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MS-014:  Thomas Cheshire Papers

(1 box, .27 cubic feet)

Inclusive Dates: 1863-2001

Processed by: Meggan Emler

July 2004

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF

Provenance:  Gift of Jennifer Kemp


Wales native Thomas Cheshire, later a saw mill operator from Kentucky, became a scout for the Union army in June 1863.  He was captured near Telico Plains, Tennessee that September, and was taken to Atlanta, Richmond, and eventually to Andersonville prison.  After several months in horrendous conditions, Cheshire and four other prisoners escaped the prison and made their way to the coast of Florida where they met up with a Federal blockade.  The vessel took them to New York where they arrived just before Thanksgiving.  After reporting to General Burnside in Providence, Cheshire returned to his wife, Elizabeth.  According to his granddaughter, Cheshire and his wife had eleven children together.  Thomas Cheshire died in 1900 in Cleveland, Ohio and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery.

Scope and Content Notes: 

The Thomas Cheshire Papers mainly consist of his handwritten document describing his capture, prison experience, and escape from Andersonville.  The manuscript is supplemented by correspondence written by Cheshire’s family members, army officials, and one letter from Cheshire himself.  Also included in the collection is Elizabeth Scott’s (granddaughter of Thomas Cheshire) published historical fiction, More Fox Than Lion, based on Cheshire’s early life and manuscript.  Correspondence from the donor of the collection, as well as a newspaper article on Cheshire’s escape found in the Providence Journal, is included.

Cheshire’s account illustrates the conditions experienced by prisoners of war, specifically in the Andersonville prison.  The collection also highlights dangers faced when attempting escape.  Although this manuscript contains useful insight regarding prison life, it also hints at Union sympathies in the South.  

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF