Prisoners in Civil War and Korean War

      Being late November the temperature was well below freezing and the rain had turned to snow and it continued to snow all day and night of November 25, 1862. It was all the troops could do to just keep warm and dry through the night into the next day. About noon on the 26th, Company "G" of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry and the 11th Ohio Infantry attacked the Confederate encampment and as a result of the attack, 111 enlisted men were captured. Many escaped but Jacob Wesley Sirk was taken prisoner by the Union forces. He was listed as being arrested on November 27th and was sent to Atheneum Prison Wheeling, Virginia, where he was received on December 4, 1862 and was described in records as being; age 22, height 5 ft. 8 in., complexion fair, eyes grey and hair light. He was transferred immediately and was received at Camp Chase, Ohio on the next day. He was later transferred to the US Federal Military Prison, Alton, Illinois. Jacob Later appeared on a "Roll of Prisoners of War", paroled by order of the War Department dated April 1, 1863. The record was endorsed as "Received City Point, Virginia on April 8th 1863. There were 855 POWs in this group and they were released over the next year. Jacob was made to sign the "Oath of Allegiance", and was released late in 1864 and returned to his home in Braxton County, West Virginia.

Nearly ninety years later and three generations as fate would have it, another young man heeded the call of his country and went off to fight for the south. This time it was South Korea. This young man was Kenneth Lewis Sirk of Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia, the great grandson of Jacob Wesley Sirk. Lewis entered the US Army in 1950 and soon after completing basic training was sent to South Korea. His company engaged the Chinese Communist at a place called Kunu-Ri (Kun-Rae) below the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

Chosin Reservoir--The Chosin Reservoir (Changjin Reservoir in Korean) part of North Korea's Japanese-built hydroelectric system is located in northeastern Korea. The Reservoir was the site of one of the best-known battles of the Korean War from Nov. 27-Dec. 11, 1950.

Information on the 2nd Engineering Battion at Kunu-Ri
History of 2nd Engineering Battion at Kunu-Ri
Gauntlet of Death at Kunu-Ri

Lewis was taken prisoner during the action and he and many more were forced to walk almost 250 miles in biting cold to a prison camp in the far northern part of Korea. Many died on the long march. The next 33 months were spent in Camp Three where the indoctrination was intense, physical treatment was nearly unbearable, and food, what there was, consisted of mostly whole kernel corn or boiled rice. Lewis along with fellow prisoners were released when an agreement was reached between the United States and North Korea including the Chinese in mid 1953. Lewis return home on September 10, 1953 accompanied by one other local soldier, Cpl Donald Richards of Harrison County. Lewis later obtained a degree from West Virginia University. He taught for several years. Worked for and retired from the Railroad. He married, had three children and died of cancer on May 14, 1994.

The following email was received on June 21, 2001.

"My name is Art Gregory, I live in Az. I was a POW in Korea from 5-9-52 to 4-21-53. I met Kenneth Sirk at a POW Hospital in Poyktong about Nov. 1952. He had broken his collar bone doing high jumps or pole vaults. I believe he stayed in the hospital a couple months."

Cpl Kenneth L. Sirk USA and Cpl Donald Richards USMC

The above is records received varifying the capture and POW status of Jacob Wesley Sirk Pvt CSA

Korean War Memorial
Sirk Family Page
Return to:
Jacob Wesley Sirk ..or.. Kenneth Lewis Sirk