Late of Co. L. 16th Ill Cav.






The fifth part of a century almost has sped with the flight of time since
the outbreak of the Slaveholder’s Rebellion against the United States.
The young men of to-day were then babes in their cradles, or, if more
than that, too young to be appalled by the terror of the times. Those
now graduating from our schools of learning to be teachers of youth and
leaders of public thought, if they are ever prepared to teach the history
of the war for the Union so as to render adequate honor to its martyrs
and heroes, and at the same time impress the obvious moral to be drawn
from it, must derive their knowledge from authors who can each one say of
the thrilling story he is spared to tell: “All of which I saw, and part
of which I was.”

The writer is honored with the privilege of introducing to the reader a
volume written by an author who was an actor and a sufferer in the scenes
he has so vividly and faithfully described, and sent forth to the public
by a publisher whose literary contributions in support of the loyal cause
entitle him to the highest appreciation. Both author and publisher have
had an honorable and efficient part in the great struggle, and are
therefore worthy to hand down to the future a record of the perils
encountered and the sufferings endured by patriotic soldiers in the
prisons of the enemy. The publisher, at the beginning of the war,
entered, with zeal and ardor upon the work of raising a company of men,
intending to lead them to the field. Prevented from carrying out this
design, his energies were directed to a more effective service. His
famous “Nasby Letters” exposed the absurd and sophistical argumentations
of rebels and their sympathisers, in such broad, attractive and admirable
burlesque, as to direct against them the “loud, long laughter of a
world!” The unique and telling satire of these papers became a power and
inspiration to our armies in the field and to their anxious friends at
home, more than equal to the might of whole battalions poured in upon the
enemy. An athlete in logic may lay an error writhing at his feet, and
after all it may recover to do great mischief. But the sharp wit of the
humorist drives it before the world’s derision into shame and everlasting
contempt. These letters were read and shouted over gleefully at every
camp-fire in the Union Army, and eagerly devoured by crowds of listeners
when mails were opened at country post-offices. Other humorists were
content when they simply amused the reader, but “Nasby’s” jests were
arguments–they had a meaningthey were suggested by the necessities and
emergencies of the Nation’s peril, and written to support, with all
earnestness, a most sacred cause.

The author, when very young, engaged in journalistic work, until the drum
of the recruiting officer called him to join the ranks of his country’s
defenders. As the reader is told, he was made a prisoner. He took with
him into the terrible prison enclosure not only a brave, vigorous,
youthful spirit, but invaluable habits of mind and thought for storing up
the incidents and experiences of his prison life. As a journalist he had
acquired the habit of noticing and memorizing every striking or thrilling
incident, and the experiences of his prison life were adapted to enstamp
themselves indelibly on both feeling and memory. He speaks from personal
experience and from the stand-paint of tender and complete sympathy with
those of his comrades who suffered more than he did himself. Of his
qualifications, the writer of these introductory words need not speak.
The sketches themselves testify to his ability with such force that no
commendation is required.

This work is needed. A generation is arising who do not know what the
preservation of our free government cost in blood and suffering. Even
the men of the passing generation begin to be forgetful, if we may judge
from the recklessness or carelessness of their political action. The
soldier is not always remembered nor honored as he should be. But, what
to the future of the great Republic is more important, there is great
danger of our people under-estimating the bitter animus and terrible
malignity to the Union and its defenders cherished by those who made war
upon it. This is a point we can not afford to be mistaken about. And
yet, right at this point this volume will meet its severest criticism,
and at this point its testimony is most vital and necessary.

Many will be slow to believe all that is here told most truthfully of the
tyranny and cruelty of the captors of our brave boys in blue. There are
no parallels to the cruelties and malignities here described in Northern
society. The system of slavery, maintained for over two hundred years at
the South, had performed a most perverting, morally desolating, and we
might say, demonizing work on the dominant race, which people bred under
our free civilization can not at once understand, nor scarcely believe
when it is declared unto them. This reluctance to believe unwelcome
truths has been the snare of our national life. We have not been willing
to believe how hardened, despotic, and cruel the wielders of
irresponsible power may become.

When the anti-slavery reformers of thirty years ago set forth the
cruelties of the slave system, they were met with a storm of indignant
denial, villification and rebuke. When Theodore D. Weld issued his
“Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” to the cruelty of slavery, he
introduced it with a few words, pregnant with sound philosophy, which can
be applied to the work now introduced, and may help the reader better to
accept and appreciate its statements. Mr. Weld said:

“Suppose I should seize you, rob you of your liberty, drive you into the
field, and make you work without pay as long as you lived. Would that be
justice? Would it be kindness? Or would it be monstrous injustice and
cruelty? Now, is the man who robs you every day too tender-hearted ever
to cuff or kick you? He can empty your pockets without remorse, but if
your stomach is empty, it cuts him to the quick. He can make you work a
life-time without pay, but loves you too well to let you go hungry.
He fleeces you of your rights with a relish, but is shocked if you work
bare-headed in summer, or without warm stockings in winter. He can make
you go without your liberty, but never without a shirt. He can crush in
you all hope of bettering your condition by vowing that you shall die his
slave, but though he can thus cruelly torture your feelings, he will
never lacerate your back–he can break your heart, but is very tender of
your skin. He can strip you of all protection of law, and all comfort in
religion, and thus expose you to all outrages, but if you are exposed to
the weather, half-clad and half-sheltered, how yearn his tender bowels!
What! talk of a man treating you well while robbing you of all you get,
and as fast as you get it? And robbing you of yourself, too, your hands
and feet, your muscles, limbs and senses, your body and mind, your
liberty and earnings, your free speech and rights of conscience, your
right to acquire knowledge, property and reputation, and yet you are
content to believe without question that men who do all this by their
slaves have soft hearts oozing out so lovingly toward their human
chattles that they always keep them well housed and well clad, never push
them too hard in the field, never make their dear backs smart, nor let
their dear stomachs get empty!”

In like manner we may ask, are not the cruelties and oppressions
described in the following pages what we should legitimately expect from
men who, all their lives, have used whip and thumb-screw, shot-gun and
bloodhound, to keep human beings subservient to their will? Are we to
expect nothing but chivalric tenderness and compassion from men who made
war on a tolerant government to make more secure their barbaric system of

These things are written because they are true. Duty to the brave dead,
to the heroic living, who have endured the pangs of a hundred deaths for
their country’s sake; duty to the government which depends on the wisdom
and constancy of its good citizens for its support and perpetuity, calls
for this “round, unvarnished tale” of suffering endured for freedom’s

The publisher of this work urged his friend and associate in journalism
to write and send forth these sketches because the times demanded just
such an expose of the inner hell of the Southern prisons. The tender
mercies of oppressors are cruel. We must accept the truth and act in
view of it. Acting wisely on the warnings of the past, we shall be able
to prevent treason, with all its fearful concomitants, from being again
the scourge and terror of our beloved land.



Fifteen months ago–and one month before it was begun–I had no more idea
of writing this book than I have now of taking up my residence in China.

While I have always been deeply impressed with the idea that the public
should know much more of the history of Andersonville and other Southern
prisons than it does, it had never occurred to me that I was in any way
charged with the duty of increasing that enlightenment.

No affected deprecation of my own abilities had any part is this.
I certainly knew enough of the matter, as did every other boy who had
even a month’s experience in those terrible places, but the very
magnitude of that knowledge overpowered me, by showing me the vast
requirements of the subject-requirements that seemed to make it
presumption for any but the greatest pens in our literature to attempt
the work. One day at Andersonville or Florence would be task enough for
the genius of Carlyle or Hugo; lesser than they would fail preposterously
to rise to the level of the theme. No writer ever described such a
deluge of woes as swept over the unfortunates confined in Rebel prisons
in the last year-and-a-half of the Confederacy’s life. No man was ever
called upon to describe the spectacle and the process of seventy thousand
young, strong, able-bodied men, starving and rotting to death. Such a
gigantic tragedy as this stuns the mind and benumbs the imagination.

I no more felt myself competent to the task than to accomplish one of
Michael Angelo’s grand creations in sculpture or painting.

Study of the subject since confirms me in this view, and my only claim
for this book is that it is a contribution–a record of individual
observation and experience–which will add something to the material
which the historian of the future will find available for his work.

The work was begun at the suggestion of Mr. D. R. Locke, (Petroleum V.
Nasby), the eminent political satirist. At first it was only intended to
write a few short serial sketches of prison life for the columns of the
TOLEDO BLADE. The exceeding favor with which the first of the series was
received induced a great widening of their scope, until finally they took
the range they now have.

I know that what is contained herein will be bitterly denied. I am
prepared for this. In my boyhood I witnessed the savagery of the Slavery
agitation–in my youth I felt the fierceness of the hatred directed
against all those who stood by the Nation. I know that hell hath no fury
like the vindictiveness of those who are hurt by the truth being told of
them. I apprehend being assailed by a sirocco of contradiction and
calumny. But I solemnly affirm in advance the entire and absolute truth
of every material fact, statement and description. I assert that, so far
from there being any exaggeration in any particular, that in no instance
has the half of the truth been told, nor could it be, save by an inspired
pen. I am ready to demonstrate this by any test that the deniers of this
may require, and I am fortified in my position by unsolicited letters
from over 3,000 surviving prisoners, warmly indorsing the account as
thoroughly accurate in every respect.

It has been charged that hatred of the South is the animus of this work.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. No one has a deeper love for
every part of our common country than I, and no one to-day will make more
efforts and sacrifices to bring the South to the same plane of social and
material development with the rest of the Nation than I will. If I could
see that the sufferings at Andersonville and elsewhere contributed in any
considerable degree to that end, and I should not regret that they had
been. Blood and tears mark every, step in the progress of the race, and
human misery seems unavoidable in securing human advancement. But I am
naturally embittered by the fruitlessness, as well as the uselessness of
the misery of Andersonville. There was never the least military or other
reason for inflicting all that wretchedness upon men, and, as far as
mortal eye can discern, no earthly good resulted from the martyrdom of
those tens of thousands. I wish I could see some hope that their
wantonly shed blood has sown seeds that will one day blossom, and bear a
rich fruitage of benefit to mankind, but it saddens me beyond expression
that I can not.

The years 1864-5 were a season of desperate battles, but in that time
many more Union soldiers were slain behind the Rebel armies, by
starvation and exposure, than were killed in front of them by cannon and
rifle. The country has heard much of the heroism and sacrifices of those
loyal youths who fell on the field of battle; but it has heard little of
the still greater number who died in prison pen. It knows full well how
grandly her sons met death in front of the serried ranks of treason, and
but little of the sublime firmness with which they endured unto the
death, all that the ingenious cruelty of their foes could inflict upon
them while in captivity.

It is to help supply this deficiency that this book is written. It is a
mite contributed to the better remembrance by their countrymen of those
who in this way endured and died that the Nation might live. It is an
offering of testimony to future generations of the measureless cost of
the expiation of a national sin, and of the preservation of our national

This is a11. I know I speak for all those still living comrades who went
with me through the scenes that I have attempted to describe, when I say
that we have no revenges to satisfy, no hatreds to appease. We do not
ask that anyone shall be punished. We only desire that the Nation shall
recognize and remember the grand fidelity of our dead comrades, and take
abundant care that they shall not have died in vain.

For the great mass of Southern people we have only the kindliest feeling.
We but hate a vicious social system, the lingering shadow of a darker
age, to which they yield, and which, by elevating bad men to power, has
proved their own and their country’s bane.

The following story does not claim to be in any sense a history of
Southern prisons. It is simply a record of the experience of one
individual–one boy–who staid all the time with his comrades inside the
prison, and had no better opportunities for gaining information than any
other of his 60,000 companions.

The majority of the illustrations in this work are from the skilled
pencil of Captain O. J. Hopkins, of Toledo, who served through the war in
the ranks of the Forty-second Ohio. His army experience has been of
peculiar value to the work, as it has enabled him to furnish a series of
illustrations whose life-like fidelity of action, pose and detail are

Some thirty of the pictures, including the frontispiece, and the
allegorical illustrations of War and Peace, are from the atelier of Mr.
O. Reich, Cincinnati, O.

A word as to the spelling: Having always been an ardent believer in the
reformation of our present preposterous system–or rather, no system–of
orthography, I am anxious to do whatever lies in my power to promote it.
In the following pages the spelling is simplified to the last degree
allowed by Webster. I hope that the time is near when even that advanced
spelling reformer will be left far in the rear by the progress of a
people thoroughly weary of longer slavery to the orthographical
absurdities handed down to us from a remote and grossly unlearned

Toledo, O., Dec. 10, 1879.


We wait beneath the furnace blast
The pangs of transformation;
Not painlessly doth God recast
And mold anew the nation.
Hot burns the fire
Where wrongs expire;
Nor spares the hand
That from the land
Uproots the ancient evil.

The hand-breadth cloud the sages feared
Its bloody rain is dropping;
The poison plant the fathers spared
All else is overtopping.
East, West, South, North,
It curses the earth;
All justice dies,
And fraud and lies
Live only in its shadow.

Then let the selfish lip be dumb
And hushed the breath of sighing;
Before the joy of peace must come
The pains of purifying.
God give us grace
Each in his place
To bear his lot,
And, murmuring not,
Endure and wait and labor!






A low, square, plainly-hewn stone, set near the summit of the eastern
approach to the formidable natural fortress of Cumberland Gap, indicates
the boundaries of–the three great States of Virginia, Kentucky and
Tennessee. It is such a place as, remembering the old Greek and Roman
myths and superstitions, one would recognize as fitting to mark the
confines of the territories of great masses of strong, aggressive, and
frequently conflicting peoples. There the god Terminus should have had
one of his chief temples, where his shrine would be shadowed by barriers
rising above the clouds, and his sacred solitude guarded from the rude
invasion of armed hosts by range on range of battlemented rocks, crowning
almost inaccessible mountains, interposed across every approach from the
usual haunts of men.

Roundabout the land is full of strangeness and mystery. The throes of
some great convulsion of Nature are written on the face of the four
thousand square miles of territory, of which Cumberland Gap is the
central point. Miles of granite mountains are thrust up like giant
walls, hundreds of feet high, and as smooth and regular as the side
of a monument.

Huge, fantastically-shaped rocks abound everywhere–sometimes rising into
pinnacles on lofty summits–sometimes hanging over the verge of beetling
cliffs, as if placed there in waiting for a time when they could be
hurled down upon the path of an advancing army, and sweep it away.

Large streams of water burst out in the most unexpected planes,
frequently far up mountain sides, and fall in silver veils upon stones
beaten round by the ceaseless dash for ages. Caves, rich in quaintly
formed stalactites and stalagmites, and their recesses filled with
metallic salts of the most powerful and diverse natures; break the
mountain sides at frequent intervals. Everywhere one is met by surprises
and anomalies. Even the rank vegetation is eccentric, and as prone to
develop into bizarre forms as are the rocks and mountains.

The dreaded panther ranges through the primeval, rarely trodden forests;
every crevice in the rocks has for tenants rattlesnakes or stealthy
copperheads, while long, wonderfully swift “blue racers” haunt the edges
of the woods, and linger around the fields to chill his blood who catches
a glimpse of their upreared heads, with their great, balefully bright
eyes, and “white-collar” encircled throats.

The human events happening here have been in harmony with the natural
ones. It has always been a land of conflict. In 1540–339 years ago–
De Soto, in that energetic but fruitless search for gold which occupied
his later years, penetrated to this region, and found it the fastness of
the Xualans, a bold, aggressive race, continually warring with its
neighbors. When next the white man reached the country–a century and a
half later–he found the Xualans had been swept away by the conquering
Cherokees, and he witnessed there the most sanguinary contest between
Indians of which our annals give any account–a pitched battle two days
in duration, between the invading Shawnees, who lorded it over what is
now Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana–and the Cherokees, who dominated the
country the southeast of the Cumberland range. Again the Cherokees were
victorious, and the discomfited Shawnees retired north of the Gap.

Then the white man delivered battle for the possession the land, and
bought it with the lives of many gallant adventurers. Half a century
later Boone and his hardy companion followed, and forced their way into

Another half century saw the Gap the favorite haunt of the greatest of
American bandits–the noted John A. Murrell–and his gang. They
infested the country for years, now waylaying the trader or drover
threading his toilsome way over the lone mountains, now descending upon
some little town, to plunder its stores and houses.

