On Aug. 27, the Hay Lake School Museum, 14020 195th St N, Marine on St Croix, will host its 4th installment of the “Hay Lake Speaker Series.” Hay Lake Museum Manager Dustyn Dubuque will speak on his new non-fiction book, “How Newell Burch Survived Andersonville Prison, Among the First to Arrive and Last to Leave.” This event is free to the public.
Newell Burch was a man of great integrity and selflessness. As a young boy from New York, he enlisted in the Civil War to fight for the Union Army. Burch spent most of his time in the Civil War as a prisoner of war. He kept a diary of his daily life as a soldier. When he completed a bound book, he mailed it home. Thus, there is a primary account of his experiences, which is unusual.
Burch spent 21 months as a prisoner of war, in Belle Island and Andersonville prisons. Andersonville, Georgia, was home to what many call the “deadliest” prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. More than 45,000 Union soldiers were imprisoned at Andersonville, with over 13,000 dying inside its walls. Conditions were deplorable; prisoners had poor shelter, were fed little food, and had very little for clothing.
Burch wrote all about these experiences, surviving such a traumatic ordeal that was experienced by many in the Civil War including those from Washington County. Upon his release, he met his wife in Cincinnati, and they moved to Menomonie, WI in 1869. Here, he opened the Burch Mercantile Co. and worked for the Knapp, Stout and Company Co. Burch is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Menomonie, WI.