THE FOLLOWING sketch of prison life is furnished by Jacob G. Matlick of Company B, and it so well covers the horrors and incidents of life in two of the most noted of the southern prisons, that it is used in the history of the regiment, as representing the experiences of the many comrades of our regiment, who languished in prison, some of whom gave up their lives in this horrible manner. No pen is equal to the task of portraying the suffering, the depths of despair and the horror experienced in these infamous dens, and it will not be attempted here, but a plain recital of what actually occurred will be given.
"While returning off the Salem raid in December, 1863, a detail of four men was made from Company B for provost guard, composed of Joseph M. West, Edward B. Creel, William. E. Stafford and Jacob G. Matlick, and it fell to our lot to guard the prisoners. The slow progress made by the prisoners on foot, made quite a gap between the advance and the provost guard, and the ambulances and wagon train also in the rear. The confederates observing this weak point, and taking advantage of the darkness charged past our stragglers and ambulances, and the provost guard were fully apprised of their danger only when confronted with drawn sabers and revolvers. The four of Company B were in the rear of the line of prisoners, and were captured, though most of the others in front escaped with the prisoners in their charge. Just how many of our men were captured that night is not certainly known, but of the whole command not many beyond one hundred. The confederates took us about a half a mile further down the river to an old shed, where we were kept until the morning of the 20th, and were then taken to a building near by and some raw beef and flour issued for our use. On the 22d we started in the direction of Staunton, arriving there the evening of the 24th, tired, hungry and foot sore. They marched us up southwest of the depot, on a high bleak knob, facing the northwest, and the wind was blowing very hard and cold from that direction. At this point there were several stables that their cavalry had quartered their horses in the previous winter, and we thought we would get to sleep in them that night out of the cold, wind, but that was denied us. They let us lie on the bare, frozen ground, without fire, where we suffered most intensely. We endured the cold the best we could, and early on the morning of the 25th, we were put aboard the cars and sent to Richmond, the coaches being good ones. We arrived in Richmond about 8 P. M., and were put in Scott's old tobacco building. The week following they sent in the noted 'Majah Tunnah', to search us, who took from us everything he could find of value except our clothes. We were stripped naked and our clothes thoroughly overhauled. It was in that building that we had our introduction to the 'N'Yaarkers' or raiders., who infested every prison, and were almost as great a terror to the poor prisoners as their inhuman keepers. We were kept here until January 1, 1864, when we were taken to Belle Isle, and turned loose in that miserable pen, which consisted of about four acres, with an embankment thrown up around it, and a ditch on the inside which served as a dead line. We were counted off in hundreds and so numbered to draw rations. The island consisted of about ten acres opposite the upper end of Richmond. The prison was in command of one Lieut. Bossieux, a rather young man, a southerner by birth. He was assisted by two Sergeants Hight and Marks, who were very cruel, as also was the lieutenant, when angered. Outside the prison pen was a bakehouse, made of boards, the tents for the accommodation of the officers and guards, and a hospital also of tent cloth. Running from the pen was a lane enclosed by high boards, running to the water's edge. At night it was closed by a gate at the pen, and thrown open in the morning. About one half of the ten thousand prisoners there at that time had tents, and the remainder slept and lived out of doors. That memorable New Year's Night is remembered by many thousands to this day, on account of the extreme cold, and many succumbed to the grim monster that night. I was lucky enough to get in a tent by finding two comrades, James Calihan and Kid Simpson, who were left to care for our wounded at Rocky Gap the 27th of August, and had a tent, but Stafford saved himself only by running all night up and down the street in the center of the camp. Next day we all got together and crowded into the tent, making nine in one little A tent. We had but little cover, lay on the ground, putting our feet under each other's arms to keep them from freezing. No language is adequate to convey the least conception of the awful misery and suffering endured on that island that fall and winter. We were on the island two months and eight days, and many who went on there when we did starved to death long before we left, and many were the insane caused by hunger and exposure. Men, more ghastly than death itself, were stalking around the camp, not knowing where they were wandering, with feet frozen hard. Yet we are told that we did all this for the money we got; but in the face of all the suffering we endured, with death on every hand, we were offered plenty, and freedom, if we would but renounce the old flag and join the confederate army. We told them we would rot first, as many did, and as many more, perhaps, might as well have done, the way they have since suffered. I appeased somewhat the pangs of hunger by finding an old friend on the island, whom I knew as a former school teacher and class leader, and by the aid of the guard at the gate I got an interview with him. He visited me occasionally and brought me what he could that I needed most, and gave me some confederate money, which helped me through the prison. If any of the boys would commit any misdemeanor, Lieut. Bossieux would not give us any rations for that day, adding misery to want, for we received only a piece of corn bread about two inches square, each day, or a pint of field pea broth, and it covered with bugs, or about two spoonsful of rice for a day's