At length Murrell and his band were driven out, and sought a new field of
operations on the Lower Mississippi. They left germs behind them,
however, that developed into horse thieve counterfeiters, and later into
guerrillas and bushwhackers.

When the Rebellion broke out the region at once became the theater of
military operations. Twice Cumberland Gap was seized by the Rebels, and
twice was it wrested away from them. In 1861 it was the point whence
Zollicoffer launched out with his legions to “liberate Kentucky,” and it
was whither they fled, beaten and shattered, after the disasters of Wild
Cat and Mill Springs. In 1862 Kirby Smith led his army through the Gap
on his way to overrun Kentucky and invade the North. Three months later
his beaten forces sought refuge from their pursuers behind its
impregnable fortifications. Another year saw Burnside burst through the
Gap with a conquering force and redeem loyal East Tennessee from its
Rebel oppressors.

Had the South ever been able to separate from the North the boundary
would have been established along this line.

Between the main ridge upon which Cumberland Gap is situated, and the
next range on the southeast which runs parallel with it, is a narrow,
long, very fruitful valley, walled in on either side for a hundred miles
by tall mountains as a City street is by high buildings. It is called
Powell’s Valley. In it dwell a simple, primitive people, shut out from
the world almost as much as if they lived in New Zealand, and with the
speech, manners and ideas that their fathers brought into the Valley when
they settled it a century ago. There has been but little change since
then. The young men who have annually driven cattle to the distant
markets in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, have brought back occasional
stray bits of finery for the “women folks,” and the latest improved fire-
arms for themselves, but this is about all the innovations the progress
of the world has been allowed to make. Wheeled vehicles are almost
unknown; men and women travel on horseback as they did a century ago,
the clothing is the product of the farm and the busy looms of the women,
and life is as rural and Arcadian as any ever described in a pastoral.
The people are rich in cattle, hogs, horses, sheep and the products of
the field. The fat soil brings forth the substantials of life in opulent
plenty. Having this there seems to be little care for more. Ambition
nor avarice, nor yet craving after luxury, disturb their contented souls
or drag them away from the non-progressive round of simple life
bequeathed them by their fathers.



As the Autumn of 1863 advanced towards Winter the difficulty of supplying
the forces concentrated around Cumberland Gap–as well as the rest of
Burnside’s army in East Tennessee–became greater and greater. The base
of supplies was at Camp Nelson, near Lexington, Ky., one hundred and
eighty miles from the Gap, and all that the Army used had to be hauled
that distance by mule teams over roads that, in their best state were
wretched, and which the copious rains and heavy traffic had rendered
well-nigh impassable. All the country to our possession had been drained
of its stock of whatever would contribute to the support of man or beast.
That portion of Powell’s Valley extending from the Gap into Virginia was
still in the hands of the Rebels; its stock of products was as yet almost
exempt from military contributions. Consequently a raid was projected to
reduce the Valley to our possession, and secure its much needed stores.
It was guarded by the Sixty-fourth Virginia, a mounted regiment, made up
of the young men of the locality, who had then been in the service about
two years.

Maj. C. H. Beer’s third Battalion, Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry–four
companies, each about 75 strong–was sent on the errand of driving out
the Rebels and opening up the Valley for our foraging teams. The writer
was invited to attend the excursion. As he held the honorable, but not
very lucrative position of “high, private” in Company L, of the
Battalion, and the invitation came from his Captain, he did not feel at
liberty to decline. He went, as private soldiers have been in the habit
of doing ever since the days of the old Centurion, who said with the
characteristic boastfulness of one of the lower grades of commissioned
officers when he happens to be a snob:

For I am also a man set under authority, having under me soldiers,
and I say unto one, Go; and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he
cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Rather “airy” talk that for a man who nowadays would take rank with
Captains of infantry.

Three hundred of us responded to the signal of “boots and saddles,”
buckled on three hundred more or less trusty sabers and revolvers,
saddled three hundred more or less gallant steeds, came into line “as
companies” with the automatic listlessness of the old soldiers, “counted
off by fours” in that queer gamut-running style that makes a company of
men “counting off”–each shouting a number in a different voice from his
neighbor–sound like running the scales on some great organ badly out of
tune; something like this:

One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three.

Then, as the bugle sounded “Right forward! fours right!” we moved off at
a walk through the melancholy mist that soaked through the very fiber of
man and horse, and reduced the minds of both to a condition of limp
indifference as to things past, present and future.

Whither we were going we knew not, nor cared. Such matters had long
since ceased to excite any interest. A cavalryman soon recognizes as the
least astonishing thing in his existence the signal to “Fall in!” and
start somewhere. He feels that he is the “Poor Joe” of the Army–under
perpetual orders to “move on.”

Down we wound over the road that zig-tagged through the forts, batteries
and rifle-pits covering the eastern ascent to the Flap-past the wonderful
Murrell Spring–so-called because the robber chief had killed, as he
stooped to drink of its crystal waters, a rich drover, whom he was
pretending to pilot through the mountains–down to where the “Virginia
road” turned off sharply to the left and entered Powell’s Valley. The
mist had become a chill, dreary rain, through, which we plodded silently,
until night closed in around us some ten miles from the Gap. As we
halted to go into camp, an indignant Virginian resented the invasion of
the sacred soil by firing at one of the guards moving out to his place.
The guard looked at the fellow contemptuously, as if he hated to waste
powder on a man who had no better sense than to stay out in such a rain,
when he could go in-doors, and the bushwhacker escaped, without even a
return shot.

Fires were built, coffee made, horses rubbed, and we laid down with feet
to the fire to get what sleep we could.

Before morning we were awakened by the bitter cold. It had cleared off
during the night and turned so cold that everything was frozen stiff.
This was better than the rain, at all events. A good fire and a hot cup
of coffee would make the cold quite endurable.

At daylight the bugle sounded “Right forward! fours right!” again, and
the 300 of us resumed our onward plod over the rocky, cedar-crowned

In the meantime, other things were taking place elsewhere. Our esteemed
friends of the Sixty-fourth Virginia, who were in camp at the little town
of Jonesville, about 40 miles from the Gap, had learned of our starting
up the Valley to drive them out, and they showed that warm reciprocity
characteristic of the Southern soldier, by mounting and starting down the
Valley to drive us out. Nothing could be more harmonious, it will be
perceived. Barring the trifling divergence of yews as to who was to
drive and who be driven, there was perfect accord in our ideas.

Our numbers were about equal. If I were to say that they considerably
outnumbered us, I would be following the universal precedent.
No soldier-high or low-ever admitted engaging an equal or inferior force
of the enemy.

About 9 o’clock in the morning–Sunday–they rode through the streets of
Jonesville on their way to give us battle. It was here that most of the
members of the Regiment lived. Every man, woman and child in the town
was related in some way to nearly every one of the soldiers.

The women turned out to wave their fathers, husbands, brothers and lovers
on to victory. The old men gathered to give parting counsel and
encouragement to their sons and kindred. The Sixty-fourth rode away to
what hope told them would be a glorious victory.

At noon we are still straggling along without much attempt at soldierly
order, over the rough, frozen hill-sides. It is yet bitterly cold, and
men and horses draw themselves together, as if to expose as little
surface as possible to the unkind elements. Not a word had been spoken
by any one for hours.

The head of the column has just reached the top of the hill, and the rest
of us are strung along for a quarter of a mile or so back.

Suddenly a few shots ring out upon the frosty air from the carbines of
the advance. The general apathy is instantly, replaced by keen
attention, and the boys instinctively range themselves into fours–the
cavalry unit of action. The Major, who is riding about the middle of the
first Company–I–dashes to the front. A glance seems to satisfy him,
for he turns in his saddle and his voice rings out:


The Company swings around on the hill-top like a great, jointed toy
snake. As the fours come into line on a trot, we see every man draw his
saber and revolver. The Company raises a mighty cheer and dashes

Company K presses forward to the ground Company I has just left, the
fours sweep around into line, the sabers and revolvers come out
spontaneously, the men cheer and the Company flings itself forward.

All this time we of Company L can see nothing except what the companies
ahead of us are doing. We are wrought up to the highest pitch. As
Company K clears its ground, we press forward eagerly. Now we go into
line just as we raise the hill, and as my four comes around, I catch a
hurried glimpse through a rift in the smoke of a line of butternut and
gray clad men a hundred yards or so away. Their guns are at their faces,
and I see the smoke and fire spurt from the muzzles. At the same instant
our sabers and revolvers are drawn. We shout in a frenzy of excitement,
and the horses spring forward as if shot from a bow.

I see nothing more until I reach the place where the Rebel line stood.
Then I find it is gone. Looking beyond toward the bottom of the hill, I
see the woods filled with Rebels, flying in disorder and our men yelling
in pursuit. This is the portion of the line which Companies I and K
struck. Here and there are men in butternut clothing, prone on the
frozen ground, wounded and dying. I have just time to notice closely one
middle-aged man lying almost under my horse’s feet. He has received a
carbine bullet through his head and his blood colors a great space around

One brave man, riding a roan horse, attempts to rally his companions.
He halts on a little knoll, wheels his horse to face us, and waves his
hat to draw his companions to him. A tall, lank fellow in the next four
to me–who goes by the nickname of “‘Leven Yards”–aims his carbine at
him, and, without checking his horse’s pace, fires. The heavy Sharpe’s
bullet tears a gaping hole through the Rebel’s heart. He drops from his
saddle, his life-blood runs down in little rills on either side of the
knoll, and his riderless horse dashes away in a panic.

At this instant comes an order for the Company to break up into fours and
press on through the forest in pursuit. My four trots off to the road at
the right. A Rebel bugler, who hag been cut off, leaps his horse into
the road in front of us. We all fire at him on the impulse of the
moment. He falls from his horse with a bullet through his back. Company
M, which has remained in column as a reserve, is now thundering up close
behind at a gallop. Its seventy-five powerful horses are spurning the
solid earth with steel-clad hoofs. The man will be ground into a
shapeless mass if left where he has fallen. We spring from our horses
and drag him into a fence corner; then remount and join in the pursuit.

This happened on the summit of Chestnut Ridge, fifteen miles from

Late in the afternoon the anxious watchers at Jonesville saw a single
fugitive urging his well-nigh spent horse down the slope of the hill
toward town. In an agony of anxiety they hurried forward to meet him and
learn his news.

The first messenger who rushed into Job’s presence to announce the
beginning of the series of misfortunes which were to afflict the upright
man of Uz is a type of all the cowards who, before or since then, have
been the first to speed away from the field of battle to spread the news
of disaster. He said:

“And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have
slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped
alone to tell thee.”

So this fleeing Virginian shouted to his expectant friends:

“The boys are all cut to pieces; I’m the only one that got away.”

The terrible extent of his words was belied a little later, by the
appearance on the distant summit of the hill of a considerable mob of
fugitives, flying at the utmost speed of their nearly exhausted horses.
As they came on down the hill as almost equally disorganized crowd of
pursuers appeared on the summit, yelling in voices hoarse with continued
shouting, and pouring an incessant fire of carbine and revolver bullets
upon the hapless men of the Sixty-fourth Virginia.

The two masses of men swept on through the town. Beyond it, the road
branched in several directions, the pursued scattered on each of these,
and the worn-out pursuers gave up the chase.

Returning to Jonesville, we took an account of stock, and found that we
were “ahead” one hundred and fifteen prisoners, nearly that many horses,
and a considerable quantity of small arms. How many of the enemy had
been killed and wounded could not be told, as they were scattered over
the whole fifteen miles between where the fight occurred and the pursuit
ended. Our loss was trifling.

Comparing notes around the camp-fires in the evening, we found that our
success had been owing to the Major’s instinct, his grasp of the
situation, and the soldierly way in which he took advantage of it. When
he reached the summit of the hill he found the Rebel line nearly formed
and ready for action. A moment’s hesitation might have been fatal to us.
At his command Company I went into line with the thought-like celerity of
trained cavalry, and instantly dashed through the right of the Rebel
line. Company K followed and plunged through the Rebel center, and when
we of Company L arrived on the ground, and charged the left, the last
vestige of resistance was swept away. The whole affair did not probably
occupy more than fifteen minutes.

This was the way Powell’s Valley was opened to our foragers.



For weeks we rode up and down–hither and thither–along the length of
the narrow, granite-walled Valley; between mountains so lofty that the
sun labored slowly over them in the morning, occupying half the forenoon
in getting to where his rays would reach the stream that ran through the
Valley’s center. Perpetual shadow reigned on the northern and western
faces of these towering Nights–not enough warmth and sunshine reaching
them in the cold months to check the growth of the ever-lengthening
icicles hanging from the jutting cliffs, or melt the arabesque frost-
forms with which the many dashing cascades decorated the adjacent rocks
and shrubbery. Occasionally we would see where some little stream ran
down over the face of the bare, black rocks for many hundred feet, and
then its course would be a long band of sheeny white, like a great rich,
spotless scarf of satin, festooning the war-grimed walls of some old

Our duty now was to break up any nuclei of concentration that the Rebels
might attempt to form, and to guard our foragers–that is, the teamsters
and employee of the Quartermaster’s Department–who were loading grain
into wagons and hauling it away.

This last was an arduous task. There is no man in the world that needs
as much protection as an Army teamster. He is worse in this respect than
a New England manufacturer, or an old maid on her travels. He is given
to sudden fears and causeless panics. Very innocent cedars have a
fashion of assuming in his eyes the appearance of desperate Rebels armed
with murderous guns, and there is no telling what moment a rock may take
such a form as to freeze his young blood, and make each particular hair
stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine. One has to be
particular about snapping caps in his neighborhood, and give to him
careful warning before discharging a carbine to clean it. His first
impulse, when anything occurs to jar upon his delicate nerves, is to cut
his wheel-mule loose and retire with the precipitation of a man having an
appointment to keep and being behind time. There is no man who can get
as much speed out of a mule as a teamster falling back from the
neighborhood of heavy firing.

This nervous tremor was not peculiar to the engineers of our
transportation department. It was noticeable in the gentry who carted
the scanty provisions of the Rebels. One of Wheeler’s cavalrymen told me
that the brigade to which he belonged was one evening ordered to move at
daybreak. The night was rainy, and it was thought best to discharge the
guns and reload before starting. Unfortunately, it was neglected to
inform the teamsters of this, and at the first discharge they varnished
from the scene with such energy that it was over a week before the
brigade succeeded in getting them back again.

Why association with the mule should thus demoralize a man, has always
been a puzzle to me, for while the mule, as Col. Ingersoll has remarked,
is an animal without pride of ancestry or hope of posterity, he is still
not a coward by any means. It is beyond dispute that a full-grown and
active lioness once attacked a mule in the grounds of the Cincinnati
Zoological Garden, and was ignominiously beaten, receiving injuries from
which she died shortly afterward.

The apparition of a badly-scared teamster urging one of his wheel mules
at break-neck speed over the rough ground, yelling for protection against
“them Johnnies,” who had appeared on some hilltop in sight of where he
was gathering corn, was an almost hourly occurrence. Of course the squad
dispatched to his assistance found nobody.

Still, there were plenty of Rebels in the country, and they hung around
our front, exchanging shots with us at long taw, and occasionally
treating us to a volley at close range, from some favorable point.
But we had the decided advantage of them at this game. Our Sharpe’s
carbines were much superior in every way to their Enfields. They would
shoot much farther, and a great deal more rapidly, so that the Virginians
were not long in discovering that they were losing more than they gained
in this useless warfare.

Once they played a sharp practical joke upon us. Copper River is a deep,
exceedingly rapid mountain stream, with a very slippery rocky bottom.
The Rebels blockaded a ford in such a way that it was almost impossible
for a horse to keep his feet. Then they tolled us off in pursuit of a
small party to this ford. When we came to it there was a light line of
skirmishers on the opposite bank, who popped away at us industriously.
Our boys formed in line, gave the customary, cheer, and dashed in to
carry the ford at a charge. As they did so at least one-half of the
horses went down as if they were shot, and rolled over their riders in
the swift running, ice-cold waters. The Rebels yelled a triumphant
laugh, as they galloped away, and the laugh was re-echoed by our fellows,
who were as quick to see the joke as the other side. We tried to get
even with them by a sharp chase, but we gave it up after a few miles,
without having taken any prisoners.

