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There Were Kindnesses Shown
During Horror of Civil War
Many interesting facts which never made the history books.
During the Civil, both sides accused each other of mistreatment of prisoners. Mrs. Anna Morris Holstein, of Upper Merion (Pennsylvania), a Civil War nurse, wrote a book, “Three Years In Field Hospitals of The Army of the Potomac”. She described much of the suffering endured by prisoners, and the “inhuman, fiendish treatment of our soldiers in Southern prisons (Andersonville and Florence). The stories about Andersonville were notorious.
Articles about Fort Delaware brought several inquiries because at one time the fort was called the “Andersonville of the North.”
Built in 1859 in a shape of a pentagon, Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island, protecting Philadelphia, was considered the largest and strongest fort on the East Coast.
In April of 1862 Confederate prisoners were brought to the fort and before the Civil War was over, some 12,595 Southern political and military men were housed within its walls. Throughout the war, however, there were many individual escapes, mass escapes and attempts by the Confederates to overpower the garrison and take over the fort.
Fort Delaware became well known for its unjust treatment of prisoners. Due to over-crowded quarters and un-sanitary conditions, disease raged throughout and the mortality rate was very high. In fact, 2700 men died, and of these, 2400 are buried at the National Cemetery at Finn’s Point, N.J., near Fort Mott, just across the Delaware River.
But in spite of cruel treatment of prisoners on both sides, there were those men who had compassion and kindness, but their names had been lost in the mire of historical records.
But diligent research has revealed one Stanislaus Mlotkowski who commanded the Fort Delaware artillery corps. Born in Poland, and having unsuccessfully fought for that country’s independence, Mlotkowski came to Philadelphia, first residing at 1105 Hamilton St. and later on Frankford Ave.
His background is most interesting. He married a German girl by the name of Dorothea Meinke. They had six children, one of whom was adopted.
In 1861 Mlotkowski was appointed First Lieutenant in Independent Battery A, Pennsylvania Light Artillery. He was sent to Fort Delaware. Later, he became the fort’s artillery commander with the rank of captain.
Mlotkowski’s actions at the Fort are best described in the diary of a Southern political prisoner, Rev. I. W. Handy who wrote: “Mlotkowski is a Pole and was a military man before he came to this country. He has more dash and flourish than any of his brother-officers in the garrison. He is a clever, social fellow, acknowledges his ignorance of American politics and says soldiering is his profession.”
Another time, Handy wrote: “He treats the Rebels with kindness, cordially shakes hands with the Confederate officers. His fairness, his respect for the rights of others, and his determination to recognize the goodness of human beings were exemplary.”
Confederate Captain George Baylor, Company B, 12th Virginia Calvary, in his diary for May 31, 1863 noted, “Capt. Stanislaus McClowskis (sic) made me a present of a nice silk tobacco purse and tobacco, the purse knit by his wife. He sent over five blankets to our countrymen in prison.”
Interestingly enough, the artillery at Fort Delaware never fired a combat shot. However its guns were used for salutes at the surrender of Richmond and General Lee. Finally, the guns chanted a slow and measured requiem for President Abraham Lincoln.
After the war, Mlotkowski and his family with a group of Philadelphians, became interested in the development of a seashore resort known as Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. The family resided there and Mlotkowski took an active part in civic affairs.
Captain Mlotkowski died on August 19, 1900 at the age of 71 years. A tombstone, written in German, erected by his wife, marks his grave in Egg Harbor cemetery.
By Ed Dybicz