For freed POWs, ‘the happiest day of their lives’

On this day in 1865: Prisoner of war A.O. Abbott, first lieutenant in the 1st N.Y. Dragoons, recalls his release in Wilmington:

“We laughed, cried, hurrahed, hugged, kissed, rolled in the sand, and — rejoiced generally. Many declared it was the happiest day of their lives.

“The 6th Connecticut was encamped on the bank of the
[Cape Fear] river, and at the end of the pontoon bridge they had erected a bower of evergreens. In the centre of the arch was a card, surrounded by a beautiful wreath of evergreens, on which was printed, WELCOME, BROTHERS.”

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