THE Twelfth West Virginia Infantry was formed during the summer
of 1862, and was mustered at Wheeling Island on the 16th of August. It
was composed almost entirely of Virginians, a few Pennsylvanians and
Ohioans being in two or three companies. It was characteristic of most of the people of the western portion of Virginia that they were as intensely loyal to the nation as those of the eastern portion were loyal to the state. Between the two sections there had long been an antagonism, both industrial and political. In the western part there were few slaves, both because the industries there made it unprofitable to keep them,and because the proximity of the free states rendered escape comparatively easy. Beyond the Ohio river, and Mason’s and Dixon’s line, there lay freedom for the fugitive, who was hurried forward on the "underground railroad" to Canada. The people of western Virginia were mountaineers, earning a scanty existence from the hard soil, their houses poor, living on corn bread and hominy and salt pork, with an occasional feast of venison and b’ar meat. The vast resources of coal, and iron, and oil, which is the last two decades have brought wonderful wealth to the state, were then either unknown or undeveloped.
By JAMES NEWTON MILLER
Company "A" 12th West Va. Infantry
Past Commander Gen. Sherman Post, Sac City;
Member Crocker Post, Des Moines
Welch, The Printer
Des Moines, Iowa
Typed & Submitted by CARLA MATHEWS
ANDERSONVILLE and FLORENCE.
The people of eastern Virginia--the ruling forces especially--were the descendants of the aristocracy, the F.F.Vs. who scorned to labor themselves and despised those who did, and who therefore depended largely on slave labor to maintain them in splendid idleness, and devote their time particularly to polities. Their state had been the "home of Presidents," its nearness to the national capital giving it additional interest in politics; it possessed able statesmen and soldiers, and from the very inception of the rebellion the people espoused the cause of the south. The affair at Harper’s Ferry, within the borders of the state had alarmed the people, and it is not to be wondered at that they honestly believed a separation from the northern states was absolutely necessary to the preservation of the great industrial institution on which their prosperity had largely depended. A generation after the war we may write calmly of these things, and even those who participated in the stirring scenes have forgotten the fierce strife and the tumultuous passions which arrayed the people of the north and the south against each other. As family quarrels are always most bitter, so the feeling between the loyal and the disloyal people of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri was far more intense than that between the people of the other northern and southern states. In the fratricidal conflict there were found fathers and sons, brothers, relatives and neighbors arrayed in arms against each other, and there were many occasions when these met on the field of battle, or in prison, or on the picket line.
CHARACTER OF THE REGIMENT.
Hence it was that the Twelfth West Virginia was composed very largely of men who were intense in their hatred of those who had seceded from the union. They were mountaineers, used to tramping over the hills in search of game, skillful with the rifle, swift on the march, inured from the beginning to hardships and privations. Every soldier thinks his own regiment the best. But it can truly be said of the Twelfth, that while it was not engaged in as many battles as some other regiments, and its losses were not as heavy, it fulfilled faithfully every duty placed upon it, and did not falter in the hour of battle. And this is all that can be demanded of any regiment, for the extent and character of its services are dependent on the commanding officers.
LIMITED IN EDUCATION.
Living in a state where there were no free schools, and few private ones, a number of the regiment could not read or write. This did not detract from their valor and efficiency as soldiers. It was the lot of the writer to be the penman for several members of his company, and to write their letters to loved ones at home, and read the answers. Sometimes this duty included writing letters to sweethearts, and in this art he became quite proficient, and after the war found it useful on his own account. There were certain poetical couplets with which these letters were generally ended as--
My pen is poor, my ink is pale,
My love for you will never fail;
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
Sugar is sweet, and so are you.
In return for this writing my comrades often took my place on picket and other duty, and in many ways eased the hard life of the soldier. Being the youngest boy in the company, and frail in body and health, these strong men were always kind to me, and their services saved my life on more than one occasion.
HARD TO PLEASE.
A few men in the regiment were tinctured with the virus of slavery, so that it was with difficulty they held to their loyalty when the emancipation proclamation was issued. One member of our company swore a round oath that he would not "fight to free the dammed nigger," and sure enough after the first battle in which we were engaged he deserted, and it was not until near the close of the war, that he was found in the fastnesses of his mountain home and returned to the regiment.
OFF FOR THE FRONT.
It was in the latter part of August that the organization of the regiment was completed, and it was at once ordered into active service. An invasion of West Virginia was threatened, and we were sent to help repel it. As the regiment marched off the island, through the streets of Wheeling, it received a royal welcome from the people of the city, and as I looked at the long line of blue, it seemed to me that when we once got into battle the war would be of short duration. Our first trip was over the Baltimore & Ohio, the historic railroad of the war, which we were destined to guard and repair and ride over many times during our three years of service. Going east to Grafton, we changed to the Parkersburg branch, rode to Clarksburg, where we alighted and pitched our first camp. This town was on the border line of the war, and a number of its inhabitants were in the southern army. One company of our regiment was recruited in the town and surrounding country.
On this trip our first arms and ammunition were issued to us. The rifles were of the Austrian pattern, very roughly made, so that our hands were often sore from their handling. They shot fiercely, but the recoil was heavy, and the boys were glad when we exchanged them for the far better Enfield.
A MAN OF PEACE.
On arriving at Clarksburg one member of our company was missing. He was an old man, John Scantling by name, somewhat eccentric. No one knew what had become of him, and it was feared he had fallen from the cars and killed. But in two or three days he came into camp all right. To all inquiries where he had been, and what had befallen him, he would only answer, "I am a man of peace." and we concluded that the sight of arms had frightened him. He was soon afterward discharged, as being unfit for service.
Since the war Clarksburg has improved very much, and is now a bustling town. The Lieutenant-Colonel of our regiment, R.S. Northcote, has made it his home, and a number of the boys have lived in and near the town.
After a few days spent at Clarksburg, five companies of the regiment, including Company A, to which I belonged, were sent under command of our Lieut-Col. to Buckhannon, some twenty-five miles away. Here we saw the fist effects of real war in the shape of some arms, and also grain, which had been piled up in the street and burned by a company of southern cavalry which had dashed through the town a few days previous, and captured some union soldiers who were stationed there. Resting a day or two, we resumed our march to Beverly, going on the way over Rich mountain, and the scene of one of the first conflicts of the war, where Gen. McClellan and Gen. Rosecrans bore a part. The breastworks yet remained, as well as the graves of some southern soldiers. Our stay at Beverly was brief, and we returned to the remainder of the regiment at Clarksburg. On the way we passed through the town of Philippi, where nearly the first battle of the war was fought, and Gen. B. F. Kelly was wounded.
OUR FIRST BATTLE.
The reader will not be wearied with details of the career of the regiment. In June, 1863, it engaged in its first battle, at Winchester. The union forces stationed there, under command of Gen. R.H. Milroy, met a disastrous defeat by a superior force of Gen. Lee's army, on their march to Gettysburg. Our loss in killed, wounded and captured was heavy, and the retreat into Pennsylvania was a long and severe one. We did not recover in time to be of much service in the campaign which ended so victoriously for the union army.
THE GREAT CAMPAIGN.
In the spring of 1864, at Martinsburg, in the Shenandoah valley, an army had been gathered under command of Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel. It was intended that this force would march simultaneously with Grant's army in their advance to Richmond, and by threatening the rear of Lee's army compel him to detach a portion to resist us and thus draw off from the defensive forces of the confederate capitol. On the 29th of April this army set out on its march up the valley. With our regiment was the 1st W.Va, the 34th Mass., the 18th Conn., the 54th Pa., the 28th, 116th and 123rd Ohio, with cavalry and artillery in proportion. On the march we passed our old battleground at Winchester, and on the 9th of May camped at Cedar Creek, the scene afterward of Sheridan's famous battle, in which our regiment took part. Here we lay a few days waiting for the completion of a bridge across the stream, which was swollen by rains. After it was finished we resumed our march, and on the evening of the 14th of May camped near Woodstock. Here we heard the booming of cannon in the south,and reports soon came in of fighting near the town of New Market. The next morning, Sunday, we were on the move bright and early, and the sound of the battle grew constantly plainer and nearer.
HIS WISH GRANTED.
There was a member of our company named Chrisman, who had come to us as a recruit during the previous winter. He was jolly and good natured, always ready for singing and dancing. He and I were in file together, he in the rear flank and I in the front. As we were going into the battle he said to me, "Miller, I hope I will be killed today." I replied,"Chrisman, you ought not to talk that way." "Well, I don't care what becomes of me." he said. In the confusion that ensued, we changed places, he taking the front rank and I the rear. We lay down in line of battle, awaiting a charge which the enemy was making upon us. Chrisman lay in front of me, and as he was large of body I crouched behind him for shelter. Soon I heard a dull sound of something striking, and Chrisman stretched himself out at full length, dead from a bullet through the heart. Our conversation, and the fact that it was only by accident that we had changed places, thus taking his life and saving mine, made an impression on me that has never worn off.
"HALT THERE, YOU YANK!"
A battery near us was firing on the advancing foe, and hearing an officer give the command, "Fire by section," I looked up and saw Gen. Sigel sitting on his horse, smoking a cigar, and seeming as calm as on parade ground, while I was so excited as to scarcely know what was going on. This was the last time I saw the General, though we corresponded since the war. Our company was ordered to the right of the line to prevent a flank movement, and the main body of our army being soon driven back by the superior force brought against it, in the rout which ensued four members of our company, including myself, were taken prisoners. Fortunately we fell into the hands of brave captors, who treated us kindly. As we walked back over the battlefield, the bodies of blue and gray were mingled, showing that both armies had suffered severely. My guard permitted me to pick up a blanket, and also a well filled haversack, and both of these became of good service to me in my long imprisonment. And so for the second time our regiment had suffered defeat.
