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Title: Lights and Shadows in Confederate Prisons - A Personal Experience, 1864-5
Author: Sprague, Homer B. (Homer Baxter), 1829-1918
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lights and Shadows in Confederate Prisons - A Personal Experience, 1864-5" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

 [Illustration: Portraits of Fellow Officers in Prison

 Left to right--Top line: Capt. Cook, Capt. Burrage
 Middle line: Adj't. Gardner, Col. Sprague, Capt. Howe
 Lower line: Lieut. Estabrooks, Adj't. Putnam]

           _"Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit"_

                     Lights and Shadows in
                      Confederate Prisons

                     A Personal Experience


                    Homer B. Sprague, Ph.D.
                 Bvt.-Colonel 13th Conn. Vols.

 Sometime Professor in Cornell and President of the University
                        of North Dakota

   Author of "History of the 13th Conn. Inf. Vols.," "Right
         and Wrong in our War between the States," and
            "The European War, Its Cause and Cure"

                       _With Portraits_

                      G. P. Putnam's Sons
                      New York and London
                    The Knickerbocker Press


 The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note, whilst
    more significant amendments have been listed at the end of the text.
    Dialect and archaic spellings have been retained. The letter 'e'
    with a macron has been transcribed as [=e].

                 THE ALUMNI OF

             AND ALL WHO HATE WAR,


This narrative of prison life differs from all others that I have seen,
in that it is careful to put the best possible construction upon the
treatment of Union prisoners by the Confederates, and to state and
emphasize kindnesses and courtesies received by us from them.

For the accuracy of the facts stated I am indebted to a diary kept from
day to day during the whole of my imprisonment, and to the best
obtainable records. The exact language of conversations cannot of course
always be remembered, but I aim always to give correctly the substance.

I am aware that the opinions I express in regard to Sheridan's strategy
at the Battle of Winchester are not those generally entertained. But I
give reasons. His own account of the battle is sadly imperfect. To
capture but five guns and nine battle flags at a cost of four thousand
six hundred and eighty killed and wounded, and leave almost the entire
rebel army in shape to fight two great battles within a month, was not
the programme he had planned. Early said "Sheridan should have been

I shall be blamed more for venturing to question Lincoln's policy of
subjugation. He had proclaimed with great power and in the most
unmistakable language in Congress that "any portion of any people had a
perfect right to throw off their old government and establish a new
one." But now, instead of standing strictly on the defensive, or
attempting by diplomacy to settle the conflict which had become
virtually international, he entered upon a war of conquest.

I do not blame him for refusing to exchange prisoners, nor President
Davis for allowing them to starve and freeze. Both were right, _if war
is right_. It was expedient that thirty, fifty, or a hundred thousand of
us should perish, or be rendered physically incapable of bearing arms
again. The "deep damnation of the taking off" was due not to individual
depravity but to military necessity.

                                                              H. B. S.


 PREFACE                                                                 v

                               CHAPTER I

 The First, or Forenoon, Battle of Winchester, Indecisive--Sheridan's
     and Early's Mistakes--The Capture                                   1

                               CHAPTER II

 At Winchester--On the Road thence to Tom's Brook, New Market, and
     Staunton                                                           17

                               CHAPTER III

 At Staunton--Thence to Waynesboro, Meacham's, and Richmond             32

                               CHAPTER IV

 At Libby--Thence to Clover, Danville, Greensboro, and
     Salisbury--Effort to Pledge us not to Attempt Escape               43

                               CHAPTER V

 At Salisbury--Great Plot to Escape--How Frustrated                     60

                               CHAPTER VI

 From Salisbury to Danville--The Forlorn Situation--Effort to
     "Extract Sunshine from Cucumbers"--The Vermin--The Prison
     Commandant a Yale Man--Proposed Theatricals--Rules
     Adopted--Studies--Vote in Prison for Lincoln and
     McClellan--Killing Time                                            77

                               CHAPTER VII

 Exact Record of Rations in Danville--Opportunity to Cook--Daily
     Routine of Proceedings from Early Dawn till Late at Night          93

                               CHAPTER VIII

 Continual Hope of Exchange of Prisoners--"Flag-of-Truce
     Fever!"--Attempted Escape by Tunneling--Repeated Escapes by
     Members of Water Parties, and how we Made the Roll-Call
     Sergeant's Count Come Out all Right every Time--Plot to Break
     Out by Violence, and its Tragic End                               106

                               CHAPTER IX

 Kind Clergymen Visit us and Preach Excellent Discourses--Colonel
     Smith's Personal Good Will to me--His Offer--John F. Ficklin's
     Charity--My Good Fortune--Supplies of Clothing
     Distributed--Deaths in Prison                                     120

                               CHAPTER X

 Results and Reflections--The Right and the Wrong of it All            138

 APPENDIX                                                              153

 INDEX                                                                 157

Lights and Shadows in Confederate Prisons

Lights and Shadows in Confederate Prisons


  The First, or Forenoon, Battle of Winchester, Indecisive--Sheridan's
    and Early's Mistakes--The Capture.

"War is Hell," said our great strategist, General W. T. Sherman.
According to its latest code, with few or no exceptions, the end
justifies the means, and, if necessary to success, it is right to do

Fifty years ago one of the fairest regions on earth was that portion of
Virginia extending southwesterly about a hundred and twenty miles from
Harper's Ferry to the divide beyond Staunton, where rise the headwaters
of the James. Walled in by the Blue Ridge on the southeast and parallel
ranges of the Alleghanies on the northwest, it takes its name from the
beautiful river which winds along its length, and which the Indians
poetically christened Shenandoah (Daughter of the Stars!). When some
three hundred of us prisoners of war walked wearily a hundred miles from
Winchester to Staunton in September, 1864, it was still rich and lovely.
A few weeks later, the necessities of war made it a scene of utter

    Grant had rightly concluded [says Sheridan[1]], that it was time to
    bring the war home to a people engaged in raising crops from a
    prolific soil to feed the country's enemies, and devoting to the
    Confederacy its best youth. I endorsed the program in all its parts;
    for the stores of meat and grain that the valley provided, and the
    men it furnished for Lee's depleted regiments, were the strongest
    auxiliaries he possessed.

Accordingly Grant issued orders with increasing emphasis, particularly
in August and September, to make the whole region "a barren waste," to

    destroy or carry off the crops and animals; do all possible damage
    to railroads; seize stock of every description; take away all negro
    laborers so as to prevent further planting; hold as prisoners of
    war, if sympathizing with the rebellion, all male citizens under
    fifty years of age capable of bearing arms, etc.

In obedience to these commands, Sheridan engaged with alacrity in the
work of destruction. In a few weeks he reported as follows:

    I have destroyed 2000 barns filled with wheat, hay, and farming
    implements; over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat; and driven in
    front of my army 4000 head of stock.

Said one of his officers who knew whereof he was speaking, "A crow
flying through the valley would have to carry his own rations, for he
could pick up nothing!"

At Winchester, the principal town in the Shenandoah Valley, one hundred
and fifty miles N. N. W. of Richmond, with a population of about four
thousand, the 19th of that September was a day of glory but also of
sorrow. Four thousand six hundred and eighty of the Union Army, killed
and wounded, told how dearly Sheridan's first great victory was gained.

The battle was fought over three, four, or five square miles, east and
north from Winchester, for the most part near the Opequon Creek, from
which it is sometimes called the "Battle of the Opequon." To reach the
field, the bulk of Sheridan's army, starting at three o'clock in the
morning from Berryville ten miles east, had to pass through a gorge in
which for a considerable distance the turnpike extends towards
Winchester. Sheridan's plan at first was to bring his army, except
Merritt's and Averell's Divisions of Torbert's Cavalry, through the
defile, post the Sixth Corps on the left, the Nineteenth on the right,
throw Crook's Army of West Virginia across the Staunton turnpike
(leading southwest from Winchester), and so cut off all retreat up the
valley. Meanwhile those two cavalry divisions were to make a long detour
on our right to the north from Berryville, and close in upon the
Confederate left. Sheridan felt sure of victory, for we outnumbered the
enemy nearly two to one. Had our army got into position early in the
morning, we should have captured or destroyed the whole of them.

At early dawn McIntosh's Brigade of Wilson's Division of Torbert's
Cavalry dashed through the ravine, closely followed by Chapman's Brigade
and five batteries of horse artillery. Sheridan and his staff followed.
They surprised and captured a small earthwork, and, though fiercely
assaulted, held it till the van of the Sixth Corps relieved them.

The narrow pass of the Berryville pike was so obstructed by artillery,
ambulances, ammunition wagons, etc., that it was nearly eight o'clock
before the Sixth Corps, which should have been in position with Wilson's
Cavalry at sunrise, began to arrive; and it was fully two hours later
when the Nineteenth Corps debouched and deployed. Here was
miscalculation or bad management or both.

This long delay, which the quick-moving cavalry leader Sheridan had not
foreseen nor provided for, gave time for Early to call in the strong
divisions of Generals Gordon, Breckenridge, and Rodes, from the vicinity
of Stephenson's Depot several miles away. They left Patton's Brigade of
Infantry, and a part of Fitzhugh Lee's Cavalry to oppose Torbert.

Hearing nothing from Torbert, who had now been gone seven or eight hours
on his circuitous route, Sheridan suddenly changed his whole plan of
action, a perilous maneuver in the face of an active enemy while the
battle is already raging intermittently. Instead of flinging Crook's
Army of West Virginia, 17 regiments and 3 batteries, across the Staunton
pike, to front northeasterly and cut off all possible retreat of the
Confederates, he determined to move it to our right and deploy it in
line with the Nineteenth. Doubtless this was best under the
circumstances, though it left to the enemy the broad smooth highway as a
line of retreat up the valley.

Grover's Division (2d of the Nineteenth Corps) in four brigades formed
line of battle in front and to the right of the gorge. In touch on the
left was Ricketts' Division of the Sixth Corps, and resting on Ricketts'
left was Getty's Division of the same corps. Getty had 16 regiments in
line; Ricketts, 12 with 6 batteries; Grover, 20 with 3 batteries.

Had Sheridan been able to strike Early by half-past eight with the Sixth
and Nineteenth, he would have crushed him in detail. Had Early massed
the divisions of Gordon, Breckenridge, and Rodes, and hurled them at the
mouth of the canyon at ten o'clock while half of the Nineteenth was
still entangled in it, he would probably have split our army into three
parts, and destroyed those already arrived.

It was now eleven o'clock, and the Army of West Virginia at last emerged
from the defile. To make room for its movement in our rear behind
Grover's Division, and to hold the enemy in play until it should have
taken its place on the right of the Nineteenth, and perhaps to await
there the appearance of Torbert's Cavalry, it was desirable that Grover
should advance. Sheridan of course meant the whole front of the Sixth
and Nineteenth to keep in a continuous line. At first it seemed to me
that the regiments of the Nineteenth overlapped; but the lines of
advance were slightly divergent, and wide breaks began to appear between
battalions. Especially on the left of the Nineteenth a large and
widening gap appeared; for Ricketts had been instructed to guide on the
Berryville pike, and that bore away to the left and south.

My battalion, the veteran Thirteenth Conn. Infantry, should have been
led by my Colonel, C. D. Blinn: but he was sick the night before, and in
the morning, at the crossing of the Opequon, he fell out, and left the
command to me. He had no part in the battle. Our Thirteenth deserves a
passing notice. It was the favorite regiment of General Birge, its first
colonel.[2] When he was made brigadier, the regiment entered the brigade
commanded by Colonel E. L. Molineux. Birge was never so happy as when
riding into action, and Molineux, who had been severely wounded in the
same battle with me, was not over-cautious. My regiment and both
brigades, the first and second of Grover's Division, had caught the
spirit of those two commanders. Quite generally they mistook the
forward movement for an immediate charge.

We had been under an intermittent fire for some time, but now the
advance intensified the conflict. The chief anxiety of good soldiers at
such a time, as I often noticed, is to get at the enemy as soon as
possible, and cease to be mere targets. Their enthusiasm now accelerated
their pace to a double-quick, and was carrying them too far to the
front. Birge and Molineux endeavored in vain to check their rapidity. My
battalion, I think, was nearest the rebel line.

Between eleven and twelve the divisions of Getty, Ricketts, and Grover,
forty-eight regiments in all, to which were attached eight light
batteries with reserve artillery, began to move forward. It was a grand
spectacle. At first the movement was steady, and we thought of Scott's

    The host moves like a deep-sea wave,
    Where rise no rocks its pride to brave,
    High-swelling, dark, and slow.

But all is quickly changed.

Looking back upon that scene after the lapse of more than fifty years,
its magnificence has not yet faded. I see as in a dream our long bending
wave of blue rolling slowly at first but with increasing speed,
foam-tipped with flags here and there and steel-crested with Birge's
bayonets yonder; glimpses of cavalry in the distance moving as if on
wings with the lightness of innumerable twinkling feet; numberless jets
of smoke across the fields marking the first line of Confederate
infantry, their musketry rattling precisely like exploding bunches of
firecrackers; batteries galloping to position, the thunder of a dozen
smiting the ear more rapidly than one could count; the buzz, hiss,
whistle, shriek, crash, hurricane of projectiles; the big shot from
batteries in front and from Braxton's artillery on our right ripping up
the ground and bounding away to the rear and the left; horses and riders
disappearing in the smoke of exploding shells; the constant shouting of
our officers indistinctly heard, and now and then the peculiar
well-known "rebel yell"; and finally the command, HALT! LIE DOWN!
Molineux and Birge were too far to the front, and the line must be
rectified. Ricketts, as we pressed forward, had thrown Keifer's Brigade
(2d of Third Division, Sixth Corps), seven regiments, into the
broadening interval directly in front of the mouth of the gorge; but it
was not sufficient.

It was now Early's opportunity; but he was hours too late, just as
Sheridan had been. He had seen our Sixth Corps and Nineteenth emerge
and deploy, had beheld our rapid and somewhat disorderly approach, had
noted the widening spaces between our battalions and divisions, had
observed the havoc wrought by his artillery and musketry, ten thousand
of our soldiers seeming to sink under it; had had time to mass his
forces; and now it was "up to him" to hurl them against our centre. It
was the strategy inaugurated by Epaminondas at Leuctra and perfected by
Napoleon in many a hard battle, breaking the enemy's centre by an
irresistible charge, dividing and conquering. Rodes had been killed at a
battery in front of our brigade. His veterans and Gordon's, six thousand
strong[3] constituted the charging column. Neither Sheridan nor any
other Federal historian appears to have done justice to this charge.
Pickett's at Gettysburg was not more brilliant.

With yells distinctly heard above the roar they advanced. The batteries
on each side redoubled their discharges. From our irregular line of
infantry extending more than a mile blazed incessant sheets and spurts
of flame, the smoke at times hiding the combatants. Gordon was heading
toward the now nearly empty ravine. My horse had just been shot under
me. I lost two in that fight. Dismounted I walked from the right of my
battalion to the left, cautioning my men against wasting their
ammunition, bidding them take sure aim, pick out the rebel officers, and
not fire too high. They were shooting from a recumbent position, or
resting on one knee; lying flat on their backs to reload. As I reached
the left, I glanced to the right and saw several of them starting to
their feet, and a little further on, two or three began to run back. I
rushed to the spot shouting, "Back to your places!" I saw the cause: the
regiments on our right were retreating. I was astounded, for we were
expecting an order to advance instantly. At that moment Lieutenant
Handy, an aide of our brigade commander, rode up, pale, excited, his
hands flung up as if in despair. My men were springing to their feet.

"What are those orders?" I demanded.

"Retreat, retreat! get to the rear as fast as possible," he replied.

"Battalion, rise up; shoulder arms--" I commanded. Before I could finish
the order, one of Sheridan's staff came on a swift gallop, his horse
white with foam.

"For God's sake, what does this mean?" said he; "this retreat must be

"Battalion, lie down," I shouted; "our brigade commander ordered

"It's all wrong. If this position's lost, all's lost. Here you have some
cover. Hold it to the last. I'll bring supports immediately." Striking
spurs into his steed, he vanished in the direction of the retreating

Except the few who had heard my command and remained in position,
perhaps seventy-five or a hundred, who kept blazing away at the
Confederates, rising a little to kneel and fire, Grover's Division, and
all we could see of that of Ricketts, had gone to pieces, swept away
like chaff before a whirlwind. Not a Union flag now in sight, but plenty
of the "Stars and Bars!" Our sputtering fire checked some directly in
front; but most of the on-rushing masses were deflected by the nature of
the ground.

Out of our view and about half a mile in our rear was Dwight's Division,
the First of the Nineteenth Corps. It had been left in reserve. It was
in line of battle and ready for the onset. The confused fragments of
Grover were rallied behind it. Had the ground been favorable, and had no
unexpected opposition been encountered, Gordon would have crushed

But in fewer minutes than we have occupied in describing this charge, a
tremendous and prolonged roar and rattle told us that the battle was on
behind us more than in front. Amid the din arose a quick succession of
deafening crashes, and shot and shell came singing and howling over us
from the left. Russell's Division (First of the Sixth Corps) comprising
eleven infantry regiments and one of heavy artillery, behind which the
broken battalions of Ricketts had been reassembling, was now smiting the
right flank of Gordon's six thousand. Although the charge came too late
we cannot but admire the strategy that directed it, and the bravery of
the infantry of Gordon, Rodes, and Ramseur, as well as that of the
cavalry of Lomax, Jackson, and Johnson, and of Fitzhugh Lee who fell
severely wounded. But they had not foreseen the terrible cross-fire from
Russell, who died at the head of his division, a bullet piercing his
breast and a piece of shell tearing through his heart. Nor had they
calculated on confronting the long line of Dwight, nine regiments with
the Fifth New York Battery, all of which stood like a stone breakwater.
Against it Gordon's masses, broken by the irregularities of the ground,
dashed in vain. Under the ceaseless fire of iron and lead the refluent
waves came pouring back. Our army was saved.

But we few, who, in obedience to explicit orders from headquarters, had
held our position stiffly farthest to the front when all the rest of
Grover's and Ricketts' thousands had retreated--we were lost. A column
behind a rebel flag was advancing straight upon us unchecked by our
vigorous fire. Seeing that they meant business, I commanded, "Fix
Bayonets!" At that instant the gray surges converged upon us right and
left and especially in our rear. We seemed in the middle of the rebel
army. In the crater of such a volcano, fine-spun theories, poetic
resolves to die rather than be captured--these are point-lace in a
furnace. A Union officer, Capt. W. Frank Tiemann of the 159th N. Y.,
Molineux's Brigade, was showing fight, and half a dozen Confederates
with clubbed muskets were rushing upon him. I leaped to the spot, sword
in hand, and shouted with all the semblance I could assume of fierce

"Down with those muskets! Stop! I command you." They lowered them.

"Who the hell are you?" they asked.

"I'll let you know." Turning instantly to four or five Confederate
officers, I demanded: "Do you mean to massacre my men?"

Two or three replied: "No. By G--! You've shown yourselves brave, and
you shall be respected. Yes, you fought d--d well, seein' you had the
d--dest brigade to fight against in the whole Confederate Army."

"What brigade are you?" I asked.

"Ramseur's old brigade; and there's nothin' this side o' hell can lick

"You're brave enough," said another; "but damn you, you've killed our
best general."

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Rodes; killed right in front of you."

"I thought Early was your best General."

"Not by a d-- sight. Old Jubal's drunk--drunk as a fool."

I was never more highly complimented than at this moment; but the
stunning consciousness of being a prisoner, the bitterest experience of
my life, the unspeakable disappointment, the intense mortification--these
are even to this day poorly mitigated, much less compensated, by the
excessive praises heaped upon me by those Confederate officers for my
supposed bravery. That they were sincere I cannot doubt; for it was
customary on the battle-field for the rebels to strip prisoners of all
valuables, but no one of the fifty or one hundred near me was robbed.
Tiemann, whose life I had perhaps saved, was even privileged to keep his
canteen of whiskey, of which he gave me a drink by and by to keep me in
good spirits! I realized the truth of Burns's lines:

    Inspiring bold _John Barleycorn_!
    What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
    Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil;
    Wi' usquebaugh, we'll face the devil!


[1] _Personal Memoirs_, vol. i., p. 487.

[2] In New Orleans it was known as "Butler's Dandy Regiment"; for it was
then better dressed than any other. It wore dark blue, which Birge had
procured through his uncle, Buckingham, the war governor of Connecticut.
At the siege of Port Hudson it had distinguished itself above all other
regiments by furnishing as volunteers nearly one-fourth of the
celebrated "Storming Column" of one thousand men called for by General
N. P. Banks the second day after the disastrous assault on that fortress
(June 14, 1863). Birge was selected by Banks to lead the forlorn hope.

[3] Six thousand is Gordon's statement in his _Reminiscences_, page 320.


  At Winchester--On the Road thence to Tom's Brook, New Market, and

There were two battles that Monday between Sheridan and Early, the first
indecisive, though bloody, a drawn game; the second, after a comparative
lull of several hours, a fierce struggle in which the whole front of the
Sixth, Nineteenth, and Crook's Corps simultaneously advanced, and
Torbert's Cavalry, arriving at last after their unaccountable delay upon
our extreme right, made a magnificent charge crumpling up all the
enemy's left. The victory was real, but not so complete as it should
have been. Sheridan ought to have captured or destroyed the whole of
Early's army. Instead, he had left them an open line of retreat. He took
only five pieces of artillery, nine battle-flags, and some twelve or
fifteen hundred prisoners; and, to use his own words, "sent the
Confederates whirling up the valley."

In the recoil of Gordon's brilliant charge of six thousand about noon,
we prisoners were swept along into Winchester, and then locked in the
old Masonic Hall. The sociable guards took pains to emphasize the
statement that George Washington, "glorious rebel" they called him, had
presided as Grand Master in that very room!

After several hours we heard a great noise in the streets. Looking out
we saw men, women, children, moving rapidly hither and thither, the
current for the most part setting toward the southwest. The din
increased; the panic became general; the Union Army was advancing on

We were hustled into the street now filled with retreating hundreds, and
were marched rapidly along the turnpike toward the setting sun. The road
crowded with artillery, army wagons, common carriages, all pouring along
in the stampede; a formidable provost guard enclosing us prisoners in a
sort of hollow column; cavalry in front, flank, and rear; the fields on
either side swarming with infantry, the whole of Early's army in
retreat, we apparently in the middle of it; Sheridan's guns still
booming in our rear--such was the scene as we two or three hundred
prisoners were driven on. Our mingled emotions can be better imagined
than described. The bitter regret that we had not been slain; the
consciousness that we had done our whole duty in facing unflinchingly
the storm of shot and shell, never retreating an inch; the evident
respect and even courtesy with which I was personally treated; the
inspiring certainty that our army was victorious, the unspeakable
mortification of being ourselves prisoners of war!--we sorely needed all
our philosophy and all our religion to sustain us.

