Thirteen Months in Dixie, or, the Adventures of a Federal Prisoner in Texas: Including the Red River Campaign, Imprisonment at Camp Ford, and Escape Overland to Liberated Shreveport, 1864-1865

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Jeaninne Surette Honstein and Steven A. Knowlton
Pub Date:
Fall 2022
Hardcover, 6 x 9
3 maps, 18 images, 168 pp.
Signed bookplates:

Kindle Ebook coming soon!

Click HERE to read Table of Contents, Introduction, Editors' Preface, etc., and Chapter 1 

About the Book

Thirteen Months in Dixie tells a rollicking tale of adventure, captivity, hardship, and heroism during the last year of the Civil War—in the protagonist’s own words. After being hidden away for decades as a family heirloom, the incredible manuscript is finally available, annotated and illustrated, for the first time.

Oscar Federhen was a new recruit to the 13th Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery, when he shipped out to Louisiana in the spring of 1864 to participate in the Red River Campaign. Not long after his arrival at the front, a combination of ill-luck and bad timing led to his capture. Federhen was marched overland to Tyler, Texas, where he was held as a prisoner of war in Camp Ford, the largest POW camp west of the Mississippi River.

Thirteen Months in Dixie recounts Federhen’s always thrilling and occasionally horrifying ordeals as a starving prisoner. The captured artillerist tried his hand at escaping several times and faced sadistic guards and vicious hounds before finally succeeding. But his ordeal was just beginning. The young soldier faced a series of challenges as he made his way cross-country through northeast Texas to reach Union lines. Federhen had to dodge regular Confederates, brigands, and even Comanches in his effort to get home. He rode for a time with Rebel irregular cavalry, during which he witnessed robberies and even cold-blooded murder. When he was recaptured and thought to be a potential deserter, he escaped yet again and continued his bid for freedom.

Federhen wrote his recollections in lively engaging style not long after the war, but they sat unpublished until Jeaninne Surette Honstein and Steven Knowlton carefully transcribed and annotated his incredible manuscript. Numerous illustrations grace the pages, including two from Federhen’s own pen.

Thirteen Months in Dixie is not only a gripping true story that would have otherwise been lost to history, but a valuable primary source about the lives of Civil War prisoners and everyday Texans during the conflict.

Advance Praise

“W. F. Oscar Federhen’s memoir paints a vivid picture of imprisonment in Texas, a state often overshadowed by more famous eastern military prisons in the Eastern and Western Theaters. Federhen’s account of the hardships experienced in several Texas prisons, his defiance against recapture through repeated escapes, and his eventual reunification with his unit reveal how Union prisoners of war continued to fight the Confederacy on their own terms despite confinement.” — Angela Zombek, Assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina Wilmington and the author of Penitentiaries, Punishment, and Military Prisons: Familiar Responses to an Extraordinary Crisis during the American Civil War
“Accounts from POWs in the Trans-Mississippi are rare. Oscar Federhen’s memoir of his adventures during his escape from Camp Ford, Texas, is a compelling read that guides us through the wild-animal and guerrilla-infested Texas countryside, where families hid their true loyalties and escaped prisoners did almost anything to survive.  Federhen told his story well, and this book brings to light one of the best examples of the postwar genre of prisoner adventure narratives.”  Lorien Foote, Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor of History, Texas A&M University and author of Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners of War






Jeaninne Honstein is a conceptual artist based in Princeton, New Jersey. Her paintings, sculpture, photography, and writing are influenced by her perception of history and antiquities. She is pleased to bring the story of her ancestor William Francis Oscar Federhen to the attention of the reading public for the first time. Steven A. Knowlton is Librarian for History and African American Studies at Princeton University. His historical research has been published in many peer-reviewed journals. He is the recipient of the William Driver Award from the North American Vexillological Association and the Marshall Wingfield Award from the West Tennessee Historical Society, and has won the Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award twice. This is his first book