Andersonville


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But the Rebels were led to believe that we were ripe for revolt against
our flag, and to side with them. Imagine, if possible, the stupidity
that would mistake our bitter hatred of those who were our deadly
enemies, for any feeling that would lead us to join hands with those
enemies. One day we were surprised to see the carpenters erect a rude
stand in the center of the camp. When it was finished, Bradley appeared
upon it, in company with some Rebel officers and guards. We gathered
around in curiosity, and Bradley began making a speech.

He said that it had now become apparent to all of us that our Government
had abandoned us; that it cared little or nothing for us, since it could
hire as many more quite readily, by offering a bounty equal to the pay
which would be due us now; that it cost only a few hundred dollars to
bring over a shipload of Irish, "Dutch," and French, who were only too
glad to agree to fight or do anything else to get to this country. [The
peculiar impudence of this consisted in Bradley himself being a
foreigner, and one who had only come out under one of the later calls,
and the influence of a big bounty.]

Continuing in this strain he repeated and dwelt upon the old lie, always
in the mouths of his crowd, that Secretary Stanton and General Halleck
had positively refused to enter upon negotiations for exchange, because
those in prison were "only a miserable lot of 'coffee-boilers' and
'blackberry pickers,' whom the Army was better off without."

The terms "coffee-boiler," and "blackberry-pickers" were considered the
worst terms of opprobrium we had in prison. They were applied to that
class of stragglers and skulkers, who were only too ready to give
themselves up to the enemy, and who, on coming in, told some gauzy story
about "just having stopped to boil a cup of coffee," or to do something
else which they should not have done, when they were gobbled up. It is
not risking much to affirm the probability of Bradley and most of his
crowd having belonged to this dishonorable class.

The assertion that either the great Chief-of-Staff or the still greater
War-Secretary were even capable of applying such epithets to the mass of
prisoners is too preposterous to need refutation, or even denial.
No person outside the raider crowd ever gave the silly lie a moment's
toleration.

Bradley concluded his speech in some such language as this:

"And now, fellow prisoners, I propose to you this: that we unite in
informing our Government that unless we are exchanged in thirty days, we
will be forced by self-preservation to join the Confederate army."

For an instant his hearers seemed stunned at the fellow's audacity, and
then there went up such a roar of denunciation and execration that the
air trembled. The Rebels thought that the whole camp was going to rush
on Bradley and tear him to pieces, and they drew revolvers and leveled
muskets to defend him. The uproar only ceased when Bradley was hurried
out of the prisons but for hours everybody was savage and sullen, and
full of threatenings against him, when opportunity served. We never saw
him afterward.

Angry as I was, I could not help being amused at the tempestuous rage of
a tall, fine-looking and well educated Irish Sergeant of an Illinois
regiment. He poured forth denunciations of the traitor and the Rebels,
with the vivid fluency of his Hibernian nature, vowed he'd "give a year
of me life, be J---s, to have the handling of the dirty spalpeen for ten
minutes; be G-d," and finally in his rage, tore off his own shirt and
threw it on the ground and trampled on it.

Imagine my astonishment, some time after getting out of prison, to find
the Southern papers publishing as a defense against the charges in regard
to Andersonville, the following document, which they claimed to have been
adopted by "a mass meeting of the prisoners:"

"At a mass meeting held September 28th, 1864, by the Federal prisoners
confined at Savannah, Ga., it was unanimously agreed that the following
resolutions be sent to the President of the United States, in the hope
that he might thereby take such steps as in his wisdom he may think
necessary for our speedy exchange or parole:

"Resolved, That while we would declare our unbounded love for the Union,
for the home of our fathers, and for the graves of those we venerate, we
would beg most respectfully that our situation as prisoners be diligently
inquired into, and every obstacle consistent with the honor and dignity
of the Government at once removed.

"Resolved, That while allowing the Confederate authorities all due praise
for the attention paid to prisoners, numbers of our men are daily
consigned to early graves, in the prime of manhood, far from home and
kindred, and this is not caused intentionally by the Confederate
Government, but by force of circumstances; the prisoners are forced to go
without shelter, and, in a great portion of cases, without medicine.

"Resolved, That, whereas, ten thousand of our brave comrades have
descended into an untimely grave within the last six months, and as we
believe their death was caused by the difference of climate, the peculiar
kind and insufficiency of food, and lack of proper medical treatment;
and, whereas, those difficulties still remain, we would declare as our
firm belief, that unless we are speedily exchanged, we have no
alternative but to share the lamentable fate of our comrades. Must this
thing still go on! Is there no hope?