It being late in the day, the prisoners taken, about one hundred and fifty in number, were marched a short distance beyond the town of New Market, and camped for the night in a field. Next morning a count of the prisoners was made, and the officers were very bitter against the men of our regiment, who as Virginians they said were "fighting the state." On informing them that I was a Pennsylvanian, their wrath against me was mollified, and one of them engaged me in conversation on the war, slavery,etc. Now, I had always believed in slavery, supposing it to be right, but from sheer contrariness took the other side from the officer, and argued against slavery with a readiness that surprised myself, while a number of comrades gathered around to listen to the discussion. Finding that the southerner was getting warm in the argument, I prudently brought it to a close.
GOING DOWN TO DIXIE.
At noon we were started on the march, and at night reached Harrisonburg, and were quartered in the court house. Here we srew our first confederate rations, and they were about the last good ones we received. Next morning we resumed the march under guard. It was a long tramp, hot and dusty, and we began to realize that being a prisoner was not light matter. At one time during the day a southern officer drove past us in a buggy. The guards saluted him, and told us he was John C. Breckenridge, formerly Vice President of the United States, and no a Major General in the confederate army, and commander of the forces which had defeated and captured us. A brief sight of him showed a well formed and fine looking man.
By night we reached Staunton, tired and hungry. Here we joined other prisoners, of the 1st New York cavalry, who had been captured in skirmishes. This place is on the Va. Ce. R.R. , and next morning we were placed on the cars and taken to Charlottesville,the seat of the Virginia university, where Gen. Robt. E. Lee taught after the war. We lay a short time in the beautiful grounds of the institution, and saw some of the young cadets of the military school, who had taken part in the battle of New Market. As our forces were retreating down the valley, these cadets had returned to their studies. Our stay at Charlottesville was not long, and we resumed our ride to Lynchburg, where we got off the cars, and in a pouring rain marched to a camp in a deep valley, in which were already confined a large number of prisoners from the army of the Potomac. Here we were kept two days, and again boarding the cars we rode to Danville, where we stopped. The country through which we rode was very poor, and at the few little statiosn we saw only women and children, and men being in the army.
TASTE OF PRISON LIFE.
At Danville we were quartered in a four-story brick building, and as my assignment with 97 others was to the top story, an attic, it was very hot and stifling. The guards kept us away from the windows, and the only rations we drew were corn bread and black bean soup, very thin. Fortunately we were kept here only a day and again on board the cars we started for Georgia.
Our first stopping place was Greensboro, N.C. but here we only changed cars, and stopped next at Charlotte, in the same state, where we camped for the night, in an old corn field, in a pouring rained that continued all night. The next day, while making a stop at Winnsboro, the engine of our train, which had gone a short distance in front of us to take water, on its return crashed into us, smashing two cars and injuring some of our men. Many of us jumped from the cars, but the guards compelled us to get back again. The southern railroads were all in horrid condition, and the runs would be very fast down hill and very slow up hill.
Friday morning, May 27, we reached Augusta, Ga., and it seemed that I was nearer starved here than at any other time during my term of imprisonment. Having been accustomed to the liberal rations of our own army, my stomach had not sufficiently contracted to the different allowances of the confederacy. We drew a reasonable ration of corn bread and raw salt pork, and were allowed some liberty to wander around the outskirts of the town. It was often my regret that I did not attempt to escape here, though doubtless it would have ended in recapture.
Saturday, afternoon we resumed our journey, passing through Macon, where there was a prison for the officers of our army, and at noon on Sunday, May 29, just two weeks from the day of our capture, we reached a little station in the pine woods, and were ordered off the cars. After a march of nearly half a mile we came upon some tents, and then looking over and beyond them we saw a great moving mass of humanity, and instinctively knew that we were about to enter-- ANDERSONVILLE
Being drawn up in line, a little dried up weazened faced man, with coarse hair and beard wearing an officer's uniform, a sword at his side and a revolver in his belt, made his appearance, and in a piping voice commanded, "Prisoners, Attention!". This was the famous and infamous Captain Wirz, commander of the prison, who after the war was tried, convicted and hanged for cruelty to those under his charge (a small man executed where larger ones should have been). For myself, neither from Wirz nor from any other officer or guard did I ever receive any personal abuse or punishment, perhaps because I studiously avoided giving them cause for offense, realizing that they had their duties as soldiers, and that their place was a hard and unpleasant one, with many annoyances.It is always best for a prisoner to obey orders, and to avoid giving his guards annoyances and trouble.
DISCOUNTING OUR INTELLIGENCE.
Having secured our attention, Wirz again announced, "If there is any sergeant here who can read and write, let him step out." The idea of there being a sergeant who could not both read and write was so strange to us that we were nonplussed, but we learned that this was not uncommon in the southern army, and Wirz supposed the same condition existed among our soldiers. One of the comrades whispered to me to step out and although only a private I did so, but with a moment late, and a real sergeant was placed in charge of the squad of prisoners, and this charge he retained in the prison, receiving an extra ration for his services. Was not this ill luck for me?
SHOWING HIS TEMPER.
Some delay was occasioned in going into the prison, and a few of the boys straggled down to the brook which ran near us to get a drink. Whereupon Wirz gave us an exhibition of his uncontrollable temper, swearing he would put us into the stocks if we didn't stay in ranks. I afterward saw a prisoner who had attempted to escape, confined in the stocks, sitting in the hot sun, his back uncovered and blistering with the heat, and his tongue lolling out with thirst.
Finally the order to march was given, and we entered the prison at the north gate, the guards standing with cocked muskets ready to repel any attempted outbreak by the prisoner.
This was the cry that greeted us from our fellow prisoners, which we afterward used in welcoming new sufferers who came in. Despite all the misery and torture and death, there was always plenty of humor which helped us to endure the life there. One day a storm that blew upon the prison carried up into the air some hats and other articles of clothing, and deposited them outside the stockade, while the boys made the prison ring with shouts and laughter.
A NARROW ESCAPE.
Being very thirsty, my first act was to go down to the brook to get a drink. Inside the stockade, about twelve feet therefrom, ran a line of posts three feet high, on top of which was nailed a two by four, and this was the celebrated dead line, beyond which it was death to pass. Ignorant of its purpose, and of the penalty for crossing it, and seeing that the water running in the brook was clearer inside this line. I was about to step over the railing, when a comrade caught me and pulled me back, and pointing to the sentry in his box at the top of the stockade, told me of my danger. There the guard was standing with musket cocked and leveled, ready to fire had I gone over. Several men were shot here during the summer, and it was believed among the prisoners that a guard who shot a "yank" was given a furlough therefor. But about this I have no knowledge and believe there is no evidence to substantiate the charge.
PITCHING OUR TENT.
After finding the boys of my company - Freeman Younkin, Wm. Stine and Clark Gamble - we proceeded to locate our home, near the southeast corner of the prison, and to pitch our tent, made from the blankets of which we each fortunately possessed one. Two blankets made the tent, of the A, or dog, pattern; one was spread on the ground and the fourth was used as a covering. We drew our rations, and worn and weary lay down to sleep on the sands of Andersonville. Awaking early next morning we saw a few feet from our tent the body of a prisoner who had died during the night, entirely stripped of clothing, taken off no doubt by other prisoners. He was a young lad, and it was a pleasant (?) thought that came to me that perhaps I, too, should lie down there and die like a dog, and loved ones at home would never know my fate. But this was for a moment only, and after that I never lost heart, and of course grew indifferent to suffering and death.
Andersonville, at the time of our entrance, contained about sixteen acres, inclosed by a stockade of pine logs of one to two feet in diameter, twenty-five feet long, set on end in a trench dug five feet deep, as close together as possible,forming thus a wall twenty feet high that could neither be seen through nor surmounted without the aid of a ladder or a rope. Through the center of this inclosure ran a small stream, about as large as what would be called a "run" in Pennsylvania, or a brook in other places. It was rather swift flowing, the water tinged with black, and having decaying vegetable taste. There was often a scum of grease on the water, which came from the cook house located over the stream a short distance outside the stockade. About half the length of the stream was used for washing clothes and bathing, and the other half, next the outlet,served as a sink. On each side of the stream was a morass or swamp, varying in width from fifty to a hundred feet, through which one could not walk, and which was of course uninhabitable, taking off, therefore, that much from the available space of the prison. At times this swamp would be so alive with wriggling maggots that it seemed to rise and fall in undulating billows. From the edges of the swamp the ground rose, especially on the north side, which was quite steep. Aside from the swamp the location was a very good one.
PLENTY OF SAND.
The soil, if it could be called such, was sandy, and this was of great benefit to those confined, in point of health. Every rain, and it is a land of copious rainfall, washed off the sand, and carried with it the accumulated filth, down to the brook, and thence away from the prison.
When the site for the prison was selected, it was a forest of Georgia pitch pine trees. These were cut down and used to form the stockade, leaving only the stumps and limbs, which were soon used by the prisoners for fuel. If a few trees had been left for shade, it would have been of great benefit, but those who planned the prison did not think of this, or perhaps did not care. Beneath the blazing sun of June, July and August the sand was so hot that one could not walk on it in his bare feet, and a number of the prisoners were without shoes, their captors having appropriated them for their own use.
At proper distances around the prison, at the top of the stockade, were covered platforms, for the use of the sentries or guards. These stood always with muskets ready, and generally they evinced an unnecessary readiness to shoot at any provocation, though some of them were not of that character. Very often they were ready to trade with the prisoners, giving food and tobacco in exchange for trinkets. The articles were either thrown back and forth or pulled with a string. One day I saw a prisoner who had become insane rush inside the dead line, and baring his breast call on the guard to shoot him. Ordinarily this would not have needed a second invitation, but this guard happened to be humane, and called to the comrades of the man to take him back to his tent. Another day a prisoner who was sleeping in his tent alongside the dead line, and whose foot in his sleep protruded within the limit, was fired at and wounded. So in the southern army, as in our own, there were various grades of soldiers. Generally speaking, the guards who had seen real service were kind in their treatment of prisoners, while the men who had never smelt powder on the battle field were anxious for the opportunity to "kill their man."