rations, and no meat, except once or twice during our stay there. So strong became the craving for animal food, that the white bull terrier belonging to Lieut. Bossieux, round and fat, was one day decoyed into a tent, a blanket was thrown over him and his throat cut, within a rod of where his master stood and then skinned and cooked into a savory meal of many hungry men. When the lieutenant learned the fate of his four footed friend, he raged and stormed with anger, and stopped our rations for a day, and meted such punishment as he could. One of the saddest scenes we saw on the island, was five poor fellows, reduced to skeletons, who burrowed under the hard crust of the sand on the southside, beside the ditch, where they could lie in the sun in day time, and at night could be out of the wind, as they had no covering. One cold morning they were found dead, and were carried out and laid to rest. We had no wood issued to us that would do any good toward warming us, the issue being about three sticks to a hundred men, and that was split up fine to do our little cooking in our quart cups, that we might chance to have to do. The sanitary commission sent a man through with some clothing, that was issued to us some time in January. I got a blanket, that did the nine much good; also a copy of the New Testament, which the boys eagerly read, and which I have yet in my possession, a priceless treasure to myself and family. We were so starved that when we tried to go to sleep at night, we dreamed of seeing great quantities of good things to eat, but when we were about to partake of them, we would awaken to find that it was merely a dream, and our hunger was intensified. Thus we suffered and endured, until the last week in February when they began to take out about five hundred prisoners at a time, and they told us they had agreed to exchange, so there was a rush to get out first, but our nine waited until the third call. On March 8th, about 10 A. M., we left the island, crossed into Richmond, and were taken to the Pemberton tobacco warehouse, where we were kept until about 4 A. M. of the 10th, when we were taken to the southside of the city and put into a lot of box cars as close as we could stand, having no room to sit or lie down. We went through Petersburg, reaching that evening a station called Gaston, in the edge of North Carolina, where we were taken out and camped in a piece of woods, and, it being fairly warm, we enjoyed a clean place to sleep. They gave us some hard tack, about enough for one meal, and it was here that I bought some meat, the first we had eaten for over two months. On the morning of the 11th we were again put into stock cars and started for the unknown to us, passing through Raleigh, thence to Charlotte, where they side-tracked us and locked us in the cars and kept us over one night. The next morning we continued our journey, passing through Columbia, S. C., to Augusta, where we were changed into box cars, and given an ear of corn to eat, and where some of the sick were sent to the hospital, one of whom had the small pox. We continued our advance until, on the night of March 15th, we reached a small station called Anderson, Sumpter county, Ga., sixty miles south of Macon, and were there taken out and marched about three-fourths of a mile southeast, and counted off into hundreds, and driven, as so many brutes, into what was known to the confederates as Camp Sumpter, and to us the hated Andersonville. We were so stiff and tired that we could scarcely walk, but when the gates of that prison closed upon us, we soon stretched ourselves on the bare ground and slept soundly. But when the fog had cleared. away in the morning, we began to realize our terrible condition.
This place was one of the stations on a rudely constructed, rickety railroad, that runs from Macon to Albany, the head of navigation on the Flint river, which is 106 miles from Macon and 250 from the Gulf of Mexico. Andersonville was about sixty miles from Macon and about 300 miles from the Gulf. The camp was simply a hole cut in the wilderness. It was as remote a point from our armies when, as the confederacy could give. The place was an immense pen about one thousand feet long by eight hundred wide, and contained about sixteen acres. The walls were formed by pine logs twenty-five feet long, two to three feet in diameter, hewn square, which were set in the ground five feet, leaving the walls twenty feet high. The logs were placed so close together as to leave no crack to see the outside world. The pen was divided in the center by a creek about three feet wide and ten inches deep, running west to east, on each side of which was a bog of slimy ooze about one hundred and fifty feet wide, in which one would sink to the waist. From this swamp the sandhills sloped north and south to the stockade. There were two entrances to the stockade, one on each side of the creek, midway between it and the ends, called the 'north gate' and the 'south gate.' These were constructed double, by building smaller stockades around them on the outside, with another set of gates. At regu1ar intervals of about fifty feet along the top of the stockades, little perches were built on the outside, in which were the sentries, who overlooked the whole inside of the prison. When we first went there the prison was commanded by one Col. Piersons, who would nearly every day ride in and talk to us, and the guards were reasonably good, much unlike the cruel wretches that guarded us from Richmond to Augusta, who would rather run a bayonet through a Yank than eat. We received about a pint of meal per day and about two ounces of bacon. At that time there was p1enty of wood in the camp, cut from the tops of the timber and hewn from the logs, which we used to make fires to cook by. With the large area of the prison and plenty of wood, we were having a fairly good time for prisoners, but the water was bad, as the stream from which we obtained it was at best but a swamp and the drainage of swamps, with all the confederate camps on it above, and afterwards our cook house was located on it immediately above the prison.