"Resolved, That, whereas, the cold and inclement season of the year is
fast approaching, we hold it to be our duty as soldiers and citizens of
the United States, to inform our Government that the majority of our
prisoners ate without proper clothing, in some cases being almost naked,
and are without blankets to protect us from the scorching sun by day or
the heavy dews by night, and we would most respectfully request the
Government to make some arrangement whereby we can be supplied with
these, to us, necessary articles.

"Resolved, That, whereas, the term of service of many of our comrades
having expired, they, having served truly and faithfully for the term of
their several enlistments, would most respectfully ask their Government,
are they to be forgotten? Are past services to be ignored? Not having
seen their wives and little ones for over three years, they would most
respectfully, but firmly, request the Government to make some
arrangements whereby they can be exchanged or paroled.

"Resolved, That, whereas, in the fortune of war, it was our lot to become
prisoners, we have suffered patiently, and are still willing to suffer,
if by so doing we can benefit the country; but we must most respectfully
beg to say, that we are not willing to suffer to further the ends of any
party or clique to the detriment of our honor, our families, and our
country, and we beg that this affair be explained to us, that we may
continue to hold the Government in that respect which is necessary to
make a good citizen and soldier.

"P. BRADLEY,
"Chairman of Committee in behalf of Prisoners."

In regard to the above I will simply say this, that while I cannot
pretend to know or even much that went on around me, I do not think it
was possible for a mass meeting of prisoners to have been held without
my knowing it, and its essential features. Still less was it possible
for a mass meeting to have been held which would have adopted any such
a document as the above, or anything else that a Rebel would have found
the least pleasure in republishing. The whole thing is a brazen
falsehood.

CHAPTER LV.

WHY WE WERE HURRIED OUT OF ANDERSONVILLE--THE OF THE FALL OF ATLANTA--
OUR LONGING TO HEAR THE NEWS--ARRIVAL OF SOME FRESH FISH--HOW WE KNEW
THEY WERE WESTERN BOYS--DIFFERENCE IN THE APPEARANCE OF THE SOLDIERS OF
THE TWO ARMIES.

The reason of our being hurried out of Andersonville under the false
pretext of exchange dawned on us before we had been in Savannah long.
If the reader will consult the map of Georgia he will understand this,
too. Let him remember that several of the railroads which now appear
were not built then. The road upon which Andersonville is situated was
about one hundred and twenty miles long, reaching from Macon to Americus,
Andersonville being about midway between these two. It had no
connections anywhere except at Macon, and it was hundreds of miles across
the country from Andersonville to any other road. When Atlanta fell it
brought our folks to within sixty miles of Macon, and any day they were
liable to make a forward movement, which would capture that place, and
have us where we could be retaken with ease.

There was nothing left undone to rouse the apprehensions of the Rebels in
that direction. The humiliating surrender of General Stoneman at Macon
in July, showed them what our, folks were thinking of, and awakened their
minds to the disastrous consequences of such a movement when executed by
a bolder and abler commander. Two days of one of Kilpatrick's swift,
silent marches would carry his hard-riding troopers around Hood's right
flank, and into the streets of Macon, where a half hour's work with the
torch on the bridges across the Ocmulgee and the creeks that enter it at
that point, would have cut all of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee's
communications. Another day and night of easy marching would bring his
guidons fluttering through the woods about the Stockade at Andersonville,
and give him a reinforcement of twelve or fifteen thousand able-bodied
soldiers, with whom he could have held the whole Valley of the
Chattahoochie, and become the nether millstone, against which Sherman
could have ground Hood's army to powder.

Such a thing was not only possible, but very probable, and doubtless
would have occurred had we remained in Andersonville another week.

Hence the haste to get us away, and hence the lie about exchange, for,
had it not been for this, one-quarter at least of those taken on the cars
would have succeeded in getting off and attempted to have reached
Sherman's lines.

The removal went on with such rapidity that by the end of September only
eight thousand two hundred and eighteen remained at Andersonville, and
these were mostly too sick to be moved; two thousand seven hundred died
in September, fifteen hundred and sixty in October, and four hundred and
eighty-five in November, so that at the beginning of December there were
only thirteen hundred and fifty-nine remaining. The larger part of those
taken out were sent on to Charleston, and subsequently to Florence and
Salisbury. About six or seven thousand of us, as near as I remember,
were brought to Savannah.
.......................

