for me, so I'm sure I'm not getting as much as I'd like to from this, but I did read Andersonville when I was in high school, and it made a lasting impression on me. It's a wonder anyone survived it. I wasn't hungry for two weeks after reading it -- especially for meat. I'm sure Abraham Bates Tower would have quite a lot to tell us, except I'm not sure he would have wanted to talk about it. I think after an ordeal so gruesome, one would want to put it completely out of one's mind.

tjmaj1959 on March 06, 2012:

I love reading about the Civil War, thanks for the great lens

Paperquest5 on February 20, 2012:

Great lens. Very interesting information. I have a number of lens about Civil War ironclads, check them out when you have time. Good job!

jimmyworldstar on December 05, 2011:

Congratulations on tracing your lineage. It's always amazing when you find out that a member of your family was a part of a major historical event.

PhillipConte on November 10, 2011:

I've always been fascinated by history. I spent a day at Camp Sumter ( Andersonville) and Camp Rathbun (Elimira, A.K.A Hellmira). Both places are tragic examples of mans inhumanity to man. Thanks for shaing something so personal

Monika Weise from Indianapolis, IN USA on August 21, 2011:

What a powerful lens. Thank you for sharing the life of your ancestor with us.

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on April 27, 2011:

I love history, and you present each chapter of your history so well.

Interesting lens.

gottaloveit2 on April 11, 2011:

Great read on your family history. My family's name was changed in the mid 1800's in France; there's no further records known.

reasonablerobby on January 30, 2011:

How fascinating, and with a personal touch too. I have always had an interest in the American Civil War since I was a child and this lens really brings it to life. I have just discovered that my great uncle John was a sailor who fought in WW1 in the trenches as part of the little known Royal Naval Division. As you say as we only tend to uncover our family's amazing stories as we get older.

dwnovacek on January 15, 2011:

I also am interested in family history and have done some research on my Civil War ancestors, but there is so much more to do! A great lens - thank you so much for writing it. Blessed by a Squid Angel!

Dee Gallemore on January 07, 2011:

An astounding personal and historical documentary . . . blessed!

Michey LM on December 30, 2010:

Very good documentary about the war, I lensroll it on my civil war 2 lenses.

Blessing for your lens.

Happy new Year

Michey

williammason on October 22, 2010:

Nicely done, the reenactment video is very true to life and well executed! Prisoners caught during the wars were truly manhandled in jail or prison

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on October 18, 2010:

@Sylvestermouse: I was just visiting Andersonville today, so have lots more photos and info that I can add.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on October 15, 2010:

Very interesting lens on the Civil War and you family history. This deserves the purple star. Thanks for adding my sticker at the bottom of you page.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on July 15, 2010:

It is truly amazing that you were able to find out so much. This is one of those lenses that I was sorry to reach the end. I couldn't help but wonder if his family welcomed him back with open arms. It is amazing that he survived. Wow, 73lbs. I can't even imagine! Truly deserved the purple star! Totally awesome.

Joan Hall from Los Angeles on July 06, 2010:

Thanks so much for sharing this awesome story.

HorseAndPony LM on June 30, 2010:

This is an amazing story about your Great-Grandfather. My family does not have a Civil War background. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessed! http://www.squidoo.com/horseandpony-squidangel

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on June 30, 2010:

Yes, I have copies of records a distant cousin sent me. I have been meaning to send away for my own copies or download them online. I studied American Genealogy for 9 years! You might say I have a few records. It's really wonderful your mother made a book of family history. Have a great summer. :)

Related Articles