But our good time was fast disappearing, for about March 25th Col. Piersons, with his command, was ordered to the front, and for guards they robbed both the cradle and the grave, and worse than all, they sent that frenzied old Swiss, Capt. Henry Wirz, to command us. He was a small brained, small souled, incompetent fellow, and as cowardly and cruel as he was small in all the elements of manhood. He had the respect of no one, and had the intense hatred of every prisoner. By the 10th of April our wood was exhausted and it began to get very warm in the day time, and in consequence of the heavy fogs at night, it would get very cold, so as to chill even those who were well dressed and had blankets. The diarrhoea and scurvy began to be much worse, exhausting the men very fast, causing a score or more of deaths per day, out of the 12,000 prisoners then in the pen. To make our condition still worse, the raiders were robbing indiscriminately, and taking money, rations, blankets, clothing, or anything they wanted. They managed to get plenty to eat and have good clothing and blankets, so that they were strong, and being armed with clubs, could do about as they pleased, with but little resistance on the part of their victims, who were so much worn down that they were unable to cope with the scoundrels. On the 3d of July a lot of new prisoners came in, when the raiders cried out, 'fresh fish,' and attacked them. The prisoners were mostly West Virginians, and gave them a hard fight, but as usual the cut throats ran to each other's rescue and came out ahead. Complaints were made to the quartermaster about the outrages, and while he was coming in the South gate on the afternoon of the 3d, with a load of rations, a man was carried out whose head had been beaten into a jelly by the raiders. Taking in the situation, being aware of the conduct of the raiders in the past, he ordered the wagon out and said we should not have another ration, until we got the raiders out, saying he would furnish a guard to protect our men, if they would catch the scoundrels and hand them over to the guard at the gate, who would take care of them until we should rid the camp and dispose of them. Our men soon formed vigilance committees all over the camp, and armed with clubs, and protected by the guards, they soon ran down and took out all the raiders, over 100, and by dark the work was done. The morning of the 4th we drew our rations, but the best of all was that we were rid of the raiders, who were then tried by regular court martial, organized by Key, the head of the movement against the raiders, in which both sides were represented before a competent court by attorneys, and witnesses heard. Six were regularly and duly proven guilty of murder in the first degree, and were sentenced to be hanged. About thirty were found guilty of maltreatment to fellow prisoners, and were sentenced to wear a ball and chain furnished by the confederates, while the remainder were turned loose in the camp, under the watch of the vigilance committees, which were so thoroughly organized that they kept all in peace and quiet.