But, after all, there was much to make our sojourn in the Valley
endurable. Though we did not wear fine linen, we fared sumptuously–for
soldiers–every day. The cavalryman is always charged by the infantry
and artillery with having a finer and surer scent for the good things in
the country than any other man in the service. He is believed to have an
instinct that will unfailingly lead him, in the dankest night, to the
roosting place of the most desirable poultry, and after he has camped in
a neighborhood for awhile it would require a close chemical analysis to
find a trace of ham.

We did our best to sustain the reputation of our arm of the service.
We found the most delicious hams packed away in the ash-houses.
They were small, and had that; exquisite nutty flavor, peculiar to mast-
fed bacon. Then there was an abundance of the delightful little apple
known as “romanites.” There were turnips, pumpkins, cabbages, potatoes,
and the usual products of the field in plenty, even profusion. The corn
in the fields furnished an ample supply of breadstuff. We carried it to
and ground it in the quaintest, rudest little mills that can be imagined
outside of the primitive affairs by which the women of Arabia coarsely
powder the grain for the family meal. Sometimes the mill would consist
only of four stout posts thrust into the ground at the edge of some
stream. A line of boulders reaching diagonally across the stream
answered for a dam, by diverting a portion of the volume of water to a
channel at the side, where it moved a clumsily constructed wheel, that
turned two small stones, not larger than good-sized grindstones. Over
this would be a shed made by resting poles in forked posts stuck into the
ground, and covering these with clapboards held in place by large flat
stones. They resembled the mills of the gods–in grinding slowly.
It used to seem that a healthy man could eat the meal faster than they
ground it.

But what savory meals we used to concoct around the campfires, out of the
rich materials collected during the day’s ride! Such stews, such soups,
such broils, such wonderful commixtures of things diverse in nature and
antagonistic in properties such daring culinary experiments in combining
materials never before attempted to be combined. The French say of
untasteful arrangement of hues in dress “that the colors swear at each
other.” I have often thought the same thing of the heterogeneities that
go to make up a soldier’s pot-a feu.

But for all that they never failed to taste deliciously after a long
day’s ride. They were washed down by a tincupful of coffee strong enough
to tan leather, then came a brier-wood pipeful of fragrant kinnikinnic,
and a seat by the ruddy, sparkling fire of aromatic cedar logs, that
diffused at once warmth, and spicy, pleasing incense. A chat over the
events of the day, and the prospect of the morrow, the wonderful merits
of each man’s horse, and the disgusting irregularities of the mails from
home, lasted until the silver-voiced bugle rang out the sweet, mournful
tattoo of the Regulations, to the flowing cadences of which the boys had
arranged the absurdly incongruous words:

“S-a-y–D-e-u-t-c-h-e-r-will-you fight-mit Sigel!
Zwei-glass of lager-bier, ja! ja! JA!”

Words were fitted to all the calls, which generally bore some
relativeness to the sigmal, but these were as, destitute of congruity as
of sense.

Tattoo always produces an impression of extreme loneliness. As its
weird, half-availing notes ring out and are answered back from the
distant rocks shrouded in night, and perhaps concealing the lurking foe,
the soldier remembers that he is far away from home and friends–deep in
the enemy’s country, encompassed on every hand by those in deadly
hostility to him, who are perhaps even then maturing the preparations for
his destruction.

As the tattoo sounds, the boys arise from around the fire, visit the
horse line, see that their horses are securely tied, rub off from the
fetlocks and legs such specks of mud as may have escaped the cleaning in
the early evening, and if possible, smuggle their faithful four-footed
friends a few ears of corn, or another bunch of hay.

If not too tired, and everything else is favorable, the cavalryman has
prepared himself a comfortable couch for the night. He always sleeps
with a chum. The two have gathered enough small tufts of pine or cedar
to make a comfortable, springy, mattress-like foundation. On this is
laid the poncho or rubber blanket. Next comes one of their overcoats,
and upon this they lie, covering themselves with the two blankets and the
other overcoat, their feet towards the fire, their boots at the foot, and
their belts, with revolver, saber and carbine, at the sides of the bed.
It is surprising what an amount of comfort a man can get out of such a
couch, and how, at an alarm, he springs from it, almost instantly dressed
and armed.

Half an hour after tattoo the bugle rings out another sadly sweet strain,
that hath a dying sound.



The night had been the most intensely cold that the country had known for
many years. Peach and other tender trees had been killed by the frosty
rigor, and sentinels had been frozen to death in our neighborhood. The
deep snow on which we made our beds, the icy covering of the streams near
us, the limbs of the trees above us, had been cracking with loud noises
all night, from the bitter cold.

We were camped around Jonesville, each of the four companies lying on one
of the roads leading from the town. Company L lay about a mile from the
Court House. On a knoll at the end of the village toward us, and at a
point where two roads separated,–one of which led to us,–stood a three-
inch Rodman rifle, belonging to the Twenty-second Ohio Battery. It and
its squad of eighteen men, under command of Lieutenant Alger and Sergeant
Davis, had been sent up to us a few days before from the Gap.

The comfortless gray dawn was crawling sluggishly over the mountain-tops,
as if numb as the animal and vegetable life which had been shrinking all
the long hours under the fierce chill.

The Major’s bugler had saluted the morn with the lively, ringing tarr-r-
r-a-ta-ara of the Regulation reveille, and the company buglers, as fast
as they could thaw out their mouth-pieces, were answering him.

I lay on my bed, dreading to get up, and yet not anxious to lie still.
It was a question which would be the more uncomfortable. I turned over,
to see if there was not another position in which it would be warmer,
and began wishing for the thousandth time that the efforts for the
amelioration of the horrors of warfare would progress to such a point as
to put a stop to all Winter soldiering, so that a fellow could go home as
soon as cold weather began, sit around a comfortable stove in a country
store; and tell camp stories until the Spring was far enough advanced to
let him go back to the front wearing a straw hat and a linen duster.

Then I began wondering how much longer I would dare lie there, before the
Orderly Sergeant would draw me out by the heels, and accompany the
operation with numerous unkind and sulphurous remarks.

This cogitation, was abruptly terminated by hearing an excited shout from
the Captain:

“Turn Out!–COMPANY L!! TURNOUT ! ! !”

Almost at the same instant rose that shrill, piercing Rebel yell, which
one who has once heard it rarely forgets, and this was followed by a
crashing volley from apparently a regiment of rifles.

I arose-promptly.

There was evidently something of more interest on hand than the weather.

Cap, overcoat, boots and revolver belt went on, and eyes opened at about
the same instant.

As I snatched up my carbine, I looked out in front, and the whole woods
appeared to be full of Rebels, rushing toward us, all yelling and some
firing. My Captain and First Lieutenant had taken up position on the
right front of the tents, and part of the boys were running up to form a
line alongside them. The Second Lieutenant had stationed himself on a
knoll on the left front, and about a third of the company was rallying
around him.

My chum was a silent, sententious sort of a chap, and as we ran forward
to the Captain’s line, he remarked earnestly:

“Well: this beats hell!”

I thought he had a clear idea of the situation.

All this occupied an inappreciably short space of time. The Rebels had
not stopped to reload, but were rushing impetuously toward us. We gave
them a hot, rolling volley from our carbines. Many fell, more stopped to
load and reply, but the mass surged straight forward at us. Then our
fire grew so deadly that they showed a disposition to cover themselves
behind the rocks and trees. Again they were urged forward; and a body of
them headed by their Colonel, mounted on a white horse, pushed forward
through the gap between us and the Second Lieutenant. The Rebel Colonel
dashed up to the Second Lieutenant, and ordered him to surrender. The
latter-a gallant old graybeard–cursed the Rebel bitterly and snapped his
now empty revolver in his face. The Colonel fired and killed him,
whereupon his squad, with two of its Sergeants killed and half its
numbers on the ground, surrendered.

The Rebels in our front and flank pressed us with equal closeness.
It seemed as if it was absolutely impossible to check their rush for an
instant, and as we saw the fate of our companions the Captain gave the
word for every man to look out for himself. We ran back a little
distance, sprang over the fence into the fields, and rushed toward Town,
the Rebels encouraging us to make good time by a sharp fire into our
backs from the fence.

While we were vainly attempting to stem the onset of the column dashed
against us, better success was secured elsewhere. Another column swept
down the other road, upon which there was only an outlying picket. This
had to come back on the run before the overwhelming numbers, and the
Rebels galloped straight for the three-inch Rodman. Company M was the
first to get saddled and mounted, and now came up at a steady, swinging
gallop, in two platoons, saber and revolver in hand, and led by two
Sergeants-Key and McWright,–printer boys from Bloomington, Illinois.
They divined the object of the Rebel dash, and strained every nerve to
reach the gun first. The Rebels were too near, and got the gun and
turned it. Before they could fire it, Company M struck them headlong,
but they took the terrible impact without flinching, and for a few
minutes there was fierce hand-to-hand work, with sword and pistol.
The Rebel leader sank under a half-dozen simultaneous wounds, and fell
dead almost under the gun. Men dropped from their horses each instant,
and the riderless steeds fled away. The scale of victory was turned by
the Major dashing against the Rebel left flank at the head of Company I,
and a portion of the artillery squad. The Rebels gave ground slowly,
and were packed into a dense mass in the lane up which they had charged.
After they had been crowded back, say fifty yards, word was passed
through our men to open to the right and left on the sides of the road.
The artillerymen had turned the gun and loaded it with a solid shot.
Instantly a wide lane opened through our ranks; the man with the lanyard
drew the fatal cord, fire burst from the primer and the muzzle, the long
gun sprang up and recoiled, and there seemed to be a demoniac yell in its
ear-splitting crash, as the heavy ball left the mouth, and tore its
bloody way through the bodies of the struggling mass of men and horses.

This ended it. The Rebels gave way in disorder, and our men fell back to
give the gun an opportunity to throw shell and canister.

The Rebels now saw that we were not to be run over like a field of
cornstalks, and they fell back to devise further tactics, giving us a
breathing spell to get ourselves in shape for defense.

The dullest could see that we were in a desperate situation. Critical
positions were no new experience to us, as they never are to a cavalry
command after a few months in the field, but, though the pitcher goes
often to the well, it is broken at last, and our time was evidently at
hand. The narrow throat of the Valley, through which lay the road back
to the Gap, was held by a force of Rebels evidently much superior to our
own, and strongly posted. The road was a slender, tortuous one, winding
through rocks and gorges. Nowhere was there room enough to move with
even a platoon front against the enemy, and this precluded all chances of
cutting out. The best we could do was a slow, difficult movement, in
column of fours, and this would have been suicide. On the other side of
the Town the Rebels were massed stronger, while to the right and left
rose the steep mountain sides. We were caught-trapped as surely as a rat
ever was in a wire trap.

As we learned afterwards, a whole division of cavalry, under command of
the noted Rebel, Major General Sam Jones, had been sent to effect our
capture, to offset in a measure Longstreet’s repulse at Knoxville.
A gross overestimate of our numbers had caused the sending of so large
a force on this errand, and the rough treatment we gave the two columns
that attacked us first confirmed the Rebel General’s ideas of our
strength, and led him to adopt cautious tactics, instead of crushing us
out speedily, by a determined advance of all parts of his encircling

The lull in the fight did not last long. A portion of the Rebel line on
the east rushed forward to gain a more commanding position.

We concentrated in that direction and drove it back, the Rodman assisting
with a couple of well-aimed shells.–This was followed by a similar but
more successful attempt by another part of the Rebel line, and so it went
on all day–the Rebels rushing up first on this side, and then on that,
and we, hastily collecting at the exposed points, seeking to drive them
back. We were frequently successful; we were on the inside, and had the
advantage of the short interior lines, so that our few men and our
breech-loaders told to a good purpose.

There were frequent crises in the struggle, that at some times gave
encouragement, but never hope. Once a determined onset was made from the
East, and was met by the equally determined resistance of nearly our
whole force. Our fire was so galling that a large number of our foes
crowded into a house on a knoll, and making loopholes in its walls, began
replying to us pretty sharply. We sent word to our faithful
artillerists, who trained the gun upon the house. The first shell
screamed over the roof, and burst harmlessly beyond. We suspended fire
to watch the next. It crashed through the side; for an instant all was
deathly still; we thought it had gone on through. Then came a roar and a
crash; the clapboards flew off the roof, and smoke poured out; panic-
stricken Rebels rushed from the doors and sprang from the windows-like
bees from a disturbed hive; the shell had burst among the confined mass
of men inside! We afterwards heard that twenty-five were killed there.

At another time a considerable force of rebels gained the cover of a
fence in easy range of our main force. Companies L and K were ordered to
charge forward on foot and dislodge them. Away we went, under a fire
that seemed to drop a man at every step. A hundred yards in front of the
Rebels was a little cover, and behind this our men lay down as if by one
impulse. Then came a close, desperate duel at short range. It was a
question between Northern pluck and Southern courage, as to which could
stand the most punishment. Lying as flat as possible on the crusted
snow, only raising the head or body enough to load and aim, the men on
both sides, with their teeth set, their glaring eyes fastened on the foe,
their nerves as tense as tightly-drawn steel wires, rained shot on each
other as fast as excited hands could crowd cartridges into the guns and
discharge them.

Not a word was said.

The shallower enthusiasm that expresses itself in oaths and shouts had
given way to the deep, voiceless rage of men in a death grapple. The
Rebel line was a rolling torrent of flame, their bullets shrieked angrily
as they flew past, they struck the snow in front of us, and threw its
cold flakes in faces that were white with the fires of consuming hate;
they buried themselves with a dull thud in the quivering bodies of the
enraged combatants.

Minutes passed; they seemed hours.

Would the villains, scoundrels, hell-hounds, sons of vipers never go?

At length a few Rebels sprang up and tried to fly. They were shot down

Then the whole line rose and ran!

The relief was so great that we jumped to our feet and cheered wildly,
forgetting in our excitement to make use of our victory by shooting down
our flying enemies.

Nor was an element of fun lacking. A Second Lieutenant was ordered to
take a party of skirmishers to the top of a hill and engage those of the
Rebels stationed on another hill-top across a ravine. He had but lately
joined us from the Regular Army, where he was a Drill Sergeant.
Naturally, he was very methodical in his way, and scorned to do otherwise
under fire than he would upon the parade ground. He moved his little
command to the hill-top, in close order, and faced them to the front.
The Johnnies received them with a yell and a volley, whereat the boys
winced a little, much to the Lieutenant’s disgust, who swore at them;
then had them count off with great deliberation, and deployed them as
coolly as if them was not an enemy within a hundred miles. After the
line deployed, he “dressed” it, commanded “Front!” and “Begin, firing!”
his attention was called another way for an instant, and when he looked
back again, there was not a man of his nicely formed skirmish line
visible. The logs and stones had evidently been put there for the use of
skirmishers, the boys thought, and in an instant they availed themselves
of their shelter.

Never was there an angrier man than that Second Lieutenant; he brandished
his saber and swore; he seemed to feel that all his soldierly reputation
was gone, but the boys stuck to their shelter for all that, informing him
that when the Rebels would stand out in the open field and take their
fire, they would d likewise.

Despite all our efforts, the Rebel line crawled up closer an closer to
us; we were driven back from knoll to knoll, and from one fence after
another. We had maintained the unequal struggle for eight hours; over
one-fourth of our number were stretched upon the snow, killed or badly
wounded. Our cartridges were nearly all gone; the cannon had fired its
last shot long ago, and having a blank cartridge left, had shot the
rammer at a gathering party of the enemy.

Just as the Winter sun was going down upon a day of gloom the bugle
called us all up on the hillside. Then the Rebels saw for the first time
how few there were, and began an almost simultaneous charge all along the
line. The Major raised piece of a shelter tent upon a pole. The line
halted. An officer rode out from it, followed by two privates.

Approaching the Major, he said, “Who is in command this force?”

The Major replied: “I am.”

“Then, Sir, I demand your sword.”

“What is your rank, Sir!”

“I am Adjutant of the Sixty-fourth Virginia.”

The punctillious soul of the old “Regular”–for such the Major was
swelled up instantly, and he answered:

“By —, sir, I will never surrender to my inferior in rank!”

The Adjutant reined his horse back. His two followers leveled their
pieces at the Major and waited orders to fire. They were covered by a
dozen carbines in the hands of our men. The Adjutant ordered his men to
“recover arms,” and rode away with them. He presently returned with a
Colonel, and to him the Major handed his saber.

As the men realized what was being done, the first thought of many of
them was to snatch out the cylinder’s of their revolvers, and the slides
of their carbines, and throw them away, so as to make the arms useless.

We were overcome with rage and humiliation at being compelled to yield to
an enemy whom we had hated so bitterly. As we stood there on the bleak
mountain-side, the biting wind soughing through the leafless branches,
the shadows of a gloomy winter night closing around us, the groans and
shrieks of our wounded mingling with the triumphant yells of the Rebels
plundering our tents, it seemed as if Fate could press to man’s lips no
cup with bitterer dregs in it than this.



“Of being taken by the Insolent foe.”–Othello.

The night that followed was inexpressibly dreary: The high-wrought
nervous tension, which had been protracted through the long hours that
the fight lasted, was succeeded by a proportionate mental depression,
such as naturally follows any strain upon the mind. This was intensified
in our cases by the sharp sting of defeat, the humiliation of having to
yield ourselves, our horses and our arms into the possession of the
enemy, the uncertainty as to the future, and the sorrow we felt at the
loss of so many of our comrades.

Company L had suffered very severely, but our chief regret was for the
gallant Osgood, our Second Lieutenant. He, above all others, was our
trusted leader. The Captain and First Lieutenant were brave men, and
good enough soldiers, but Osgood was the one “whose adoption tried, we
grappled to our souls with hooks of steel.” There was never any
difficulty in getting all the volunteers he wanted for a scouting party.
A quiet, pleasant spoken gentleman, past middle age, he looked much
better fitted for the office of Justice of the Peace, to which his
fellow-citizens of Urbana, Illinois, had elected and reelected him, than
to command a troop of rough riders in a great civil war. But none more
gallant than he ever vaulted into saddle to do battle for the right.
He went into the Army solely as a matter of principle, and did his duty
with the unflagging zeal of an olden Puritan fighting for liberty and his
soul’s salvation. He was a superb horseman–as all the older Illinoisans
are and, for all his two-score years and ten, he recognized few superiors
for strength and activity in the Battalion. A radical, uncompromising
Abolitionist, he had frequently asserted that he would rather die than
yield to a Rebel, and he kept his word in this as in everything else.

As for him, it was probably the way he desired to die. No one believed
more ardently than he that

Whether on the scaffold high,
Or in the battle’s van;
The fittest place for man to die,
Is where he dies for man.

Among the many who had lost chums and friends was Ned Johnson, of Company
K. Ned was a young Englishman, with much of the suggestiveness of the
bull-dog common to the lower class of that nation. His fist was readier
than his tongue. His chum, Walter Savage was of the same surly type.
The two had come from England twelve years before, and had been together
ever since. Savage was killed in the struggle for the fence described in
the preceding chapter. Ned could not realize for a while that his friend
was dead. It was only when the body rapidly stiffened on its icy bed,
and the eyes which had been gleaming deadly hate when he was stricken
down were glazed over with the dull film of death, that he believed he
was gone from him forever. Then his rage was terrible. For the rest of
the day he was at the head of every assault upon the enemy. His voice
could ever be heard above the firing, cursing the Rebels bitterly, and
urging the boys to “Stand up to ’em! Stand right up to ’em! Don’t give
a inch! Let them have the best you got in the shop! Shoot low, and
don’t waste a cartridge!”

When we surrendered, Ned seemed to yield sullenly to the inevitable.
He threw his belt and apparently his revolver with it upon the snow.
A guard was formed around us, and we gathered about the fires that were
started. Ned sat apart, his arms folded, his head upon his breast,
brooding bitterly upon Walter’s death. A horseman, evidently a Colonel
or General, clattered up to give some directions concerning us. At the
sound of his voice Ned raised his head and gave him a swift glance; the
gold stars upon the Rebel’s collar led him to believe that he was the
commander of the enemy. Ned sprang to his feet, made a long stride
forward, snatched from the breast of his overcoat the revolver he had
been hiding there, cocked it and leveled it at the Rebel’s breast.
Before he could pull the trigger Orderly Sergeant Charles Bentley, of his
Company, who was watching him, leaped forward, caught his wrist and threw
the revolver up. Others joined in, took the weapon away, and handed it
over to the officer, who then ordered us all to be searched for arms,
and rode away.

All our dejection could not make us forget that we were intensely hungry.
We had eaten nothing all day. The fight began before we had time to get
any breakfast, and of course there was no interval for refreshments
during the engagement. The Rebels were no better off than we, having
been marched rapidly all night in order to come upon us by daylight.

Late in the evening a few sacks of meal were given us, and we took the
first lesson in an art that long and painful practice afterward was to
make very familiar to us. We had nothing to mix the meal in, and it
looked as if we would have to eat it dry, until a happy thought struck
some one that our caps would do for kneading troughs. At once every cap
was devoted to this. Getting water from an adjacent spring, each man
made a little wad of dough–unsalted–and spreading it upon a flat stone
or a chip, set it up in front of the fire to bake. As soon as it was
browned on one side, it was pulled off the stone, and the other side
turned to the fire. It was a very primitive way of cooking and I became
thoroughly disgusted with it. It was fortunate for me that I little
dreamed that this was the way I should have to get my meals for the next
fifteen months.

After somewhat of the edge had been taken off our hunger by this food,
we crouched around the fires, talked over the events of the day,
speculated as to what was to be done with us, and snatched such sleep as
the biting cold would permit.



At dawn we were gathered together, more meal issued to us, which we
cooked in the same way, and then were started under heavy guard to march
on foot over the mountains to Bristol, a station at the point where the
Virginia and Tennessee Railroad crosses the line between Virginia and

As we were preparing to set out a Sergeant of the First Virginia cavalry
came galloping up to us on my horse! The sight of my faithful “Hiatoga”
bestrid by a Rebel, wrung my heart. During the action I had forgotten
him, but when it ceased I began to worry about his fate. As he and his
rider came near I called out to him; he stopped and gave a whinny of
recognition, which seemed also a plaintive appeal for an explanation of
the changed condition of affairs.

The Sergeant was a pleasant, gentlemanly boy of about my own age.
He rode up to me and inquired if it was my horse, to which I replied in
the affirmative, and asked permission to take from the saddle pockets
some letters, pictures and other trinkets. He granted this, and we
became friends from thence on until we separated. He rode by my side as
we plodded over the steep, slippery hills, and we beguiled the way by
chatting of the thousand things that soldiers find to talk about, and
exchanged reminiscences of the service on both sides. But the subject he
was fondest of was that which I relished least: my–now his–horse. Into
the open ulcer of my heart he poured the acid of all manner of questions
concerning my lost steed’s qualities and capabilities: would he swim?
how was he in fording? did he jump well! how did he stand fire?
I smothered my irritation, and answered as pleasantly as I could.

In the afternoon of the third day after the capture, we came up to where
a party of rustic belles were collected at “quilting.” The “Yankees”
were instantly objects of greater interest than the parade of a menagerie
would have been. The Sergeant told the girls we were going to camp for
the night a mile or so ahead, and if they would be at a certain house,
he would have a Yankee for them for close inspection. After halting,
the Sergeant obtained leave to take me out with a guard, and I was
presently ushered into a room in which the damsels were massed in force,
–a carnation-checked, staring, open-mouthed, linsey-clad crowd, as
ignorant of corsets and gloves as of Hebrew, and with a propensity to
giggle that was chronic and irrepressible. When we entered the room
there was a general giggle, and then a shower of comments upon my
appearance,–each sentence punctuated with the chorus of feminine
cachination. A remark was made about my hair and eyes, and their
risibles gave way; judgment was passed on my nose, and then came a ripple
of laughter. I got very red in the face, and uncomfortable generally.
Attention was called to the size of my feet and hands, and the usual
chorus followed. Those useful members of my body seemed to swell up as
they do to a young man at his first party.

Then I saw that in the minds of these bucolic maidens I was scarcely,
if at all, human; they did not understand that I belonged to the race;
I was a “Yankee”–a something of the non-human class, as the gorilla or
the chimpanzee. They felt as free to discuss my points before my face as
they would to talk of a horse or a wild animal in a show. My equanimity
was partially restored by this reflection, but I was still too young to
escape embarrassment and irritation at being thus dissected and giggled
at by a party of girls, even if they were ignorant Virginia mountaineers.

I turned around to speak to the Sergeant, and in so doing showed my back
to the ladies. The hum of comment deepened into surprise, that half
stopped and then intensified the giggle.

I was puzzled for a minute, and then the direction of their glances, and
their remarks explained it all. At the rear of the lower part of the
cavalry jacket, about where the upper ornamental buttons are on the tail
of a frock coat, are two funny tabs, about the size of small pin-
cushions. They are fastened by the edge, and stick out straight behind.
Their use is to support the heavy belt in the rear, as the buttons do in
front. When the belt is off it would puzzle the Seven Wise Men to guess
what they are for. The unsophisticated young ladies, with that swift
intuition which is one of lovely woman’s salient mental traits,
immediately jumped at the conclusion that the projections covered some
peculiar conformation of the Yankee anatomy–some incipient, dromedary-
like humps, or perchance the horns of which they had heard so much.

This anatomical phenomena was discussed intently for a few minutes,
during which I heard one of the girls inquire whether “it would hurt him
to cut ’em off?” and another hazarded the opinion that “it would probably
bleed him to death.”

Then a new idea seized them, and they said to the Sergeant “Make him
sing! Make him sing!”

This was too much for the Sergeant, who had been intensely amused at the
girls’ wonderment. He turned to me, very red in the face, with:

“Sergeant: the girls want to hear you sing.”

I replied that I could not sing a note. Said he:

“Oh, come now. I know better than that; I never seed or heerd of a
Yankee that couldn’t sing.”

I nevertheless assured him that there really were some Yankees that did
not have any musical accomplishments, and that I was one of that
unfortunate number. I asked him to get the ladies to sing for me,
and to this they acceded quite readily. One girl, with a fair soprano,
who seemed to be the leader of the crowd, sang “The Homespun Dress,” a
song very popular in the South, and having the same tune as the “Bonnie
Blue Flag.” It began,

I envy not the Northern girl
Their silks and jewels fine,

and proceeded to compare the homespun habiliments of the Southern women
to the finery and frippery of the ladies on the other side of Mason and
Dixon’s line in a manner very disadvantageous to the latter.

The rest of the girls made a fine exhibition of the lung-power acquired
in climbing their precipitous mountains, when they came in on the chorus

Hurra! Hurra! for southern rights Hurra!
Hurra for the homespun dress,
The Southern ladies wear.

This ended the entertainment.

On our journey to Bristol we met many Rebel soldiers, of all ranks,
and a small number of citizens. As the conscription had then been
enforced pretty sharply for over a year the only able-bodied men seen in
civil life were those who had some trade which exempted them from being
forced into active service. It greatly astonished us at first to find
that nearly all the mechanics were included among the exempts, or could
be if they chose; but a very little reflection showed us the wisdom of
such a policy. The South is as nearly a purely agricultural country as
is Russia or South America. The people have, little inclination or
capacity for anything else than pastoral pursuits. Consequently
mechanics are very scarce, and manufactories much scarcer. The limited
quantity of products of mechanical skill needed by the people was mostly
imported from the North or Europe. Both these sources of supply were
cutoff by the war, and the country was thrown upon its own slender
manufacturing resources. To force its mechanics into the army would
therefore be suicidal. The Army would gain a few thousand men, but its
operations would be embarrassed, if not stopped altogether, by a want of
supplies. This condition of affairs reminded one of the singular paucity
of mechanical skill among the Bedouins of the desert, which renders the
life of a blacksmith sacred. No matter how bitter the feud between
tribes, no one will kill the other’s workers of iron, and instances are
told of warriors saving their lives at critical periods by falling on
their knees and making with their garments an imitation of the action of
a smith’s bellows.

All whom we met were eager to discuss with us the causes, phases and
progress of the war, and whenever opportunity offered or could be made,
those of us who were inclined to talk were speedily involved in an
argument with crowds of soldiers and citizens. But, owing to the polemic
poverty of our opponents, the argument was more in name than in fact.
Like all people of slender or untrained intellectual powers they labored
under the hallucination that asserting was reasoning, and the emphatic
reiteration of bald statements, logic. The narrow round which all from
highest to lowest–traveled was sometimes comical, and sometimes
irritating, according to one’s mood! The dispute invariably began by
their asking:

“Well, what are you ‘uns down here a-fightin’ we ‘uns for?”

As this was replied to the newt one followed:

“Why are you’uns takin’ our niggers away from we ‘uns for?”

Then came:

“What do you ‘uns put our niggers to fightin’ we’uns for?” The windup
always was: “Well, let me tell you, sir, you can never whip people that
are fighting for liberty, sir.”

Even General Giltner, who had achieved considerable military reputation
as commander of a division of Kentucky cavalry, seemed to be as slenderly
furnished with logical ammunition as the balance, for as he halted by us
he opened the conversation with the well-worn formula:

“Well: what are you ‘uns down here a-fighting we’uns for?”

The question had become raspingly monotonous to me, whom he addressed,
and I replied with marked acerbity:

“Because we are the Northern mudsills whom you affect to despise, and we
came down here to lick you into respecting us.”

The answer seemed to tickle him, a pleasanter light came into his
sinister gray eyes, he laughed lightly, and bade us a kindly good day.

Four days after our capture we arrived in Bristol. The guards who had
brought us over the mountains were relieved by others, the Sergeant bade
me good by, struck his spurs into “Hiatoga’s” sides, and he and my
faithful horse were soon lost to view in the darkness.

A new and keener sense of desolation came over me at the final separation
from my tried and true four-footed friend, who had been my constant
companion through so many perils and hardships. We had endured together
the Winter’s cold, the dispiriting drench of the rain, the fatigue of the
long march, the discomforts of the muddy camp, the gripings of hunger,
the weariness of the drill and review, the perils of the vidette post,
the courier service, the scout and the fight. We had shared in common

The whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The insolence of office, and the spurns

which a patient private and his horse of the unworthy take; we had had
our frequently recurring rows with other fellows and their horses, over
questions of precedence at watering places, and grass-plots, had had
lively tilts with guards of forage piles in surreptitious attempts to get
additional rations, sometimes coming off victorious and sometimes being
driven off ingloriously. I had often gone hungry that he might have the
only ear of corn obtainable. I am not skilled enough in horse lore to
speak of his points or pedigree. I only know that his strong limbs never
failed me, and that he was always ready for duty and ever willing.

Now at last our paths diverged. I was retired from actual service to a
prison, and he bore his new master off to battle against his old friends.


Packed closely in old, dilapidated stock and box cars, as if cattle in
shipment to market, we pounded along slowly, and apparently interminably,
toward the Rebel capital.

The railroads of the South were already in very bad condition. They were
never more than passably good, even in their best estate, but now,
with a large part of the skilled men engaged upon them escaped back to
the North, with all renewal, improvement, or any but the most necessary
repairs stopped for three years, and with a marked absence of even
ordinary skill and care in their management, they were as nearly ruined
as they could well be and still run.

One of the severe embarrassments under which the roads labored was a lack
of oil. There is very little fatty matter of any kind in the South.
The climate and the food plants do not favor the accumulation of adipose
tissue by animals, and there is no other source of supply. Lard oil and
tallow were very scarce and held at exorbitant prices.

Attempts were made to obtain lubricants from the peanut and the cotton
seed. The first yielded a fine bland oil, resembling the ordinary grade
of olive oil, but it was entirely too expensive for use in the arts.
The cotton seed oil could be produced much cheaper, but it had in it such
a quantity of gummy matter as to render it worse than useless for
employment on machinery.

This scarcity of oleaginous matter produced a corresponding scarcity of
soap and similar detergents, but this was a deprivation which caused the
Rebels, as a whole, as little inconvenience as any that they suffered
from. I have seen many thousands of them who were obviously greatly in
need of soap, but if they were rent with any suffering on that account
they concealed it with marvelous self-control.

There seemed to be a scanty supply of oil provided for the locomotives,
but the cars had to run with unlubricated axles, and the screaking and
groaning of the grinding journals in the dry boxes was sometimes almost
deafening, especially when we were going around a curve.

Our engine went off the wretched track several times, but as she was not
running much faster than a man could walk, the worst consequence to us
was a severe jolting. She was small, and was easily pried back upon the
track, and sent again upon her wheezy, straining way.

The depression which had weighed us down for a night and a day after our
capture had now been succeeded by a more cheerful feeling. We began to
look upon our condition as the fortune of war. We were proud of our
resistance to overwhelming numbers. We knew we had sold ourselves at a
price which, if the Rebels had it to do over again, they would not pay
for us. We believed that we had killed and seriously wounded as many of
them as they had killed, wounded and captured of us. We had nothing to
blame ourselves for. Moreover, we began to be buoyed up with the
expectation that we would be exchanged immediately upon our arrival at
Richmond, and the Rebel officers confidently assured us that this would
be so. There was then a temporary hitch in the exchange, but it would
all be straightened out in a few days, and it might not be a month until
we were again marching out of Cumberland Gap, on an avenging foray
against some of the force which had assisted in our capture.

Fortunately for this delusive hopefulness there was no weird and boding
Cassandra to pierce the veil of the future for us, and reveal the length
and the ghastly horror of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, through
which we must pass for hundreds of sad days, stretching out into long
months of suffering and death. Happily there was no one to tell us that
of every five in that party four would never stand under the Stars and
Stripes again, but succumbing to chronic starvation, long-continued
exposure, the bullet of the brutal guard, the loathsome scurvy, the
hideous gangrene, and the heartsickness of hope deferred, would find
respite from pain low in the barren sands of that hungry Southern soil.

Were every doom foretokened by appropriate omens, the ravens along our
route would have croaked themselves hoarse.

But, far from being oppressed by any presentiment of coming evil, we
began to appreciate and enjoy the picturesque grandeur of the scenery
through which we were moving. The rugged sternness of the Appalachian
mountain range, in whose rock-ribbed heart we had fought our losing
fight, was now softening into less strong, but more graceful outlines as
we approached the pine-clad, sandy plains of the seaboard, upon which
Richmond is built. We were skirting along the eastern base of the great
Blue Ridge, about whose distant and lofty summits hung a perpetual veil
of deep, dark, but translucent blue, which refracted the slanting rays of
the morning and evening sun into masses of color more gorgeous than a
dreamer’s vision of an enchanted land. At Lynchburg we saw the famed
Peaks of Otter–twenty miles away–lifting their proud heads far into the
clouds, like giant watch-towers sentineling the gateway that the mighty
waters of the James had forced through the barriers of solid adamant
lying across their path to the far-off sea. What we had seen many miles
back start from the mountain sides as slender rivulets, brawling over the
worn boulders, were now great, rushing, full-tide streams, enough of them
in any fifty miles of our journey to furnish water power for all the
factories of New England. Their amazing opulence of mechanical energy
has lain unutilized, almost unnoticed; in the two and one-half centuries
that the white man has dwelt near them, while in Massachusetts and her
near neighbors every rill that can turn a wheel has been put into harness
and forced to do its share of labor for the benefit of the men who have
made themselves its masters.

Here is one of the differences between the two sections: In the North man
was set free, and the elements made to do his work. In the South man was
the degraded slave, and the elements wantoned on in undisturbed freedom.

As we went on, the Valleys of the James and the Appomattox, down which
our way lay, broadened into an expanse of arable acres, and the faces of
those streams were frequently flecked by gem-like little islands.



Early on the tenth morning after our capture we were told that we were
about to enter Richmond. Instantly all were keenly observant of every
detail in the surroundings of a City that was then the object of the
hopes and fears of thirty-five millions of people–a City assailing which
seventy-five thousand brave men had already laid down their lives,
defending which an equal number had died, and which, before it fell, was
to cost the life blood of another one hundred and fifty thousand valiant
assailants and defenders.

So much had been said and written about Richmond that our boyish minds
had wrought up the most extravagant expectations of it and its defenses.
We anticipated seeing a City differing widely from anything ever seen
before; some anomaly of nature displayed in its site, itself guarded by
imposing and impregnable fortifications, with powerful forts and heavy
guns, perhaps even walls, castles, postern gates, moats and ditches,
and all the other panoply of defensive warfare, with which romantic
history had made us familiar.

We were disappointed–badly disappointed–in seeing nothing of this as we
slowly rolled along. The spires and the tall chimneys of the factories
rose in the distance very much as they had in other Cities we had
visited. We passed a single line of breastworks of bare yellow sand,
but the scrubby pines in front were not cut away, and there were no signs
that there had ever been any immediate expectation of use for the works.
A redoubt or two–without guns–could be made out, and this was all.
Grim-visaged war had few wrinkles on his front in that neighborhood.
They were then seaming his brow on the Rappahannock, seventy miles away,
where the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac lay
confronting each other.

At one of the stopping places I had been separated from my companions by
entering a car in which were a number of East Tennesseeans, captured in
the operations around Knoxville, and whom the Rebels, in accordance with
their usual custom, were treating with studied contumely. I had always
had a very warm side for these simple rustics of the mountains and
valleys. I knew much of their unwavering fidelity to the Union, of the
firm steadfastness with which they endured persecution for their
country’s sake, and made sacrifices even unto death; and, as in those
days I estimated all men simply by their devotion to the great cause of
National integrity, (a habit that still clings to me) I rated these men
very highly. I had gone into their car to do my little to encourage
them, and when I attempted to return to my own I was prevented by the

Crossing the long bridge, our train came to a halt on the other side of
the river with the usual clamor of bell and whistle, the usual seemingly
purposeless and vacillating, almost dizzying, running backward and
forward on a network of sidetracks and switches, that seemed unavoidably
necessary, a dozen years ago, in getting a train into a City.

Still unable to regain my comrades and share their fortunes, I was
marched off with the Tennesseeans through the City to the office of some
one who had charge of the prisoners of war.

The streets we passed through were lined with retail stores, in which
business was being carried on very much as in peaceful times. Many
people were on the streets, but the greater part of the men wore some
sort of a uniform. Though numbers of these were in active service, yet
the wearing of a military garb did not necessarily imply this. Nearly
every able-bodied man in Richmond was; enrolled in some sort of an
organization, and armed, and drilled regularly. Even the members of the
Confederate Congress were uniformed and attached, in theory at least, to
the Home Guards.

It was obvious even to the casual glimpse of a passing prisoner of war,
that the City did not lack its full share of the class which formed so
large an element of the society of Washington and other Northern Cities
during the war–the dainty carpet soldiers, heros of the promenade and
the boudoir, who strutted in uniforms when the enemy was far off, and
wore citizen’s clothes when he was close at hand. There were many curled
darlings displaying their fine forms in the nattiest of uniforms, whose
gloss had never suffered from so much as a heavy dew, let alone a rainy
day on the march. The Confederate gray could be made into a very dressy
garb. With the sleeves lavishly embroidered with gold lace, and the
collar decorated with stars indicating the wearer’s rank–silver for the
field officers, and gold for the higher grade,–the feet compressed into
high-heeled, high-instepped boots, (no Virginian is himself without a
fine pair of skin-tight boots) and the head covered with a fine, soft,
broad-brimmed hat, trimmed with a gold cord, from which a bullion tassel
dangled several inches down the wearer’s back, you had a military swell,
caparisoned for conquest–among the fair sex.

On our way we passed the noted Capitol of Virginia–a handsome marble
building,–of the column-fronted Grecian temple style. It stands in the
center of the City. Upon the grounds is Crawford’s famous equestrian
statue of Washington, surrounded by smaller statues of other
Revolutionary patriots.

The Confederate Congress was then in session in the Capitol, and also the
Legislature of Virginia, a fact indicated by the State flag of Virginia
floating from the southern end of the building, and the new flag of the
Confederacy from the northern end. This was the first time I had seen
the latter, which had been recently adopted, and I examined it with some
interest. The design was exceedingly plain. Simply a white banner, with
a red field in the corner where the blue field with stars is in ours.
The two blue stripes were drawn diagonally across this field in the shape
of a letter X, and in these were thirteen white stars, corresponding to
the number of States claimed to be in the Confederacy.

The battle-flag was simply the red field. My examination of all this was
necessarily very brief. The guards felt that I was in Richmond for other
purposes than to study architecture, statuary and heraldry,
and besides they were in a hurry to be relieved of us and get their
breakfast, so my art-education was abbreviated sharply.

We did not excite much attention on the streets. Prisoners had by that
time become too common in Richmond to create any interest. Occasionally
passers by would fling opprobrious epithets at “the East Tennessee
traitors,” but that was all.

The commandant of the prisons directed the Tennesseeans to be taken to
Castle Lightning–a prison used to confine the Rebel deserters, among
whom they also classed the East Tennesseeans, and sometimes the West
Virginians, Kentuckians, Marylanders and Missourians found fighting
against them. Such of our men as deserted to them were also lodged
there, as the Rebels, very properly, did not place a high estimate upon
this class of recruits to their army, and, as we shall see farther along,
violated all obligations of good faith with them, by putting them among
the regular prisoners of war, so as to exchange them for their own men.

Back we were all marched to a street which ran parallel to the river and
canal, and but one square away from them. It was lined on both sides by
plain brick warehouses and tobacco factories, four and five stories high,
which were now used by the Rebel Government as prisons and military

The first we passed was Castle Thunder, of bloody repute. This occupied
the same place in Confederate history, that, the dungeons beneath the
level of the water did in the annals of the Venetian Council of Ten.
It was believed that if the bricks in its somber, dirt-grimed walls could
speak, each could tell a separate story of a life deemed dangerous to the
State that had gone down in night, at the behest of the ruthless
Confederate authorities. It was confidently asserted that among the
commoner occurrences within its confines was the stationing of a doomed
prisoner against a certain bit of blood-stained, bullet-chipped wall,
and relieving the Confederacy of all farther fear of him by the rifles of
a firing party. How well this dark reputation was deserved, no one but
those inside the inner circle of the Davis Government can say. It is
safe to believe that more tragedies were enacted there than the archives
of the Rebel civil or military judicature give any account of. The
prison was employed for the detention of spies, and those charged with
the convenient allegation of “treason against the Confederate States of
America.” It is probable that many of these were sent out of the world
with as little respect for the formalities of law as was exhibited with
regard to the ‘suspects’ during the French Revolution.

Next we came to Castle Lightning, and here I bade adieu to my Tennessee

A few squares more and we arrived at a warehouse larger than any of the
others. Over the door was a sign


This was the notorious “Libby Prison,” whose name was painfully familiar
to every Union man in the land. Under the sign was a broad entrance way,
large enough to admit a dray or a small wagon. On one side of this was
the prison office, in which were a number of dapper, feeble-faced clerks
at work on the prison records.

As I entered this space a squad of newly arrived prisoners were being
searched for valuables, and having their names, rank and regiment
recorded in the books. Presently a clerk addressed as “Majah Tunnah,”
the man who was superintending these operations, and I scanned him with
increased interest, as I knew then that he was the ill-famed Dick Turner,
hated all over the North for his brutality to our prisoners.

He looked as if he deserved his reputation. Seen upon the street he
would be taken for a second or third class gambler, one in whom a certain
amount of cunning is pieced out by a readiness to use brute force. His
face, clean-shaved, except a “Bowery-b’hoy” goatee, was white, fat, and
selfishly sensual. Small, pig-like eyes, set close together, glanced
around continually. His legs were short, his body long, and made to
appear longer, by his wearing no vest–a custom common them with

His faculties were at that moment absorbed in seeing that no person
concealed any money from him. His subordinates did not search closely
enough to suit him, and he would run his fat, heavily-ringed fingers
through the prisoner’s hair, feel under their arms and elsewhere where he
thought a stray five dollar greenback might be concealed. But with all
his greedy care he was no match for Yankee cunning. The prisoners told
me afterward that, suspecting they would be searched, they had taken off
the caps of the large, hollow brass buttons of their coats, carefully
folded a bill into each cavity, and replaced the cap. In this way they
brought in several hundred dollars safely.

There was one dirty old Englishman in the party, who, Turner was
convinced, had money concealed about his person. He compelled him to
strip off everything, and stand shivering in the sharp cold, while he
took up one filthy rag after another, felt over each carefully, and
scrutinized each seam and fold. I was delighted to see that after all
his nauseating work he did not find so much as a five cent piece.

It came my turn. I had no desire, in that frigid atmosphere, to strip
down to what Artemus Ward called “the skanderlous costoom of the Greek
Slave;” so I pulled out of my pocket my little store of wealth–ten
dollars in greenbacks, sixty dollars in Confederate graybacks–and
displayed it as Turner came up with, “There’s all I have, sir.” Turner
pocketed it without a word, and did not search me. In after months, when
I was nearly famished, my estimation of “Majah Tunnah” was hardly
enhanced by the reflection that what would have purchased me many good
meals was probably lost by him in betting on a pair of queens, when his
opponent held a “king full.”

I ventured to step into the office to inquire after my comrades. One of
the whey-faced clerks said with the supercilious asperity characteristic
of gnat-brained headquarters attaches:

“Get out of here!” as if I had been a stray cur wandering in in search of
a bone lunch.

I wanted to feed the fellow to a pile-driver. The utmost I could hope
for in the way of revenge was that the delicate creature might some day
make a mistake in parting his hair, and catch his death of cold.

The guard conducted us across the street, and into the third story of a
building standing on the next corner below. Here I found about four
hundred men, mostly belonging to the Army of the Potomac, who crowded
around me with the usual questions to new prisoners: What was my
Regiment, where and when captured, and:

What were the prospects of exchange?

It makes me shudder now to recall how often, during the dreadful months
that followed, this momentous question was eagerly propounded to every
new comer: put with bated breath by men to whom exchange meant all that
they asked of this world, and possibly of the next; meant life, home,
wife or sweet-heart, friends, restoration to manhood, and self-respect–
everything, everything that makes existence in this world worth having.

I answered as simply and discouragingly as did the tens of thousands that
came after me:

“I did not hear anything about exchange.”

A soldier in the field had many other things of more immediate interest
to think about than the exchange of prisoners. The question only became
a living issue when he or some of his intimate friends fell into the
enemy’s hands.

Thus began my first day in prison.



I began acquainting myself with my new situation and surroundings.
The building into which I had been conducted was an old tobacco factory,
called the “Pemberton building,” possibly from an owner of that name,
and standing on the corner of what I was told were Fifteenth and Carey
streets. In front it was four stories high; behind but three, owing to
the rapid rise of the hill, against which it was built.

It fronted towards the James River and Kanawha Canal, and the James
River–both lying side by side, and only one hundred yards distant,
with no intervening buildings. The front windows afforded a fine view.
To the right front was Libby, with its guards pacing around it on the
sidewalk, watching the fifteen hundred officers confined within its
walls. At intervals during each day squads of fresh prisoners could be
seen entering its dark mouth, to be registered, and searched, and then
marched off to the prison assigned them. We could see up the James River
for a mile or so, to where the long bridges crossing it bounded the view.
Directly in front, across the river, was a flat, sandy plain, said to be
General Winfield Scott’s farm, and now used as a proving ground for the
guns cast at the Tredegar Iron Works.

The view down the river was very fine. It extended about twelve miles,
to where a gap in the woods seemed to indicate a fort, which we imagined
to be Fort Darling, at that time the principal fortification defending
the passage of the James.

Between that point and where we were lay the river, in a long, broad
mirror-like expanse, like a pretty little inland lake. Occasionally a
busy little tug would bustle up or down, a gunboat move along with
noiseless dignity, suggestive of a reserved power, or a schooner beat
lazily from one side to the other. But these were so few as to make even
more pronounced the customary idleness that hung over the scene. The
tug’s activity seemed spasmodic and forced–a sort of protest against the
gradually increasing lethargy that reigned upon the bosom of the waters–
the gunboat floated along as if performing a perfunctory duty, and the
schooners sailed about as if tired of remaining in one place. That
little stretch of water was all that was left for a cruising ground.
Beyond Fort Darling the Union gunboats lay, and the only vessel that
passed the barrier was the occasional flag-of-truce steamer.

