Harvey Annis Story
Sylvia Clemons |
29 March 2013 |
Annis was born 1825 in Madison County, New York, the son of Lewis and Hannah
Annis. Harvey was a carpenter by trade, and was residing at Oshkosh, Wisconsin
when he enlisted as a Private with Company "F", 18th Wisconsin
Infantry. He participated in the Battle of Shiloh on April 9, 1862, his
regiment having just arrived at Pittsburg landing the previous afternoon.
According to Larry J. Daniel's book, "Shiloh - The Battle that Changed the
Civil War", the 18th Wisconsin was one of the regiments that surrendered
at the "Hornet's Nest, but evidently Harvey escaped the disaster. He later
rose to the rank of Sergeant of Company "K", 18th Wisconsin, and was
than selected and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Company "G", 51st
United States Colored Troops Regiment in 1864. Having served six months with
this unit in the Vicksburg area, on February 11, 1865 he resigned his
commission due to poor health. Ann Vessey Annis, his wife, and Isabelle (Belle)
their youngest child, had traveled to Vicksburg in order to nurse Harvey, and
together they prepared to travel home to Oshkosh on the vastly overloaded steamer,
"Sultana" that was crowded with former Union prisoners of war from
the Confederate camps at Andersonville, Georgia and Cahaba, Alabama. (as written by Helen Chandler, grand-daughter of
James Willis Annis)
April 26, the ship docked at Memphis to pick up coal. At midnight she headed
upriver. At 2 a.m., April 27, the repaired boiler exploded. Two of the three
other boilers exploded. Fire spread through mid-ship. The two smokestacks fell
on the boat, crushing the Hurricane deck killing many men and flinging others
into the icy cold water. Those who survived panicked and rather than fighting
the fire began to jump into the river.
Annis opened his stateroom door to see what was happening. He was enveloped in
a cloud of steam. He slammed the door shut, put life belts on himself and his
wife, took their daughter in his arms, opened the door again, and rushed to the
stern. There he shimmied down a rope to the lower deck, with his seven year
old on his back, and waited for his wife Ann to follow.
With his daughter now in his arms, Annis jumped as he must have thought Anna was right behind him. However, when she hit the
water she discovered her life preserver had been fastened incorrectly. She
managed to grab hold of the Sultana rudder and watched as her husband and
daughter drifted off into the darkness never to be seen again. The fire began
to engulf the rudder, she grabbed a small board and floated away and was picked
up by a rescue boat.
Annis married Anne Vessey on November 13, 1850.
They had four children together.
Lewis Annis, b. November 30,
1851; d. August 11, 1897, he married Anna Allison and they had three children.
Angelina Annis, b. February 6,
1854; d. 1891, married James W Lytle and they had three children
James Willis Annis, b. April 8,
1856; d. September 7, 1916, married Elizabeth Campbell in 1889 and they had two
children. Elizabeth Annis died in 1893 and he remarried Maud L. in 1895, no
Isabella Annis, b. 1858; died
with her father in Mississippi River near Memphis, TN on April 27, 1865 at the age of 7.