At night, the guards would call the hours, beginning with the one at the south gate, who would announce, "Post numbah one, two o'clock, and all's well," and this would be repeated by each one in turn, changing only the number of his post. If a guard wanted anything he would call out, "Co'pal fo the gua'd, post numbhah foah." It was very often hard to distinguish between the language of the negro slaves and that of some of the southern soldiers.
THE DEAD LINE.
Concerning the dead line, much has been written about it as a measure of cruelty. But in fact it would not have been possible to have maintained the prison without it. If the prisoners had been permitted to put their tents up to the stockade, it would have been undermined the first night. The only other cruelty or barbarity connected with the line lay in the over readiness of some of the guards to shoot those who unknowingly walked over its boundaries. We believe every northern prison of open character maintained such a line.
THE WATER SUPPLY.
This came partly from the brook, and partly from wells dug throughout the prison. The soil being sandy, it was comparatively easy to dig wells, even with only a tin plate or half a canteen, and in ten to twenty feet there would be found a moderate supply of water, of fair character. This would be raised to the top in a tin cup tied to a string, more primitive even than the wells dug by the patriarchs in ancient Palestine. Some time during August this water supply was augmented by a spring which broke out near the north gate, between the stockade and the dead line. The commanding officer kindly allowed a spout to be put in to run the water to the prison, and thereafter it furnished a large part of the prisoners with pure water. It is a wonder we called it "providence spring," though it was only the uncovering of a former spring which had been covered over by a washing of sand and soil.
Such ebbs and flows are not uncommon in hilly countries.
THE rations furnished to the prisoners in Andersonville were partly raw, and partly cooked. Those who drew cooked rations received corn bread, corn mush, cooked beef or pork, cooked beans or cow peas, and cooked rice(not all of these at one issue, but from time to time). The quality varied, but the quality was always the same, rather poor. The bread and mush were made of unsifted corn meal, ground cob and all we always believed,and it was very often only half cooked. Then the mush was dumped into pine boxes, giving it a taste of resin and turpentine, which none but starving men could have eaten. The beans, or peas, were a southern product, used for stock, but they were nutritious and healthful, despite the bugs which made their habitation in them.
Those who drew uncooked rations received the same articles as above, in their raw state, and the same quantity. It was always my fortune to receive my rations raw, and it was much better, for I could vary the style of cooking. The coarsest parts of the meal could be taken out and these in the cooked rations were a prolific cause of diarrhea. Sometimes I made corn cakes, and at other times corn dumplings. My cooking utensils were a quart cup and half a canteen. The bugs in the peas bothered me by trying to crawl out of the cup when the boiling process commenced, but by careful watching and pushing them into the soup, it made the food more nutritious and palatable.
The fuel used was pitch pine, the smoke from which entered into the pores of the skin and blackened us until we lost the semblance of white people. I often think this smoke has never gotten out of the faces of the prisoners, and that they can be readily recognized. Sometimes I drew more rations than I could eat, the stomach revolting. In this case, the surplus corn meal would be made into beer or vinegar, used for the scurvy, or it would be traded with other prisoners for vegetables.
This was the important event of each and every day, and likewise a never-ending topic of speculation and conversation. When the gates were opened, and the wagons were driven in with the food, a crowd gathered around, and any crumbs that dropped on the ground were eagerly seized by the hungry wretches. The sergeants in charge of the detachments received the portions allotted to them, and taking them to the assigned places, distributed them to each individual member, and the sub-division were pretty small on some of the articles. Perfect fairness was enforced, or a fight ensued. It was not required for the members of a detachment to have their tents together, but generally this was done for convenience. As soon as the prisoners received their rations, they hurried to their tents, to eat the cooked food, or to cook that which was raw. Very often the whole ration was eaten at one meal, so intense was the hunger, but this was a bad thing to do.
In extenuation of the rations furnished, it can be said that the confederacy was in hard straits to secure sufficient food to feed its own soldiers. Indeed, at this writing I am inclined to think the officers in command were more incompetent than they were deliberately cruel. Much of the suffering, and the heavy death rate, were unavoidable from the large number confined in so small a space, in a debilitating climate, with unsanitary conditions, and the lack of sufficient shelter. A part was also due to the homesickness of the prisoners, especially of those who had left families at home. When once the disease of longing for home seized a prisoner, he began to decline and was seldom he recovered. A case in point was one of the members of my company, Clark Gamble. As soon as he entered the prison he grew homesick, and began to go down. Seeing he was in this condition, the rest of us began to abuse and torment him, and by getting his spunk up, and leading him to forget his troubles, he commenced to improve, and lived to get out all right. Of the four of our company who were captured at New Market, all lived to return home, and I believe that very few of our regiment died in prison.
ABOUT THE VERMIN.
Here is a subject concerning which it is distasteful to write, yet the description of prison life would be incomplete without it, for it formed a considerable part of our daily life to exterminate the pests. We had encountered these in some degree in our own army, but they were nothing compared to those which infested the sands of Andersonville and Florence. If the plague of lice sent upon Egypt was like that which infested us, I cannot conceive why pharaoh did not get rid of the children of Israel at once. Travelers in Egypt say that remnants of the plague are numerous there to this day. When we entered the prison our curiosity prompted us to count the number we killed on our clothing each day, but after running up to nearly two hundred it grew too tedious. Two or three times a day we were compelled to go through the searching process, and woe betide the poor fellow who was too weak,or too indolent,to rid himself of the parasites. The fear of my veracity being questioned leads me to forbear giving accurate statistics, but in Andersonville, as in other places, eternal cleanliness was the price of life.
BATHING AND WASHING CLOTHES.
It may well be supposed that these duties were attended with some difficulty. Bathing, indeed, could be carried on with reasonable regularity at the brook, but when one had no change of clothing, and the process of washing was known to wear out garments rapidly, it may well be surmised that as little was done in this direction as possible. I am therefore not ashamed to say that during my last three months of imprisonment I did not wash the one suit of underclothing which I possessed. Winter was approaching; release seemed uncertain; there was no opportunity to replace clothing worn out; and so I decided to be on the safe side,and save as long as possible the scanty covering which might be necessary to protect me from the cold and wet. Many others were compelled to do the same.
TRYING TO ESCAPE.
It is one of the rules of war, at least among civilized nations (who ought never to go to war with each other),that prisoners have a right to escape, and should not be punished for attempting it. They may make use of any means to escape, even to take the lives of the guards. The captors, on the other hand, are at liberty to use every means to prevent escape, and may shoot down those who attempt it. But after the attempted escape had been foiled, or the escaped prisoner had been retaken, there should be no punishment further than additional necessary precautions and safeguards against future attempts. It is therefore a just cause of complaint against the keepers of Andersonville prison that they inflicted undue and barbarous punishment on those who attempted to escape. The most common method of escape was by means of tunnels, dug from a point near the dead line,at a depth sufficient to pass under the stockade, and after a short distance beyond to dig up to the surface and thus escape. The work was done at night, with the same rude tools used in digging wells, and the dirt taken out would be thrown in an abandoned well, or carried to the brook to be swept away with the current. One prisoner would crawl into the tunnel and dig, putting the dirt into a sack, which his companion would pull out with a string, empty the sack, and the digger would pull it in again. It was very hard work, and great care had to be used to keep it from being known, and also to prevent accidents in the tunnel which might result fatally.
If the tunnel was carried to completion, a dark night would be selected and as many as were in the secret would creep into the narrow opening, and crawl and squeeze through the passage until the end was reached, when they would work their way up to the opening. If they succeeded in eluding the ever watchful guards, they would steal silently out into the forest, generally one by one, to meet again on a signal of whistling, or perhaps try their fortune alone.
Various other means were adopted, but were seldom if ever successful. I do not believe that one prisoner ever got entirely away from Andersonville between April 1 and October 1, 1864.
The methods used by the prison keepers to prevent escape, or to recapture those who escaped, were various. Workmen would make the rounds of the prison, next the dead line, with sharp pointed poles, to discover any tunnels by pounding on the ground or running the sharp point down. Some times the location of a tunnel would be revealed by an unfaithful prisoner, who would receive some reward from the keepers. But if he became known to his fellow prisoners he would be punished by having half his head shaved, and the word "traitor" written on his forehead or breast, in which condition he would be marched through the prison, execrated by every one who say him, and sometimes set upon and beaten.
But the most effectual means used were the bloodhounds, of which several were kept ready for use. Every morning they made the circuit of the prison, at a short distance outside the stockade. If a tunnel had been used during the night it would be discovered by the hole through which the escaping prisoners had crawled, and the hounds soon found the trail. And then woe betide the poor prisoner, for it was only a question of a short time until he would hear the ominous bay upon his track, and his life could only be saved by taking to a tree. As to the justification of this method of capturing escaping prisoners I pass no judgment. As Gen. Sherman said, "war is hell," if not in one way then in another. These hounds are now used in many counties for tracking criminals.
The punishment inflicted on these men, who had a perfect right to escape, was to give them lashes on the bare back, or confine them in the stocks, or bind a heavy iron ball about their leg, or deprive them of food for a time. For this there can be no justification whatever, and it is with no small gratification that we are led to believe that hereafter in civilized war the treatment of prisoners will be far more humane than it has been in the past. The horrors of Andersonville were probably no greater than those of the British prison ships in the revolutionary war. During the late American-Spanish war prisoners were treated very humanely by both nations.