The following account of the execution of the raiders, is from Comrade J. L. Ransom's diary, as written at the time, a part of which is here used; 'The morning of the 11th, lumber was brought into the prison by the guards, and near the south gate a gallows was erected for the purpose of executing the six raiders condemned to death. At about 10 o'clock they were brought in under guard by Capt. Wirz, and delivered over to the police force. Capt. Wirz then said they had been tried by our own men, and for us to do as we chose with them, and that he washed his hands of the whole matter. Their names were as follows: John Sarsfield, 144th New York; William Collins alias 'Mosby', Company D, 88th Pennsylvania; Charles Curtis, Battery A, 5th Rhode Island Artillery; Pat. Delaney, Company E, 83d Pennsylvania; A. Muir, United States Navy, and Terrence Sullivan, 72d New York. After Wirz had made his little speech, he withdrew his guards, leaving the condemned at the mercy of the enraged prisoners, who had all been more or less wronged by these men. Their hands were tied behind them, and one by one they mounted the scaffold. Curtis, who was last, a big stout fellow, managed to get his hands loose, and broke away on a run through the crowd and down toward the swamps. He reached the swamp and plunged in, trying to get over on the other side, presumably among his friends. It being very warm, he over exerted himself, and when about the middle of the swamp, he gave out and could go no further. The police started after him and waded in and helped him out. He was then led back to the scaffold and helped to mount it. All were given a chance to talk. Muir, a good looking fellow in marine dress, said he came into prison four months before, perfectly honest; and as innocent of crime as any fellow in it. Starvation, with evil companions, had made him what he was. He spoke of his mother and sisters in New York, that he cared nothing for himself, but the news that would be carried home to his friends, made him want to curse God that he had ever been born. Delaney said he would rather be hanged than live there as the most of them had to live on the allowance of rations. If permitted to steal he could get enough to eat, but as that was stopped, he would rather hang. He bade all good bye. He said his name was not Delaney, and that no one really knew who he was, therefore his friends would never know his fate, his Andersonville history dying with him. Curtis, with an oath, said he didn't care, only hurry up and not be talking about it all day, making too much fuss over a small matter. William Collins, alias "Mosby," said he was innocent of murder, and ought not to be hanged. He had stolen blankets and rations to preserve his own life, and begged the crowd not to see him hanged, as he had a wife and child at home, and for their sake to let him live. Sarsfield, made quite a speech. He had studied law at the outbreak of the rebellion, had enlisted and served three years in the army, had been wounded in battle and furloughed home. After the wound had healed, he returned, was promoted to first sergeant, and also commissioned as lieutenant, but never mustered in, being taken prisoner. He began his downward course by stealing parts of rations, gradually becoming hardened as he became familiar with the crimes perpetrated, and here he was. The others did not care to say anything. While the condemned were talking, they were interrupted by all kinds of questions and charges from the crowd, such as 'don't lay it on too thick, you villain,' 'get ready to jump off,' 'cut it short,' 'you was the cause of so and so's death,' 'less talk and more hanging,' etc. About 11 o'clock they were blindfolded, hands and feet tied, and told to get ready, when the nooses were adjusted and the plank knocked from under. 'Mosby's' rope broke and he fell to the ground with blood spurting from his ears, mouth and nose. As they were lifting him back to the scaffold he revived, and begged for his life, but it was no use, and he was soon dangling with the rest, and he died very hard. It had been a good lesson. There were still bad ones in camp, but we had the strong arm of the law to keep them in check.
During the hanging scene, the stockade was covered with rebels, who were fearful a break would be made if the the raiders should try to rescue their friends. Many citizens, too, were congregated on the outside in favorable positions for seeing. Artillery was pointed at us from all directions, ready for action in short order. Wirz stood on a high platform, in plain view of the execution. After hanging for half an hour or so, the six bodies were taken down and carried outside. The raiders had many friends who crowded around and denounced the whole affair, and but for the police there would have been a big riot. Many both for and against the execution, were knocked down. Negroes came in to take down the scaffold, and the prisoners took hold to help, and the result was they carried away the whole thing, ropes, and all, for kindling, and relics to be carried north as mementoes of the horrible affair. The person who manipulated the drop, was taken out on parole of honor, as his life was in danger. The prisoners now settled down to peace and quiet, talking exchange and hunting 'greybacks', which every man who had any pretence to cleanliness at all had to do. Morning and evening we would strip ourselves and give our clothing a thorough search for the little creepers, that we might not be literally leached to death as many were. Each day we thought it could get no worse, but each recurring day brought with it additional horrors and new scenes of trouble, with hotter weather, and the camp in worse condition. Although the camp was enlarged with about six acres, the men lay thick all over the ground, in all conditions imaginable, some beyond the conception of the human mind in their horror. Some were naked and