The fight began after the usual amount of bad talk on both sides, and we
were pleased to see our man slowly get the better of the New York plug-
ugly. After several sharp rounds they closed, and still Payne was ahead,
but in an evil moment he spied a pine knot at his feet, which he thought
he could reach, and end the fight by cracking Donnelly's head with it.
Donnelly took instant advantage of the movement to get it, threw Payne
heavily, and fell upon him. His crowd rushed in to finish our man by
clubbing him over the head. We sailed in to prevent this, and after a
rattling exchange of blows all around, succeeded in getting Payne away.
The issue of the fight seemed rather against us, however, and the Raiders
were much emboldened. Payne kept close to his crowd after that, and as
we had shown such an entire willingness to stand by him, the Raiders--
with their accustomed prudence when real fighting was involved--did not
attempt to molest him farther, though they talked very savagely.
A few days after this Sergeant Goody and Corporal Ned Carrigan, both of
our battalion, came in. I must ask the reader to again recall the fact
that Sergeant Goody was one of the six hangmen who put the meal-sacks
over the heads, and the ropes around the necks of the condemned.
Corporal Carrigan was the gigantic prize fighter, who was universally
acknowledged to be the best man physically among the whole thirty-four
thousand in Andersonville. The Raiders knew that Goody had come in
before we of his own battalion did. They resolved to kill him then and
there, and in broad daylight. He had secured in some way a shelter tent,
and was inside of it fixing it up. The Raider crowd, headed by Pete
Donnelly, and Dick Allen, went up to his tent and one of them called to
"Sergeant, come out; I want to see you."
Goody, supposing it was one of us, came crawling out on his hands and
knees. As he did so their heavy clubs crashed down upon his head.
He was neither killed nor stunned, as they had reason to expect.
He succeeded in rising to his feet, and breaking through the crowd of
assassins. He dashed down the side of the hill, hotly pursued by them.
Coming to the Creek, he leaped it in his excitement, but his pursuers
could not, and were checked. One of our battalion boys, who saw and
comprehended the whole affair, ran over to us, shouting:
"Turn out! turn out, for God's sake! the Raiders are killing Goody!"
We snatched up our clubs and started after the Raiders, but before we
could reach them, Ned Carrigan, who also comprehended what the trouble
was, had run to the side of Goody, armed with a terrible looking club.
The sight of Ned, and the demonstration that he was thoroughly aroused,
was enough for the Raider crew, and they abandoned the field hastily.
We did not feel ourselves strong enough to follow them on to their own
dung hill, and try conclusions with them, but we determined to report the
matter to the Rebel Commandant, from whom we had reason to believe we
could expect assistance. We were right. He sent in a squad of guards,
arrested Dick Allen, Pete Donnelly, and several other ringleaders, took
them out and put them in the stocks in such a manner that they were
compelled to lie upon their stomachs. A shallow tin vessel containing
water was placed under their faces to furnish them drink.
They staid there a day and night, and when released, joined the Rebel
Army, entering the artillery company that manned the guns in the fort
covering the prison. I used to imagine with what zeal they would send us
over; a round of shell or grape if they could get anything like an
This gave us good riddance--of our dangerous enemies, and we had little
further trouble with any of them.
The depression in the temperature made me very sensible of the
deficiencies in my wardrobe. Unshod feet, a shirt like a fishing net,
and pantaloons as well ventilated as a paling fence might do very well
for the broiling sun at Andersonville and Savannah, but now, with the
thermometer nightly dipping a little nearer the frost line, it became
unpleasantly evident that as garments their office was purely
perfunctory; one might say ornamental simply, if he wanted to be very
sarcastic. They were worn solely to afford convenient quarters for
multitudes of lice, and in deference to the prejudice which has existed
since the Fall of Man against our mingling with our fellow creatures in
the attire provided us by Nature. Had I read Darwin then I should have
expected that my long exposure to the weather would start a fine suit of
fur, in the effort of Nature to adapt, me to my, environment. But no
more indications of this appeared than if I had been a hairless dog of
Mexico, suddenly transplanted to more northern latitudes. Providence did
not seem to be in the tempering-the-wind-to-the-shorn-lamb business, as
far as I was concerned. I still retained an almost unconquerable
prejudice against stripping the dead to secure clothes, and so unless
exchange or death came speedily, I was in a bad fix.