THE most important and exciting incident in all the history of Andersonville was the capture, trial, conviction and execution of
These were a band of thieves,robbers and murderers, mostly from New York city, who had probably enlisted as bounty jumpers or substitutes, had been captured, and now in prison banded themselves together to continue their old occupation. It was never possible to tell how many of them there were, and doubtless their forces were exaggerated. They made up a by organization and discipline what they lacked in numbers. Their mode of operation was to note the new prisoners who came in, and who appeared to have money, or who wore good clothes, or had plenty of blankets or other comforts. Locating the place where one or more of these prisoners would put up their tents the raiders would go there at night, and if possible steal anything on which they could lay their hands. If the owners discovered them, and resistance was made, a fight followed, in which the raiders by standing compactly together generally won out, unless the cries of the victims drew too large a crowd, in which case the raiders would scatter to their tents. Whistle calls regulated their movements. Some of them were well known, but so great was the terror inspired by them that no one dared molest them. During the month of June they became especially bold and active, and scarcely a night passed that their whistle calls were not heard, followed by cries from their victims, with a rush of hurrying feet throughout the camp. Prisoners mysteriously disappeared, and no one could trace them. Our tent was never molested, doubtless because it presented an aspect of poverty which did not in any way belie the actual condition of its occupants, for there was not one of us possessed a penny.
ARRESTING THE RAIDERS.
At last the robberies grew so numerous and unbearable that some of the prisoners who had been victims banded themselves together to exterminate the raiders. An appeal for help was made to Capt. Wirz, and to his credit be it said he responded to the call. Guards were furnished to arrested the raiders as they were pointed out, and took them outside the prison. This occurred on the 29th of June, and one or two succeeding days. The raiders fought desperately, and in my diary it is recorded that two of them were killed. This is not mentioned by Sergeant McElroy in his book, and it may have been only a rumor. I had no part in the affair, but my feelings were strong against the raiders. The regulators, as those who fought the raiders were called, were deserving of great credit for their brave work, done at the peril of their lives, for had they not taken matters in hand the condition of the prison would soon have become unbearable. It is a hard thing to say that the worst treatment prisoners received came from some of their own number; but it should be borne in mind that these brutes were not real soldiers, who had enlisted to fight the battles of their county, but were thieves and murderers who had joined the army to ply their trade, and perhaps to escape the penitentiary for crimes committed.
TRIED AND CONVICTED.
Over a hundred of the raiders were arrested and taken outside, where they were kept under guard by the regulators. A jury was empaneled, made up of new prisoners who were unprejudiced. A fair and impartial trial was held, the accused being allowed counsel. The evidence showed innumerable robberies, and several murders, the bodies of the victims having been buried under the tents of the raiders, thus accounting for the mysterious disappearances. After a full hearing the jury found six of the accused guilty of murder, and sentenced them to be hanged. Several others were found guilty of robbery and theft, and were sentenced, some of them to wear a ball and chain, and others to run the gauntlet. These latter were turned into the prison on at a time, and compelled to run through a line of men who set upon them and beat them three being killed in the process. As usual where a community takes the law into its own hands (thought this was absolutely necessary here) excesses were committed.
Monday, July 11, was fixed as the day for the execution of the six murderers though this was kept secret except to a few. On the morning of that day timbers were brought in, and the erection of the gallows was begun near the south gate. The raiders who were left in the prison mustered their forces for a last rally, and trouble was looked for. At this time there were over twenty thousand men in the prison, and all who were able to do so gathered about the gallows, or on the opposite hillside, to witness the sight. A little after noon the south gate opened, and Capt. Wirz entered on his old white horse, with guards conducting the six condemned men. Wirz made a short speech in his usual broken tongue (he was of Swiss birth), turning the men over to the regulators he rode outside, taking the guards with him.
A WEIRD SCENE.
And now occurred a scene, which in its settings and dramatic effects has seldom been equaled, and certainly never surpassed. Around the scaffolding in every direction ten thousand men were gathered as tightly as they could be wedged. On the opposite hill side another ten thousand were standing, tier above tier, like those in the old Roman Coliseum, straining their eyes to see the strange proceedings. Outside the stockade the guards were gathered in the forts which commanded the prison, ready for any emergency which might occur, the infantry in ranks, the artillerymen at their guns, which were loaded and ready to be fired at a signal. Many spectators were also standing on the walls of the forts, watching the unwonted scene. Alongside the scaffold were ranged the six doomed men, their faces pallid, but lips firmly set, and eyes sending forth defiance. Around them were the regulators, with clubs in hand, keeping back the ever surging crowd from the cleared space, and closely watching for any attempt at rescue by the partners of the murderers. A priest in his robes stood with prayer book in hand, and on being given leave to speak he began an appeal for mercy. But a mighty shout of protest went up from all the vast multitude, until his words were drowned. Again it was like the scene in the Coliseum, when the fallen gladiator saw no hands uplifted in all the great throngs bidding his conqueror to spare.
SELLING HIS LIFE DEARLY.
The priest, seeing his appeal was useless, read the last rites, and the condemned were ordered to ascend the scaffold. With an oath one of them broke from his captors, and fighting his way through the crowds ran towards the brook. Outside the keepers, seeing the commotion, though an outbreak was at hand, and officers called to their men to be ready, while spectators (many of them women) screamed with terror and scattered in every direction. It was reported that Wirz commanded the officers to fire, but they, seeing there was no movement of the prisoners toward the stockade, refrained from repeating the order to the artillerymen. The crowd around the scaffold, very few of them knowing what had happened, were panic stricken, and in the mad rush some were pushed into wells, and suffered broken limbs. If the regulators had not been men of cool heads and determined nerve, every doomed raider would have broken loose, and all the efforts would have come to naught.
But they stood by the captives with uplifted clubs, while the two who were in pursuit of the fleeing criminal overtook him in the swamp and dragged him back to the scaffold. The passed close to me, and I could never forget the look of hopeless terror in his face, mingled with a tiger-like ferocity, as with foaming mouth he cursed his captors.
THE FINAL SCENE.
Once again the order was given to ascend the scaffold, and with trembling limbs the helpless murderers obeyed. Walking up the steps, and out on the narrow plank, they stood ranged in line, with the ropes dangling at their heads. Leave was given them to speak, and they employed their last moments in calling to their friends among the crowd, giving them directions, and sending messages to their homes. Again the priest commended their souls to heaven, the heads were covered with sacks, the ropes adjusted, the signal to drop given, and the six souls swung off into eternity.
NO MERCY SHOWN.
But no, not all. Mosby,the leader of the gang, whose station was at one end of the plank, broke his rope, and fell to the ground in an unconscious condition. The regulators lifted him to his feet, and dragged him up the steps again. He revived and begged piteously for his life. But he who had never given mercy was denied it now when he most needed it, and for the second time he was swung off, this time effectively. An awful hush fell on the vast multitude as the bodies swayed to and fro. The work was done, justice had performed its vengeance, and law and order had triumphed.
After a sufficient time the bodies were taken down, and turned over to their friends, who gathered around and tended them carefully, muttering curses and threats against the regulators. Both outside and inside the prison the spectators returned to their various places. So fearful had been the punishment that it was never necessary to repeat it, and thereafter both life and property were reasonable safe within the prison, except from sneak thieves.
The six men who were hung were as follows:
William Collins, called Mosby, 88th Pa.Inf.
A. Muir, U.S. Navy
Terence Sullivan, 77th N.Y. Inf.
Charles Curtis, 5th R.I. Art.
John Sarsfield, 144th N.Y. Inf.
Patrick Delaney, 83rd Pa. Inf.
Yes, "war is hell" but an equal hell can be found any night in the slums of our great city.
THE most common diseases to which the prisoners were subject were scurvy, diarrhea and dysentery. The first was the result of an inactive life, the salt meat used, and the lack of vegetables. Its symptoms were swelling and discoloration of the limbs, ulceration of the gums, and followed by lassitude and depression. I have seen prisoners take out their teeth and replace them, so badly was the mouth affected. The disease was believed to be communicable through the common use of drinking cups, but this was probably an error. The only certain cure was to procure a supply of vegetables, especially Irish potatoes eaten raw, and a change from one prison to another was beneficial. It was not itself a fatal disease, but it induced through weakness other diseases, the combination of which ended in death. Very few prisoners were free from it, and the effects of it have continued to this day upon some who survived the war.
The kindred diseases of diarrhea and dysentery were the most fatal in their results. They principally arose from the coarse food,especially the unsifted corn meal, and the half-cooked condition in which most of it was eaten, while bad water contributed its share. Those who drew cooked rations were more subject to them than those who did their own cooking. Each disease was rapid in its effects, and unless it was speedily checked there was but one end, and that was death. Very little medicine was issued by the authorities, partly because they had little to give. On several occasions I went out at sick call to the physicians in charge, both for myself and for others, and received only some sumach berries for scurvy, and white oak bark for diarrhea. For the later disease I added charcoal made from the pine fuel, and cured myself of a severe attack. The scurvy clung to me until I was sent to Florence, and its effects still remain with me.
CASES OF GANGRENE.
At one time a number of prisoners were afflicted with gangrene resulting in part from vaccination, which had been performed by the southern surgeons, their arms being in terrible condition. It was charged that the vaccine matter was intentionally poisoned, but it is practically certain that the resulting gangrene was cause by the physical condition of the patients.
Any wound or cut made on the body was hard to heal, and there were numerous cases where fingers and toes were cut off to stop the spread of gangrene.
This was undoubtedly a prolific source of sickness and death. The prisoner affected would sit down and grieve, instead of exercising; he would refuse to eat; if genuine sickness came upon him he gave up hope, and after that it was not long until his comrades were called on to carry him outside, either to the hospital or to the dead house, and the former was generally only a half-way house to the latter.