The basement of the building was occupied as a store-house for the taxes-
in-kind which the Confederate Government collected. On the first floor
were about five hundred men. On the second floor–where I was–were
about four hundred men. These were principally from the First Division,
First Corps distinguished by a round red patch on their caps; First
Division, Second Corps, marked by a red clover leaf; and the First
Division, Third Corps, who wore a red diamond. They were mainly captured
at Gettysburg and Mine Run. Besides these there was a considerable
number from the Eighth Corps, captured at Winchester, and a large
infusion of Cavalry-First, Second and Third West Virginia–taken in
Averill’s desperate raid up the Virginia Valley, with the Wytheville Salt
Works as an objective.

On the third floor were about two hundred sailors and marines, taken in
the gallant but luckless assault upon the ruins of Fort Sumter, in the
September previous. They retained the discipline of the ship in their
quarters, kept themselves trim and clean, and their floor as white as a
ship’s deck. They did not court the society of the “sojers” below, whose
camp ideas of neatness differed from theirs. A few old barnacle-backs
always sat on guard around the head of the steps leading from the lower
rooms. They chewed tobacco enormously, and kept their mouths filled with
the extracted juice. Any luckless “sojer” who attempted to ascend the
stairs usually returned in haste, to avoid the deluge of the filthy

For convenience in issuing rations we were divided into messes of twenty,
each mess electing a Sergeant as its head, and each floor electing a
Sergeant-of-the-Floor, who drew rations and enforced what little
discipline was observed.

Though we were not so neat as the sailors above us, we tried to keep our
quarters reasonably clean, and we washed the floor every morning; getting
down on our knees and rubbing it clean and dry with rags. Each mess
detailed a man each day to wash up the part of the floor it occupied,
and he had to do this properly or no ration would be given him. While
the washing up was going on each man stripped himself and made close
examination of his garments for the body-lice, which otherwise would have
increased beyond control. Blankets were also carefully hunted over for
these “small deer.”

About eight o’clock a spruce little lisping rebel named Ross would appear
with a book, and a body-guard, consisting of a big Irishman, who had the
air of a Policeman, and carried a musket barrel made into a cane. Behind
him were two or three armed guards. The Sergeant-of-the-Floor commanded:

“Fall in in four ranks for roll-call.”

We formed along one side of the room; the guards halted at the head of
the stairs; Ross walked down in front and counted the files, closely
followed by his Irish aid, with his gun-barrel cane raised ready for use
upon any one who should arouse his ruffianly ire. Breaking ranks we
returned to our places, and sat around in moody silence for three hours.
We had eaten nothing since the previous noon. Rising hungry, our hunger
seemed to increase in arithmetical ratio with every quarter of an hour.

These times afforded an illustration of the thorough subjection of man to
the tyrant Stomach. A more irritable lot of individuals could scarcely
be found outside of a menagerie than these men during the hours waiting
for rations. “Crosser than, two sticks” utterly failed as a comparison.
They were crosser than the lines of a check apron. Many could have given
odds to the traditional bear with a sore head, and run out of the game
fifty points ahead of him. It was astonishingly easy to get up a fight
at these times. There was no need of going a step out of the way to
search for it, as one could have a full fledged article of overwhelming
size on his hands at any instant, by a trifling indiscretion of speech or
manner. All the old irritating flings between the cavalry, the artillery
and the infantry, the older “first-call” men, and the later or “Three-
Hundred-Dollar-men,” as they were derisively dubbed, between the
different corps of the Army of the Potomac, between men of different
States, and lastly between the adherents and opponents of McClellan, came
to the lips and were answered by a blow with the fist, when a ring would
be formed around the combatants by a crowd, which would encourage them
with yells to do their best. In a few minutes one of the parties to the
fistic debate, who found the point raised by him not well taken, would
retire to the sink to wash the blood from his battered face, and the rest
would resume their seats and glower at space until some fresh excitement
roused them. For the last hour or so of these long waits hardly a word
would be spoken. We were too ill-natured to talk for amusement, and
there was nothing else to talk for.

This spell was broken about eleven o’clock by the appearance at the head
of the stairway of the Irishman with the gun-barrel cane, and his singing

“Sargint uv the flure: fourtane min and a bread-box!”

Instantly every man sprang to his feet, and pressed forward to be one of
the favored fourteen. One did not get any more gyrations or obtain them
any sooner by this, but it was a relief, and a change to walk the half
square outside the prison to the cookhouse, and help carry the rations

For a little while after our arrival in Richmond, the rations were
tolerably good. There had been so much said about the privations of the
prisoners that our Government had, after much quibbling and negotiation,
succeeded in getting the privilege of sending food and clothing through
the lines to us. Of course but a small part of that sent ever reached
its destination. There were too many greedy Rebels along its line of
passage to let much of it be received by those for whom it was intended.
We could see from our windows Rebels strutting about in overcoats, in
which the box wrinkles were still plainly visible, wearing new “U. S.”
blankets as cloaks, and walking in Government shoes, worth fabulous
prices in Confederate money.

Fortunately for our Government the rebels decided to out themselves off
from this profitable source of supply. We read one day in the Richmond
papers that “President Davis and his Cabinet had come to the conclusion
that it was incompatible with the dignity of a sovereign power to permit
another power with which it was at war, to feed and clothe prisoners in
its hands.”

I will not stop to argue this point of honor, and show its absurdity by
pointing out that it is not an unusual practice with nations at war. It
is a sufficient commentary upon this assumption of punctiliousness that
the paper went on to say that some five tons of clothing and fifteen tons
of food, which had been sent under a flag of truce to City Point, would
neither be returned nor delivered to us, but “converted to the use of the
Confederate Government.”

“And surely they are all honorable men!”

Heaven save the mark.


But, to return to the rations–a topic which, with escape or exchange,
were to be the absorbing ones for us for the next fifteen months. There
was now issued to every two men a loaf of coarse bread–made of a mixture
of flour and meal–and about the size and shape of an ordinary brick.
This half loaf was accompanied, while our Government was allowed to
furnish rations, with a small piece of corned beef. Occasionally we got
a sweet potato, or a half-pint or such a matter of soup made from a
coarse, but nutritious, bean or pea, called variously “nigger-pea,”
“stock-pea,” or “cow-pea.”

This, by the way, became a fruitful bone of contention during our stay
in the South. One strong party among us maintained that it was a bean,
because it was shaped like one, and brown, which they claimed no pea ever
was. The other party held that it was a pea because its various names
all agreed in describing it as a pea, and because it was so full of bugs-
-none being entirely free from insects, and some having as many as twelve
by actual count–within its shell. This, they declared, was a
distinctive characteristic of the pea family. The contention began with
our first instalment of the leguminous ration, and was still raging
between the survivors who passed into our lines in 1865. It waxed hot
occasionally, and each side continually sought evidence to support its
view of the case. Once an old darky, sent into the prison on some
errand, was summoned to decide a hot dispute that was raging in the crowd
to which I belonged. The champion of the pea side said, producing one of
the objects of dispute:

“Now, boys, keep still, till I put the question fairly. Now, uncle, what
do they call that there?”

The colored gentleman scrutinized the vegetable closely, and replied,

“Well, dey mos’ generally calls ’em stock-peas, round hyar aways.”

“There,” said the pea-champion triumphantly.

“But,” broke in the leader of the bean party, “Uncle, don’t they also
call them beans?”

“Well, yes, chile, I spec dat lots of ’em does.”

And this was about the way the matter usually ended.

I will not attempt to bias the reader’s judgment by saying which side I
believed to be right. As the historic British showman said, in reply to
the question as to whether an animal in his collection was a rhinoceros
or an elephant, “You pays your money and you takes your choice.”

The rations issued to us, as will be seen above, though they appear
scanty, were still sufficient to support life and health, and months
afterward, in Andersonville, we used to look back to them as sumptuous.
We usually had them divided and eaten by noon, and, with the gnawings of
hunger appeased, we spent the afternoon and evening comfortably. We told
stories, paced up and down, the floor for exercise, played cards, sung,
read what few books were available, stood at the windows and studied the
landscape, and watched the Rebels trying their guns and shells, and so on
as long as it was daylight. Occasionally it was dangerous to be about
the windows. This depended wholly on the temper of the guards. One day
a member of a Virginia regiment, on guard on the pavement in front,
deliberately left his beat, walked out into the center of the street,
aimed his gun at a member of the Ninth West Virginia, who was standing at
a window near, and firing, shot him through the heart, the bullet passing
through his body, and through the floor above. The act was purely
malicious, and was done, doubtless, in revenge for some injury which our
men had done the assassin or his family.

We were not altogether blameless, by any means. There were few
opportunities to say bitterly offensive things to the guards, let pass

The prisoners in the third floor of the Smith building, adjoining us,
had their own way of teasing them. Late at night, when everybody would
be lying down, and out of the way of shots, a window in the third story
would open, a broomstick, with a piece nailed across to represent arms,
and clothed with a cap and blouse, would be protruded, and a voice coming
from a man carefully protected by the wall, would inquire:

“S-a-y, g-uarr-d, what time is it?”

If the guard was of the long suffering kind he would answer:

“Take yo’ head back in, up dah; you kno hits agin all odahs to do dat?”

Then the voice would say, aggravatingly, “Oh, well, go to —-
you —- Rebel —-, if you can’t answer a civil question.”

Before the speech was ended the guard’s rifle would be at his shoulder
and he would fire. Back would come the blouse and hat in haste, only to
go out again the next instant, with a derisive laugh, and

“Thought you were going to hurt somebody, didn’t you, you —- —- —-
—- —-. But, Lord, you can’t shoot for sour apples; if I couldn’t
shoot no better than you, Mr. Johnny Reb, I would —-”

By this time the guard, having his gun loaded again, would cut short the
remarks with another shot, which, followed up with similar remarks, would
provoke still another, when an alarm sounding, the guards at Libby and
all the other buildings around us would turn out. An officer of the
guard would go up with a squad into the third floor, only to find
everybody up there snoring away as if they were the Seven Sleepers.
After relieving his mind of a quantity of vigorous profanity, and threats
to “buck and gag” and cut off the rations of the whole room, the officer
would return to his quarters in the guard house, but before he was fairly
ensconced there the cap and blouse would go out again, and the maddened
guard be regaled with a spirited and vividly profane lecture on the
depravity of Rebels in general, and his own unworthiness in particular.

One night in January things took a more serious turn. The boys on the
lower floor of our building had long considered a plan of escape. There
were then about fifteen thousand prisoners in Richmond–ten thousand on
Belle Isle and five thousand in the buildings. Of these one thousand
five hundred were officers in Libby. Besides there were the prisoners in
Castles Thunder and Lightning. The essential features of the plan were
that at a preconcerted signal we at the, second and third floors should
appear at the windows with bricks and irons from the tobacco presses,
which a should shower down on the guards and drive them away, while the
men of the first floor would pour out, chase the guards into the board
house in the basement, seize their arms, drive those away from around
Libby and the other prisons, release the officers, organize into
regiments and brigades, seize the armory, set fire to the public
buildings and retreat from the City, by the south side of the James,
where there was but a scanty force of Rebels, and more could be prevented
from coming over by burning the bridges behind us.

It was a magnificent scheme, and might have been carried out, but there
was no one in the building who was generally believed to have the
qualities of a leader.

But while it was being debated a few of the hot heads on the lower floor
undertook to precipitate the crisis. They seized what they thought was a
favorable opportunity, overpowered the guard who stood at the foot of the
stairs, and poured into the street. The other guards fell back and
opened fire on them; other troops hastened up, and soon drove them back
into the building, after killing ten or fifteen. We of the second and
third floors did not anticipate the break at that time, and were taken as
much by surprise as were the Rebels. Nearly all were lying down and
many were asleep. Some hastened to the windows, and dropped missiles
out, but before any concerted action could be taken it was seen that the
case was hopeless, and we remained quiet.

Among those who led in the assault was a drummer-boy of some New York
Regiment, a recklessly brave little rascal. He had somehow smuggled a
small four-shooter in with him, and when they rushed out he fired it off
at the guards.

After the prisoners were driven back, the Rebel officers came in and
vapored around considerably, but confined themselves to big words. They
were particularly anxious to find the revolver, and ordered a general and
rigorous search for it. The prisoners were all ranged on one side of the
room and carefully examined by one party, while another hunted through
the blankets and bundles. It was all in vain; no pistol could be found.
The boy had a loaf of wheat bread, bought from a baker during the day.
It was a round loaf, set together in two pieces like a biscuit. He
pulled these apart, laid the fourshooter between them, pressed the two
halves together, and went on calmly nibbling away at the loaf while the
search was progressing.

Two gunboats were brought up the next morning, and anchored in the canal
near us, with their heavy guns trained upon the building. It was thought
that this would intimidate as from a repetition of the attack, but our
sailors conceived that, as they laid against the shore next to us, they
could be easily captured, and their artillery made to assist us.
A scheme to accomplish this was being wrought out, when we received
notice to move, and it came to naught.



Few questions intimately connected with the actual operations of the
Rebellion have been enveloped with such a mass of conflicting statement
as the responsibility for the interruption of the exchange. Southern
writers and politicians, naturally anxious to diminish as much as
possible the great odium resting upon their section for the treatment of
prisoners of war during the last year and a half of the Confederacy’s
existence, have vehemently charged that the Government of the United
States deliberately and pitilessly resigned to their fate such of its
soldiers as fell into the hands of the enemy, and repelled all advances
from the Rebel Government looking toward a resumption of exchange. It is
alleged on our side, on the other hand, that our Government did all that
was possible, consistent with National dignity and military prudence,
to secure a release of its unfortunate men in the power of the Rebels.

Over this vexed question there has been waged an acrimonious war of
words, which has apparently led to no decision, nor any convictions–the
disputants, one and all, remaining on the sides of the controversy
occupied by them when the debate began.

I may not be in possession of all the facts bearing upon the case, and
may be warped in judgment by prejudices in favor of my own Government’s
wisdom and humanity, but, however this may be, the following is my firm
belief as to the controlling facts in this lamentable affair:

1. For some time after the beginning of hostilities our Government
refused to exchange prisoners with the Rebels, on the ground that this
might be held by the European powers who were seeking a pretext for
acknowledging the Confederacy, to be admission by us that the war was no
longer an insurrection but a revolution, which had resulted in the ‘de
facto’ establishment of a new nation. This difficulty was finally gotten
over by recognizing the Rebels as belligerents, which, while it placed
them on a somewhat different plane from mere insurgents, did not elevate
them to the position of soldiers of a foreign power.

2. Then the following cartel was agreed upon by Generals Dig on our side
and Hill on that of the Rebels:


The undersigned, having been commissioned by the authorities they
respectively represent to make arrangements for a general exchange of
prisoners of war, have agreed to the following articles:

ARTICLE I.–It is hereby agreed and stipulated, that all prisoners of
war, held by either party, including those taken on private armed
vessels, known as privateers, shall be exchanged upon the conditions and
terms following:

Prisoners to be exchanged man for man and officer for officer.
Privateers to be placed upon the footing of officers and men of the navy.

Men and officers of lower grades may be exchanged for officers of a
higher grade, and men and officers of different services may be exchanged
according to the following scale of equivalents:

A General-commanding-in-chief, or an Admiral, shall be exchanged for
officers of equal rank, or for sixty privates or common seamen.

A Commodore, carrying a broad pennant, or a Brigadier General, shall be
exchanged for officers of equal rank, or twenty privates or common

A Captain in the Navy, or a Colonel, shall be exchanged for officers of
equal rank, or for fifteen privates or common seamen.

A Lieutenant Colonel, or Commander in the Navy, shall be exchanged for
officers of equal rank, or for ten privates or common seamen.

A Lieutenant, or a Master in the Navy, or a Captain in the Army or
marines shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or six privates or
common seamen.

