Confederate Spy Plotted to Free Camp Chase Prisoners (Reported in Columbus Dispatch but inaccurate)
The following article, "Both sides of Civil War divide were represented here" by John Switzer, appeared in the Columbus Dispatch December 16, 2012. It's the story of a "Major Andrew J. Marlowe". Switzer's article is an example of how "story telling" sometimes gets misinterpreted for actual history. The following by Dennis Ranney sets the record straight.
Setting the Record Straight
by Dennis Ranney
I have always considered myself to be an amateur historian of Camp Chase, however, I would like to point out some issues with the newspaper article. It seems every few years the story is brought up about Major Marlowe and in my opinion it is a fabrication. In the book The Story of Camp Chase by William H. Knauss, an entire chapter is devoted to Major Marlowe's story in chapter 21 and anyone can read it on-line using Google as a search engine. Enter "Books" and "The Story of Camp Chase". Mr. Knauss' title of Colonel was a honorary one. William H. Knauss never reached the rank above Private during his service with the Union Army in the 2nd Regiment, New Jersey Infantry and the Veteran Reserve Corps. This is not to take away from his many accomplishments including his book and for his devoted work at the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery as well as his service to the United States during the war.
Before publishing his book in 1906 Mr. Knauss was seeking out stories about the Camp Chase prison. Unfortunately, during this time period Mr. Knauss had no way of confirming his information and was the victim of "story telling" to a degree. I do agree that Columbus, Ohio had many pro Confederate loyalties. In fact in both the 1860 and 1864 general elections for President, Lincoln never won Franklin County, Ohio. President Lincoln lost Franklin County by more votes in 1864 than he had in 1860. This is also not to insinuate that there were more pro Southern voices in Franklin County, Ohio but rather to suggest there were more Democrats in Franklin County than Republicans.
Five men were on the ballot in Ohio during the 1860 Presidential election. They were:
1) Abraham Lincoln (Republican Party)
2) Stephen Douglas (Northern Democratic Party)
3) John Breckinridge (Southern Democratic Party)
4) John Bell (Constitutional Union Party)
5) Gerrit Smith (Liberty Party) a staunch abolitionist
The majority of the deep South and Maryland and Delaware voted for Breckinridge. The Constitutional Party ran on a platform to "Keep the current Union as it was, as well as the Constitution" Bell won the states of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Douglas won the states of Missouri and New Jersey. The following is how Franklin County, Ohio voted in 1860:
Lincoln = 4,295
Bell = 119
Breckinridge = 78
Smith = 0
With technology as it is today we can look back at such stories as told and believed by Mr. Knauss and separate some of them from fact from fiction as I believe we can with the case of Andrew Jackson Marlow. A.J. Marlow is buried at the Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio in the old section and does not have a tombstone.
According to the Union Cemetery records in Columbus, Ohio Andrew J. Marlow (Spelled as MARLOW) was buried on August 26, 1915 and his age was listed as being 70 years old. Andrew J. Marlow nor his wife Luticia Marlow (died February 4, 1920) have markers over their graves. The two are buried next to the stones of Fickey and Gardner. This would put Andrew J. Marlow being born about 1845 and he would have been about 16 years old when the war started in 1861.
By Mr. Marlowe's own words in chapter 21, he enlisted in Company C 2nd Regiment, Virginia Infantry in May of 1863. If that is the case then Mr. Andrew J. Marlow should and would have had a Compiled Military Service Record. General Ainsworth and his staff started recording the Confederate Compiled Military Service Records in 1886, however, they were housed in Washington, D.C. and are currently in the National Archives and Records Administration. Because of many issues including theft and damage to the records by the general public, a company named footnote was allowed to film them and put them on-line. Since that time the company has been called Fold 3 and it's a pay site in which anyone can view Confederate Compiled Military Service Records on-line. I have that service among others. Because of my constant travels across the United States and my interest of Camp Chase I have accumulated a vast amount of material about Camp Chase that most people would not have a chance to view. At best today, there are probably less than 25% of the original Camp Chase Records on-line in my opinion.
No where in the Compiled Military Service Records is there a Marlow or Marlowe or anything that even slightly resembles a Marlowe in the 2nd Virginia Infantry or Cavalry or Reserves etc. Upon widening the search I find four Confederate soldiers with the last name of Marlowe in the entire Confederate Army. None of them had the first initial of A except for one, Albert D. Marlowe and he served in a Florida Regiment and was a private. In my opinion A.J. Marlowe's last name was spelled as Marlow. I do show a private Andrew S. Marlow in the 3rd Virginia State Line unit and he did have an alternative name as A.J. Marlow however he is shown as being absent for duty because his horse was sick and also enlisted as a private. The most likely candidate for this subject is a soldier named Andrew J. Marlow with Company C 19th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry. This is whom I have considered through the years as Major Marlowe being. However, he enlisted as a private on March 15, 1863 and deserted his unit on August 1, 1864. He was listed as a Confederate deserter. He was also from (West) Virginia and if you're going to desert your command it might be a good idea to leave your native State. I do think it's plausible that Marlow did come to Columbus, but not in the role of a Spy. And if he did come to Columbus to lay low because of his desertion in the Confederate Army and was watching Confederates being taken to the Camp Chase prison I surmise he did so for fear of being recognized by members of his own unit. Why would Major Marlow say he enlisted as a duty Sergeant when the Compiled Military Service Records say he enlisted as a private? I speculate that he was trying to build himself up to Mr. Knauss.