CARRYING OUT THE DEAD.
When a prisoner died, his friends, if he had any, took immediate possession of the body, to prevent other claimants doing so. At the proper time two or more would carry the remains outside and lay them in the dead house. On their way back the carriers were permitted to gather up loose wood for fuel, and this was the incentive which made everyone so eager to perform the gruesome service. Once members of my tent fought with those of the adjoining tent over the body of a soldier who had crawled into the little street in front of us, and died during the night. Our force won, and I was one of the two detailed to carry out the body, and returned with an armful of wood.
From the dead house the bodies were hauled in wagons to the cemetery, being thrown into the wagon promiscuously. I saw a load of these bodies once, with an entirely naked corpse stretched out on the top, and sight nearly mad me sick. At the cemetery the bodies were placed side by side in a trench, covered with earth, and at the head of each body a little board was put up, on which was painted the name and regiment where known, but on three thousand of them there was the one word, "unknown."
Since the war this cemetery has been cared for by the government, and it is said to be well kept. Miss Clara Barton devoted much time to identifying the graves and marking them wherever possible.
MORTALITY AND DEATH RATE.
The official records of Andersonville show that 45,613 prisoners were admitted, and that the average term of imprisonment, from first to last, was about four months. Of this number, 13,920 died in prison and in the hospital, over 28 per cent. Very few regiments during their three years service lost that per cent of their members killed in battle or dying of disease. To this number should be added probably 20 per cent who died after removal to other prisons, or soon after being released, from diseases or injuries contracted in the prison, making the total mortality of nearly 50 per cent, or one-half. Nothing else so fully shows the terrible suffering endured here, and its significance can hardly be realized. Suppose that one per cent, of the people of a town or city should die on a given day, what an awful visitation of providence that would be considered, and the weeping and lamentation would be like that which followed the edict of Herod nineteen hundred years ago. But on the 10th of August, 1864, there were three hundred dead union soldiers carried out of Andersonville, or about one and one-fourth per cent of the number then in the prison. Yet so hardened had we become, and so hopeless were many, that it occasioned no particular comment.
MIGHT HAVE BEEN LESS.
The death rate in Andersonville could have been largely reduced by leaving some trees for shade when the ground was cleared; by permitting the prisoners to erect houses for shelter out of the wood which stood in abundance all around the camp; by sifting the meal used for bread and mush; by cooking the food more thoroughly, and by giving the prisoners more exercise. But all of this was above and beyond the mental capacity of Wirz, no matter what his dispositon might have been.
WRITING LETTERS HOME.
One privilege granted to the prisoners was to write letters home, and also to receive them from friends at home, though I never saw any of them that thus came. Early in June I wrote to a sister at home this letter:
In Prison at Anderson's Station, Ga.
This letter, in an unsealed envelope, was placed in the box at the south gate, where such letters were ordered to be deposited. On the 17th of Jan., 1805, seven months after writing, it was received and postmarked at Old Point Comfort, Va., and it reached its destination in Pa. about the first of February, a month after I had arrived home. During all the seven months of my imprisonment my fate was unknown, for I was reported "missing" on the field of battle, and the anxiety of my aged mother, and of brothers and sisters, cannot be conceived by those who have not passed through similar experiences. What was the cause of the long delay in forwarding the letter I of course never learned.
Dear Sister: I was taken prisoner on 15th May and brought here.
Am well, in good spirits. Don't tell Mother where I am, if you think best not to. Write and direct to Commander Co.A, 12th Va., tell him Gamble, Younkin and W. Stine are here and well. I hope to be exchanged, We are treated pretty well. Get enough to eat. Write to me. Direct to J.N. Miller, Co.A, 12 Va.,prisoner at Andersonville, Ga. via flag of truce boat.
Good bye. Don't be alarmed about me. From your Brother.
HOPES OF RELEASE.
Every succeeding day brought an innumerable batch of rumors and stories about exchange and release. These were the universal topic of conversation. No one could ever tell the origin of the stories, but as they passed from lip to lip they grew in detail and certainty. The constant failure of our hopes never brought discouragement, for a new crop sprung up in place of those which failed. Like Jonah's gourd, they grew to full vigor in the night, and perished in the heat of the day. The keepers of the prison seemed to encourage the rumors, probably to keep us quiet and prevent an outbreak.
Then there were ever recurring hopes of release by our invading armies. Stoneman's raid, when he reached Augusta, gave us high hopes, and the alarm felt by Wirz, was manifested when he caused a shell to be fired over the camp by way of warning, and notices posted forbidding us to assemble in crowds for that purpose. Alas, we were so thick in the prison that it might be said we were a perpetual crowd.
DEPENDING ON SHERMAN.
But it was when Uncle Billy Sherman stated on his march to the sea that our hearts beat fast. The capture of Atlanta was announced to us by one of the sentinels, who called out one night,
Ten o'clock, and all's well,
But Atlanta's gone to hell.
A wild cheer went up from those who heard him, and soon the whole camp knew it. Every fresh lot of prisoners brought in were quickly interrogated, and in this way we kept track of the movements of our armies. It was seen that the confederacy was doomed, and that our release was only a matter of time--but, could we hold out? That was the serious question. Yet had it not been for this constant hope within us, renewed from day to day, very few would ever have survived the horrors of prison life.
MAKE ME KIND.
My confinement in prison had one effect upon me; it has made me sympathetic in feeling for those confined in states' prisons. Not that I condone their crimes, or would release them until they have been punished, but I often think of their lonely hours, their separation from home and loved ones, the cold reception which awaits them when they go out into the world again, and I think of Him who came to open the doors of the prison and give release to the captives.
NO GLORY FOR US.
One cause of perpetual regret to us was that while Sherman was marching through Georgia, and Sheridan was whirling up the valley, and Grant was pounding his way to Richmond, we could bear no part in these glorious campaigns, but must make up our daily little life of monotonous routine, in which the most exciting incident was the hunting for vermin. Is it any wonder that the minds of some of the prisoners gave way, and they become raving maniacs?
Each heart recalled a different name,
But all sang Annie Laurie.
Some might think that a prison would be barren of music. It was not so in Andersonville. There were few instruments, as I remember, But singers were there in plenty, and every evening the strains of the Star Spangled Banner, America, and other patriotic songs were heard throughout the camp. Mingled with these would be the hymns and sacred songs sung at the prayer meetings. And now and then a cultured voice would sing a song of love, or of home. I recall a night in July, a clear, manly voice near me sand the Sword of Bunker Hill. When he ended the guard near him called out, like Oliver Twist, for "more". I seldom heard any of the southern soldiers singing, and believe they were not given to music as our boys. Their favorite and almost only tune for the little drum corps was the Bonnie Blue Flag, and they played it over and over again, until everybody grew heartily sick of it. Whenever any of the negro slaves were working near the prison we would hear their weird, sad and monotonous songs.
A Catholic priest was the only minister who was ever known to come into the prison. He did not hold any public services, but would talk privately with the soldiers, and give sacrament to the dying. One day some ladies made us a visit, but the scenes witnessed were so sad they did not stay long. Almost every evening there would be several meetings for prayer held, and one may feel assured the petitions to the throne of grace were very fervent. I possessed a copy of the New Testament and read it though several times, to my profit. The last moments of many of the dying were cheered by words of hope and comfort from those who had made their peace with God, while others, sad to say, died cursing the government, and even reviling their Creator.
It was a terrible place for swearing. This is common in war. Away from home, and the restraints which society imposes, the prisoners grew peevish and cross, and vented their feelings in senseless oaths that were shocking. They cursed each other on little provocation; cursed the government for not procuring their release; cursed the confederacy for not bettering their condition, and cursed God in sheer wantoness.
There were men of all shades of opinion--political, social and religious--in prison, and naturally these men very often came together in discussions, which sometimes grew heated and personal, ending occasionally in blows. Strolling one day near the north gate, I saw an elderly man who was defending the course of our government in respect to exchange of prisoners (requiring negro soldiers to be exchanged the same as white soldiers), and urging our duty to stand by Abraham Lincoln. Looking closely at him I saw it was a townsman of mine, Jos. Cook--Col. Cook, he was called--of the 18th Pa.Cav., one of the best of men. Right glad we were to see each other, and through him I found other acquaintances who helped me much. Among them was Sergeant, afterward Captain, John Rogers, also of the 18th Pa. Cav., a brave soldier, who had escaped from prison in Lynchburg by breaking past the guards, was recaptured in sight of our lines, and sent to Andersonville. He afterward escaped from Florence, and reached home after numerous adventures.
Once I had an unpleasant discussion with a couple of Englishmen, who were berating our country, and claiming that the British were much superior to the "bloody" Yankees. I casually mentioned Bunker Hill, and for this was set upon and had to scurry back to my tent.
In spite of the weakened condition of the men, and the miserable circumstances which ought to have made them patient and forbearing with each other, quarrels and fights were all too frequent. Ordinarily the fistie encounter was of short duration, but a prize fight (generally between New York City bruisers) now and then created a passing spectacle. In one of these, death resulted to one of the combatants.
Near the southeast corner of the prison was a good sized house made of logs, whose occupants seemed to be better dressed and fed than the balance of the prisoners. Inquiring the cause of this, I was told that they were Odd Fellows, and that through their connection with the order they were enabled to secure supplies from the outside. It occurred to me that it would be a good thing to join them at once, but the ballot could not be "spread" at that time, and it was not until after the war that I learned by actual experience the benefits of the order of the three links.