Master’s-mates in the Navy, or Lieutenants or Ensigns in the Army, shall
be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or four privates or common
seamen. Midshipmen, warrant officers in the Navy, masters of merchant
vessels and commanders of privateers, shall be exchanged for officers of
equal rank, or three privates or common seamen; Second Captains,
Lieutenants or mates of merchant vessels or privateers, and all petty
officers in the Navy, and all noncommissioned officers in the Army or
marines, shall be severally exchanged for persons of equal rank, or for
two privates or common seamen; and private soldiers or common seamen
shall be exchanged for each other man for man.

ARTICLE II.–Local, State, civil and militia rank held by persons not in
actual military service will not be recognized; the basis of exchange
being the grade actually held in the naval and military service of the
respective parties.

ARTICLE III.–If citizens held by either party on charges of disloyalty,
or any alleged civil offense, are exchanged, it shall only be for
citizens. Captured sutlers, teamsters, and all civilians in the actual
service of either party, to be exchanged for persons in similar

ARTICLE IV.–All prisoners of war to be discharged on parole in ten days
after their capture; and the prisoners now held, and those hereafter
taken, to be transported to the points mutually agreed upon, at the
expense of the capturing party. The surplus prisoners not exchanged
shall not be permitted to take up arms again, nor to serve as military
police or constabulary force in any fort, garrison or field-work, held by
either of the respective parties, nor as guards of prisoners, deposits or
stores, nor to discharge any duty usually performed by soldiers, until
exchanged under the provisions of this cartel. The exchange is not to be
considered complete until the officer or soldier exchanged for has been
actually restored to the lines to which he belongs.

ARTICLE V.–Each party upon the discharge of prisoners of the other party
is authorized to discharge an equal number of their own officers or men
from parole, furnishing, at the same time, to the other party a list of
their prisoners discharged, and of their own officers and men relieved
from parole; thus enabling each party to relieve from parole such of
their officers and men as the party may choose. The lists thus mutually
furnished, will keep both parties advised of the true condition of the
exchange of prisoners.

ARTICLE VI.–The stipulations and provisions above mentioned to be of
binding obligation during the continuance of the war, it matters not
which party may have the surplus of prisoners; the great principles
involved being, First, An equitable exchange of prisoners, man for man,
or officer for officer, or officers of higher grade exchanged for
officers of lower grade, or for privates, according to scale of
equivalents. Second, That privates and officers and men of different
services may be exchanged according to the same scale of equivalents.
Third, That all prisoners, of whatever arm of service, are to be
exchanged or paroled in ten days from the time of their capture, if it be
practicable to transfer them to their own lines in that time; if not, so
soon thereafter as practicable. Fourth, That no officer, or soldier,
employed in the service of either party, is to be considered as exchanged
and absolved from his parole until his equivalent has actually reached
the lines of his friends. Fifth, That parole forbids the performance of
field, garrison, police, or guard or constabulary duty.

JOHN A. DIX, Major General.

D. H. HILL, Major General, C. S. A.


ARTICLE VII.–All prisoners of war now held on either side, and all
prisoners hereafter taken, shall be sent with all reasonable dispatch to
A. M. Aiken’s, below Dutch Gap, on the James River, in Virginia, or to
Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, in the State of Mississippi, and
there exchanged of paroled until such exchange can be effected, notice
being previously given by each party of the number of prisoners it will
send, and the time when they will be delivered at those points
respectively; and in case the vicissitudes of war shall change the
military relations of the places designated in this article to the
contending parties, so as to render the same inconvenient for the
delivery and exchange of prisoners, other places bearing as nearly as may
be the present local relations of said places to the lines of said
parties, shall be, by mutual agreement, substituted. But nothing in this
article contained shall prevent the commanders of the two opposing armies
from exchanging prisoners or releasing them on parole, at other points
mutually agreed on by said commanders.

ARTICLE VIII.–For the purpose of carrying into effect the foregoing
articles of agreement, each party will appoint two agents for the
exchange of prisoners of war, whose duty it shall be to communicate with
each other by correspondence and otherwise; to prepare the lists of
prisoners; to attend to the delivery of the prisoners at the places
agreed on, and to carry out promptly, effectually, and in good faith,
all the details and provisions of the said articles of agreement.

ARTICLE IX.–And, in case any misunderstanding shall arise in regard to
any clause or stipulation in the foregoing articles, it is mutually
agreed that such misunderstanding shall not affect the release of
prisoners on parole, as herein provided, but shall be made the subject of
friendly explanation, in order that the object of this agreement may
neither be defeated nor postponed.

JOHN A. DIX, Major General.
D. H. HILL, Major General. C. S. A.

This plan did not work well. Men on both sides, who wanted a little rest
from soldiering, could obtain it by so straggling in the vicinity of the
enemy. Their parole–following close upon their capture, frequently upon
the spot–allowed them to visit home, and sojourn awhile where were
pleasanter pastures than at the front. Then the Rebels grew into the
habit of paroling everybody that they could constrain into being a
prisoner of war. Peaceable, unwarlike and decrepit citizens of Kentucky,
East Tennessee, West Virginia, Missouri and Maryland were “captured” and
paroled, and setoff against regular Rebel soldiers taken by us.

3. After some months of trial of this scheme, a modification of the
cartel was agreed upon, the main feature of which was that all prisoners
must be reduced to possession, and delivered to the exchange officers
either at City Point, Va., or Vicksburg, Miss. This worked very well for
some months, until our Government began organizing negro troops. The
Rebels then issued an order that neither these troops nor their officers
should be held as amenable to the laws of war, but that, when captured,
the men should be returned to slavery, and the officers turned over to
the Governors of the States in which they were taken, to be dealt with
according to the stringent law punishing the incitement of servile
insurrection. Our Government could not permit this for a day. It was
bound by every consideration of National honor to protect those who wore
its uniform and bore its flag. The Rebel Government was promptly
informed that rebel officers and men would be held as hostages for the
proper treatment of such members of colored regiments as might be taken.

4. This discussion did not put a stop to the exchange, but while it was
going on Vicksburg was captured, and the battle of Gettysburg was fought.
The first placed one of the exchange points in our hands. At the opening
of the fight at Gettysburg Lee captured some six thousand Pennsylvania
militia. He sent to Meade to have these exchanged on the field of
battle. Meade declined to do so for two reasons: first, because it was
against the cartel, which prescribed that prisoners must be reduced to
possession; and second, because he was anxious to have Lee hampered with
such a body of prisoners, since it was very doubtful if he could get his
beaten army back across the Potomac, let alone his prisoners. Lee then
sent a communication to General Couch, commanding the Pennsylvania
militia, asking him to receive prisoners on parole, and Couch, not
knowing what Meade had done, acceded to the request. Our Government
disavowed Couch’s action instantly, and ordered the paroles to be treated
as of no force, whereupon the Rebel Government ordered back into the
field twelve thousand of the prisoners captured by Grant’s army at

5. The paroling now stopped abruptly, leaving in the hands of both sides
the prisoners captured at Gettysburg, except the militia above mentioned.
The Rebels added considerably to those in their hands by their captures
at Chickamauga, while we gained a great many at Mission Ridge, Cumberland
Gap and elsewhere, so that at the time we arrived in Richmond the Rebels
had about fifteen thousand prisoners in their hands and our Government
had about twenty-five thousand.

6. The rebels now began demanding that the prisoners on both sides be
exchanged–man for man–as far as they went, and the remainder paroled.
Our Government offered to exchange man for man, but declined–on account
of the previous bad faith of the Rebels–to release the balance on
parole. The Rebels also refused to make any concessions in regard to the
treatment of officers and men of colored regiments.

7. At this juncture General B. F. Butler was appointed to the command of
the Department of the Blackwater, which made him an ex-officio
Commissioner of Exchange. The Rebels instantly refused to treat with
him, on the ground that he was outlawed by the proclamation of Jefferson
Davis. General Butler very pertinently replied that this only placed him
nearer their level, as Jefferson Davis and all associated with him in the
Rebel Government had been outlawed by the proclamation of President
Lincoln. The Rebels scorned to notice this home thrust by the Union

8. On February 12, 1864, General Butler addressed a letter to the Rebel
Commissioner Ould, in which be asked, for the sake of humanity, that the
questions interrupting the exchange be left temporarily in abeyance while
an informal exchange was put in operation. He would send five hundred
prisoners to City Point; let them be met by a similar number of Union
prisoners. This could go on from day to day until all in each other’s
hands should be transferred to their respective flags.

The five hundred sent with the General’s letter were received, and five
hundred Union prisoners returned for them. Another five hundred, sent
the next day, were refused, and so this reasonable and humane proposition
ended in nothing.

This was the condition of affairs in February, 1864, when the Rebel
authorities concluded to send us to Andersonville. If the reader will
fix these facts in his minds I will explain other phases as they develop.



The Winter days passed on, one by one, after the manner described in a
former chapter,–the mornings in ill-nature hunger; the afternoons and
evenings in tolerable comfort. The rations kept growing lighter and
lighter; the quantity of bread remained the same, but the meat
diminished, and occasional days would pass without any being issued.
Then we receive a pint or less of soup made from the beans or peas before
mentioned, but this, too, suffered continued change, in the gradually
increasing proportion of James River water, and decreasing of that of the

The water of the James River is doubtless excellent: it looks well–at a
distance–and is said to serve the purposes of ablution and navigation
admirably. There seems to be a limit however, to the extent of its
advantageous combination with the bean (or pea) for nutritive purposes.
This, though, was or view of the case, merely, and not shared in to any
appreciably extent by the gentlemen who were managing our boarding house.
We seemed to view the matter through allopathic spectacles, they through
homoeopathic lenses. We thought that the atomic weight of peas (or
beans) and the James River fluid were about equal, which would indicate
that the proper combining proportions would be, say a bucket of beans (or
peas) to a bucket of water. They held that the nutritive potency was
increased by the dilution, and the best results were obtainable when the
symptoms of hunger were combated by the trituration of a bucketful of the
peas-beans with a barrel of ‘aqua jamesiana.’

My first experience with this “flat” soup was very instructive, if not
agreeable. I had come into prison, as did most other prisoners,
absolutely destitute of dishes, or cooking utensils. The well-used,
half-canteen frying-pan, the blackened quart cup, and the spoon, which
formed the usual kitchen outfit of the cavalryman in the field, were in
the haversack on my saddle, and were lost to me when I separated from my
horse. Now, when we were told that we were to draw soup, I was in great
danger of losing my ration from having no vessel in which to receive it.
There were but few tin cups in the prison, and these were, of course,
wanted by their owners. By great good fortune I found an empty fruit can,
holding about a quart. I was also lucky enough to find a piece from
which to make a bail. I next manufactured a spoon and knife combined
from a bit of hoop-iron.

These two humble utensils at once placed myself and my immediate chums on
another plane, as far as worldly goods were concerned. We were better
off than the mass, and as well off as the most fortunate. It was a
curious illustration of that law of political economy which teaches that
so-called intrinsic value is largely adventitious. Their possession gave
us infinitely more consideration among our fellows than would the
possession of a brown-stone front in an eligible location, furnished with
hot and cold water throughout, and all the modern improvements. It was a
place where cooking utensils were in demand, and title-deeds to brown-
stone fronts were not. We were in possession of something which every
one needed every day, and, therefore, were persons of consequence and
consideration to those around us who were present or prospective

On our side we obeyed another law of political economy: We clung to our
property with unrelaxing tenacity, made the best use of it in our
intercourse with our fellows, and only gave it up after our release and
entry into a land where the plenitude of cooking utensils of superior
construction made ours valueless. Then we flung them into the sea, with
little gratitude for the great benefit they had been to us. We were more
anxious to get rid of the many hateful recollections clustering around

But, to return to the alleged soup: As I started to drink my first ration
it seemed to me that there was a superfluity of bugs upon its surface.
Much as I wanted animal food, I did not care for fresh meat in that form.
I skimmed them off carefully, so as to lose as little soup as possible.
But the top layer seemed to be underlaid with another equally dense.
This was also skimmed off as deftly as possible. But beneath this
appeared another layer, which, when removed, showed still another; and so
on, until I had scraped to the bottom of the can, and the last of the
bugs went with the last of my soup. I have before spoken of the
remarkable bug fecundity of the beans (or peas). This was a
demonstration of it. Every scouped out pea (or bean) which found its way
into the soup bore inside of its shell from ten to twenty of these hard-
crusted little weevil. Afterward I drank my soup without skimming.
It was not that I hated the weevil less, but that I loved the soup more.
It was only another step toward a closer conformity to that grand rule
which I have made the guiding maxim of my life:

‘When I must, I had better.’

I recommend this to other young men starting on their career.

The room in which we were was barely large enough for all of us to lie
down at once. Even then it required pretty close “spooning” together–
so close in fact that all sleeping along one side would have to turn at
once. It was funny to watch this operation. All, for instance, would be
lying on their right sides. They would begin to get tired, and one of
the wearied ones would sing out to the Sergeant who was in command of the

“Sergeant: let’s spoon the other way.”

That individual would reply:

“All right. Attention! LEFT SPOON!!” and the whole line would at once
flop over on their left sides.

The feet of the row that slept along the east wall on the floor below us
were in a line with the edge of the outer door, and a chalk line drawn
from the crack between the door and the frame to the opposite wall would
touch, say 150 pairs of feet. They were a noisy crowd down there, and
one night their noise so provoked the guard in front of the door that he
called out to them to keep quiet or he would fire in upon them. They
greeted this threat with a chorus profanely uncomplimentary to the purity
of the guard’s ancestry; they did not imply his descent a la Darwin, from
the remote monkey, but more immediate generation by a common domestic
animal. The incensed Rebel opened the door wide enough to thrust his gun
in, and he fired directly down the line of toes. His piece was
apparently loaded with buckshot, and the little balls must have struck
the legs, nipped off the toes, pierced the feet, and otherwise slightly
wounded the lower extremities of fifty men. The simultaneous shriek that
went up was deafening. It was soon found out that nobody had been hurt
seriously, and there was not a little fun over the occurrence.

One of the prisoners in Libby was Brigadier General Neal Dow, of Maine,
who had then a National reputation as a Temperance advocate, and the
author of the famous Maine Liquor Law. We, whose places were near the
front window, used to see him frequently on the street, accompanied by a
guard. He was allowed, we understood, to visit our sick in the hospital.
His long, snowy beard and hair gave him a venerable and commanding

Newsboys seemed to be a thing unknown in Richmond. The papers were sold
on the streets by negro men. The one who frequented our section with the
morning journals had a mellow; rich baritone for which we would be glad
to exchange the shrill cries of our street Arabs. We long remembered him
as one of the peculiar features of Richmond. He had one unvarying
formula for proclaiming his wares. It ran in this wise:

“Great Nooze in de papahs!

“Great Nooze from Orange Coaht House, Virginny!

“Great Nooze from Alexandry, Virginny!

“Great Nooze from Washington City!

“Great Nooze from Chattanoogy, Tennessee!

“Great Nooze from Chahlston, Sou’ Cahlina!

“Great Nooze in depapahs!”

It did not matter to him that the Rebels had not been at some of these
places for months. He would not change for such mere trifles as the
entire evaporation of all possible interest connected with Chattanooga
and Alexandria. He was a true Bourbon Southerner–he learned nothing and
forgot nothing.

There was a considerable trade driven between the prisoners and the guard
at the door. This was a very lucrative position for the latter, and men
of a commercial turn of mind generally managed to get stationed there.
The blockade had cut off the Confederacy’s supplies from the outer world,
and the many trinkets about a man’s person were in good demand at high
prices. The men of the Army of the Potomac, who were paid regularly,
and were always near their supplies, had their pockets filled with combs,
silk handkerchiefs, knives, neckties, gold pens, pencils, silver watches,
playing cards, dice, etc. Such of these as escaped appropriation by
their captors and Dick Turner, were eagerly bought by the guards, who
paid fair prices in Confederate money, or traded wheat bread, tobacco,
daily papers, etc., for them.

There was also considerable brokerage in money, and the manner of doing
this was an admirable exemplification of the folly of the “fiat” money
idea. The Rebels exhausted their ingenuity in framing laws to sustain
the purchasing power of their paper money. It was made legal tender for
all debts public and private; it was decreed that the man who refused to
take it was a public enemy; all the considerations of patriotism were
rallied to its support, and the law provided that any citizens found
trafficking in the money of the enemy–i.e., greenbacks, should suffer
imprisonment in the Penitentiary, and any soldier so offending should
suffer death.