Marching moodily along I was aroused from a sort of reverie by an
experience far too common in those days. I had been sick the night
before, and had worn my overcoat into battle. My horse was shot. The
blood was spurting from him. As he seemed likely to fall, I leaped down.
We were in the midst of a rapid advance and I had not time to throw off
my overcoat. I was now carrying it swung over my arm. It was growing
dark. A mounted soldier, whom I took to be an officer, rode up to my
side and seized hold of the coat. He said, "I want that overcoat." I
replied, "You can't have it." "I must have it." "You shan't have it." He
tugged and I tugged, and as I was on foot and sober I nearly dragged him
from his horse before he let go. During the tussle I repeatedly shouted,
"Captain of the Guard--Help! Help!" The provost captain instantly came
riding to the spot. "What's the matter?" he asked. "That rascal has
tried to rob me of my overcoat," I answered, pointing to the villain
who was beginning to slink away. The captain appeared to recognize him,
said not a word to him, but whispered to me a moment later, "You are
entitled to keep your overcoat."

We had had little breakfast and no dinner nor supper, but we suffered
more from thirst than hunger. Can we ever forget it? Will the long
flight never end? On through Kerrstown without halting we march, with
promise of rest and water at Newtown; no rest nor water there. On from
Newtown with assurance of water at Middletown. Five minutes at
Middletown, and a little muddy water that seems to aggravate our thirst.
Farther on we cross a bridge under which the water is dashing as if in
mockery, and the cry "Water! water!" rises from a hundred lips, the
guard joining, for they are suffering like ourselves. Some comfort in
that! Past midnight we reach Strasburg and are halted around an old
wooden pump. It is broken! No water there. Still on and on at a
snail-pace, up and over the almost interminable stretch of Fisher's
Hill. At three o'clock in the morning we arrive at a place known by the
classical name of Tom's Brook about twenty-five miles from Winchester.
Never was nectar more delicious than the water of this stream, nor downy
pillow more welcome than the sod on its banks. Without blankets or
covering we sank in each other's arms for mutual warmth on the
dew-drenched grass; and blistered feet and aching limbs and hunger and
thirst and suffocating despair are all forgotten!

Morning came unnoticed, except by those whom the keen cold permitted to
sleep no longer. Towards noon we rose, washed without soap or towel,
were made to form line, had our names taken, and received as rations a
pint of flour per man, with a little salt, nothing else. How to cook or
prepare the flour? We learned of the rebel guards a process not laid
down in the cook-books. Mixing with water they made a stiff paste or
dough. This they put around the end of a stick about the size and half
the length of a walking cane. The end thus thickly coated they hold over
a little fire till the smoke and flame have sufficiently hardened it.
Then pull out your stick and you have a thick chunk or cylinder of
bread, not quite so tough as a gun-barrel, but substantial!

I contrived to keep a little memorandum book. In it I noted down that
there were three hundred and eleven of us prisoners; two
lieutenant-colonels, two majors, four captains, nine lieutenants, and
two hundred and ninety-four enlisted men. These were in the march from
Winchester. A few may have been added to our number at Tom's Brook.

I have stated how it happened that none of those near me were robbed
when captured. Those at a distance were not so fortunate; for, if
circumstances permitted, the Confederates, being themselves sadly in
want, often improved the opportunity to grab every article of value. At
Tom's Brook I noted in my diary the following:

    Major A. W. Wakefield, 49th Pa. Cav., was robbed of hat, blanket,
    and $100 in money. Adjt. J. A. Clark, 17th Pa. Cav., was robbed of
    cap, boots, mug, pocket-book and money. Lieut. Harrison, 2d Regular
    Cav., was robbed of gold watch and money. Capt. John R. Rouzer, 6th
    Md. Inf., was robbed by an officer of hat and $20 in money. Lieut.
    Wesley C. Howe, 2d Mass. Cav., who recently died at Kansas City,
    Mo., was robbed by Lieut. Housel of the 6th Va. Cav., of silver
    watch, spurs, gloves, and $10 in money. Major August Haurand, 4th N.
    Y. Cav., was robbed of a watch and $60 in money.

It was a common practice to snatch from a Union prisoner his cap, and
clap on in lieu of it a worn-out slouched hat; pull off his boots, and
substitute a pair of clumsy old shoes. The plundering was so thoroughly
done that it was poetically termed "going through" a captive!

As I was the senior officer among the prisoners, and we seemed likely to
remain a long time there, I went to the Confederate commander and
besought him to allow our three hundred prisoners to occupy a barn near
by. He refused. I then asked that we be allowed to build wigwams for
shelter, as there was abundant material at hand. This too was not
permitted. I also begged in vain that a surgeon should be got to dress
the wounds of some of the prisoners.

The second morning after our arrival, the sleeping men were aroused by
the loud voice of Lieutenant Sargent of the 14th New Hampshire Regiment
exclaiming: "If you give me any more of your lip, I'll annihilate you!
I've but one arm" (his right arm was disabled by a shot), "but even with
one arm I'll annihilate you on the spot, if you give me any more of your
lip!" This was exceedingly gratifying, for it proved that at least two
of us were not yet "annihilated!"

During our sojourn at Tom's Brook the Confederates labored hard to
induce us to exchange our greenbacks for their paper currency. Our own
was sadly depreciated, one dollar of silver or gold being equal to two
of greenbacks; but one in United States paper was equal in purchasing
power to eight of theirs. They argued that our money would certainly be
forcibly taken from us by rapacious guards farther south, and kindly
offered us four for one. Sergeant Reed of the Provost Guard was quite a
character. Like Gratiano in _The Merchant of Venice_, he talked loud and
long, speaking "an infinite deal of nothing." He had a mania for
watches. He told me he now had twenty-seven which he had obtained from
Yankee prisoners, always paying them in good Confederate money. He set
his heart upon a little silver watch of mine, which he said he wished to
buy and present to one of his lady admirers. I asked:

"Why do they admire you?"

"Because of my bravery," he replied; "none but the brave deserve the

"If you are so brave, why are you back here? Why are you not at the

"Colonel, I've been in the forefront of the hottest battles. I've been
fearfully wounded. I'll be hanged if I haven't been one of the bravest
of the brave. Twice, Colonel, I was shot all into inch pieces; and so
now I'm put on light duty!"

On Thursday, the third day after our arrival, two "india-rubber men,"
circus performers, of the 22d Indiana Regiment, gave an exhibition of
"ground and lofty tumbling" for the entertainment of their fellow
prisoners. They had somehow contrived to retain the gaudy costume of the
ring. They were really skillful. While we were watching with interest
the acrobatic performance, a squadron of the Confederate General
Imboden's Cavalry dashed past us. Sergeant Reed, who had just made me an
offer for my watch, sprang to his feet, exclaiming: "I swear! there must
be a battle going on in front, for there goes Jimboden's Cavalry to the
rear! Sure sign! I'll be hanged if we ain't gettin' licked again!" We
had heard the cannonading in the distance, but paid little attention to
it. The Richmond papers, announcing that Fisher's Hill was impregnable
to the whole Yankee army, were said to have been received about an hour
before the heights were actually carried by storm. Again Early's army
was not captured, but sent "whirling up the valley."

We prisoners thoroughly enjoyed the changed aspect of affairs. At first
they marched us directly back a short distance up the slope towards the
advancing Yankees; but they seemed suddenly to discover their mistake;
they halted, faced about, and marched down. Hilarious and saucy, our
boys struck up the song and three hundred voices swelled the chorus:

    Rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
    Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom--
      The Union forever! hurrah, boys, hurrah!
      Down with the traitor! up with the star! etc.

till Captain Haslett of the provost guard came riding into the midst
with savage oaths shouting, "_Silence!_ SILENCE! SILENCE!"

Twenty-seven miles, first through stifling dust and then through pelting
rain, past Hawkinstown, Woodstock, Edenburg, Mount Jackson, brought us
to New Market. On the march Colonel Brinton of a Pennsylvania regiment,
a new arrival, planned with me an escape. He had campaigned through the
valley, was familiar with the lay of the land, and said he had friends
among the inhabitants. Our plan was to run past the guards in the
darkness. As a preliminary step I cut off my shoulder-straps which were
very bright. Within half an hour Sergeant Reed came up to me and asked,
"Colonel, where's your shoulder-straps?" I replied, "I don't wear
shoulder-straps now I'm a prisoner." "But, Colonel," he answered, "I've
been lookin' at them shoulder-straps since we left Tom's Brook. I wanted
to buy 'em of you for a present to one of my girls. I'll be hanged if I
don't believe you're goin' to try to escape, and so you've cut off your
bright shoulder-straps. But, Colonel, it's impossible. I'll be hanged if
I hadn't rather lose any six of the others than to lose you." The fellow
stuck closer to me than a brother all the rest of that night; so close
that he lost sight of Colonel Brinton, who actually escaped about
midnight at a place called Edenburg! Almost immediately Sergeant Reed
came to me and asked, "Colonel, where's that other Colonel?" I answered:
"You ought to know; _I_ don't!"--"I'll be hanged," said he, "if I
haven't lost him, a-watchin' you!"

At New Market they put us into a dilapidated church building. "The
wicked flea, when no man pursueth but the righteous, is bold as a lion,"
was repeatedly misquoted from the _Book of Proverbs_, and not without
reason. We concluded if that interpretation was correct, we had reason
enough for obeying the injunction in _Ecclesiastes_, "Be not righteous
overmuch"; for the little jumpers were fearless and countless. They were
reinforced by a Confederate deacon, who recommended two things:
Confederate paper and "gospel piety"; the one would carry us safely
through this world; the other through the next. He would be only too
happy to furnish us the currency in exchange for our greenbacks.
"Confederate treasury bills and true religion" was the burden of his
song, till one of our literary officers, it was said, squelched him:
"Deacon, your recipe of happiness, rebel paper and godliness--Confederate
money and a Christian spirit!--reminds me of what Byron says in one of
his wicked poems:

    'Beyond all doubt there's nought the spirit cheers
    Like rum and true religion!'"

He subsided.

We left New Market at noon, Saturday, September 24th, and marched all
the afternoon and all night, past Harrisonburg, Mount Crawford, Mount
Sidney, and Willow Springs, reaching Staunton, Va., about nine in the
morning. On the march, forty-three miles in twenty-one hours, we were
hungry; for the morning ration at New Market was scanty, and they gave
us nothing more, except a small loaf of wheat bread. Some of the guard
were kind to us. One of them, private John Crew, Co. E, 11th Alabama
Regiment, unsolicited by us, and, so far as I am aware, without hope of
any reward, would endeavor to bring us apples or other food, whenever we
halted. I was careful to write his name in my diary.

As we trudged along, a lively discussion of slavery ensued. Lieutenant
Howard of the provost guard was a learned champion of the "peculiar
institution," and I was a pronounced abolitionist. He was an ardent
"fire-eater," to use the term then in vogue, and I, who had lost my
position as principal of the Worcester High School by my defense of John
Brown, was equally intense. Both were pretty well "posted" on the
subject. He seemed to be familiar with the Bible and the proslavery
arguments, including drunken Noah's "Cursed Canaan!" Moses Stuart's
_Conscience and the Constitution_, Nehemiah Adams's _Southside View of
Slavery_, and Rev. Dr. ---- (the name is gone from me) of Baltimore's
Sermons. I was fresh from reading the arguments of George B. Cheever,
Horace Bushnell, Henry Ward Beecher, Garrison, Phillips, and the rest.
He proved that slavery among the Hebrews was a divine institution. I
answered they were commanded to "undo the heavy burdens, let the
oppressed go free, and break every yoke." He said Paul sent back the
fugitive slave Onesimus to his master Philemon; I rejoined, "Paul said,
'I send him back, not as a servant, but above a servant, a brother
beloved; receive him as myself.'" He quoted the Constitution of the
United States, the article commanding that fugitive slaves should be
delivered back to their masters; in reply I quoted from Deuteronomy the
"Higher Law," "Thou shalt _not_ deliver unto his master the servant
which is escaped from his master unto thee." He quoted from the great
speech of the magnificent Webster in the Senate, March 7, 1850, in which
he urged all good citizens to obey the Fugitive Slave Law "with
alacrity." Waxing hot, I quoted from Beecher:

    As to those provisions which concern aid to fugitive slaves, may God
    do so to us, yea and more also, if we do not spurn them as we would
    any other mandate of Satan! If in God's providence fugitives ask
    bread or shelter, raiment or conveyance at my hands, my own children
    shall lack bread ere they; my own flesh shall sting with cold ere
    they shall lack raiment. And whatsoever defense I would put forth
    for mine own children, that shall these poor, despised, persecuted
    creatures have at my hands and on the road. The man that would do
    otherwise, that would obey this law to the peril of his soul and the
    loss of his manhood, were he brother, son, or father, shall never
    pollute my hand with grasp of hideous friendship, nor cast his
    swarthy shadow athwart my threshold!

The lieutenant finally cited the examples of "those glorious southern
patriots who led the rebellion against England during the first American
Confederacy," Washington, Patrick Henry, Madison, Jefferson, "every one
a slaveholder," he proudly exclaimed. I happened to be cognizant of
their views, and responded with some vehemence: "But Washington's hands
were tied so that he could not free slaves till his death. He said it
was among his first wishes to see some plan adopted for putting an end
to slavery. Patrick Henry declared, 'I will not, I cannot justify it.'
Madison expressed strongly his unwillingness to admit in the national
Constitution 'the idea that can hold property in man.'" In a rather
loud voice I quoted Jefferson, who, in view of our inconsistency in
violating the "self-evident truth" that "all men are created equal,"
solemnly affirmed, "_I tremble for my country, when I remember that God
is just, and that his justice cannot sleep forever_!" I had some
reputation as an elocutionist in those days, and Sergeant Reed, who was
listening with open mouth, broke in with, "I'll be hanged, Colonel, if
you warn't cut out for a preacher! By-- I should like to hear you
preach." The best reply I could make was: "You'll undoubtedly be hanged
sometime; and if I were a minister, nothing would give me more
satisfaction than to be present at your execution and preach your
funeral sermon." He replied: "Now, Colonel, you don't mean that. You
don't think I'll ever be hanged!"--"Indeed I do, if you don't stop your
profanity and general cussedness."--"I'll be hanged, if I will," was his
last word to me.


  At Staunton--Thence to Waynesboro, Meacham's, and Richmond.

At Staunton we got a little more light on the value of Confederate
paper. A chivalrous surgeon who accompanied the provost guard
(Fontleroy, I think, was his name[4]) politely invited Captain Dickerman
of the 26th Massachusetts and myself to take breakfast with him in a
restaurant. We needed no urging. The Provost Marshal gave consent. The
saloon was kept by a negro named Jackson. His entire stock of provisions
consisted of nine eggs, the toughest kind of neck beef, bread and salt,
coffee very weak, butter very strong. As we sat waiting, the doctor
remarked with a lordly air that under ordinary circumstances he would
not deign to eat with Yankees. I answered good-naturedly: "I'm as much
ashamed as you can be; and if _you'll_ never tell of it, _I_ won't!" The
food, notwithstanding its toughness, rapidly disappeared. Near the last
mouthful the doctor said: "You two will have to pay for this breakfast,
for I've no money." I had fifteen Confederate dollars remaining of
twenty which I had received for a five-dollar greenback at Tom's Brook,
and I answered: "Give yourself no anxiety; I'll foot the bill."--"Well,
Jackson," said I to the sable proprietor, "what's the damage?" He
replied, "I shan't charge you-ones full price. Let's see! Beef, seven;
eggs, two--nine; coffee, three--twelve; bread and butter,
three--fifteen; three of you--forty-five. I'll call it only thirty-six
dollars!" I paid my fifteen; Captain Dickerman pleaded poverty; and the
dignified doctor, who had so cordially invited us to partake of his
hospitality, promised the disappointed Jackson that he would pay the
balance at some future day ("the futurest kind of a day," was added in
an undertone).

Rejoining the three or four hundred prisoners, we found, besides the
Confederate guards, a great crowd of spectators swarming around us. One
of them, a fine-looking young man, wearing the blue uniform of a United
States captain, made his way through the group, and handed me a
twenty-dollar Confederate bill! The following dialogue ensued:

"Here, Colonel, take that."

"I thank you much. Who are you, so kind to a stranger and an enemy?"

"I'm one whom you Yanks would hang, if you could catch me."

"Why so? Who are you?"

"I'm one of Morgan's guerrillas; wouldn't you hang me?"

"I think I should, if you had much of this stuff about you" (holding up
the twenty-dollar bill); "I've just paid fifteen Confederate dollars for
an imaginary breakfast."

"Good for you, Colonel. Here, take another twenty. Now you've forty.
That'll pay for an imaginary dinner. Good-bye, Colonel! I have an
engagement--to meet some of your cavalry. Remember, Morgan's guerrillas
are not rascals, but gentlemen. Good-bye!" He vanished.

About noon those of us who appeared unable to march farther were put on
top of freight cars, and carried about a dozen miles east to Waynesboro.
Here the railway crosses a stream, which encircles a little island just
north of the bridge. The majority had to walk. At dusk that Sunday
evening all had come. They put us on the island carefully guarded on all
sides. Never was I more thankful. I had had something good to eat at
Staunton; had got rested riding on the roof of the car; and I had my
overcoat. Davy Crockett preferred a heap of chestnut burs for a pillow;
but I followed the patriarch's example and chose a flat stone. People
never allowed me to sing; but I dropped asleep repeating the stanza in
Mrs. Adams's exquisite hymn.

    Though, like the wanderer,
      The sun gone down,
    Darkness be over me,
      My rest a stone,
    Yet in my dreams I'd be
    Nearer, my God, to thee!

Towards midnight the cold became so keen that I rose and went to the
side of a flickering fire. Here excessive misery was for a moment
hardening the hearts it should have softened. Several prisoners were
quarreling for a position nearest the embers, each angrily claiming that
he had brought the fagots that were burning! Two or three hours later
several of us attempted to slip past the sentries in the darkness, but
were stopped before we reached the water.

At earliest streak of dawn we were marched away. About two miles brought
us to the Blue Ridge where the railroad tunnel pierces its foundations.
We toiled up and on in time to see the sun rise. An ocean of fog lay
around us. Never shall we forget how royally the King of Day scaled the
great wall that seemed to hem in on every side the wide valley, and how
the sea of mist and cloud visibly fled before the inrolling flood of
light, unveiling green and yellow fields, flocks and herds, dark
woodlands, dwellings yet asleep in peace and plenty, here and there the
silver thread of a winding stream with lakes that mirrored the sky, and
yonder the long stretches of those titanic fortifications encompassing
all. We were reminded of Shakespeare's sunrise:

    Full many a glorious morning have I seen
    Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
    Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
    Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy.

At that instant a train of cars from Charlottesville came sliding along,
and shot

    Into the tunnel, like a lightning wedge
    By great Thor hammers driven through the rock!

The scene startled us by its sublimity, and for a few minutes the hungry
forgot their craving, the footsore their pain, the hopeless their

That day's march, though not so long was as severe as any; we were
exhausted. Private Dolan, Co. K, 159th N. Y., was barefoot. His feet
were blistered and bleeding. I begged the commander of the provost
guard, Captain Haslett, to allow him to get into an ambulance. My
request was not granted. But we soon afterwards passed a large mansion
in front of which were several girls and women apparently making fun of
the unwashed "Yank" and evidently enjoying the spectacle. We were halted
just as Dolan came limping along supported on one side by a stronger
comrade. They saw his miserable plight, his distress, his swollen feet,
and they heard of the stern command to shoot any prisoner who fell out
or lagged behind. Their faces changed. With tears one or two implored
the Captain to let him ride in the ambulance. He yielded to their
entreaties. Southern ladies almost always seemed handsome to us, but
these in my memory have the fairest faces. I thought of Lady Clare in
_Marmion_, and the words still recur:

    O Woman! in our hours of ease,
    Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
    And variable as the shade
    By the light quivering aspen made;
    When pain and anguish wring the brow,
    A ministering angel thou!

Two miles before we reached our temporary destination, Meacham's
Station, my own strength utterly failed. I had borne up so long, partly
to set an example of cheerful endurance, and partly from something like
Mark Tapley's pride at coming out strong and jolly under the most
depressing circumstances. I lay beside the road, remarking to Captain
Haslett, who immediately came riding to the spot, "Captain, here's a
fine chance to try your marksmanship; I can't march any further; shan't
try to."--"Colonel," he replied with something of pity in his tone and
manner, "I'm sorry to see you so used up. I'm sorry to be obliged to
march you prisoners so hard. I have to keep out of the way of your
damned cavalry. You may get into the ambulance." So into the ambulance I
climbed with some difficulty, and immediately commenced my freemasonry
on the driver. He responded to the signs. He proved to be an
acquaintance of the Redwoods, a family in Mobile, one of whom had been a
classmate of mine at Yale. He gave me some nice milk and some fine wheat
bread. "As a Mason," said he, "I'll feed you; share the last crumb with
you; but as a Confederate soldier I'll fight you till the last drop of
blood and the last ditch."--"I hardly know which to admire most, your
spunk or your milk," I replied. Thereupon he gave me another drink, and
insisted on my imbibing a little of what he called "apple-jack." I was a
"teetotaler"; but thinking the occasion warranted, I "smiled" upon it,
"strictly as a medicine!" "Apple-jack" seemed to me the same thing as
"Jersey lightning." He became quite friendly, but was horribly profane.
"Look here," said he, "you seem to be a sort of Christian; cuss me if
you don't! What in h--l are you Yanks all comin' down here for?"--"You
have a gift at swearing," I said; "did you, among your other oaths, ever
swear to support the Constitution of the United States?"--"Well,
yes."--"That's what's the matter with us," I said, "we're keeping our
oaths and you are breaking yours."--"To h--l with the Constitution of
the United States! Our first duty is to our own State. We've a right to
be an independent nation, and we will. I'm a guerrilla. If our armies
are defeated, I'll fight you on my own hook. I'll fire on you from
behind every tree and every rock. I'll assassinate every invader. I want
you to remember that I'm a guerrilla."--"I like your _spirits_," I said.
"They are worthy of a better cause."--"Take another swallow of 'em," he
replied, handing me the canteen. I toasted him: "Here's hoping you
gorillas will outlive the Southern Confederacy!"--"A d--d equivocal
sentiment," observed my fire-eating, fire-drinking Masonic brother; "but
here we are at Meacham's Station. Good-bye, Yank!"

After our nineteen miles' march it was a most welcome relief to be
placed on platform cars, though packed so closely that we could hardly
stir. We objected that the cars had no tops. "All the better opportunity
to study astronomy," they replied.--"The cars have no sides to keep off
the wind."--"The scenery is magnificent," they rejoined, "and they'll
answer for 'observation cars'; you have an unobstructed view."--"But the
nights are growing cold."--"You'll keep warm by contact with each
other." Mad at this mockery, hungry, half-frozen, squeezed like fish in
a basket, we took little note of scenery or stars; but it was a comfort
to believe that our discomfort was caused by the rapid advance of
Sheridan's cavalry.