Perhaps the reader will think that this subject should be treated like the famous chapter on snakes in Ireland. But in fact there was a continuous run of games among the prisoners, there being plenty of professional gamblers. The main street leading from the north gate was lined with men manipulating cards and dice, while gathered around would be other watching the game. New prisoners staked their money, and generally it quickly changed hands. Old prisoners, whose funds had long been exhausted, wagered rations of food, or tobacco, or cooking utensils- anything and everything to gratify the insatiable passion for gambling. It was a source of great evil, but there was no way of stopping it. Throughout all the prison there was a great deal of harmless card playing, the packs from long usage being so well marked that each particular card was known nearly as well by its back as by the face. Home made checkers, chess and dominoes were also used to while away the tedious hours.
Yankees are never happy except when trading, and this propensity was carried to its fullest extent in Andersonville. Walking back and forth through the prison, men would cry their wares, "fresh corn cakes," "tobacco for meal," "molasses," "buttons," and on through the gamut of every possible article. It seemed that one could not offer any article but that he would find someone ready to "swap" with him. Very often the guards were ready to exchange with us, giving us tobacco, and vegetables, in return for trinkets, which had great attraction for them. I remember the surprise of a guard who one day came into possession of a little pocket mirror, in which he surveyed his lank face and uncombed hair in childish satisfaction.
On the first of July an addition to the north end of the prison was opened, and all the detachments above forty-eight in number were moved into it. This comprised about eleven acres, making the total area twenty-seven acres. It was my fortune to be assigned to this new part, and I secured a place next the dead line,on the north side, midway east and west. The ground was higher, was fresh, and there were numerous stumps of trees, limbs and chips left, which we quickly stored up for fuel. This also gave us much more room, although it was not long until the influx of new men made the prison almost as crowded as before. The great battles of the summer campaign of 1864 were being fought, and while our armies were steadily forcing their way to Richmond and Savannah, yet their losses in captured were necessarily heavy, and Andersonville being the main prison received most of them. When the prison was fullest, the available space for each man was not over 30 square feet--five by six feet.
Several tonsorial artists set up shops in the prison, where shaving and hair cutting were done. If the customer had no money, he gave a ration, or made a trade of some kind, and these barbers were enabled to live well by their labor. Perhaps all trades and professions were represented among the prisoners, but there was no opportunity for them to ply their calling. Wirz sought to enlist some machinists to go out and work in shops, making arms and ammunition, but they refused to go.
THE PLYMOUTH PILGRIMS.
Among the noticeable prisoners were those who had been captured at Plymouth, N.C. in April. Their chief distinction was they were so much finer dressed than the others, and in better flesh. They had seen but little service, having always been in barracks and when captured they were permitted to retain everything they had about them. But they did not endure prison life well, and the mortality among them was great, while they were an easy mark for the older prisoners.
BLACKS AND REDS.
There were several negro prisoners, who had been captured in Florida. Naturally they did not receive any consideration at the hands of Wirz and the other officers, who were enraged at the idea of former slaves fighting to destroy slavery. One poor fellow was said to have sixteen wounds on his body, and could only crawl on his hips, being denied even the privilege of going to the hospital.
There were also a few Indians, who had been used as scouts in the armies of the Mississippi. They were well formed, vigorous looking men, but how long or well they endured prison life I never knew.
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking;
Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking.
In our isle's enchanted hall,
Hands unseen thy couch are strewing,
Fairy strains of music fall,
Every sense in slumber dewing.
Soldier, rest! they warfare o'er,
Dream of fighting fields no more;
Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
TUESDAY evening, Sept.6, eighteen detachments of prisoners received orders to be ready to move at any moment. Immediately all was excitement throughout the camp, every possible surmise being made as to the meaning of the order. All hoped it meant exchange, but some, the older prisoners, especially feared it would end in only removal to another prison. But even this would be better than to remain. A feverish night was spent, and in the morning six of the detachments, and a number of inmates of the hospital, were taken to the railroad, placed on the cars, and the train started toward Macon. For the next five days this movement continued, until all old prisoners, who had come from Libby, Belle Isle and other prisons had gone away, and the new prisoners were commenced on.
As the lower numbered detachments, beginning with number one, were being taken, and my number was 87, I began to fear that before this number would be reached there would be a stop put to the taking away, and I would be left. So on the evening of the 11th, Col. Cooke, Capt. Rogers and I went over near the south gate, and lay down to sleep with a detachment which had received orders to go out the next morning. Soon after daylight we were called up, and began to move toward the gate. Several other fellows were attempting to flank out the same as we were doing, and a fight ensued between them, and the police who were endeavoring to prevent it, some of them getting their heads clubbed. In the melee the Captain and I got close to the gate, when we were stopped, and my heart went down to my old shoes. But it was only for a moment, and again we were ordered to march, and we passed out forever from the walls of Andersonville. Rogers kept close by me, but Cooke was nowhere to be seen, and we feared he had been captured by the police, but when we reached Augusta we found he was on the train with us. On the way to the station we passed the tent of Capt. Wirz, who was sitting there, looking very feeble from an attack of sickness. He reminded me of the giants in Pilgrim's Progress sitting in their cave and biting their nails at the pilgrims passing by.
As we crossed the brook on our way, I stooped down to get a cup of water, and was seized with a peculiar cramp and pain in my left leg, which doubled up so I could hardly walk, and this did not leave me for nearly a month. It arose from the scurvy.
At the train we were given what was announced to be two days' rations and boarding the freight cars we started toward "God's country," as we fondly supposed. Next morning we reached Augusta, the broad streets of which, with rows of trees though the center, looked very inviting. The second morning, before daylight, our train stopped in what seemed to be a city. Presently we heard a low boom, and then a shell shrieked through the air and burst near us, and we knew we were in Charleston. How good it was to hear our own guns once more, and how near we seemed to freedom. Surely we would now be sent into our lines. But then the thought flashed on us, had we been brought here to be placed under the fire of our own besieging army? We had heard that this was being done, and we were ready to believe almost any story. However, our fears were soon relieved, and likewise our hopes of exchange blasted, for after an hour's stop the train pulled out, and we found ourselves going northward.
By this time, the rations we had received at Andersonville were exhausted, and we began to be very hungry, with no prospect in sight of any addition to our haversack. At noon we reached
and lay that night in the cars, the station being some distance from the town. Next morning were taken off the cars, and at noon were marched a mile or more to a camp. On the way we passed through a thick woods and as the guards were not very plenty a number of our boys darted off through the brush. Whether any of them got through to our lines is doubtful, as the country around was closely watched by patrols, and recapture was almost certain. I would have made an attempt, but my leg was so sore that it was with difficulty I could walk. I urged Rogers to go, but he refused to leave me. At night, when it seemed as if our powers of endurance had reached its last point, we drew a pint of meal, and managed to cook and eat it.
Learning the location of Florence we soon realized that we had been brought there, not for exchange, but to be placed in another prison, and we learned that this was being prepared for us nearby. The spirits of everyone sank, and we became desperate. A bold leader only was needed to head an outbreak, which would undoubtedly have succeeded, as the guards were few, and there was no stockade to restrain us. But while there was no organization there were numerous escapes, both by day and by night, and the number of these must have been several hundred. Nearly all of them, however, were soon captured and returned to the camp.
Next day the sick of the camp were permitted to go outside of the lines, and wander at will. I was among them, and in my wanderings went into a farm house- a typical southern one-where the women treated me kindly and gave me something from their scant hoard to eat. At night I slept under a tree, feeling very faint and sick from the scurvy, and my leg sore and lame. It began to look as if my days were numbered. But the fresh air, with some vegetables which I procured and ate raw, revived me somewhat. The following day we were all sent back into the camp, and then I learned that Rogers had run past the guards the previous night,and so far had not been brought back. My prayers went up for his success.
ENLISTING IN THE SOUTHERN ARMY.
While we lay in this camp awaiting the completion of the prison, offers were made to the prisoners to enlist in the southern army. They were told that they would be used to guard forts, and thus relieve their own soldiers who could be sent to the front, where it was evident there badly needed. A large number of prisoners accepted the offer, and after taking the oath of allegiance to the confederacy, were sent away. I always looked upon this leniently,for it was commonly talked that they would seize the first opportunity to desert to our lines, and this proved the case. Yet I could not make up my mind to desert my government, even though it seemed to have deserted us and left us to our fate. But one day, when we had drawn no rations and it seemed as if we would surely starve, I went up to the headquarters, intending to enlist,with the idea that the first night I was placed on picket, the officer of the guard would find a deserted post when he made his rounds. When I reached the place, and saw the hated stars and bars flying from the staff,and a vision of our own beautiful and loved flag flashed upon me, I turned and hurried back to my tent, and in answer to the questions of my comrades replied that I would lie here and rot before I would swear allegiance to the southern confederacy. If there was nothing else in my career as a soldier to be proud of, this one action was sufficient, for at this time I was only eighteen years old,naturally feeble, at the point of starvation, with indescribable misery all around, a new prison being prepared to receive me, and no apparent prospect of release.
THE NEW PRISON.
At last, on the 2nd day of October, our camp was broken up, and we were marched into the new stockade which was known as Florence prison. It was an enclosure of some fifteen acres, very similar to Andersonville, with a stream through the center, the wall of logs, the dead line (here only a furrow in the ground), the stumps of trees etc. It was enough to take all the heart out of us, but we set bravely to work, and with the other boys with whom I had joined forces, began to build us a house.
THE NEW MANSION.
Selecting a spot near the brook, where the ground sloped, we dug out a space sufficient for five of us to lie down in. Setting up tent poles we stretched our blankets over them, chinking in at the bottom with dirt, making it as tight as possible. Spreading our blankets on the ground, we had one left for covering the five, and it will be seen we had to sleep spoon fashion in order to make the blanket cover all. My place was at one end of the row, and I would grip the blanket in my hand and try to hold on to it in my sleep. In this little hut I spent over two months, waiting, waiting for release which it seemed would never come.