One morning about day break, Andrews, who had started to go to another
part of the camp, came slipping back in a state of gleeful excitement.
At first I thought he either had found a tunnel or had heard some good
news about exchange. It was neither. He opened his jacket and handed me
an infantry man's blouse, which he had found in the main street, where it
had dropped out of some fellow's bundle. We did not make any extra
exertion to find the owner. Andrews was in sore need of clothes himself,
but my necessities were so much greater that the generous fellow thought
of my wants first. We examined the garment with as much interest as ever
a belle bestowed on a new dress from Worth's. It was in fair
preservation, but the owner had cut the buttons off to trade to the
guard, doubtless for a few sticks of wood, or a spoonful of salt.
We supplied the place of these with little wooden pins, and I donned the
garment as a shirt and coat and vest, too, for that matter. The best
suit I ever put on never gave me a hundredth part the satisfaction that
this did. Shortly after, I managed to subdue my aversion so far as to
take a good shoe which a one-legged dead man had no farther use for, and
a little later a comrade gave me for the other foot a boot bottom from
which he had cut the top to make a bucket.
The day of the Presidential election of 1864 approached. The Rebels were
naturally very much interested in the result, as they believed that the
election of McClellan meant compromise and cessation of hostilities,
while the re-election of Lincoln meant prosecution of the War to the
bitter end. The toadying Raiders, who were perpetually hanging around
the gate to get a chance to insinuate themselves into the favor of the
Rebel officers, persuaded them that we were all so bitterly hostile to
our Government for not exchanging us that if we were allowed to vote we
would cast an overwhelming majority in favor of McClellan.
The Rebels thought that this might perhaps be used to advantage as
political capital for their friends in the North. They gave orders that
we might, if we chose, hold an election on the same day of the
Presidential election. They sent in some ballot boxes, and we elected
Judges of the Election.
About noon of that day Captain Bowes, and a crowd of tightbooted, broad-
hatted Rebel officers, strutted in with the peculiar "Ef-yer-don't-
b'lieve--I'm-a-butcher-jest-smell-o'-mebutes" swagger characteristic of
the class. They had come in to see us all voting for McClellan.
Instead, they found the polls surrounded with ticket pedlers shouting:
"Walk right up here now, and get your Unconditional-Union-Abraham-Lincoln
"Here's your straight-haired prosecution-of-the-war ticket."
"Vote the Lincoln ticket; vote to whip the Rebels, and make peace with
them when they've laid down their arms."
"Don't vote a McClellan ticket and gratify Rebels, everywhere," etc.
The Rebel officers did not find the scene what their fancy painted it,
and turning around they strutted out.
When the votes came to be counted out there were over seven thousand for
Lincoln, and not half that many hundred for McClellan. The latter got
very few votes outside the Raider crowd. The same day a similar election
was held in Florence, with like result. Of course this did not indicate
that there was any such a preponderance of Republicans among us.
It meant simply that the Democratic boys, little as they might have liked
Lincoln, would have voted for him a hundred times rather than do anything
to please the Rebels.
I never heard that the Rebels sent the result North.
THE REBELS FORMALLY PROPOSE TO US TO DESERT TO THEM--CONTUMELIOUS
TREATMENT OF THE PROPOSITION--THEIR RAGE--AN EXCITING TIME--AN OUTBREAK
THREATENED--DIFFICULTIES ATTENDING DESERTION TO THE REBELS.
One day in November, some little time after the occurrences narrated in
the last chapter, orders came in to make out rolls of all those who were
born outside of the United States, and whose terms of service had
We held a little council among ourselves as to the meaning of this, and
concluded that some partial exchange had been agreed on, and the Rebels
were going to send back the class of boys whom they thought would be of
least value to the Government. Acting on this conclusion the great
majority of us enrolled ourselves as foreigners, and as having served out
our terms. I made out the roll of my hundred, and managed to give every
man a foreign nativity. Those whose names would bear it were assigned to
England, Ireland, Scotland France and Germany, and the balance were
distributed through Canada and the West Indies. After finishing the roll
and sending it out, I did not wonder that the Rebels believed the battles
for the Union were fought by foreign mercenaries. The other rolls were
made out in the same way, and I do not suppose that they showed five
hundred native Americans in the Stockade.
