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Title: Fifteen Months in Dixie - My Personal Experience in Rebel Prisons
Author: Day, William W.
Language: English
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                             FIFTEEN MONTHS
                                IN DIXIE


                       MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN
                             REBEL PRISONS.

         A Story of the Hardships, Privations and Sufferings of
                   the “Boys in Blue” during the late
                         War of the Rebellion.


                               W. W. DAY,

                   A PRIVATE OF 60. D. 10TH REGIMENT


                            OWATONNA, MINN.
                       THE PEOPLE’S PRESS PRINT.


                             To my Comrades
                       who, like myself, were so
                  unfortunate as to have suffered the
          horrors of a living death in the Prison Pens of the
      South, and who, through all their hardships, privations, and
    sufferings, remained loyal to our FLAG, and to my beloved Wife,
        who suffered untold tortures of mind begotten by anxiety
             on account of the uncertainty of my fate, for
                   fifteen long, weary, months,——this
                          work is dedicated in
                               F. C. & L.
                              THE AUTHOR.

                            COPYRIGHT, 1889,
                               W. W. DAY.



I have sometimes been in doubt whether a preface was necessary to this
work; but have decided to write one, for the reason that in a preface
the author is permitted to give the reader a “peep behind the scenes,”
as he is not permitted to do in the body of the book. Since the
commencement of the publication of this story, in a serial form, a few
very good people have been so kind as to tell me, that it is “too late
in the day” to write upon the subject of Rebel Prisons. My answer is: it
is never too late to tell the story of what patriotic men suffered in
the defence of Constitutional liberty, and of the Union of States, which
union was cemented by the blood of our Revolutionary sires. It is never
too late to tell the story of,—

                       “Man’s unhumanity to man.”

It is never too late to tell the truth, although the truth may be
sharper than a two-edged sword. It is never too late to inspire our
young men to love, and venerate, and defend, the Flag of their Country;
to tell them how their fathers suffered in support of a PRINCIPLE. No,
it is not too late to tell this story, and I have no apologies to offer
any man, living or dead, for telling it. But, while I have no apologies
to offer, I deem an explanation in order.

Since I commenced writing this Story I have felt the want of a liberal
education as I never felt it before. For, to tell the exact truth, I
never enjoyed the advantages of any school of higher grade than the
common district school of thirty years ago. Therefore, kind reader,—you
who have enjoyed the advantages of better schools, and a more liberal
education,—when you find a mistake in this book, one which can not be
laid at the door of the printer, kindly, and for “Sweet Charity’s Sake,”
overlook it; for I assure you I would be thus kind to you under similar

                                                              W. W. DAY.

 Lemond, Minnesota, September, 1889.



                                  CHAPTER I.
               1                                 Introduction
               2                    The Battle of Chickamauga
               5                                     Captured

                                 CHAPTER II.

               6                           The Field Hospital
               8                 A trip over the battle field
               8                       The Atlanta Prison Pen
               9                         The “Engine Thieves”
              10                           Onward to Richmond

                                 CHAPTER III.
              12                                 Libby Prison
              13                             Scott’s Building
              15                                       “Zult”

                                 CHAPTER IV.
              16                              Danville Prison
              17                                     Bug Soup
              18                              Patriotic Songs
              19                           Searched—Small-pox

                                  CHAPTER V.
              20                            The “Very O Lord”
              21                     Escape of Johney Squires
              22                                  Skirmishing

                                 CHAPTER VI.
              25                    En Route to Andersonville
              27                 Description of Andersonville
              28                      “Dugouts” and “Gophers”

                                 CHAPTER VII.
              29                              Winder and Wirz
              31                                “Poll Parrot”
              32                       Georgia Home “Gyaards”

                                CHAPTER VIII.
              33    Insufficient and poor quality of rations.
              34                                Digging Wells
              35                            Providence Spring
              35          Stealing a board from the dead line
              36                      A break in the stockade
              36                            Plymouth Pilgrims

                                 CHAPTER IX.
              38                                  The Raiders
              39           Capture and hanging of the raiders
              41                                     Spanking

                                  CHAPTER X.
              42                               Close quarters
              43                    Joe Hall and “Tip” Hoover
              46                   The Negro. Catholic Priest

                                 CHAPTER XI.
              47 Mortality at Andersonville Dr. Jones’ report
              57                 Remarks on Dr. Jones’ report

                                 CHAPTER XII.
              59                          Progress of the war
              59                             Tribute to Logan
              60                                 New quarters
              61            Number of deaths in Andersonville
              62                                   Jeff Davis

                                CHAPTER XIII.
              64                       Good-bye Andersonville
              65                        Arrival at Charleston
              66                              Historic Ground
              66                                     Florence

                                 CHAPTER XIV.
              68           Naked and cold and hungry, Sherman
              69     Letter to Wisconsin Sanitary Commission.
              70          Tribute to the Sanitary Commission.
              72                                        Honey

                                 CHAPTER XV.
              73                                   Vale Dixie
              74                           Exchange Commenced
              75                                My turn comes
              77                               Homeward bound
              77                                   Conclusion



On page 3, 23d line, 1st column, for “right” read regiment.

On page 74, 16th line, for “adopt” read adopted.

On page 74, 23d line, for “slowing” read slowly.

On page 74, 2d column, 2d paragraph, 10th line, for “regions” read


                        FIFTEEN MONTHS IN DIXIE,


                         MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
                           IN REBEL PRISONS.

                             BY W. W. DAY.


On the 12th day of April, 1861, in Charleston Harbor, a shot was fired
whose echo rang round the world. The detonation of that cannon, fired at
Fort Sumter, reverberated from the pine-clad hills and rock-bound coast
of Maine across the continent to the placid waters of the Pacific,
thrilling the hearts of the freemen of the north and causing the blood,
inherited from Revolutionary sires, to course through their veins with
maddening speed. That cannon was fired by armed rebellion at freedom of
person, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the Union of
States. That echo roused those freemen to a resolution to do and to die,
if need be, for the maintenance of the Union, and the supremacy of law.

The outbreak of the rebellion found the writer, then a little past
majority, on a farm near a little village in Wisconsin. I was just
married, had put in my spring crop and when the first call was made for
troops, was not situated so that I could leave home, but on the 10th of
October following I enlisted in Co. D. 10th Wis. Inf. Vols.

As this is to be a history of prison life, it is not my purpose to write
a history of my regiment but a short sketch is proper in order to give
the reader a fair understanding of my capture.

The 10th left Camp Holton, near Milwaukee, about the middle of Nov.
1861. We went by railway via Chicago, Indianapolis and Evansville to
Louisville, Ky., thence to Shepherdsville, thence to Elizabethtown,
where we were assigned to Sill’s Brigade of Mitchell’s Division.
Wintered at Bacon Creek and on the 11th of Feb. 1862, marched with
Buell’s army to the capture of Bowling Green. Buell’s army and part of
Grant’s army arrived almost simultaneously at Nashville, Tenn. Grant
with his forces proceeded to Pittsburg Landing, Buell to Murfreesboro.
After Buell with the greater part of his army had marched to Grant’s
support, Mitchell’s Division marched on Huntsville, Ala., capturing that
place together with about 500 prisoners, 12 engines and a large amount
of rolling stock, the property of the Memphis & Charleston R. R.

The 10th guarded the M. & C. R. R. from Huntsville to Stevenson, the
junction of the M. & C. and the Nashville & Chattanooga R. R. during the
summer of ’62.

Early in September we commenced that famous retreat from the Tennessee
to the Ohio, and to show the reader how famous it was to those who
participated in it, I will say we averaged twenty-four miles per day
from Stevenson, Ala., to Louisville, Ky. On the 8th of October,
supported Simonson’s battery at the Battle of Perryville, losing 146,
killed and wounded out of 375 men. Our colors showing the marks of
forty-nine rebel bullets, in fact they were torn into shreds. Dec. 31st,
’62 and Jan. 1st and 2nd, ’63, in the Battle of Stone’s River, or

The army of the Cumberland, then under command or Gen. Rosecrans, was
divided into four army corps. The 14th, under Gen. Thomas, was in the
center. The 20th, under Gen. A. McD. McCook, on the right. The 21st,
under Gen. Crittenden, on the left and the Reserve Corps, under Gen.
Gordon Granger, in supporting distance in the rear.

We remained at Murfreesboro until June 23rd, ’63, when the whole army
advanced against Bragg, who was entrenched at Tullahoma, drove him out
of his entrenchments, across the mountains and Tennessee River into
Chattanooga and vicinity. Here commenced a campaign begun in victory and
enthusiasm, and ending at Chickamauga in disaster and gloom, but not in
absolute defeat.

                       THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA.

Rosecrans showed fine strategic ability in maneuvering Bragg out of
Tennessee without a general engagement, but he made a serious and almost
fatal mistake after he had crossed the Tennessee River with his own
army. He should have entrenched at Chattanooga and kept his army well
together. Instead of doing so, he scattered his forces in a mountainous
country. Crittenden’s Corps followed the north bank of the Tennessee to
a point above Chattanooga, there crossed the river flanking Chattanooga
on the east and cutting the railroad south, thus compelling the
evacuation of that place.

McCook crossed two ranges of mountains to Trenton, while Thomas with his
corps still remained at Bridgeport, on the Tennessee, and Granger was
leisurely marching down from Nashville.

In the reorganization of the Army of the Cumberland in Oct. ’62, our
Brigade was called 1st Brig. of 1st Div., 14th Corps. The Brigade was
commanded by Col. Scribner of the 38th Indiana. The Division was
commanded through the Perryville and Murfreesboro campaigns by Gen.
Rousseau, but through the Chickamauga campaign by Gen. Absalom Baird,
now Inspector General of the Army.

I shall not attempt to give an historical or official description of the
Battle of Chickamauga, but a description as seen from the standpoint of
a private soldier.

On the 18th of September our Division was bivouacked at Maclamore’s
Cove, a few miles from Lee & Gordon’s Mills. Heavy skirmishing had been
going on all day at Lee & Gordon’s Mills and Rossville between
Crittenden and McCook’s forces and those of the enemy. About 4 P. M.,
the “Assembly” sounded and we “fell in” and commenced our march for the
battlefield. At dark my Regt. was thrown out as flankers. We marched
until 10 o’clock along the banks of a small creek while on the opposite
side of the creek a similar line of the enemy marched parallel with us.
We reached Crawfish Springs about 10 P. M., here we took the road again
and continued our march until sunrise on the morning of the 19th when we
halted and prepared breakfast. Before we had finished our breakfast we
heard a terrible roar and crash of musketry to our front, which was
east. This was the opening of the battle of Chickamauga. Immediately
afterward an Aide came dashing up to Lieut. Col. Ely, commanding 10th
Wis. We were ordered to fall in and load at will. Then the order was
given “forward, double quick, march,” and forward we went through brush,
over rocks and fallen trees, keeping our alignment almost as perfect as
though we were marching in review. Very soon we began to hear the sharp
“fizt and ping” of bullets, a sound already familiar to our ears for we
were veterans of two years service, and then we began to take the
Johnies in “out of the wet.” Forward, and still forward, we rushed all
the time firing at the enemy who was falling back. After advancing
nearly a mile in this manner we found the enemy, en masse, in the edge
of a corn field. Our Division halted, the skirmishers fell back into
line and the business of the day commenced in deadly earnest. We were
ordered to lie down and load and fire at will. Reader, I wish I had the
ability to describe what followed. Not more than twenty-five rods in
front of us was a dense mass of rebs who were pouring in a shower of
bullets that fairly made the ground boil. To the rear of my regiment was
a section of Loomis’ 1st Mich. Battery which was firing double shotted
canister over our heads. How we did hug the ground, bullets from the
front like a swarm of bees, canister from the rear screeching and
yelling like lost spirits in deepest sheol. But this could not last
long, mortal man could not stand such a shower of lead while he had
willing legs to carry him out of such a place.

The rebels soon found a gap at the right of my Regt. and began to pour
in past our right flank. I was lying on the ground loading and firing
fast as possible when I saw the rebels charging past our right, with
their arms at a trail, looking up I discovered that there was not a man
to the right of me in the Regt. I did not wait for orders but struck out
for the rear in a squad of one. I could not see a man of my regiment so
I concluded to help support the battery, accordingly I rushed up nearly
in front of one of the guns just as they gave the Johnies twenty pounds
of canister. That surprised me. I found I was in the wrong place, twenty
pounds of canister fired through me was liable to lay me up, so I filed
left and came in front of the other gun just as the men were ready to
fire. They called out to me to hurry as they wanted to fire, facing the
gun and leaning over to the right I called to them to fire away and they
did fire away with a vengeance. After this things seem mixed up in my
mind. I remember getting to the rear of that gun, of hearing the bullets
whistling, of seeing the woods full of rebs, of thinking I shall get hit
yet, of trying to find a good place to hide and finally of stumbling and
falling, striking my breast on my canteen, and then oblivion.

How long I remained unconscious I never knew, probably not long, but
when I came to my understanding the firing had ceased in my immediate
vicinity except now and then a scattering shot. I started again for the
rear and had not gone more than a quarter of a mile before I found Gen.
Baird urging a lot of stragglers to rally and protect a flag which he
was holding. Here I found Capt. W. A. Collins and several other men of
my Company. When he saw me he asked me if I was hurt. I told him “no,
not much, I had a couple of cannons fired in my face and fell on my
canteen which had knocked the breath out of me but that I would be all
right in a little while.” He then told me I had better go to the rear to
the hospital. To this I objected, telling him that I had rather stay
with the “boys.”

We then marched to the rear and halted in a corn field. The stragglers
from the regiment began to come in and the brigade was soon together
again, but we did no more fighting that day. But just before night we
were marched to the front and formed in line of battle. About 8 o’clock
in the evening Johnson’s Division attempted to relieve another division
in our front, Wood’s, I think it was, when the latter division poured a
galling fire into the former, supposing they were rebels. Some of the
balls came through the ranks of the 10th, whereupon Company K opened
fire without orders and a sad mistake it proved for it revealed our
position and a rebel battery opened on us with shells. To say that they
made it lively for us is to say but part of the truth. The woods were
fairly ablaze with bursting shells. The way they hissed and shrieked and
howled and crashed was trying to the nerves of a timid man.

After the firing had ceased we were marched a short distance to the rear
and bivouacked for the night. I laid down by a fire but “tired nature’s
sweet restorer” did not visit me that night. I had received a terrible
shock during the day. We had been whipped most unmercifully. The 1st
Division of the 14th Corps had turned its back on the enemy for the
first time, that day; and, too, there was to-morrow coming, and what
would it bring? Do coming events cast their shadows before? Perhaps they
do, at any rate the thoughts of all these things passing through my mind
made me pass a sleepless night.

Sunday morning, September 20th, came. The same sun that shone dimly
through the hazy atmosphere which surrounded the battlefield of
Chickamauga, and called those tired soldiers to the terrible duties of
another day of battle, shone brightly upon our dear ones at home,
calling them to prepare for a day of rest and devotion, and while they
were wending their way to church to offer up a prayer, perhaps, in our
behalf, their way enlivened by the sweet sounds of the Sabbath bells, we
were marching to the front to meet a victorious and determined foe, our
steps enlivened by the thundering boom of the murderous cannon, the
sharp rattle of musketry and the din and roar of battle, together with
the shrieks and groans of our wounded and dying comrades. What a scene
for a Sabbath day? But I am moralizing, I must on with my story.

Our division formed in line of battle on a ridge, with Scribner’s
Brigade in the center, Starkweather’s on the right and King’s on the
left. Soon the rebels came up the ascent at the charge step. We wait
until they are in short range then we rise from behind our slight
entrenchments and pour such a well directed volley into their ranks that
they stagger for a moment, but for a moment only, and on they come again
returning our fire, then the batteries open on them and from their steel
throats belch forth iron hail and bursting shells, while we pour in our
deadly fire of musketry. They halt! THEY BREAK! THEY RUN! Those heroes
of Longstreet’s, they have met their match in the hardy veterans of the
west. Three times that day did we send back the rebel foe. In the
meantime McCook and Crittenden had not fared so well. Bragg had been
reinforced by Longstreet, Joe Johnson and Buckner, so that he had a much
larger force then did Rosecrans.

Shortly after noon Bragg threw such an overwhelming force upon those two
corps that they were swept from the field and driven toward Chattanooga,
carrying Rosecrans and staff with them.

Here it was that Thomas, with the 14th Corps, reinforced by Granger,
earned the title of “The Rock of Chickamauga.” Holding fast to the base
of Missionary Ridge he interposed those two corps between the corps of
McCook and Crittenden and the enemy, giving them time to escape up the
valley toward Chattanooga.

But to return to my division. Three times that day did we repel the
charge of the enemy, but the fourth time they came in such numbers and
with such impetuosity that they fairly lifted us out of our line. When
we broke for the rear I started out with Capt. Collins, but he was in
light marching order, while I was encumbered with knapsack, gun and
accoutrements, and he soon left me behind.

When I left the line I fired my gun at the enemy, and as I retreated I
loaded it again, on the run, all but the cap. When Capt. Collins left me
I began to look for some safe place and seeing a twenty-four pounder
battery, with a Union flag, I started toward it. They were firing
canister at the time as I supposed, at the enemy, but they fell around
me so thickly that they fairly made the sand boil. I began to think it
was a rebel battery with a Union flag as a decoy, so I filed right until
I got out of range.

Soon after getting out of range of the battery I came across a dead
rebel and noticing a canteen by his side, I stooped, picked it up and
shook it and found that it was partly filled with water. This was a
Godsend for I had been without water all day. The canteen was covered
with blood, but, oh, how sweet and refreshing that water tasted. Here I
threw away my knapsack to facilitate my flight. I soon came to a wounded
rebel who begged of me to give him a drink of water. I complied with his
request and again started out for Chattanooga. I had gone but a short
distance before I saw a soldier beckoning to me, supposing by the
uniform that he was a member of the 2nd Ohio. I approached within a
short distance of him, when the following colloquy took place:

Reb,—“He’ah yo Yank, give me yo’ah gun.”

Yank,—“Not by a thundering sight, the first thing I learned after I
enlisted was to keep my gun myself.”

Reb,—“Give me yo’ah gun, I say.”

Yank,—“Don’t you belong to the 2nd Ohio?”

Reb,—“No, I belong to the 4th Mississippi. Give me yo’ah gun.”

At the same time pointing his gun point blank at my breast.

Yank,—“The devil you do.” At the same time handing him my gun for, you
will remember, I had loaded my gun but had not capped it.

I think I hear some of my readers say “you was vulgar.” No, I was
surprised and indignant and I submit that I expressed my feelings in as
concise language as possible. Consider the situation, I was in the
woods, it was nearly dark, I supposed I had found a friend but there was
a good Enfield rifle pointing at me, not ten feet away, in that gun was
an ounce ball, behind that ball was sufficient powder to blow it a mile,
on the gun was a water-proof cap, warranted to explode every time, and
behind the whole was a Johnny who understood the combination to a
nicety. The fact was, he had the drop on me, I handed him my gun and he
threw it into a clump of bushes.

While he was disposing of my case another Union soldier crossed his
guard beat, for he was one of Longstreet’s pickets. He called to him to
halt but the soldier paying no attention to him, he brought his gun to
an aim and again called, “halt or I’ll shoot yo.” “Don’t shoot the man
for God’s sake, he is in your lines,” said I, and while Johnny was
paying his addresses to the other soldier, I gave a jump and ran like a
frightened deer. Around the clump of brush I sped, thinking, “now for
Chattanooga.” “Hello, Bill! Where you going?” “Oh, I had got started for
Chattanooga, but I guess I will go with you,” and I ran plump into a
squad of men of my company and regiment under guard.

Men, styling themselves statesmen, have stood up in their places in the
halls of Congress and called prisoners of war “Coffee Coolers” and
“Blackberry Pickers.” I give it up. I cannot express my opinion,
adequately, of men who will so sneer at and belittle brave men who have
fought through two days of terrible battle, and only yielded themselves
prisoners of war because they were surrounded and overpowered, as did
those men at Chickamauga.

The Battle of Chickamauga was ended and that Creek proved to be what its
Indian name implies, a “river of death.” The losses on the Union side
were over 17,000, and on the Confederate side over 22,000.

I said in the introduction that the Chickamauga campaign did not end in
absolute defeat. And, although we were most unmercifully whipped, I
still maintain that assertion, Gen. Grant to the contrary,
notwithstanding. Rosecrans saved Chattanooga and that was the bone of
contention, the prime object of the campaign. But it was a case similar
to that of an Arkansas doctor, who when asked how his patients, at a
house where he was called the night before, were getting on replied:
“Wall, the child is dead and the-ah mother is dead, but I’ll be dogoned
if I don’t believe I’ll pull the old man through all right.”

                              CHAPTER II.

                           A PRISONER OF WAR.

                 “Woe came with war and want with woe;
                   And it was mine to undergo
                 Each outrage of the rebel foe:”—
                             Rokeby, canto 5, verse 18.

When I had thus unceremoniously run into the lion’s mouth, I surrendered
and was marched with my comrades a short distance to Gen. Humphrey’s
headquarters and placed under guard.

I then began to look around among the prisoners for those with whom I
was acquainted.

Among others, I found Lieut. A. E. Patchin and Geo. Hand of my company,
both wounded. Having had considerable experience in dressing wounds, at
Lieut. Patchin’s request, I went to Gen. Humphrey and obtained written
permission to stay with him (Patchin) and care for him. Patchin, Hand
and myself were then marched off about half a mile to a field hospital,
on a small branch or creek, as we would say.

Seating Patchin and Hand by a fire, I procured water and having
satisfied our thirst, I proceeded to dress their wounds. We sat up all
night, not having any blankets, and all night long the shrieks and
groans of wounded and dying men pierced our ears.

In the morning I went to a rebel surgeon and procured a basin, a sponge,
some lint and bandages, and after dressing the wounds of my patients, I
took such of the wounded rebels in my hands as my skill, or lack of
skill, would permit me to handle.

I worked all the forenoon relieving my late enemies and received the
thanks and “God bless you, Yank,” from men who had, perhaps the day
before, used their best skill to kill me. Who knows but that a bullet
from my own gun had laid one of those men low?

In the afternoon those of the wounded Union prisoners who could not walk
were placed in wagons and those who could, under guard and we were taken
to McLaw’s Division hospital, on Chickamauga Creek.

On the way to the hospital we passed over a portion of the battlefield.
While marching along I heard the groans of a man off to the right of the
road, I called the guard’s attention to it and together we went to the
place from whence the sound proceeded; there, lying behind a log, we
found a wounded Union soldier. He begged for water saying he had not
tasted a drop since he was wounded on the 19th, two days before. He was
shot in the abdomen and a portion of the caul, about four inches in
length, protruded from the wound. I gave him water, and the guard helped
me to carry him to the wagon. His name was Serg. James Morgan, of some
Indiana Regiment, the 46th, I think. He lived five days. I cared for him
while he lived. One morning I went to see him and found him dead. I
searched his pockets and found his Sergeant’s Warrant and a photograph
of his sister, with her name and post-office address written upon it.
These I preserved during my fifteen months imprisonment and sent to her
address after I arrived in our lines. I received a letter from her
thanking me for preserving those mementoes of her brother; also for the
particulars of his death. I also received a letter from Capt.
Studebaker, Morgan’s brother-in-law, and to whose company Morgan
belonged, dated at Jonesboro, N. C., May 1865, in which he said that my
letter gave the family the first news of the fate of Morgan.

We arrived at the hospital just before night and I proceeded to make my
patients as comfortable as possible. There were at this place 120
wounded Union soldiers besides several hundred wounded Confederates. Our
quarters were the open air. These wounded men lay scattered all around,
in the garden, the orchard, by the roadside, any and every where.

The first night here I sat up all night building fires, carrying water
for the wounded and dressing their wounds. Besides myself, there was a
surgeon of an Illinois Battery and James Fadden, of the 10th Wis., who
had a scalp wound, to care for these poor men, and a busy time we had. I
assisted the surgeon in performing amputations, besides my other duties.

The rebels seemed to think we could live without food as they issued but
three days rations to us in eleven days.

How did we live? I will tell you. On both sides of us was a corn field
but the rebels had picked all the corn but we skirmished around and
found an occasional nubbin which we boiled, then shaved off with a
knife, making the product into mush. Besides this, we found a few small
pumpkins and some elder berries, these we stewed and divided among the

About a week after we arrived here, I applied to the rebel surgeon in
charge for permission to kill some of the cattle, which were running at
large, telling him that our men were starving. He replied that he could
do nothing for us, that he had not enough rations for his own men, that
he could not give me permission to kill cattle, as Gen. Bragg had issued
orders just before the battle authorizing citizens to shoot any soldier,
Reb or Yank, whom they found foraging. But he added that he would not
“give me away” if I killed one. I took the hint, and hunting up an
Enfield rifle the Union surgeon and I started out for beef. We went into
the corn field to the east of us where there were quite a number of
cattle, and selecting a nice fat three-year-old heifer, I told the
doctor that I was going to shoot it. He urged me not to shoot so large
an animal as the citizens would shoot us for it, and wanted me to kill a
yearling near by. I told him “we might just as well die for an old sheep
as a lamb,” and fired, killing the three-year-old. You ought to have
seen us run after I fired. Great Scott! How we skedaddled. Pell mell we
went, out of the corn field, over the fence, and into the brush. There
we lay and watched in the direction of two houses, but seeing no person
after a while we went back to our game. It did not take long to dress
that animal and taking a quarter we carried it back to the hospital. We
secured the whole carcass without molestation and then proceeded to give
our boys a feast. We ate the last of it for breakfast the next morning.
After this feast came another famine. I tried once more to find a beef,
but found instead two reb citizens armed with shot guns. I struck out
for tall timber. Citizens gave me chase but I eluded them by dodging
into the canebrakes which bordered the creek, thence into the creek down
which I waded, finally getting back to the hospital minus my gun.

You may be sure that I did not try hunting after this little episode.

Rosecrans and Bragg had just before this made arrangements for the
exchange of wounded prisoners. Our hospitals were at the Cloud Farm,
five miles north-west from us, and Crawfish Springs, five miles south of
Cloud Farm.

The next morning I secured an old rattle-bones of a horse and went over
to the Cloud Farm for rations. I reported to the Provost Marshal on Gen.
Bragg’s staff, and not being able to procure any rations here, he sent a
cavalryman with me as a safe guard. We went down to Crawfish Springs,
where I procured a sack full of hard tack and returned to the hospital.

I traveled fifteen miles that day over the battlefield. Such a sight as
I there saw I hope never to see again. This was eleven days after the
battle and none of our dead had been buried then; in fact, the most of
our brave men who fell at Chickamauga were not buried until after the
battle of Missionary Ridge and the country had come in possession of the
Union forces. The sight was horrible. There they lay, those dead heroes,
just as they fell when stricken with whistling bullet, or screaming
canister, or crashing shell.

Some of them had been stripped of their clothing, all were badly
decomposed. The stench was beyond my power to tell, or yours to imagine.
Taken all together it was the most horrible scene the eye of man ever
rested upon.

Let me try to give the reader a description of what I saw that day. When
I first reached the battlefield my attention was attracted to a number
of horsemen dressed in Federal uniforms. These were evidently rebel
cavalrymen who had dressed themselves in the uniforms of our dead
soldiers. In every part of the field was evidence of the terrible havoc
of war. Bursted cannons, broken gun carriages, muskets, bayonets,
accoutrements, sabres, swords, canteens, knapsacks, haversacks, sponges,
rammers, buckets, broken wagons, dead horses and dead men were mixed and
intermingled in a heterogeneous mass.

Fatigue parties of rebel soldiers and negroes were gleaning the fruits
of the battlefield.

In one place I saw cords of muskets and rifles piled up in great ricks
like cord-wood. The harvest was a rich one for the Confederacy.

In one place I saw more than twenty artillery horses, lying as they had
fallen, to the rear of the position of a Rebel battery, showing the
fierce and determined resistance of the Union soldiers.

At another place, near where my regiment breakfasted on the morning of
the 19th, a Union battery had taken position, it was on the Chattanooga
road and to the rear was heavy timber. Here the trees were literally cut
down by cannon shots from a Rebel battery. Some of the trees were
eighteen or twenty inches in diameter. Havoc, destruction, ruin and
death reigned supreme. In some places, where some fierce charge had been
made, the ground was covered with the dead. Federal and Confederate lay
side by side just as they had fallen in their last struggle. But why
dwell on these scenes? They were but a companion piece to just such
scenes on a hundred other battlefields of the civil war.

We remained at the Chickamauga hospital for three weeks. Then all who
could ride in wagons were carried to Ringgold, where we took the cars
for Atlanta. Many of the wounded had died and we had buried them there
on the banks of the “River of Death.” I presume they have found
sepulture at last in the National Cemetery, at Chattanooga, along with
the heroes of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Peace to their
ashes. They gave all that men can give, their lives, for their country,
and we gave them the best gifts of comrades, honor and a soldier’s

At Ringgold some ladies came into the cars and distributed food to our
party. It was a kindly but unexpected act, and we appreciated it the
more as we were nearly starved. We traveled all night and arrived at
Atlanta about 11 o’clock A. M. the next day. We were removed to the
“Pen” and here I was introduced to the “Bull Pens” of the South.

The Prison Pen here was small, being used only as a stopping place for
prisoners en route for Richmond. The enclosure was made of boards and
was twelve feet in height. On two sides were barracks which would
shelter probably five hundred men. In the center was a well of good
water. The guards were on the platforms inside and nearly as high as the

The next day after our arrival the Commandant of the Prison put me in
charge of twenty-one wounded officers. These officers elected me nurse,
commissary general, cook and chambermaid of the company.

Our rations were of fair quality but of very limited quantity. A fund
was raised and entrusted to me with instructions to purchase everything
in the line of eatables that I could get.

Here we found Gen. Neal Dow, sometimes called the father of the “Maine
Law.” He had been taken prisoner down near the Gulf and was on his way
to Richmond for exchange.

Here we also found Lieut. Mason, of the 2nd Ohio Infantry, and he, too,
had a history. In the latter part of April 1862, Gen. Mitchell sent a
detail of twenty-one men, members of the 2nd, 21st and 33rd Ohio and a
Kentuckian, named Andrews, I believe, on a raid into Central Georgia,
with instructions to capture a locomotive, then proceed north to
Chattanooga, and to destroy railroads and burn bridges on the way. They
left us at Shelbyville, Tennessee, and went on their perilous errand,
while we marched to the capture of Huntsville, as narrated in the

These men were the celebrated “Engine Thieves” and their story is told
by one of their number, in a book entitled, “Capturing a Locomotive.”
They left our brigade in pairs, traveling as citizens to Chattanooga,
thence by rail to Marietta, where they assembled, taking a return train.
The train halted at a small station called Big Shanty, and while the
conductor, engineer and train men were at breakfast, they uncoupled the
train, taking the engine, tender and two freight cars and pulled out for
Chattanooga. All went lovely for a time but after running a few hours
they began to meet wild trains which had been frightened off from the M.
& C. R. R. by the capture of Huntsville. This caused them much delay but
Andrews, the leader, was plucky and claiming that he had a train load of
ammunition for Chattanooga he contrived at last to get past these trains
and again sped onward.

In the meantime the conductor at Big Shanty discovered his loss. Taking
with him the engineer, and two officials of the road, they started out
on foot in pursuit of the fugitive train. They soon found a hand-car
which they took, and forward they went in the race, a hand-car in
pursuit of a locomotive. Luck favored the pursuers, they soon found an
engine, the Yonah, on a Spur road, and with steam up, this they pressed
into the service and away they go. This time locomotive after
locomotive. They pass the blockade of wild trains and on they go. As
they round a curve they see, away ahead, the smoke of the fugitive
train. The engineer pulls the throttle wide open and on they go as never
went engine before. But the fugitives discover the pursuers, and at the
next curve they stop, pull up a rail and put it on board their train,
and then away with the speed of a hurricane. But they have pulled up the
rail on the wrong side of the track and the pursuing engine bumps across
the ties and on they come. Then the fugitives stop and pull up another
rail and take it with them. The pursuers stop at the break in the road,
take up a rail in the rear of their engine, lay it in front and then
away in pursuit they go. The fugitives throw out ties upon the track,
but the Yonah pushes them off as though they were splinters. Then the
fugitives set fire to a bridge but the Yonah dashes through fire and on,
ever on, like a sleuth hound it follows the fugitives. Rocks, trees and
houses seem to be running backward, so swift is the flight. But the wood
is gone, the oil is exhausted, the journals heat, the boxes melt and the
fugitive engine dies on the track.

But our heroes jump from the train and take to the woods. They are
pursued with men and blood-hounds, are captured and thrown into prison
and treated as brigands. Some die, some are hanged, some are exchanged
and some make their escape. Lieut. Mason was of the last named class. He
was promoted to a 1st Lieutenancy, fought at Chickamauga in my brigade
and was taken prisoner and identified as one of the engine thieves, and
held for trial. He told me this story seated upon a sixty pound ball,
which was attached to his ankle by a ten foot chain.

Besides the Federal prisoners, there were in this prison a number of
Union men from the mountains of East Tennessee and Northern Georgia.
They were conscripted into the Confederate army, but refused to take the
oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

We arrived at Atlanta on the 12th of October 1863, and on the 18th we
were put on board of the cars and started for Richmond.

                          ONWARD TO RICHMOND.

Leaving Atlanta on the 18th, we reached Augusta early on the morning of
the 19th. There had been heavy rains and as the railroad track was
washed out ahead, we were compelled to wait here until the track was
repaired. We were put into a cotton shed and a guard stationed around

No rations had been issued to us since leaving Atlanta. It seemed to be
part of the duty of the officer in charge to FORGET to feed us, and I
never saw a man more attentive to duty than he was, in that respect.
However, I procured a pass from him, and with a guard, went down town to
buy food for my squad of wounded officers. I found bread in one place at
a dollar a loaf and at another place I bought a gallon of sorghum syrup.
As my guard and I were looking around for something else to eat, we met
a pompous old fellow who halted us and asked who we were. I told him
that I was a prisoner of war with a Confederate guard looking for a
chance to buy something to eat for wounded soldiers. “I will see to
this,” said he. “I will know if these Northern robbers and vandals are
to be allowed to desecrate the streets of Augusta.”

I could never find out what the people of Augusta lived on during the
war. I could not find enough food for twenty-two men, but I imagine that
old fellow lived and grew fat on his dignity.

Shortly after my return to the cotton shed a company of Home guards,
composed of the wealthy citizens of Augusta, marched up and posted a
guard around us, relieving our train guard.

The company was composed of the wealthy men of the city, too rich to
risk their precious carcasses at the front, but not too much of
gentlemen to abuse and starve prisoners of war. They did not allow any
more “Yanks” to desecrate their sacred streets that day.

Morning came and we bade a long, but not a sad, farewell to that Sacred
City. We crossed the Savannah River into the sacred soil of South
Carolina. Hamburg, the scene of the Rebel Gen. Butler’s Massacre of
negroes during Ku-Klux times, lies opposite Augusta.

Onward we went, our old engine puffing and wheezing like a heavy horse,
for by this time the engines on Southern railroads began to show the
need of the mechanics who had been driven north by the war. Along in the
afternoon of the 21st, while we were yet about 60 miles from Columbia,
S. C., the old engine gave out entirely and we were compelled to wait
for an engine from Columbia. We arrived at Columbia sometime in the
night and as we were in passenger cars we did not suffer a great deal of
fatigue from our long ride. On the morning of the 22d as our train was
leaving the depot a car ran off the track which delayed us until noon.
While the train men were getting the car back on the track, I went with
a guard down into the city to buy rations, but not a loaf of bread nor
an ounce of meat could I procure.

Columbia was a beautiful city. I never saw such flower gardens and
ornamental shrubbery as I saw there, but you may be sure that I did not
cry when I heard that it was burned down. I don’t know whether any of
those brutes who refused to sell me bread for starving, wounded men,
were burned or not, if they were, they got a foretaste of their manifest

We arrived at Raleigh, N. C., on the morning of the 23rd. Here we had
rations issued to us, consisting of bacon and hard tack, and of all the
HARD tack I ever saw, that was the hardest. We could not bite it,
neither could we break it with our hands until soaked in cold water.

At Weldon, on the Roanoke River, we laid over until the morning of the
24th. Here we had a chance to wash and rest and we needed both very

We reached Petersburg, Va., during the night of the 24th and were
marched from the Weldon depot through the city and across the Appomattox
River to the Richmond depot, where we waited until morning.

Midday found us within sight of Richmond, the capital of the

As the train ran upon the long bridge which crosses the James River at
the upper part of the Falls, we looked to our left, and there, lying
peacefully in that historic river, was Belle Isle, a literal hell on
earth. A truthful record of the sufferings, the starvation and the
misery imposed by the Confederates upon our helpless comrades at that
place, would cause a blush of shame to suffuse the cheek of a Comanche

Arrived on the Richmond side, we dragged our weary bodies from the cars,
and forming into line, were marched down a street parallel with the
river. I suppose it was the main business street of the city. Trade was
going on just as though there was no war in progress.

As we were marching past a tall brick building a shout of derision
saluted our ears, looking up we saw a number of men, clad in Confederate
gray, looking at our sorry company and hurling epithets at us, which
were too vile to repeat in these pages. This was the famous, or perhaps
infamous is the better word, Castle Thunder. It was a penal prison of
the Confederacy and within its dirty, smoke begrimed walls were confined
desperate characters from the Rebel army, such as deserters, thieves and
murderers, together with Union men from the mountains of Virginia and
East Tennessee, and Union soldiers who were deemed worthy of a worse
punishment than was afforded in the ordinary military prisons.

Many stories are told of the dark deeds committed within the walls of
that prison. It is said that there were dark cells underneath that
structure, not unlike the cells under the Castle of Antonia, near the
Temple in Jerusalem, as described in Ben Hur, into which men were cast,
there to remain, never to see the light of day or breathe one breath of
pure air until death or the fortunes of war released them.

The horrors of the Spanish Inquisition in the middle ages were repeated
here. Men were tied up by their thumbs, with their toes barely touching
the floor, they were bucked and gagged and tortured in every conceivable
way, and more for the purpose of gratifying the devilish hatred of their
jailors, then because they had committed crimes.

On we march past Castle Lightning, a similar prison of unsavory
reputation, to Libby Prison, which opened its ponderous doors to receive
us. But I will reserve a description of this prison for another chapter.

                              CHAPTER III.

                             LIBBY PRISON.

                   “They entered:—’twas a prison-room
                     Of stern security and gloom,
                   Yet not a dungeon;”—
                                The Lady of the Lake,

Libby Prison, up to this time, was the most noted and notorious prison
of the South. It was a large building two stories high on its north or
front side, and three stories high on its south or rear side, being
built on land sloping toward the James River.

The building had been used before the war as a store for furnishing ship

The upper story was used as a prison for officers. The second story was
divided into three rooms. The east room was a hospital, the middle, a
prison for private soldiers and the west room was the office of the
prison officials. The lower story was divided into cook room, storage
rooms and cells. It was down in one of these storage rooms, that Major
Straight’s party started their famous tunnel. Over the middle door was

                   │      THOMAS LIBBY & SON.      │
                   │                               │
                   │  Ship Chandlers and Grocers.  │

Across the west end of the building the same sign was painted in large

Before we entered the prison, all the commissioned officers were
separated from us and sent up into the officers rooms and we were
registered by name, rank, company and regiment by a smart little fellow
dressed in a dark blue uniform. This was “Majah” Ross, a refugee from
Baltimore, whose secession sympathies took him into Richmond but not
into the active part of “wah.” He was a subordinate of “Majah Tunnah,”
the notorious Dick Turner, known and cursed by every prisoner who knows
anything of Libby Prison.

There seemed to be no person of lower rank than “Majah” in the
Confederate service. I think the ranks must have been filled with them
while “Cunnels” acted as file closers. O, no, I am mistaken. I did hear
afterward of “Coplers of the Gyaard,” but then, they were only fighting
men, while these “Majahs” and “Cunnels” were civilians acting as prison

Soon after our entrance into the Prison we heard some of our officers
calling from the room over our heads. They had been appraised of our
arrival by the officers who came with us. I went to a hole in the back
part of the room and heard my name called and was told by the officer
speaking to come up on the stairs. There was a broad stairway leading
from our floor up to the floor overhead, but the hatchway was closed. I
went up on the stairs as requested. A narrow board had been pried up
and, looking up, I saw Captain Collins whom I had not seen since we left
the line of battle together on that eventful 20th of September. To say
that we were rejoiced to see each other is to say but little. Questions
were asked as to the whereabouts of different comrades, as to who was
dead and who alive, and, last but not least, “was I hungry?” Hungry!
Poor, weak word to express the intense gnawing at my stomach. Hungry!
Yes, from head to foot, every nerve and fiber of my system was hungry.
He gave me a handful of crackers, genuine crackers, not hard tack with
B. C. marked upon them, but crackers. Some of the readers of this sketch
were there and know all about it. Those of you who were never in a rebel
prison can never imagine how good those crackers tasted. One man who was
there and witnessed the above, and who was making anxious inquiries for
comrades, was Lieutenant G. W. Buffum, of the 1st Wisconsin Regiment,
now the Hon. George W. Buffum, of Clinton Falls Township, Steele county,
Minnesota. Ask him whether I was hungry or not.

While we were talking together some one called out the name of some
comrade. No answer was given. Again the name was called and just at that
instant “Majah” Ross stepped into the room. Down went the strip of board
and we vacated those stairs in one time and one motion. But the “Majah”
had caught that name, or one similar to it, and he too became desirous
of interviewing that individual. He called the name over and over again,
but no response; finally becoming exasperated, he swore, with a good,
round Confederate oath, that he would not issue us any rations until
that man was trotted out. The man could not be found and little Ross
kept his word for two days, then, not being able to find him, he issued
rations to us. Hungry, did you say? Reader just think of it, we were
living on less than half rations all the time and then to have them all
cut off for forty-eight hours, was simply barbarous, and all to satisfy
the whim, or caprice, of a little upstart rebel who was not fit to black
our shoes. Yes, it makes me mad yet. Do you blame me?

Thinking back upon Libby to-day, I think it was the best prison I was
in:—That comparison does not suit me, there was no BEST about it. I will
say, it was not so BAD as any of the others I was in.

There was a hydrant in the room, also a tank in which we could wash both
our bodies and our clothes, soap was furnished, and cleanliness, as
regards the prison, was compulsory. We scrubbed the floor twice a week
which kept it in good condition.

But when we come to talk about food, there was an immense, an
overpowering lack of that. The quality was fair, in fact good,
considering that we were not particular. But as the important question
of food or no food, turned upon the whims and caprices of Dick Turner
and Ross, we were always in doubt as to whether we would get any at all.

I remained in Libby Prison a week when I was removed, with others, to
Scott’s building, an auxilliary of Libby. There were four prison
buildings which were included in the economy of Libby Prison. Pemberton,
nearly opposite to Libby, on the corner of 15th and Carey streets, I
think that is the names of those streets. Another building, the name of
which I did not learn, north of Pemberton on 15th street, and Scott’s
building opposite the last mentioned building.

These three buildings were tobacco factories and the presses were
standing in Scott’s when I was there.

The rations for all four prisons were cooked in the cook-house at Libby.
The same set of officers had charge of all of them, so that, to all
intents and purposes they were one prison, and that prison, Libby.

Heretofore I had escaped being searched for money and valuables, but one
day a rebel came up and ordered all Chickamauga prisoners down to the
second floor. I did not immediately obey his orders and soon there was
much speculation among us as to what was wanted. Some were of the
opinion that there was to be an exchange of Chickamauga prisoners.
Others thought they were to be removed to another prison. To settle the
question in my own mind I went down. I had not got half way down the
stairs before I found what the order meant, for there standing in two
ranks, open order, were the Chickamauga boys, a rebel to each rank,
searching them.

I had but little money. Not enough to make them rich, but the loss of it
would make me poor indeed. I immediately formed my plan and as quickly
acted upon it. Going down the stairs, I passed to the rear of the rear
rank, down past the rebel robbers, up in front of the front rank, and so
on back upstairs, past the guard. I discovered then and there, that a
little “cheek” was a valuable commodity in rebel prisons.

We were divided into squads, or messes, of sixteen for the purpose of
dividing rations.

I was elected Sergeant of the mess to which I belonged, and from that
time until my release had charge of a mess.

Our rations were brought to us by men from our own prison and divided
among the Sergeants of messes, who in turn divided it among their
respective men. Each man had his number and the bread and meat were cut
up into sixteen pieces by the Sergeant, then one man turned his back and
the Sergeant pointing to a piece, asked “whose is this?” “Number ten.”
“Whose is this?” “Number three,” and so on until all had been supplied.
Our rations, while in Richmond, consisted of a half pound of very good
bread and about two ounces of very poor meat per day. Sometimes varied
by the issue of rice in the place of meat. Sometimes our meat was so
maggoty that it was white with them, but so reduced were we by hunger
that we ate it and would have been glad to get enough, even of that

To men blessed with an active mind and body, the confinement of prison
life is exceeding irksome, even if plenty of food and clothing, with
good beds and the luxuries of life, are furnished them, but when their
food is cut down to the lowest limit that will sustain life, and of a
quality at which a dog, possessed of any self respect, would turn up his
nose in disgust, with a hard floor for a bed, with no books nor papers
with which to feed their minds, with brutal men for companions, with no
change of clothing, with vermin gnawing their life out day after day,
and month after month, it is simply torture.

Time hung heavy on our hands. We got but meagre news from the front and
this came through rebel sources, and was so colored in favor of the
rebel army, as to be of little or no satisfaction to us. The news that
Meade had crossed the Rapidan, or had recrossed the Rapidan, had become
so monotonous as to be a standing joke with us. Our first question to an
Army of the Potomac man in the morning would be, “has Meade crossed the
Rapidan yet this morning?” This frequently led to a skirmish in which
some one usually got a bloody nose.

News of exchange came frequently but exchange did not come. Somebody
would start the story that a cartel had been agreed upon, then would
come a long discussion upon the probabilities of the truth of the story.
The rebels always told prisoners that they were going to be exchanged
whenever they moved them from one point to another. This kept the
prisoners quiet and saved extra guards on the train.

While we were at Richmond we had no well concerted plan for killing time
for we were looking forward hopefully to the time when we should be
exchanged, but we learned at last to distrust all rumors of exchange and
all other promises of good to us for hope was so long deferred that our
hearts became sick.

We were too much disheartened to joke but occasionally something would
occur which would cause us to laugh. It would be a sort of dry laugh,
more resembling the crackling of parchment but it was the best we could
afford under the circumstances and had to pass muster for a laugh.

One day salt was issued to us and nothing but salt. I suppose “Majah”
Turner thought we could eat salt and that would cause us to drink so
much water that it would fill us up. A German, who could not talk
English, was not present when the salt was divided. He afterward learned
that salt had been issued and went to the Sergeant of his mess and
called, “zult, zult.”

“What?” said the Sergeant.

“Zult, zult.” said Dutchy.

“O, salt! The salt is all gone. All been divided. Salt ausgespiel,” says
the Sergeant.

“Zult, zult!” says Duchy.

“Go to h—l” says the Sergeant.

“Var ish der hell?” And then we exploded.

I remained in Richmond until November 24th, when I, with 699 other
prisoners was removed to Danville, Va.

We were called out before daylight in the morning. Each man taking with
him his possessions. Mine consisted of an old oil-cloth blanket, and a
haversack containing a knife and fork and tin plate, also one day’s
rations. We formed line and marched down 15th street to Carey, and up
Carey street a few blocks, then across the wagon bridge to the Danville
depot. Here we were stowed in box cars at the rate of seventy prisoners
and four guards in each car. A little arithmetical calculation will show
the reader that each of us had a fraction over three square feet at our
disposal. Stock buyers now-a-days allow sixty hogs for a car load, and
with larger cars than we had. Don’t imagine, however, that I am
instituting any comparison between a car load of hogs and a car load of
prisoners:—it would be unjust to the hogs, so far as comfort and
cleanliness go.

Our train pulled out from the depot, up the river, past the Tredegar
Iron Works, and on toward Danville. Our “machine” was an old one and
leaked steam in every seam and joint. Sometimes the track would spread
apart, then we would stop and spike it down and go ahead. At other times
the old engine would stop from sheer exhaustion, then we would get out
and walk up the grade, then get on board and away again. Thus we spent
twenty-four hours going about one hundred and fifty miles. During the
night some of the prisoners jumped from the cars and made their escape,
but I saw them two days afterward, bucked and gagged, in the guard-house
at Danville.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                            DANVILLE PRISON.

          “So within the prison cell,
            We are waiting for the day
          That shall come to open wide the iron door,
            And the hollow eye grows bright,
          And the poor heart almost gay,
            As we think of seeing home and friends once more.”

We arrived at Danville on the morning of November 25th, and were
directly marched into prison No. 2. There were six prison buildings
here, all tobacco factories. Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 being on the public
square. Nos. 2 and 3 being on the west side. No. 1 on the north side
adjoining a canal, and No. 4 on the south side. The other prisons were
in other parts of the city.

In each prison was confined 700 men. Each building was three stories
high with a garret, making four floors in each prison. Thus we had 175
men on each floor. The prisons were, as near as I can guess, 30×60 feet
so that we had an average of ten and one-third square feet to each man
or a little more than a square yard apiece.

Our rations at first consisted of a half pound of bread, made from wheat
shorts and about a quarter of a pound of pork or beef. The quality was

I had for a “chum,” or “pard,” from the time I arrived at Atlanta until
I came to Danville, an orderly Sergeant, of an Indiana Regiment, by the
name of Billings. He was a graduate of an Eastern College and at the
time he enlisted left the position of Principal of an Academy in
Indiana. He was one of nature’s noblemen, intelligent, brave,
true-hearted and generous to a fault. I was very much attached to him as
he was a genial companion far above the common herd. But after I had
been in Danville about a week, I learned that there were a number of the
comrades of my company in Prison No. 1. So I applied for, and obtained,
permission to move over to No. 1. I parted with Billings with regret. I
have never seen him since and know nothing of his fate, but I imagine he
fell a victim to the hardships and cruelties of those prisons.

I found, when I arrived in No. 1, not only members of my own company but
a number of men from Company B of my regiment. We were quartered in the
south-east corner on the second floor. Nearly opposite where I was
located comrade Dexter Lane, then a member of an Ohio regiment, now a
citizen of Merton, Steele county, Minnesota, had his quarters. We were
strangers at that time but since then have talked over that prison life
until we have located each other’s position, and feel that we are old

I think I did not feel so lonesome after I joined my comrades of the
10th Wis. There is something peculiar about the feelings of old soldiers
towards each other. Two years before these men were nothing to me. I had
never seen them until I joined the regiment at Milwaukee. But what a
change those two years had wrought. We had camped together on the tented
field and lain side by side in the bivouac. We had touched elbows on
those long, weary marches through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and
Georgia, had stood shoulder to shoulder in many hard fought battles, and
now we are companions in Southern prisons. They were not as
kind-hearted, nor as intelligent as Billings but there was the feeling
of comradeship which no persons on earth understand as do old soldiers.

The “majah” in charge of Prison No. 1 was a man by the name of Charley
Brady, a southern gentleman from Dublin or some other seaport of the
“Green Isle,” and to his credit, I will say, he was a warm hearted Irish
gentlemen. I do not call to mind any instance where he was unnecessarily
harsh or cruel, but on the other hand, he was kind and pleasant in his
manner and in his personal intercourse with us treated us as though we
were human beings in marked contrast with the treatment of the prison
officials who were genuine Southerners brought up under the influences
of that barbarous institution, slavery.

Perhaps some of my readers who were confined in Prison No. 1 will not
agree with me in my estimate of Charley Brady, but if they will stop a
moment and consider, they will remember that our harsh treatment came
from the guards who were a separate and distinct institution in prison
economy, or was the result of infringement of prison rules.

About a week after my arrival in No. 1 some of the prisoners on the
lower floor were detected in the attempt to tunnel out. They had gone
into the basement and started a tunnel with the intention of making
their escape. They were driven up and distributed on the other three
floors. This gave us about two hundred and thirty men to a floor and
left us about eight square feet to the person.

About this time the cook-house was completed and we had a radical change
of diet. There were twelve large kettles, set in arches, in which our
meat and soup were cooked. Before proceeding farther let me say, that
the cooking was done here for 3,500 men.

Our soup was made by boiling the meat, then putting in cabbages, or “cow
peas” or “nigger peas,” or stock peas, (just suit yourself as to the
name, they were all one and the same) and filling up AD LIBITUM with
water. The prisons first served were usually best served for if the
supply was likely to fall short a few pails full of Dan River water
supplied the deficiency.

Our allowance was a bucket of soup to sixteen men, enough of it, such as
it was, for the devil himself never invented a more detestable compound
than that same “bug soup.” The peas from which this soup was made were
filled with small, hard shelled, black bugs, known to us as pea bugs.
Their smell was not unlike that of chinch bugs but not nearly as strong.
Boil them as long as we might, they were still hard shelled bugs. The
first pails full from a kettle contained more bugs, the last ones
contained more Dan River water, so that it was Hobson’s choice which end
of the supply we got.

(I notice there is considerable inquiry in agricultural papers as to
these same cow peas whether they are good feed for stock. My experience
justifies me in expressing the opinion that you “don’t have” to feed
them to stock, let them alone and the bugs will consume them.)

Our supply of shorts bread was discontinued and corn bread substituted.
This was baked in large pans, the loaves being about two and a half
inches in thickness. This bread was made by mixing meal with water,
without shortening or lightening of any kind. It was baked in a very hot
oven and the result was a very hard crust on top and bottom of loaf, and
raw meal in the center.

The water-closets of the four prisons, which surrounded the square, were
drained into the canal already mentioned, and as the drains discharged
their filth into the canal up stream from us, we were compelled to drink
this terrible compound of water and human excrement, for we procured our
drinking and cooking water from this same canal.

The result of this kind of diet and drink was, that almost every man was
attacked with a very aggravated form of camp diarrhea, which in time
became chronic. Many poor fellows were carried to their graves, and many
more are lingering out a miserable existence to-day as a result of
drinking that terrible hell-broth. And there was no excuse for this, for
not more than ten rods north of the canal was a large spring just in the
edge of Dan River, which would have furnished water for the whole city
of Danville. The guards simply refused to go so far.

Some of the men attempted to make their escape while out to the
water-closet at night. One poor fellow dropped down from the side of the
cook-house, which formed part of the enclosure, and fell into a large
kettle of hot water. This aroused the guard and all were captured on the
spot. This occurred before the cook-house had been roofed over.

So many attempts were made to escape, that only two were allowed to go
out at a time after dark. The effect of this rule can be partly imagined
but decency forbids me to describe it. Suffice it to say that with
nearly seven hundred sick men in the building it was awful beyond

We resorted to almost every expedient to pass away time. We organized
debating clubs and the author displayed his wonderful oratorical powers
to the no small amusement of the auditors. Well, I have this
satisfaction, it did them no hurt and did me a great deal of good.

Two members of my regiment worked in the cook-house during the day,
returning to prison at night. They furnished our mess with plenty of
beef bones. Of these we manufactured rings, tooth picks and stilettos.
We became quite expert at the business, making some very fine articles.
Our tools were a common table knife which an engineer turned into a saw,
with the aid of a file, a broken bladed pocket knife, a flat piece of
iron and some brick-bats. The iron and brick were used to grind our
bones down to a level surface.

We also procured laurel root, of which we manufactured pipe bowls.
Carving them out in fine style, I made one which I sold for six dollars
to a reb, but I paid the six dollars for six pounds of salt.

I hope my readers will remember the saw-knife described above, as it
will be again introduced in a little scene which occurred in

Some one of our mess had the superannuated remains of a pack of cards,
greasy they were and dog-eared, but they served to while away many a
weary hour. One evening our old German who wanted “zult,” entertained us
with a Punch and Judy show. The performance was good, but I failed to
appreciate his talk.

But what we all enjoyed most was the singing. There was an excellent
quartette in our room and they carried us back to our boyhood days by
singing such songs as, “Home, Sweet Home,” “Down upon the Swanee River,”
and “Annie Laurie.” When they sang patriotic songs all who could sing
joined in the chorus. We made that old rebel prison ring with the
strains of “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Columbia’s the Gem of the
Ocean,” and the like. The guards never objected to these songs and I
have caught the low murmur of a guard’s voice as he joined in “Home,
Sweet Home.” But when we sang the new songs which had come out during
the war, such as, “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!” and the “Battle Cry of
Freedom,” they were not so well pleased.

We use to tease them by singing,

             “We will hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree,
             As we go marching on.”


     “We are springing to the call from the east and from the west,
       Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
     And we’ll hurl the rebel crew from the land we love the best,
       Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.”

About that time a guard would call out. “Yo’, Yanks up dah, yo’ stop dat
kyind of singing or I’ll shoot.” “Shoot and be dammed.”—

“For we’ll hurl the rebel crew from the land we love the best, &c.”
would ring out loud and clear for an answer, and then BANG would go the
guard’s gun, answered by a yell of derision from the prison.

We suffered very much from cold that winter at Danville for we had no
fire. It is true we had a stove and some green, sour gum wood was
furnished but it would not burn, and then we made some weak and futile
attempts to burn stone coal but it was a failure. The proportions were
not right, there was not coal enough to heat the stone, and so we went
without fire.

For bedding, I had an oil-cloth blanket and my “pard” had a woolen
blanket. But an oil-cloth blanket spread on a hard floor, does not “lie
soft as downy pillows are.” It did seem as though my hips would bore a
hole through the floor.

One day a rebel officer with two guards came in and ordered all the men
down from the third and fourth floors, then stationing a guard at the
stairs, he ordered them to come up, two at a time.

I was in no hurry this time to see what was going on, so I awaited
further developements. Soon after the men had commenced going up, a note
fluttered down from over head. I picked it up, on it was written, “They
are searching us for money, knives, watches and jewelry.” Word was
passed around and all who had valuables began to secrete them. I had
noticed that this class of fellows were expert at finding anything
secreted about the clothing, so I tried a plan of my own. Taking my
money I rolled it up in a small wad and stuffed it in my pipe. I then
filled my pipe with tobacco, lit it and let it burn long enough to make
a few ashes on top, then let it go out. Then I went up stairs with my
haversack. The robbers took my knife and fork, but did not find my

A Sergeant of a Kentucky Regiment saved a gold watch by secreting it in
a loaf of bread. Lucky fellow, to be the owner of a whole loaf of bread.

Small-pox broke out among us shortly after our arrival at Danville.
Every day some poor fellow was carried out, and sent off to the pest
house up the river.

About the 17th of December, a Hospital Steward, one of our men, came in
and told us he had come in to vaccinate all of us who desired it. I had
been vaccinated when a small boy, but concluded I would try and see if
it would work again. It did. Many of the men were vaccinated as the
Steward assured them that the virus was pure. Pure! Yes, so is
strychnine pure. It was pure small-pox virus, except where it was
vitiated by the virus of a disease, the most loathsome and degrading of
any known to man, leprosy alone excepted. We were inoculated and not
vaccinated. On the 26th I was very sick, had a high fever and when the
surgeon came around I was taken out to the Hospital.

                               CHAPTER V.

           “Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust!
             And freeze thou bitter-biting frost!
           Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows!
             Not all your rage, as now united shows
           More hard unkindness, unrelenting,
             Vengeful malice unrepenting,
           Than heaven illumined man on brother man bestows!”

After I left the prison, I was marched around to three other prisons and
waited outside while the Surgeon went through them to visit the sick. It
was a damp, chilly day, and I was so sick and tired and my bones ached
so badly that I was compelled to lie down upon the cold, wet, stone
sidewalk, while the Surgeon went through the prisons. But all things
earthly have an end, so did that Surgeon’s visits, and I was at last
marched to the Hospital.

Here allow me to describe the Hospital buildings. There were four of
them; three stood on the hill at the south part of the city, the fourth
was on the banks of the river, near the Richmond Railroad bridge. They
were about 40×120 feet and two stories high, with a hall running the
whole length, dividing them into wards, each building contained four
wards. They were erected in 1862 for the use of the wounded in the
celebrated Peninsular Campaign.

To the rear of the north hospital building was the pest-house, a defunct
shoe shop, in which convalescent shoemakers, who were soldiers in the
rebel army, worked for the benefit of the C. S. A. To the rear of the
center building was the cook-house and eating room, where convalescents
took their meals, and to the rear of the cook-house stood the dead
house, where the dead were placed prior to burial. To the rear of the
south building was the bakery, where all the bread of the hospital and
prisons was baked. This arrangement brought the three hospital buildings
in a line, while the bakery, dead house and pest-house were in a line to
the rear. A line of guards paced their beats around the whole.

I supposed when I was sent to the hospital that I had fever of some
kind, but in two days the soreness of my throat and the pustules on my
face and hands told the story too plainly, that the inoculation of a few
days before was doing its work. I was down with a mild form of
small-pox, varioloid, the doctors called it, but a Tennessee soldier
pronounced it a case of the “Very O Lord.” I was taken from the hospital
to the pest-house and laid on a straw pallet. My clothes were taken from
me and sent to the wash-house and I was given a thin cotton shirt and a
thin quilt for a covering.

The pest-house was but a slim affair, being built for summer use. It
stood upon piles four feet high, was boarded up and down without battens
and as the lumber was green when built, the cracks were half an inch in
width at this time.

January 1st, 1864, was a terribly cold day. The Rebel Steward thinking
we were not getting air enough, opened two windows in the ward I was in
and then toasted himself at a good fire in another ward. I was
charitably inclined and wished from the bottom of my heart that that
Steward might have the benefit of a hot fire, both here and hereafter.

I nearly froze to death that day. My limbs were as cold as those of a
corpse, but relief came about nine o’clock that night in the shape of a
pint of hot crust coffee which I placed between my feet until all the
heat had passed into my limbs, which, with constant rubbing, thawed me

Our rations at the hospital consisted of a slice of wheat bread and a
half pint of thick beef soup, this was given us twice a day.

After staying in the pest-house a week a suit of clothes was given me
and I was sent to Hospital No. 3, which had been turned into a small-pox
hospital. Nearly forty per cent. of the Danville prisoners had small-pox
yet the death rate was not high from that disease; diarrhea and scurvy
were the deadly foes of the prisoners, and swept them off as with a

After I had regained strength I entered into an agreement with half a
dozen others to attempt an escape. Our plan was to get into a ditch
which was west of the dead house, crawl down that past the guard into a
ravine, and then strike for the Blue Ridge Mountains, thence following
some stream to the Ohio River. But the moon was at the full at the time
and we were compelled to wait for a dark night. There is an old saying
that a “watched pot never boils,” so it was in our case; before a dark
night came we were sent back to prison.

Exchange rumors were current at this time. We talked over the good times
we would have when we got back into “God’s country.” We swore eternal
abstinence from bug soup and corn bread, and promised ourselves a
continual feast of roast turkey, oysters, beefsteak, mince pies, warm
biscuit and honey, but here came a difference of opinion, some voted for
mashed potatoes and butter, others for baked potatoes and gravy. There
were many strong advocates of each dish. The mashed potatoe men affirmed
that a man had no more taste than an ostrich who did not think that
mashed potatoes and butter were ahead of anything else in that line;
while the baked potatoe men sneeringly insinuated that the mashed
potatoe men’s mothers or wives did not know how to bake potatoes just to
the proper yellow tint, nor make gravy of just the right consistency and
richness. The question was never settled until it was settled by each
man selecting his own particular dish after months more of starvation.

There was restiveness among the men all the time, hunger and nakedness
were telling upon their spirits as well as their health. I lay it down
as a maxim that if you want to find a contented and good natured man,
you must select a well fed and comfortably clothed man. Philosophize as
much as you will upon the subject of diet but the fact remains that we
are all more or less slaves:—to appetite.

During the month of December a number of the prisoners in No. 3
attempted a jail delivery by crawling out through the drain of the
water-closet. They were detected however and most of them captured and
returned to prison. Among those who got away was John Squires, of Co.
K., 10th Wis. He had part of a rebel uniform and managed to keep clear
of the Home guards for a number of days, but was finally captured and
returned to prison. But this did not discourage him. He had finished out
his uniform while at large and was ready to try it again at the first
opportunity. But Johnny was no Micawber who waited for something to turn
up; he made his own opportunities. One day he took his knife and
unscrewed the “catch” of the door lock and walked out, as he passed
through the door he turned to his fellow prisoners and remarked “Now
look he’ah yo’ Yanks, if yo’ don’t have this flo’ah cleaned when I git
back yo’ll git no ration to-day.” Then turning he saluted the guard,
walked down stairs, saluted the outer guard, walked across the square,
over the bridge, passing two guards, past where a number of rebel
soldiers were working on a fort and on to “God’s Country” where he
arrived after weeks of wandering and hunger and cold in the Blue Ridge
Mountains and the valleys of West Virginia:—another case of “cheek.”

One day a rebel Chaplain came into our prison and preached to us. He
informed us with a great deal of circumlocution that he was Chaplain of
a Virginia Regiment, that he was a Baptist minister, and that his name
was Chaplain. He then proceeded to hurl at our devoted heads some of the
choicest selections of fiery extracts, flavored with brimstone to be
found in the Bible. In his concluding prayer he asked the Lord to
forgive us for coming into the South to murder and burn and destroy and
rob, at the same time intimating that he, himself, could not do it. I
suppose he felt better after he had scorched us and we felt just as
well. He would have had to preach to us a long time before he could have
made us believe that there was a worse place than rebel prisons.

One source of great discomfort, yea, torture, was body lice,
“grey-backs,” in army parlance. They swarmed upon us, they penetrated
into all the seams of our clothing. They went on exploring expeditions
on all parts of our bodies, they sapped the juices from our flesh, they
made our days, days of woe, and our nights, nights of bitterness and
cursing. We could not get hot water, our unfailing remedy in the army.
Our only resource was “skirmishing.” This means stripping our clothes
and hunting them out:—and crushing them.

On warm days it was a common sight to see half of the men in the room
with their shirts off, skirmishing.

One day, a number of Reb. citizens came in to see the “Yanks.” Among
them was a large finely built young man. He was dressed in the height of
fashion and evidently belonged to the F. F. V.’s. We were skirmishing
when they came in, and young F. F. V. strutted through the room, with
his head up, like a Texas steer in a Nebraska corn field. His nose and
lips suggested scorn and disgust. Thinks I, “my fine lad I’ll fix you.”
Just as he passed me I threw a large “Grey-back” on his coat; many of
the prisoners saw the act, and contributed their mite to the general
fund, and by the time young F. F. V. had made the circuit of the room,
he was well stocked with Grey-backs. It is needless to add he never
visited us again.

Scurvy and diarrhea were doing their deadly work even at Danville. These
diseases were due, largely, to causes over which the rebels had control.

Dr. Joseph Jones, a bitter rebel, professor of Medical Chemistry, at the
Medical College in Augusta, was sent by the Surgeon General of the
Confederate army, to investigate and report upon the cause of the
extreme mortality in Andersonville. He attributed scurvy to a lack of
vegetable diet and acids. Diarrhea and dysentery, he said, were caused
by the filthy conditions by which we were surrounded, polluted water,
and the fact that the meal from which our bread was made was not
separated from the husk.

There have been many stories told with relation to this meal; let me
make some things plain, and then there will not be the apparent
contradiction, that there is at present in the public mind.

The difference in opinion arises from the different interpretations of
the word “husk.”

A true northern man understands husk to mean;—the outer covering of the
ear of corn; while a southerner, or Middle States, man calls it a

The husk referred to by Dr. Jones, would be called by a northerner, the
“hull,” or bran. His meaning was that it was unsifted.

The fetid waters of the canal, the unsifted corn meal made into half
baked bread, and a lack of vegetables and acids, together with the rigid
prison rules, which resulted in filth, and stench, beyond description,
were the prime causes of the great mortality at Danville. During the
five months in which I was confined at Danville, more than 500 of 4,200
prisoners died, or about one in eight.

Our clothing too, was getting old, many of the men had no shoes, others
were almost naked. Our government sent supplies of food and clothing to
us, but they were subjected to such a heavy toll that none of the food,
and but little of the clothing ever reached us, and what little was
distributed to our men was soon traded to the guards for bread, or rice,
or salt. I never received a mouthful of food, or a stitch of clothing
which came through the lines.

In February reports came to us that the Confederate government was
building a large prison stockade somewhere down in Georgia, and that we
were to be removed to it; that our government had refused to exchange
prisoners, and that we were “in for it during the war.”

About the 1st of April 1864 the prisoners in one of the buildings were
removed. The prison officials said they had gone to City Point to be
exchanged, but one of the guards told us they had gone to Georgia. But
we soon found out the truth of the matter for on the 15th we were all
taken from No. 1 and put on board the cars. We were stowed in at the
rate of sixty prisoners, and four guards to a car.

The lot of my mess fell to a car which had been used last, for the
conveyance of cattle. No attempt had been made to clean the car and we
were compelled to kick the filth out the best we could with our feet.

Our train was headed toward Richmond and the guards swore upon their
“honah” that we were bound for City Point to be exchanged.


Since the foregoing chapter was printed in THE PEOPLE’S PRESS, we have
received the following endorsement of the story from a comrade who knows
HOW IT WAS by a personal experience.

                                       MERTON, MINN., March 26, ’89.


 I have been much interested in perusing a series of articles published
 in THE PEOPLE’S PRESS from the pen of Hon. W. W. Day, Lemond, giving
 reminiscences of army life, what he saw and experienced while held a
 prisoner of war in various prisons in the South during the late
 Rebellion. I confess an additional interest, perhaps, in the story
 above the casual reader from the fact that I, too, was a guest of the
 southern chivalry from Sept. 20th, 1863, until the May following. In
 company with the boys of the 124th Ohio, I attended that Chickamauga
 Picnic. There were no girls to cast a modifying influence over the
 Johnnies, or any one else. As early as the morning of the 19th,
 something got crooked producing no little confusion and excitement,
 which increased as the hours wore away, up to the afternoon of the
 following day, when suddenly it seemed that that whole corner of
 Georgia was turned into one grand pandemonium. Everything that could
 be gotten loose was let loose, many a boy got hurt that day badly.
 Some bare-footed gyrating, thing got onto my head, worked in under the
 hair, and twitched me down. It brought about a quiescence quicker than
 any dose of morphia I ever swallowed, and I have eaten lots of it
 since that time; I can feel its toes to-day.

 Time passed, night was approaching, when several Johnnies approached,
 one of whom came up to where I was sitting on the ground, and spoke to
 me. The man was a blamed poor talker, but I understood fully what was
 wanted, and acquiesced promptly. The outcome of which was, I was
 toddled off to Atlanta; from thence to Richmond and Danville, Va. I
 make no attempt to write of my own personal adventures, or prison
 experience. Much of it, with but few exceptions, as well as the
 experience of thousands of others, may be gleaned from the papers of
 Comrade Day. For a time I owned and occupied a chalk mark, as my bed,
 on the same floor with Comrade Day at Danville, and I wish to say,
 what he has written of the rebel management of those prisons, both at
 Richmond and Danville, the general treatment of prisoners, rations, in
 kind, quantity, quality, manner of cooking, &c., &c., are the COLD
 FACTS. Many incidents and happenings which he refers to in his
 narrative came to my own personal observation, and as related by him
 accord fully with my recollections of them at the time of their
 occurrence. In fact I heartily endorse, as being substantially true,
 every word of the Comrade’s Prison experiences, except, perhaps, his
 reference to Belle Isle. I think his statement there imbibes a little
 of the imaginary, when he characterizes the place as a literal “hell
 on earth.” Where did he get his facts? That’s the puzzle. No matter,
 if he were there—It is a small matter however, and may be true after
 all. I know something of Belle Isle, but have only this to say, if the
 emperor of the infernal regions, who is said to reign below the great
 divide, has a hole anywhere in his dominions, filled with souls that
 are undergoing pains and miseries equaling those to which our boys
 were subjected on Belle Isle, I pray God I may escape it.

                                                        DEXTER LANE.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                       EN ROUTE TO ANDERSONVILLE.

           “Tis a weary life this—
         Vaults overhead and gates and bars around me,
           And my sad hours spent with as sad companions,
         Whose thoughts are brooding o’er their own mischances,
           Far, far too deeply to take part in mine.”

As the train pulled out of Danville that morning, our hopes began to
rise in proportion to the distance we placed between ourselves and our
late prison.

We had now been in the Confederate prisons seven months, and we had high
hopes that our guards were telling us the truth, for once.

I am not prepared to say that the people of the South are not as
truthful as other people; but I will say, that truth was a commodity,
which appeared to be very scarce with our guards.

When we left the Danville prison, we took with us, contrary to orders, a
wooden bucket belonging to my mess.

The way we stole it out of prison was this. One of the men cut a number
into each stave, then knocked off the hoops and took it down, dividing
hoops, staves and bottom among us, these we rolled up in our blankets
and keeping together we entered the same car. After the train had
started we unrolled our blankets, took out the fragments of bucket, and
set it up again. This was a very fortunate thing for us, as it furnished
us a vessel in which to procure water on that long and dreary trip.

Nothing of note occurred until we reached Burkeville Junction, near the
scene of the collapse of the Confederacy. Here we were switched off from
the Richmond road on to the Petersburg road. Some of us who were least
hopeful considered this a bad omen; others argued that it was all right,
as we could take cars from Petersburg to City Point. Among the latter
class were some men who had been prisoners before, and were supposed to
know more than the rest of us about the modes of exchange. We therefore
said no more and tried hard to believe that all would end well.

We arrived at Petersburg a little before midnight. We were immediately
marched across the Appomattox River bridge into Petersburg. As we were
marching along I noticed a large building, which I recognized as one I
had seen the previous November, while we were marching through this
place on our way to Richmond. I told the boys we were going to the
Weldon Depot, the right direction for the South. The hopeful ones still
insisted that it was all right, but I could not see it that way. But the
question was soon settled, for we arrived at the Weldon Depot in a short
time. How our hearts sank within us as we came to the low sheds and
buildings, which form the Station of the Petersburg and Weldon R. R.
Heretofore during the day, “God’s Country,” and home had seemed very
near to us, but now all these hopes were suddenly dashed to the ground,
and dark despair, like a black pall, enshrouded us. I believe that most
of us wished that dark, rainy night, that it had been our fate to have
fallen upon the field of battle, and received a soldier’s burial.

Those of us who had read Shakspere could have exclaimed with Hamlet.—

           “To be, or not to be, that is the question:
           Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
           The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
           Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
           And, by opposing end them—To die—to sleep,
           No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
           The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
           That flesh is heir to,—’tis a consummation
           Devoutedly to be wished. To die,—to sleep;—
           To sleep! perchance to dream, aye there’s the rub;
           For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
           When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
           Must give us pause, there’s the respect,
           That makes calamity of so long a life;
           For who would bear the whips and scorn of time,
           The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
           The pangs of misprized love, the law’s delay,
           The insolence of office, and the spurns
           That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
           When he himself might his quietus make
           With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
           To grunt and sweat under a weary life:
           But that the dread of something after death,
           The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
           No traveller returns, puzzled the will;
           And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
           Than fly to others that we know not of?
           Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;”

The all-wise Being has placed within us all, an instinctive dread of
death; had it not been so, I fear many poor, miserable, hopeless,
prisoners would have gone out of their misery by the suicide’s route.

Morning came and we were in North Carolina. We took the same route back
as far as Augusta, Ga., that we had taken when on our way to Richmond,
the autumn previous.

We suffered extremely on the way. We were not allowed to get off the
cars for any purpose whatever, except to change cars. The guards brought
us water in the bucket we had purloined from Danville. They were not
particular where they procured it. They supplied us from the handiest
place whether it was the water tank at a station, or from a stagnant
pond or ditch by the side of the R. R. track.

The reader can imagine that such water was rank poison. The water in the
ditches of the Carolina swamps was loaded with decayed vegetable matter;
slimy snakes and filthy water reptiles crawled and swam in it, and taken
all together it was not much better than the fetid waters of the
Danville canal.

Our guards, after leaving Petersburg told us we were on our way to a new
prison which had been made at Andersonville, Ga. They cheered us
somewhat, by saying it was a large stockade, and that we would have
plenty of room, wood and water, and more rations. Anything seemed better
than Danville to us, and visions of a camp with tents for shelter, good
water, more and better food, and opportunity to exercise, floated
through our minds, and we thought that our situation would be more

From Augusta we went to Macon, thence to Andersonville, where we arrived
on the 22d of April 1864.

Andersonville is in Sumter county, Georgia, sixty-four miles southwest
of Macon, on the Macon & Albany Railroad. The country through all that
region is a sandy barren, interspersed with swamps which were filled
with rank growths of timber, vines and semi-tropical shrubbery.

They were the home of serpents, and reptiles of all kinds indigenous to
that latitude, and of many kinds of wild animals. The land was rolling
but could not be called hilly.

The timber was mostly southern, or pitch pine, with the different
varieties of gum. In the swamps, cypress abounded, from the branches of
which the grey, or Spanish moss hung like the beard of a Brobdignagian
giant, through which the wind sighed and soughed most dismally.

My impression, received at the time I was in prison, was, that it was
the most God-forsaken country I ever beheld, with the exception of the
rice swamps of South Carolina. South Carolina however, had a history
running back to Revolutionary times, while that portion of Georgia had
no history, but has acquired one which will last as long as the history
of the Spanish Inquisition. And yet at this time, Southern Georgia is
redeemed somewhat, by being the location of Thomasville, the winter
resort of some of our citizens.

The Prison Pen, or Stockade, was located about three-fourths of a mile
east of the station, on the opposing face of two slight hills, with a
sluggish swampy, stream running through it from west to east and
dividing the prison into two unequal parts, the the northern, being the
larger part.

The Stockade was in the form of a parallelogram, being longest from
north to south. I estimated that it was fifty rods east and west, by
sixty rods north and south and that it contained eighteen acres, but
from this must be subtracted the land lying between the Dead-line and
Stockade, and the swamp land lying each side of the little stream, known
to us as “Deadrun,” leaving, according to my estimate, twelve acres
available for the use of the prisoners.

The author of “Andersonville” gives the area of the prison as sixteen
acres and the amount available for prisoners twelve acres.

Dr. Jones, in his report, gives the area as seventeen acres, but does
not intimate that part of it was not available, so that his estimate of
the number of square feet to each prisoner, is nearly one-third too

The Stockade was built of hewn timbers, twenty-four feet in length, set
in the ground side by side, to a depth of six feet, leaving the walls of
the Stockade eighteen feet high. The guards stood upon covered platforms
or “pigeon roosts” outside of, and overlooking the Stockade.

Not far from the northwest, and southwest corners, on the west side,
were the north and south gates. These were made double, by building a
small stockade outside of each gate, which was entered by another gate,
so that when prisoners or wagons entered the stockade they were first
admitted to small stockade, then the gate was closed, after which they
were admitted to the main stockade.

These small stockades were anterooms to the main prison, and were for
the purpose of preventing a rush by the prisoners.

Outside of the main stockade the rebels built another stockade, at a
distance of about ten rods. This was for the double purpose of
preventing a “break” of the prisoners and to prevent tunnelling.

This second stockade was built of round timbers set in the ground six
feet and stood twelve feet above the ground.

Outside of this second stockade a third one was started, but was not
completed when I left. This was for protection against “Uncle Billy
Sherman’s Bummers.”

Commanding each corner of the stockade was a fort, built a sufficient
distance to give the guns a good range. These four forts mounted all
told eighteen guns of light artillery, as I was informed, and had a
general rush been made, they would have slaughtered us as though we were
a flock of pigeons.

The cook-house was built on low ground on the border of a small stream
which ran through the stockade, and west from it.

The guards camp was west and southwest, from the southern portion of the

West from the south gate Gen. Winder had his head-quarters, also the
guard house and Wirz’ quarters.

About a quarter of a mile north of the stockade was the cemetery, then a
sandy barren, with occasional jack pine growing.

I have now given the reader a general description of the Prison Pen, or
Stockade, of Andersonville, as seen from the outside.

I will now attempt to give a view of the inside, as seen during five
months confinement.

Upon our arrival at Andersonville on the 22d of April, we were halted at
Gen. Winder’s quarters and registered by name, rank, company, and
regiment. I will give the reader the form as written, in the case of one
of my tent mates who died at Charleston, S. C. the following October.

GEORGE W. ROUSE, Co. D. 10th Wisconsin Inf.—16-3.

Which meant that he was assigned to the 3d company and 16 detachment.

Wirz had originated a very clumsy and unmilitary organization of the
prisoners. He had organized them into companies of ninety men and
assigned three companies to a detachment. At the head of these companies
and detachments was a sergeant. For convenience in dividing rations, we
subdivided these companies into squads, or messes, each mess electing
their own sergeant. As at Richmond and Danville I was elected sergeant
of my mess at Andersonville.

We were marched into the north gate and assigned grounds on the east
side of the prison, next to the Dead-line, and near the swamp on the
north side.

We were not subjected to the searching process at Winder’s
head-quarters, as most of the prisoners were. I suppose we were not a
promising looking crowd. Had we been searched, the rebs would have found
nothing but rags and graybacks.

Thus we were turned into the Prison Pen of Andersonville, like a herd of
swine, with the chance to “root hog or die.” No shelter was furnished
us; no cooking utensils provided; no wood, nothing but a strip of barren
yellow sand, under a hot sun.

The situation did not look inviting. Our dream was not realized. We had
fresh air it is true, for the air had not become contaminated then. We
had room for exercise, for 5,000 men do not look very much crowded on
twelve acres, it takes 33,000 men to cover that amount of space in good
shape according to the views of Winder and Wirz; but somehow it did not
seem homelike. There was a wonderful paucity of the conveniencies, the
necessities, to say nothing of the luxuries of life.

About 4,000 men had been sent here during the months of February and
March, from Libby and Belle Isle, and 1,000 from Danville, about two
weeks before us. First come, first served, was the rule here. The first
settlers who “squatted” in Andersonville found plenty of wood and brush
and with these had, with true Yankee ingenuity and industry, constructed
very fair houses, or hovels rather. But they had used up all the
building material, had not left a brush large enough for a riding whip,
they had left us nothing but sand and a miserable poor article of that.

But the gods were propitious, and the next day we had the privilege of
going out under guard, and picking up material for a house. Rouse and
myself brought in material enough to fix us up in good shape. We secured
a number of green poles about an inch thick, some of these we bent like
the hoops of a wagon cover, sticking the ends in the ground. Then we
fastened other poles transversely on them fastening them with strips of
bark. We used a U. S. blanket for a roof or cover. The sides we thatched
with branches of the long leaved pitch pine. In a few hours we had a
very fair shelter.

I think the settlers in western Minnesota and Dakota must be indebted to
Andersonville prisoners for the idea of “dugouts.” When we arrived here,
we found many of the unfortunate prisoners from Belle Isle who had no
“pup tent” or blanket to spare, had provided themselves warm quarters by
burrowing into the ground. They had dug holes about the size of the head
of a barrel at the surface of the ground and gradually enlarged as they
dug down, until they were something the shape of the inside of a large
bell. These dugouts were four or five feet deep and usually had two
occupants. These gophers were hard looking specimens of humanity. They
had built fires in their holes, out of pitch pine; over this they had
done their cooking, and over this they had crooned during the cold
storms of March; they had had some bacon, but no soap, and the mixture
of lamp black from the pine, and grease from the bacon, had disfigured
them beyond the recognition of their own mothers. Their hair was long
and unkempt, and filled with lamp black until it was so stiff that it
stuck out like “quills of the fretful porcupine.” Their clothes were in
rags, yes in tatters. They were shoeless, hatless, and usually coatless.
They looked more like the terrible fancies of Gustave Dore than like
human beings. And yet these poor boys were originally fair-haired,
fair-skinned, blue-eyed, loyal, brave sons of fathers and mothers who
were in easy circumstances, and in many cases wealthy; who would have
shed their hearts’ last drop of blood, for that poor boy, if it would
have been of any avail. Or they were husbands to fair women, and fathers
to sweet blue-eyed children, who were waiting for husband and papa, to
come home.

Alas! those fathers and mothers, those wives and children are waiting
yet, yea and shall wait until the sea, and the graves at Andersonville,
give up their dead.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                            WINDER AND WIRZ.

   “Lady Anne. Foul devil, for God’s sake hence, and trouble us not;
   For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
   Filled it with cursing cries, and deep exclaims.
   If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
   Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.”
                                                 —King Richard, III.

The man who had charge of the prison at Andersonville, and who was
responsible for the barbarities practiced there, more than any other
man, was Gen. John H. Winder.

I had not the honor(?) of a personal acquaintance with that fiend in
human shape, but Comrade John McElroy of the 16 Illinois Cavalry, the
author of “Andersonville,” gives his readers a description of the man. I
quote from that work.

 “There rode in among us, a few days after our arrival, an old man
 whose collar bore the wreathed stars of a Major General. Heavy white
 locks fell from beneath his slouched hat, nearly to shoulders. Sunken
 gray eyes too dull and cold to light up, marked a hard, stony face,
 the salient features of which was a thin lipped, compressed mouth,
 with corners drawn down deeply—the mouth which seems the world over to
 be the index of selfish, cruel, sulky malignance. It is such a mouth
 as has the school boy—the coward of the play ground, who delights in
 pulling off the wings of flies. It is such a mouth as we can imagine
 some remorseless inquisitor to have had—that is, not an inquisitor
 filled with holy zeal for what he mistakenly thought the cause of
 Christ demanded, but a spleeny, envious, rancorous shaveling, who
 tortured men from hatred of their superiority to him, and sheer love
 of inflicting pain.

 The rider was John H. Winder, Commissary General of Prisoners,
 Baltimorean renegade and the malign genius to whose account should be
 charged the deaths of more gallant men than the inquisitors of the
 world ever slew by the less dreadful rack and wheel. It was he who in
 August could point to three thousand and eighty-one new made graves
 for that month, and exultingly tell his hearer that he was “doing more
 for the Confederacy than twenty regiments.”

 His lineage was in accordance with his character. His father was that
 General William H. Winder, whose poltroonery at Bladensburg, in 1814
 nullified the resistance of the gallant Commodore Barney, and gave
 Washington to the British.

 The father was a coward and incompetent; the son, always cautiously
 distant from the scene of hostilities, was the tormentor of those whom
 fortunes of war and the arms of brave men threw into his hands.“

Of his personal appearance I have no recollection, but the above is a
true picture of his character. He filled a place in the Confederacy
which no brave officer of equal rank would have accepted. Hill,
Longstreet, Early, Polk, Hardee, even Forrest and Mosby would have
spurned with contempt an offer of assignment to the position occupied by
the cowardly John H. Winder.

Of Captain Henry Wirz I can write of my own knowledge. In personal
appearance he was about five feet nine or ten inches in height, slightly
built with stooping shoulders. He had a small peaked head, small
twinkling eyes, grisly, frowsy whiskers, and the general contour of his
features and expression of eyes reminded one of a rodent.

In character he was pusillanimous, vindictive, mean and irritable to
those beneath him, or who had the misfortune to be in his power; while
to his superiors he was humble and cringing, an Uriah Heep; a person who
would “Crook the pregnant hinges of his knee, that thrift might follow

As a specimen of the contemptible meanness of these two persons, I was
told by a prisoner who attempted to escape, but was recaptured and put
in the stocks, that while at their head-quarters he saw a large
dry-goods box nearly full of letters written by prisoners to their
friends; and by friends to them, which had accumulated, and which they
had neglected to forward or distribute. The paper upon which some of
these letters was written, and the envelope in which it was enclosed had
cost the prisoner, perhaps, his last cent of money, or mouthful of food.
The failure to receive those letters had deprived many a mother or wife
of the last chance to hear from a loved one, or a prisoner of his last
chance to hear from those he loved more than life itself.

Wirz was Commandant of the inner prison and in this capacity, had charge
of calling the roll, organization of prisoners, issuing rations, the
sanitary condition of the prison, the punishment of prisoners; in fact
the complete control of the inner prison.

Winder had control of all the guards, could control the amount of
rations to be issued, make the rules and regulations of the prison, and
had, in fact, complete control of the whole economy of the prison; all
men and officers connected therewith being subordinate to him.

Wirz’ favorite punishment for infringement of prison rules, was the
chain-gang, and stocks. Sometimes twelve or fifteen men were fastened
together by shackles attached to a long chain. These unfortunate men
were left to broil in a semi-tropical sun, or left to shiver in the dews
and pelting rains, without shelter as long as Wirz’ caprice or malignity
lasted. The stocks were usually for punishment of the more flagrant
offenses, or when Wirz was in his worst humor.

Just below my tent, two members of a New York regiment put up a little
shelter. They always lay in their tent during the day, but at night one
might see a few men marching away from their “shack” carrying haversacks
full of dirt, and emptying them along the edge of the swamp. One morning
the tent was gone, and a hole in the ground marked the spot, and told
the tale of their route, which was underground through a tunnel. About 8
o’clock in the morning Wirz came in accompanied by a squad of soldiers,
and a gang of negroes armed with shovels, who began to dig up the
tunnel. I went to Wirz and asked him what was up. He was always ready to
“blow” when he thought he could scare anybody, so he replied, “By Gott,
tem tamned Yanks has got oudt alrety, but nefer mints, I prings tem pack
all derights; I haf sent te ploothounts after dem. I tell you vat I
does, I gifs any Yank swoluf hours de shtart, undt oaf he gits avay, all
deright; put oaf I catches him I gif him hell.” Some one offered to take
the chances. “Allderights.” said he, “you come to de nort cate in der
mornick undt I lets you co.”

The next day we heard that the blood-hounds had found the trail of the
escaped prisoners, but that all but one had been foiled by cayenne
pepper, and that one, was found dead with a bullet hole in his head. We
never heard from our New York friends and infer that that they got to
“God’s Country.”

Many attempts were made to tunnel out that summer, but so far as I know
that was the only successful one. All sorts of ways were resorted to,
the favorite way being to start a well and dig down ten or twelve feet,
then start a tunnel in it near the surface of the ground. By this means
the fresh dirt would be accounted for, as well digging was within the
limits of the prison rules. But before the “gopher-hole,” as the tunnels
were called by the western boys, was far advanced, a gang of negroes
appeared upon the scene and dug it up. We always believed there were
spies among us. Some thought the spies were some of our own men who were
playing traitor to curry favor with Wirz. Others believed Wirz kept
rebel spies among us. I incline to the former opinion.

Among those who were suspected was a one-legged soldier named Hubbard.
He hailed from Chicago and was a perfect pest. He was quarrelsome and
impudent and would say things that a sound man would have got a broken
head for saying. His squawking querulous tones, and hooked nose secured
for him the name of “Poll Parrott.” He was a sort of privileged
character, being allowed to go outside, which caused many to believe he
was in league with Wirz, though I believe there was no direct proof of
it. One day he came to where I was cooking my grub and wanted me to take
him in. He said all his comrades were down on him and called him a spy,
and he could not stand it with them. As a further inducement he said he
could go out when he had a mind, and get wood and extra rations, which
he would divide with me. I consulted my “pard” and we agreed to take him
in. He then asked me to cook him some dinner, and gave me his frying-pan
and some meat. While I was cooking his dinner he commenced finding fault
with me, upon which I suggested that he had better do his own cooking.
He then showered upon my devoted head some of the choicest epithets
found in the Billingsgate dialect, he raved and swore like a mad-man. I
was pretty good natured naturally, and besides I pitied the poor
unfortunate fellow, but this presuming on my good nature a little too
much, I fired his frying-pan at his head and told him to “get”; and he

Two days afterwards he went under the Dead-line and began to abuse the
guard, a member of an Alabama regiment, who ordered him to go back, or
he would shoot him. “Poll” then opened on the guard in about the same
style as he had on me, winding up by daring the guard to fire. This was
too much and the guard fired a plunging shot, the ball striking him in
the chin and passing down into his body, killing him instantly.

A few days before this, a “fresh fish,” or “tender foot,” as the cow
boys would call him nowadays, started to cross the swamp south of my
tent. In one place in the softest part of the swamp the railing which
composed the Dead-line was gone, this man stepped over where the line
should have been, and the guard fired at him but he fired too high and
missed his mark, but the bullet struck an Ohio man who was sitting in
front of a tent near mine. He was badly, but not fatally wounded, but
died in a few days from the effects of gangrene in his wound.

The author of “Andersonville” makes a wide distinction between the
members of the 29th Alabama and the 55th Georgia regiments, which
guarded us, in relation to treatment of prisoners, claiming that Alabama
troops were more humane than the Georgia “crackers.” This was
undoubtedly true in this instance, but I am of the opinion that state
lines had nothing to do with the matter.

The 29th Alabama was an old regiment and had been to the front and seen
war, had fired at Yankees, and had been fired at by Yankees in return;
they had no need to shoot defenseless prisoners in order to establish
the enviable reputation of having killed a “damned Yank;” while the 55th
Georgia was a new regiment, or at least one which had not faced the
music of bullets and shells on the field of battle, they had a
reputation to make yet, and they made one as guards at Andersonville,
but the devil himself would not be proud of it, while the 5th Georgia
Home Guards, another regiment of guards, was worse than the 55th.

In making up the 5th Geo. H. G. the officers had “robbed the cradle and
the grave,” as one of my comrades facetiously remarked.

Old men with long white locks and beards, with palsied, trembling limbs,
vied with boys, who could not look into the muzzles of their guns when
they stood on the ground, who were just out of the sugar pap and
swaddling clothes period of their existence, in killing a Yank. It was
currently reported that they received a thirty days furlough for every
prisoner they shot; besides the distinguished “honah.”

In marked contrast with these two Georgia regiments was the 5th Georgia
regulars. This regiment guarded us at Charleston, S. C., the following
September, and during our three weeks stay at that place I have no
recollection of the guards firing on us, although we were camped in an
open field with nothing to prevent our escape but sickness, starvation,
and a thin line of guards of the 5th Ga. regulars. But this regiment too
had seen service at the front. They had been on the Perryville Campaign,
had stood opposed to my regiment at the battle of Perryville and had
received the concentrated volleys of Simonson’s battery and the 10th
Wisconsin Infantry, and in return had placed 146 of my comrades HORS DE
COMBAT. They had fought at Murfresboro and Chickamauga, at Lookout and
Missionary Ridge and had seen grim visaged war in front of Sherman’s
steadily advancing columns in the Atlanta campaign. Surely they had
secured a record without needlessly shooting helpless prisoners.

I believe all ex-prisoners will agree with me, that FIGHTING regiments
furnished humane guards.

For the purpose of tracking escaped prisoners, an aggregate of seventy
blood-hounds were kept at Andersonville. They were run in packs of five
or six, unless a number of prisoners had escaped, in which case a larger
number were used. They were in charge of a genuine “nigger driver” whose
delight it was to follow their loud baying, as they tracked fugitive
negroes, or escaped Yanks through the forests and swamps of southern

These blood-hounds were trained to track human beings, and with their
keen scent they held to the track as steadily, relentlessly as death
itself; and woe betide the fugitive when overtaken, they tore and
lacerated him with the blood-thirsty fierceness of a Numidian lion.

These willing beasts and more willing guards were efficient factors in
the hands of Winder and Wirz in keeping in subjection the prisoners
entrusted to their care. But these are outside forces. Within the wooden
walls of that prison were more subtile and enervating forces at work
than Georgia militia or fierce blood-hound.

Diarrhea, scurvy and its concomitant, gangrene, the result of
insufficient and unsuitable food and the crowded and filthy state of the
prison, were doing their deadly work, swiftly, surely and relentlessly.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

        “Ghost. I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
        Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
        Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres;
        Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
        And each particular hair to stand on end,
        Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.”

The cook-house, which I have already spoken of, had a capacity for
cooking rations for 10,000 men. Our rations consisted, during the latter
part of April and through May, of about a pound of corn bread, of about
the same quality as that at Danville, a piece of meat about the size of
two fingers, and a little salt per day. This was varied by issuing rice
or cow peas in the place of meat, but meat and rice, or peas, were never
issued together. We had no more bug soup, nor soup of any kind from the
cook-house. We got our bugs in the peas, so that we were not entirely
destitute of meat when we had peas. The rice was filled with weevil, so
that that too, was stronger, if not more nutritious. But when our
numbers were increased by the prisoners who had been captured at Dalton,
Resaca, Alatoona, New Hope Church and Kenesaw, from Sherman’s army, and
from the Wilderness, from Meade’s army, our numbers had far outgrown the
capacity of the cook-house and our rations were issued to us raw.

Then commenced real, downright misery and suffering. These men were
turned into the prison after being robbed of everything of value,
without shelter, without cooking utensils, without wood, except in the
most meager quantities, and in most cases without blankets.

Raw meal, raw rice and peas, and no dish to cook them in, and no wood to
cook them with, and yet there were thousands of acres of timber in sight
of the prison, and these men would have been too glad to cut their own
wood and bring it into the prison on their shoulders. But this would
have been a luxury, and Winder did not furnish prisoners with luxuries.
There was an abortive attempt made at cooking more rations, by cooking
them less, and the result was, meal simply scalded and called “mush,”
and rice not half cooked, and burned black wherever it touched the
kettle it was boiled in.

The effects of this unwholesome, half cooked, and in thousands of cases
raw diet, was an increase of diarrhea, and dysentery, and scurvy.

In thousands of cases of scurvy where scorbutic ulcers had broken out,
gangrene supervened and the poor prisoner soon found surcease of pain,
and misery, and starvation, in the grave. Amputation of a limb was not a
cure for these cases; new scorbutic ulcers appeared, again gangrene
supervened, and death was the almost inevitable result.

The prison was filled with sick and dying men, indeed well men were the
exception, and sick men the rule. The hospital was filled to
overflowing; the prison itself, was a vast hospital, with no physicians,
and no nurses.

Thousands of men had become too sick and weak to go to the sinks to
stool, and they voided their excrement in little holes dug near their
tents. The result of this was, a prison covered with maggots, and the
air so polluted with the foul stench, that it created an artificial
atmosphere, which excluded malaria, and in a country peculiarly adapted
to malarial diseases, there were no cases of Malarial, Typhus or Typhoid

Your true Yankee is an ingenious fellow, and is always trying to better
his situation. Many cooking dishes were manufactured by the prisoners
out of tin cans, pieces of sheet iron, or car roofing, which had been
picked up on the road to prison.

Knives and spoons were made from pieces of hoop iron, and a
superannuated oyster or fruit can, was a whole cooking establishment,
while a tin pail or coffee pot caused its owner to be looked upon as a

Fortunately for myself I was joint owner with six men of my company, of
a six quart tin pail. This we loaned at times to the more unfortunate,
thus helping them somewhat in their misery. Besides this mine of wealth,
I had an interest in the wooden bucket purloined from the Danville
prison, and as Sergeant of the mess, it was in my care. To this bucket I
owe, in a great measure, my life; for I used it for a bath tub during my
confinement in Andersonville.

Another cause of suffering was the extreme scarcity of water. When the
Richmond and Belle Isle prisoners arrived in Andersonville in February
and March, they had procured their water from Dead-run; but by the time
our squad arrived this little stream had become so polluted that it was
not fit for the wallowing place of a hog.

Our first work after building a shelter was to procure water. We first
dug a hole in the edge of the swamp, but this soon became too warm and
filthy for use, so we started a well in an open space in front of my
tent, and close to the Dead-line. We found water at a depth of six feet,
but it was in quicksand and we thought our well was a failure; but again
luck was on our side. One of the prisoners near us, had got hold of a
piece of board while marching from the cars to the prison, this he
offered to give us in exchange for stock in our well.

We completed the bargain, and with our Danville sawknife cut up the
board into water-curbing, which we sank into the quicksand, thus
completing a well which furnished more water than any well in the whole

To the credit of my mess, who owned all the right, title and interest,
in and to this well, I will say, we never turned a man away thirsty.
After we had supplied ourselves, we gave all the water the well would
furnish to the more unfortunate prisoners who lived on the hill, and who
could procure no water elsewhere.

After we had demonstrated the fact that clean water could be procured
even in Andersonville, a perfect mania for well digging prevailed in
prison; wells were started all over, but the most of them proved
failures for different reasons, some were discouraged at the great
depth, others had no boards for water-curbing, and their wells caved in,
and were a failure. There were, however, some wells dug on the hill, to
a depth of thirty or forty feet. They furnished water of a good quality,
but the quantity was very limited.

The digging of these deep wells was proof of the ingenuity and daring of
the prisoners. The only digging tool was a half canteen, procured by
unsoldering a canteen. The dirt was drawn up in a haversack, or bucket,
attached to a rope twisted out of rags, from the lining of coat sleeves
or strips of shelter tents. The well diggers were lowered into, and
drawn out of, the wells by means of these slight, rotten ropes, and yet,
I never heard of an accident as a result of this work.

But the wells were not capable of supplying one-fourth of the men with
water. Those who had no interest in a well, and could not beg water from
those who had, were compelled to go to Dead-run for a supply.

A bridge crossed this stream on the west side of the prison, and here
the water was not quite so filthy as farther down stream. This bridge
was the slaughter pen of the 55th Georgians, and the 5th Georgia Home

Here the prisoners would reach under the Dead-line to procure clean
water, and the crack of a Georgian’s musket, was the prisoner’s death

During the early part of August Providence furnished what Winder and
Wirz refused to furnish. After a terrible rain storm, a spring broke out
under the walls of the stockade about ten or fifteen rods north of this
bridge. Boards were furnished, out of which a trough was made which
carried the water into the prison. The water was of good quality, and of
sufficient quantity to have supplied the prisoners, could it have been
saved by means of a tank or reservoir. This was the historical
“Providence Spring” known and worshiped by all ex-Andersonville

The same rain storm which caused Providence Spring to break out, gullied
and washed out the ground between our well and the stockade to a depth
of four feet, and so saturated the ground that the well caved in. We
were a sad squad of men, as we gathered around the hole where our hopes
of life were buried, for without pure water, we knew we could not
survive long in Andersonville.

Two days after the accident to our well, we held a legislative session,
and resolved ourselves into a committee of the whole, on ways and means
to restore our treasure. No one could think of any way to fix up the
well, boards were out of the question, stones there were none, and
barrels:—we had not seen a barrel since we left “God’s Country.” As
chairman, ex-officio, of the committee, I proposed that we steal a board
from the Dead-line. This was voted down by the committee as soon as
proposed, the principle was all right, but the risk was too great; death
would be the penalty for the act. The committee then rose and the
session was adjourned. After considering the matter for a time, I
resolved to steal a board from the Dead-line at any risk. I then
proceeded to mature a plan which I soon put into execution. One of my
“pards,” Rouse, had a good silver watch, I told him to go up to the
Dead-line in front of the first guard north of our tent, and show his
watch, and talk watch trade with the guard. I sent Ole Gilbert, my other
pard, to the first guard south, with the same instructions, but minus a
watch. I kept my eyes on the guards and watched results; soon I saw that
my plan was working. I picked up a stick of wood and going to a post of
the Dead-line, where one end of a board was nailed, I pried off the end
of the board, but O horror! how it squealed, it was fastened to a pitch
pine post with a twelve penny nail and when I pried it loose, it
squeaked like a horse fiddle at a charivari party. I made a sudden dive
for my tent, which was about sixteen feet away, and when I had got under
cover I looked out to see the result. The guards were peering around to
see what was up, their quick ears had caught the sound, but their dull
brain could not account for the cause.

After waiting until the guards had become again interested in the
mercantile transaction under consideration, I crawled out of my tent and
as stealthily as a panther crawled to my board again. This time I caught
it at the loose end, and with one mighty effort I wrenched it from the
remaining posts, dropped it on the ground, and again dove into my tent.

The guards were aroused, but not soon enough to see what had been done,
and I had secured a board twenty feet long by four inches wide, lumber
enough to curb our well.

Another meeting of the mess was held, the saw-knife was brought out, the
board, after great labor, was sawed up, and our well was restored to its

This same storm, which occurred on the 12th of August, was the cause of
a quite an episode in our otherwise dull life in prison. It was one of
those terrible rains which occur sometimes in that region, and had the
appearance of a cloud-burst. The rain fell in sheets, the ground in the
prison was completely washed, and much good was done in the way of
purifying this foul hole. The rapid rush of water down the opposing
hills, filled the little stream, which I have called Dead-run, to
overflowing, and as there was not sufficient outlet through the
stockade, for the fast accumulating water, the pressure became so great
that about twenty feet of the stockade toppled and fell over.

Thousands of prisoners were out looking at the downfall of our prison
walls and when it went over we sent up such a shout and hurrah that we
made old Andersonville ring.

But the rebel guard had witnessed the break as well as we. The guard
near the creek called out “copeler of the gyaad! post numbah fo’teen!
hurry up, the stockade is goin to h—l.” The guards, about 3,000 in
number, came hurrying to the scene and formed line of battle to prevent
a rush of prisoners, while the cannoneers in the forts sprang to their
guns. We saw them ram home the charges in their guns, then we gave
another shout, when BANG went one of the guns from the south-western
fort, and we heard a solid shot go shrieking over our heads. It began to
look as though the Johnies were going to get the most fun out of this
thing after all. Just at this time Wirz came up to the gap and shrieked,
“co pack to your quarters, you tammed Yanks, or I vill open de cuns of
de forts on you.”

I needed no second invitation after that shot went over our heads, and I
hurried to my quarters and laid low. I don’t think I am naturally more
cowardly than the average of men, but that shot made me tired. I was
sick and weak and had no courage, and knew Winder and Wirz so well that
I had perfect faith that they would be only too glad of an excuse to
carry out the threat.

But let us go back to the month of May. Soon after my arrival, there was
marched into the prison about two thousand of the finest dressed
soldiers I ever saw. Their uniforms were new and of a better quality
than we had ever seen in the western army. They wore on their heads
cocked hats, with brass and feather accompaniments. Their feet were shod
with the best boots and shoes we had seen since antebellum days, their
shirts were of the best “lady’s cloth” variety, and the chevrons on the
sleeves of the non-commissioned officers coats, were showy enough for
members of the Queen’s Guards.

Poor fellows, how I pitied them. The mingled look of surprise, horror,
disgust, and sorrow that was depicted on their faces as they marched
between crowds of prisoners who had been unwilling guests of the
Confederacy for, from four to nine months, told but too plainly how our
appearance affected them. As they passed along the mass of ragged,
ghastly, dirt begrimed prisoners, I could hear the remark, “My God! have
I got to come to this?” “I can’t live here a month,” “I had rather die,
than to live in such a place as this,” and similar expressions. I say
that I pitied them, for I knew that the sight of such specimens of
humanity as we were, had completely unnerved them, that their blood had
been chilled with horror at sight of us, and that they would never
recover from the shock; and they never did.

Yes they had to come to this; many of them did not live a month, and not
many of those two thousand fine looking men ever lived to see “God’s
Country” again.

These were the “Plymouth Pilgrims.” They were a brigade, composed of the
85th New York, the 101st and 103d Pennsylvania, 16th Connecticut, 24th
New York Battery, two companies of Massachusetts heavy artillery and a
company of the 12th New York cavalry.

They were the garrison of a fort at Plymouth, North Carolina, which had
been compelled to surrender, on account of the combined attack of land
and naval forces, on the 20th day of May, 1864.

Some of the regiments composing this band of Pilgrims had “veteranized”
and were soon going home on a veteran furlough when the attack was made,
but they came to Andersonville instead.

Their service had been most entirely in garrisons, where they had always
been well supplied with rations and clothing, and exempt from hard
marches and exposures, and as a natural sequence, were not as well
fitted to endure the hardships of prison life, as soldiers who had seen
more active service.

They were turned into the prison without shelter, and they did not seem
to think they could, in any way, provide one; without cooking utensils,
and they thought they must eat their food raw. They began to die off in
a few days after their arrival, they seemed never to have recovered from
their first shock.

Comrade McElroy tells in “Andersonville,” a pathetic story of a
Pennsylvanian who went crazy from the effects of confinement. He had a
picture of his wife and children and he used to sit hour after hour
looking at them, and sometimes imagined he was with them serving them at
the home table. He would, in his imagination, pass food to wife and
children, calling each by name, and urging them to eat more. He died in
a month after his entrance.

I observed a similar case near my quarters. One of this same band came
to our well for a drink of water which we gave him. He was well dressed,
at first, but seemed to be a simple-minded man. Day after day he came
for water, sometimes many times a day. Soon he began to talk
incoherently, then to mutter something about home and food. One day his
hat was gone; the next day his boots were missing, and so on, day after
day, until he was perfectly nude, wandering about in the hot sun, by
day, and shivering in the cold dews at night, until at last we found him
one morning lying in a ditch at the edge of the swamp,—dead.

God only knows how many of those poor fellows were chilled in heart and
brain, at their first introduction to Andersonville.

The coming of the Pilgrims into prison was the beginning of a new era in
its history. Before they came, there was no money among the prisoners,
or so little as to amount to nothing; but at the time of their surrender
they had been paid off, and those who had “veteranized” had been paid a
veteran bounty, so that they brought a large sum of money into prison.

The reader may inquire how it was that they were not searched, and their
money and valuables taken from them by Winder and Wirz? It is a natural
inquiry, as it was the only instance in the record of Andersonville, so
far as I ever heard, when such rich plunder escaped those commissioned
robbers. The reason they escaped robbery of all their money, clothing,
blankets and good boots and shoes, was, they had surrendered with the
agreement that they should be allowed to keep all their personal
belongings, and in this instance the Confederate authorities had kept
their agreement.

Thus several thousand dollars were brought into prison, and the old
prisoners were eager to get a share. All sorts of gambling devices were
used, the favorite being the old army Chuc-a-luck board. When these men
came in, the old prisoners had preempted all the vacant land adjoining
their quarters, and they sold their right to it, to these tender-feet
for large sums, for the purpose of putting up shelters on. This they had
no right to do, but the Pilgrims did not know it.

As the money began to circulate, trade began to flourish. Sutler, and
soup stands sprung up all over the prison, where vegetables and soup
were sold at rates that would seem exorbitant in any other place than
the Confederacy. The result of all this gambling and trading, together
with another cause which I will mention, was, that the Pilgrims were
soon relieved of all their money, and then began to trade their
clothing. Thus these well supplied, well dressed prisoners were soon
reduced to a level with the older prisoners; but there was a
compensation in this, as well as in nature, for what the former lost the
latter gained and they were the better off by that much.

The supplies of vegetables and food which were sold by the sutlers and
restaurateurs, were procured of the guards at the gate, they purchasing
of the “Crackers” in the vicinity, causing a lively trade to flourish,
not only in prison, but with the surrounding country.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                              THE RAIDERS.

        “There must be government in all society—
        Bees have their Queen, and stag herds have their leader;
        Rome had her Consuls, Athens had her Archons,
        And we, sir, have our Managing Committee.”

In the southern portion of the prison, bordering the swamp, there was
domiciled the worst specimens of humanity I ever knew. An acquaintance
with them would almost convince any thinking man that there was
something in Darwin’s theory of the developement of species. If that
theory is tenable, then I should argue these men had been developed from
hyenas, and not very far, or well developed either. They wore the
outward semblance of men, but retained the cowardly, blood-thirsty,
sneaking, thievish nature of the hyena. These were the Andersonville
“Raiders;” and a worse set of men never lived,—in America, at least.

These men were from the slums of New York City and Brooklyn. I never
knew what their record as soldiers was, but as prisoners they were the
terror of all decent men. They congregated together, were organized into
semi-military organization, had their officers from captains down, and
in squads made their raids upon the peaceable prisoners, who were
possessed of anything which excited their cupidity.

The Plymouth Pilgrims furnished a rich harvest for these miscreants, who
spotted them, marking their sleeping places, and in the dead hour of the
night robbed them of whatever they possessed; or if any of the Pilgrims
ventured into their haunts by day, they were knocked down and robbed by

While the raiders were constantly at war with others, they were not
always at peace among themselves. Their favorite weapon with others was
a stick; but they settled their difficulties of a domestic character
with their fists.

Sometimes one of the small fry among these Raiders, would venture out on
his own hook, and pilfer any little article he could find in a sick
man’s tent. One day a member of my mess caught one of these fellows
stealing a tin cup from a sick man; he immediately gave chase and caught
him, then we held a drumhead court martial and sentenced him to have his
head shaved.

Now I do not suppose there was a razor among the thirty-three thousand
men that were in Andersonville at the time; notwithstanding this
drawback, the sentence of the court was carried out with a pocket knife.
It made the fellow scowl some, but the executioner managed to saw his
hair off after a fashion.

Another of these Raiders got his just punishment while trying to rob a
half-breed Indian, a member of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. The
raider attempted to steal the Indian’s boots from under his head, when
the descendant of King Phillip plunged a knife into the hoodlum, killing
him dead on the spot.

A number of murders had been committed by these Raiders, and robberies
innumerable, when matters were brought to a focus one day in the early
part of July, by Lieutenant Davis, then in command of the Prison vice
Wirz who was sick, declaring that no more rations would be issued until
these men were given up.

He had no need to threaten us;—we were willing to give them up;—we had
no earthly use for them. Give them up? yes; and pay boot, to get rid of
them. But it required a man of nerve to lead in the arrest of these
desperadoes. It was no child’s play, as there were between four and five
hundred of them, and to arrest the leaders meant “business.” That man
was found in the person of Sergeant Leroy L. Key, of the 16th Illinois
Cavalry, who was ably seconded by a tall, lithe, young fellow known as
“Limber Jim,” a member of the 67th Illinois.

To the efforts of these two men, the prisoners at Andersonville were
indebted, more than any other men, for the comparative peace and
security of the prison after the 11th of July.

Key was the head, and furnished the brains, of the organization known,
at first, as the “Regulators,” afterward as the “Prison Police.” Limber
Jim was second in command, and first in a fight.

These two men organized a force of men in the southwest corner of the
stockade, from the best material which could be found. It needed strong
brave men for the work in hand; for these Raiders were strong, athletic
men, and desperate characters, and the Regulators must need face the
lion in his den.

On the 3d of July Key at the head of the Regulators, armed with clubs,
made a charge on the Raiders, who had been expecting the attack and were
prepared. I was standing on the north side of the swamp, and was in good
position to see the fight.

Key, followed by Limber Jim, led the charge; for a few minutes the
spectators could tell nothing of how the Regulators were faring. The air
was filled with clubs, which were descending on men’s heads, shoulders
and arms. The fighting mass surged, and swayed, and finally the Raiders
broke and ran; and then the spectators set up such a shout as must have
cheered Key and his brave men.

That day and the next, the Regulators arrested one hundred and
twenty-five of the worst characters among the Raiders. Davis gave Key
the use of the small stockade at the north gate, as a prison in which to
hold them for trial.

He then organized a Court Martial, consisting of thirteen sergeants,
selected from among the latest arrivals, in order to guard against bias.
The trial was conducted as fairly as was possible, considering their
ignorance of law. Technicalities counted for naught, facts, well
attested, influenced that court.

The trial resulted in finding six men guilty of murder; and the sentence
was hanging.

The names of the six condemned men were, John Sarsfield, William
Collins, alias “Mosby,” Charles Curtis, Patrick Delaney, A. Muir and
Terrence Sullivan.

These men were heavily ironed, and closely guarded, while the remaining
one hundred and nineteen were returned to the prison, and compelled to
run a gauntlet of men armed with clubs and fists, who belabored them
unmercifully, as they were passed through one by one.

The sentence of the court martial was executed on these six men on the
11th of July. A gallows was erected in the street leading from the south
gate, and the culprits marched in under a Confederate guard, to a hollow
square which surrounded the scaffold, and was formed by Key’s brave
Regulators, where they were turned over to Limber Jim.

These desperadoes were terribly surprised when they found they were to
be hung. They imagined the court martial was a farce, intended to scare
them. Imagine their disappointment when they were marched to the
gallows, and turned over to the cool, but resolute and firm Key, and the
fiery Limber Jim, whose brother had been murdered by one of the number.
They found that it was no farce but real genuine tragedy, in which they
were to act an important part.

When they realized this, they began to beg for mercy, but they had shown
no mercy, and now they were to receive no mercy. They then called upon
the priest, who attended them, to speak in their behalf; but the
prisoners would have none of it, but called out “hang them.”

When they found there was no mercy in that crowd of men whom they had
maltreated and robbed, and whose comrades and friends they had murdered,
they resigned themselves to their fate; all but Curtis who broke from
the guard of Regulators and ran through the crowd, over tents, and
across Dead-run into the swamp where he was recaptured and taken back.

They were then placed upon the platform, their arms pinioned, meal sacks
were tied over their heads, the ropes adjusted around their necks, and,
at a signal given by Key, the trap was sprung and they were launched
into eternity, all but Mosby, who being a heavy man broke his rope. He
begged for his life, but it was of no avail. Limber Jim caught him
around the waist and passed him up to another man; again the noose was
adjusted and he, too, received his reward for evil doing.

The execution of these men was witnessed by all the prisoners who were
able to get out of their tents, and it is needless to add, was approved
by them, all except the Raiders. Besides the prisoners, all the rebels
who were on duty outside, found a position where they could witness the
scene. The Confederate officers, apprehensive of a stampede of the
prisoners, took the precaution to keep their men under arms, and the
guns in the forts were loaded, the fuses inserted in the vents and No. 4
stood with lanyard in hand ready to suppress an outbreak.

The hanging of these men had a very salutary effect upon the other evil
doers in the prison.

Heretofore we had had no organization; we were a mob of thirty-three
thousand men, without law, and without officers. Each mess had its own
laws and each man punished those who had offended him; that is, if he
could. But now this band of thugs was broken up and their leaders
hanged. The Regulators were turned into a police force, with the gallant
Limber Jim as chief, and henceforth order prevailed among the prisoners
at Andersonville.

The reader will readily see, from reading what I have written in this
chapter, that our sufferings did not all proceed from the rebels.

Almost twenty-five years have elapsed since those scenes were enacted,
the hot passion engendered by the cruelties of prison life, have
measurably cooled, and as I am writing this story, I am determined to
“hew to the line let the chips fall where they will,” and with a full
understanding of what I say, I affirm that many of the prisoners
suffered more cruelly, at the hands of their comrades, than they did
from the rebels themselves.

There was among the Pilgrims, a fiend by the name of McClellan, a member
of the 12th New York cavalry, who kicked, and abused, and maltreated the
poor weak prisoners who got in his way in a manner which deserved the
punishment meted out to the six Raiders. He had charge of delivering the
rations inside of the prison, and if some poor starved boy, looking for
a crumb got in his way he would lift him clear off from the ground with
the toe of his huge boot.

One day while the bread wagon was unloading, I saw a boy not more than
eighteen years old who had become so weak from starvation, and so
crippled by scurvy that he could not walk, but crawled around on his
hands and knees, trying to pick up some crumbs which had fallen from the
bread; he happened to get in McClellan’s way, when that brute drew back
his foot and gave the poor fellow a kick which sent him several feet,
and with a monstrous oath, told him to keep out of his way. This was
only one instance among thousands of his brutality, yet with all his
meanness I never heard him charged with dishonesty.

The rebels had a way of punishing negroes, which was most exquisite
torture. From my quarters in the prison I witnessed the punishment of a
negro by this method one day. He was stripped naked and then laid on the
ground face downward, his limbs extended to their full length, then his
hands and feet were tied to stakes. A burly fellow then took a paddle
board full of holes, and applied it to that part of the human anatomy in
which our mothers used to appear to be so much interested, when they
affectionately drew us across their knee, and pulled off their slipper.

The executioner was an artist in his way, and he applied that paddle
with a will born of a determination to excel, and the way that poor
darkey howled and yelled was enough to soften a heart of stone.

This mode of punishment was adopted by the prison police afterward, in
cases of petty larceny, and I do not think the patient ever needed a
second dose of that medicine, for there was a blister left to represent
every separate hole in the paddle, and the patient was obliged for
several days, like the Dutchman’s hen, to sit standing.

I would recommend this treatment to the medical fraternity, as a
substitute for cupping; as the cupping and scarifying are combined in
one operation, and I think there is no patent on it.

The battle of Atlanta was fought on the 22d day of July, and we received
the news of the victory in a few days afterward from prisoners who were
captured on that day. Our hopes began to revive from this time. We
thought we could begin to see the “beginning of the end.” Besides this
we had a hope that Sherman would send a Corps of Cavalry down to rescue
us. The rebels seem to have some such thoughts running through their
minds, as the following copy of an order, issued by General Winder,

                     “Headquarters Military Prison,

                                  Andersonville, Ga., July 27, 1864.

 The officers on duty and in charge of the Battery of Florida Artillery
 at the time will, upon receiving notice that the enemy has approached
 within seven miles of this post, open upon the stockade with grape
 shot, without reference to the situation beyond the line of defense.

                                                     JOHN H. WINDER.
                                      Brigadier General Commanding.“

This order was issued at the time Gen. Stoneman with his cavalry was
trying to capture Macon. Winder, in his cowardice, supposed he might
attempt to rescue the prisoners at Andersonville.

This order, when interpreted, means that when the officers in the forts
which guarded the prison, should hear that any of the Federal troops
were approaching within seven miles of the prison, they were to open on
us with grape shot. A simple rumor by some scared native would have
precipitated that catastrophe.

Just think of it, twenty-four cannons loaded with grape shot opened on
sick defenseless men, not for any offense they had committed, but
because Winder would rather see us slaughtered than rescued.

Further, the order says, “without reference to the situation beyond
these lines of defense.” This simply means that they were to pay no
attention to the attacking party, but to slaughter us.

If the records of the Infernal Regions could be procured, I do not
believe a more hellish order could be found on file.

We heard of Stoneman’s raid and hoped, and yet feared, that he would
come. We knew that the foregoing order had been issued, and yet we hoped
the artillerymen would not find time to carry it out.

We would have liked, O so much, to have got hold of Winder and Wirz, and
that Georgia Militia, there would have been no need of a stockade to
hold them.

O, how weary we became of waiting. It seemed to us that home, and
friends, and the comforts, and necessities of life, were getting
further, and further away, instead of nearer, that we could not stand
this waiting, and sickness, and misery, and living death much longer.

The more we thought of these things, the more discouraged we became, and
I believe these sad discouraging thoughts helped to prostrate many a
poor fellow, and unfit him to resist the effects of his situation and
surroundings, and hastened, if it was not the immediate cause of death.

Chaplain McCabe, who was a prisoner in Libby Prison, has a lecture
entitled “The bright side of Prison life.” If there was a bright side to
Andersonville, I want some particular funny fellow, who was confined
there for five or six months, to come around and tell me where it was,
for I never found it, until I found the OUTside of it.

We heard of the fall of Atlanta, which occurred on the 2d of September,
and had we known the song then, we would have sang those cheering words
written and composed by Lieutenant S. H. M. Byers, while confined in a
rebel prison at Columbia, South Carolina.


           “Our camp-fire shone bright on the mountains
           That frowned on the river below,
           While we stood by our guns in the morning
           And eagerly watched for the foe;
           When a rider came out from the darkness,
           That hung over mountain and tree,
           And shouted “boys up and be ready,
           For Sherman will march to the Sea.”


           Then cheer upon cheer, for bold Sherman
           Went up from each valley and glen,
           And the bugles re-echoed the music
           That came from the lips of the men;
           For we knew that the Stars on our banner
           More bright in their splendor would be,
           And that blessings from North-land would greet us
           When Sherman marched down to the sea.


           Then forward, boys, forward to battle
           We marched on our wearisome way,
           And we stormed the wild hills of Resaca
           God bless those who fell on that day:
           Then Kenesaw, dark in its glory,
           Frowned down on the flag of the free;
           But the East and the West bore our standards,
           And Sherman marched on to the sea.


           Still onward we pressed, till our banner
           Swept out from Atlanta’s grim walls,
           And the blood of the patriot dampened
           The soil where the traitor flag falls:
           But we paused not to weep for the fallen,
           Who slept by each river and tree,
           Yet we twined them a wreath of the laurel
           As Sherman marched down to the sea.


           Oh, proud was our army that morning,
           That stood where the pine proudly towers,
           When Sherman said, “boys you are weary;
           This day fair Savannah is ours!”
           Then sang we a song for our chieftain,
           That echoed o’er river and lea,
           And the stars in our banner grew brighter
           When Sherman marched down to the sea.”

                               CHAPTER X.

                            CLOSE QUARTERS.

 “HAMLET. I have of late lost all my mirth, foregone all custom of
 exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that
 this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this
 most excellent canopy, the air, look you,—this brave o’er hanging
 firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it
 appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of


The great influx of prisoners during the month of May and early part of
June, from the armies of Sherman and Meade, increased our numbers to
more than thirty thousand prisoners. These were crowded upon the small
space of twelve acres, or more than two thousand five hundred men to the
acre. This would allow thirty-one square feet to each man, or a piece of
ground five feet by six feet, on which to build his tent and perform all
the acts and offices of life. Indeed we were crowded in so thickly that
it was impossible for the prison officials to find room for us to “fall
in” for roll call, for more than three weeks.

In the latter part of June, however, an addition of nine acres was
built, which gave us more room, but did not remove the filth and
excrements which had accrued in the older part of the prison. The
building on of an addition to the prison was a God-send in two ways, it
gave more room, and the old north line of stockade was cut down for
fuel. The new part was finished one afternoon and a gap made in the old
stockade through which the prisoners passed to their new quarters. After
dark a raid was made on the old part, and before morning every timber
was down, and men who had been compelled to eat their food, at best half
cooked, were now supplied with wood.

The old part of the prison had become so foul, as a result of the
sickness and crowded state of the prisoners, that it surpassed all
powers of description or of imagination. The whole swamp bordering upon
Dead-run, was covered to a depth of several inches with human
excrements, and this was so filled with maggots that it seemed a living
moving mass of putrifying filth. The stench was loathsome and sickening
to a degree that surpasses description. With the crowded state of the
prison, the filthy surroundings, and the terrible atmosphere which
covered the prison like a cloud, it is no wonder that men sickened and
died by the thousands every month.

These terrible surroundings made the prisoners depressed and gloomy in
spirits, and made them more susceptible to the attacks of disease.

The bodies of those who died were carried to the south gate, with their
name, company, and regiment written on a slip of paper and pinned to
their breast. Here they were laid in the Dead-house, outside of the
Stockade. From the Dead-house they were carted in wagons to the
Cemetery, and buried in trenches four feet in depth. They were thrown
into the wagons, like dead dogs, covered with filth and lice. After the
wagons had hauled away all the dead bodies, they were loaded with food
for the prisoners in the Stockade. This was done without any attempt at,
or pretense of cleaning in any way. I shall leave the reader to imagine
how palatable that food was after such treatment.

The monotony of prison life was sometimes relieved by finding among the
prisoners an old acquaintance of boyhood days. Many of the western men
were born and educated in the East, and it was no uncommon thing for
them to find an old chum among the eastern soldiers.

One day as I was cooking my rations some one slapped me on the shoulder
and exclaimed, “Hello Bill!” Looking up I saw standing before me, an old
schoolmate from Jamestown, New York, by the name of Joe Hall. It was a
sad re-union; we had both been in prison more than nine months, he on
Belle Isle, and I in Danville. We had both been vaccinated and had great
scorbutic ulcers in our arms, but he, poor fellow, had gangrene which
soon ate away his life. A few weeks afterwards he went out to the prison
hospital, where he died in a few days, and now a marble slab in the
Cemetery at Andersonville with this inscription.

                 Joseph Hall, Company E. 9th N. Y. Cav.

marks the last resting place of one of my boyhood friends. Poor Joe.

A few days after Joe’s visit to me, he introduced me to another
Jamestown boy, a member of the 49th New York Infantry, by the name of
Orlando Hoover, or “Tip” as he was called. He had re-inlisted during the
winter previous and had been home on a veterans furlough, where he had
visited some of my old friends. He told me how some of the old gray
haired men had declared they would enlist for the purpose of releasing
the prisoners, that there was great indignation expressed by many loyal
northern men, because our government did not take some measures to
release us from our long confinement.

“Tip” had good health in Andersonville, as he did not stay there more
than two months, but when we arrived at Florence I went to his
detachment to see him, and his “pard” told me that he had jumped from
the cars, and that the guards had shot him, while on their way up from
Charleston. A little more than two months afterward, I carried the news
to his widowed mother, and sisters.

One of my comrades, Nelson Herrick, of Company B, 10th Wisconsin, had
scratched his leg slightly with his finger nail, this had grown into a
scorbutic ulcer, at last gangrene supervened upon it, and one of the
best men in the 10th Wisconsin was carried to the cemetery.

All the terrible surroundings made me sad and gloomy, but did not take
from me my determination to live. I knew that if I lost hope, I would
lose life, and I was determined that I would not die on rebel soil—not
if pure grit would prevent it. But one day in August I ate a small piece
of raw onion which gave me a very severe attack of cholera morbus, which
lasted me two days. I began to think that it was all up with me, but
thanks to the kindness of my “pards”, Rouse and Ole, I pulled through
and from that day began to get better of dysentery and scurvy with which
I was afflicted. I was so diseased with scurvy, that my nether limbs
were so contracted that I was obliged to walk on my tiptoes, with the
aid of a long cane held in both hands. My limbs were swollen and of a
purple color. My gums were swollen and purple and my teeth loose and
taken altogether I looked like a man who had got his ticket to the
cemetery. None of my comrades believed I could live, so they told me
afterward, but I never had a doubt of my final restoration to home and
friends, except in those two days in which I suffered with cholera

Of the comrades of my regiment with whom I had been associated in
prison, Nelson Herrick, Joseph Parrott, Ramey Yoht, and Wallace Darrow
of company B, had died from the effects of diarrhea and scurvy, and
Corporal John Doughty of my company had died from the effects of a
gunshot wound, received from a guard at Danville, while looking out of a

Of those names I remember at this date, who were in Andersonville, Joe
Eaton of Company A, stood the prison life very well, he being one of the
few who kept up his courage and observed, as well as possible, the laws
of health.

John Burk of my company, seemed to wear well in this terrible place, on
account of a strong constitution and his unflinching grit, which was of
a quality like a Quinebaug whetstone. Corporal J. E. Webster, and E. T.
Best, Sergeant Ole Gilbert, G. W. Rouse, and myself of my company, and
Sergeant Roselle Hull of Company B, were alike afflicted with dysentery
and scurvy, and each had a large scorbutic ulcer on his arm. Friend
Cowles of Company B. had also succumbed to the terrible treatment of the
rebels, and had been laid to rest.

To add to our suffering we were exposed to the terrible heat of that
semi-tropical climate. There was not a tree left on the ground, not a
bush, nothing for shade, but our little tents and huts. The sun at noon
was almost vertical, and he poured down his rays with relentless fury on
our unprotected heads. The flies swarmed about and on us by day and the
mosquitoes tormented us by night. There was no rest, no comfort, no
enjoyment, and only a tiny ray of hope for us.

Amid all this terrible misery and suffering, there were a few who kept
their faith in God, and did not curse the authors of their misery.
Conspicuous among these was a band of Union Tennesseans who were
quartered near me. They held their prayer meetings regularly, and
occasionally one of their number would deliver an exhortation. The faith
of those men was of the abiding kind. They were modern Pauls and Silases
praying for their jailors. I too had a faith, but not of the same
quality as theirs. My faith was in a climate where overcoats would not
be needed, and that our tormentors would eventually find it.

We had no intercourse with the guards, and could get no newspapers,
hence all the news we got was from the “tenderfeet” when they arrived.
But the news we did get after Sherman and Grant began the advance, was
of a cheering kind, and we had strong hopes of the ultimate success of
the Union cause. I cannot imagine what the result, so far as we were
concerned, would have been, had Sherman and Grant failed in their great
undertakings. Without any hope to cheer us, we must have all been
sacrificed in the arms of the Moloch of despair.

One day in August a squad of Union Tennessee Cavalry was brought in. We
tried in vain to find out what Sherman was doing, and how large an army
he had. They only knew that they had been captured while on picket duty,
and that Sherman had a “powathful lahge ahmy.”

Your ordinary Southerner of those days, had a profound and an abiding
ignorance of numbers. They were to him what pork is to a Jew, an unclean
thing. He had no use for them, and would at a venture accept ten
thousand dollars, as a greater sum than a million, for the reason that
it took more words to express the former, than the latter sum.

In the winter of 1862, while Mitchell’s Division was camped at Bacon
Creek, Ky., we had a picket post on a plantation owned by a man named
Buckner, a cousin of the rebel General S. B. Buckner, he was, or
professed to be, a Union man. He went down to Green River on one
occasion to visit Buell’s army. On his return I asked him how many
soldiers General Buell had? “I can’t just say,” he replied, “but theys a
powahful lot of em.” “Yes but how many thousand?” said I. “Well I wont
be right suah, but theys a heap moah than a right smart chance of em,”
was as near an approach to numbers as I could induce him to express.

Geography is on the same catalogue with Arithmetic. While marching from
Shepardsville to Elizabethtown, in 1861 we camped for the night on
Muldraugh’s Hill, near the spot where President Lincoln was born. After
we had “broke ranks” I went with others to a farm house not far away to
procure water. A middle aged man met us, and after granting us
permission to get water from his well, he asked me, “what regiment is
that?” I told him it was the 10th Wisconsin. “Westconstant,
Westconstant, let me see is Westconstant in Michigan?” inquired he.

After the battle of Chickamauga, while we were at McLaw’s Division
Hospital, our Surgeon took charge of a rebel soldier lad not more than
sixteen years of age, who in addition to a severe wound, was suffering
from an attack of fever. One morning the surgeon went to him and asked,
“how are you this morning my boy?” “Well I feel a heap bettah, but I’m
powahful weak yet, doctah,” was his reply.

Notwithstanding these people know nothing of numbers, or of Geography,
or of Orthography and not much of any ology, or ism, yet they are good
riders, good marksmen, good card players, good whiskey drinkers, and
barring the troubles which grew out of the “late unpleasantness” and
“moonshining” they are in the main kind-hearted people to the whites.

These remarks apply to the poorer class of whites in the time of the
war. I understand there has been much improvement since that time, in
some respects, there was certainly room for it.

But the trusty unfailing friend of the Union soldier, the caterer and
guide of the escaped prisoner, the one on whom he could depend under
any, and all circumstances was the negro. The poor black man knew that
“Massy Lincum’s sogers” were solving a problem for them which had
remained unsolved for more than two hundred years. They knew that the
success of the Union arms meant the freedom of the slaves, and they
always worshipped a Federal soldier. Any prisoner who escaped from rebel
prisons, and succeeded in reaching the Union lines, owes his success to
the negroes for without their friendly aid in the way of furnishing
food, and pointing out the way, and in most instances acting as guide,
they could never have succeeded. He was never so poor but that he would
furnish food for a fugitive prisoner and the night was never so dark but
that he would guide him on his way, usually turning him over to a friend
who would run him to the next station on the “underground railroad.”

The negro was, on his part, the innocent cause of much trouble, for
speculate and explain as much as you will, he was the cause of the war.
On his account the exchange of prisoners was suspended and he was, at
once, the cause of nearly all our trouble, and our only friend. I said
our only friend, I mean in a general sense, for there was a class of
men, though small in numbers, who never forgot the men of their own
faith. There was never a prison so dark and filthy but that a Catholic
priest would enter it, and there was never a dying prisoner so lousy and
besmeared, but that he would administer the consolations of the church
to him in the hour of his extremity.

In fact Catholic priests were the only ministers, I ever heard of, who
entered the prison at Andersonville to give the consolations of their
religion to dying men. I do not wish to be understood as finding fault
because this was so, for Rebel ministers would not and Union ministers
could not, enter that prison. And, indeed, we did not want the
ministrations of those Rebel preachers. What little experience we had
had with them had convinced us that they would take advantage of their
position to insult us on account of our loyalty to our flag. Not so with
the Catholic priest. He knew nothing of race, color, or politics when
dying men were considered. In his zeal for his church Rebel and Union
were alike to him, and in any place where a Catholic was to be found,
there a Catholic priest would find his way, and offer the sacraments of
his church to the dying. I can honor them for their zeal and courage,
although I cannot accept the dogmas of their church.

Dr. Jones, in his report, speaks of the inhuman treatment of the nurses
to the sick. This may have been true of the nurses in the hospital. They
were detailed from among the prisoners in the stockade, not on account
of any fitness for the duty, but because of favor. They cared nothing
for the sick. They were after the extra rations which were allowed to
men who were working outside the stockade, and for the clothing which
fell into their hands in one way and another.

Inside of the stockade there were no nurses for the sick, except such
voluntary care as one comrade bestowed upon another. In cases where men
of the same company or regiment were associated together the sick man so
far as I observed, was cared for as well as the circumstances would
admit of. But what could these men do for each other? There was no
medicine to be had for love or money. The surgeons prescribed sumac
berries for scurvy, and black-berry root for diarrhea and dysentery.
Little luxuries, such as fruits, jellies, and farinaceous compounds were
unknown in that place. A comrade could only cook the corn meal, and
bring a dish of water, and assist his friend to stool and when he died
pin a little slip of paper on his breast with his name, company and
regiment written on it, and assist in carrying him to the Dead-house,
and then hope that some one would do as well by him.

Ye who growl, and snarl, and find fault with everything and everybody,
when you do not feel well, will do well to stop and think how those poor
men suffered and then thank God, and your friends, that your condition
is so much better than theirs was.

                              CHAPTER XI.

                      MORTALITY AT ANDERSONVILLE.

             “Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
             Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
             Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
             Let’s choose executors, and talk of wills:
             And yet not so,—for what can we bequeath,
             Save our deposed bodies to the ground?”
                                           KING RICHARD II.

The number of prisoners confined in the Andersonville prison, all told,
was forty-five thousand six hundred and thirteen. Of these twelve
thousand nine hundred and twelve died there, or in other words two men
out of every seven who were confined in that prison died there, and the
average length of time of imprisonment was only four months.

That this was largely due to causes within the control of the
Confederate authorities I propose to show by the sworn testimony of one
of their own men who was in a position to know, and speak

On the 6th day of August 1864 Surgeon Joseph Jones, of the Confederate
army, was detailed by the Surgeon General to proceed to Andersonville,
and investigate and report, upon the phenomena of the diseases
prevailing there. His visit was not for the benefit of the prisoners,
but for purely scientific purposes. His report, from which I quote,
tells a story of such as no prisoner could tell, for, if any were
qualified to make such investigation and report, they had no opportunity
to do so.

These extracts from the above mentioned report are taken from
“Andersonville,” a book which I wish every civilized person in the world
could read. This report was part of the testimony offered and accepted
at the trial of Wirz, and is now on file in the office of the Judge
Advocate General of the United States, at Washington.

                          “MEDICAL TESTIMONY.”

(Transcript from the printed testimony at Wirz Trial, pages 618 to 639,

 “Dr. Joseph Jones for the prosecution.

 By the Judge Advocate:

 Question. Where do you reside?

 Answer. In Augusta, Georgia.

 Ques. Are you a graduate of any medical college?

 Ans. Of the University of Pennsylvania.

 Ques. How long have you been engaged in the practice of medicine?

 Ans. Eight years.

 Ques. Has your experience been as a practitioner, or rather as an
 investigator of medicine as a science?

 Ans. Both.

 Ques. What position do you hold now?

 Ans. That of Medical Chemist in the Medical College of Georgia, at

 Ques. How long have you held your position in that college?

 Ans. Since 1858.

 Ques. How were you employed during the Rebellion?

 Ans. I served six months in the early part of it as a private in the
 ranks, and the rest of the time in the medical department.

 Ques. Under the direction of whom?

 Ans. Under the direction of Dr. Moore, Surgeon General.

 Ques. Did you, while acting under his direction, visit Andersonville,

 Ans. Yes Sir.

 Ques. For the purpose of making investigations there?

 Ans. For the purpose of prosecuting investigations ordered by the
 Surgeon General.

 Ques. You went there in obedience to a letter of instructions?

 Ans. In obedience to orders which I received.

 Ques. Did you reduce the results of your investigations to the shape
 of a report?

 Ans. I was engaged at that work when General Johnston surrendered his

                (_A document being handed to witness._)

 Ques. Have you examined this extract from your report and compared it
 with the original?

 Ans. Yes sir, I have.

 Ques. Is it accurate?

 Ans. So far as my examination extended, it is accurate.

 The document just examined by witness was offered in evidence, and is
 as follows:

  _Observations upon the diseases of the Federal prisoners, confined
  in Camp Sumter, Andersonville, in Sumter county, Georgia, instituted
  with a view to illustrate chiefly the origin and causes of hospital
  gangrene, the relations of continued and malarial fevers, and the
  pathology of camp diarrhea and dysentery, by Joseph Jones Surgeon P.
  A. C. S. Professor of Medical Chemistry in the Medical College of
  Georgia, at Augusta, Georgia._

  Hearing of the unusual mortality among the Federal prisoners
  confined at Andersonville, Georgia, in the month of August, 1864,
  during a visit to Richmond, Va., I expressed to the Surgeon General,
  S. P. Moore, Confederate States of America, a desire to visit Camp
  Sumter, with the design of instituting a series of inquiries upon
  the nature and causes of the prevailing diseases. Small pox had
  appeared among the prisoners, and I believed that this would prove
  an admirable field for the establishment of its characteristic
  lesions. The condition of Peyer’s glands in this disease was
  considered as worthy of minute investigation. It was believed that a
  large body of men from the northern portion of the United States,
  suddenly transported to a warm Southern climate, and confined upon a
  small portion of land, would furnish an excellent field for the
  investigation of the relations of typhus, typhoid and malarial

 Then follows a letter of introduction to the Surgeon in charge at
 Andersonville, and a letter to Gen. Winder asking permission to visit
 the Inner Prison, and an order of Winder granting permission. The
 report then proceeds.

  “_Description of the Confederate States Military Prison Hospital at
  Andersonville, Number of prisoners, physical condition, food,
  clothing, habits, moral condition, diseases._

  The Confederate Military Prison at Andersonville, Ga., consists of a
  strong Stockade, twenty feet in height, enclosing twenty-seven
  acres. The Stockade is formed of strong pine logs, firmly planted in
  the ground. The main Stockade is surrounded by two other similar
  rows of pine logs, the middle stockade being sixteen feet high, and
  the outer twelve feet. These are intended for offense and defense.
  If the inner stockade should at any time be forced by the prisoners,
  the second forms another line of defense; while in case of an
  attempt to deliver the prisoners by a force operating upon the
  exterior, the outer line forms an admirable protection to the
  Confederate troops, and a most formidable obstacle to cavalry or

  The four angles of the outer line are strengthened by earth-works
  upon commanding eminences, from which the cannon, in case of an
  outbreak among the prisoners, may sweep the entire enclosure; and it
  was designed to connect these works by a line of rifle pits, running
  zigzag, around the outer stockade; those rifle pits have never been
  completed. The ground enclosed by the innermost stockade lies in the
  form of a parallelogram the larger diameter running almost due north
  and south. This space includes the northern and southern opposing
  sides of two hills, between which a stream of water runs from west
  to east. The surface soil of these hills is composed chiefly of sand
  with varying admixtures of clay and oxide of iron. The clay is
  sufficiently tenacious to give a considerable degree of consistency
  to the soil. The internal structure of the hills, as revealed by the
  deep wells, is similar to that already described. The alternate
  layers of clay and sand, as well as oxide of iron, which form, in
  its various combinations a cement to the sand, allow of extensive
  tunneling. The prisoners not only constructed numerous dirt huts
  with balls of clay and sand, taken from the wells which they have
  excavated all over those hills, but they have also, in some cases,
  tunneled extensively from these wells. The lower portion of these
  hills, bordering on the stream, are wet and boggy from the constant
  oozing of water. The stockade was built originally to accommodate
  only ten thousand prisoners, and included at first seventeen acres.
  Near the close of the month of June the area was enlarged by the
  addition of ten acres. The ground added was on the northern slope of
  the largest hill.

  Within the circumscribed area of the stockade the Federal prisoners
  were compelled to perform all the offices of life—cooking, washing,
  the calls of nature, exercise and sleeping.

  During the month of March the prison was less crowded than at any
  subsequent time, and the average space of ground to each prisoner
  was only 98.7 feet, or less than seven square yards. The Federal
  prisoners were gathered from all parts of the Confederate States
  east of the Mississippi, and crowded into the confined space, until
  in the month of June, the average number of square feet of ground to
  each prisoner was only 33.2 or less than four square yards. These
  figures represent the condition of the stockade in a better light
  even than it really was; for a considerable breadth of land along
  the stream, flowing from west to east between the hills, was low and
  boggy, and was covered with the excrement of the men, and thus
  rendered wholly uninhabitable, and in fact useless for every purpose
  except that of defecation.

  The pines and other small trees and shrubs, which originally were
  scattered sparsely over these hills, were, in a short time, cut down
  and consumed by the prisoners for firewood, and no shade tree was
  left in the entire enclosure of the stockade. With their
  characteristic industry and ingenuity, the Federals constructed for
  themselves small huts and caves, and attempted to shield themselves
  from the rain and sun and night damps and dew. But few tents were
  distributed to the prisoners, and those were in most cases torn and
  rotten. In the location and arrangement of these tents and huts no
  order appears to have been followed; in fact, regular streets appear
  to be out of the question in so crowded an area; especially too, as
  large bodies of prisoners were from time to time added suddenly
  without any previous preparations. The irregular arrangement of the
  huts and imperfect shelters were very unfavorable for the
  maintenance of a proper system of police.

  The police and internal economy of the prison was left almost
  entirely in the hands of the prisoners themselves; the duties of the
  Confederate soldiers acting as guards being limited to the
  occupation of boxes or lookouts ranged around the stockade at
  regular intervals, and to the manning of the batteries at the angles
  of the prison. Even judicial matters pertaining to themselves, as
  the detection and punishment of such crimes as theft and murder
  appear to have been, in a great measure, abandoned to the prisoners.

  A striking instance of this occurred in the month of July, when the
  Federal prisoners within the stockade tried, condemned, and hanged
  six (6) of their own number, who had been convicted of stealing, and
  of robbing and murdering their fellow prisoners. They were all hung
  upon the same day, and thousands of the prisoners gathered around to
  witness the execution. The Confederate authorities are said not to
  have interfered with these proceedings. In this collection of men
  from all parts of the world, every phase of human character was
  represented; the stronger preyed upon the weaker, and even the sick
  who were unable to defend themselves were robbed of their scanty
  supplies of food and clothing. Dark stories were afloat, of men,
  both sick and well, who were murdered at night, strangled to death
  by comrades for scant supplies of clothing or money.

  I heard a sick and wounded Federal prisoner accuse his nurse, a
  fellow prisoner of the United States army, of having stealthily,
  during his sleep, inoculated his wounded arm with gangrene, that he
  might destroy his life and fall heir to his clothing.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The large number of men confined in the stockade soon, under a
  defective system of police, and with imperfect arrangements, covered
  the surface of the low grounds with excrements. The sinks over the
  lower portions of the stream were imperfect in their plan and
  structure, and the excrements were, in large measure, deposited so
  near the border of the stream as not to be washed away, or else
  accumulated upon the low boggy ground. The volume of water was not
  sufficient to wash away the feces, and they accumulated in such
  quantities in the lower portion of the stream as to form a mass of
  liquid excrement. Heavy rains caused the water of the stream to
  rise, and as the arrangements for passage of the increased amounts
  of water out of the stockade were insufficient, the liquid feces
  overflowed the low grounds and covered them several inches, after
  subsidence of the waters. The action of the sun upon this putrefying
  mass of excrements and fragments of bread and meat and bones excited
  most rapid fermentation and developed a horrible stench.
  Improvements were projected for the removal of the filth and for the
  prevention of its accumulation, but they were only partially and
  imperfectly carried out. As the forces of the prisoners were reduced
  by confinement, want of exercise, improper diet, and by scurvy,
  diarrhea, and dysentery, they were unable to evacuate their bowels
  within the stream or along its banks, and the excrements were
  deposited at the very doors of their tents. The vast majority
  appeared to lose all repulsion to filth, and both sick and well
  disregarded all the laws of hygiene and personal cleanliness. The
  accommodations for the sick were imperfect and insufficient.

  From the organization of the prison, February 24th, 1864, to May
  22d, the sick were treated within the stockade. In the crowded
  condition of the stockade, and with the tents and huts clustered
  thickly around the hospital, it was impossible to secure proper
  ventilation or to maintain the necessary police. The Federal
  prisoners also made frequent forays upon the hospital stores and
  carried off the food and clothing of the sick. The hospital was on
  the 22d of May removed to its present site without the stockade, and
  five acres of ground covered with oaks and pines appropriated to the
  use of the sick.

  The supply of medical officers has been insufficient from the
  foundation of the prison.

  The nurses and attendants upon the sick have been most generally
  Federal prisoners, who in too many cases appear to have been devoid
  of moral principle, and who not only neglected their duties, but
  were also engaged in extensive robbing of the sick.

  From the want of proper police and hygienic regulations alone it is
  not wonderful that from February 24th to September 21st, 1864, nine
  thousand four hundred and seventy-nine deaths nearly one third of
  the entire number of prisoners, should have been recorded. I found
  the stockade and hospital in the following condition during my
  pathological investigations, instituted in the month of September,

  Stockade, Confederate States Military Prison.

  At the time of my visit to Andersonville a large number of Federal
  prisoners had been removed to Millen, Savannah, Charleston and other
  parts of the Confederacy, in anticipation of an advance of General
  Sherman’s forces from Atlanta, with the design of liberating their
  captive brethren: however, about fifteen thousand prisoners remained
  confined within the limits of the stockade and Confederate States
  Military Prison Hospital.

  In the stockade, with the exception of the damp low lands bordering
  the small stream, the surface was covered with huts, and small
  ragged tents and parts of blankets and fragments of oil-cloth,
  coats, and blankets stretched upon sticks. The tents and huts were
  not arranged according to any order, and there was in most parts of
  the enclosure scarcely room for two men to walk abreast between the
  tents and huts.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Each day the dead from the stockade were carried out by their fellow
  prisoners and deposited upon the ground under a bush arbor just
  outside the southwestern gate. From thence they were carried in
  carts to the burying ground, one quarter of a mile northwest of the
  prison. The dead were buried without coffins, side by side, in
  trenches four feet deep.

  The low grounds bordering the stream were covered with human
  excrements and filth of all kinds, which in many places appeared to
  be alive with working maggots. An indescribable sickening stench
  arose from these fermenting masses of human filth.

  There were near five thousand seriously ill Federals in the stockade
  and Confederate States Military Prison Hospital, and the deaths
  exceeded one hundred per day, and large numbers of the prisoners who
  were walking about, and who had not been entered upon the sick
  reports, were suffering from severe and incurable diarrhea,
  dysentery and scurvy. The sick were attended almost entirely by
  their fellow prisoners, appointed as nurses, and as they received
  but little attention, they were compelled to exert themselves at all
  times to attend to the calls of nature, and hence, they retained the
  power of moving about to within a comparatively short period of the
  close of life. Owing to the slow progress of the diseases most
  prevalent, diarrhea and chronic dysentery, the corpses were as a
  general rule emaciated.

  I visited two thousand sick within the stockade, lying under some
  long sheds which had been built at the northern portion for
  themselves. At this time only one medical officer was in attendance,
  whereas at least twenty medical officers should have been employed.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery, and hospital gangrene were the
  prevailing diseases. I was surprised to find but few cases of
  malarial fever, and no well marked cases either of typhus or typhoid
  fever. The absence of the different forms of malarial fever may be
  accounted for on the supposition that the artificial atmosphere of
  the stockade, crowded densely with human beings and loaded with
  animal exhalations, was unfavorable to the existence and action of
  malarial poison. The absence of typhoid and typhus fevers amongst
  all the causes which are supposed to generate these diseases,
  appeared to be due to the fact that the great majority of these
  prisoners had been in captivity in Virginia, at Belle Island, and in
  other parts of the Confederacy for months, and even as long as two
  years, and during this time they had been subjected to the same bad
  influences, and those who had not had these fevers before either had
  them during their confinement in Confederate prisons or else their
  systems, from long exposure were proof against their action.

  The effects of scurvy were manifested on every hand, and in all its
  various stages, from the muddy pale complexion, pale gums, feeble,
  languid muscular motions, lowness of spirits, and fetid breath, to
  the dusky, dirty leaden complexion, swollen features, spongy purple,
  livid, fungoid, bleeding gums, loose teeth, œdematous limbs, covered
  with livid vibices and petechiae, spasmodically flexed, painful and
  hardened extremities, spontaneous hemorrhages from mucous canals,
  and large, ill conditioned, spreading ulcers covered with a dark
  purplish fungus growth. I observed that in some cases of scurvy the
  parotid glands were greatly swollen, and in some instances to such
  an extent as to preclude entirely the power to articulate. In
  several cases of dropsy of the abdomen and lower extremities
  supervening upon scurvy, the patients affirmed that previously to
  the appearance of the dropsy they had suffered with profuse and
  obstinate diarrhea, and that when this was checked by a change of
  diet, from Indian corn bread baked with the husk, to boiled rice,
  the dropsy appeared. The severe pains and livid patches were
  frequently associated with swellings in various parts, and
  especially in the lower extremities, accompanied with stiffness and
  contractions of the knee joints and ankles, and often with a burning
  feel of the parts, as if lymph had been effused between the
  integuments and apeneuroses, preventing the motion of the skin over
  the swollen parts. Many of the prisoners believed that the scurvy
  was contagious, and I saw men guarding their wells and springs,
  fearing lest some man suffering with scurvy might use the water and
  thus poison them. I observed also numerous cases of hospital
  gangrene and of spreading scorbutic ulcers, which had supervened
  upon slight injuries. The scorbutic ulcers presented a dark purple
  fungoid, elevated surface, with livid swollen edges, exuded a thin,
  fetid sanious fluid, instead of pus. Many ulcers which originated
  from the sorbutic condition of the system appeared to become truly
  gangrenous, assuming all the characteristics of hospital gangrene.

  From the crowded condition, filthy habits, bad diet, and dejected
  depressed condition of the prisoners, their systems had become so
  disordered that the smallest abrasion of the skin from the rubbing
  of a shoe, or from the effects of the sun, or from the prick of a
  splinter, or from scratching or a mosquito bite, in some cases took
  on rapid and frightful ulceration and gangrene. The long use of salt
  meat, ofttimes imperfectly cured, as well as the most total
  deprivation of vegetables and fruit, appeared to be the chief cause
  of scurvy. I carefully examined the bakery and the bread furnished
  the prisoners, and found that they were supplied almost entirely
  with corn bread from which the husk had not been separated. This
  husk acted as an irritant to the alimentary canal, without adding
  any nutriment to the bread. As far as my examination extended no
  fault could be found with the mode in which the bread was baked; the
  difficulty lay in the failure to separate the husk from the corn
  meal. I strongly urged the preparation of large quantities of soup
  made from the cow and calves heads with the brains and tongues to
  which a liberal supply of sweet potatoes and vegetables might have
  been advantageously added. The material existed in abundance for the
  preparation of such soup in large quantities with but little
  additional expense. Such aliment would have been not only highly
  nutritious, but it would also have acted as an efficient remedial
  agent for the removal of the scorbutic condition. The sick within
  the stockade lay under several long sheds which were originally
  built for barracks. These sheds covered two floors which were open
  on all sides. The sick lay upon the bare boards, or upon such ragged
  blankets as they possessed, without, as far as I observed, any
  bedding or even straw.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The haggard, distressed countenances of these miserable, complaining
  dejected, living skeletons, crying for medical aid and food, and
  cursing their Government for its refusal to exchange prisoners, and
  the ghastly corpses with their glazed eyeballs staring up into
  vacant space, with the flies swarming down their open grinning
  mouths, and over their ragged clothes infested with numerous lice,
  as they lay amongst the sick and dying formed a picture of helpless,
  hopeless misery which it would be impossible to portray by words or
  by the brush. A feeling of disappointment and even resentment on
  account of the action of the United States Government upon the
  subject of exchange of prisoners, appeared to be widespread, and the
  apparent hopeless, nature of the negotiations for some general
  exchange of prisoners appeared to be a cause of universal regret and
  deep and injurious despondency. I heard some of the prisoners go so
  far as to exonerate the Confederate Government from any charge of
  intentionally subjecting them to a protracted confinement, with its
  necessary and unavoidable sufferings in a country cut off from all
  intercourse with foreign nations, and sorely pressed on all sides,
  whilst on the other hand they charged their prolonged captivity upon
  their own Government, which was attempting to make the negro equal
  to the white man. Some hundreds or more of the prisoners had been
  released from confinement in the stockade on parole, and filled
  various offices as clerks, druggists, carpenters, etc., in the
  various departments. These men were well clothed and presented a
  stout and healthy appearance, and as a general rule, they presented
  a much more robust and healthy appearance than the Confederate
  troops guarding the prisoners.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The entire grounds are surrounded by a frail board fence, and are
  strictly guarded by Confederate soldiers, and no prisoner, except
  the paroled attendants, is allowed to leave the grounds except by a
  special permit from the commandant of the interior of the prison.

  The patients and attendants, near two thousand in number, are
  crowded into this confined space and are but poorly supplied with
  old and ragged tents. Large numbers of them were without any bunks
  in the tents, and lay upon the ground, ofttimes without even a
  blanket. No beds or straw appeared to have been furnished. The tents
  extend to within a few yards of the small stream, the eastern
  portion of which, as we have before said, is used as a privy and is
  loaded with excrements; and I observed a large pile of corn bread,
  bones, and filth of all kinds, thirty feet in diameter and several
  feet in height, swarming with myriads of flies, in a vacant space
  near the pots used for cooking. Millions of flies swarmed over
  everything and covered the faces of the sleeping patients, and
  crawled down their open mouths and deposited their maggots in the
  gangrenous wounds of the living and in the mouths of the dead.

  Mosquitoes in great numbers also infested the tents, and many of the
  patients were so stung by these pestiferous insects, that they
  resembled those suffering from a slight attack of the measles.

  The police and hygiene of the hospital were defective in the
  extreme; the attendants, who appeared in almost every instance to
  have been selected from the prisoners, seemed to have, in many
  cases, but little interest in the welfare of their fellow captives.
  The accusation was made that the nurses, in many cases, robbed the
  sick of their clothing, money, and rations, and carried on a
  clandestine trade with the paroled prisoners and confederate guards
  without the hospital enclosure, in the clothing, effects of the
  sick, dying, and dead Federals. They certainly appeared to neglect
  the comfort and cleanliness of the sick intrusted to their care in a
  most shameful manner, even after making due allowances for the
  difficulties of the situation. Many of the sick were literally
  encrusted with dirt and filth and covered with vermin.

  When a gangrenous wound needed washing, the limb was thrust out a
  little from the blanket, or board, or rags upon which the patient
  was laying, and water poured over it, and all the putrescent matter
  allowed to soak into the ground floor of the tent. The supply of
  rags for dressing wounds was said to be very scant, and I saw the
  most filthy rags which had been applied several times, and
  imperfectly washed, used in dressing wounds. Where hospital gangrene
  was prevailing, it was impossible for any wound to escape contagion
  under these circumstances. The result of the treatment of wounds in
  the hospital were of the most unsatisfactory character, from this
  neglect of cleanliness, in the dressings and wounds themselves, as
  well as from various other causes which will be more fully
  considered. I saw several gangrenous wounds filled with maggots. I
  have frequently seen neglected wounds among Confederate soldiers
  similarly affected; and as far as my experience extends these worms
  destroy only the dead tissues and do not injure specially the well
  parts. I have even heard surgeons affirm that a gangrenous wound
  which had been thoroughly cleansed by maggots, healed more rapidly
  than if it had been left to itself. This want of cleanliness on the
  part of the nurses appeared to be the result of carelessness and
  inattention, rather than of malignant design, and the whole trouble
  can be traced to the want of proper police and sanitary regulations
  and to the absence of intelligent organization and division of

  The abuses were in large measure due to the almost total absence of
  system, government, and rigid, but wholesome sanitary regulations.
  In extenuation of these abuses it was alleged by the medical
  officers that the Confederate troops were barely sufficient to guard
  the prisoners, and that it was impossible to obtain any number of
  experienced nurses from the Confederate forces. In fact the guard
  appeared to be too small, even for the regulation of the internal
  hygiene and police of the hospital.

  The manner of disposing of the dead was also calculated to depress
  the already desponding spirits of these men, many of whom have been
  confined for months, and even for nearly two years in Richmond and
  other places, and whose strength had been wasted by bad air, bad
  food, and neglect of personal cleanliness.

  The dead-house is merely a frame covered with old tent cloth and a
  few brushes, situated in the south-western corner of the hospital
  grounds. When a patient dies, he is simply laid in the narrow street
  in front of his tent, until he is removed by Federal negroes
  detailed to carry off the dead; if a patient dies during the night
  he lies there until morning, and during the day, even the dead were
  frequently allowed to remain for hours in these walks. In the
  dead-house the corpses lie upon the bare ground, and were in most
  cases covered with filth and vermin.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The cooking arrangements are of the most defective character. Five
  large iron pots similar to those used for boiling sugar cane,
  appeared to be the only cooking utensils furnished by the hospital
  for the cooking of nearly two thousand men; and the patients were
  dependent in great measure upon their own miserable utensils. They
  were allowed to cook in the tent doors and in the lanes, and this
  was another source of filth, and another favorable condition for the
  generation and multiplication of flies and other vermin.

  The air of the tents was foul and disagreeable in the extreme, and
  in fact the entire grounds emitted a most nauseous and disgusting
  smell. I entered nearly all the tents and carefully examined all the
  cases of interest, and especially the cases of gangrene, upon
  numerous occasions, during the prosecution of my pathological
  inquiries at Andersonville, and therefore enjoyed every opportunity
  to judge correctly of the hygiene and police of the hospital.

  There appeared to be absolute indifference and neglect on the part
  of the patients of personal cleanliness; their persons and clothing,
  in most instances, and especially of those suffering with gangrene
  and scorbutic ulcers, were filthy in the extreme and covered with
  vermin. It was too often the case that patients were received from
  the Stockade in a most deplorable condition. I have seen men brought
  in from the stockade in a dying condition, begrimed from head to
  foot with their own excrements, and so black from smoke and filth
  that they resembled negroes rather than white men. That this
  description of the stockade and hospital has not been overdrawn,
  will appear from the reports of the surgeons in charge, appended to
  this report.

                  *       *       *       *       *


  1st. The great mortality among the Federal prisoners confined in the
  military prison at Andersonville was not referable to climatic
  causes, or to the nature of the soil and waters.

  2d. The chief causes of death were scurvy and its results and bowel
  affections, chronic and acute diarrhea and dysentery. The bowel
  affections appear to have been due to the diet, the habits of the
  patients, the depressed, dejected state of the nervous system and
  moral and intellectual powers, and to the effluvia arising from
  decomposing animal and vegetable filth. The effects of salt meat,
  and an unvarying diet of corn meal, with but few vegetables, and
  imperfect supplies of vinegar and syrup, were manifested in the
  great prevalence of scurvy. This disease, without doubt, was also
  influenced to an important extent in its origin and course by the
  foul animal emanations.

  3d. From the sameness of the food and form, the action of the
  poisonous gases in the densely crowded and filthy stockade and
  hospital, the blood was altered in its constitution, even before the
  manifestation, of actual disease. In both the well and the sick red
  corpuscles were diminished; and in all diseases uncomplicated with
  inflammation, the fibrous element was deficient. In cases of
  ulceration of the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal the
  fibrous element of the blood was increased; while in simple
  diarrhea, uncomplicated with ulceration, it was either diminished or
  else remained stationary. Heart clots were very common, if not
  universally present, in cases of ulceration of the intestinal mucous
  membrane, while in the uncomplicated cases of diarrhea and scurvy,
  the blood was fluid and did not coagulate readily, and the heart
  clots and fibrous concretions were almost universally absent. From
  the watery condition of the blood, there resulted various serous
  effusions into the pericardium, ventricles of the brain, and into
  the abdomen. In almost all the cases which I examined after death,
  even the more emaciated, there was more or less serous effusion into
  the abdominal cavity. In cases of hospital gangrene of the
  extremities, and in cases of gangrene of the intestines, heart clots
  and fibrous coagulations were universally present. The presence of
  those clots in the cases of hospital gangrene, while they were
  absent in the cases in which there was no inflammatory symptoms,
  sustains the conclusion that hospital gangrene is a species of
  inflammation, imperfect and irregular though it may be in its
  progress, in which the fibrous element and coagulation of the blood
  are increased, even in those who are suffering from such a condition
  of the blood, and from such diseases as are naturally accompanied
  with a decrease in the fibrous constituent.

  4th. The fact that hospital gangrene appeared in the stockade first;
  and originated spontaneously without any previous contagion, and
  occurred sporadically all over the stockade and prison hospital, was
  proof positive that this disease will arise whenever the conditions
  of crowding, filth, foul air and bad diet are present. The
  exhalations from the hospital and stockade appeared to exert their
  effects to a considerable distance outside of these localities. The
  origin of hospital gangrene among these prisoners appeared clearly
  to depend in great measure upon the state of the general system
  induced by diet, and various external noxious influences. The
  rapidity of the appearance and action of the gangrene depended upon
  the powers and state of the constitution, as well as upon the
  intensity of the poison in the atmosphere, or upon the direct
  application of poisonous matter to the wounded surface. This was
  further illustrated by the important fact that hospital gangrene, or
  a disease resembling it in all essential respects, attacked the
  intestinal canal of patients laboring under ulceration of the
  bowels, although there was no local manifestations of gangrene upon
  the surface of the body. This mode of termination in cases of
  dysentery was quite common in the foul atmosphere of the Confederate
  States Military Hospital in the depressed, depraved condition of the
  system of these Federal prisoners.

  5th. A scorbutic condition of the system appeared to favor the
  origin of foul ulcers which frequently took on true hospital
  gangrene. Scurvy and hospital gangrene frequently existed in the
  same individual. In such cases, vegetable diet, with vegetable
  acids, would remove the scorbutic condition without curing the
  hospital gangrene. From the results of the existing war for the
  establishment of the independence of the Confederate States, as well
  as from the published observations of Dr. Trotter, Sir Gilbert
  Blane, and others of the English navy and army, it is evident that
  the scorbutic condition of the system, especially in crowded ships
  and camps, is the most favorable to the origin and spread of foul
  ulcers and hospital gangrene. As in the present case of
  Andersonville, so also in past times when medical hygiene was almost
  entirely neglected, those two diseases were almost universally
  associated in crowded ships. In many cases is was very difficult to
  decide at first whether the ulcer was a simple result of scurvy or
  of the action of the prison or hospital gangrene, for there was
  great similarity in the appearance of the ulcers in the two
  diseases, so commonly have these two diseases been combined in their
  origin and action, that the description of scorbutic ulcers, by many
  authors evidently includes also many of the prominent
  characteristics of hospital gangrene. This will be rendered evident
  by an examination of the observations of Dr. Lind and Sir Gilbert
  Blane upon scorbutic ulcers.

  6th. Gangrenous spots followed by rapid destruction of tissue
  appeared in some cases where there had been no known wound. Without
  such well established facts, it might be assumed that the disease
  was propagated from one patient to another. In such a filthy and
  crowded hospital as that of the Confederate States Military Prison
  at Andersonville, it was impossible to isolate the wounded from the
  sources of actual contact of the gangrenous matter. The flies
  swarming over the wounds and over filth of every kind. The filthy,
  imperfectly washed and scanty supplies of rags, and the limited
  supply of washing utensils, the same wash-bowl serving for scores of
  patients, were sources of such constant circulation of the
  gangrenous matter that the disease might rapidly spread from a
  single gangrenous wound. The fact already stated, that a form of
  moist gangrene, resembling hospital gangrene, was quite common in
  this foul atmosphere, in cases of dysentery, both with and without
  the existence of the disease upon the entire surface not only
  demonstrates the dependence of the disease upon the state of the
  constitution, but proves in the clearest manner that neither the
  contact of the poisonous matter of gangrene, nor the direct action
  of the poisonous atmosphere upon the ulcerated surface is necessary
  to the developement of the disease.

  7th. In this foul atmosphere amputation did not arrest hospital
  gangrene, the disease almost invariably returned. Almost every
  amputation was followed finally by death, either from the effects of
  gangrene or from the prevailing diarrhea or dysentry. Nitric acid
  and escharotics generally in this crowded atmosphere, loaded with
  noxious effluvia, exerted only temporary effects; after their
  application to the diseased surfaces, the gangrene would frequently
  return with redoubled energy; and even after the gangrene had been
  completely removed by local and constitutional treatment, it would
  frequently return and destroy the patient. As far as my observation
  extended, very few of the cases of amputation for gangrene
  recovered. The progress of these cases was frequently very
  deceptive. I have observed after death the most extensive
  disorganization of the structures of the stump, when during life
  there was but little swelling of the part, and the patient was
  apparently doing well. I endeavored to impress upon the medical
  officers the view that in this disease treatment was almost useless,
  without an abundant supply of pure, fresh air, nutritious food, and
  tonics and stimulants. Such changes, however, as would allow of the
  isolation of the cases of hospital gangrene appeared to be out of
  the power of the medical officers.

  8th. The gangrenous mass was without true pus, and consisted chiefly
  of broken-down, disorganized structures. The reaction of the
  gangrenous matter in certain stages was alkaline.

  9th. The best, and in truth the only means of protecting large
  armies and navies, as well as prisoners, from the ravages of
  hospital gangrene, is to furnish liberal supplies of well cured
  meat, together with fresh beef and vegetables, and to enforce a
  rigid system of hygiene.

  10th. Finally, this gigantic mass of human misery calls loudly for
  relief, not only for the sake of suffering humanity, but also on
  account of our own brave soldiers now captives in the hands of the
  Federal Government. Strict justice to the gallant men of the
  Confederate Armies, who have been or who may be, so unfortunate as
  to be compelled to surrender in battle, demands that the Confederate
  Government should adopt that course which will best secure their
  health and comfort in captivity; or at least, leave their enemies
  without a shadow of an excuse for any violation of the rules of
  civilized warfare in the treatment of prisoners.”

                     (End of witnesses’ testimony.)

This was the testimony of a scientific medical officer, who was so
thoroughly a rebel that he served as a private for six months in the
Confederate army, and yet so humane as to condemn the barbarous
treatment imposed on helpless men by such fiends as Winder and Wirz.

Let me call the readers particular attention to a few points in the
testimony of Dr. Jones.

First. As to his charge of filthiness. He states the truth, as any
ex-Andersonville prisoner too well knows, but he does not inform his
Government as to the cause. He does not say that these men were turned,
like so many swine, into the stockade, after being robbed of everything
of value. That no cooking utensils were furnished, that not an ounce of
soap was issued to the prisoners after May 1st, 1864. But he does tell
us that water was scarce, and filthy beyond the power of description, he
does tell how these men became dispirited by long confinement, by bad
diet and worse drink, and by their filthy surroundings, and by the
constant presence of death. What wonder that men under all these
discouraging circumstances soon fell to the level of brutes? And yet all
were not so filthy; all did not lose their instincts of manhood, but
through all these discouraging surroundings, observed, as well as
possible under the circumstances, the laws of health. Were it not so
this story would never have been written.

Second. He speaks of hearing some of the prisoners exonerate the
Confederate Government, and lay all the blame of their continued
imprisonment on the Federal Government. There is too much truth in this
statement to be pleasant to us as patriots, but let us see if these men
were wholly to blame in this matter.

We had heard all sorts of discouraging rumors for the last ten months.
The rebels had told us that Lincoln would not exchange prisoners unless
the negroes were put upon the same basis as whites. That was just and
honorable in the Government, but it was death to us. The fact is that of
all the forty-five thousand prisoners that I saw in Andersonville there
were not to exceed a half dozen negroes, and they were officers’
waiters. The rebels did not take negroes prisoners who were captured in
arms, they killed them on the spot, and we knew it, but perhaps our
Government did not.

For my own part I never exonerated Confederates for the part they took
in cases where they might have done better. It is true that they could
not furnish us such a quality of food as our Government furnished
Confederate prisoners, but the excuse that they had not enough for their
own soldiers is too flimsy as shown by the supplies that Sherman’s men
found in Georgia on that famous “March to the Sea” after we had been
removed from Andersonville. And even if they were short of food, they
had enough pure air and water, and enough land so that we need not have
been compelled to drink our own filth, nor breathe the foul effluvia
arising from the putrefaction of our excrements, nor be crowded at the
rate of thirty-three thousand men on twelve acres of ground, as we were
at Andersonville. There was wood enough so that men need not have been
compelled to eat corn meal raw. There was no valid excuse for robbing
men of their little all and then turning them into those prisons, to
live or die, as best they could.

When we come to the part our Government took in this matter it is simply
this; General Grant was of the opinion that we could perform our duty as
soldiers better in those prisons than we could if exchanged. Exchange
meant giving a fat rebel soldier, ready to take the field, for a yankee
skeleton ready for the hospital or the grave. Considered as a military
measure I admit it was right; but considered from a humanitarian point,
it was simply hellish.

Do you wonder that we thought our Government had forgotton, or did not
care for us? And yet when the crucial test came, when life and liberty,
food and clothing, were offered us at the price of our loyalty to our
Government, our reply was “no, we will let the lice carry us out through
the cracks, before we will take the oath of allegiance to the
Confederacy, we will accept death but not dishonor.”

Don’t blame us if we were discouraged and disheartened, if we did growl
at, and find fault with, a government which we imagined had deserted us
in the hour of our greatest need; we were true and loyal after all, and
if you had been placed in the same condition you would have done just
the same.

Third. Dr. Jones in speaking of those prisoners who were paroled and
were at work on the outside of the stockade says: “These men were well
clothed, and presented a stout and healthy appearance, and as a general
rule they presented a much more robust appearance than the Confederate
troops guarding them.”

Why not? they had plenty of exercise, good water, fresh air, and enough
food so that they could purchase their good clothes with the surplus
which accrued after their own wants had been satisfied. They were
naturally more robust men than those Home Guards, and their situation
had enabled them to keep in a normal condition. Had the prisoners in the
stockade received the same treatment as the paroled men who were at work
outside of the stockade, they would have presented the same robust
appearance, but that stockade and those guards could not have held us
and the rebels knew it.

I have introduced the report of Dr. Jones for the benefit of a class of
persons who are inclined to doubt the statements of ex-prisoners, and I
submit that he tells a more terrible story than any of us can tell.

                              CHAPTER XII.

                          PROGRESS OF THE WAR.

               “The news has flown frae mouth to mouth,
               The North for ance has bang’d the South”;

While we were waiting, and hoping, and starving, and dying at
Andersonville our armies were fast solving the problem of the Rebellion.
Jeff Davis had tired of the policy of General Joseph E. Johnson, who was
in command of the army which confronted Sherman, and about the middle of
July relieved him of his command and appointed Hood to his place.

Johnson’s policy during the Atlanta campaign had been that of defense.
Davis was in favor of aggressive warfare. He believed in driving the
invaders from the sacred soil of the South. A grand idea surely, but
then, the invaders had a word to say in that matter; they had come to
stay, and Jeff Davis’ manifestoes had no terrifying effect upon them.
Hood immediately assumed the aggressive and on the 2lst of July came out
from behind his entrenchments and attacked Sherman.

On the 22d the battle of Atlanta was fought, in which General McPherson
was killed. The command of the army of the Tennessee then fell upon
General John A. Logan for a few days, when he was superseded by General
O. O. Howard. There has been much criticism upon this act of General
Sherman. Logan had assumed command of the army of the Tennessee upon the
death of McPherson, during a hotly contested battle, and he had fought
the battle to a successful termination. He had fought his way from
colonel of a regiment, to Major General commanding an Army Corps, and
temporarily commanding an army. He had shown the highest type of
military ability shown by any volunteer officer, and yet he was
compelled to give place to a transplanted officer from the army of the

Logan and his friends felt this deeply, but with true patriotic
instincts he, and they, continued to fight for the cause of Liberty and
Union. No satisfactory reason has ever been given for this act of
injustice on the part of General Sherman, but it is hinted that it was
because Logan was not a graduate of West Point. The action of General
Sherman in this matter is all the more inexplicable when we compare the
stupendous failure of Howard at Chancellorsville, but little more than a
year before, with the signal success of Logan at Atlanta on the 22d of
July. But time brings its revenge. Howard has passed into comparative
obscurity. We hear of him occasionally as a lecturer before a Chautauqua
Society in some small town or city, “only this and nothing more,” while
John A. Logan went down to his grave, loved and revered, as the highest
representative of the American Volunteer soldier. His name is inscribed
on the imperishable roll of fame by the side of the names of Sheridan,
Thomas, and Hancock.

But the victory of the Federals at the battle of Atlanta did not include
the surrender of the city. Sherman sent a cavalry corps under General
Stoneman to capture Macon, Ga. In this he failed, but he destroyed
considerable property, including railroad, rolling stock, bridges and
supplies and seriously threatened Macon, giving Winder, at
Andersonville, a terrible scare, which resulted in the General Order
which I have copied in a previous chapter. Sherman finding that Atlanta
was not to be captured without a fight more serious than he cared to
risk, moved by the flank to Jonesboro south of Atlanta, thus cutting off
the supplies for Atlanta. On the 1st of September he moved his army up
to within twenty miles of Atlanta, and on the 2d General Slocum moved
his forces into that city.

Great was the rejoicing all over the North when the news was flashed
over the wires that Sherman had captured the “Gate City” of the South,
and a corresponding feeling of gloom settled down upon the Southern
people when they found that Hood, with the assistance of the counsels of
Beauregard, could not cope with “Uncle Billy” and his veterans.

In the meantime the army under General Grant had not been idle. On May
3d and 4th the army of the Potomac moved from its camp on the north of
the Rapidan and commenced a campaign which was destined to result in the
downfall of the capital of the Confederacy, and ultimately of the
Confederacy itself. In the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania,
North Anna and Cold Harbor, our forces showed the aggressive spirit
inspired by their great leader, ably seconded by Meade, Hancock, the
lamented Sedgwick, Warren, Wright and Burnside. While the Confederate
forces under their favorite leader Lee, with his Lieutenants, Anderson.
Early and Hill, resisted the inroads of the Federal forces with a
bravery born of a determination to die in the visionary “last ditch.”

But superior numbers, coupled with equal bravery and ability, are bound
to win in the end and on the 15th of June 1864 Grant’s army was before
Petersburg with a determination to pound the Rebels into submission.

If the battle of Atlanta caused fear and trembling among the rebs at
Andersonville, the fall of that city caused a perfect panic among them.

On the 3d of September a train load of one thousand men was shipped away
from the prison, and each day after that saw the exodus of a like
number, until all who were able to walk to the station had been shipped
to more secure points. Some were sent to Millen and Savannah, Ga., and
some to Charleston, and Columbia, South Carolina.

During the latter part of August long sheds with an upper and lower
floor, and open at the sides, had been built in the northern portion of
the stockade. The carpenters who performed the labor of building these
sheds or barracks, as they were called, were of our own numbers. They
received as compensation for their labor an extra ration of food, and
they thought themselves lucky to get a chance to work for their board,
as indeed, they were.

On the 5th Ole Gilbert, Rouse, and myself left our quarters near the
swamp, and moved into the sheds. We gave up our well with regret, as it
had proved to be a great blessing to us, but September had come, and
soon the storms of the autumnal equinox would be upon us, and our little
tent, made of a ragged blanket and pine boughs, would but poorly shelter
us from the storm.

We took up our quarters on the upper floor, with no straw for bedding,
nothing between our skeleton like bodies and the floor but a piece of
ragged blanket. We suffered terribly for the lack of bedding, our
protruding hip bones could not possibly reconcile themselves to the hard
floor and we were rolling about continually trying to find some part of
our anatomy that would fit a pine board, but we never found it. But we
did find a little purer air than we found down by the excrement burdened
swamp, the foul gases arising from decomposing human excrements
fermenting in a hot sun were not quite so strong and nauseous and
besides we had a little more room. Day by day the thinning process went
on, there being two strong powers at work to accomplish the task, death
and the trains of cars.

I have never been quite satisfied with the tables of mortality published
with reference to Andersonville. Dr. Jones in his report, gives the
number who died between Feb. 24th and September 21st, 1864, as nine
thousand four hundred and seventy-nine. McElroy gives twelve thousand
nine hundred and twelve as the whole number that died during the time
Andersonville was used as a prison.

I think both statements are far below the truth although I have only
parole testimony to prove my position. While on the way from
Andersonville to Charleston, I overheard a private conversation between
two prisoners upon the subject of the number of deaths at Andersonville.
One of them claimed to be the Hospital Steward who kept the records at
that place, and he told his companion that he had a copy of the death
record and that twelve thousand six hundred and twenty odd had died up
to the date of leaving the prison, which was Sept. 11th. and that he
intended to carry the copy through the lines with him when he was
exchanged. One of the prisoners who was paroled in December following
did have a copy of the register and showed it at the office of the War
Department in Washington, it was not returned to him and he afterward
stole it from the office, was arrested and imprisoned for the theft and
was finally liberated through the intercession of Miss Clara Barton,
“the soldiers’ friend.” The man was a member of a Connecticut regiment,
whose name I cannot recall, but I think was Ingersoll, though I would
not pretend to be positive. I think the official records show a total of
nearly fourteen thousand deaths in Andersonville. All the evidence
attainable both from Federal and Confederate sources prove that about
one third of all the men who entered the gates of Andersonville died
there, and when we come to add to that number those who died in other
prisons, and on the way home, and whose death is directly traceable to
that prison, we will find that fully one-half of the forty-five thousand
Andersonville prisoners never reached home.

If the king of Denmark could exclaim, “O, my offense is rank, it smells
to heaven,” what shall we say of the men who are guilty of the
barbarities of Andersonville? How far will their offense smell? By a
fair computation more than twenty thousand men were,—

              “Cut off even in the blossom of their sins,
              Unhouseled, disappointed, unanel’d;
              No reckoning made, but sent to their account
              With all their imperfections on their heads:
              O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!”

Rest comrades, rest in your graves on the sandy hillside of
Andersonville. The dank and the mould have consumed your bodies and they
have returned to the dust from whence they came; but a day of reckoning
will surely come. When the last trump shall sound and the dead shall
come forth from their graves, and stand before the Great White Throne,
where will your murderers be found? Surely they will call upon the rocks
and mountains to fall on them and hide them them from the face of Him
who sitteth upon the Throne and judgeth the Earth in righteousness.

It is impossible for any person endowed with the common feelings and
instincts of humanity to understand, much less to explain, the character
of Winder and Wirz. How any person in this enlightened age could be
guilty of the cruelties and barbarities practiced by those two ghouls
surpass all attempts at explanation. I am of the opinion that the
majority of the people of the South were ignorant of the full extent of
the horrors of the Southern Military Prisons. I am led to this
conclusion by the fact, that, except upon the questions of slavery and
war, they were a kind and generous hearted people, generally speaking,
as much so, at least, as any community of people of like extent. And for
the further reason that not many of them had access to the inside of
those prisons, and they would naturally believe the report of interested
Confederates, sooner than the reports of interested Federals,
particularly, as they had no intercourse with prisoners themselves,
except in isolated cases. And still further, all escaped prisoners, who
were recaptured and returned to prison spoke highly of the kind
treatment of the middle and upper classes, only complaining of the
treatment of the lower classes or “Clay Eaters.” But somebody knew of
these barbarities and cruelties and somebody was responsible for Winder
and Wirz holding their positions, and that after a full investigation
and report upon the subject by competent men. That SOMEBODY was Jeff
Davis and his cabinet.

The members of the Confederate Congress were aware of the treatment of
Federal prisoners and some of the members of that congress cried out
against it, in their places. But Jeff Davis ruled the South with a rod
of iron. He was the head and front, the great representative of the
doctrine of States Rights, which, interpreted by Southern Statesmen,
meant the right of a state to separate itself from the General
Government, peaceably if possible, by force of arms if need be. And yet
when Governor Brown, of Georgia, carried this doctrine to its logical
conclusion by withdrawing the Georgia troops from the Confederate
armies, to repel the invasion of Sherman and harvest a crop for the use
of his army, Davis, in public speeches, intimated that Governor Brown
was a traitor.

President Davis and his cabinet knew of the atrocities of Winder and
Wirz, and their ilk, and connived at them by keeping the perpetrators in
place and power. Winder was a renegade Baltimorean who had received a
military education at the expense of the United States government, but
being too cowardly to accept a position in the field where his precious
carcass would be exposed to danger, he accepted from his intimate
friend, Jeff Davis, the office of Provost Marshal General, in which
position he was a scourge and a curse to the rebels themselves. Becoming
too obnoxious to the people of Richmond, Davis, at last, appointed him
Commissary General of prisoners, in which capacity he had charge of all
the Federal prisoners east of the Mississippi river.

The antecedents of Wirz are not known. McElroy, who has investigated the
subject of Southern Prisons deeper than any man of my knowledge, has
arrived at the conclusion that he was probably a clerk in a store before
the war of the Rebellion. He arrives at his conclusion logically, for he
asserts that Wirz could count more than one hundred.

That Davis and his cabinet knew of the terrible treatment bestowed upon
the Federal prisoners at Andersonville, we have abundant proof. The
following extract from the report of Colonel D. T. Chandler, of the
Rebel War Department, who was sent to inspect Andersonville, was copied
from “Andersonville.” The report is of date August 5th, 1864, and is as
follows: “My duty requires me respectfully to recommend a change in the
officer in command of the post, Brigadier General John H. Winder, and
the substitution in his place of some one who unites both energy and
good judgment with some feelings of humanity and consideration for the
welfare and comfort as far as is consistent with their safe keeping of
the vast number of unfortunates placed under his control; some one who,
at least, will not advocate DELIBERATELY and in cold blood, the
propriety of leaving them in their present condition until their number
is sufficiently reduced by death to make the present arrangements
suffice for their accomodation, and who will not consider it a matter of
self laudation and boasting that he has never been inside of the
stockade—a place the horrors of which it is difficult to describe, and
which is a DISGRACE TO CIVILIZATION—the condition of which he might by
the exercise of a little energy and judgment, even with the limited
means at his command, have considerably improved.”

In his examination touching this report, Colonel Chandler says:

“I noticed that General Winder seemed very indifferent to the welfare of
the prisoners, indisposed to do anything, or to do as much as I thought
he ought to do, to alleviate their sufferings. I remonstrated with him
as well as I could, and he used that language which I reported to the
Department with reference to it—the language stated in the report. When
I spoke of the mortality existing among the prisoners, and pointed out
to him that the sickly season was coming on, and that it must
necessarily increase unless something was done for their relief—the
swamp, for instance, drained, proper food furnished, and in better
quality, and other sanitary suggestions which I made to him—he replied
to me that he thought it was better to see half of them die than to take
care of the men.”

This report proves two points. First that we had been living in
Andersonville during the HEALTHY season, God save the mark, and second
that Jeff Davis knew of the situation through his War Minister. But
Davis was in favor of having the prisoners receive the terrible
treatment to which they were subjected. He had, through his Commissary
General of Prisoners, made demands upon the Federal Government in the
matter of the exchange of prisoners, which no government possessing any
self respect could entertain. He demanded an exchange of prisoners in
bulk, that is, the Federal Government to give all the Confederate
prisoners it held in exchange for all the Federal prisoners the
Confederate Government held. The unfairness of such a proposition will
be readily seen when the reader is informed that at that time the
Federals held about twice as many prisoners as did the Confederates.

The Federal proposition was to exchange man for man and rank for rank.
To this the Davis Government would not accede. Then followed the terrors
of Andersonville and Florence of which hell itself in its palmiest days
could not furnish a duplicate.

I am well aware that I have not expressed the same opinion as other
authors, ex-prisoners, upon the subject of the complicity of the whole
people of the South in these prison horrors, but the most of these
authors wrote a short time subsequent to the close of the war, and while
their blood was still hot upon the subject; and I confess that it has
taken nearly a quarter of a century for my blood to cool sufficiently to
arrive at the conclusions I have expressed in this chapter and which I
candidly believe are correct.

To my comrades who were prisoners let me say, our present motto is:

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                        GOOD BYE ANDERSONVILLE.

As related in the preceding chapter the fall of Atlanta, and the fear of
rescue had obliged the Confederates to remove the prisoners from
Andersonville to a safer place.

On the 11th of September the detachment to which I belonged was ordered
out. We gladly left the pen and saw the ponderous gates close behind us.
No matter to us where we went, we believed we had nothing to lose and
much to gain. If we were to be exchanged, which we doubted, then good
bye to all these terrible scenes of want and suffering. If another
prison pen was our destination, then we hoped it would not be so foul
and disease laden as the one we left, and in any case we had left Winder
and Wirz and we knew that though we were to rake the infernal regions
with a fine comb, we could not find worse jailors. With thoughts like
these running through our minds we dragged our weak and spiritless
bodies to the station, where we got into a train of freight cars as best
we could. Our train was headed toward Macon and there was much
speculation as to our destination. Somehow a rumor had got into
circulation that a cartel of exchange had been agreed upon by the
commissioners of the two governments and that Savannah was to be the
point of exchange. But we had been deceived so many times that we had
taken a deep and solemn vow to not believe anything in exchange until we
were safely transferred to our own lines; and this vow we kept

Soon after passing Macon we entered the territory over which Stoneman’s
Cavalry had raided a few weeks before. Burned railroad trains and depots
marked the line of his march. At one place where our train stopped for
wood and water one of the guards was kind enough to allow some of the
men to get off the train and secure a lot of tin sheets which had
covered freight cars prior to Stoneman’s visit. These sheets of tin were
afterward made into pails and square pans by a tinner who was a member
of an Illinois regiment, with no other tools than a railroad spike and a
block of wood.

Two brothers, members of an Indiana regiment, and coopers by trade, made
a large number of wooden buckets, or “piggins” while in Andersonville,
and their kit of tools consisted of a broken pocket knife and a table
knife, supplemented by borrowing our saw knife. With a table knife or a
railroad spike and a billet of wood, we would work up the toughest sour
gum, or knottiest pitch pine stick of wood which could be procured in
the Confederacy. Time was of no consequence, we had an overstocked
market in that commodity and anything that would serve to help rid
ourselves of the surplus was a blessing.

Time solved the question of our destination. We went to Augusta again so
that Savannah was out of the question. Then we crossed over into South
Carolina, after which the point was raised whether it was to be Columbia
or Charleston. Many of us were of the opinion that Charleston was the
point and that we were to be placed under fire of our own guns, as many
prisoners had been heretofore, the rebels hoping thereby to deter our
forces from firing into the city. Time passed and we arrived at
Branchville. Here is the junction of the Columbia road with the Augusta
and Charleston road, we took the Charleston track and arrived in
Charleston about eleven o’clock p. m. having been two days on the road.

After leaving the cars we were formed in line, and, as we were marching
away from the depot, a huge shell from one of Gilmore’s guns exploded in
an adjoining block. We were getting close to “God’s country,” only a
shell’s flight lying between us and the land of the Stars and Stripes.
We were marched just out of the city and camped on the old Charleston
race track.

In the morning we were allowed to go for water, accompanied by guards.
before night all the wells in the vicinity were exhausted, and we were
obliged to resort to well digging for a supply. Fortunately we found
water at a depth of only four feet. The water was slightly brackish, but
as we had been kept on short rations of salt it was rather agreeable
than otherwise. Before dark there were more than fifty wells dug in camp
and we had water in abundance.

Day after day brought train load after train load of prisoners from
Andersonville until there were about seven thousand prisoners in camp at
this place. There was no stockade, no fence, nothing but a living wall
of guards around us, and that living wall of infantrymen aided and
abetted by a healthy, full grown battery of artillery, that was all.

Our rations here were of fair quality but small in quantity, consisting
of a pint of corn meal, a little sorghum syrup and a teaspoonful of salt
once in two days. Meat of any kind was not issued, from this time on it
was relegated to the historic past. The weather was pleasant, the days
not too hot and the nights not too cool. About nine o’clock a sea breeze
would spring up which felt to us, after having lived in the furnace-like
atmosphere of Andersonville, like a breeze from the garden of the Gods.
About nine o’clock in the evening a land breeze would set in and would
blow until sunrise then die away to give place to the sea breeze. I used
to sit up till midnight drinking in the delightful air and watching the
track of the great shells thrown by the “Swamp Angel” battery. Gilmore
gave Charleston no rest day nor night. The “Hot bed of Secession” got a
most unmerciful pounding. The whole of the lower part of the city was a
mass of ruins, the upper part was then receiving the attention of our
batteries on James Island. It was a grand sight at night to watch the
little streak of fire from the fuse of those three hundred pound shells
as it rose higher and higher toward the zenith and having reached the
highest point of the arc, to watch it as it sped onward and downward
until suddenly a loud explosion told that its time was expired and the
sharp fragments were hurled with an increased velocity down into the
devoted city. Sometimes a shell would not explode until it had made its
full journey and landed among the buildings or in the streets and then
havoc and destruction ensued. The most of the people lived in bomb
proofs, which protected them from the fragments of the shells which
exploded in the air, but were not proof against those which exploded
after striking.

A little episode occurred one day that created quite a panic among both
prisoners and guards. Suddenly and without warning, a large solid shot
came rolling and tumbling through camp, from the north; this was
followed by another, and then another. This was getting serious. What
the Dickens was the matter? Where did these shots come from? were
questions that any and all of us, could and did ask, but none could
answer. But in this case, the rebel guard and officers, were in danger
as well as Yanks, and a courier was dispatched in hot haste to inquire
into the why and wherefore. It turned out that a rebel gunboat, on the
Cooper River, was practicing at a target and we were getting the benefit
of it.

Here at Charleston we were on historic ground. Just a few miles to the
east of us Colonel Moultrie defended a palmetto fort manned by five
hundred brave and loyal South Carolinans, against the combined land and
naval forces of Sir Henry Clinton, and Sir Peter Parker, on the 28th of
June 1776, and with his twenty-six cannons compelled the fleet to
retire. There upon the palmetto bastion of old Fort Moultrie, the brave
young Sergeant Jasper supported the Stars and Stripes under a terrible
fire, and earned for himself an undying fame. Here and in this vicinity,
Moultrie, Pickens, Pinckney, Lee, Green, Lincoln and Marion earned a
reputation which will last as long as American history shall endure.
But, alas, here too, is material for a history which does not reflect
much credit on the descendants of those brave and loyal men. South
Carolina was the first State to adopt an ordinance of Secession, Nov
20th, 1860.

Here in Charleston Harbor, on the 9th of January 1861, the descendants
of those revolutionary heroes, from the embrazures of fort Moultrie, and
Castle Pinckney, fired upon the Star of the West, a United States vessel
sent with supplies for the brave Anderson, who was cooped up within the
walls of Fort Sumter. From these same forts, on the 12th of April, was
fired the guns which compelled the surrender of Fort Sumter, and was the
beginning of hostilities in the War of the Rebellion. And all this
trouble had grown out of a political doctrine promulgated by an eminent
South Carolinan, John C. Calhoun.

But with all their bad reputation as Secessionists, the South Carolinans
treated us with more kindness than did the citizens of any other States.
I never heard a tantalizing or insulting word given by a South Carolina
citizen or soldier to a prisoner. In the matter of low meanness, the
Georgia Crackers and Clay Eaters earned the blue ribbon.

On the 1st of October the detachment to which I belonged, was marched to
the cars, and we were sent to Florence, one hundred miles north of
Charleston on the road to Columbia. On our route, we had passed over
ground made sacred by Revolutionary struggles. At Monk’s Corners, the
14th of April 1780, a British force defeated an American force. In the
swamps of the Santee and Pedee Rivers General Francis Marion hid his
men, and from them he made his fierce raids upon tories and British.
Marion is called a “partisan leader,” in the old histories, but I
suspect that in this year of grace, he would be called a “Bushwacker,”
or “Guerrilla” leader. It makes a good deal of difference which side men
are fighting on, about the name they are called. We arrived at the
Florence Stockade in the afternoon and were marched in and assigned our
position in the northeast corner, the entrance being on the west side.

The Florence Stockade was about two or three miles below Florence, and
half or three-quarters of a mile east of the railroad. It was built upon
two sides of a small stream which ran through it from north to south,
was nearly square in shape, and contained ten or twelve acres of land.
It was built of rough logs set in the ground and was sixteen or eighteen
feet high. There was no such dead line as at Andersonville, a shallow
ditch marking the limits. The greatest number of prisoners confined here
during the time of my imprisonment, was eleven thousand. In some
respects our situation was better than at Andersonville. We had new
ground upon which to live. We were rid of the terrible filth and stench,
we were not so badly crowded, and we had more wood with which to cook
our food.

The Post Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Iverson, of the 5th Georgia, was
an easy going, but not altogether bad man, except that he was possessed
of an ungovernable temper, and when irritated, would commit acts of
which he was, no doubt, ashamed when his pulse assumed a normal
condition. Lieutenant Barrett, Adjutant of the 5th Georgia, was to
Florence what Wirz was to Andersonville. He was a red headed fiery
tempered, cruel, and vindictive specimen of the better educated class of
Southerners. It seemed to be his delight to to torture and maltreat the
prisoners. If there was a single redeeming trait in his character, the
unfortunate men who were under his care, never by any chance stumbled
onto it. His favorite punishment was to tie the offender up by the
thumbs so tightly that his toes barely touched the ground, and have him
in this condition for an hour or two at a time. The tortures of such a
punishment were indescribable. The victim would suffer the tortures of
the damned, and when let down would have to be carried to his quarters
by his comrades.

The prisoners were organized into squads of twenty, these into companies
of a hundred, and these into detachments of a thousand. As stated before
my detachment was assigned a position in the northeast corner of the
Stockade. When we arrived there was plenty of wood, small poles, and
brush in the Stockade, and our first work after selecting our ground,
was to secure an abundant supply.

My old “pard” Rouse, had died at Charleston, Ole Gilbert belonged to
another detachment and did not come in the same train load with me, so I
joined Joe Eaton, Wash. Hays and Roselle Hull, of my regiment, in
constructing a shelter, or house, if you please. We first set crotches
in the ground and laid a strong pole on them, then we leaned other poles
on each side against this pole in the form of a letter A. This was the
frame work of our house, which, as will be seen, consisted entirely of
roof. On this frame work we placed brush, covering the brush with
leaves, and the whole with a heavy layer of dirt. This was an
exceedingly laborious job on account of the lack of suitable tools. Our
poles were cut with a very dull hatchet and our digging done with tin
plates. After we had constructed a shelter, our next work was to wall up
the gables. This was done with clay made up into adobes. We could not
build more than a foot in a day as we were obliged to wait for our walls
to dry sufficiently to bear their own weight. We had taken great pains
to make a warm rain proof hut, as we had arrived at the conclusion that
we were destined to remain in prison until the close of the war.

Those prisoners who arrived later were not so fortunate in the matter of
wood. The early settlers had taken possession of all of that commodity
leaving others to look out for themselves. But the later arrivals made
haste to secure poles for the purpose of erecting their tents and huts,
that is, those who had blankets to spare for roofs; but many were
compelled to dig diminutive caves in the banks which marked the boundary
of the narrow valley through which ran the little stream of water.

Wood was procured from the immense pine forests in the vicinity. Details
of our own numbers, chopped the wood, and others carried it on their
shoulders a distance of half to three quarters of a mile, receiving as
compensation an extra ration of food. In the matter of wood Iverson was
more humane than was Winder, but in the matter of rations it was the
same old story, just enough to keep soul and body together, provided a
pint of corn meal, two spoonfuls of sorghum syrup and a half teaspoonful
of salt daily would furnish sufficient adhesive power to accomplish that

There was rather better hospital accommodations here for the sick, than
at Andersonville, but at the best it was miserably poor and
insufficient. The worst cases had been left behind, but the stockade was
soon full of men so sick as to be unable to care for themselves. The
terrible treatment at Andersonville was telling on the men after they
had changed to a more healthy location, and into less filthy

Soon the fall rains set in and the cold winds, which penetrated to our
very marrow through the rags with which we were but partly covered,
warned us that winter was approaching. We tried hard to keep up our
courage amidst all these discouraging circumstances, but it was a
sickly, weakly sort of courage. Cheerful, we could not be, even the most
religiously inclined were sad and despondent. I am convinced that
cheerfulness depends and must depend on outward circumstances as well as
on an inward state of mind. Why not? We were men not angels, material
beings, not spirits; we were subject to the same appetites and passions
to which we, and others are subject, under better circumstances.
Starvation, privation, misery and torture had not purged from us the
longings, the hungerings and thirstings after the necessaries, the
conveniences, yes, the luxuries of life, but on the contrary, had
increased them ten fold. How was this to terminate? Would our Government
set aside the military policy of the Commander of the army, and take a
more humane view of the question? Would the Confederates, already driven
to extremes to furnish supplies for their own men, at length yield and
give us up, to save expense? or, must we still remain to satisfy the
insatiate greed of the Moloch of war? were questions we could and did
ask ourselves and each other, but there was found no man so wise as to
be able to answer them. Time, swift-footed and fleeting, to the
fortunate, but laggard, and slow, to us, could alone solve these
questions, and after hours of discussion, to Time we referred them.

                              CHAPTER XIV.


      “‘Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys will never reach the coast!’
      So the saucy rebels said, and ’twas a handsome boast,
      Had they not forgot alas! to reckon with the host,
      While we were marching through Georgia.
      So we made a thoroughfare for Freedom and her train,
      Sixty miles in latitude three hundred to the main;
      Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain,
      While we were marching through Georgia.”

During the Summer, and up to the last of October, the condition of our
clothing had been more a matter of indecency than of actual sufferings.
But when the fall rains set in and the cold winds began to blow, then we
felt the need of good clothing. About this time a very limited supply of
clothing was issued to the more destitute. This was some of the clothing
which the United States Government furnished for the benefit of the
prisoners, but which was of more benefit to the rebels than to us. It is
very clear that our Government was a victim of misplaced confidence in
sending supplies of food and clothing through the rebel lines for our
benefit. These supplies were mostly used by the rebels for their own
benefit, and our Government aided the rebellion by that much.

My clothing was old when I was taken prisoner, having been worn through
the Chickamauga campaign, and while I was in the hospital at Danville
some one had, without my consent, traded me worse clothing, so that by
this time I was a spectacle for men perhaps, but hardly for angels and
women. Shirt, I had none, my coat was out at the elbows and was minus
buttons, my pants were worn to shreds, fore and aft, and looked like
bifurcated dish rags. My drawers had been burned at Andersonville with
their rich burden of lice, while my shoes looked like the breaking up of
a hard winter, and yet I was too much of a dude to get clothes from
Barrett. How the cold winds did play hide and seek through my rags; how
my skeleton frame did shiver, and my scurvy loosened teeth rattle and
clatter, as “gust followed gust more furiously” through the tattered
remains of what was once a splendid uniform. Evidently something had got
to be done or I should, like a ship in a storm, be scudding around with
bare poles. My first remedy was patching. With all my varied and useful
accomplishments, I had become quite expert with a needle, (a small sized
darning needle) and I felt perfectly competent to fix up my
unmentionables, provided I could find patches and thread. I was in the
condition of the Irishman who wanted to “borry tobaccy and a pipe, I
have a match of me own, sorr,” but those to whom I applied for patches
and thread, were like an Irishman of my company by the name of Mike
Callahan. I went to him one day as he sat smoking his “dhudeen.” Said I,
“Mike, can you give me a chew of tobacco?” “I cannot sorr,” puff-puff “I
don’t use it myself.” “Well have you got any smoking tobacco?” said I.
“I have sorr,” puff—puff—puff—“joost phat will do meself,” was his
reply. After looking around for a time, I found an old oil cloth
knapsack which I cut up into appropriate patches. Ole Gilbert had a
piece of home-made cotton cloth, this we raveled and used for thread
with which to patch my pants. This shift answered to keep out the wind,
but when I sat down, Oh my! it seemed like sitting on an iceberg and
holding the North Pole in my lap.

After the prisoners had all arrived at Florence, I changed my quarters
to those of five comrades of my own company, Gilbert, Berk, Gaffney,
Webster and Best. We had very fair quarters and were provided with two
blankets for the six. One day as we were talking over the subject of
exchange, we all came to the conclusion that we were in for it during
the war, and I was instructed to write to the Wisconsin Sanitary
Commission for clothing and other supplies. The letter was duly received
and was published in the Milwaukee Sentinel. The following is a copy of
the letter:

                                   “Florence, S. C., Oct. 8th, 1864.

 Secretary of Wis. State Sanitary Commission.

 Sir:—There are six members of the 10th Wis. Infantry here together,
 who were captured at the battle of Chickamauga. We are destitute of
 clothing, and as defenders of our country, we apply to you for aid,
 hoping you will be prompt in relieving, in a measure, our necessities.
 Please send us a box containing blankets, underclothing, shirts and
 socks in particular, and we stand very much in need of shoes; but I
 don’t know as they are in your line of business.

 “We would also like stationery, combs, knives, forks, spoons, tin
 cups, plates and a small sized camp kettle, as our rations are issued
 to us raw; also thread and needles. We all have the scurvy more or
 less and I think dried fruit would help us very much by the acid it
 contains,—you cannot send us medicine as that is contraband. We would
 like some tobacco and reading matter. If there is anything more that
 you can send, it will be very acceptable.

 “We should not apply to you were we not compelled, and did we not know
 that you are the destitute soldiers’ friend. You will please receive
 this in the same spirit in which it is sent, and answer accordingly,
 and you will have the satisfaction of feeling that you have done
 something to relieve the wants of those who went out at the
 commencement of the war, to vindicate the rights of our country.

 Direct to Wm. W. Day and Joseph Eaton, prisoners of war, Florence, S.
 C., via. Flag of Truce, Hilton Head.

                                Yours, &c.,

                                                         WM. W. DAY.

 P. S. I forgot to mention soap—a very essential article.”

At the same time I wrote to my wife in Wisconsin and to my brother in
New York, for a box but instructed them that if there was any prospect
of an immediate exchange, they were not to send them. I believe some of
the other boys sent home for boxes also. We knew that the chances were
very much against our ever seeing the boxes if sent, as we knew that
many boxes sent to Andersonville were kept and their contents used by
the rebel guards, yet I hoped that out of the three I might possibly get
one. When the letters sent to my wife and brother reached their
destination, they commenced the preparation of boxes, but before they
were complete news of exchange reached them and the boxes were not sent.
But during the spring of 1865, after I had settled in Minnesota, and
after the capture of Richmond, I received a letter from the General in
command of our forces, at that place, informing me that there was a box
there directed to me and asking for instructions as to its disposal. I
replied to him that it was a box sent to me by the Wisconsin Sanitary
Commission, and was intended for me as a soldier, that I was now a
civilian, and had no claim on it, and directed him to turn it over to
the hospital.

Right here I wish to express my appreciation of the Sanitary Commission.
In all the loyal States they did a grand work of mercy and charity, ably
seconding the efforts of the Government in caring for sick and destitute
soldiers. In fact they performed a work which the Government could not
perform. They furnished lint and bandages, canned and dried fruits,
vegetables and luxuries of all descriptions for the wounded and sick
soldiers, thus giving them to feel that in all their hardships and
sufferings they were not forgotton by the kind loyal women of the North,
God bless them. It was the ladies of the Sanitary Commission of
Milwaukee who established the first Soldiers’ Home, on West Water
street, and which has grown into the National Soldiers’ Home near that
city. They were ably seconded by the Christian Commission, which sent
not only supplies but men and women to the field of war, to distribute
supplies and act in the capacity of nurses in the hospitals. The wife of
the Hon. John F. Potter, of the 1st Congressional District, of
Wisconsin, worked in the hospitals at Washington until she contracted a
fever and died, as much a martyr for her country as any soldier upon the
field of battle. Governor Harvey, of Wisconsin, lost his life at
Pittsburg Landing, where he had gone to aid the wounded soldiers. His
wife took up the work, thus rudely broken by her husband’s death, and
carried it on until peace came like a benison upon the land.

All over the North, loyal men and women gave of their time and money for
the relief of their Nation’s defenders, and to-day deserve, and receive,
the thanks of the “boys who wore the blue.”

Sometime in the month of November, a rumor was circulated that an
exchange had been agreed upon, between the two Governments, and that
Savannah was the point agreed upon for the exchange. But while we were
hopeful that this might be true, we were doubtful. That story had been
told so many times that it had become thin and gauzy from wear. In a few
days, however, a lot of prisoners came in who reported that an exchange
of sick had actually been in progress, but that the near approach of
Sherman’s army had discontinued it, until another point could be agreed

Here was news with a vengeance. We had been told that Sherman would be
annihilated, that he could never reach the coast, and here came the news
that his army was not only all right, but was almost to the coast. And
further that our Government was still making efforts for our relief.
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and here for the first time,
we had reasonable grounds for hope.

On the 25th of September General Hood had got into General Sherman’s
rear and started north. But Sherman had anticipated just such a move and
had provided for it by sending one division to Chattanooga, and another
division to Rome, Ga. On the 29th Sherman sent Thomas back to
Chattanooga and afterward to Nashville.

General Sherman then divided his army into two wings. The right wing in
command of General O. O. Howard, and the left wing in command of General
Slocum. Hood had started out to return a Roland for an Oliver. Forrest
was operating in Tennessee and Kentucky, and menacing the States north
of the Ohio river. Hood’s plan was to join him and while Sherman was
living upon short commons in Georgia, his army would be reveling in the
rich spoils of Northern States. The idea was a good one, the point was
to carry it out.

On the fifth of October Hood destroyed a considerable length of railroad
north of Atlanta. Sherman, from a high point, saw the railroad burning
for miles. At Alatoona General Corse had a small force, among his troops
was the 4th Minnesota, which earned a record, in the defense of that
mountain pass which will go down to the ages yet to come, in the history
of the war. From the heights of Kenesaw, Sherman’s signal officer read a
dispatch, signaled from a hole in the block-house at Alatoona; “I am
short a cheek bone and part of an ear, but we can whip all hell yet.


Tradition says that Sherman signaled “hold the fort, I am coming,” but I
believe Sherman denies this. At any rate, the fact that Corse did hold
the fort, and that he knew from the signal corps on Kenesaw that Sherman
was coming to his aid, gave rise to the thoughts that inspired the
writer of the little poem, “Hold the fort, for I am coming.”

Sherman strengthened Thomas by sending Stanley with the 4th corps and
ordering Schofield with the Army of the Ohio to report to him. On the 2d
of November General Grant approved Sherman’s plan of the campaign to the
sea, and on the 10th he started back to Atlanta. The real march to the
sea commenced on the 15th. Howard with the right wing and cavalry, went
to Jonesboro and Milledgeville, then the capital of Georgia. Slocum with
the left wing went to Stone Mountain to threaten Augusta.

The people of the South became frantic when they found Sherman had cut
loose. They could not divine his movements. He threatened one point and
when the enemy had been drawn thither for its protection, he threatened
another point. Frantic appeals were made for the people to turn out and
drive the invader from the soil. They took the cadets from the Military
College and added them to the ranks of the Militia. They went so far as
to liberate the convicts from the State Prison, on promise that they
would join the army. But Sherman moved along leisurely, at the rate of
fifteen miles a day, burning railroad bridges and destroying miles upon
miles of track. The Southern papers, from which we had received the news
at Florence, pictured the army as in a most deplorable condition. Saying
the army was all broken up and disorganized, and was each man for
himself, making his way to the sea coast to seek the protection of the
navy. Some of these papers reached the North and the news was copied
into the Northern papers and spread like wildfire, creating a great deal
of uneasiness in the minds of those who had friends in that army.

General Grant, in his Memoirs, speaking of this matter, says: “Mr.
Lincoln seeing these accounts, had a letter written asking me if I could
give him anything that he could say to the loyal people that would
comfort them. I told him there was not the slightest occasion for alarm;
that with 60,000 such men as Sherman had with him, such a commanding
officer as he, could not be cut off in the open country. He might
possibly be prevented from reaching the point he had started out to
reach, but he would get through somewhere and would finally get to his
chosen destination; and even if worst came to worst he could return
north. I heard afterwards of Mr. Lincoln’s saying to those who would
inquire of him as to what he thought about the safety of Sherman’s army,
that Sherman was all right; ‘Grant says they are safe with such a
General, and that if they cannot get out where they want to they can
crawl back by the hole they went in at.’”

The right and left wings were to meet at Millen with the hope of
liberating the prisoners at that place, but they failed, the prisoners
having been previously removed, but Wheeler’s Rebel cavalry had a pretty
severe engagement with the Union cavalry at that place which resulted in
Wheeler’s being driven toward Augusta, thus convincing the people that
Augusta was the objective point. The army reached Savannah on the 9th of
December, and on the 10th the siege of that place commenced. On the
night of the 21st the rebels evacuated the city and it fell into
Sherman’s hands.

The whole march had been a pleasure excursion, when compared with the
Atlanta campaign. The rebels could never muster a sufficient force of a
quality to retard the march of the army. All their boasting of
annihilation was simply wind. The fact was they were completely
nonplussed, they did not know where he intended to go until he was
within striking distance of Savannah. Every morning a squad of men from
each command started out under command of an officer, and at night
returned with wagons loaded with the best in the land. Hams, hogs,
beeves, turkeys and chickens, sweet potatoes, corn meal and flour, rice
and honey were gathered for food, and the bummers usually captured teams
to haul the provisions in with.

My friend O. S. Crandall, of the 4th Minnesota, who was on this march,
tells a joke on himself which I will repeat. A brother bummer by the
name of Ben Sayers, had made a discovery of some honey while the two
were on a picket post. Sayers told Crandall that if he would stand guard
in his place he would fill his canteen with honey. To this Crandall
agreed and when the relief came around told the officer of the guard
that he would stand Sayers’ relief. Sayers filled his canteen full of
honey as agreed and all was lovely; honey on hard-tack, honey on dough
gods, honey on flapjacks, was in Oscar’s dreams that night as he lay
peacefully sleeping beneath the bright moon in southern Georgia. But the
next day the sun came out hot and the honey granulated and would not
come out. Oscar had evidently got a white elephant on his hands; that
honey could not be persuaded to come out, and he was choking with
thirst. Seeing a comrade with a canteen he thus accosted him: “Say pard,
give me a drink.”

Tother Feller.—“Why don’t you drink out of your own canteen?”

Oscar.—“I can’t. I’ve got it full of honey and it’s candied.”

T. F.—“Why, you poor, miserable, innocent, blankety blanked fool, if you
don’t know any better than that you may go thirsty. I won’t give you any

Oscar.—“Say pard, how will you trade canteens?”

T. F.—“Even.”

Oscar.—“It’s a whack.”

And Oscar never got his canteen filled with honey again during the
remainder of the war.

                              CHAPTER XV.

                              VALE DIXIE.

               “Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
               Who never to himself hath said,
               This is my own, my native land!
               Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
               As home his footsteps he hath turned,
               From wandering on a foreign strand!
               If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
               For him no Minstrel rapture swell;
               High though his titles, proud his name,
               Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
               Despite those titles, power and pelf,
               The wretch, concentrated all in self,
               Living, shall forfeit all renown,
               And, doubly dying, shall go down
               To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
               Unwept, unhonored and unsung.”
                           The Lay of the last Minstrel.

During the time of our stay at Charleston, the rebel officers had made
great efforts to induce the prisoners to take the oath of allegiance to
the Confederacy, promising good treatment, good pay, good clothing, a
large bounty and service in a bomb proof position in return. If men had
stopped to think, these promises carried with them abundant proof of
their own falsity. Where was the evidence of good treatment, judging of
the future by the past? What did good pay and large bounties amount to
when it took two hundred dollars of that good pay and large bounty to
buy a pair of boots? And the good clothing, yes they could clothe them
with the uniforms stripped from their dead comrades upon the battlefield
or stolen from the supplies sent to the prisoners.

But, lured by these specious promises, about a hundred and twenty-five
prisoners went out one day and, as we supposed, took the oath. They were
marched away cityward in the morning, but before night they returned. We
saluted them on their return with groans and hisses and curses. They
reported that they were to be sent to James Island to throw up
earth-works in front of the rebel lines. This they refused to do, and
they were returned to prison.

At Florence another effort was made to recruit men. The rebels wanted
foreigners for the army, and artisans of all kinds particularly
blacksmiths, shoemakers, carpenters and machinists for their shops. Many
of our artisans went out thinking they would get a chance to work for
food and clothing by simply giving their parole of honor they would not
attempt to escape. But the rebs insisted that they must take the oath of
allegiance. A few took the required oath, but most of the boys returned
to prison, and most heartily anathematized the men who had the impudence
and presumption to suppose that they would be guilty of taking the oath
of allegiance to such a rotten, hell-born thing as the Southern

There was a great deal of discussion among the prisoners at the time
about the question of the moral right of a man to take the oath of
allegiance to save his life. It was argued on one side that our
government had left us to rot like dogs, to shift for ourselves and that
as winter was coming on and there was no prospect of exchange, a man had
a perfect right to take the oath and save his life. On the other side it
was argued that we had taken a solemn oath to support the government of
the United States and not to give aid or comfort to any of its enemies;
that war was hard at best, and that when we took the oath we knew that
imprisonment was a probability just as much as a battle was a
probability; that we had just as much right to refuse to fight and to
turn traitor upon the battle field as we had in prison.

For my own part life was dear to me but it was dear on account of my
friends; and supposing I should take the oath and save my life; the war
would soon be over and when peace came and all my comrades had returned
to their homes, where would my place be? Could I ever return to my
friends with the brand of traitor upon me? Never. I would die, if die I
must; but die true to the flag I loved and honored, and for which I had
suffered so long. Right here we adopted the prisoners’ motto, “Death,
but not dishonor.”

Soon after changing my quarters I succeeded in securing a position on
the police force. Another of my tent mates was equally fortunate, so we
had a little extra food in our tent. My health had been slowly improving
ever since I left Andersonville, and with returning health came a
growing appetite. We resorted to all sorts of expedients to increase the
supplies of our commissariat. Ole Gilbert was a natural mechanic and he
made spoons from some of the tin which he had procured near Macon; these
were traded for food or sold for cash, and food purchased with the
money. One day he traded three spoons for a pocket knife with an ivory
faced handle. The ivory had been broken but I fished the remains of an
old ivory fine comb out of my pockets and he repaired the handle of the
knife with it. We sent it outside by one of the boys who had a job of
grave digging, and who sold it for ten dollars, Confederate money. With
this money we bought a bushel of sweet potatoes of the sutler at the
gate, and then we resolved to fill up once more before we died. We baked
each of us two large corn “flap jacks” eight inches across and half an
inch thick. We then boiled a six quart pail full of sweet potatoes and
after that made the pail full of coffee out of the bran sifted from our
meal, and then scorched. This was equal to three quarts of food and
drink to each one of us, but it only stopped the chinks.

I then proposed to double the dose which we did, eating and drinking six
quarts each within two hours. Of course it did not burst us but it
started the hoops pretty badly, and yet we were hungry after that. It
seemed impossible to hold enough to satisfy our hunger; every nerve, and
fiber and tissue in our whole system from head to foot, was crying out
for food, and our stomachs would not hold enough to supply the demand,
and it took months of time and untold quantities of food to get our
systems back to normal condition.

There are many ex-prisoners who claim that Florence was a worse prison
than Andersonville. I did not think so at the time I was there, but
those who remained there during the winter no doubt suffered more than
they did at Andersonville, on account of the cold weather; but at the
best it was a terrible place, worthy to be credited to the hellish
designs of Jeff Davis and Winder, aided by the fiend Barrett. At one
time Barrett, with some recruiting officers, came into prison
accompanied by a little dog. Some of the prisoners, it is supposed,
beguiled the dog away and killed him; for this act Barrett deprived the
whole of the prisoners of their rations for two days and a half.

About the 4th of December some surgeons came in and selected a thousand
men from the worst cases which were not in the hospital. It was said
they were to be sent through our lines on parole. Then commenced an
earnest discussion upon the situation. My comrades and I thought we were
getting too strong to pass muster. How we wished we had not improved so
much since leaving Andersonville. We were getting so fat we would
actually make a shadow, that is if we kept our clothes buttoned up.
After considering the question pro and con we came to the conclusion
that we had better not build up any hopes at present. If we were so
lucky as to get away, all right. If not we would have no shattered hopes
to mourn over.

On the 6th another thousand was selected and sent away. This looked like
business; this was no camp rumor started by nobody knew who, but here
were surgeons actually selecting feeble men and sending them through the
gates, and they did not return.

The 8th came and in the afternoon the 9th thousand was called up for
inspection. I went out to the dead line where the inspection was going
on to see what my chances probably were. The surgeons were sending out
about every third or fourth man. The 9th and 10th thousand were
inspected and then came the 11th, to which I belonged. I went to my tent
and told the boys I was going to try my chances, “but,” I added, “keep
supper waiting.” I took my haversack with me, leaving my blanket, which
had fallen to me as heir of Rouse, and went to the dead line and fell in
with my hundred, the 8th. After waiting impatiently for a while I told
Harry Lowell, the Sergeant of my hundred, that I was going down the line
to see what our chances were. It was getting almost dark, the surgeons
were getting in a hurry to complete their task and were taking every
other man. I went back and told Harry I was going out, I felt it in my
bones. This was the first time I had entertained a good healthy, well
developed hope, since I arrived in Richmond, more than a year previous.

The 6th hundred was called, then the 7th and at last the 8th. We marched
down to our allotted position with limbs trembling with excitement. That
surgeon standing there so unconcernedly, held my fate in his hands. He
was soon to say the word that would restore me to “God’s Country,” to
home and friends, or send me back to weary months of imprisonment.

My turn came. “What ails you?” the surgeon asked.

“I have had diarrhea and scurvy for eight months,” was my reply, and I
pulled up the legs of my pants to show him my limbs, which were almost
as black as a stove. He passed his hands over the emaciated remains of
what had once been my arms and asked, “When is your time of service
out?” “It was out the 10th of last October,” said I.

“You can go out.”

That surgeon was a stranger to me. I never saw him before that day nor
have I seen him since, but upon the tablet of my memory I have written
him down as FRIEND.

I did not wait for a second permission but started for the gate.

Just as I was going out some of my comrades saw me and shouted, “Bully
for you Bill; you’re a lucky boy!” and I believed I was. After passing
outside I went to a tent where two or three clerks were busy upon rolls
and signed the parole. Before I left Harry Lowell joined me and together
we went into camp where rations of flour were issued to us. After dark
Harry and I stole past the guard and went down to the gravediggers’
quarters where we were provided with a supper of rice, sweet potatoes
and biscuits. I have no doubt that to-day I should turn up my nose at
the cooking of that dish, for the sweet potatoes and rice were stewed
and baked together, but I did not then. After supper John Burk baked our
flour into biscuits, using cob ashes in the place of soda; after which
we stole back into camp.

Not a wink of sleep did we get that night. We had eaten too much supper
for one thing, and besides our prison day seemed to be almost ended. We
were marched to the railroad next morning, but the wind was blowing so
hard that we were not sent away, as the vessels could not run in the
harbor at Charleston.

Just before night a ration of corn meal was issued to us and I have that
ration yet. About ten o’clock that night we were ordered on board the
cars and away we went to Charleston, where we arrived soon after
daylight. We debarked from the cars and were marched into a vacant
warehouse on the dock, where we remained until two o’clock p. m. when we
were marched on board a ferry boat. The bells jingled, the wheels began
to revolve and churn up the water and we are speeding down the harbor.
All seems lovely as a June morning, when lo, we are ordered to heave to
and tie up to the dock. We were marched off from the boat and up a
street. It looked as though the Charleston jail was our destination,
instead of that long wished for God’s Country.

It seemed that the last train load had not been delivered on account of
the high winds, and that we were to wait our turn. But we were soon
countermarched to the boat and this time we left Charleston for good and

My thoughts were busy as our boat was steadily plowing her way down the
harbor to the New York, our exchange commissioner’s Flag Ship, which lay
at anchor about a mile outside of Fort Sumter. To my left and rear Fort
Moultrie and Castle Pinkney stood in grim silence. Away to the front and
left, upon that low, sandy beach, are some innocent looking mounds, but
those mounds are the celebrated “Battery Bee” on Sullivans Island. To my
right are the ruins of the lower part of Charleston. Away out to the
front and right stands Fort Sumter in “dim and lone magnificence.” To
the right of Fort Sumter is Morris Island and still farther out to sea
is James Island. What a scene to one who has had a deep interest in the
history of his country from the time of its organization up to and
including the war of the rebellion. Here the revolutionary fathers stood
by their guns to maintain the independence of the Colonies. Here their
descendants had fired the first gun in a rebellion inaugurated to
destroy the Union established by the valor, and sealed with the blood of
their sires. Misguided, traitorous sons of brave, loyal fathers. Such
thoughts as these passed through my mind as we steamed down the harbor
to the New York, but it never occurred to me that the waters through
which our boat was picking her way, was filled with deadly torpedoes,
and that the least deviation from the right course would bring her in
contact with one of these devilish engines and we would be blown out of

But look! what is that which is floating so proudly in the breeze at the
peak of that vessel?

         “’Tis the Star Spangled Banner, oh! long may it wave,
         O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Yes it is the old Stars and Stripes, and just underneath them on the
deck of that vessel is “GOD’S COUNTRY,” that we have dreamed of and
wished for so many long weary months.

My friends, do you wonder that the tears ran unbidden down our wan and
ghastly cheeks? That with our weak lungs and feeble voices we tried to
send a welcome of cheers and a tiger to that dear old flag? It was not a
loud, strong cheer, such as strong men send up in the hour of victory
and triumph; no the rebels had done their work too well for that, but it
was from away down in the bottom of our hearts, and from the same depths
came an unuttered thanks-giving to the Great Being who had preserved our
lives to behold this glorious sight.

Our vessel steamed up along side the New York and made fast. A gang
plank was laid to connect the two vessels, and at 4 o’clock, December
10th, 1864, I stepped under the protection of our flag and bade a long
and glad farewell to Dixie.

After we had been delivered on board the New York we were registered by
name, company and regiment, and then a new uniform was given us and
then—can it be possible, a whole plate full of pork and hard-tack, and a
quart cup of coffee. And all this luxury for one man! Surely our stomach
will be surprised at such princely treatment. After receiving our supper
and clothing we were sent on board another vessel, a receiving ship,
which was lashed to the New York. Here we sat down on our bundle of
clothes and ate our supper. If I was to undertake to tell how good that
greasy boiled pork and that dry hard-tack and that muddy black coffee
tasted, I am afraid my readers would laugh, but try it yourself and see
where the laugh comes in. After supper we exchanged our dirty, lousy
rags for the new, clean, soft uniform donated to us by Uncle Sam.

This was Saturday night. Monday morning we are on the good ship United
States as she turns her prow out of Charleston harbor. We pass out over
the bars and we are upon the broad Atlantic. Wednesday morning about 4
o’clock we heave to under the guns of the Rip Raps, at the entrance of
Chespeake Bay, and reported to the commandant. The vessel is pronounced
all right, and away we go up the bay. We reach Annapolis at 10 p. m. and
are marched to Cottage Grove Barracks. Here we get a good bath, well
rubbed in by a muscular fellow, detailed for the purpose. I began to
think he would take the grime and dirt off from me if he had to take the
cuticle with it. We exchanged clothing here and were then marched to
Camp Parole, four miles from Annapolis. Here we were paid one month’s
pay together with the commutation money for clothing and rations which
we had not drawn during the period of our imprisonment. On the 24th I
received a furlough and started for the home of my brother in western
New York, where I arrived on the 26th, and here ends my story.


Of all the men who had charge of of prisoners and who are responsible
for their barbarous treatment, only one was ever brought to punishment.
“Majah” Ross was burned in a hotel at Lynchburg, Va., in the spring of
1866. General Winder dropped dead while entering his tent at Florence,
S. C., on the 1st of January, 1865.

“Majah” Dick Turner, Lieutenant Colonel Iverson and Lieutenant Barret
have passed into obscurity, while Wirz was hanged for his crimes. That
Wirz richly deserved his fate, no man who knows the full extent of his
barbarities, has any doubt, and yet it seems hard that the vengeance of
our Government should have been visited upon him alone. The quality of
his guilt was not much different from that of many of prison commandants
but the fact that he had a greater number of men under his charge
brought him more into notice. Why should Wirz, the tool, be punished
more severely than Jeff Davis and Howell Cobb? They were responsible,
and yet Wirz hung while they went scot free.

I have frequently noticed that if a man wanted to escape punishment for
murder he must needs be a wholesale murderer, your retail fellows fare
hard when they get into the clutches of the law. If a man steals a sack
of flour to keep his family from starvation, he goes to jail; but if he
robs a bank of thousands of dollars in money and spends it in riotous
living, or in an aggressive war against what is known as the “Tiger,”
whether that Tiger reclines upon the green cloth, or roams at will among
the members of Boards of Trade or Stock Exchange, or is denominated a
“Bull” or a “Bear” in the wheat ring, why he simply goes to Canada.

Surely Justice is appropriately represented as being blindfolded, and I
would suggest that she be represented as carrying an ear trumpet, for if
she is not both blind and deaf she must be extremely partial.

Reader, if I have succeeded in amusing or instructing you, I have partly
accomplished my purpose in writing this story. Partly I say, for I have
still another object in view.

The description I have given of the prisons in which I was confined is
but a poor picture of the actual condition of things. It is impossible
for the most talented writer to give an adequate description. But I have
told the truth as best I could. I defy any man to disprove one material
statement, and I fall back upon the testimony of the rebels themselves,
to prove that I have not exaggerated. These men suffered in those
prisons through no fault of their own. The fortunes of war threw them
into the hands of their enemies, and they were treated as no civilized
nation ever treated prisoners before. They were left by their Government
to suffer because that Government believed they would best subserve its
interests by remaining there, rather than to agree to such terms as the
enemy insisted upon.

General Grant said that one of us was keeping two fat rebels out of the
field. Now if this is true why are not the ex-prisoners recognized by
proper legislation? All other classes of men who went to the war and
many men and women who did not go, are recognized and I believe that
justice demands the recognition of the ex-prisoners. I make no special
plea in my own behalf. I suffered no more than any other of the
thousands who were with me, and not as much as some, but I make the plea
in behalf of my comrades who I know suffered untold miseries for the
cause of the Union, and yet who amidst all this suffering and privation,
spurned with contempt the offers made by the enemy of food, clothing and
life itself almost, at the cost of loyalty. Their motto then was, “Death
but not dishonor.” But their motto now is, “Fiat justicia, ruat coelum.”
Let justice be done though the heavens fall.

Since writing a description of the prison life in Andersonville, I came
across the following account of a late visit to the old pen, by a member
of the 2d Ohio, of my brigade. It is copied from the National Tribune,
and I take the liberty to use it to show the readers of these articles
how much the place has changed in twenty-five years.

                                                         THE AUTHOR.

                           ANDERSONVILLE, GA.

             The Celebrated Prison and Cemetery Revisited.


 Having recently made a trip to Andersonville, Ga., I thought a brief
 discription of the old prison and cemetery might be of interest to the
 readers of your paper. I left the land of ice, sleet and snow March
 26, 1888, taking Pullman car over Monon route via Louisville and
 Nashville, arriving at Bowling Green, Ky., 100 miles south of
 Louisville, at noon on March 27. Peach trees were in bloom and wild
 flowers were to be seen along the route. Nearing Nashville we passed
 through the National Cemetery. The grounds are laid out nicely and
 neatly kept and looked quite beautiful as we passed swiftly by.
 Leaving Nashville, I called a halt, took a brief look over the once
 bloody battlefield of Stone River. I then passed through Murfreesboro
 and Tullahoma. At Cowen’s Station I stopped for supper. This is the
 place where the dog leg-of mutton soup was dished up in 1863.

 At Chattanooga I visited Lookout Mountain; then went to the graves of
 my comrades, the Mitchel raiders, that captured the locomotive and
 were hanged at Atlanta. The graves are in a circle in the National
 Cemetery. For the information of their friends I will give the number
 of their graves as marked on headstones:

 J. J. Andrews. 12992. Citizen of Kentucky.

 William Campbell. 11,180. Citizen of Kentucky.

 Samuel Slaven. 11176. Co. G, 33d Ohio.

 S. Robinson. 11177. Co. G, 33d Ohio.

 G. D. Wilson. 11178. Co. B, 2d Ohio.

 Marion Ross. 11179. Co. A, 2d Ohio.

 Perry G. Shadrack. 11181. Co. K, 2d Ohio.

 John Scott. 11182. Co. K, 21st Ohio.

 Leaving here, I passed over a continuous battle field to Atlanta.
 Official records show that from Chattanooga to Atlanta, inclusive,
 more than 85,000 men were killed and wounded and more than 30,000
 captured from Sept. 15, 1863, to Sept. 15, 1864. Arriving at
 Andersonville, I found the same depot agent in charge that was here in
 war times. His name is M. P. Suber; he is 76 years old, and has been
 agent here 31 years. Geo. Disher, who was a conductor, and handled the
 prisoners to and from the stockade, is still connected with the road.
 I arrived at 2 o’clock, and after eating my first square meal in this
 place (although I had been a boarder here 12 months), I started out to
 hunt up my old stamping-ground. The stockade is about half a mile east
 of depot. Here it was the 40,000 Northern soldiers were confined like
 cattle in a pen. This prison was used from February, 1864, to April
 1865—14 months.

 The stockade was formed of strong pine logs, firmly planted in the
 ground and about 20 feet high. The main stockade was surrounded by two
 other rows of logs, the middle one 16 feet high, the outer one 12
 feet. It was so arranged that if the inner stockade was forced by the
 prisoners, the second would form another line of defense, inclosing 27
 acres. The great stockade has almost entirely disappeared. It is only
 here and there that a post or little group of posts are to be seen.
 These have not all rotted away, but have been split into rails to
 fence the grounds. The ground is owned by G. W. Kennedy, a colored
 man. Only a small portion of the ground can be farmed. The swamp, in
 which a man would sink to his waist, still occupies considerable
 space. In crossing the little brackish stream I knelt down and took a
 drink, without skimming off the graybacks, as of old. Passing on, not
 far from the north gate I came to Providence Spring, that broke forth
 on the 12th or 13th of August, 1864. The spring is surrounded by a
 neat wood curbing, with a small opening on the lower side, through
 which the water constantly flows. Not the slightest trace is left of
 the dead-line.

 The holes which the prisoners dug with spoons and tin cups for water
 and to shelter from sun and rain are still to be seen, almost as
 perfect as when dug. Also the tunnels that were made with a view to
 escape are plain to be seen. Relics of prison life are still being
 found—bits of pots, kettles, spoons, canteen-covers, and the like. I
 had no trouble in locating my headquarters on the north slope. You can
 imagine my feelings as I walked this ground over again after 24 years,
 thinking of the suffering and sorrow of those dark days. Visions of
 those living skeletons would come up before me with their haggard,
 distressed countenances, and will follow me through life.

 A half mile from the prison-pen is the cemetery. Here are buried the
 13,714 that died a wretched death from starvation and disease. The
 appearance of the cemetery has been entirely changed since war days.
 Then it was an old field. The trenches for the dead were dug about
 seven feet wide and 100 yards long. No coffins were used. The twisted,
 emaciated forms of the dead prisoners were laid side by side, at the
 head of each was driven a little stake on which was marked a number
 corresponding with the number of the body on the death register. The
 register was kept by one of the prisoners, and 12,793 names are
 registered, with State, regiment, company, rank, date of death and
 number of grave. Only 921 graves lack identification. I found 35 of my
 regiment numbered, and quite a number whom I knew had died there lie
 with the unknown. The head boards have been taken away, and
 substantial white marble slabs have been erected in their places. The
 stones are of two kinds. For the identified soldiers the stones are
 flat, polished slabs, three feet long, (one-half being under ground),
 four inches thick and 12 inches wide. On the stone is a raised shield,
 and on this is recorded the name, rank, state and number. For the
 unknown the stone is four inches square and projects only five inches
 above the ground. The rows of graves are about 10 or 12 feet apart.
 There are a few stones that have been furnished by the family or
 friends of the dead. Aside from the few, so many stones alike are
 symbolic of a similar cause and an equal fate. The cemetery covers 25
 acres, inclosed by a brick wall five feet high. The main entrance is
 in the center of the west side. In the center of a diamond-shaped plot
 rises a flagstaff, where the Stars and Stripes are floating from
 sunrise to sunset. The cemetery presents a beautiful appearance. The
 grounds are nicely laid out and neatly kept, under the supervision of
 J. M. Bryant, who lives in a nice brick cottage inside the grounds.

 I will close by quoting one inscription from a stone erected by a
 sister to the memory of a brother.

 “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the
 sun light on them, nor any heat.

 “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and
 shall lead them unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe
 away all tears from their eyes.”

                                                 —Rev., VII: 16, 17.

The writer of the above article was a prisoner of war over 19 months,
was captured at the battle of Chickamauga Sept. 20, 1863; delivered to
the Union lines April, 1865, and was aboard the ill-fated steamer

Would like to know if any comrade living was imprisoned this long.—A. C.
BROWN, Co. I, 2d Ohio, Albert Lea, Minn.

[Illustration: American Flag]


                          Transcriber’s Notes

 Printed               Corrected             Page
 PRINCIPLE             PRINCIPLE.             iii of a PRINCIPLE.
 Tennesse              Tennessee                2 from the Tennessee
 or                    of                       2 the command of Gen.
 evacution             evacuation               2 evacuation of that
 Aid                   Aide                     2 an Aide came dashing
 throught              through                  2 went through brush
 and and               which had                3 which had knocked the
 the the               the                      4 Starkweather’s on the
 side                  side,                    5 canteen by his side,
 discription           description              8 reader a description
 heterogenous          heterogeneous            8 in a heterogeneous
 sorgum                sorghum                 10 gallon of sorghum
 heavey                heavy                   10 wheezing like a heavy
 Appomatox             Appomattox              11 across the Appomattox
 Said                  said                    15 “What?” said the
 Novvember             November                15 until November
 on                    an                      15 was an old one and
 we                    me                      17 farther let me say,
 returing              returning               18 returning to prison
 maching               marching                18 we go marching on.
 bole                  hole                    19 hole through the
 innoculated           inoculated              19 We were inoculated
 innoculation          inoculation             20 inoculation of a few
 K.                    K.,                     21 Squires, of Co. K.,
 his his               his                     22 In his concluding
 Yanks.”               “Yanks.”                22 to see the “Yanks.”
 V                     V.                      22 F. F. V.’s. We were
 cattle,               cattle.                 23 conveyance of cattle.
 kind                  kind,                   24 kind, quantity
 coutrary              contrary                25 contrary to orders,
 way                   way.                    25 see it that way. But
 laws                  law’s                   26 the law’s delay,
 have.                 have,                   26 those ills we have,
 Petersberg            Petersburg              26 leaving Petersburg
 animals               animals.                26 wild animals. The
 Deadline              Dead-line               27 the Dead-line and
 the the               the                     27 the form as written,
 Inf                   Inf.                    27 10th Wisconsin Inf.
 subivided             subdivided              28 we subdivided these
 pine                  pine.                   28 leaved pitch pine.
 Parrott               Parrott.                31 “Poll Parrott.” He
 Georia                Georgia                 32 5th Georgia regulars.
 qualiity              quality                 33 the same quality as
 Mead’s                Meade’s                 33 from Meade’s army
 cannoniers            cannoneers              36 while the cannoneers
 Connecticut           Connecticut,            36 16th Connecticut,
 preemted              preempted               37 had preempted
 law,and               law, and                40 law, and without
 particuular           particular              42 want some particular
 sea.                  sea.”                   42 down to the sea.”
 succumed              succumbed               45 had also succumbed
 war,                  war.                    45 the time of the war.
 alke                  alike                   46 were alike to him
 is,                   is                      46 your condition is
 examination, extended examination extended,   48 examination extended
 sattered              scattered               49 were scattered
 his his               his                     50 destroy his life
 petechiae             petechiae,              51 petechiae,
 survy                 scurvy                  52 scurvy was contagious
 ulsers                ulcers                  52 Many ulcers which
 gangreneous           gangrenous              52 truly gangrenous
 orginally             originally              52 were originally built
 hight                 height                  53 height, swarming with
 maggots,              maggots.                54 with maggots. I
 poissonous            poisonous               55 of the poisonous
 inflamatory           inflammatory            55 inflammatory symptoms
 dysentry              dysentery               56 in cases of dysentery
 dysentry              dysentery               56 diarrhea or dysentry
 Savaunah              Savannah                64 and that Savannah
 allowed               allow                   64 kind enough to allow
 p. m                  p. m.                   65 eleven o’clock p. m.
 tea spoonful          teaspoonful             65 a teaspoonful of salt
 Andersonsville        Andersonville           66 as at Andersonville
 letdown would  have   let down would have     67 let down would have
 sorgham               sorghum                 67 sorghum syrup and a
 t’was                 ’twas                   68 and ’twas a handsome
 conpetent             competent               69 perfectly competent
 joost                 “joost                  69 puff—puff—puff—“joost
 Richmond.             Richmond,               70 capture of Richmond,
 haman                 human                   70 eternal in the human
 Tennesee              Tennessee               71 in Tennessee
 provisons             provisions              72 the provisions in
 wont                  won’t                   72 I won’t give you
 offiers               officers                73 the rebel officers
 they they             they                    73 thinking they would
 grim                  grime                   77 the grime and dirt
 Febuary               February                79 was used from Febuary
 mames                 names                   79 names are registered
 rank;                 rank,                   80 the name, rank, state
 thrist                thirst                  80 thirst any more;

A number of spelling irregularities have been retained from the printed

The form of quotations has been retained from the printed edtition.

The corrections in the Errata have been applied.

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