Here we made the acquantance of a new type of prison commander. Wirz was old, sickly, peevish, small brained, incompetent, but at times kindly. Barrett, in charge of Florence prison, was a young man, well built, erect, active, fairly intelligent, with red hair, a typical southern blood. He realized to the fullest extent the great importance of his office. He was always fully armed, his pants stuck in his boots, a jaunty uniform, and an air of bravado that only partly concealed a really cowardly heart. Woe be tide the luckless wretch who got into his pathway. A curse and a kick were the lightest he could expect to receive. One day he had ordered all the prisoners to one side of the camp for the purpose of counting them. Barrett was standing on the other side of the brook, and ordered the prisoners to move on. They did not hear, or did not obey, and he drew his revolver and fired at them. The shot fell short, and the boys yelled in derision. Seizing a gun from a guard, he again fired, but without effect, and another yell greeted him. In his rage he gave the gun back to the guard, and started toward his quarters, swearing, and evidently intending to return with a force and take summary vengeance, but for some reason he did not come back. Wirz was mad most of the time, but Barrett was always mad.
How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By all their country's wishes blessed!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallowed mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
IT MAY well be supposed that Barrett was brutal in his punishment of the prisoners who had either purposely or unwittingly given him offense. One day--Nov.12--piercing cries were heard from the direction of the gate. Hurrying there I saw a prisoner hanging by the thumbs, his feet clear of the ground, while he screamed with pain. The sight was so sickening that I had to go back to my tent. His only offense was attempting to escape, a privilege which every prisoner should have by the rules of war. It seemed to be impossible to please Barrett, or to escape his punishment if you came in his way.
TUNNELS AND STARVATION.
Again, on Monday, Nov. 21, no rations were issued to the prison. It was a cold, rainy day, and the men suffered much. Next day, Tuesday, no rations were given out, and we were informed that Barrett had declared that a tunnel had been dug, and that he would issue no rations until it was discovered. This day was also cold and wet, and some of the prisoners, having no tents, had to sit on the ground, or walk about as long as their feeble strengths permitted. Wednesday morning came, and the dead carried out were the largest number of any day in the history of the prison. What was to be done? We could not endure much longer. In the afternoon the usual rations were issued, either because Barrett relented, or because the location of the tunnel was revealed. Some said that a short tunnel was dug,purposely, and shown to Barrett. This act was the most barbarous in all my prison experience, and far exceeded anything Wirz did. Fortunately this inhuman wretch died near the close of the war. Had he lived he would undoubtedly have shared the fate of Wirz, unless some of his victims had taken just punishment into their own hands, as many declared they would if given opportunity.
ELECTING A PRESIDENT.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 1864, was the day for the election of President in the loyal states. Interest in this contest ran high in prison, as well as throughout other parts of the country, even though we could have no part in it. Barrett (or perhaps some superior officer)conceived of idea of obtaining an expression of feeling of the prisoners, and to this end made arrangements to hold a mock election. Bags of beans were provided, both black and white. A black bean, the symbol of war, was used to vote for Lincoln, while a white bean, betokening peace, indicated a vote for McClellan. The prisoners who chose to do so marched up to the gate, selected a bean of the color of their choice, and deposited it in a bag, It was evidently expected by Barrett that a large proportion of the beans used would be white ones, and this result would be used to influence opinion in the north. But not withstanding there were many democrats among the prisoners, they stood by Lincoln and the government, and not more than one in ten of the beans voted were white. Finding this to be so, Barrett discontinued the ballot, and the result was never announced. I myself cast a black bean, though I was not 21 years old, and had always considered that I was a Democrat. And this was the nearest I came to voting for the greatest American, Abraham Lincoln.
About this time the prisoners who had enlisted in the southern army began to be returned to the prison. They proved to be of no use whatever as guards, and were constantly deserting. A partial uniform, of gray color, had been given them, and this caused them to be nicknamed Galvanized Yanks. They had improved in flesh and health, but were coldly received by the prisoners who had remained true to their government and their oath. As soon as possible they got rid of their gray clothing, and concealed as far as they could the evidence of their unfaithfulness. During one of President Cleveland's terms he vetoed a bill granting a pension on the ground that the soldier was one of those who had thus taken the oath of allegiance to the southern confederacy. While his decision was technically right, yet there were extenuating circumstances.
NO TURKEY, THANK YOU.
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, was known in the prison, but there were no family reunions, no football, no turkey, no cranberries, no pumpkin pie. In their stead we had a pint and a half of corn meal, with no meat, or beans, or rice, or molasses, or sweet potatoes, as we sometimes drew on other days. Barrett was determined we would remember the day in some way. But we thought of the loved ones at home, and knew that they remembered us as they sat down to the well filled tables.
And this reminds me that often at night, when we had lain down to sleep hungry and weak, I would dream of sitting down to a table loaded with good things, which is some way disappeared before they could be tasted. Especially did the form of a neighbor, Mrs. Ruth Craft, who was a very good cook, and at whose table I had often eaten when a boy, appear to me in my dreams.
Reports of our condition had reached the north, and the Sanitary Commission, which had done so much good work for our soldiers, obtained permission from the confederate authorities to send clothing through the lines to us. This reached us during November, and while it was gratefully received there was not enough to supply very many of the needy ones. My one suit of clothing was in fair condition, but I was of course anxious to secure a new supply, not knowing how much longer my imprisonment would continue. So taking my shirt, I tore several rents in it, and giving it to a comrade whose detachment was called before mine, I told him to wear it when he went before the officer who was giving out the clothing. When he saw me, he asked me if that was my shirt. I promptly replied that it was. "Is it the only one you have?" "Yes, sir." "Well, I am sorry for you, my boy, but I have given out one new shirt on that today, and cannot give another."
Can you imagine how I felt? I went back to my tent chagrined and crestfallen, to bear the badinage of my comrades, and procuring a needle and thread sewed up my torn shirt as best I could.
INCREASING MY RATIONS
During part of my stay in Florence I had the good luck to be associated with a member of my regiment, John Crow, of Company C. Being a stout fellow, he got on the working squad which was used to clean up about the prison. For this work he received an extra ration, and this he divided with me, I doing the cooking for us both. In this way I fared much better, and no words of mine can express my gratitude to him. Since the war we have never met, and I do not know if he is living or dead.
LIFE IF FLORENCE.
Our condition in Florence was not very different from that in Andersonville, except the number of prisoners was less. The highest number at one time was about ten thousand, and this gave us much more room. The rations issued were smaller than at Andersonville, a result due partly to Barrett's vicious disposition, and partly to the straitened resources of the confederacy, which was now drawing to its close. The guards at the prison were living on short rations.
The weather grew quite cold, and ice formed a quarter of an inch thick. This added to the discomfort of the prisoners, but did not probably increase the mortality. It was not as fatal as the burning heat at Andersonville.
The hospital was in one corner, and was but little better in its attendants and supplies than the rest of the prison. Fully a third of all who were confined in Florence died there, a result partly due to the fact that the prisoners were mostly those who had been long in prison, and were therefore weaker.
There were the same vermin, gambling, cursing, fighting, stealing, and equal disregard for suffering and death, as at Andersonville, Life was held dear, and ever one sought first his won welfare. Yet there were not wanting cases of kindness and self-denial.
Police regulations were kept up here, and detected violators were punished, mostly by sound "spanking" on that portion of the body best fitted by nature, administered with a shingle. Some times an unusual offender was tied up to a stake and whipped on the bare back, and I have always thought that this punishment ought to be inflicted on every man who beats his wife. Altogether, it was harder at Florence than at Andersonville.
Here I first saw this confederate officer, who had general command of all southern prisons, He has been severely denounced as cruel and unfeeling in his office, and this charge was made by southern as well as northern papers. I never came into personal contact with him, and therefore express no opinion. He, like Barrett, died near the close of the war. In death struggles with the confederacy the feelings were very bitter, and it is but fair to believe that most of the officers in command of the prisons did not trouble themselves much about the comfort of the prisoners, nor care particularly for an increase in the death rate.
HOPES OF RELEASE.
The few new prisoners brought in kept us informed of the progress of the war and our hearts were cheered by the constant victories our armies were winning, making sure our early release. Especially did we pin our faith and hope to Uncle Billy who was known to be cavorting around through Georgia and South Carolina pretty much as he pleased. We felt certain he would come to deliver us, and much of our time was spent in discussing how we would assist his forces when he came. Included in these plans was the death of Barrett by the most slow and miserable processes our imagination could devise. Why our armies never reached Andersonville or Florence is to this day an unsolved problem.
"All things come to him who waits," and at last the day of our deliverance dawned. On Sunday, Nov.27, orders came to Barrett to parole one thousand of the sick. This meant one in ten of the prison population. Immediately there was an alarming increase of sickness among the prisoners, as every one was anxious to go, whether it meant home or another bull pen--anywhere to get out of here. In Florence the division of prisoners was by thousands, sub-divided into hundreds. The first thousand was therefore called up, and the examining surgeon selected one hundred of the weakest ones, and they were sent outside. The same process was repeated next day with the second thousand. On the third day none were taken out, but instead a fresh batch of prisoners were brought in, who reported that they had been taken from Andersonville to Savannah (now in possession of our troops), had been paroled, but for some reason were not sent within our lines, but were brought here instead.
This was a dampened to our prospects, and we knew not what to expect. The next two days no more of the sick were taken out, and on the third day, December 2, the sick of the second thousand who had been taken away were brought back, reporting that they were not able to reach Savannah, and that they were to be exchanged. Nothing more was done until the 5th, when the sick of the second thousand were again taken out, our spirits were cheered. On the 7th, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh thousands were examined, the selections made, and they went outside. my thousand, number eight, received orders to be ready next morning. It may well be imagined that the intervening night was one of feverish anxiety for me.
