Abraham Bates Tower: Civil War Veteran

Abraham Bates Tower
Abraham Bates Tower | Source

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


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 mis-reading of a handwritten document). There is a complete listing at Civil War Archive online. Not all of the locations show on the map as some place names may be too small or have died out.

show route and directions
A markeruntil March 1863 -
Corinth, Mississippi
[get directions]

B markeruntil March 1863 -
Memphis TN
[get directions]

C markerMarch 13, 1863 -
helena, arkansas
[get directions]

D markerAbraham Bates Tower enlisted here on August 28, 1862 as a private -
new albany, indiana
[get directions]

E markerMay 3-14 and May 18-July 4, 1863 -
vicksburg, Mississippi
[get directions]

F markersiege July 10-17 -
Jackson, Mississippi
[get directions]

I Looked for a Book about the 93rd Indiana Infantry - but only found other 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.

Further down on this webpage, you'll see more books about Indiana 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

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 First Introduction to Andersonville - the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by MacKinlay Kantor

Andersonville (Plume)
Andersonville (Plume)

An epic account of the notorious prison camp in Southwest Georgia which operated from February 1864 till the end of the Civil War. There are not-always subtle parallels between Andersonville and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The horrors of the prison are contrasted with outside digressions. One digression is the prisoners' memories of happier times in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and in what is called York State. Kantor's aim is to make the prisoners real people, not just faceless statistics. Another digression is the existence of residents in the vicinity of the stockade, whose lives are blighted by the neighboring corruption. Many readers have commented on Kantor's decision not to use quotation marks....It gives the narrative a tougher, more documentary tone, appropriate for such a grim topic. Grim it ineviatably is. (review by Edward on Amazon)


My Ancestor Was Sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia

A Documentary about Andersonville Prison

Abraham Tower Survived Andersonville

This is how a Civil War soldier imagines his homecoming.... (see photo below)


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

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.

Gail Martin's Book Includes a Section about Abraham Bates Tower - Her Great-Grandfather


This is my mother's book.

A childhood on the Kansas prairies in the 1930s springs vividly to life in the detailed memories of Gail Martin. Her simple accounts of long ago school days, celebrations and family life are a treasure. Travel back in time to life in the Flint Hills during the Great Depression and the time leading up to World War II.

The memories include her father's work in the oil field, trips to town in the family's Model A, raising her pet badger, fishing on the Cottonwood River, and wearing dresses made from feed sack material.

The book also explores her family's role in early Kansas history with details of covered wagons, homesteading, the Civil War and fledgling industries. These range from Tyro to Teterville to Eureka.

This edition includes a section with About The Author and a McGhee, Vining, and Tower Family Album.

Read the Family Memories of Abraham Bates Tower - Preview Sections of My Flint Hills Childhood which includes my mother's description of Abraham Bates Tower's L


My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin | Make Your Own Book

To read the whole book, order it at that website. It is print-on-demand, so it takes two or three weeks for printing and mailing.

Two sections of the book includes family memories and photos of Abraham Bates Tower.

In October 2010, the book was awarded the Ferguson Kansas History Book Award.

Civil War diaries on eBay - Letters and diaries from the Civil War are much sought after

Have You Explored Your Family's Civil War Background? 21 comments

Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

@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.

BarbRad profile image

BarbRad 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

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 profile image

tjmaj1959 4 years ago

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

Paperquest5 profile image

Paperquest5 4 years ago

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

AaronSquid profile image

AaronSquid 4 years ago

Interesting lens, thanks for sharing your family history

jimmyworldstar 4 years ago

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 4 years ago

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 profile image

Monika Weise 4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

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

lollyj lm profile image

lollyj lm 5 years ago from Washington KS

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

Interesting lens.

gottaloveit2 profile image

gottaloveit2 5 years ago

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 profile image

reasonablerobby 5 years ago from UK

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 profile image

dwnovacek 5 years ago

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 profile image

Dee Gallemore 5 years ago

An astounding personal and historical documentary . . . blessed!

Michey LM profile image

Michey LM 5 years ago

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

Blessing for your lens.

Happy new Year


williammason 5 years ago

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 profile image

Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida Author

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

SandyMertens profile image

SandyMertens 5 years ago from Frozen Tundra

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.

Sylvestermouse profile image

Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

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.

joanhall profile image

joanhall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

Thanks so much for sharing this awesome story.

HorseAndPony LM profile image

HorseAndPony LM 5 years ago

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 profile image

WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

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. :)

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    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

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    Virginia Allain profile image

    Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

    @anonymous: LaClede, Missouri (not Laclede county). Take a look at my page, Abraham Tower after the Civil War.

    anonymous 2 years ago

    @Virginia Allain: Where did Abraham's wife and family move to in Missouri? I'm only a few miles from the Iowa/Missouri border.

    Virginia Allain profile image

    Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

    @anonymous: What marvelous serendipity! You will notice that I have quite a few pages about Andersonville (a timeline, first-hand accounts, starvation, scorbutus, my ancestor getting paroled from there, and a booklist).

    anonymous 2 years ago

    @Virginia Allain: No. I was googling Andersonville because I have been interested in it ever since I bought ratty old book at a garage sale about 25 years ago, written by a McElroy or something, a survivor of Andersonville.

    Virginia Allain profile image

    Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

    @anonymous: Julie, how exciting to meet you. Did you know there's a Tower Family group on Facebook. It's a great place to link up with other relatives.

    Was your ancestor at Andersonville too?

    anonymous 2 years ago

    Yep, apparently so, but back a ways, if I found your Abraham's correct family tree. Actually, I think we're related through both the Bates and the Tower lines. Nabby Bates was the sister of my Lebbeus Bates. And to think that I was just looking up Andersonville.

    cr00059n 4 years ago

    This seems really interesting. I've had a great read through of your article. Intriguing.

    gottaloveit2 profile image

    gottaloveit2 4 years ago

    Nope, sorry, my family is from Minsk Russia but I loved the lens!

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