More dead than alive, though hardly dead enough to bury, having been
jolted along all the afternoon and all night, we reached Richmond about
sunrise, Tuesday, September 27th. Numbering now nearly four hundred we
were escorted through the streets to the notorious Libby prison and
halted in front. The Union officers inside thronged the windows to see
us come. On every face was a sad, despondent, pitying look, the most
discouraging sight I ever saw. No smiles there nor among us. Conspicuous
among them was the sorrowful countenance of Lieut.-Col. Charles H.
Hooper of the 24th Massachusetts Infantry, with his long handsome auburn
beard. Some one inside whispered loud enough for several of our "Four
Hundred" to hear, "Hide your greenbacks!" We passed the word down the
column, "Hide your greenbacks!"

A few minutes revealed its significance. We were taken in a body in upon
the lower floor. There Major Nat. Turner, prison inspector, cousin of
the celebrated Dick Turner of unlovely reputation, made us a speech.

    You will empty your pockets of all valuables. Such as are not
    contraband of war, you will be allowed to retain. You will deliver
    up all your Federal money. An equivalent amount in Confederate money
    will be given you in instalments from time to time, or the whole
    will be returned to you when you are exchanged. You will turn
    pockets inside out. If you attempt to conceal anything, it will be

We were made to step forward singly, and were searched. Our coats and
vests were taken off, also our boots and shoes; and a Confederate
officer felt very carefully of all our clothing to make sure that
nothing was hidden. I "remembered to forget" that I had two ten-dollar
greenbacks compressed into a little wad in one corner of my watch fob;
and that corner escaped inspection. Dick Turpin never was the richer for
that money. They examined suspiciously a pocket edition of the New
Testament in the original Greek; but I assured them it was not some
diabolical Yankee cipher, and they allowed me to keep it. I made the
most of my freemasonry, and they permitted me to retain my overcoat. One
of our prisoners, it was whispered, had secretly stuffed $1300 in
greenbacks into his canteen, but all canteens were taken from us as
contraband of war, and nobody but "Uncle Sam" profited by the

Having "gone through" us, they incarcerated the officers in one room,
the enlisted men in another.


[4] Dr. Fontleroy was a brother of Mrs. Major Whittlesey, one of my
fellow professors, instructor in military tactics, at Cornell
University. Whittlesey was a graduate of West Point, and, while there,
had had cadet U. S. Grant under his command!


  At Libby--Thence to Clover, Danville, Greensboro, and
    Salisbury--Effort to Pledge us not to Attempt Escape.

The two rooms at Libby adjoined each other on the second floor, but a
solid brick wall was between them. When we entered, about a hundred and
fifty officers were already there. The first thing that attracted my
attention was an officer putting a loaf of bread through a small hole in
the partition where one or two bricks were removable. He was feeding a
hungry prisoner. A cap or hat nicely concealed the perforation.

Libby has a hard name, but it was the most comfortable of the six
Confederate prisons of which I saw the interior. With all his alleged
brutal severity, of which I saw no manifestation, and his ravenous
appetite for greenbacks, for which we could not blame him, Dick Turner
seemed an excellent disciplinarian. Everything went like clockwork. We
knew what to expect or rather what not to expect, and _when_! My diary
for Wednesday, September 28, 1864, the day after our arrival, reads as

    The issue to us daily is
                One gill of boiled beans,
                One quarter gill of bean broth,
                One half loaf of soft bread,
                (Four ounces meat) and
                A little salt.

There was one inestimable boon, a copious supply of pure water.

There were at this time no panes of glass, in fact no sashes, in the
windows, and the wind swept freely through. The nights were becoming
cold. Confederate sentries were on the lower floor and outside. They
kept up a custom rather unusual, I think, during the war, of calling out
in sing-song tones every hour the number of the post and the time, with
occasional variations; _e. g._: "Post number fourteen, two o'clock, and
all's well." Then the next sentinel would sing out, "Post number
fifteen, two o'clock, and all's well." Then the melodious voice of the
next, farther away and sadly unorthodox, "Post number sixteen, two
o'clock, and cold as h--l!"

Except one or two rickety tables and two or three old chairs, there was
no furniture in the prison. Some of the officers had contrived to save
a little money when searched, and with money it was possible to procure
small articles slyly smuggled in contrary to orders; but most of us were
disposed to sing with old Isaac Watts,

    Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
    At this poor dying rate?

From the rear windows we were occasionally entertained with the sight of
exploding shells, which the indefatigable Grant was daily projecting
towards Richmond. Particularly was this the case on the thirtieth of the
month, when the boys in blue captured Fort Harrison, and the next day
when the Confederates made several gallant but unsuccessful attempts to
retake it. At such times we could see some of the steeples or high roofs
in Richmond thronged with non-combatants gazing anxiously towards
Petersburg. The belief that our prison was undermined, a vast quantity
of gunpowder stored in the cellar, and that Dick Turner had threatened
and was desperate enough to blow us all into eternity in case of a
sudden dash of our cavalry into Richmond, somewhat marred the
satisfaction with which we contemplated the evident progress of the
siege. We could sympathize with the Philadelphia Friend, who said to his
wife on the introduction of gun-cotton, "What comfort can thee take,
even when sitting in thy easy chair, when thee knows not but the very
cushion underneath thee is an enormous bomb-shell, ready upon the
slightest concussion to blow thee to everlasting glory?"

At three o'clock, Sunday morning, October 2d, we were roused by the
entry of armed men with lanterns. They furnished each of us with a dirty
haversack containing what they called two days' rations of corn bread
and meat. Then they moved us single-file down stairs. As we passed, they
took from each his blanket, even those the officers had just bought and
paid for. If we expostulated, we were told we were going to a place
where we should not need blankets! For my freemasonry or some other
unexpressed reason, they allowed me to pass, wearing my overcoat. Then
they took us by bridge across the James River, packed us in box-cars on
the railway, forty to sixty in each car, and started the train southwest
towards Danville.

The road-bed was bad and the fences on either side were gone. We made
but four or five miles an hour. One of our officers declared that they
kept a boy running ahead of the engine with hammer and nails to repair
the track! also that they put the cow-catcher on behind the last car to
prevent cattle from running over the train! At nine o'clock in the
evening we reached a place called Clover. We passed the night in Clover!
on the bank beside the railroad, where we studied astronomy! and

Next morning they repacked us, and we were transported seventy miles
farther to Danville. My memorandum book mentions a conversation I had on
the way with a very young and handsome rebel, one of the guard. He was
evidently ingenuous and sincere, pious and lovable. After a few pleasant
remarks he suddenly asked:

"What are you Northerners fighting for?"

"In defense of the Constitution and the Union. What are _you_ fighting

"Every right that is sacred and dear to man."

"What right that is sacred and dear to man had the United States ever
violated before you fired on Fort Sumter?"

Of course he fell back on the Declaration of American Independence, that
"Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed";
also on the doctrine so emphatically expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his
speech in Congress in 1846; viz.:

    Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the
    right to raise up and shake off the existing government, and form a
    new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most
    sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the
    world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people
    of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of
    such people, that can, may revolutionize and make their own of as
    much territory as they inhabit.

We arrived at Danville at noon. A heavy rain began to fall. Having been
two days without opportunity to wash, we were drenched for an hour or
two by the sweet shower that seemed to pour from the open windows of
heaven. When our thoughtful guards concluded that we were sufficiently
cleansed and bleached, they sheltered us by putting us into coal cars,
where the black dust was an inch deep. That dust was fine! but the
thought seemed to strike them that our nicely laundered garments might
get soiled. So in half an hour they took us out and placed us in corn
cars. It rather went against the grain, but finally I sat down with the
other kernels on the floor. The weather being inclement, they felt it
their duty to keep us in doors, lest we should catch cold!

In these elegant and commodious vehicles we were transported next day
till we reached Greensboro, North Carolina, about fifty miles southwest
from Danville. Disgorged like poor old Jonah after three days' living
burial, we were placed in the beautiful open square, and never before
did air, earth, trees, and skies seem lovelier. Here they gave each of
us three horny crackers, "rebel hardtack," out of which some of us
carved finger rings that might have passed for bone.

In those days I was too much addicted to making public speeches, a habit
which I had contracted in Yale College. On the edge of the public green,
backed by a hundred prisoners, I was haranguing a crowd of curious
spectators, telling them how abominably we were treated, exhibiting to
them our single ration of flinty biscuit, and consigning them all to
everlasting perdition, when a well-dressed young man elbowed his way to
me at the fence. He had a large black shiny haversack swung under his
left arm. Patting it with his right hand, he asked:

"Will you have a snack?"

"A what?" I answered.

"A snack, a snack," he said.

"I don't know what a 'snack' is, unless it's a _snake_. Yes, I think I
could eat a copperhead--_cooked_. Snake for one, if you please; well

He thrust his hand into his haversack; took out and gave me the most
delicious sandwich I ever tasted. Seeing how I enjoyed it, he emptied
the satchel, giving all his food to my hungry fellow prisoners. He told
me he was just starting on a long journey, and had laid in a good stock
of provisions. I took pains to write in my journal his name and
residence--"George W. Swepson, Alamance, North Carolina. Lives near the
Court House." To which I added "_Vir et Amicus_."--"The blessing of him
that was ready to perish" was upon George W. Swepson.

That night we slept again on the ground and without covering under the
open sky; and again several prisoners, Captain Howe and myself among
them, attempted in vain to slip past the sentinels.

Next morning we reëntered the freight cars. A twelve hours' ride brought
us at nine o'clock, Wednesday evening, October 5th, to our destination,
Salisbury, North Carolina. As the "Four Hundred" passed into the dark
enclosure, we were greeted with the cry, "Fresh fish! Fresh fish!" which
in those days announced the arrival of a new lot of prisoners. We field
officers were quartered that night in a brick building near the
entrance, where we passed an hour of horrors. We were attacked by what
appeared to be an organized gang of desperadoes, made up of thieves,
robbers, Yankee deserters, rebel deserters, and villains generally,
maddened by hunger, or bent on plunder, who rejoiced in the euphonious
appellation of _Muggers_! We had been warned against them by kindly
disposed guards, and were not wholly unprepared. They attacked us with
clubs, fists, and knives, but were repeatedly driven off, pitched
headlong downstairs. "_Muggers!_"

Salisbury prison, then commonly called "Salisbury penitentiary," was in
the general form of a right-angled triangle with base of thirty or forty
rods, perpendicular eighty or ninety. In a row parallel to the base and
four or five rods from it were four empty log houses with a space of
about four rods between each two. These, a story and a half high, had
formerly been negro quarters. On each side of the great triangle was a
stout tight board fence twelve or fifteen feet high. Some two or three
feet from the top of this, but out of our sight because on the other
side, there was evidently a board walk, on which sentinels, four or five
rods apart, perpetually paced their beats, each being able to see the
whole inside of the enclosure. At each angle of the base was a shotted
field-piece pointing through the narrow opening. We could see that
behind each cannon there was a number of muskets stacked and vigilant
soldiers watching every movement inside. Close to the fence outside
there were three camps of Confederates, variously estimated to contain
from seven hundred to two thousand in all.

The number of Union officers in prison after our arrival was about three
hundred and twenty; the number of non-commissioned officers and privates
was suddenly increased from about two thousand to some eight thousand.
Among these were non-combatants, refugees, lighthouse keepers, and other
government employees. Albert D. Richardson, then well-known as a
correspondent of the New York _Tribune_, whose romantic marriage to Abby
Sage by Henry Ward Beecher and whose tragic death created a sensation in
the newspaper world, had been held as a prisoner there for several
months. He told us he had found Salisbury a comfortable place. It
immediately ceased to be such.

There stood the empty log houses. We besought the rebel commandant,
Major Gee, to allow us officers to occupy those buildings. He said he
would permit it on condition that we should sign a stringent parole,
binding us on our honor not to attempt to escape! We objected to it as a
preposterous requirement that, remaining under strict guard and wholly
cut off from communication with the outside world, we should sign such
a pledge as the only condition on which we could receive decent shelter.
I asked Major Gee if the rigor of our confinement would be in any way
relaxed. He answered bluntly, "No."--"Well, where's the reciprocity?" I
demanded; "what are you giving up?"--"Well," he replied, "if you don't
choose to sign the parole, you can't have the buildings. Other Federal
officers have not objected to signing it." He showed us the signature of
Gen. Michael Corcoran, who had been colonel of the 69th New York, was
captured at the first battle of Bull Run, was promoted to be brigadier,
and who raised the so-called "Corcoran Legion." Our senior officer,
Brig.-Gen. Joseph Hayes of the Fifth Corps, now called a meeting of the
field officers, and submitted the question, "Shall we sign the parole,
and so obtain shelter? Or shall we hold ourselves free to escape if we
can, and so share the privations of our enlisted men, who have no bed
but the ground and no covering but the sky?" I spoke strongly against
making any promise. We voted almost unanimously against it.

General Hayes and others then urged upon the commandant the absurdity
and meanness of requiring it. It was clear to us and must have been so
to him that it was for his interest to separate the three or four
hundred officers from the thousands of prisoners accustomed to obey our
orders. He finally consented that we should occupy the houses without
imposing any conditions.

Parallel to the front of these buildings, about five rods from them and
extending across the enclosure, was a so-called "dead line," on which
nine sentinels paced their beats. Another "dead line" about four rods
from the high fence paralleled the whole length of each side of the
prison. It was death to come near these.

About eighty officers were assigned to each of the four houses. In each
an officer was elected to serve as house-commissary. His duty was to
receive the rations from Lieutenant-Colonel Hooper, already mentioned,
acting as commissary-general, to whom the Confederate authorities
delivered them in bulk. The house-commissary distributed the food and
acted as agent representing the house in all communications with
Confederate headquarters. Col. Gilbert G. Prey of the 104th N. Y. Vols.
was elected commissary of house number one; Capt. D. Tarbell, of Groton,
N. Y., commissary of house number two; Lieutenant Reilly of
Philadelphia, of house number three; and I of house four.

Each house contained but two rooms, a lower and an upper, both empty,
for the most part without glass windows or even sashes; the spaces
between the crooked logs not stopped up; a single fireplace in each
house, but not half enough wood to keep a blaze; without tables,
benches, or chairs; without cooking utensils; without table, knife,
fork, spoon, or plate; often without cup or dish; without blankets, or
any clothing but the scantiest summer outfit; without books or papers;
without water sufficient for washing, or soap, if we could possibly get
water; we were in a sorry plight as the nights grew colder. And if the
prospect was bad for us, how much worse for our soldiers across the
"dead line," who had no shelter, hardly a scrap of blanket! Every rain
made their beds a pool or mass of mire. It is not pleasant, but it is a
duty to record some of the shadows of our prison life, "lest we forget."

On the open ground outside of what was called the "hospital," October
8th, a sergeant-major was found dead; October 9th, two private soldiers;
October 13th, five; October 14th, two; October 16th, eleven; October
17th, seven; October 18th, nine. We could tell how severe the weather
had been at night by the number found dead in the morning.

Not far from the prison enclosure was an abundance of growing timber.
More than once I besought Major Gee to allow our men to go, under guard
on parole, to get wood for fires and for barracks. He refused. He said
he was intending to build barracks for the prisoners as soon as he could
procure lumber. I presume that he was sincere in this. I asked in vain
for blankets for the men; for tents, but none came till December, and
then but one "Sibley" tent and one "A" tent per hundred prisoners, not
enough for one-third of them.

We procured water from a deep well on the grounds. The supply was so
scanty for the thousands of prisoners that it was always exhausted
before sunrise. Soon after we came the Confederates commenced digging
two new wells. At their rate of progress we reckoned it would take
several months to finish either.

My memorandum book shows that the issue of food daily at Salisbury,
though sometimes partly withheld, was for each prisoner "one half loaf
of soft bread; two, three, four, or five ounces of meat; a gill of
boiled rice, and a little salt." I have no doubt that Major Gee meant to
deal fairly with us; but he was unprepared for the avalanche that had
descended upon him. We are too much in the habit of blaming individual
combatants for severities and cruelties that are inherent in the whole
business of war, either civil or international, and inseparable from it.
Said our Lieut.-Gen. S. M. B. Young at a banquet in Philadelphia, "War
is necessarily cruel; it is kill and burn, and burn and kill, and again
kill and burn." The truth was more bluntly expressed by the British
Rear-Admiral Lord Fisher, now the first sea lord of the British

    Humanizing war? [said he]; you might as well talk of humanizing
    hell! When a silly ass got up at the first Hague Peace Conference in
    1899, and talked about the "amenities of warfare" and putting your
    prisoners' feet in warm water and giving them gruel, my reply, I
    regret to say, was considered brutally unfit for publication. As if
    war could be "civilized"! If I am in command when war breaks out, I
    shall issue as my orders, "The essence of war is violence.
    Moderation is imbecility. _Hit first, hit hard, hit everywhere._"

In this light we may view more charitably the slaying, on the 16th of
October at Salisbury, of Second Lieutenant John Davis of the 155th N. Y.
It was a Sunday morning about half-past ten o'clock. One of our fellow
prisoners, Rev. Mr. Emerson, chaplain of a Vermont regiment, had
circulated notice that he would conduct religious services in the open
air between houses number three and four. The officers were beginning to
assemble when the sharp report of a musket near by was heard. Rushing to
the spot, we found the lieutenant lying on his back dying at the "dead
line." The sentinel on the fence, a mere boy, had fired upon him, and
was now reloading. One of our number, Captain William Cook, unable to
restrain his anger, hurled a large stone at him. But the hundreds of
Confederates in the camps just beyond the fence had sprung to arms at
the sound of the firing; the top of the fence was being lined with
soldiers; and the vigilant cannoneers at the angles were training their
artillery upon our dense mass of officers. We prisoners regarded the
shooting as a brutal murder. The religious exercises were turned into a
funeral service. Chaplain Emerson prayed, "O God! our only refuge in
this dark hour, avenge the atrocious murder of our beloved comrade;
protect that widow so cruelly robbed of one dearer to her than life; and
especially grant that this accursed Confederacy may speedily sink into
its native hell!" His text was from _Isaiah_ viii, 12: "Say ye not a
Confederacy!" Next day I asked the officer of the guard if any
punishment was to be inflicted upon the sentinel. He answered: "No; we
don't punish men for doing their duty."

So vitally important is the point of view in deciding upon the right or
wrong of an act.


  At Salisbury--Great Plot to Escape--How Frustrated.

When we arrived at Salisbury early in October, we found there a brave
and sagacious officer, Lieut. Wm. C. Manning of the 2d Massachusetts
Cavalry. He told us he had been held as a hostage in solitary
confinement, and would have starved but for the rats he caught and ate.
He had been notified that his own life depended upon the fate of a
person held in federal hands as a spy. He determined to attempt an
escape. He was assigned to my house. Taking up a part of the floor, he
commenced digging a tunnel. He wrote a solemn pledge which all the
officers in the house signed, binding them not to divulge the scheme.
The tunnel would have had to be about eight rods long, and its outlet
would necessarily have been near a group of rebel tents. Of course it
would have been discovered on the morning after its completion, and not
all could hope to find egress that way. But he believed that his life
was still in special danger, and he at once began excavating. The house
had no cellar, but there was plenty of room under it for stowing away
the loose earth. The ground was not hard, yet it was quite firm, and on
the whole favorable for such operations. The work was progressing
finely, till the officers were suddenly removed from Salisbury in
consequence of the discovery of a great plot.

I had become a good deal interested in Manning and his tunnel plan, and
on the morning of Wednesday, October 12th, I introduced him to General
Hayes, our senior officer. He told us he had for several days been
considering the possibility of organizing the three or four hundred
officers, and the five to ten thousand soldiers. He believed that by a
simultaneous assault at many points we could seize the artillery, break
the fence, capture the three rebel camps, then arm and ration this
extemporized army, and march away. He showed us a good map of North
Carolina. He invited all of the field officers to meet that evening in
the garret of house number two. All of them accordingly, about thirty in
number, were present. Posting sentinels to keep out intruders, and
stopping the open windows so that the faint light of a tallow candle
might not betray us or create suspicion, we sat down in the gloom.

The general had modestly absented himself, in order that we might be
uninfluenced by him in reaching a decision; but our first step was to
send for him, and then insist on his taking the chair--_the_ chair, for
we had but one! As he had made a careful study of the subject, we
pressed him to give his views. He proceeded to state the grounds of his
belief that it was practicable to strike an effective blow for our
liberation. He told us that he had communicated with a Union man
outside, and had learned the number and location of the Confederate
troops we should be likely to encounter on our march to East Tennessee.
He explained at some length the details of his plan, the obstacles we
should encounter, and how to overcome them. I shall never forget the
conclusion of his speech. These were almost exactly his words:

    We must organize; organize victory. The sooner we act the better,
    provided we have a well-arranged plan. We can capture this town,
    ration our men, provide them with shoes, clothing, and muskets, and
    have a formidable army right here at once. It need not take more
    than half a day. Certainly we can march off within twenty-four hours
    after the first blow is struck, if we begin right. The enemy have a
    few guns on the hill, but they are not "in battery". We can take
    these and take the artillery here right along with us. The
    principal obstacle is here; make the beginning right; master these
    prisons and these camps, and we are safe. Organize is the word;
    _organize_. If any one shall betray us, or aid the rebels, or be
    guilty of robbery or other outrage, I am in favor of a drumhead
    court martial and a summary execution. Now, gentlemen, I am ready to
    serve in any capacity, whether to lead or to follow.

Colonel Ralston of the 24th N. Y. "dismounted cavalry," as they were
called, spoke next. He was an energetic and dashing officer who fell
near me in an attempt to break out of Danville prison on the tenth of
the following December. He entered into the particulars of a plan of
action, showing how easy it would be, with the probable loss of but few
lives, to capture the three camps with the Salisbury arsenal and the
artillery. As his particular share in the work, he said he would
undertake with a small company to disarm the twenty or thirty sentinels
inside the enclosure, and instantly thereupon to capture the
headquarters of Major Gee.

Other officers gave valuable suggestions. Being called upon for my
opinion, I spoke of the duty we owed our enlisted men to extricate them
from their shocking condition, for they were beginning to die every
night on the bare ground, and would soon be perishing by scores. I urged
the effect the escape of some eight thousand prisoners would have upon
the nation, being equivalent to a great victory; and, better than
victory, it would add so many thousands of trained soldiers at once to
our armies in the field. I insisted that this success would be cheaply
bought, even if it cost, as it probably would, a hundred lives.