TELLING THE TRUTH.
Next morning after a hearty (?) breakfast, our detachment was called up to the gate, and formed in rank inside the dead line. The examining surgeon passed along the line, questioning the boys, and making his selections for parole. I noticed that he took the second man from me, and also the one next to me, both being fellow townsmen, though not of my regiment. My chances looked decidedly slim, and perhaps this thought increased my haggard and woe-begone appearance. When the surgeon asked what was the matter with me, I assured him that I was afflicted with the scurvy,the diarrhea, the dysentery, and several other diseases the names of which I do not now recall. Now,I had been afflicted with all of these in turn, but had partly recovered, and was at this time in fair condition. But who can blame me, and who would have done different? The surgeon hesitated, and seemed to pass me on, when by sudden inspiraton I ask him to feel my arm. Naturally very slender, and still more so than, when he took hold of my puny arm he said, "you may go." It took just half an instant for me to get outside the gate, and I have wondered that he did not call me back, as being too active to be very sick.
COL. COOKE'S QUICK WIT.
When Cooke's detachment was examined, he was not selected for parole. As the next detachment was being examined, he was standing near, looking very disconsolate. Now, the examining surgeon had been passing out the sergeant in charge of each thousand, whether sick or not. It happened that the sergeant of the thousand which was being examined had gone back to his tent to say good bye, or to get something. When the surgeon had finished the examination, he called out, "where is the sergeant of this squad:" No answer. Again he called in louder tones, "where in ----is the sergeant of this squad?" "Here I am," came a voice from the crowd, and Col. Cooke pushed his way up to the officer, seemingly in great haste, and puffing as if he had been on the run. "Well, get of here mighty quick," roared the officer and the Col. needed no second command, but went out the gate as fast as his legs would carry him, was paroled and taken home, which he reached very weak and sick, but recovered and lived several years. It was the sharpest trick I ever saw played, and I always felt that he was justified, even if I did sometimes think of the poor sergeant who came back and found his place taken, and he doomed to remain.
OFF FOR CHARLESTON.
Once outside we were marched into a field, where the oath of parole was administered to us, and our descriptive lists taken. This took considerable time, and it was not until the next evening that we were put on board the cars, and started for the famous city where the first gun of the war was fired. It was the 9th of December, the air was cold, and we shivered, but what of it? We were going home. A few of our number died on the cars.
At daylight the next morning we reached Charleston, and again we heard the booming of the "swamp angel," and the whistling of the shell. The siege was still going on. Alighting from the cars, we were marched to the shore of the bay, where we were put on board a boat that carried at the bow a white flag. It looked more like release. Out we steamed, past Fort Sumter, until our boat met and signaled another boat bearing also a white flag, and better still the glorious
STARS AND STRIPES
The boats pulled up alongside of each other, a plank was run across the intervening space, and with feeble but joyous steps we walked from bondage to freedom, from death to life. No one can tell how we felt, as we cheered, and laughed, and wept, and danced, and hugged each other. The southern boat soon left us, and then we steamed outside the harbor, and were transferred to the steamship United States. A bath followed, and provided with a new suit of clothes we threw our rags into the sea, when strange to say they at once made a bee line for the shore, and the boys declared it was the graybacks going back to Florence. A cup of coffee, some hard tack, and a piece of well cooked pork was given us.
LIFE ON THE OCEAN WAVE.
The exchange was made on Saturday, December 10. We lay here over Sunday, receiving other prisoners. On Monday we weighted anchor, raised steam, and began our journey north. Passing Wilmington we saw the blockading fleet commanded by Commodore Porter. Wednesday morning we reached Fortress Monroe, and here we saw another portion of Porter's fleet. At two o'clock on Thursday we reached Annapolis, and were put on shore, feeling pretty well, for I had not gotten sea sick. And here, just as we felt ourselves to be once more safe and at home, some of our comrades died, the saddest sight in all my seven months of prison life.
After a few days in the parole camp, we drew pay, and were given a furlough to go home. Christmas was spent in Baltimore, and in spite of the tragedy in that city at the opening of the war, I was everywhere treated and feasted until almost glad to get away. Reaching home, I remained until the end of my furlough, returned to Annapolis, was transferred to Camp Chase, at Columbus, Ohio. where I was kept until muster out in June, never having been exchanged, but only paroled, so that I could not return to my regiment, which had the honor to be at the famous apple tree at Appomattox. During my imprisonment it bore a prominent part in the campaigns of the valley and the Potomac, being engaged in twelve general battles in all its term of service.
MENTION has been made of the diary kept during my imprisonment. It was given to me soon after capture by Younkin. In it are recorded briefly the prominent events of each day, and form it my memory has been refreshed in preparing the foregoing narrative. A few extracts from it may serve to deepen the mind of the reader the impression made at the time, and present more vividly the character of life and sufferings endured.
May 31 (two days after entering Andersonville): Last day of spring. A few more prisoners came in. All seem to think the war will soon be over, and we will be released. I hope it may be soon. Drew better rations today.
June 1: First day of summer. God grant that ere it ends we may all be within our own lines. The Col. (probably Wirz is meant) says we will soon be exchanged or paroled. 1,500 more prisoners came in.
June 4: A great lot of ladies came to the stockade to see the prisoners. Some seem to union at heart.
(For 21 consecutive days I record that it rained--some times only a little, but mostly hard.)
June 17: Fourteen prisoners ran away from wood squad in evening, taking nine guns along.
June 21: Two men were shot by guard for going over the dead line.
June 22: Made a good meal of beans, meat and corn dumplings. It is said an exchange or parole will take place July 7.
June 24: All prisoners who had money taken from them can get it tomorrow morning. It does not affect me.
June 30: Our rations were stopped until the raiders were taken out. Men organized and took them out by force. Found great deal of stolen property.
July 3: No rations issued on account of some prisoners being missed, Bridge built across the branch.
July 4: The anniversary of our National Independence. No celebration by the rebels. Would that I were home. A very poor place for us to celebrate it. All the detachments were changed in number. Very loud thunder.
July 7: This is the day parole was to take place, but nary parole.
July 11: (Records the hanging of the Raiders).
July 13: A prisoner was shot by a guard while getting water at the brook. Belonged to 20th Pa. Cav. Was not over the dead line."Twas nothing but a cold blooded murder.
July 14: The sergeants of detachments were taken out and informed if the men did not keep away from the gate they would be fired on. Two blank cannon shot were fired in evening, and a lot of musketry. Don't know what it was for.
July 16: Petitions are being gotten up for fortifications outside, I suppose to resist an anticipated attack.
July 20: The rebels commenced throwing fortifications outside, I suppose to resist an anticipated attack.
July 29: Four white flags were put in camp as a mark not to collect crowds between them and the gate while prisoners were being brought in.
July 31: Reported that our cavalry are in the direction of Macon, making a raid. Rebels worked all last nigh and today fortifying.
Aug. 2: A lot of prisoners came in. Say Gen. Stoneman and a large lot of his men were captured near Macon.
Aug. 5: All the sick out of eleven detachments were taken out. Begins to look like paroling.
Aug. 6: Quite a lot of slaves are here working on fortifications. Seem to be happy, sing as they work.
Aug. 9: Rained very hard. A lot of the stockade fell down at the brook. Rebs fell out into line double quick. None of the prisoners got away.
Aug. 10: The men dying off at a fearful rate. About three hundred within twenty-four hours.
Aug. 11: It is sad to see the sufferings the men endure in this prison. Some one will have an unpardonable sin to answer for in keeping them here.
Aug. 20: Felt pretty bad today. Mouth very sore with scurvy.
Aug. 25 Am a good deal better today. This is my birthday (18). A poor place to celebrate.
Aug. 26: A man tried today for murder. Was taken outside.(Have no further record of this.)
Aug. 31: The last day of summer--a summer spent in prison. What can our government mean by allowing its soldiers to be confined in this manner? There is surely some way of releasing us.
Sept. 5: A lot of prisoners came in from Sherman's army. Say Sherman has whipped Hood badly, and drove him from Atlanta. Think he will come down here.
Sept. 23 (at Florence): A petition to the rebel government was got up in camp, asking them to parole us. Don't think it will do much good.
Sept. 26: Drew some small rations, barely enough to support life. Last night was cold. Some of the men have no clothes, and no shelter.
Sept. 28: Drew nothing but half a pint of very coarse meal, and a few spoonfuls of beans. At this rate men will die of starvation. Threats are being made of a "break."
Sept. 29: An opportunity was offered for those wishing to take the oath of allegiance to the C.S.A. Don't feel like it myself.
Oct. 1: Drew one and a half of hard tack, four spoonfuls of meal,and a little molasses, for a day's ration. Begins to look like starvation.
Oct. 14: a larger number took the oath of allegiance than at any other time before. What the end of this will be God only knows. May He grant to have us released.
Oct. 16: Prayer meetings were in held in prison in the evening.
Oct. 20: Some of the men were allowed to go outside to get brush to fix up their tents with.
Oct. 25: The rebels moved their artillery away from around the camp, for some purpose. It is said our forces are making a raid from Georgetown, S.C.
Oct. 31: Another month gone, and still in prison. I think our government is rather too stubborn about an exchange.
Nov. 5: 270 prisoners took the oath of allegiance, and went to join the rebel army.
Nov. 8: Election day at home. A vote was taken in prison, resulting in a large majority for "Old Abe." May like success attend him elsewhere.
Nov. 17: A great lot of prisoners who had taken the oath of allegiance were sent inside. Had been at Charleston doing duty.
Nov. 30: The last of Autumn. Is it possible that we are never to get out of prison? I few but few will live to see home if nor released soon.
The record from this time has been set forth in the body of the book.