Civil War vet's son one of few

Elberton, Ga., man's father served in Andersonville

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Henry V. Booth, left, poses at age 3 with his father, Isham J. Booth, who worked guard duty at Georgia’s Andersonville prison-of-war camp, where nearly 13,000 Union soldiers died during the Civil War
Sunday, July 10, 2011 7:59 AM
Last updated 8:05 AM
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ELBERTON, Ga.  - Henry Victor Booth may be the only man alive whose father worked guard duty at Georgia's infamous Andersonville prison-of-war camp, where nearly 13,000 Union soldiers died during the Civil War that began 150 years ago.

"He said that was the awfulest place he'd ever seen in his life - he said people were dying there like flies," Booth said.

Booth, who sometimes raises eyebrows when people learn he is the son of a Confederate soldier, has told the story many times over the years.

His father, Isham Johnson Booth, was born in 1847 and enlisted in 1863 when he was 16.

After Booth's first wife died, he married the younger Miranda Lou Dunn.

"She was 38 years old when I was born, and Daddy was 72," said Henry Booth, who turned 92 last December.

Booth is one of a dwindling number of still-living sons and daughters of Civil War veterans.

Mississippi resident Larry McCluney Jr., a historian for the National Headquarters of Sons of Confederate Veterans, said about 30 sons still are alive, but he had no figures for daughters. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War updated its website in June, listing 37 known living sons and daughters of Union veterans.

Typically, they are children of Civil War veterans who in the 20th century married younger women and continued to have children.

Henry Booth, who lived in the Vanna community of Hart County for 40 years, is a veteran himself. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, assigned to a landing craft ship that took equipment like tanks to the beaches. He was at the major battle sites of Iwo Jima, Guam and Okinawa.

His father didn't talk much with his young son about his experiences in the war, but Booth said he overheard him talking with visitors to their home. Booth's father was a sharecropper and never purchased his own house.

Isham Booth, who had 12 children, including one who died at birth, died in 1934 and is buried at Antioch Baptist Church, north of Elberton.

"He was quite a man," Booth recalled about his father. "He'd rent a farm - a two-horse farm - and put out some oats, corn and wheat. He always liked a big branch on it.

"He was a land renter. He didn't want to own nothing. He said a poor man didn't need nothing but a burial lot," Booth said. "He hated to pay taxes more than any man you've ever seen in your life."

Booth heard his father talk about a stream that coursed through the prison camp and provided water to the prisoners.

"I've seen that branch. I've been down to it two or three times. It came into the camp at one end with a pretty good flow of water, and he said when it came out the other end there wasn't nothing. They used the water up," he said.

While serving as a guard, the teenage soldier became sick with a fever. He was sent home by horseback to recover and ordered to return when well, Booth said.

His father recovered and headed back to Andersonville, but had traveled only about 16 miles from Elberton when he learned at a store that the war had ended, so he returned home.

In 1865, Booth was listed as a deserter. In 1927, he was urged to have the record changed because despite not reporting back to the camp he had never actually deserted.

"He had to go to some old people who knew the story and get a sworn affidavit on it," Booth said.

The old soldier once insisted he would never go back to Andersonville, but in 1931 he did, his son said. A World War I veteran who lived in Elberton, Evan Fleming, bought a new 1931 Chevrolet with money the government gave him from service in the war.

"He came over to Daddy's house and said, 'OK, Uncle Jonce, let's go,' " Booth said.

Nobody knows what the old man thought about the return visit, but Booth himself visited Andersonville in April for Confederate Memorial Day.

"You have a different feeling of the people that were there," he said. "It's worth the trip."

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seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/10/11 - 07:12 am
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Great reading...I saw

Great reading...I saw Andersonville...& it was very moving to me.....so many starved there but remember the South was starving too.

TK3
562
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TK3 07/10/11 - 09:47 am
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There are many stories about

There are many stories about the cruel conditions of the camp and the cruelties of man against man but a few even told of small but precious acts of kindness to others.
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

WW1949
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WW1949 07/10/11 - 11:49 am
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There was also a northern

There was also a northern camp that detained Confederate Soldiers that had just as bad or worst conditions as Andersonville. I rember seeing a film on TV that the camp had been around but never reported on like Andersonville.

TK3
562
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TK3 07/10/11 - 01:32 pm
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Both sides suffered at the

Both sides suffered at the hands of the other in the War Of Northern Aggression but the South won that battle as it suffered the most and for the longest. Remember "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." ~Bertrand Russell

"Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background, the countless minor scenes and interiors of the secession war; and it is best they should not. The real war will never get in the books."~Walt Whitman

TK3
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TK3 07/10/11 - 01:50 pm
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In the end it was said the

In the end it was said the South was left with two gray armies and one blue; "- an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and.. an army of thieves."

scorehouse
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scorehouse 07/10/11 - 03:09 pm
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to wayne ford, how did you
Unpublished

to wayne ford, how did you find this guy? fascinating. can you find any others. these stories are national treasures.

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