Shohola Train Wreck

While working on recompiling a roster of troops for our area, I came across some information that I had originially discovered back in the early 90s.  A good number of soldiers from Cumberland County had died in a train wreck at Shohola, Pennsylvania.

The story begins at Cold Harbor, Virginia where 32 members of Company I of the 51st North Carolina were captured on June 1, 1864.  Company I was made up predominantly of soldiers from Cumberland and Sampson counties and was formed in April of 1862.   The prisoners were transported to Point Lookout, Maryland where they were confined from June 11th to July 12th.

Evidently the prison at Point Lookout had become overcrowded, so there was a shipment of prisoners that took place on July 12th, 1864.  Thirty-one members of Company I, 51st North Carolina boarded the train that was departing for Elmira, New York.   The lone member of the unit that did not make the trip was Private Doctor W. Pope (or did he?).  Pope had been wounded in the left eye at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia and my guess is that he was receiving treatment or was unfit for the trip.  There is a monument at Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY that states D. W. Pope died on that train.  However according to Moore’s Register of NC Troops, Pope took the Oath of Allegiance at Point Lookout on  June 17, 1865.  This is a story that should require further investigation.

There were 833 Confederate Prisoners and 128 Union Guards aboard the train that departed Point Lookout.  On July 15, 1864 two locomotives collided just north of Shohola, Pennsylvania killing 51 Confederate Prisoners (although that number is in doubt) and 17 Union Guards.  According to accounts, the men from Company I must have been in the forward rail car.  The toll for Company I, 51st NC was 9 (or 10?) soldiers killed, 17 injured, and 5 not injured.

Those who were killed:
Brant, Travis  (listed as Travers on monument)
Carroll, John W.  (listed as John Cary on monument)
Davis, John D.
Deaver, Nathan H.
Hardison, James J.
McCorquedale, Malcolm
Monroe, Duncan
Nunnery, William (? not listed on monument/listed in Moore’s Register)
Pope, Doctor W. (? mentioned above)
Strickland, Thomas J.

Those who were injured:
Ellis, William
Fisher, George C. (injured slightly)
Glover, William R.
Graham, Daniel (broken leg had to be amputated, died 9 days later)
Jackson, James W.
Jackson, John W.
Jones, David D. (injured slightly)
McDonald, Archibald (leg injured)
McIntyre, Dugald
Maner, William T. (injured slightly)
Norris, William J.
Pope, James D.
Smith, Peter M.
Taylor, Abram J.
Tew, Daniel C. (fractured breastbone, 3 broken ribs, dislocated shoulder)
Tew, John R. (broken leg, head “mashed”)
Warren, James Calvin

Those not injured:
Hall, Haynes L.
Simmons, Malcolm
Tew, Alexander
Tew, Jackson
Tew, James Martin

Interestingly enough, out of all the soldiers injured on the train all but one, Daniel Graham, survived the war.  The mortality rate at Elmira Prison Camp was quite high, but all of these men survived except for Graham who basically died of his injuries in the crash.  In fact, at least three of those soldiers who were not injured died at Elmira Prison.  All of the Tews passed away there.  Haynes Hall did survive, but there is great question about whether Malcolm Simmons survived or not.  There are conflicting records suggesting that an identity switch occurred between Malcolm Simmons and a soldier from the 18th NC Co. E, Thaddeus Malpass.  One of them survived and one perished at Elmira.  Perhaps, we can also dive into this mystery at some point in the future.  Does anyone else think the Yankees could have been feeling guilty about the train wreck?  The odds of all of these men surviving Elmira could not have been good.

Today, the bodies of those men who died in the crash are buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira.  However, it wasn’t originally that way.  Confederates were placed four to a box and then buried in a 75 foot long trench near the wreck site.  The Union Guards were placed in individual coffins and transported to Elmira for burial.  It wasn’t till June 11, 1911 (an amazing 47 years after their deaths) that the Confederate soldiers were disinterred and taken to Woodlawn Cemetery for burial.