Henry Hankins, Civil War Veteran

The following from the Allentown Messenger dated April 13, 1916 indelicately describes the slaughter of hogs and the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war.


Henry H. Hankins, of New Egypt, has established a remarkable record in the line of slaughtering hogs. He writes that there has been some dispute in his section as to who is the smartest hog killer, and he therefore gives the following record of his own achievement through a period of several years:


He states that he first began killing hogs September 20, 1869, and finished March 24, 1905. During the 36 years in which he was thus employed he averaged about 45 days a year, and dressed about 50 head at each killing, making a total of 74,250 animals slaughtered. The heaviest hog he ever killed weighed 1,335 pounds when dressed. The greatest number killed in any one day was 203, which was done in five hours, for Horner & Bro., of New Egypt.


Other parties by whom Mr. Hankins was employed in hog killing time were Budd Woodward, Collin Meirs, Noah Hunt and Joseph Holmes, all of Cream Ridge. These farmers had, respectively, 125, 175, 169 and 100 head of hogs butchered by this expert.


Instead of throwing the animals at the time of killing, the son, Harley Hankins, shot them for his father during the last five years of his operations. Our hog killer mentions as his assistants at various times Abram Robbins, Josiah Holman and Frank Stearle, of Allentown, and he adds, “they were the best of help.”


Mr. Hankins is an old soldier, he having been a member of Company F, Fourteenth New Jersey Volunteers, in the Civil War. He mentions about seeing a portrait recently of William H. Moore in the Allentown Messenger, and which, he says, reminded him of the days they attended school together. Mr. Moore was a member of the Ninth Jersey. He says that Comrade Hankins a few years ago was the smartest hog killer he ever knew, and speaks in high praise of the rapidity of his work, being able, as he expresses it, “to gut a hog in minute.”


In speaking of his soldier friend Moore, Mr. Hankins says: “I don’t know anything about his fighting qualities, but if he takes after his poor old mother he could not be any better.” This refers as to how the mother once served a school teacher for cruelly whipping her daughter (to which young Hankins was a witness). The result was the arrest the next day, by a constable, of the school teacher.


In speaking of his army experience, Mr. Hankins says the he was taken prisoner at the battle of Monocacy, where he was wounded in the right foot, also in the right arm and over the left eye. The next morning the Confederates took him with other wounded comrades to Ellieville in a cart drawn by a cow and a bull. The trip ended at Richmond, where he spent a seven months and twenty-one days in Libby Prison.


After entering the prison he says that he did not have a taste of meat until he was released. He saw others eating horse meat and roasting it over the fire on a stick. After getting settled in prison this diet was a pint of corn meal without any salt, but sometimes baked with salt. When they served the corn meal they carried out the dead, which averaged about nine every 24 hours.


Mr. Hankins says that men could not see much of the outside world on account of the dead line, there being guards on both the inside and outside of it. The men, he said, laid in tiers at night, head to head, with boards to lie on, but no clothing to cover them. The average age of the men that died was from 40 to 45 years.


This Union soldier says that a number of men belonging to Jersey regiments were in the prison. In speaking of the last part of his prison life he says: “On the 22nd of January about 1,300 men were paroled for sixty days. We were taken by boat to Philadelphia to a hospital, most of us being nearly naked. When I grew stronger Uncle Sam gave me a furlough of sixty days. When I reached home I weighed 82 pounds. It was hard task for anything to stay on my stomach. It was over six months before the corn hulls were out of my system.” It might be stated that when Mr. Hankins entered Libby Prison his weight was 150 pounds.