Of all our thirty field officers, only one opposed the scheme
(Lieut.-Col. G----). He was acknowledged to be brave,[5] but seemingly
lacking in enterprise. He said in substance, "I have carefully examined
the situation, and have come to the conclusion that it is utterly
useless to attempt to escape by force. It can't be done at present. We
should be slaughtered by the hundred. If you all vote to try it, I will
join you; but in my opinion it is perfect madness."

With but one dissenting voice it was resolved to go ahead. A committee
of five was immediately appointed to prepare and present a plan of
action. This committee were Colonel Ralston; Col. W. Ross Hartshorne,
190th Pa. (the famous "Bucktail Regiment," whose first colonel, O'Neil,
my Yale classmate, was killed at Antietam); Col. James Carle, 191st Pa.;
Major John Byrne, 155th N. Y.; and myself, Lieutenant-Colonel of the
13th Conn. We were supposed to be fighting men, and had all been wounded
in battle.

A similar meeting of field officers was held the following evening. For
two days the committee was almost continually in consultation with
General Hayes. Great pains was taken to have the plans fully understood
by all the officers and to secure their hearty coöperation. By ingenious
methods frequent communication was had with the enlisted men across the
"dead line"; sometimes by hurling written communications ballasted with
stone; several times by Lieutenant Manning and others running swiftly
past the sentinels in the dark; best of all, because least liable to
discovery, by the use of the deaf-and-dumb alphabet. We were suffering
for want of water, and several officers got permission to go outside the
enclosure ostensibly to procure it, but really to reconnoitre.

The committee reported the following plan, which was unanimously

The first object in the movement being to get into a hand-to-hand fight
as soon as possible; seven columns, each several hundred strong, were to
make simultaneous assaults upon six or seven different points. The fence
being the first impediment, every man's haversack and pockets were to
be filled with stones to keep down the sentinels who would fire on us
from the top. Some got levers to wrench off boards, others logs to serve
as rude battering rams, others sharpened stakes which Ralston called
"Irish pikes," others clubs, or any possible weapon. I had a rusty old

Major David Sadler, 2d Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, with his battalion
was to rush and seize the cannon and muskets at the angle on the right;
Major John Byrne and his column at the same instant were to pounce upon
the big gun and muskets at the angle on our left; simultaneously Colonel
Ralston and his men are to dash upon the nine sentinels on the "dead
line" in front of the officers' houses, in a moment disarming them and
the nine of the relief just arriving; then spring to the assistance of
Major August Haurand of the 4th N. Y. Cavalry and his battalion who are
capturing Major Gee's headquarters and guards and camp on our right.
Col. James Carle, 191st Pa., with his hundreds is breaking through the
fence and capturing the rebel camp in rear of the officers' quarters.
Colonel, afterwards General, W. Ross Hartshorne and his 330 men of the
190th Pa. are to break the fence just above the main rebel camp which is
on our left. My own column of about three hundred men of the Nineteenth
Corps are to break the fence just below the rebel camp; then Hartshorne
and I are to leap from opposite sides upon this, the main camp. These
seven battalions were to some extent organized with field, staff, and
company officers. Every officer and soldier was to be on the _qui vive_
a little before five o'clock in the morning, watching intently for the
signal. This was to be the waving of a fire-brand by General Hayes in
front of house number two.

Quite a number of officers had no faith in the plot, and they regarded
it with indifference. A few expressed hostility to it. One captain, who
had been a prisoner before and seemed glad to have been captured again,
a bloated, overgrown, swaggering, filthy bully, of course a coward,
formerly a keeper of a low groggery and said to have been commissioned for
political reasons, was repeatedly heard to say in sneering tones in the
hearing of rebel sentries, "_Some of our officers have got escape on the
brain_," with other words to the like effect. Colonel Hartshorne finally
stopped such traitorous language by saying with tremendous emphasis:
"Captain D----, I've heard a good deal of your attempts to discourage
officers from escaping, and your loud talk about officers having 'escape
on the brain.' Now, sir, I give you notice that if you're again guilty of
anything of the sort, I'LL--BREAK--YOUR--HEAD--WITH--A--CLUB!"

The time agreed upon for the seven simultaneous attacks was about an
hour before sunrise the morning of October 15th.

As we had feared, the rebel authorities, whether through suspected
treachery or otherwise, got wind of our purpose. Towards evening of
October 14th extraordinary vigilance on their part became apparent.
Troops were paraded, posts strengthened, guards doubled, privileges
restricted, and word was passed around in our hearing that a battalion
of Confederates had just arrived. Their watchfulness seemed unrelaxed
through the night. The shooting of Lieutenant Davis next morning was
doubtless in obedience to orders for a more rigorous enforcement of

Our outbreak was countermanded and postponed, but preparations
continued. The delay enabled us to perfect our plans, and make our
organizations more complete. The early morning of October 20th, the 19th
being the anniversary of my birth, was now fixed upon for the
"insurrection." We essayed to disarm suspicion by an air of quiet
acquiescence in the lazy routine of prison life, or absorption in the
simplest and most innocent occupations whenever any Confederate might
be looking on.

We recognized united and instantaneous action at the signal on the part
of three hundred officers and several thousand men as the most vitally
important element of success. It was necessary that this should be
thoroughly understood and emphasized, so that every soldier should be in
perfect readiness at the critical moment.

Several of us had formed a class for oral instruction in French. Our
teacher was Captain Cook of the 9th U. S. colored troops, a graduate of
Yale. About ten o'clock in the morning of October 18th, as we were
seated on the ground near house number four, loudly imitating Professor
Cook's _parlez-vous_, Lieut. Wm. C. Gardner, adjutant of one of those
extemporized battalions of prisoners, brought me a letter he was
intending to throw across the "dead line" to Sergt. Wallace W. Smith,
requesting him to notify all enlisted men of the battalion when and
where to assemble silently next morning in the dark, how to arm
themselves, from whom to take orders, what signal to watch for, and
other important matters. I glanced through it, and immediately said:
"You'd better not entrust the communication to so hazardous a channel;
wait an hour till I've done with my French lesson, and I'll cause it to
be transmitted by the deaf-and-dumb alphabet." If I recollect rightly,
either Lieutenant Tobey or Lieutenant Morton, both of the 58th
Massachusetts, was in the class, and promised to convey the contents of
the letter safely across to the soldiers by adroit finger manipulation.
We were just finishing the French exercise, when Adjutant Gardner came
greatly excited, and this conversation followed:

"Good God, Colonel, the rebs have got that letter! I tied it to a stone
and flung it a long ways over the 'dead line' to Wallace Smith. He
appeared afraid to pick it up. A reb sentinel stepped away from his beat
and got it."

"I requested you to wait till I'd done reciting French, and I told you
I'd then communicate it by the deaf-and-dumb alphabet."

"Well, Colonel, I ought to have done so; but I was anxious to have the
work done promptly, and I thought it was perfectly safe. I've tossed
letters over to Smith several times. I'm worried to death about it.
What's best to do?"

"Was your name signed to it?"

"No; but my name was on the envelope--an old letter envelope that I had
when we came here."

"Well, Gardner, this is a pretty piece of business! That letter of
course will go very soon to Major Gee's headquarters, and then--there'll
be the devil to pay!"

"The sentinel handed the letter to the officer of the guard. What had I
better say, if they send for me?"

"Say you intended the letter to fall into their hands; that you meant it
as a practical joke, wanted to get up another scare, and see the
Johnnies prick up their ears again."

"But, Colonel, like a fust-class fool I put a ten-dollar Confederate
bill in the envelope. I wanted to give it to Sergeant Smith. That don't
look as if I meant it to fall into their hands--does it?"

"Gardner, this thing has an ugly look. You've knocked our plans of
escape in the head--at least for the present. You've got yourself into a
fix. They'll haul you up to headquarters. They'll prove by the letter
that you've been deep in a plot that would have cost a good many lives.
They're feeling ugly. They may hang or shoot you before sundown, as a
warning to the rest of us to stop these plots to escape. They may send
for you at any minute."

"What had I better say or do?"

"You'd better make yourself scarce for a while, till you've got a
plausible story made up. Better disguise yourself and pass yourself off
as somebody else; so gain time."

"I have it, Colonel; I'll pass myself off as Estabrooks."

Estabrooks was an officer of the 26th Mass., who had escaped at the
crossing of the river Yadkin two weeks previously when we came from
Richmond. Gardner was a handsome man and perhaps the best-dressed
officer in prison; but he now disguised himself.[6] The transformation
was complete. In half an hour a man came to me wearing a slouched hat
and a very ragged suit of Confederate gray. He had been a play-actor
before the war and knew how to conceal his identity. By his voice I
recognized him as Gardner! "Well, Gardner," said I, "this surpasses His
Satanic Majesty; or, as you would say, beats the devil!"--"Colonel," he
replied, "I'm not Gardner. Gardner escaped; escaped at the crossing of
the Yadkin River. I'm Estabrooks, H. L. Estabrooks, 2d Lieutenant, 26th
Mass. Call me Estabrooks if you please."--"All right, Estabrooks it is."

Hardly had we had time to whisper around this change of name, when the
Confederate officer of the guard made his appearance with two or three
soldiers, inquiring for the commissary of house number four. I was
pointed out to him. In substance and almost in the exact words this
dialogue ensued:

"Colonel Sprague, are you commissary of this house?"

"I have that honor."

"I want to find Lieutenant Gardner."


"Lieutenant Gardner."

"Who's Lieutenant Gardner?"

"I am told he's an officer in house number four; and as you are
commissary, you can probably tell me where he is _at_."

"Where he's what?"

"Where he's _at_."

This was the first time I had ever heard the word _at_ so used at the
end of a sentence; but it expresses the meaning with admirable
precision. I had a slight qualm at lying; but I remembered that even
George Washington could tell a lie if necessary in war. Pacifying my
conscience with the fact that we were _outside_ the house at the time, I

"There's no such officer in house four. But I remember an officer of
that name at Libby, handsomely dressed, a perfect dandy. I heard that he
escaped at the crossing of the Yadkin River two weeks ago. Has he been
recaptured, and is he going to be shot or hanged? Or have you a letter
for him? What's the good news about Gardner?"

"I only know," he replied, "that he's wanted at Major Gee's office, and
he's an officer in house number four."

"Estabrooks," said I to the man at my side, "do you know of a Lieutenant

"I did know slightly such a man at Libby. You have described him well; a
fop, a beau, a dandy; just about my size, but he didn't wear rags like I

"Come with me," said I to the Confederate. "We'll go into the house and
inquire if any one knows of a Lieutenant Gardner." We went in. There
were perhaps thirty or forty inside who had got wind of what was going
on. As we entered, I asked in a loud voice, "Does any officer in this
house know anything of a Lieutenant Gardner?" Several smiled and
declared it a very singular name. One wanted to know how it was spelled!
A number were speaking at once. One said he escaped at the Yadkin; he
knew he got away, for he "watched him till he got a long distance out of
sight." Another knew a Henry J. Gardner, "a Know-Nothing" governor of
Massachusetts, who knew enough to keep out of the army. Another affirmed
that Gardner was dead; he had heard him say "I'm a dead man," and he
wouldn't tell a lie! My memory is somewhat indistinct of all that was
said; but Gardner is alleged to have whispered the officer thus: "I have
been a gardener myself; and if Major Gee will parole me and give me good
clothes and something to eat, I wouldn't mind becoming again a gardener
in his employ." I recollect distinctly that the officer grew impatient
and he finally asked me, "Do you say on your honor, Colonel, that you
don't know a Lieut. Wm. O. Gardner in this house?" I answered, "I do";
but I left him to guess whether I meant "I do _know_" or "I do _say_!" I
quieted my conscientious scruples by remembering that the lieutenant's
true name was not Wm. O. but Wm. C.! The baffled officer left very
angry, and "_Where's Gardner at?_" passed into a conundrum.

Late that afternoon, as I was engaged in the delightful employment of
washing my fall-and-winter shirt, having for the first time since our
arrival in Salisbury obtained sufficient water for that purpose, the
order came for all officers to fall in and take the cars for Danville,
Va. The juxtaposition of three or four hundred Yankee officers with
eight thousand of their enlisted comrades-in-arms was getting


[5] He had killed three men with his sword at the time of his capture.

[6] "We run the boy into one of the houses, clipped his hair, shaved
him, and placed a new robe on him."--_Letter_ of Capt. Wesley C. Howe to
Colonel Sprague, Jan. 30, 1914.


  From Salisbury to Danville--The Forlorn Situation--Effort to "Extract
    Sunshine from Cucumbers"--The Vermin--The Prison Commandant a Yale
    Man--Proposed Theatricals--Rules Adopted--Studies--Vote in Prison
    for Lincoln and McClellan--Killing Time.

At six o'clock, Wednesday evening, October 19, 1864, we officers, about
350 in number, were packed in five freight cars, and the train was
started for Danville, Va. The tops of the cars were covered with armed
guards, two or three being also stationed within at the side door of
each car. In the darkness about half-past nine Lieut. Joseph B. Simpson
of the 11th Indiana slyly stole all the food from the haversacks of the
guards at the door of our car and passed it round to us, while we loudly
"cussed and discussed" slavery and secession! About midnight Captain
Lockwood, Lieutenant Driscoll, and eight or ten other officers leaped
from the cars. The guards opened fire upon them. Lockwood was shot dead.
Several were recaptured, and some probably reached the Union lines in
safety. We arrived at Danville at noon October 20th.

The town at this time contained four, formerly six, military prisons,
each a tobacco house about eighty to a hundred feet long by forty to
fifty wide, three stories high, built of brick, low between joints. The
officers were put into the building known as prison number three. We
were informed by the guards that it had formerly contained about two
hundred negro prisoners; but that some had died, others had been
delivered to their masters or set at work on fortifications, and the
number remaining just before our arrival was only sixty-four. These were
removed to make room for us.

Except about twenty large stout wooden boxes called spittoons, there was
no furniture whatever in prison number three. Conjecture was rife as to
the purpose of the Confederates in supplying us with spittoons and
nothing else. They were too short for coffins, too large for wash bowls,
too shallow for bathing tubs, too deep for tureens! To me much
meditating on final causes, a vague suspicion at length arose that there
was some mysterious relation between those twenty oblong boxes and a
score of hogsheads of plug tobacco, said to be stored in the basement. A
_tertium_ QUID, a solution of the tobacco, might afford a solution of
the spittoon mystery!

A dozen water buckets were put into each of the two upper rooms to which
all the officers were restricted; also a small cylinder coal stove;
nothing else until December, when another small stove was placed there.
Winter came early and unusually cold. The river Dan froze thick. It was
some weeks before we prevailed upon the prison commandant to replace
with wood the broken-out glass in the upper rooms. The first floor was

So with no bed nor blanket; no chairs, benches, nor tables; no
table-ware nor cooking utensils; not even shovel, poker, or coal-scoop;
most of us were in a sorry plight. The little stoves, heated white-hot,
would have been entirely inadequate to warm those rooms; but the coal
was miserably deficient in quality as well as quantity. The fire often
went out. To rekindle it, there was no other way than to upset the
whole, emptying ashes and cinders on the floor. At best, the heat was
obstructed by a compact ring of shivering officers, who had preëmpted
positions nearest the stoves. They had taken upon themselves to "run"
the thing; and they did it well. We called them "The Stove Brigade." In
spite of their efforts, they like the rest suffered from cold.

Three or four of us, as a sanitary measure, made it a point to see, if
possible, the funny, or at least the bright side of everything, turn
melancholy to mirth, shadow to sunshine. When every officer complained
of cold, we claimed to anticipate the philosophers, Tyndall, Huxley, and
the other physicists, in declaring that "heat is a mode of _motion_,"
and brisk bodily exercise will infallibly demonstrate the fact! When, as
was usually the case, all were hungry, we announced as a sure cure for
indigestion, "stop _eating_!" When our prisoner chaplain Emerson on a
Sunday afternoon prayed for the dear ones we expected to see no more,
and even the roughest and most profane were in tears, we said with old
Homer, "_Agathoi aridakrues andres_" ("Gallant men are easily moved to
tears"), or with Bayard Taylor, "The bravest are the tenderest, the
loving are the daring."

Most humiliating of all was the inevitable plague of vermin. "Hard
indeed," one officer was accustomed to say, "must have been Pharaoh's
heart, and tougher yet his epidermis, if the lice of the third Egyptian
plague were like those of Danville, and yet he would not 'let Israel
go.'" Wearing the same clothing night and day, sitting on the bare
floors, sleeping there in contact with companions not over-nice, no
patient labor, no exterminating unguent, afforded much relief. We lost
all squeamishness, all delicacy on the subject, all inclination for
concealment. It was not a returned Danville prisoner who was reported to
have gone into a drug store in New York stealthily scratching and
saying, "I want some unguentum; don't want it for myself; only want it
for a friend." But it was reported and believed that in April one of
them entered an apothecary shop in Annapolis plying his finger-nails and
hurriedly asking, "Have you any bmsquintum?"--"From your manner,"
answered the courteous druggist, "I think what you want is
unguentum."--"Yes, _run git 'em_; I guess that _is_ the true
name."--"Unguentum, sir"; said the shopkeeper. "How much unguentum do
you want?"--"Well, I reckon about two pound!"--"My dear sir, two pounds
would kill all the lice in Maryland."--"Well, I vow I believe I've got

Lieut.-Col. Robert C. Smith of Baltimore, who took command of the
Danville prisons soon after our arrival, appeared to be kind-hearted,
compassionate, but woefully destitute of what Mrs. Stowe calls
"faculty." He was of medium height, spare build, fair complexion, sandy
hair, blue eyes, of slightly stooping figure; on the whole rather
good-looking. He was slow of speech, with a nasal twang that reminded me
of Dr. Horace Bushnell. His face always wore a sad expression. He had
been a student at Yale in the forties a few years before me. Once a
prisoner himself in our hands and fairly treated, he sympathized with
us. He had been wounded, shot through the right shoulder. When I visited
on parole the other Danville prisons in February, a Yankee soldier was
pointed out to me as wearing Colonel Smith's blood-stained coat, and
another was said to be wearing his vest. I had repeated interviews with
him, in which he expressed regret at not being able to make us more
comfortable. He said more than once to me, "I have no heart for this
business. It requires a man without any heart to keep a military prison.
I have several times asked to be relieved and sent to the front." An
officer of forceful executive ability might have procured for us lumber
for benches, more coal or wood for the stoves, some straw or hay for
bedding, blankets or cast-off clothing for the half naked; possibly a
little food, certainly a supply of reading matter from the charitably
disposed. Single instances of his compassion I have mentioned. I shall
have occasion to speak of another. But the spectacle of the hopeless
mass of misery in the four Danville prisons seemed to render him
powerless, if not indifferent. As Mrs. Browning puts it:

                            A red-haired child,
    Sick in a fever, if you touch him once,
    Though but so little as with a finger-tip,
    Will set you weeping; but a million sick!
    You could as soon weep for the rule of three,
    Or compound fractions!

Like too many officers both Union and Confederate, he was often in
liquor; liquor was always in him. This "knight of the rueful
countenance," of the sad heart, the mourning voice, the disabled right
arm, and the weakness for apple-jack!--his only hope was to have an
exchange of prisoners; but Lincoln and Stanton and Grant would not
consent to that. The last I heard of him was when a letter of his was
shown me by Lieutenant Washington, a Confederate, a distant relative of
the great George. In it Smith, who had been absent a week from Danville,
complained that he had had "no liquor for three days," and that he was
"painfully sober"!

"Necessity," says the old apothegm, "is the mother of invention." It was
surprising, how much we accomplished in a few weeks towards making
ourselves comfortable. Bone or wood was carved into knives, forks,
spoons, buttons, finger-rings, masonic or army badges, tooth-picks,
bosom pins, and other ornaments; corn-cobs were made into smoking
pipes; scraps of tin or sheet-iron were fashioned into plates for eating
or dishes for cooking; shelves were made by tying long wood splinters
together; and many "spittoons," which were soon rendered superfluous,
because the two entire rooms were transformed into vast spittoons, were
inverted, and made useful as seats which we called sofas.

Many ingeniously wrought specimens of Yankee ingenuity were sold
clandestinely to the rebel guards, who ventured to disobey strict
orders. No skinflint vender of wooden nutmegs, leather pumpkin-seeds,
horn gunflints, shoe-peg oats, huckleberry-leaf tea, bass-wood cheeses,
or white-oak hams, ever hankered more for a trade. Besides the products
of our prison industry, they craved watches, rings, gold chains, silver
spurs, gilt buttons, genuine breast-pins, epaulets; anything that was
not manufactured in the Confederacy. Most of all, they longed for
greenbacks in exchange for rebel currency. So in one way or another many
of us contrived to get a little money of some sort. With it we could buy
of the sutler, who visited us from time to time, rice, flour, beans,
bacon, onions, dried apple, red peppers, sorghum syrup, vinegar, etc.

Perhaps the best result of our engaging in handicraft work was the
relief from unspeakable depression of spirits. Some of us saw the
importance of making diversion on a large scale. To this end we planned
to start a theatre. Major Wm. H. Fry, of the 16th Pa. Cavalry, who knew
all about vaudeville in Philadelphia, was a wise adviser. Young Gardner,
who had been an actor, heartily joined in the movement. I procured a
worn-out copy of Shakespeare. It seemed best to begin with the
presentation of the first act in _Hamlet_. Colonel Smith and other rebel
officers promised to aid us. We assigned the parts and commenced
studying and rehearsing. Gardner was to be Hamlet; Lieut.-Col. Theodore
Gregg, 45th Pa., was to be Claudius, the usurping king; the smooth-faced
Capt. William Cook was to be the queen-mother Gertrude; Capt. W. F.
Tiemann, 159th N. Y., was to personate Marcellus; Lieut. C. H. Morton of
Fairhaven, Mass., I think, was Horatio; and I, having lost about forty
pounds of flesh since my capture--it was thought most appropriate that I
should be the Ghost! Every morning for some weeks on the empty first
floor we read and rehearsed, and really made fine progress. But when we
got ready to produce in theatric style, with slight omissions, the first
act, the rebels seemed suspicious of some ulterior design. They refused
to furnish a sword for Hamlet, a halberd for Marcellus, muskets for
Bernardo and Francisco, a calico gown for the queen, or even a white
shirt for the Ghost. This was discouraging. When the lovely queen-mother
Gertrude appealed to her son--

    Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,--

he answered, "I swear I can't do it!" One November morning, as we were
rehearsing and shivering on the windy first floor, he ejaculated with
some emphasis, and with ungentle expletives not found in the original

    The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold;

"I move, Colonel, that we 'bust up' this theatre." So the "legitimate
drama" vanished from Danville.

About this time my copy of the Greek New Testament was stolen from me,
an instance, perhaps, of piety run mad.