Allow me to state what Marlow said to Mr. Knauss in his book verbatim: "I enlisted early in the war in Company C 2nd Virginia Infantry, and was made first duty sergeant, which position I held until the 23rd day of May, 1863, when I was promoted to the rank of Major and transferred to the Nineteenth Virginia Cavalry. Even at that time I had taken part in thirty-two engagements, some of which were severe battles. A portion of this time was spent as a courier, carrying orders from one general to another, and through these duties I became acquainted with most of the leading generals in the Army of Northern Virginia. I served under Gen. Stonewall Jackson until his death, after which I was under Longstreet, with Gen. William L. Jackson my brigade commander. I had delivered messages to R.E. Lee, the Hills, Early, Breckinridge, and others. I received my commission from Gen. William L. Jackson, and by him was sent through the lines as a scout and a spy."
As stated earlier I show no records of him ever being with the 2nd Virginia Infantry. I do show him as enlisting in Company C of the 19th Virginia Cavalry as a private on March 15, 1863. No where can I find his enlistment in the Confederate Army prior to his enlistment with the 19th Virginia Cavalry. Another issue about his story is about General William L. Jackson (known to his troops as Mud-Wall Jackson) William L. Jackson was not made a General until December 19, 1864 when he was promoted to brigadier general. According to Marlow he was made a Major on May 23, 1863 by General William L. Jackson, that would have been impossible and again he probably knew Knauss could not verify his story. But computers can today. The 2nd Virginia Infantry was in many severe battles and was with Stonewall Jackson however Marlow is not to be found anywhere in the regiments records. There are countless inaccuracies in his stories throughout the chapter. Such as his meeting with General William L. Jackson in October of 1864 at Lewisburg, West Virginia with his old regiment at hand. The 19th Virginia Cavalry along with Colonel William L. Jackson had been soundly defeated in what has been stated as the worst defeat suffered by the Confederate Cavalry during the war at Tom's Creek Virginia on October 9, 1864 and they were defeated again at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.
There is no way the 19th Virginia Cavalry or Colonel William L. Jackson could have been in Lewisburg, West Virginia at that specific time period. Again, Knauss would have not known any better. On page 289 of "The Story of Camp Chase" in chapter 21 Marlow states "I met General Forrest in Southwestern Virginia and was attached to his command. He gave me orders to go east and scout in the direction of Lynchburg and to let him hear of me daily." This according to Marlow was just days after he heard of the surrender of General Lee. General Forrest was in the State of Alabama fighting Union General Wilson in April of 1865. Although General Forrest covered a lot of ground during the war he never once put one foot on Virginia soil at any time during the war.
The story about Marlow visiting the Camp Chase Prison is also a little hard to imagine . A stranger on November 23, 1864 as Marlow claims did not just walk into Camp Chase without being challenged and initiate a conversation with the commandant, which would have been Colonel William Pitt Richardson at that specific time period let alone be given a tour by him of the Camp Chase prison. 1st Lieutenant Sankey would not have let a stranger just causally walk around the camp. And before you dealt with Lieutenant Sankey you had to get past the guards and that would not have happened unless you knew the counter pass word for the day.
I know the password for the following day, November 24, 1864 at Camp Chase would have been "Atlanta" and the counter password would have been "Port Gibson" At the end of the chapter however a black man tends to corroborate Marlow's story. The facts as the black man stated are accurate in my opinion. There was a black Union soldier in Company A of the 1st United States Colored Cavalry by the last name of Bird, in which he stated he was a member of that unit. According to the Knauss book he said his name was Byrd. Close enough. I show him as Private James W. Bird. He also stated in the book that his Captain in Company A was Charles W. Dye, upon looking I do find a Captain Charles W. Dey in Company A 1st United States Colored Cavalry. Again right on target with his statements.
James W. Bird was a local barber in Columbus, Ohio and I speculate that Marlow had overheard some of his stories while waiting around for a haircut or that a story had reached Marlow second hand about the barber's exploits in the war. Marlow would then fit right into Bird's story.
While I believe the black man to be a honest and truthful person, I do not share those same sentiments for Major Marlow or as I sometimes refer to him as private Marlow. I could go further into private Marlow's inconsistencies in his statements but I think I have shown enough evidence to at least suspect his claims.
I believe that Private Andrew J. Marlow was in the war but as a private and that he did desert his post in August of 1864 per his service records. I further believe that Marlow knew enough about the war and events to confuse people such as Mr. Knauss. To go from a Sergeant to a Major was a rather remarkable feat even in those days. I would encourage anyone to research and check into Marlow's story and would be mildly surprised if they could find documentation to prove otherwise. If stories such as Marlow's are told often enough, some people may begin to remember them as factual.