Vol. 15


The Walk Back Home

1865; from Elmira, New York, to Pink Hill, North Carolina, USA

Confederate soldiers who were captured by the Union Army(1) during the U.S. Civil War were often housed in prisons. One of the most famous was Elmira Prison in New York. Elmira Prison was a horrible, horrible place. Basically it was an open pen that housed thousands of captured soldiers. Rations were scarce because of the war and because the captors did not exactly care about their prisoners. Elmira was originally designed to hold 4,000 prisoners, but soon it became overloaded with 12,100 Confederate soldiers. There were rows and rows of tents filled with skinny — almost skeleton-like — prisoners. The harsh cold winters sucked the life out of the prisoners.

Blaney Blizzard, my great-great-great-grandpa, was one of the 9,130 prisoners to survive out of the 12,100 who entered Elmira. He was born January 24, 1842, and died August 15, 1914. When the war ended in 1865, both the North and the South had to release their prisoners, and Blaney was one of the thousands who made it.

When he was released, Blaney thought that he’d be put on a train, but he found out he had to walk all the way home from New York to Pink Hill, North Carolina. It took him two weeks to get home. While on his journey, he stole a wood wedge and used it to survive. He would chop wood to keep warm on the chilly summer nights. His family worried if he would make it back.

As Blaney made his way through three states, he hid in the wilderness and foraged for food. As he slowly made his way back home, the weather warmed, so he didn’t have to face the cold. What he did have to battle was the unbearable southern humidity.

Blaney’s heart ached for home, and he was determined to return home to his family. After two long weeks he finally reached Pink Hill, extremely malnourished, covered in bug bites, and suffering from sunburn. His family was relieved to see him alive.

Now I know where my name and my family stubbornness came from!

Blaney Blizzard; North Carolina, USA


1. In the U.S. Civil War, the Union Army fought for the United States, or “the North.” The Confederate States Army fought for the Confederacy, a group of Southern states that had formed a new country.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


Return to Vol. 15 Stories page



Built by Hen's Teeth Network