The next day after sending out the rolls, there came an order that all
those whose names appeared thereon should fall in. We did so, promptly,
and as nearly every man in camp was included, we fell in as for other
purposes, by hundreds and thousands. We were then marched outside, and
massed around a stump on which stood a Rebel officer, evidently waiting
to make us a speech. We awaited his remarks with the greatest
impatience, but He did not begin until the last division had marched out
and came to a parade rest close to the stump.
It was the same old story:
"Prisoners, you can no longer have any doubt that your Government has
cruelly abandoned you; it makes no efforts to release you, and refuses
all our offers of exchange. We are anxious to get our men back, and have
made every effort to do so, but it refuses to meet us on any reasonable
grounds. Your Secretary of War has said that the Government can get
along very well without you, and General Halleck has said that you were
nothing but a set of blackberry pickers and coffee boilers anyhow.
"You've already endured much more than it could expect of you; you served
it faithfully during the term you enlisted for, and now, when it is
through with you, it throws you aside to starve and die. You also can
have no doubt that the Southern Confederacy is certain to succeed in
securing its independence. It will do this in a few months. It now
offers you an opportunity to join its service, and if you serve it
faithfully to the end, you will receive the same rewards as the rest of
its soldiers. You will be taken out of here, be well clothed and fed,
given a good bounty, and, at the conclusion of the War receive a land
warrant for a nice farm. If you"--
But we had heard enough. The Sergeant of our division--a man with a
stentorian voice sprang out and shouted:
"Attention, first Division!"
We Sergeants of hundreds repeated the command down the line. Shouted he:
"First Division, about--"
"First Hundred, about--"
"Second Hundred, about--"
"Third Hundred, about--"
"Fourth Hundred, about--" etc., etc.
Ten Sergeants repeated "Face!" one after the other, and each man in the
hundreds turned on his heel. Then our leader commanded--
"First Division, forward! MARCH!" and we strode back into the Stockade,
followed immediately by all the other divisions, leaving the orator still
standing on the stump.
The Rebels were furious at this curt way of replying. We had scarcely
reached our quarters when they came in with several companies, with
loaded guns and fixed bayonets. They drove us out of our tents and huts,
into one corner, under the pretense of hunting axes and spades, but in
reality to steal our blankets, and whatever else they could find that
they wanted, and to break down and injure our huts, many of which,
costing us days of patient labor, they destroyed in pure wantonness.
We were burning with the bitterest indignation. A tall, slender man
named Lloyd, a member of the Sixty-First Ohio--a rough, uneducated
fellow, but brim full of patriotism and manly common sense, jumped up on
a stump and poured out his soul in rude but fiery eloquence: "Comrades,"
he said, "do not let the blowing of these Rebel whelps discourage you;
pay no attention to the lies they have told you to-day; you know well
that our Government is too honorable and just to desert any one who
serves it; it has not deserted us; their hell-born Confederacy is not
going to succeed. I tell you that as sure as there is a God who reigns
and judges in Israel, before the Spring breezes stir the tops of these
blasted old pines their Confederacy and all the lousy graybacks who
support it will be so deep in hell that nothing but a search warrant from
the throne of God Almighty can ever find it again. And the glorious old
Stars and Stripes--"
Here we began cheering tremendously. A Rebel Captain came running up,
said to the guard, who was leaning on his gun, gazing curiously at Lloyd:
"What in ---- are you standing gaping there for? Why don't you shoot the
---- ---- Yankee son---- -- - -----?" and snatching the gun away from
him, cocked and leveled it at Lloyd, but the boys near jerked the speaker
down from the stump and saved his life.
We became fearfully, wrought up. Some of the more excitable shouted out
to charge on the line of guards, snatch they guns away from them, and
force our way through the gate The shouts were taken up by others, and,
as if in obedience to the suggestion, we instinctively formed in line-of-
battle facing the guards. A glance down the line showed me an array of
desperate, tensely drawn faces, such as one sees who looks a men when
they are summoning up all their resolution for some deed of great peril.
The Rebel officers hastily retreated behind the line of guards, whose
faces blanched, but they leveled the muskets and prepared to receive us.
«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 | View All | Next -»