A week or two before this, the lower room, in which I then lodged,
containing about a hundred and seventy officers, was getting into such a
condition that I felt it my duty to call a meeting to see what measures
could be adopted to promote comfort and decency. I was not the senior in
rank, but Colonel Carle did not feel himself authorized to issue
orders. Some sort of government must be instituted at once. Nearly all
recognized the necessity of prompt action and strict discipline. A
committee was appointed consisting of myself, Major John W. Byron, 88th
N. Y., and another officer whose name escapes me, to draw up rules and
regulations. We presented the following:

    DANVILLE, VA., PRISON, OCT. 26, 1864:

    1. The room shall be thoroughly policed (swept, etc.) four times
        each day by the messes in succession; viz., at sunrise and
        sunset, and immediately after breakfast and dinner.

    2. There shall be no washing in this room.

    3. No emptying slops into spittoons.

    4. No washing in the soup buckets or water buckets.

    5. No shaking of clothes or blankets in this room.

    6. No cooking inside the stoves.

    7. No loitering in the yard to the inconvenience of others.

    8. No person shall be evidently filthy or infested with vermin.

    9. No indecent, profane, or ungentlemanly language in this room.

    10. No conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman about these

    11. No talking aloud at night after nine o'clock.

    12. An officer of the day shall be appointed daily by the senior
        officer, whose duty shall be to see that these rules are
        strictly enforced, and to report to the senior officer any
        violation thereof.

    13. In case of any alleged violation of any of these rules, the
        senior officer of the room shall appoint a Court[7] to consist
        of thirteen disinterested officers, who shall fairly try and
        determine the matter, and in case of conviction the offender's
        rations shall be stopped, or the commander of the prison be
        requested to confine the offender in a cell according to the
        sentence of the Court; and it shall be the duty of every officer
        to have such offender court-martialed after rejoining his

        For the Committee. H. B. Sprague, Oct, 26, 1864.

The prison commandant promised that he would execute any sentence short
of capital punishment. But one case was tried by such court. The offense
was a gross violation of rule 9. The culprit was let off with a sharp
reprimand by General Hayes; but my first act after the exchange of
prisoners was to prefer charges and specifications against him. The
beast was court-martialed at Annapolis in the latter part of July, '65.

The observance of these rules wrought wonders in correcting evils which
had become almost unendurable, and in promoting cheerfulness, good
behavior, and mutual esteem.

Many letters were written to us. Few of them reached their destination.
The first I received was from Miss Martha Russell, a lady of fine
literary ability, a friend of Edgar A. Poe, living at North Branford,
Conn. In raising my company (Co. H., 13th Conn.), I had enlisted her
brother Alfred. Under strict military discipline he had become a
valuable soldier, and I had appointed him my first sergeant. At the
battle of Irish Bend, La., in which I was myself wounded, he was shot
through the neck. The wound seemed mortal, but I secured special care
for him, and his life was spared as by miracle. His sister's letter
brought a ray of sunshine to several of us. It assured us that we were
tenderly cared for at home. She quoted to cheer us the fine lines of the
Cavalier poet Lovelace,

    Stone walls do not a prison make,
      Nor iron bars a cage;
    Minds innocent and quiet take
      That for a hermitage.

A well-grounded conviction prevailed among the prisoners that the
Confederate government was anxious to secure an exchange of prisoners,
but that the Federal government would not consent. The reason was
evident enough. The Confederate prisoners in the North, as a rule, were
fit for military duty; the Union prisoners in the South were physically
unfit. A general exchange would have placed at once, say, more than
forty thousand fresh soldiers in the rebel ranks, but very few in ours.
Conscription for military service had been tried in the North with
results so bitter that it seemed unwise to attempt it again. Better let
the unfortunates in southern prisons perish in silence--that appeared
the wisest policy. But to us prisoners it appeared a mistake and gross
neglect of duty. Between our keen sense of the wrong in allowing us to
starve, and our love for Lincoln and the Union, there was a struggle.
Our patriotism was put to the test on the day of the Presidential
election, Tuesday, November 8th. Discouraging as was the outlook for us
personally, we had confidence in the government and in the justice of
our cause. Pains was taken to obtain a full and fair vote in the
officers' prison. There were two hundred seventy-six for Lincoln;
ninety-one for McClellan. Under the circumstances the result was

Very earnest, if not acrimonious, were the discussions that immediately
preceded and followed. Some of us realized their importance, not so much
in arriving at a correct decision on the questions at issue, as in
preventing mental stagnation likely to result in imbecility if not
actual idiocy. By the stimulus of employment of some kind we must fight
against the apathy, the hopeless loss of will power, into which several
of our comrades seemed sinking. Mrs. Browning well says:

                        Get leave to work
    In this world,--'tis the best you get at all.
                    ... Get work; get work;
    Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get!

Some of us started historical debates, and new views were presented
which furnished both amusement and instruction. One colonel, more
redoubtable in battle than in dialectics, who had been shot through from
breast to back, gravely informed us that the geometer Euclid was an
early English writer! A kindly visitor, Dr. Holbrook, made me a present
of Hitchcock's _Elementary Geology_. It was not quite up to date, having
been published about twenty-five years before, but I found the study
interesting. Grieved at having lost from my books three years in
military service, I endeavored with three or four companions to make up
for the deficiency by taking lessons in French. Our teacher was Captain
Cook, already mentioned as teaching us French at Salisbury. As we had no
books, the instruction was oral. I was delighted to observe how much a
knowledge of Latin facilitated the acquisition of the modern tongue. A
few weeks later upon the arrival of Major George Haven Putnam, Adjutant
at that time of the 176th N. Y., several of us commenced under him the
study of German. Here too the teaching was oral; but I was able to buy
Oehlschläger's _German Reader_; took special pleasure in memorizing some
of the selections, particularly from the poets Gleim, Claudius, Goethe,
Schiller, and Uhland; and I was already familiar with some stanzas of
Arndt's noble _The German Fatherland_, sung so often to me by my
Lieutenant Meisner, slain by my side in battle. Some of those songs
still ring in my ears. General Hayes, Major Putnam, and two or three
others took lessons in Spanish from a native of Mexico, 2d Lieut. John
Gayetti (I think that was his name), of Battery B, 2d Pa. Artillery.

Checkerboards and chessboards were prepared from the rudest materials,
and many were the games with which some of our comrades sought to
beguile the weary hours. Capt. Frank H. Mason of the 12th Cavalry had
the reputation of being our best chess player and young Adjutant Putnam
was his most persistent opponent.

No one needs to be told that old soldiers are great story-tellers,
drawing upon their imagination for facts. This talent was assiduously
cultivated in our prison.


[7] See Appendix.


  Exact Record of Rations in Danville--Opportunity to Cook--Daily
    Routine of Proceedings from Early Dawn till Late at Night.

Our imprisonment at Danville lasted from October 20, '64, to February
17, '65, one hundred and twenty days. I kept a careful daily record of
the rations issued to us, as did also Lieut. Watson W. Bush, 2d N. Y.
"Mounted Rifles." After our removal from Danville to Richmond for
exchange, we compared our memoranda, and found they substantially
agreed. During the one hundred and twenty days the issues were as

    _Bread._ A loaf every morning. It was made of unsifted corn-meal,
    ground "cobs and all." Pieces several inches in length of cobs
    unground were sometimes contained in it. It always seemed wholesome,
    though moist, almost watery. Its dimensions were a little less than
    7 inches long, 3 or 4 wide, and 3 thick. I managed to bring home a
    loaf, and we were amazed at the shrinkage to a quarter of its
    original size. It had become very hard. We broke it in two, and
    found inside what appeared to be a dishcloth!

    _Meat._ Forty-three times. I estimated the weight at from 2 to 5 or
    6 ounces. In it sometimes were hides, brains, heads, tails, jaws
    with teeth, lights, livers, kidneys, intestines, and nameless
    portions of the animal economy.

    _Soup._ Sixty-two times; viz., bean soup forty-seven times; cabbage
    nine times; gruel six. It was the thinnest decoction of small black
    beans, the slightest infusion of cabbage, or the most attenuated
    gruel of corn-cob meal, that a poetic imagination ever dignified
    with the name of _soup_!

    _Potatoes._ Seven times. Seldom was one over an inch in diameter.

    _Salt fish._ Five times. They call it "hake." It was good. "Hunger
    the best sauce."

    _Sorghum syrup._ Three times. It was known as "corn-stalk molasses."
    It was not bad.

Nothing else was given us for food by the Confederates at Danville. The
rations appeared to deteriorate and diminish as the winter advanced. My
diary shows that in the fifty-three days after Christmas we received
meat only three times.

Manifestly such supplies are insufficient to sustain life very long. By
purchase from the rebel sutler who occasionally visited us, or by
surreptitious trading with the guards, we might make additions to our
scanty allowance. I recollect that two dollars of irredeemable treasury
notes would buy a gill of rice or beans or corn, a turnip, onion,
parsnip, or small pickled cucumber!

The Confederate cooking needed to be supplemented. Here the cylinder
coal-stoves were made useful. The tops of them were often covered with
toasting corn bread. Tin pails and iron kettles of various capacities,
from a pint to several quarts, suspended from the top by wooden hooks a
foot or two in length, each vessel resting against the hot stove and
containing rice, beans, Indian corn, dried apple, crust coffee, or other
delicacy potable or edible slowly preparing, made the whole look like a
big black chandelier with pendants. We were rather proud of our prison
cuisine. Cooking was also performed on and in an old worn-out
cook-stove, which a few of our millionaires, forming a joint-stock
company for the purpose, had bought for two hundred Confederate dollars
late in the season, and which the kind prison commander had permitted
them to place near the southwest end of the upper room, running the pipe
out of a window. Culinary operations were extensively carried on also in
the open yard outside, about forty feet by twenty, at the northeast end
of the building. Here the officer would build a diminutive fire of chips
or splinters between bricks, and boil or toast or roast his allowance.
We were grouped in messes of five to ten or twelve each. Happy the club
of half a dozen that could get money enough and a big enough kettle to
have their meal prepared jointly.

Such was the case with my own group after the lapse of about two months.
We had been pinched; but one morning Captain Cook came to me with
radiant face and said: "Colonel, I have good news for you. _I_'m going
to run this mess. My folks in New York have made arrangement with
friends in England to supply me with money, and I've just received
through the lines a hundred dollars. We'll live like fighting-cocks!"
Adjt. J. A. Clark, 17th Pa. Cav., was our delighted cook. Shivering for
an hour over the big kettle amid the ice and snow of the back yard, he
would send up word, "Colonel, set the table for dinner." To "set the
table" consisted in sweeping a space six or eight feet square, and
depositing there the plates, wood, tin, or earthen (mine was of wood; it
had cost me a week's labor in carving). The officers already mentioned,
Cook, Clark, Bush, Sprague, with Lieut. E. H. Wilder, 9th N. Y. Cav.,
sit around in the elegant Turkish fashion, or more classical recline
like the ancients in their symposia, each resting on his left elbow,
with face as near as possible to the steaming kettle, that not a smell
may be lost!

Wood was scarce. It was used with most rigid economy. Many joists
overhead had been sawed off by Lieut. Lewis R. Titus of the _Corps
D'Afrique_, using a notched table-knife for a saw. In this way the
Vermont Yankee obtained pieces for cooking, but he weakened the
structure till some officers really feared the roof might come tumbling
about our heads; and I remember that the prison commandant, visiting the
upper room and gazing heavenward, more than once ejaculated irreverently
the name of the opposite region!

Through the kindness of a Confederate officer or bribing the guards a
log four or five feet in length is sometimes brought in. Two or three
instantly attack it with a blunt piece of iron hoop to start the
cleaving, and in less time than one could expect such a work to be done
with axes it is split fine with wooden wedges.

Naturally one of the ever-recurring topics of discussion was the
glorious dishes we could prepare, if we but had the materials, or of
which we would partake if we ever got home again. In our memorandum
books we are careful to note down the street and number of the most
famous restaurant in each of the largest cities, like Delmonico's in New
York or Young's in Boston.

With few exceptions one day is like another. At earliest dawn each of
the two floors is covered with about a hundred and seventy-five
prostrate forms of officers who have been trying to sleep. Soon some one
of them calls in a loud voice. "_Buckets for water!_" The call is
repeated. Five or six, who have predetermined to go early to the river
Dan that seemed nearly a quarter of a mile distant, start up and seize
large wooden pails. They pass to the lower floor. One of them says to
the sentinel on duty at the southwest corner door, "Sentry, call the
sergeant of the guard; we want to go for water." He complies. In five,
ten, or fifteen minutes, a non-commissioned officer, with some half a
dozen heavily armed soldiers, comes, the bolts slide, the doors swing,
our squad passes out. They are escorted down the hill to the river, and
back to prison. By this time it is broad daylight. Many are still lying
silent on the floor. Most have risen. Some are washing, or rather wiping
with wet handkerchief, face and hands; others are preparing to cook,
splitting small blocks of wood for a fire of splinters; a few are
nibbling corn bread; here and there one is reading the New Testament.
There is no change or adjustment of clothing, for the night dress is the
same as the day dress. We no longer wonder how the cured paralytic in
Scripture could obey the command, "Take up thy bed and walk"; for at
heaviest the bed is but a blanket!

Now, for a half-hour, vengeance on vermin that have plagued us during
the night! We daily solve the riddle of the fishermen's answer to "What
luck?" the question which puzzled to death

    "The blind old bard of Scio's rocky isle,"

    "_As many as we caught we left; as many as we could not catch we
    carry with us_!"

About eight o'clock the cry is heard from the southwest end of the room,
"Fall in for roll-call! fall in!" to which several would impudently add,
"Here he comes! here he is!" A tall, slim, stooping, beardless,
light-haired phenomenon, known as "the roll-call sergeant," enters with
two musketeers. We officers having formed in two ranks on the northwest
side of the room, he passes down the front from left to right slowly
counting. Setting down the number in a memorandum book, he commands in a
squeaky feminine voice, "Break ranks," which most of us have already
done. Much speculation arose as to the nature and status of this
singular being. His face was smooth and childlike, yet dry and wrinkled,
so that it was impossible to tell whether he was fifteen or fifty. A
committee was said to have waited upon him, and with much apparent
deference asked him as to his nativity, his age, and whether he was
human or divine, married or single, man or woman. They said he answered
sadly, "Alas! I'm no angel, but a married man, thirty-seven years old,
from South Carolina. I have three children who resemble me."

Immediately after roll-call, corn bread is brought in for breakfast. It
is in large squares about two feet in length and breadth, the top of
each square being marked for cutting into twenty or twenty-five rations.
Colonel Hooper and Capt. D. Tarbell receive the whole from the rebel
commissary, and then distribute to each mess its portion. The mess
commissary endeavors to cut it into equal oblong loaves. To make sure of
a fair distribution, one officer turns his back, and one after another
lays his hand upon a loaf and asks, "Whose is this?" The officer who has
faced about names some one as the recipient.

Clear the way now for sweepers. From one end of the room to the other
they ply their coarse wooden brooms. Some officers are remarkably neat,
and will scrape their floor space with pieces of glass from the broken
windows; a few are listless, sullen, utterly despondent, regardless of
surroundings, apparently sinking into imbecility; the majority are
taking pains to keep up an appearance of respectability.

Many who have been kept awake through the night by cold or rheumatism
now huddle around the stoves and try to sleep. Most of the remainder, as
the weeks pass, glide into something like a routine of occupations. For
several weeks I spent an hour or two every day carving with a broken
knife-blade a spoon from a block of hard wood. Sporadic wood-splitting
is going on, and cooking appears to be one of the fine arts. An hour
daily of oral exercises in French, German, Spanish, Latin, or Italian,
under competent teachers, after the Sauveur or Berlitz method, amused
and to some extent instructed many. Our cavalry adjutant, Dutch Clark,
so called from his skill in the "Pennsylvania Dutch" dialect made
perhaps a hundred familiar with the morning salutation, "_Haben Sie gut
geschlafen?_" ("Have you slept well?") Lieut. Henry Vander Weyde, A. D.
C., 1st Div., 6th Corps, the artist chum of our principal German
instructor, amused many by his pencil portraits of "Slim Jim," the
nondescript "roll-call sergeant" of uncertain age and gender; also of
some of the sentries, and one or two of his fellow prisoners. A worn-out
pack of fifty-two cards, two or three chess and checker boards of our
manufacture, and twenty-four rudely carved checker-men and thirty-two
fantastic chess-men, furnished frequent amusement to those who
understood the games.

On an average once in two days we received about one o'clock what was
called soup. We were told, and we believed it to be true, that all the
rich nitrogenous portion had been carefully skimmed off for use
elsewhere; not thrown away as the fresh maid threw the "scum" that
formed on top of the milk!

The topic of most frequent discussion was the prospect of an exchange of
prisoners. Our would-be German conversationalists never forgot to ask,
"_Haben Sie etwas gehörten von Auswechseln der Gefangenen?_" ("Have you
heard anything of exchange of prisoners?") It was hard to believe that
our government would leave us to die of starvation.

At the close of the soup hour and after another turn at sweeping, almost
every officer again sat down or sat up to rid himself of the _pediculidæ
vestimenti_. We called it "skirmishing"; it was rather a pitched battle.
The humblest soldier and the brevet major-general must daily strip and
fight. Ludicrous, were it not so abominable, was this mortifying
necessity. No account of prison life in Danville would be complete
without it. Pass by it hereafter in sorrow and silence, as one of those
duties which Cicero says are to be done but not talked about.

The occupations of the morning are now largely resumed, but many prefer
to lie quiet on the floor for an hour.

An interesting incident that might happen at any time is the arrival in
prison of a Confederate newspaper. A commotion near the stairway! Fifty
or a hundred cluster around an officer with a clear strong voice, and
listen as he reads aloud the news, the editorials, and the selections.
The rebels are represented as continually gaining victories, but
singularly enough the northern armies are always drawing nearer!

Toward sunset many officers walk briskly half an hour to and fro the
length of the room for exercise.

Another roll-call by the mysterious heterogeneous if not
hermaphroditical Carolina sergeant!

Brooms again by the mess on duty. Again oral language-lessons by Cook
and Putnam. Then discussions or story-telling.

It is growing dark. A candle is lighted making darkness visible. We have
many skilful singers, who every evening "discourse most excellent
music." They sing _Just before the battle, mother; Do they miss me at
home? We shall meet, but we shall miss him_ (a song composed on the
death of one of my Worcester pupils by Hon. Charles Washburn); _Nearer,
My God, to thee_, etc. From the sweet strains of affection or devotion,
which suffuse the eyes as we begin to lie down for the night, the music
passes to the _Star-spangled Banner_, _Rally round the flag_, _John
Brown's body lies a'mouldering in the grave_, and the like. Often the
"concert" concludes with a comic Dutch song by Captain Cafferty, Co. D,
1st N. Y. Cav.

Sleep begins to seal many eyelids, when someone with a loud voice heard
through the whole room starts a series of sharp critical questions,
amusing or censorious, thus:

"Who don't skirmish?" This is answered loudly from another quarter.

"Slim Jim." The catechism proceeds, sometimes with two or three distinct

"Who cheats the graveyard?"

"Colonel Sprague."

"Who sketched Fort Darling?"

"Captain Tripp." (He was caught sketching long before, and was refused

"Who never washes?"

"Lieutenant Screw-my-upper-jaw-off." (His was an unpronounceable foreign

"Who knows everything?"

"General Duffié." (Duffié was a brave officer, of whom more anon.)

"Who don't know anything?"

"The fools that talk when they should be asleep." (The querists subside
at last.)

For warmth we lie in contact with each other "spoon-fashion," in groups
of three or more. I had bought a heavy woolen shawl for twenty
Confederate dollars, and under it were Captain Cook, Adjutant Clark, and
Lieutenant Wilder; I myself wearing my overcoat, and snuggling up to my
friend Cook. All four lay as close as possible facing in the same
direction. The night wears slowly away. When the floor seemed
intolerably hard, one of us would say aloud, "Spoon!" and all four would
flop over, and rest on the other side. So we vibrated back and forth
from nine o'clock till dawn. We were not comfortable, but in far better
circumstances than most of the prisoners. Indeed Captain Cook repeatedly
declared he owed his life to our blanket.


  Continual Hope of Exchange of Prisoners--"Flag-of-Truce
    Fever!"--Attempted Escape by Tunneling--Repeated Escapes by Members
    of Water Parties, and how we Made the Roll-Call Sergeant's Count
    Come Out all Right every Time--Plot to Break Out by Violence, and
    its Tragic End.

Our principal hope for relief from the increasing privations of prison
life and from probable exhaustion, sickness, and death, lay in a
possible exchange of prisoners. A belief was prevalent that the patients
in hospital would be the first so favored. Hence strenuous efforts were
sometimes made to convince the apothecary whom we called doctor, and who
often visited us, that a prisoner was ill enough to require removal.
Once in the institution, the patients got better food, something like a
bed, medical attendance daily, and a more comfortable room. Some of them
were shamming, lying in two senses and groaning when the physicians were
present, but able to sit up and play euchre the rest of the day and half
the night. This peculiar disease, this eagerness to get into hospital or
remain there till exchanged by flag of truce, was known as the
"flag-of-truce fever" or "flag-of-truce-on-the-brain!"

I recall one striking instance. Lieutenant Gardner, already mentioned,
had received six or eight hundred dollars in Confederate currency as the
price of a gold watch. But like the prodigal in Scripture he was now in
a far country, and had wasted his substance in what he called
"righteous" living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty
famine in that corner of the lower room, and he began to be in want. And
he would fain have filled his belly with corn-cob-meal bread, or spoiled
black beans, or the little potatoes which the swine didn't eat. And no
man gave him enough. And he determined to go to hospital. He gave out
that he was desperately sick. I at this time had "quarters" on the floor
above. Word was brought to me that my friend was mortally ill, and would
thank me to come down and take his last message to his relatives.
Alarmed, I instantly went down. I found him with two or three splitting
a small log of wood!

"Gardner, I hear you are a little 'under the weather.'"

"Dying, Colonel, dying!"

"What appears to be your disease?"


"Ah, you've got the exchange fever?"

"Yes; bad."

"Pulse run high?"

"Three hundred a minute."

"Anything I can do for you?"

"Yes, Colonel, beseech that fool doctor to send me to hospital. Tell him
I'm on my last legs. Tell him I only want to die there. Appeal to him in
behalf of my poor wife and babies." (Gardner, as I well knew, was a
bachelor, and had no children--to speak of.)

"Well, Lieutenant, I'll do anything I properly can for you. Is there
anything else?"

"Yes, Colonel; lend me your overcoat to wear to hospital; I'll send it
back at once."

"But, Lieutenant, you can't get into the hospital. Your cheeks are too
rosy; you're the picture of health."

"I'm glad you mentioned that, Colonel. I'll fix that. You'll see."