bronzed by pine smoke and exposure, and thousands lay upon the ground with but little clothing, the most ghastly and horrible looking objects, enough, it would seem, to bring pity to the heart of a demon, dying at the rate of about 100 per day. The bodies of the dead, all besmeared with filth and vermin, were carried out of the south gate by fellow prisoners, between the hours of 8 in the morning and four in the evening, and there laid in rows, each body labeled with name, company and regiment, if known, where they lay until next day, when they were loaded in a wagon like wood in a rack, and hauled to the cemetery about forty rods northwest of camp, where they were buried in a shallow ditch, one hundred in a ditch. The keeping of the sanitary condition of the camp was entrusted to the prisoners, the police force among them enforcing good order and seeing that the camp was kept in as good condition as circumstances would permit. The commander of the forces provided clubs and a few shovels and gave the police an extra ration of bread. During the first twenty-one days of June it rained hard every day, washing the camp clean. Through July and August we had frequent showers. One afternoon, early in August, there came one of those violent rains and flooded the camp six to eight inches deep, and flowed through the camp with such force as to break the stockade on the east. As soon as the guards noticed the break they fired two guns as a signal to get out, and a strong force was soon on the spot to prevent an escape if one was attempted. The storm did a good thing for the camp in washing out the filth, leaving it much more wholesome. The 12th of August there happened what we termed a 'Providential dispensation.' The water in the little creek was so indescribably bad, that no one could use it except in case of extreme necessity, and the prisoners on the southside had dug a few wells the best they could, which furnished nearly enough for that side, but they could not get water so easy on the north side, as the ground was higher and the water deeper. A nice, flowing spring broke out on the northside, between the dead line and the stockade, about half way between the north gate and the stream, and came tricking down under the dead line. The prisoners soon had a receptacle fixed to receive the water, and police stationed so that all could be supplied. Whatever the cause of it, it was a providence to the suffering thousands that were blessed by it. W. E. Stafford became very sick, and it was soon discovered that he was breaking out, and knowing that he had been exposed to the small pox, he was examined by a physician, and it was pronounced smallpox. He was at once removed to the smallpox hospital and soon recovered, but remained out of prison while there. He came into the enclosure occasionally and ministered to his suffering comrades. About the first of July the cords of my legs began to contract so I could not walk, and my legs were drawn to near an angle of 45 degrees from the knees. In addition to this I took chronic diarrhoea in a very bad form, and my gums became swollen and my teeth all loose. I was in a most deplorable condition, and on looking around me each morning and seeing the great numbers of dead and dying, I could not help being impressed with the terrible realities of death, for thus I sat for nearly two months, 'without one beam of hope or spark of glimmering day.' During that long and horrible time, I noticed many who would be walking about, and in a few days would be silent in the cold sleep of death. My observations led me to note that every one of intemperate or dissipated habits, soon fell an easy prey to the dread destroyer, but those who had lived temperate in all things stood the hard trial much better. Also, that those of strong will power were able to endure more, and stood better chance of recovery. Comrade E. B. Creel, though suffering horribly, was not affected to the extent of his other comrades, but kept on his feet. Lindsey Sexton, of Company K, was of very great help to me in my unfortunate and helpless condition.
As time passed on our situation grew worse, as the thousands were crowded into the prison. The greatest number in the prison at anyone time was 33,114, making about 1700 to the square acre. The whole number received during its occupation was 45,613, whole number of deaths 12,912. After Sherman took Atlanta the confederates began to get scared, and the last of August began preparations to transfer us to other prisons, and the last of September there were left 8,218 that could not walk, none being permitted to go except those who could walk to the depot. During September of one-third of these died, during October one out of every two died, and in November one in every three died.
Such was the mortality, and from no other cause than bad treatment, for they could have located the prison on a river where we could have had plenty of good water and thus kept clean, and we know from the word of people of the neighborhood, that they could have given us plenty to eat, and especially vegetables of any kind that would have saved our suffering from scurvy and diarrhoea, which was the prime cause of over 8,000 deaths. They could have fed us on sweet potatoes, of which the country had an abundance when matured. But no, that would not suit that old tyrant, General Winder, the fiendish old tory, who was told when he located the prison, by people living there, that it was a very unhealthy place, to which he answered that that was what he wanted, where the 'd--n Yankees would die as fast as they could catch them.' During August I became so bad and exhausted that I cou1d not help myself, only as I lifted myself about with my hands on the ground, while in a sitting posture. Under the excitement of prospective exchange, or from some other cause, I began to get better, and by the 8th of September I could stand and walk a little.