We were all exceedingly anxious to know how the Atlanta campaign had
ended. So far our information only comprised the facts that a sharp
battle had been fought, and the result was the complete possession of our
great objective point. The manner of accomplishing this glorious end,
the magnitude of the engagement, the regiments, brigades and corps
participating, the loss on both sides, the completeness of the victories,
etc., were all matters that we knew nothing of, and thirsted to learn.

The Rebel papers said as little as possible about the capture, and the
facts in that little were so largely diluted with fiction as to convey no
real information. But few new, prisoners were coming in, and none of
these were from Sherman. However, toward the last of September, a
handful of "fresh fish" were turned inside, whom our experienced eyes
instantly told us were Western boys.

There was never any difficulty in telling, as far as he could be seen,
whether a boy belonged to the East or the west. First, no one from the
Army of the Potomac was ever without his corps badge worn conspicuously;
it was rare to see such a thing on one of Sherman's men. Then there was
a dressy air about the Army of the Potomac that was wholly wanting in the
soldiers serving west of the Alleghanies.

The Army, of the Potomac was always near to its base of supplies, always
had its stores accessible, and the care of the clothing and equipments of
the men was an essential part of its discipline. A ragged or shabbily
dressed man was a rarity. Dress coats, paper collars, fresh woolen
shirts, neat-fitting pantaloons, good comfortable shoes, and trim caps or
hats, with all the blazing brass of company letters an inch long,
regimental number, bugle and eagle, according to the Regulations, were as
common to Eastern boys as they were rare among the Westerners.

The latter usually wore blouses, instead of dress coats, and as a rule
their clothing had not been renewed since the opening, of the campaign-
and it showed this. Those who wore good boots or shoes generally had to
submit to forcible exchanges by their, captors, and the same was true of
head gear. The Rebels were badly off in regard to hats. They did not
have skill and ingenuity enough to make these out of felt or straw, and
the make-shifts they contrived of quilted calico and long-leaved pine,
were ugly enough to frighten horned cattle.

I never blamed them much for wanting to get rid of these, even if they
did have to commit a sort of highway robbery upon defenseless prisoners
to do so. To be a traitor in arms was bad certainly, but one never
appreciated the entire magnitude of the crime until he saw a Rebel
wearing a calico or a pine-leaf hat. Then one felt as if it would be a
great mistake to ever show such a man mercy.

The Army of Northern Virginia seemed to have supplied themselves with
head-gear of Yankee manufacture of previous years, and they then quit
taking the hats of their prisoners. Johnston's Army did not have such
good luck, and had to keep plundering to the end of the war.

Another thing about the Army of the Potomac was the variety of the
uniforms. There were members of Zouave regiments, wearing baggy breeches
of various hues, gaiters, crimson fezes, and profusely braided jackets.
I have before mentioned the queer garb of the "Lost Ducks." (Les Enfants
Perdu, Forty-eighth New York.)

One of the most striking uniforms was that of the "Fourteenth Brooklyn."
They wore scarlet pantaloons, a blue jacket handsomely braided, and a red
fez, with a white cloth wrapped around the head, turban-fashion.
As a large number of them were captured, they formed quite a picturesque
feature of every crowd. They were generally good fellows and gallant
soldiers.

Another uniform that attracted much, though not so favorable, attention
was that of the Third New Jersey Cavalry, or First New Jersey Hussars,
as they preferred to call themselves. The designer of the uniform must
have had an interest in a curcuma plantation, or else he was a fanatical
Orangeman. Each uniform would furnish occasion enough for a dozen New
York riots on the 12th of July. Never was such an eruption of the
yellows seen outside of the jaundiced livery of some Eastern potentate.
Down each leg of the pantaloons ran a stripe of yellow braid one and one-
half inches wide. The jacket had enormous gilt buttons, and was
embellished with yellow braid until it was difficult to tell whether it
was blue cloth trimmed with yellow, or yellow adorned with blue. From
the shoulders swung a little, false hussar jacket, lined with the same
flaring yellow. The vizor-less cap was similarly warmed up with the hue
of the perfected sunflower. Their saffron magnificence was like the
gorgeous gold of the lilies of the field, and Solomon in all his glory
could not have beau arrayed like one of them. I hope he was not. I want
to retain my respect for him. We dubbed these daffodil cavaliers
"Butterflies," and the name stuck to them like a poor relation.

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