Next morning he watched at the window, and when he saw the doctor
coming, he swallowed a large pill of plug tobacco. The effect was more
serious than he expected. In a few minutes he became sick in earnest,
and was frightened. A deathlike pallor supervened. When the doctor
reached him, there was a genuine fit of vomiting. The story runs that
Captain Tiemann made a pathetic appeal in behalf of the imaginary twin
babies, that the doctor diagnosed it as a clear case of puerperal (which
he pronounced "puerp[=e]rial") fever complicated with symptoms of
cholera infantum, and ordered him to hospital at once! I loaned the
patient my overcoat, which he sent back directly. His recovery seemed
miraculous. In a week or two he returned from his delightful outing.
This was in the latter part of November.

Previously, for some weeks, Captain Howe and three or four other strong
and determined officers managed to get into the cellar of a one-story
building contiguous to ours and thence to excavate a tunnel out beyond
the line on which the sentinels were perpetually pacing to and fro. I
was too feeble to join in the enterprise, but hoped to improve the
opportunity to escape when the work was done. Unfortunately the arching
top of the tunnel was too near the surface of the ground, and the thin
crust gave way under the weight of a sentry. He yelled "Murder!" Two or
three of our diggers came scurrying back. The guard next to him shouted,
"You Yanks! you G--d d--d Yanks!" and fired into the deep hole. No more
tunneling at Danville.[8]

More successful and more amusing were several attempts by individual
officers one at a time. The water parties of four to eight went under a
strong guard two or three times a day down a long hill to the river Dan.
On the slope alongside the path were a number of large brick ovens,[9]
in which, we were told, the Confederates used to bake those big squares
of corn bread. The iron doors when we passed were usually open. On the
way back from the river, one officer on some pretense or other would lag
behind the rearmost soldier of the guard, who would turn to hurry him
up. The next officer, as soon as the soldier's back was turned, would
dodge into an open oven, and the careless guards now engaged in a loud
and passionate controversy about slavery or secession would not miss
him! Then, as night came on, the negroes in the vicinity, who, like all
the rest of the colored people, were friendly to us, would supply the
escaped officer with food and clothing, and pilot him on his way
rejoicing toward the Union lines. One by one, six officers escaped in
that way, and many of us began to look forward to the time when our turn
would come to try the baking virtues of those ovens!

But it was important that the escaped officer should not be missed. How
should we deceive the nondescript that we called "the roll-call
sergeant"? Morning and evening he carefully counted every one. How make
the census tally with the former enumerations? Yankee ingenuity was here
put to a severe test; but Lieutenant Titus, before mentioned, solved the
problem. With his table-knife saw he cut a hole about two feet square in
the floor near the northeast corner of the upper room. A nicely fitting
trapdoor completed the arrangement. Through this hole, helped by a rude
rope ladder of strips of rags, and hoisted to the shoulders of a tall
man by strong arms from below, a nimble officer could quickly ascend.
Now those in the lower room were counted first. When they broke ranks,
and the human automaton faced to the west and moved slowly towards the
stairs with three or four "Yanks" clustering at his side in earnest
conversation, the requisite number of spry young prisoners would "shin
up" the ladder, emerge, "deploy," and be counted over again in the upper
room! The thing worked to a charm. Not one of the six was missed.

Unfortunately, however, two or three of them were recaptured and again
incarcerated in Libby. The Richmond authorities thereupon telegraphed to
Colonel Smith, asking how those officers escaped from Danville. Smith,
surprised, ordered a recount. The trapdoor did its duty. "All present!"
Finally he answered, "No prisoner has escaped from Danville." The rebel
commissary of prisons at Richmond, Gen. J. H. Winder, then telegraphed
the names of the recaptured officers. Smith looks on his books: there
are those names, sure enough! The mystery must be solved. He now sends
his adjutant to count us about noon. We asked him what it meant. He told
us it was reported that several officers had escaped. We replied,
"That's too good to be true." He counted very slowly and with
extraordinary precision. He kept his eye on the staircase as he
approached it. Six officers flew up the ladder as we huddled around him.
It was almost impossible to suppress laughter at the close, when he
declared, "I'll take my oath no prisoner has escaped from this prison."
But there were those names of the missing, and there was our
ill-disguised mirth. Smith resorted to heroic measures. He came in with
two or three of his staff and a man who was said to be a professor of
mathematics. This was on the 8th of November, 1864. He made all officers
of the lower room move for a half-hour into the upper room, and there
fall in line with the rest. His adjutant called the roll in reality.
Each as his name was read aloud was made to step forward and cross to
the other side. Of course no one could answer for the absent six. I
doubt if he ever learned the secret of that trapdoor. The professor of
mathematics promised to bring me a Geometry. About two weeks later,
November 24th, he brought me a copy of Davies's _Legendre_.

On the 9th of December, while our senior officer, General Hayes, was
sick in hospital, the next in rank, Gen. A. N. Duffié, of the First
Cavalry Division of Sheridan's army, fresh from the French service, with
which he had campaigned in Algeria, where he was wounded nine times,
suddenly conceived a plot to break out and escape. Two companies of
infantry had arrived in the forenoon and stacked their arms in plain
sight on the level ground about twenty rods distant. Duffié's plan was
to rush through the large open door when a water party returning with
filled buckets should be entering, seize those muskets, overpower the
guard, immediately liberate the thousand or fifteen hundred Union
prisoners in the three other Danville prisons, and push off to our lines
in East Tennessee. He had Sheridan's _élan_, not Grant's cool-headed
strategy. With proper preparation and organization, such as Hayes would
have insisted upon, it might have been a success. He called us, field
officers about twenty, together and laid the matter before us. No vote
was taken, but I think a majority were opposed to the whole scheme. He
was disposed to consider himself, though a prisoner, as still vested
with authority to command all of lower rank, and he expected them to
obey him without question. In this view many acquiesced, but others
dissented. By his request, though doubtful of his right to command and
in feeble health, I drew up a pledge for those to sign who were willing
to engage in the projected rising and would promise to obey. It was
found that at least one hundred and fifty could be counted on. Colonel
Ralston, previously mentioned, was the chief opponent of the outbreak,
but he recognized Duffié's authority and insisted upon our submission
to it. Similar appeared to be the attitude of the following colonels:

Gilbert H. Prey, 104th N. Y.

James Carle, 191st Pa.

T. B. Kaufman, 209th Pa.

W. Ross Hartshorne, 190th Pa.

Of the lieutenant-colonels, most of the following doubted the success,
but would do their best to promote it, if commanded:

Charles H. Tay, 10th N. J.

Theodore Gregg, 45th Pa.

G. A. Moffett, 94th N. Y.

J. S. Warner, 121st Pa.

George Hamett, 147th N. Y.

Charles H. Hooper, 24th Mass.

Homer B. Sprague, 13th Conn.

So the following majors: A. W. Wakefield, 49th Pa.; G. S. Horton, 58th
Mass.; E. F. Cooke, 2d N. Y. Cav.; John G. Wright, 51st N. Y.; J. V.
Peale, 4th Pa. Cav.; John W. Byron, 88th N. Y.; David Sadler, 2d Pa.
Heavy Art.; John Byrne, 155th N. Y.; E. O. Shepard, 32d Mass.; J. A.
Sonders, 8th Ohio Cav.; Charles P. Mattocks, 17th Maine; E. S. Moore,
Paymaster; Wm. H. Fry, 16th Pa. Cav.; Milton Wendler, 191st Pa.; James
E. Deakins, 8th Tenn. Cav.; Geo. Haven Putnam, Adjt. and later
Bvt.-Major, 176th N. Y.

All of the foregoing then present and not on the sick list should have
been most thoroughly instructed as to their duties, and should have been
enabled to communicate all needed information to the forty-six captains
and one hundred and thirty-three lieutenants, who, though many were
sadly reduced in vitality, were accounted fit for active service. I had
repeatedly noticed in battle the perplexity of company, regimental, or
even brigade commanders, from lack of information as to the necessary
movements in unforeseen emergencies. It is not enough to say, as one
corps commander (Hancock?) is said to have done during the Battle of the
Wilderness in May, 1864, to a newly arrived colonel with his regiment,
who inquired, "Where shall I go in?" "Oh, anywhere; there's lovely
fighting all along the line!"

Here the step most vital to success, the _sine qua non_, was to keep
that outside door open for the outrush of two hundred men. To this end,
eight of our strongest and most determined, under a dashing leader like
Colonel Hartshorne or Lieutenant-Colonel Gregg, should have been sent
out as a water party. Instead, Captain Cook, who was brave enough, but
then physically weak, hardly able to carry a pail of water, was the
leader of an average small squad, "the spirit indeed willing, but the
flesh weak."

Hardly less important was it to select a dozen or twenty of the most
fierce and energetic, to be at the head of the stairs in perfect
readiness to dash instantly through the opening door and assist the
water party in disarming their guards, and, without a moment's pause,
followed by the whole two hundred, pounce upon the guard house. Ralston
or Duffié himself should have headed this band. Simultaneously, without
a second's interval, three or four desperate, fiery, powerful officers,
detailed for the purpose, should have grappled with the sentinel on duty
in the middle of the lower room and disarmed and gagged him.

Besides the field officers, we had with us many subordinates of great
intelligence like Capt. Henry S. Burrage of the 36th Mass., Lieut. W. C.
B. Goff of the 1st D. C. Cav., Lieut. W. C. Howe, 2d Mass. Cav., Adjt.
James A. Clark, 17th Pa. Cav., and the artist, Lieut. Henry Vander
Weyde; and nothing would have been easier than for Duffié to communicate
through them to every officer the most complete and precise information
and instructions.

Scarcely any of these precautions were taken. The general was impatient.
The next day, December 10th, he issued his command in these words: "I
order the attempt to be made, and I call upon all of you, who have not
forgotten how to obey orders, to follow." The water party was
immediately sent out, and its return was watched for. He and Ralston,
without the help of a third, made the mistake of personally grappling
with the floor sentry, a brave, strong, red-headed fellow, and they
tackled him a moment too soon. He stoutly resisted. They wrested his
musket from him. He yelled. They tried to stop his mouth. Instantly the
door began to swing open a little. The water party, too few and too
weak, paralyzed, failed to act. The foremost of us sprang from the
stairs to the door. Before we could reach it, it was slammed to, bolted
and barred against us! With several others I rushed to the windows and
tried to tear off the heavy bars. In vain. The soldiers outside began
firing through the broken panes. Ralston was shot through the body. We
assisted him up the stairs while the bullets were flying. In less than
five minutes from the moment when he and Duffié seized the sentinel, it
was all over. In about a quarter of an hour, Colonel Smith came in with
his adjutant and two or three guards, and ordered Ralston removed to
hospital. As he was carried out, one of us expressed the hope that the
wound was not serious. He answered in the language of Mercutio, "No,
'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but 'tis
enough, 'twill serve." He knew it was mortal, and expressed a
willingness to die for his country in the line of duty. He passed away
next morning. Colonel Smith expressed sorrow for him, and surprise at
the ingratitude of us who had been guilty of insurrection against his
gentle sway!

A strict search for possible weapons followed during which we were told
we must give up our United States money. I saved a ten-dollar greenback
by concealing it in my mouth "as an ape doth nuts in the corner of his
jaw," all the while munching corn bread, gnawing two holes in the bill!


[8] "You will doubtless recall the man-hole worked through the heavy
brick wall, made during the 'stilly nights,' opening into the attic of
an annex to the main building. We found our way down by means of a rope
ladder, and started our tunnel under the basement floor. But for the
exposure we would have emptied the prison. To find the way down we gave
them a lively hunt!--And those _epithets_!--I have a blouse with a rent
in the back made in going through that hole in the wall."--Howe's
_Letter_ of Jan. 30, 1914.

For further particulars of this attempt to tunnel out, see Major
Putnam's _A Prisoner of War in Virginia_, pp. 55-60.

[9] Putnam describes them as disused furnaces. They may have been both.


  Kind Clergymen Visit us and Preach Excellent Discourses--Colonel
    Smith's Personal Good Will to me--His Offer--John F. Ficklin's
    Charity--My Good Fortune--Supplies of Clothing Distributed--Deaths
    in Prison.

Union men never looked upon Confederates as mortal enemies. Whenever a
flag of truce was flying, both were disposed to shake hands and exchange
favors. I recollect that our Captain Burrage complained that he was
unfairly captured when he was engaged in a friendly deal with a
Confederate between the lines. At Port Hudson, when the white signal was
to go down, we gave the "Johnnies" fair warning, shouting, "RATS! TO
YOUR HOLES!" before we fired on them. But war cannot be conducted on
peace principles, and in a flash a man acts like a devil. In an open
window near the spot where I slept, an officer upset a cup of water, and
a few drops fell on the head of the guard outside. Instantly he fired.
The bullet missed, passed through the window below and the floor above,
and lodged in the hand or arm of another officer. I had an opportunity
to express to Colonel Smith my angry disgust at such savagery. He
agreed that the fellow ought to be punished--"at least for not being
able to shoot straighter!"[10]

Kindly visits were sometimes paid us. Two young men from the Richmond
Young Men's Christian Association came. The wicked said, "One came 'to
pray with us all right,' the other 'to prey upon us all wrong'"; for the
latter tried to induce us to exchange greenbacks for rebel currency!

Several times we were visited by kind clergymen who preached excellent
sermons. The first was Rev. ---- Dame of Danville. He was, I think, an
Episcopal minister. He was a high Mason, a gentleman of very striking
appearance, with a beautiful flowing beard, that would have done honor
to Moses or Aaron. As we sat on the hard floor, two hundred listening
reverently to his choice language, he seemed to foresee the doom which
many of us had begun to fear, and he very appropriately and with much
earnestness bade us consider our latter end. Mentioning his name with
gratitude some thirty years afterwards in a lecture at the Mountain Lake
Chautauqua, Md., one of my audience gave me a photograph of the
minister's handsome face, and told me he was greatly beloved. I doubt
not he deserved it.

Rev. Charles K. Hall of Danville, a Methodist Episcopal clergyman, came
to us a little later. His first sermon was an eloquent discourse on
Charity. He practiced what he preached; for he never came empty-handed.
On his first visit he brought armfuls of tobacco, each plug wrapped in a
pious tract. He asked us to fall in line, for he had something for each.
When he came to me in the distribution, I declined it, saying "I never
use tobacco in any form." "Oh take it," said he; "you read the tract,
and give the tobacco to your neighbor." On subsequent Sundays he brought
eggs and other delicacies for the sick. We admired him as a preacher,
and regarded him with affection as a man. Secession and slavery aside,
for he believed in the rightfulness of both, as we learned on arguing
with him, it would be hard to find a more lovable character than Charles
K. Hall. And the South was full of such, who would have been glad, if
permitted and opportunity offered, to be good Samaritans, neighbors to
him who had fallen among foes; pure, gentle, kindly spirits, to whom it
will be said in the last great day, "I was an hungred and ye gave me
meat; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto

From the lack of sufficient and proper food, clothing, and exercise, the
health of all suffered. Much of the time it was impossible to keep warm.
The most prevalent diseases, I think, were rheumatism and scurvy. I
suffered from both. Anti-scorbutics were scarce. The pain from
rheumatism was slight during the day; but at evening it began in the
joints of the fingers and became more severe as night advanced,
ascending from the hands to the wrists, arms, and shoulders. It was
worst at midnight and through the small hours, then gradually diminished
till daylight. The prison physician did his best to help us with
liniment, but in those winter nights the treatment was ineffective.

Upon the total failure of our attempt to break out on the 10th of
December, and having come reluctantly to the conclusion that Colonel
Smith had told us the truth when he said that Lincoln and Grant would
not consent to an exchange of prisoners, I foresaw that death was
inevitable after a few months, perhaps a few weeks, unless the situation
should materially change for the better. I determined, though without
much hope of success, to appeal to Colonel Smith for personal favor. On
the 15th of December I sent word to him that I wished an interview with
him. He immediately sent a soldier to bring me to his office. He
received me courteously; for he was a gentleman. I told him it was
necessary for me, if I was to live much longer, that I should at least
have better food and more of it. I asked him if it would not be possible
for an arrangement to be effected whereby some of my relatives in the
north should furnish a Confederate prisoner with food, clothing, and
comforts, and that prisoner's relatives in the south should reciprocate
by supplying me. He answered that it might be possible, but he did not
know of any such southern captive's friends likely to respond. After a
few minutes of silence he said:

"Colonel Sprague, I'd like to do something for you, and I'll make you an


"Your government has adopted the devilish policy of no exchange of

"I am afraid it's true."

"I know it's true."

"Well, what's your proposition?"

"I am overworked here. I must do my duty to my government. Our cause is


"I should like to have you assist me by doing writing regularly for me
at these headquarters. I would parole you. You shall have a room to
yourself, a good bed, plenty of food, and a good deal of liberty. You
must give me your word of honor not to attempt to escape."

"Colonel Smith, I thank you. I appreciate the friendly spirit in which
you make the offer, and I am very grateful for it. But I can't
conscientiously accept it. I am in the Union Army, bound to do
everything in my power to destroy your government. I must do nothing to
help it. If Lincoln refuses to exchange us prisoners, it may be best for
the United States, though hard on us. What happens to us is a minor
matter. It's a soldier's business to die for his country rather than
help its enemies in the slightest degree. I can't entertain your

So the conference ended sadly. As I was leaving his office he introduced
me to a Confederate soldier who sat there and who had heard the whole
conversation. Next day this soldier entered the prison by permission of
Colonel Smith and brought me some nice wheat bread, some milk, pickles,
and other food, a pair of thick woolen stockings, and a hundred dollars
in Confederate money. He gave me his name, John F. Ficklin, of the
Virginia _Black Horse Cavalry_. He whispered to me that he was at heart
a Union man, but had been forced by circumstances to enter the
Confederate service; that by simulating illness he had got relieved from
duty at the front and assigned to service at Colonel Smith's
headquarters; that he was confident he could bring about such an
arrangement for reciprocal supplies as I had proposed, and had so
informed Smith, who approved of the plan; that until such a plan should
be put in operation he would furnish me from his own table. He said to
me very privately that he was greatly moved by what I had said the day
before. "But," he added, "I am not entirely unselfish in this. I foresee
that the Confederacy can't last very long; certainly not a year. I give
it till next September; and, frankly, when it goes to smash, I want to
stand well with you officers." At my suggestion he gave a few other
prisoners food and money.

In a few days I was again called to headquarters to meet a Mr. Jordan,
who, through Ficklin's efforts, had been invited to meet me. His son,
Henry T. Jordan, Adjutant of the 55th North Carolina Regiment, was at
that time a prisoner at Johnson's Island, Ohio. Mr. Jordan agreed to
make out a list of articles which he wished my relatives to send to his
son. In a day or two he did so. I likewise made out a statement of my
immediate wants, as follows:

    Wood for cooking;
    Cup, plate, knife, fork, spoon;
    Turnips, salt, pepper, rice, vinegar;
    Pickled cucumbers, dried apple, molasses;
    Or any other substantial food.

I asked Jordan to send me those things _at once_. He answered after some
delay that he would do so immediately on receiving an acknowledgment
from his son that my friends had furnished him what he wanted; and he
would await such a message! As my relatives were in Massachusetts and
Connecticut, it would take considerable time for them to negotiate with
the prison commandant and other parties in Ohio and have the
stipulations distinctly understood and carried into effect there.
Besides, there were likely to be provoking delays in communicating by
mail between the north and the south, and it might be a month or six
weeks before he got assurances from his son; by which time I should
probably be in a better world than Danville, and in no need of wood,
food, or table-ware. I wrote him to that effect, and requested him to
make haste, but received no reply.

My friend Mr. Ficklin came to the rescue. As a pretext to deceive, if
need were, the prison authorities, and furnish to them and others a
sufficient reason for bringing me supplies, he pretended that he had a
friend, a Confederate prisoner of war at Camp Douglas near Chicago, and
that Colonel Sprague's friends had been exceedingly kind to him,
ministering most liberally to his wants! The name of this imaginary
friend was J. H. Holland, a private soldier of the 30th Virginia
Cavalry. Ficklin forged a letter purporting to come from Holland to him,
which he showed to Colonel Smith, in which he spoke with much gratitude
of my friends' bounty, and besought Ficklin to look tenderly after my
comfort in return! The ruse succeeded. Ficklin's generosity to me was
repeated from time to time, and perhaps saved my life.

A year after the close of the war Ficklin wrote to me that he wished to
secure a position in the Treasury Department of the United States, and
he thought it would aid him if I would certify to what I knew of his
kindness to Union prisoners. I accordingly drew up a strong detailed
statement of his timely and invaluable charities to us in our distress.
I accompanied it with vouchers for my credibility signed by Hon. N. D.
Sperry, General Wm. H. Russell, and President Theodore D. Woolsey, all
of New Haven, and Governor Wm. A. Buckingham of Norwich, Conn. These
documents I forwarded to Ficklin. I do not know the result.

From Sergeant Wilson F. Smith, chief clerk at Colonel Smith's
headquarters, a paroled prisoner, member of Co. F., 6th Pa. Cav., the
company of Captain Furness, son or brother of my Shakespearian friend,
Dr. Horace Howard Furness, and from Mr. Strickland, undertaker, who
furnished the coffins and buried the dead of the Danville prisons, both
of whom I talked with when I was on parole in February, '65, I obtained
statistics mutually corroborative of the number of deaths in the
Danville prisons. In November there were 130; in December, 140; from
January 1st to January 24th, 105. The negro soldiers suffered most.
There were sixty-four of them living in prison when we reached Danville,
October 20, '64. Fifty-seven of them were dead on the 12th of February,
'65, when I saw and talked with the seven survivors in Prison No. Six.
From one of the officers (I think it was Captain Stuart) paroled like
myself in February to distribute supplies of clothing sent by the United
States through the lines, and who performed that duty in Salisbury, and
from soldiers of my own regiment there imprisoned, I learned that in the
hundred days ending February 1st, out of eight or ten thousand
prisoners, more than thirty a day, more than three thousand in all, had
died! Of Colonel Hartshorne's splendid "Bucktail Regiment," the 190th
Pa., formerly commanded by my Yale classmate Colonel O'Neil who fell at
Antietam, there were 330 at Salisbury, October 19th, the day we left;
116 of them were dead before February 1st, one company losing 22 out of
33 men.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why this fearful mortality? Men do not die by scores, hundreds,
thousands, without some extraordinary cause. It was partly for want of
clothing. They were thinly clad when captured.