No one can conceive the surprise of the prisoners when on the morning of September 6th, the seven first detachments nearest the south gate, were ordered to be ready to march at any time, and all that could not walk should stay behind, and in the afternoon they were called out to be sent to our lines for exchange. The men of the Fifth West Virginia Cavalry were in the fifteenth detachment, and there, as on Belle Isle, it would come our turn to go out in the third lot, following the numbers consecutively. As the second call was made on the night of the 7th, on the morning of the 8th we were expectantly looking for orders to march at any moment, and were buoyed up by the hope of getting home, or at least getting out of the hole of death in this camp. Every man that could possibly walk at all, was by the aid of a comrade practicing, that he might pass muster, which was to walk to the depot, three-fourths of a mile. About noon that day, September 8th, the call was made, ordering our detachment out. I could barely make out to walk a little, but by the aid of comrades Creel and Sexton, I succeeded in supporting myself until we were passing Wirz's quarters, when in order to pass, each one had to walk alone, and by a great effort, unsupported, I succeeded in satisfying the miserable tyrant. The gentle touch of the elbows of my comrades, gave me the required strength. Arrived at the depot we rested about two hours, when we were put into box cars, after receiving each a piece of corn bread weighing about six ounces, and we were on our way to Macon. We reached Macon that evening, and were side tracked on the east side of the Ocmulgee river, where we remained until the morning of the 9th, crowded together as so many hogs, and suffered intensely, when we started for Savannah, where they said we would be exchanged, reaching that city about sunset. It was a very rough ride over the jolting rails. I was seized with a severe attack of diarrhoea, which completely exhausted me, so that I could not help myself at all. The train ran into the city on to a beautiful street, lined on both sides with live oaks, where the prisoners were ordered out. Neither myself nor Creel could walk by that time, so both tumbled out in the sand and lay there. Those that could walk were at once marched away to a stockade west of the old brick jail, and we that could not walk, lay there in the street until about 9 o'clock, when some loyal ladies came along with a bucket of coffee and some soft bread. Ministering angels were they, but a lieutenant came along at the same time, with wagons and a guard to take us away, and, he drove the ladies away, but not until we had received a cup of coffee, the first delicacy for nine months. We were loaded into the wagons, which were drawn by mules, driven by colored teamsters, and started up street. To our happy surprise a lot of good eatables were thrown into the wagon, at a place where we stopped. It was noticeable that the teams frequently stalled, once or twice in each square, and at every stop, colored cooks from the basements of wealthy residences, would come with waiters in hand, and pour into the wagons a lot of food. It was after dark, but their forms were easily discernable, proving to the sick and weary prisoners, that the loyal blacks were still their true friends.
By the time we got to the old jail enough had been given us for a fair supper, the first in many weary months. That was all we received from the time we left Andersonville on the 8th until the 12th. We were hauled to a nice green on the west side of the city, known as the old United States parade ground, near the United States marine hospital, and there they laid us on the bare ground, which was called a hospital, without any attention whatever, except a strong guard to keep us from running away, when none of us could walk. On Sunday, the 11th, the ladies of the city came out by the hundreds, and with well filled baskets, who would have given us all the delicacies of the season, but that infamous wretch, the most inhuman of his kind, Lieut. Davis, would not let them come near us, but they persisted until late in the evening, when he put them all under guard, and kept them there until long after dark. On that day they set up a lot of A tents on the ground, and we then lay in them, a paradise compared to Andersonville, as we had a clean place to lie and pure air to breathe, though we got very little to eat. If that cruel scoundrel, Davis, had permitted it, the loyal ladies of the city, of whom there were scores, would have kept us in plenty to eat, but that would have been human, and the inhuman wretch forbade it.
The first guards we had at Savannah were a lot of marines dressed in the old regulation uniform, and were a nice lot of fellows. But the cradle and the grave were again robbed, and new guards were put on. The young men were the most cruel, while the old men were reasonably good, many of whom, it is believed, were loyal at heart. We remained in these tents about four weeks, and were then transferred to a board stockade beside the marine hospital where some of our officers had been confined. There were A tents in there and boards to lie upon. That was the Savannah hospital. They put about three hundred of us in there, but we fared no better. The men died very fast of the various ailments, even of mosquito bites, the blood was so poisoned with gangrene. If we became able to walk, we were sent away to Blackshear, Fla., or to Millen. We soon caught on in our mess, and when the confederates would come in and order out any that could walk, we would lie down in our tents and could not walk, for we feared we could not find a better place. Exhausting diarrhreas and other sickness, incident to our condition, still prostrated us and I was so low that I believed death near, but a change for the better came, and I partially recovered. One Sunday in October, a confederate colonel and his wife came into the prison and talked with us very kindly and sympathetically, and inquired very minutely about our condition and treatment. Seeming to realize our condition, he told us that on the next Thursday he would send into us sugar, coffee, rice, soft bread, vegetables and meat, but the boys had been lied to so much, that they would not believe him. Late on Thursday, when nearly all of the most sanguine began to despair of the fulfillment of the promise, the gates were thrown open and the promised luxuries were at hand. Only those who had starved for ten long months, in the most abject conditions of life, could appreciate such a blessing as this was to us, and for the next four weeks we reveled in the good things of life. But we began to suffer from cold, as we wore the same clothing as that in which captured, and it was very thin, incapable of protecting us from the cold, damp north winds that had begun to blow down the Savannah river, and some days it was very severe, for we got barely enough wood to do our cooking.