Pursuant to agreement entered into early in December, 1864, between the
Federal and Confederate authorities, supplies of clothing for Union
prisoners in Richmond, Danville, and Salisbury, were sent through the
lines. They did not reach Danville till February. Colonel Carle, 191st
Pa. and myself, with another officer (I think he was Colonel Gilbert G.
Prey, 104th N. Y.) were paroled to distribute coats (or blouses),
trousers, and shoes, among the enlisted men in their three prisons. Then
for the first time Union officers saw the interior of those jails. By
permission of Colonel Smith, Mr. Ficklin accompanied us on one of these
visits, and I saw him give fifty dollars in Confederate money to one of
our suffering soldiers. My part in the distribution was to sign as
witness opposite the name of each one receiving. Those rolls should be
in the archives at Washington.

On the 12th of February we issued shoes and clothing in the jail known
as Prison No. Six. It contained that day 308 of our men. There were the
seven surviving colored soldiers, and the one wearing our prison
commander's coat. We requested them all to form line, and each as his
name was called to come forward and receive what he most needed. Some of
them were so feeble that they had to be assisted in coming down from the
upper floor, almost carried in the arms of stronger comrades. Many were
unable to remain standing long, and sank helpless on the floor. Nearly
all were half-clad, or wearing only the thinnest of garments. Some were
white with vermin. Several were so far gone that they had forgotten
their company or regiment. Every one seemed emaciated. Many kept asking
me why our government did not exchange prisoners; for they were told
every day the truth that the Confederate government desired it. There
was a stove, but no fuel. The big rooms were not heated. The cold was
severe. About a third of them had apparently given up all hope of
keeping their limbs and bodies warm; but they kept their heads, necks,
shoulders, and chests, carefully wrapped. The dismal coughing at times
drowned all other sounds, and made it difficult to proceed with our work
of distribution. There were two little fires of chips and splinters on
bricks, one of them near the middle, the other near the far end. In
contact with these were tin or earthen cups containing what passed for
food or drink. There was no outlet for smoke. It blackened the hands and
faces of those nearest, and irritated the lungs of all.

This prison was the worst. It was colder than the others. But all were
uncomfortably cold. All were filled with smoke and lice. From each there
went every day to the hospital a wagon-load of half-starved and
broken-hearted soldiers who would never return. I visited the hospital
to deliver to two of the patients letters which Colonel Smith had handed
to me for them. They were both dead. I looked down the long list. The
word "Died," with the date, was opposite most of the names. As I left
the hospital I involuntarily glanced up at the lintel, half expecting to
see inscribed there as over the gate to Dante's Hell,


At the rate our enlisted men were dying at Danville and Salisbury during
the winter of 1864-65, all would have passed away in a few months,
certainly in less than a year; AND THEY KNEW IT.

Is it any wonder that some of them, believing our government had
abandoned them to starvation rather than again risk its popularity by
resorting to conscription for the enrollment of recruits and by possibly
stirring up draft riots such as had cost more than a thousand lives in
the city of New York in July, 1863, accepted at last the terms which the
Confederates constantly held out to them, took the oath of allegiance to
the Confederacy, and enlisted in the rebel army? I was credibly informed
that more than forty did it in Prison No. Four at Danville, and more
than eleven hundred at Salisbury. Confederate recruiting officers and
sergeants were busy in those prisons, offering them the choice between
death and life. No doubt multitudes so enlisted under the Confederate
flag with full determination to desert to our lines at the first
convenient opportunity. Such was the case with private J. J. Lloyd, Co.
A, of my battalion, who rejoined us in North Carolina. _The great
majority chose to die._

The last communication that I received from enlisted men of my
battalion, fellow prisoners with me at Salisbury, whom I had exhorted
not to accept the offers of the Confederates, but to be true to their
country and their flag, read thus: "Colonel, don't be discouraged. Our
boys all say they'll starve to death in prison sooner than take the oath
of allegiance to the Confederacy." And true to this resolve did indeed
starve or freeze to death Sergeant Welch, Sergeant Twichell, Privates
Vogel, Plaum, Barnes, Geise, Andrews, Bishop, Weldon, who had stood by
me in many a battle, and who died at last for the cause they loved.

It is comparatively easy to face death in battle. No great courage or
merit in that. The soldier is swept along with the mass. Often he cannot
shirk if he would. The chances usually are that he will come out alive.
He may be inspired with heroism,

    And the stern joy which warriors feel
    In foeman worthy of their steel.

There is a consciousness of irresistible strength as he beholds the
gleaming lines, the dense columns, the smoking batteries, the dancing
flags, the cavalry with flying feet.

    'Twere worth ten years of peaceful life,
    One glance at their array.

Or nobler, he feels that he represents a nation or a grand cause, and
that upon his arm depends victory. In his enthusiasm he even fancies
himself a vicegerent of the Almighty, commissioned to fight in His
cause, to work His will, to save His earth from becoming a hell. "From
the heights of yonder pyramids," said Napoleon to the French battling
against the Mamelukes, "forty centuries are looking down upon you." Our
soldier in battle imagined the world looking on, that for him there was
fame undying; should he fall wounded, his comrades would gently care for
him; if slain, his country's flag would be his shroud.

By no such considerations were our imprisoned comrades cheered. Not in
the glorious rush and shock of battle; not in hope of victory or
fadeless laurels; no angel charities, or parting kiss, or sympathetic
voice bidding the soul look heavenward while the eye was growing dim; no
dear star-spangled banner for a winding sheet. But wrapped in rags;
unseen, unnoticed, dying by inches, in the cold, in the darkness, often
in rain or sleet, houseless, homeless, friendless, on the hard floor or
the bare ground, starving, freezing, broken-hearted.

    O the long and dreary winter!
    O the cold and cruel winter!

It swept them away at Salisbury by tens, twenties, even fifties in a
single night.

These men preferred death to dishonor. When we are told that our people
are not patriotic, or sigh of America as Burke did of France a century
and a quarter ago, that the age of chivalry is gone, we may point to
this great martyrdom, the brightest painting on the darkest background
in all our history--thousands choosing to die for the country which
seemed to disown them!

My diary records, and I believe it correct, that on the 17th of
February, there were ten deaths in the Danville prisons. A little before
midnight of that day the Danville prisoners were loaded into box cars,
and the train was started for Richmond. Three, it was reported, died in
the cars that night, and one next morning in the street on the way to

During the next three days I obtained the autographs of two hundred and
fifteen of my fellow officers there. The little book is precious. A few
still survive; but the great majority have joined the faithful whom they

    On Fame's eternal camping ground
      Their silent tents are spread,
    And Glory guards with solemn round
      The bivouac of the dead!

On the twenty-second we were taken for exchange down the James. As we
passed through the lines into what we were accustomed fondly to call
"God's Country," salvos of artillery and signs of universal rejoicing
greeted us. Our reception made us imagine for an hour that our arrival
perceptibly heightened the general joy of the Washington anniversary.
But many of us could not help wishing we were asleep with the thousands
who were filling nameless graves at Danville and Salisbury.


[10] See Putnam's account of this incident in his _A Prisoner of War in
Virginia_, p. 67.


  Results and Reflections--The Right and the Wrong of it All.

A few days of waiting in the buildings of the Naval Academy at Annapolis
while exchange papers were preparing gave us opportunity for a
much-needed transformation. Our old clothing, encrusted with dirt and
infested with vermin, in many cases had to be destroyed. One of our
number especially unkempt, Captain T., who gave up for an hour or two
his beloved trousers, found to his surprise and horror when he called
for their return that they had been burned with four hundred dollars in
greenbacks sewed up in the lining! We smiled at his irrepressible grief;
it was poetic justice. He had carefully concealed the fact of his being
flush, pretending all along to be like the rest _in forma pauperis_, and
contriving, it was said, to transfer in crooked ways our pennies into
his pockets!

Fumigated, parboiled, scrubbed, barbered, decently clothed, "the
deformed transformed" were once more presentable in civilized society.
Then followed a brief leave of absence if desired, to visit relatives.
To them it seemed a veritable resurrection after our months of living
burial; yet the joy of reunion was sometimes tinged with sorrow. I
learned that in the very week in which the tidings of my capture came
our home circle had been sadly broken by the death of a beloved sister,
and just then the telegraph told of the loss by fever in the army at
Newbern of our household darling,

    Younger by fifteen years than myself,
    Brother at once and son.

As previously stated we who held commissions fared better on the whole
than the non-commissioned officers and privates, though receiving from
the commissary rations exactly equal to theirs. Commonly older and
therefore of larger experience and superior intelligence, a good officer
is as a father looking out for the physical welfare of his men as well
as himself. Then there were some who, like Gardner, had been fortunate
in keeping clothing, money, or other valuable at the instant of capture
or in hiding it when searched by Dick Turpin at Libby. Several like
Captain Cook had obtained pecuniary assistance from influential friends
across the lines, or in a few instances had been favored by brother
freemasons or by charitably disposed visitors who gave us a little food,
a few old books, or even Confederate currency. Several sold to the
sentinels watches, rings, chains, breast-pins, society badges, silver
spurs, military boots, or curiously wrought specimens of Yankee
ingenuity carved with infinite pains. The "Johnnies" appeared to hanker
for any article not produced in the Confederacy. An officer of the guard
offered Putnam three hundred dollars for a nearly worn-out tooth-brush!

The educational standard among our officers was quite respectable. I
think that West Point had a representative among us, as well as Bowdoin
and several other colleges. Certainly we had ex-students from at least
five universities, Brown, Yale, Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Göttingen.

To afford diversion and as an antidote to depression, as well as for
intellectual improvement, some of us studied mathematics[11] or
_Shakespeare_. Three or four classes were formed in modern languages.
We had card-playing with packs soiled and worn; checkers and chess on
extemporized boards with rudely whittled "pieces"; occasional
discussions historical, literary, political, or religious; many of us
quite regular physical exercises in brisk walks on the empty lowest
floor; story-telling; at times, though not often, the reading aloud of a
Confederate newspaper, to a group of fifty or more listeners; at
evening, sweet singing, riddles, jests, or loud-voiced sarcastic
conundrums and satirical responses. Many found interest and pleasure in
carving with the utmost nicety wood or bone.[12]

Something like military discipline prevailed among the two hundred in
the upper room where the superior rank of General Hayes was often
recognized. Among a hundred and fifty or more in the lower room, where
for a month or two I was the senior but was unwilling to assume
precedence, I secured with the aid of Major Byron, Captain Howe, and a
few others a sort of civil government with semi-military features.

These measures and the favoring circumstances that have been mentioned
tended of course to the preservation of health among the officers. There
was severe suffering from hunger, cold, rheumatism, and scurvy, from all
of which I was for weeks a victim and at one time seemed doomed to
perish. I recall, however, the names of but two officers (there were
said to be four) who died at Danville. Some of us, though enfeebled,
were soon able to rejoin our commands; as Putnam his at Newbern in
April, Gardner and I ours at Morehead City the day after Lee's surrender
at Appomattox.

Of the effect in after-life of these strange experiences it is safe to
say that to some extent they were a spur to intellectual effort. At
least they should have made all sadder and wiser; and they certainly
were in some cases an equipment for descriptive authorship. Major (Adner
A.) Small wrote a valuable account of prison life. Dr. Burrage's
narratives of his capture and its results are entertaining and
instructive. Major Putnam's _A Prisoner of War in Virginia_ (reprinted
in his _Memories of My Youth_) is an important contribution to our
military history.[13] Lieutenant Estabrooks's _Adrift in Dixie_ is
charmingly told.[14] "Dutch Clark" (Adjutant James A. Clark, 17th Pa.
Cav.), one of the four who nightly tried to sleep under my blanket,
started and edited with ability at Scranton _The Public Code_, for which
I was glad to furnish literary material. He afterwards became prominent
in theosophic circles. Others distinguished themselves. Captain (Frank
H.) Mason, in prison our best chess player, was long Consul-General at
Paris. Cook studied five or six years in Germany, France, and Italy,
then was for eight or ten years assistant professor in German at
Harvard, and afterwards for two years, until his untimely death,
professor in the same department at the Institute of Technology in
Boston. In addressing a Sunday-school in Brooklyn, 1871, I unexpectedly
lighted upon Captain Tiemann doing good work as a teacher. Captain
Gardner continued for many months a model military officer in
Georgia.[15] I remained in the service a full year, often on
courts-martial, military commissions, and "reconstruction" duty.

       *       *       *       *       *

As already described, the condition of the enlisted men strongly
contrasted with ours. The Report of the Confederate Inspector of Prisons
now on file in the _War Records_ of our government, though the reports
of his subordinate officers are significantly missing, covers the few
months next preceding January, 1865. It sharply censures the immediate
prison authorities, stating, as the result of the privations, that the
deaths at Danville were at the rate of about five per day! I think they
were more numerous in January and February. None of my battalion were
there, but at Salisbury three-sevenths of them died in less than three

It is hard to refrain from the expression of passionate indignation at
the treatment accorded to our non-commissioned officers and privates in
those southern hells. For years we were accustomed to ask, "In what
military prison of the north, in what common jail of Europe, in what
dungeon of the civilized or savage world, have captives taken in
war--nay, condemned criminals--been systematically exposed to a
lingering death by cold and hunger? The foulest felon--his soul black
with sacrilege, his hands reeking with parricide--has enough of food, of
clothing, of shelter; a chair to sit in, a fire to warm him, a blanket
to hide his nakedness, a bed of straw to die on!"

But listen a moment to the other side. Alexander H. Stephens,
Vice-President of the Confederacy, afterwards for eight years a
representative in our Congress, a man of unquestioned integrity, shows
in his _War between the States_ (pub. 1868-70) by quotation from the
Report of our then Secretary of War (July 19, 1866) that only 22,576
Federal prisoners died in Confederate hands during the war, whilst
26,436 Confederate prisoners died in Federal hands. He shows also from
the United States Surgeon-General Joseph K. Barnes's Report that the
number of Federal prisoners in southern prisons was about 270,000, but
the number of Confederate prisoners in northern prisons was about
220,000; so that the percentage of deaths in southern prisons was under
nine, while the percentage of deaths in northern prisons was over

Had there been, from the first, prompt exchanges of prisoners between
the north and the south, few of these forty-nine thousand lives would
have been lost. _Who, then, blocked the exchange?_

Stephens declares (_War between the States_, vol. ii):

    "It is now well understood to have been a part of the settled policy
    of the Washington authorities in conducting the war, not to exchange
    prisoners. The grounds upon which this extraordinary course was
    adopted were, that it was humanity to the northern men in the field
    to let their captured comrades perish in prison rather than to let
    an equal number of Confederate soldiers be released on exchange to
    meet them in battle."

To the same effect our Secretary Stanton in one of his letters in 1864
pointed out "that it would not be good policy to send back to be placed
on the firing line 70,000 able-bodied Confederates, and to receive in
exchange men who, with but few exceptions, were not strong enough to
hold their muskets."

The responsibility, then, for this refusal and the consequent enormous
sacrifice of life with all the accompanying miseries, must rest in part
upon the Government of the United States.[17]

Blame not the tender-hearted Lincoln for this.

Did he not judge wisely? Was it not best for the nation that we
prisoners should starve and freeze?

The pivotal question for him and Grant and Stanton was, "Shall we
exchange and thereby enable the South to reinforce their armies with
fifty to a hundred thousand trained soldiers?

"If yes, then we must draft many more than that; for they being on the
defensive we must outnumber them in battle. If no, then we must either
stop their cruelties by equally cruel retaliation, as Washington hung
André for the execution of Hale, or we must, more cruelly still, leave
myriads of our soldiers to sink into imbecility and death."

The North had not the excuse of destitution which the South had, and it
could not bring itself to make reprisals in kind. To draft again, as
evinced in the terrible riots of July, 1863, would have been extremely
unpopular and perhaps overthrown the administration and defeated the
policy of the government. To exchange would pretty surely have prolonged
the war, and might have resulted in permanent disunion.

As to the right or wrong of the refusal to exchange, it is hardly
relevant to insist that the triumph of the South would have perpetuated
slavery. Lincoln's Proclamation, January 1, 1863, did not touch slavery
in the Border States. And from the southern nation, denuded of slaves by
their escape to the North and confronted by the growing anti-slavery
sentiment of the civilized world, the "peculiar institution" would soon
have died out.

Need we attempt, as is often done, to justify our government's attitude
in this matter by affirming that the nation was in a life-and-death
struggle for its very existence? Did that existence depend upon its
territorial limits? Would it have gone to pieces if the victorious North
had relinquished its hold on the defeated South? Had a boundary line
been drawn half-way across the continent, separating the twenty-three
loyal States from the eleven seceding, the twenty-two millions of the
North from the nine or ten millions of the South, would it not have
remained a mighty nation with no cause for further disunion, and able as
the war had shown to place in the field more than two million fighting

Is it not equally unnecessary to urge, as if it were a valid excuse for
our government's refusal to exchange, that between the two nations there
would have been frequent if not perpetual hostilities? Why so, any more
than between the United States and Canada, where for fifty (it is now a
hundred) years, along a boundary line of thirty-eight hundred miles,
there had been unbroken peace and no fort nor warship?

Let us not raise the question whether Lincoln made a colossal blunder
when he renounced his favorite doctrine so emphatically set forth in his
Congressional speech (page 47). The die was cast when Sumter was fired
on. The question which confronted him in 1863-64--What to do with the
perishing Union prisoners?--was simply one of military necessity.

According to the ethics of war was he not fully justified in sacrificing
us rather than imperiling the great cause which he had at heart?

Are we, then, to blame President Davis, or the Confederate Commissioner
Robert Ould, or Gen. John H. Winder, Superintendent of Military Prisons,
for allowing the Federal prisoners to starve and freeze and die by
thousands? Must we not admit the truth of their contention that their
soldiers needed the food, clothing, and medical care for want of which
their prisoners were suffering? And if the shocking conditions at
Andersonville, Salisbury, Danville, and other prisons could easily have
been avoided, or even if they were made more distressing by the
deliberate inhumanity of those in immediate charge, ought not such facts
to have intensified a desire on the part of both governments to effect a
speedy exchange?

The southern people were threatened with subjugation, their government
with annihilation. In such a critical situation, what measures are

We endeavor to look at the matter from both standpoints.

This brings up the whole question of the rightfulness of war. If it must
be waged, is success the highest duty? If military necessity demands,
may any and every law of God and man be disregarded?

While we write these concluding pages, the European conflict is raging,
and the voice of the most warlike nation on the globe is heard
continually affirming that war is useful and highly honorable, and that
any means, however frightful, if necessary to ensure or hasten victory
is praise-worthy!

Then both presidents were right!

But is not international war murder on a great scale? It is glorious to
die for one's country; but how about killing for our country? killing
innocent men, too? for the soldiers on either side honestly believe they
are doing their duty in shooting and stabbing as many as possible! "The
business of war," said John Wesley, "is the business of devils." So it
would seem; but at heart few are enemies, none devils.

It has been a pleasure in this narrative to record instances of a very
different spirit. Surely, in proportion to population such were not
fewer in the South than in the North. Like Whittier's _Angels of Buena
Vista_ they rescue us from pessimism. They are prophetic of a better

    Not wholly lost, O Father, is this evil world of ours!
    Upward through the blood and ashes spring afresh the Eden flowers:
    From its smoking hell of battle, Love and Pity send their prayer,
    And still thy white-winged angels hover dimly in our air!


[11] I still possess the copy of Davies's _Legendre_ which I bought on
the 8th of November for twenty Confederate dollars, and of which I
memorized three books in prison. As to the _Shakespeare_, see _ante_, p.

[12] I retain with pride the wooden spoon which did me good service when
I was _in limbo_. It cost me over two weeks' labor in shaping it with
half a knife-blade and pieces of broken glass. For the little block of
wood I paid the sentry one "rebel dollar!"

[13] Many years after the war he rendered financial aid to fellow
prisoners, his chum, artist Vander Weyde, and General Hayes. Author of
several valuable works, he is now head of the publishing house of G. P.
Putnam's Sons.

[14] It was a special pleasure after the lapse of fifty years to meet
Estabrooks at the Massachusetts Commandery of the Loyal Legion, where,
without knowing of his presence, I had just made honorable mention of
him in an address on prison life.

[15] In my own case the prison experience was peculiar: it changed the
course of my whole subsequent life. I had studied law, been admitted to
the bar in two states, and "practiced" with fair success, "though," as a
friend was accustomed to remark, "not enough to do much harm!" Many
times one of the best men I ever knew, my father, had said to me at
parting, "Do all the good you can." Much meditating while in the army
and especially while in prison, I finally resolved to pursue an
educational career. Of course I felt sadly the loss of years of study
that might have better equipped me; but it seemed a duty. I had had some
experience which, I thought, proved me not wholly unqualified. While a
student in college and while reading law I had partly supported myself
by giving instruction to private pupils and in the schools of General
Russell and Mayor Skinner. Afterwards, before the war, I had taught
Greek in the Worcester (Mass.) Academy; and English literature, Greek,
and Latin for more than three years as principal of the Worcester public
high school. I knew the vocation would be congenial. So I became
principal of a state normal school, of two high schools, of a large
academy; house chairman of a (Conn.) legislative committee securing the
enactment of three school measures of importance; later, president of a
college, professor in a theological seminary and in Cornell University;
founder and for three years first president of the earliest and long the
largest of the world's general _summer_ schools (which now in the United
States number nearly 700); lecturer in many Chautauqua assemblies,
colleges, vacation schools, and university extension centres; President
of the State University of North Dakota; editor, with biographic
sketches and copious notes, of many masterpieces as text-books in higher
English literature; author of a history of my regiment; also of a
treatise on _Voice and Gesture_, of many monographs and magazine
articles mostly educational; associate founder and first president of
_The Watch and Ward Society_; one of the directors and executive
committee of the _American Peace Society_; director of the
_Massachusetts Peace Society_; president of _The American Institute of
Instruction_; translator, annotator, and essayist of _The Book of Job_;

It may be proper to add that among those indebted in some degree to my
instruction or training were several who captured Yale's highest prize
for rhetorical excellence (the hundred dollar gold medal of which I was
the first recipient): one college president; six college professors;
three university presidents; two governors of states; two United States
Senators; and many others eminent as clergymen, authors, judges,
editors, and business men.

[16] The higher death-rate (if that be conceded) of southern soldiers is
easily accounted for. The northern soldiers had been carefully selected
by competent surgeons. They were physically perfect, or nearly so. They
were in the bloom of early manhood or the strength of middle age--not an
old man among them, not a diseased man among them, not a broken-down
constitution among them. But multitudes of the southern, enrolled by
conscription, were physically unfit. Many were much too old or too
young. Said our General Grant, "To fill their ranks, they have robbed
the cradle and the grave!"

[17] The exchange is said to have been stopped in 1862-63 by the refusal
of the Confederates to give up captured negro soldiers in return for
southern captives in the North, the United States properly insisting
upon perfect equality in the treatment of black and white. But early in
1864, if not previously, the Confederates yielded the point and were
anxious to surrender man for man.


(From the original record. See p. 88.)

Proceedings of a Court Martial convened at Danville Mil. Pris. by virtue
of the following Order:

                                  DANVILLE MIL. PRISON, Oct. 29, 1864.

General Order

No. 1.

Pursuant to the Regulations adopted by the Union Officers of the 2d
Floor Military Prison, Danville, Va., Oct. 26, 1864, a Court Martial is
hereby appointed to convene at 10 o'clock A.M. on the 29th inst. or as
soon thereafter as may be practicable, for the Trial of Captain [I omit
from the record the name of the accused], 104th N. Y. Vols., and such
other officers as may be brought before it.

               Detail for the Court.

 Lt. Col. W. A. LEACH,      [Here follow the names
   90th P. V.               of Captains Bryant,
 Lt. Col. THEO. GREGG,      Black, Clapp, Burkart,
   45th P. V.               Weiss (?), Reilly (?),
 Major J. W. BYRON,         Moody, and the name
   88th N. Y. V.            of the Judge Advocate,
 Capt. G. M. DICKERMAN,     Lt. and Adjt. James A.
   26th Mass. V.            Clark, 17th Pa. Cav.]

                           By order of the Officers of the 2d Floor,
                                                 JAMES CARLE,
                                 Col. 190th Pa. Vols., Senior Officer.

DANVILLE MIL. PRISON, VA., 10 o'clock A.M., 31st, Oct. 1864.

The Court met pursuant to the foregoing order. Present all the members.
The Court then proceeded to the trial of Capt. [we again omit the name
of the accused], 104th N. Y. Vols.

The Judge Advocate stated that he had acquainted the accused of the
order convening the Court, to which he replied in the words following,
to wit: "What is that to do with me? I recognize no authority in this
prison to convene a court martial," or words to that effect.

The accused having refused to appear, the members of the Court were duly
sworn by the Judge Advocate, and the Judge Advocate was duly sworn by
the President of the Court. The accused, Capt. [again we omit the name],
104th N. Y. Vols., was arraigned on the following charges and

Charge--Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

Specification--In this: That Capt. [we again omit], 104th N. Y. Vols.,
without provocation, did say in the hearing of several officers to
Lieut. Col. Homer B. Sprague, 13th C. V., speaking in coarse and
ungentlemanly manner the words following, to wit: [here we omit the
language uttered as being too vile and filthy to print]; that he did
several times repeat the same in a coarse and angry tone, and used other
vulgar and indecent expressions in an insulting tone and manner. This at
Danville Mil. Prison, Va., in the lower room thereof on the 29th day of
October, 1864.

The accused refusing to appear, the Judge Advocate was directed by the
President to enter the plea of Not Guilty.

    To the Specification,  Not Guilty.
    To the Charge,         Not Guilty.

Lieut. G. C. Wilson, 2d P. Artillery, and Lieut. Wm. Shuler, 107th P.
Vols., witnesses for the prosecution, stated that they had cognizance of
the facts set forth in the Specification.

The proceedings of the Court having been reviewed by the Judge Advocate,
he submitted the case without argument. The Court was then cleared for
deliberation, and having maturely considered the evidence adduced find
the accused

On the Specification, Guilty; with the exception of the words "and used
other vulgar and indecent expressions."

Of the Charge, Guilty. And do therefore sentence him to be reprimanded
by the Senior Officer.

The Court is thus lenient owing to this being the first case of the kind
brought before it.

 WM. A. LEACH, Lt. Col. 90th Regt. Pa. Vols., Pres.;
 JAS. A. CLARK, Adjt. 17th Pa. Cavalry, Judge Advocate.

The Proceedings and Findings in the foregoing case are hereby
respectfully submitted to Brig.-Gen. Hayes for his consideration.

JAMES CARLE, Col. 191st Pa. Vols., Senior Officer, 2d Floor.


The Proceedings and Findings of the Court Martial of which Lt. Col. W.
A. Leach, 90th Pa. Vols., was President, having been submitted to
Brig.-Gen. Hayes, the Senior Officer present, are approved. The extreme
leniency of the Court must be apparent to all, and can only be excused
by the novelty of the case brought before it. Language fails to convey
censure adequate to the gross vulgarity and ungentlemanly conduct of the
accused. Captain [we omit the name] seems to forget or misconceive his
responsibility in his present circumstances. An officer being a prisoner
of war is not relieved from his responsibility to his government nor
from his liability to the regulations of the service as far as may be
applied to his dishonor by ungentlemanly and unofficer-like conduct; and
many other offenses committed by an officer when a prisoner of war are
as punishable as if that officer were serving with his command. And it
is well the officers in the prison have organized a Court for the
summary punishment of those of their number, who, forgetful of their
position and their honor, would bring shame upon themselves and their

It is to be hoped that Capt. [name we omit]'s conduct in the future will
be such as will cause to be forgotten his mistakes of the past.

                                  JOSEPH HAYES, Brig. Gen. U. S. Vols.



 Adams, Dr. Nehemiah, 29

 Adams, Sarah F., quoted, 35

 ambulance, 37, 38

 annihilation threatened, 23

 apothecary doctor, 108, 109

 Appendix, court record, 153-156

 apple-jack, 39

 Army of West Va., 4, 5, 6

 artillery, trained on us, 51, 58

 _at_ in "Where is he at?" 73, 75

 attempt to break out, 113, 118

 autographs, officers', 136


 Barnes, J. K., Surgeon-Gen., 146

 battle, pomp of, 8, 134

 battle-field, Winchester, 3 +

 beans, soup of, ration, 44, 94, 102

 Beecher, Henry Ward, quoted, 30

 Beecher, married by, 52

 Berryville, 3

 Berryville pike, 3, 4, 7

 Birge, Gen. H. W., 7, 9

 blanket for several, 105

 blankets "confiscated," 46

 blankets, not to be shaken, 87

 Blinn, Col. C. D., ill, 7

 Blue Ridge, 1, 35, 36

 Braxton's Confed. artillery, 9

 bread, corn-cob-meal, 44, 93, 100

 breakfast at Staunton, 32, 33

 breakfast at Tom's Brook, 21

 Breckenridge, Confed. Gen., 5

 Brinton, Col., escape of, 26, 27

 brooms in prison, 100, 102

 Brown, John, defended, 28

 Brownell, H. H., quoted, 137

 Browning, Mrs., quoted, 36, 83, 91

 buckets for water, 98, 110, 116

 Buckingham, Gov. of Conn., 7, 129

 "Bucktail Regiment," 64, 130

 burning $400, 138

 Burrage, Major H. S., 117, 120, 142

 Bush, Lieut. W. W., 93, 96

 "Butler's dandy regiment," 7 (note)

 Byron, Lord, quoted, 28

 Byron, Major John W., 87

 Byrne, Major John, 64, 66, 141


 cards, playing, 102, 106, 141

 Carle, Col. James, 64, 66, 80

 carving in prison, 49, 83, 101, 141

 cavalry, 4, 5, 6, 13, 25, 34, 40, 45

 chaplain, prisoner, 57, 58, 80

 charge, Gordon's brilliant, 10, 12

 Chautauqua, Mountain Lake, 121

 checkers, 92, 102, 141

 Cheever, Dr. Geo. B., 29

 chess, 92, 102, 141

 choosing death, 124, 125, 133, 134, 136, 143, 153

 Clarke, Adjt. James A., 22, 96, 101, 117, 143, 153

 clergymen's visits, 121, 122

 Clover, in it at night, 47

 coal, poor and scanty, 79

 coal dust, very fine! 48

 cold, severe and fatal, 79, 132, 142

 communication, finger signs, 65, 70

 communication, secret, 43, 70

 Confederate currency, 27, 32, 33, 34, 94, 121, 140

 Cook, Capt. William, 58, 85, 96, 103, 105, 143

 cooking, how and where, 21, 95

 Constitution, U. S., 29, 39, 47

 Corcoran, Gen. Michael, 53

 corn-cob-meal bread, 44, 93, 100, 107

 corn-cob-meal soup, 94, 102

 court martial in prison, 88; and Appendix, 153

 Crew, John, a kind enemy, 28

 Crook, Gen. George, 4


 daily routine, Danville, 97-105, 140, 141

 Dame, Rev., preaches to us, 121

 Dan river, 79, 98

 Danville, arrival at, 47, 48;
   again, 77

 Danville death record, 129, 132, 142, 144

 Danville prisons, 98, 129

 Davies's _Legendre_, 140 (note)

 Davis, Jefferson, 150

 Davis, Lieut., death of, 57, 58, 68

 dead lines, Salisbury, 54

 deaf-and-dumb alphabet, 65, 70

 deaths at Salisbury, 55, 130, 134, 136, 145

 deaths of Confederates in northern prisons, 146

 deaths at Danville, 129, 132, 136, 145

 Declaration of Independence, 47

 defile, Berryville, 3, 4, 7

 devastation by Sheridan, 2, 3

 diary kept, 22, 28, 44

 Dickerman, Capt. G. M., 32

 discussion with Lieut. Howard, 28, 29, 30

 discussions in prison, 47, 90, 91, 102, 110, 141

 distribution of rations, 54, 100

 Dolan, pitied by Confederate ladies, 37

 Duffié, Gen. O. N., 113-117

 Dwight, Gen. William, 12, 13


 Early, Gen. Jubal A., 5, 9, 14, 17

 Edenburg village, 26

 education in prison, 69, 70, 91, 92, 140

 Eighth Corps, W. Va. Army, 4, 5, 6

 Election votes in prison, 90

 Emerson, Rev., prison chaplain, 58, 80

 enlist or die, choice to, 133, 134

 Epaminondas, strategy at Leuctra, 10

 "escape on the brain," 67

 escapes attempted, 26, 50, 110

 Estabrooks, Lieut. H. L., 72, 74, 142, 143 (note)

 exchange of prisoners, 83, 89, 102, 131

 exchange blocked, 89, 90, 106, 107, 124, 131, 147-151


 Ficklin, J. F., his kindness, 125-129, 131

 Fisher, First Sea Lord, quoted, 57

 Fisher's Hill, battle, 25

 Fisher's Hill reached, 20

 "flag-of-truce fever," 106, 107, 108

 fleas, wicked, 27

 flour ration, how cooked, 21

 Fontleroy, Dr., his hospitality, 32, 33

 freemasonry, very useful, 38, 40, 42, 46

 French, oral lessons in, 69, 70

 Fry, Major W. H., 85

 fugitive slave law, 29, 30

 fun, critical and sarcastic, 104, 105

 fun, sanitary, 79, 80

 furnace way of escape, 110

 Furness, Horace Howard, 129


 Gardner, Adjt. W. C., 69, 70, 71, 74, 85, 107, 108, 109, 142, 143

 Gee, Confed. Major, 52, 53, 56, 74

 German, oral lessons in, 92

 Ghost in _Hamlet_, 85, 86

 "God's Country," 137

 God's fugitive slave law, 29

 "going through" prisoners, 22

 Gordon, Confed. Gen. J. B., 5, 10, 17

 Gordon's brilliant charge, 10, 13

 gorge of Berryville pike, 3, 4, 10

 gorilla or guerrilla, which? 39, 40

 grain cars at Danville, 48

 Grant's merciless orders, 2

 Greek Testament, kept, 42;
   stolen, 80

 greenbacks burned, 138

 greenbacks, relative value of, 23, 24, 41, 140

 Greensboro, N. Carolina, 48

 Gregg, Lieut.-Col. Theodore, 64, 85

 Grover, Gen. Cuvier, 5, 6, 8, 12

 guerrilla, "I'm a guerrilla," 59

 guerrilla, Morgan's, a kind gentleman, 34

 gun cotton, cushion suspected, 45, 46


 hake, issued in rations, 94

 Hall, Rev. Charles K., kind, 122

 _Hamlet_, rehearsal, 85, 86

 Handy, Lieut., aide to Molineux, 11

 Hartshorne, Col. W. Ross, 64, 66, 67, 68, 115, 130

 Haslett, Capt., Provost Marshal, 26, 37, 38

 Haurand, Major August, 22, 66

 Hayes, Gen. Joseph, 53, 61, 65, 67, 92, 141

 Hayes, Gen., on court martial, Appendix, 156

 health, surely failing, 123

 Henry, Patrick, cited, 30

 "Hide your greenbacks," 41

 hole in the brick wall, 43

 Holland, J. H., imaginary, 128

 Homer, quoted, 80;
   puzzled to death, 99

 Hooper, Lieut.-Col. C. H., 41, 54, 100, 115

 horse lost in battle, 10, 11, 19

 hospital in Danville, 106, 132

 hostage, Lt. Manning held as, 60

 Howard, Confed. Lieut., 28, 29, 30

 Howe, Capt. Wesley C., 22, 50, 72, 109, 110, 141


 Imboden, J. D., Confed. Gen., 25

 Indiana soldiers, acrobats, 24

 innocent deliberately slain, 152

 international war, 152

 Irish Bend, La., battle, wounded in, 89


 James river, 46, 137

 Jefferson, Thomas, quoted, 31

 Jersey lightning, apple-jack? 39

 Johnson's Island prison, 126

 Jonah, disgorged like, 49

 Jordan, H. T., 126, 127


 Keifer, Gen. J. W., 9

 Kerrstown, 20


 Ladies, Confed., kind and handsome, 37

 Lee, Gen. Fitzhugh, 5;
   wounded, 13

 _Legendre_, Davies's, 113, 140 (note)

 letters from outside, 88, 89, 96, 132

 Libby prison, 40-44, 112, 144

 lice in prison, 102, 103, 132

 lice of Egypt, not "in it," 80

 Lincoln, Abraham, quoted, 47, 48

 Lincoln on exchange of prisoners, 89, 90, 125

 Lincoln on right of revolution, 47, 48

 Lloyd, J. J., returns from desertion, 133

 Lockwood, Capt., killed, 77

 log houses for officers, 52, 53

 Longfellow, quoted, 136

 Lovelace, poet, quoted, 89


 Manning, Lieut. W. C., tunnel, 60, 61, 65

 Mark Tapley's "jolly" example, 38

 _Marmion_, Scott's, quoted, 37

 martyrs in reality, 133, 134, 136

 Mason, Capt. Frank H., 92, 143

 Masonic Hall, Winchester, 18

 McIntosh's cavalry, 4

 Meacham's Station, 38, 40

 meat ration, 44, 93, 94

 Mercutio's wound, 118, 119

 Middletown in Shenandoah Valley, 20

 Molineux, Col. E. L., 7, 9, 14

 money concealed, 42, 119, 138

 money, Confederate, 23, 32, 33, 34, 113, 140

 Morgan's guerrillas, 34

 Mortality in prison. _See_ under "deaths"

 "Muggers," 51


 Napoleon, his strategy, 10;
   quoted, 135

 nationality, northern, 149, 150

 nationality, southern, 39, 150, 151

 necessity, military, defies every law, 151

 negroes, loyal and kind, 111

 negroes, prisoners of war, 78, 129

 New Market, Va., 26, 27, 28

 Newtown, V., 20

 Nineteenth Corps, 4, 5, 6, 10, 66, 67


 occupations, 83, 84, 85, 91, 92; 97-105

 O'Neil, Col., Yale classmate, killed, 64, 130

 Opequon battle, 3-15

 Opequon Creek, 3, 7

 order to retreat, 11

 Ould, R., Confed. Agt. for exchange, 151

 ovens for baking, 110

 overcoat saved, 19, 20, 42, 46, 105, 108, 109


 "painfully sober," 85

 parole given, 53, 129

 parole rejected, 53

 _pediculidæ vestimenti, non capitis_, 99, 100

 Petersburg shelled, 45

 Pharaoh's epidermis and obstinacy, 80

 Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, 10

 plots to break out, 61-75; 113-119

 policing prison, 87, 100

 prayer of chaplain Emerson, 58, 80

 prey and pray, 121

 Prey, Col. Gilbert G., 54, 115, 130

 prison number 3, officers', 78, +

 prison 6, the worst of all, 131, 132

 prison rules adopted, 87, 88

 profanity of soldiers, 14, 15, 39, 87

 Putnam, Adjt. G. Haven, 91, 92, 101, 110, 121, 140, 142


 questions, amusing or ugly, 104, 105, 141


 Ralston, Col., killed, 61, 64, 66, 114, 118

 Ramseur, S. D., Confed. Gen., 13, 15

 rations, 44, 49, 56, 93, 94, 100, 102, 107, 124, 139

 recapture of escaped officers, 112

 recount made futile by trick, 111, 112

 Redwood of Mobile, Yale classmate, 38

 Reed, "shot into inch pieces," 24, 25, 26, 31

 retaliation threatened, 60;
   done, 148

 rheumatism, 123, 142

 Richardson, Albert D., of _Tribune_, 52

 Richmond, arrival at, 40, 136

 Richmond, watching exploding shells, 45

 Ricketts' Division, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12

 riddle, fatal to the old poet, 99

 riots in July, 1863, 133, 149

 robbery of captives, 15, 22, 46

 Rodes, Confed. General, 5;
   killed, 10, 13

 roll-call nullified, 111, 112

 roll-call sergt., queer, 99-103, 111, 112

 rope ladder, twisted rags, 111, 112

 rules adopted in prison, 87, 88, 141, 153

 Russell, Sergt. Alfred, 89

 Russell, Gen. D. A., killed, 13

 Russell, Martha, 89

 Russell, Gen. W. H., 128


 Sadler, Major David, 66

 Salisbury prison, 50-55; 61, 130, 133, 134, 136

 sandwiches, G. W. Swepson's, 49

 sanitary measures, 79, 80, 103, 141, 142

 Sargent, Lieut, of 14th N. H., 23

 Scott, Sir Walter, quoted, 8, 37, 134, 135

 scurvy prevalent, 123, 142

 searching of prisoners, 41, 42, 119

 seceded states, a real nation? 150, 151

 sentries' sing-song call, 44

 sermons in prison, 57, 58, 121, 122

 "Set the table for dinner," 96

 Shakespeare, quoted, 36, 118, 119

 Shakespeare's _Hamlet_, 85, 140

 shelter, lack of at Salisbury, 53, 55, 136

 Shenandoah river and valley, 1, 2

 Sheridan's devastation, 1, 2, 3

 Sherman, Gen. W. T., quoted, 1

 "shot twice into inch pieces," 24

 Simpson, Lieut. J. B.; his sly trick, 77

 singing at evening at Danville, 104, 141

 Sixth Corps, 4, 5, 6, 10, 13

 "skirmishing" a misnomer, 102, 103

 slavery doomed in any event, 149

 "Slim Jim," 101

 Small, Major Adner A., 142

 Smith, Robert C., Confed. commandant, 81, 82

 Smith, Col. Robert C., Yale man, kind, 82, +

 Smith, Sergt. W. F., clerk, 129

 "snack?" or snake? 49

 sorghum syrup issued, 94

 soup, so called (or broth), 44, 94, 102

 spittoon mystery, solved? 78

 spoon, carving of, 83, 141 (note)

 "spoon fashion," lying in, 105

 "_Spoon_"! significance of, 105

 Sprague, Bvt. Col. H. B., _passim_, and 143 (note)

 stampede, Yankee, 11, 12;
   Confederate, 18, 23

 Stanton, E. M., War Secretary, 147, 148

 State, allegiance to, 39

 Staunton, Va., march to, 2, 28

 Staunton, arrival and breakfast at, 32, 33

 Staunton, Morgan's guerrilla kind at, 33, 34

 stealing rations from guards, haversacks, 77

 Stephens, Hon. Alexander H., 146, 147

 "Storming Column" at Port Hudson, 7

 "Stove Brigade," at Danville, 79

 stoves in prison at Danville, 79, 95

 Strasburg, Va., 20

 Strickland, undertaker, 129

 Stuart, Dr. Moses, on slavery, 29

 subjugation policy, Lincoln's, 151

 sunrise on the Blue Ridge, 36

 sutler, Confederate, 84

 swearing, copious, of two kinds, 14, 15, 39

 sweeping the floors, 87, 100

 Swepson, George W., very kind, 49, 50


 table-knife saw, Lieut. Titus's, 97, 111

 Tarbell, Capt. Doctor, assistant commissary, 54, 100

 Taylor, Bayard, quoted, 80

 _tertium quid_, solution of mystery, 78

 theatrical collapse at Danville, 85, 86

 Thirteenth Conn. Regt., very patriotic, 7

 Tiemann, Capt. W. F., 14, 15, 85, 109, 143

 Titus, Lieut. L. B., invents useful saw, 97, 111

 tobacco and the spittoon mystery, 78

 tobacco given us by kind clergyman, 122

 Tom's Brook, 20, 22, 23

 tooth-brush, second-hand, $300 offered, 140

 Torbert, Gen. Alfred T., 3, 4, 5, 6, 17

 trading with Confed. sentinels, 54, 120

 tunnel through the Blue Ridge, 35, 36

 tunneling at Salisbury, 60, 61;
   Danville, 109, 110

 Turner, Nathaniel, inspector, Libby, 41

 Turner, Richard, commandant at Libby, 41, 45


 unguentum, two pounds called for, 81

 university students in prison at Danville, 140


 Vander Weyde, Lieut. Henry, artist, 101, 117

 vermin at Danville, 80, 81, 87, 131, 132

 view-point, all-important, 57

 votes in prison for President, Nov. 8, 90


 war, Admiral Fisher on its essence, 57

 war, Lieut. Gen. S. B. M. Young, quoted on, 57

 war, Gen. Wm. T. Sherman's "War is hell," 1

 Washington, George, Commander-in-chief, 73, 148

 Washington, Lieutenant, a Confederate, 83

 Washington, President, a Mason at Winchester, 18

 Washington wished slavery somehow ended, 30

 water parties under guard, 98, 110

 water scarce _en route_, 20;
   at Salisbury, 56, 65, 75

 Watts, Isaac, quoted, 45

 Waynesboro, Va., 34, 35

 Webster, Daniel, 29

 Wesley, John, quoted, 152

 West Virginia, Army of, 4, 5

 "Where is he at?" 73

 Whittier, John G., quoted, 152

 Wilson, Cav. Gen. J. H., 4

 Winchester, Va., battle of, 3-15

 Winder, Confed. Gen. J. H., Supt. Prisons, 112

 wood, split without edge-tools, 97, 107

 Woolsey, T. D., President of Yale, 128


 Yadkin river crossing, 72, 75

 Yale College men, 38, 49, 64, 69, 82

 Yankee ingenuity and skill, 83, 84, 97

 Y. M. C. A., of Richmond, 121

 Young, Lieut.-Gen. S. B. M., on war, 57

Transcriber's Endnotes:

    The following significant errors have been corrected:

      Portrait Caption, "Gardiner" to _Gardner_.

      Page 102 & 160, "peculidæ" to _pediculidæ_, could be amended to
        _pediculus_ however the former seems more in keeping with the
        original intent.

      Spelling errors occurring solely in the Index have been corrected
        to match the main text.

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