About that time we learned that our government had arranged for the exchange of ten thousand sick and wounded, after first exchanging the marines. Accordingly, about the 15th of November, a well-dressed, hearty-looking set of confederates, made their appearance in the sentry perches around the top of the stockade, who said they were the men sent there by the federal government to be exchanged for the ten thousand sick and wounded; that there were but few sick in the northern prisons, and that they had been up north fattening up, and that their government would now exchange, and that they would all go into the ranks able for effective duty, while we never would be able to do service. On the evening of the 17th of November they began to parole us, there being at that time one hundred and eighteen of us in that prison hospital, and we had so improved that we could walk fairly well. Some time after midnight they got through paroling us, and we went to our quarters but could not sleep, we were so happy over the prospect of release. On the morning of the 18th we were taken out and down to the wharf and put on a transport, when we started down the river. A few of us had not given much credence to the report of exchange, on account of many former deceptions practiced on us, but when about noon we came near to Fort Pulaski, and caught sight of 'Old Glory,' the loved stars and stripes, floating over the federal steamer New York, our feelings were such that no imagination could conceive. Eyes were flooded with tears and our hearts seemed ready to burst with the joy that filled them; and when we stepped beneath that dear old flag, for which we had dared to offer ourselves a living sacrifice, we could not cheer, but we sank down into quiet weeping, thankful for escape from our living tombs. We were pro)1ided with good food and taken down to our steamers, the Baltic and the Atlantic, and were put on board the Atlantic, where we were well cared for and provided with everything needed for our comfort. We remained anchored there until Tuesday, the 22d, when the steamers had received their cargo of living freight and then sailed for Annapolis, Md., arriving there on the 25th. Those able were sent to Camp Parole, while the others were sent to the hospital, thence to their regiments, or to their homes for discharge."
The author of this work desires to add to this account, as an instance of the sad results of the horrors of prison life, the subsequent history of comrade Matlick, who went into the war vigorous and healthy. He arrived home near Tunnelton, Preston county, West Virginia, December 18, 1864, just one year from the time he was captured, and was discharged from the service Jan. 12, 1865. In February, he went to Clark county, Mo., and bought a farm and applied himself to that calling. He returned to Preston county, West Virginia, in November, 1866, and was married to Miss Maggie A. Falkenstein, returning to his farm in Missouri in February following. Owing to the exposures and hardships endured while on the marches, raids, in camp, and in his long imprisonment, he could not rally sufficiently to stand the labor of farming, and broke down completely in 1869, and could hardly exist, to say nothing of work, in the next five years. In 1872, this man, who had suffered untold horrors, a dozen deaths, was granted the sum of $8 per month as a pension, from date of discharge. Recovering partially in 1873, he engaged in merchandising in Scotland county, Mo., in 1874, and remained at it until 1884, by which time his constitution had become so racked and weakened from the effects of his army life, that he broke completely down, and became subject to violent spasms, so much so that he became a charge to his family. In September, 1886, he removed with his family, wife and four children, to Kirksville, Mo., where the latter could have the advantage of good schools. His pension was raised from time to time, until at last fair justice was done in 1887, by increasing it to $50 per month. In all these years of married life, a noble wife has ministered to his every want, and now when the cursed seeds of Andersonville cruelty have developed into the full growth of physical ruin, she is a tower of strength to him, and as loyal as in those stormy days of the early sixties, when in her West Virginia home, she cheered him as he went to protect the flag, and received him as one from the dead, on his return from the blasting breath of prison life. Reader of this, when you hear thoughtless people minify the work and sufferings of the volunteer of 1861-65, reflect a moment, then ask yourself if you would care to accept the life of suffering for the pitiful pay received, or rather if it was not a service of the loftiest patriotism and sublimest courage.