Notwithstanding all this, in Richmond, the head and heart of the
Confederacy, in January, 1864–long before the Rebel cause began to look
at all desperate–it took a dollar to buy such a loaf of bread as now
sells for ten cents; a newspaper was a half dollar, and everything else
in proportion. And still worse: There was not a day during our stay in
Richmond but what one could go to the hole in the door before which the
guard was pacing and call out in a loud whisper:

“Say, Guard: do you want to buy some greenbacks?”

And be sure that the reply would be, after a furtive glance around to see
that no officer was watching:

“Yes; how much do you want for them?”

The reply was then: “Ten for one.”

“All right; how much have you got?”

The Yankee would reply; the Rebel would walk to the farther end of his
beat, count out the necessary amount, and, returning, put up one hand
with it, while with the other he caught hold of one end of the Yankee’s
greenback. At the word, both would release their holds simultaneously,
the exchange was complete, and the Rebel would pace industriously up and
down his beat with the air of the school boy who “ain’t been a-doin’

There was never any risk in approaching any guard with a proposition of
this kind. I never heard of one refusing to trade for greenbacks, and if
the men on guard could not be restrained by these stringent laws, what
hope could there be of restraining anybody else?

One day we were favored with a visit from the redoubtable General John H.
Morgan, next to J. E. B. Stuart the greatest of Rebel cavalry leaders.
He had lately escaped from the Ohio Penitentiary. He was invited to
Richmond to be made a Major General, and was given a grand ovation by the
citizens and civic Government. He came into our building to visit a
number of the First Kentucky Cavalry (loyal)–captured at New
Philadelphia, East Tennessee–whom he was anxious to have exchanged for
men of his own regiment–the First Kentucky Cavalry (Rebel)–who were
captured at the same time he was. I happened to get very close to him
while he was standing there talking to his old acquaintances, and I made
a mental photograph of him, which still retains all its original
distinctness. He was a tall, heavy man, with a full, coarse, and
somewhat dull face, and lazy, sluggish gray eyes. His long black hair
was carefully oiled, and turned under at the ends, as was the custom with
the rural beaux some years ago. His face was clean shaved, except a
large, sandy goatee. He wore a high silk hat, a black broadcloth coat,
Kentucky jeans pantaloons, neatly fitting boots, and no vest. There was
nothing remotely suggestive of unusual ability or force of character, and
I thought as I studied him that the sting of George D. Prentice’s bon mot
about him was in its acrid truth. Said Mr. Prentice:

“Why don’t somebody put a pistol to Basil Duke’s head, and blow John
Morgan’s brains out!” [Basil Duke was John Morgan’s right hand man.]



Before going any further in this narrative it may be well to state that
the nomenclature employed is not used in any odious or disparaging sense.
It is simply the adoption of the usual terms employed by the soldiers of
both sides in speaking to or of each other. We habitually spoke of them
and to them, as “Rebels,” and “Johnnies ;” they of and to us, as “Yanks,”
and “Yankees.” To have said “Confederates,” “Southerners,”
“Secessionists,” or “Federalists,” “Unionists,” “Northerners” or
“Nationalists,” would have seemed useless euphemism. The plainer terms
suited better, and it was a day when things were more important than

For some inscrutable reason the Rebels decided to vaccinate us all.
Why they did this has been one of the unsolved problems of my life.
It is true that there was small pox in the City, and among the prisoners
at Danville; but that any consideration for our safety should have led
them to order general inoculation is not among the reasonable inferences.
But, be that as it may, vaccination was ordered, and performed. By great
good luck I was absent from the building with the squad drawing rations,
when our room was inoculated, so I escaped what was an infliction to all,
and fatal to many. The direst consequences followed the operation.
Foul ulcers appeared on various parts of the bodies of the vaccinated.
In many instances the arms literally rotted off; and death followed from
a corruption of the blood. Frequently the faces, and other parts of
those who recovered, were disfigured by the ghastly cicatrices of healed
ulcers. A special friend of mine, Sergeant Frank Beverstock–then a
member of the Third Virginia Cavalry, (loyal), and after the war a banker
in Bowling Green, O.,–bore upon his temple to his dying day, (which
occurred a year ago), a fearful scar, where the flesh had sloughed off
from the effects of the virus that had tainted his blood.

This I do not pretend to account for. We thought at the time that the
Rebels had deliberately poisoned the vaccine matter with syphilitic
virus, and it was so charged upon them. I do not now believe that this
was so; I can hardly think that members of the humane profession of
medicine would be guilty of such subtle diabolism–worse even than
poisoning the wells from which an enemy must drink. The explanation with
which I have satisfied myself is that some careless or stupid
practitioner took the vaccinating lymph from diseased human bodies,
and thus infected all with the blood venom, without any conception of
what he was doing. The low standard of medical education in the South
makes this theory quite plausible.

We now formed the acquaintance of a species of human vermin that united
with the Rebels, cold, hunger, lice and the oppression of distraint, to
leave nothing undone that could add to the miseries of our prison life.

These were the fledglings of the slums and dives of New York–graduates
of that metropolitan sink of iniquity where the rogues and criminals of
the whole world meet for mutual instruction in vice.

They were men who, as a rule, had never known, a day of honesty and
cleanliness in their misspent lives; whose fathers, brothers and constant
companions were roughs, malefactors and, felons; whose mothers, wives and
sisters were prostitutes, procuresses and thieves; men who had from
infancy lived in an atmosphere of sin, until it saturated every fiber of
their being as a dweller in a jungle imbibes malaria by every one of his,
millions of pores, until his very marrow is surcharged with it.

They included representatives from all nationalities, and their
descendants, but the English and Irish elements predominated. They had
an argot peculiar to themselves. It was partly made up of the “flash”
language of the London thieves, amplified and enriched by the cant
vocabulary and the jargon of crime of every European tongue. They spoke
it with a peculiar accent and intonation that made them instantly
recognizable from the roughs of all other Cities. They called themselves
“N’Yaarkers;” we came to know them as “Raiders.”

If everything in the animal world has its counterpart among men, then
these were the wolves, jackals and hyenas of the race at once cowardly
and fierce–audaciously bold when the power of numbers was on their side,
and cowardly when confronted with resolution by anything like an equality
of strength.

Like all other roughs and rascals of whatever degree, they were utterly
worthless as soldiers. There may have been in the Army some habitual
corner loafer, some fistic champion of the bar-room and brothel, some
Terror of Plug Uglyville, who was worth the salt in the hard tack he
consumed, but if there were, I did not form his acquaintance, and I never
heard of any one else who did. It was the rule that the man who was the
readiest in the use of fist and slungshot at home had the greatest
diffidence about forming a close acquaintance with cold lead in the
neighborhood of the front. Thousands of the so-called “dangerous
classes” were recruited, from whom the Government did not receive so much
service as would pay for the buttons on their uniforms. People expected
that they would make themselves as troublesome to the Rebels as they were
to good citizens and the Police, but they were only pugnacious to the
provost guard, and terrible to the people in the rear of the Army who had
anything that could be stolen.

The highest type of soldier which the world has yet produced is the
intelligent, self-respecting American boy, with home, and father and
mother and friends behind him, and duty in front beckoning him on.
In the sixty centuries that war has been a profession no man has entered
its ranks so calmly resolute in confronting danger, so shrewd and
energetic in his aggressiveness, so tenacious of the defense and the
assault, so certain to rise swiftly to the level of every emergency, as
the boy who, in the good old phrase, had been “well-raised” in a
Godfearing home, and went to the field in obedience to a conviction of
duty. His unfailing courage and good sense won fights that the
incompetency or cankering jealousy of commanders had lost. High officers
were occasionally disloyal, or willing to sacrifice their country to
personal pique; still more frequently they were ignorant and inefficient;
but the enlisted man had more than enough innate soldiership to make
amends for these deficiencies, and his superb conduct often brought
honors and promotions to those only who deserved shame and disaster.

Our “N’Yaarkers,” swift to see any opportunity for dishonest gain, had
taken to bounty-jumping, or, as they termed it, “leppin’ the bounty,”
for a livelihood. Those who were thrust in upon us had followed this
until it had become dangerous, and then deserted to the Rebels. The
latter kept them at Castle Lightning for awhile, and then, rightly
estimating their character, and considering that it was best to trade
them off for a genuine Rebel soldier, sent them in among us, to be
exchanged regularly with us. There was not so much good faith as good
policy shown by this. It was a matter of indifference to the Rebels how
soon our Government shot these deserters after getting them in its hands
again. They were only anxious to use them to get their own men back.

The moment they came into contact with us our troubles began. They stole
whenever opportunities offered, and they were indefatigable in making
these offer; they robbed by actual force, whenever force would avail;
and more obsequious lick-spittles to power never existed–they were
perpetually on the look-out for a chance to curry favor by betraying
some plan or scheme to those who guarded us.

I saw one day a queer illustration of the audacious side of these
fellows’ characters, and it shows at the same time how brazen effrontery
will sometimes get the better of courage. In a room in an adjacent
building were a number of these fellows, and a still greater number of
East Tennesseeans. These latter were simple, ignorant folks, but
reasonably courageous. About fifty of them were sitting in a group in
one corner of the room, and near them a couple or three “N’Yaarkers.”
Suddenly one of the latter said with an oath:

“I was robbed last night; I lost two silver watches, a couple of rings,
and about fifty dollars in greenbacks. I believe some of you fellers
went through me.”

This was all pure invention; he no more had the things mentioned than.
he had purity of heart and a Christian spirit, but the unsophisticated
Tennesseeans did not dream of disputing his statement, and answered in

“Oh, no, mister; we didn’t take your things; we ain’t that kind.”

This was like the reply of the lamb to the wolf, in the fable, and the
N’Yaarker retorted with a simulated storm of passion, and a torrent of

“—- —- I know ye did; I know some uv yez has got them; stand up agin
the wall there till I search yez!”

And that whole fifty men, any one of whom was physically equal to the
N’Yaarker, and his superior in point of real courage, actually stood
against the wall, and submitted to being searched and having taken from
them the few Confederate bills they had, and such trinkets as the
searcher took a fancy to.

I was thoroughly disgusted.



In February my chum–B. B. Andrews, now a physician in Astoria, Illinois
–was brought into our building, greatly to my delight and astonishment,
and from him I obtained the much desired news as to the fate of my
comrades. He told me they had been sent to Belle Isle, whither he had
gone, but succumbing to the rigors of that dreadful place, he had been
taken to the hospital, and, upon his convalesence, placed in our prison.

Our men were suffering terribly on the island. It was low, damp, and
swept by the bleak, piercing winds that howled up and down the surface of
the James. The first prisoners placed on the island had been given tents
that afforded them some shelter, but these were all occupied when our
battalion came in, so that they were compelled to lie on the snow and
frozen ground, without shelter, covering of any kind, or fire. During
this time the cold had been so intense that the James had frozen over
three times.

The rations had been much worse than ours. The so-called soup had been
diluted to a ridiculous thinness, and meat had wholly disappeared.
So intense became the craving for animal food, that one day when
Lieutenant Boisseux–the Commandant–strolled into the camp with his
beloved white bull-terrier, which was as fat as a Cheshire pig, the
latter was decoyed into a tent, a blanket thrown over him, his throat cut
within a rod of where his master was standing, and he was then skinned,
cut up, cooked, and furnished a savory meal to many hungry men.

When Boisseux learned of the fate of his four-footed friend he was,
of course, intensely enraged, but that was all the good it did him.
The only revenge possible was to sentence more prisoners to ride the
cruel wooden horse which he used as a means of punishment.

Four of our company were already dead. Jacob Lowry and John Beach were
standing near the gate one day when some one snatched the guard’s blanket
from the post where he had hung it, and ran. The enraged sentry leveled
his gun and fired into the crowd. The balls passed through Lowry’s and
Beach’s breasts. Then Charley Osgood, son of our Lieutenant, a quiet,
fair-haired, pleasant-spoken boy, but as brave and earnest as his gallant
father, sank under the combination of hunger and cold. One stinging
morning he was found stiff and stark, on the hard ground, his bright,
frank blue eyes glazed over in death.

One of the mysteries of our company was a tall, slender, elderly
Scotchman, who appeared on the rolls as William Bradford. What his past
life had been, where he had lived, what his profession, whether married
or single, no one ever knew. He came to us while in Camp of Instruction
near Springfield, Illinois, and seemed to have left all his past behind
him as he crossed the line of sentries around the camp. He never
received any letters, and never wrote any; never asked for a furlough or
pass, and never expressed a wish to be elsewhere than in camp. He was
courteous and pleasant, but very reserved. He interfered with no one,
obeyed orders promptly and without remark, and was always present for
duty. Scrupulously neat in dress, always as clean-shaved as an old-
fashioned gentleman of the world, with manners and conversation that
showed him to have belonged to a refined and polished circle, he was
evidently out of place as a private soldier in a company of reckless and
none-too-refined young Illinois troopers, but he never availed himself of
any of the numerous opportunities offered to change his associations.
His elegant penmanship would have secured him an easy berth and better
society at headquarters, but he declined to accept a detail. He became
an exciting mystery to a knot of us imaginative young cubs, who sorted up
out of the reminiscential rag-bag of high colors and strong contrasts
with which the sensational literature that we most affected had
plentifully stored our minds, a half-dozen intensely emotional careers
for him. We spent much time in mentally trying these on, and discussing
which fitted him best. We were always expecting a denouement that would
come like a lightning flash and reveal his whole mysterious past, showing
him to have been the disinherited scion of some noble house, a man of
high station, who was expiating some fearful crime; an accomplished
villain eluding his pursuers–in short, a Somebody who would be a fitting
hero for Miss Braddon’s or Wilkie Collins’s literary purposes. We never
got but two clues of his past, and they were faint ones. One day, he
left lying near me a small copy of “Paradise Lost,” that he always
carried with him. Turning over its leaves I found all of Milton’s bitter
invectives against women heavily underscored. Another time, while on
guard with him, he spent much of his time in writing some Latin verses in
very elegant chirography upon the white painted boards of a fence along
which his beat ran. We pressed in all the available knowledge of Latin
about camp, and found that the tenor of the verses was very
uncomplimentary to that charming sex which does us the honor of being our
mothers and sweethearts. These evidences we accepted as sufficient
demonstration that there was a woman at the bottom of the mystery, and
made us more impatient for further developments. These were never to
come. Bradford pined away an Belle Isle, and grew weaker, but no less
reserved, each day. At length, one bitter cold night ended it all.
He was found in the morning stone dead, with his iron-gray hair frozen
fast to the ground, upon which he lay. Our mystery had to remain
unsolved. There was nothing about his person to give any hint as to his



As each lagging day closed, we confidently expected that the next would
bring some news of the eagerly-desired exchange. We hopefully assured
each other that the thing could not be delayed much longer; that the
Spring was near, the campaign would soon open, and each government would
make an effort to get all its men into the field, and this would bring
about a transfer of prisoners. A Sergeant of the Seventh Indiana
Infantry stated his theory to me this way:

“You know I’m just old lightnin’ on chuck-a-luck. Now the way I bet is
this: I lay down, say on the ace, an’ it don’t come up; I just double my
bet on the ace, an’ keep on doublin’ every time it loses, until at last
it comes up an’ then I win a bushel o’ money, and mebbe bust the bank.
You see the thing’s got to come up some time; an’ every time it don’t
come up makes it more likely to come up the next time. It’s just the
same way with this ‘ere exchange. The thing’s got to happen some day,
an’ every day that it don’t happen increases the chances that it will
happen the next day.”

Some months later I folded the sanguine Sergeant’s stiffening hands
together across his fleshless ribs, and helped carry his body out to the
dead-house at Andersonville, in order to get a piece of wood to cook my
ration of meal with.

On the evening of the 17th of February, 1864, we were ordered to get
ready to move at daybreak the next morning. We were certain this could
mean nothing else than exchange, and our exaltation was such that we did
little sleeping that night. The morning was very cold, but we sang and
joked as we marched over the creaking bridge, on our way to the cars.
We were packed so tightly in these that it was impossible to even sit
down, and we rolled slow ly away after a wheezing engine to Petersburg,
whence we expected to march to the exchange post. We reached Petersburg
before noon, and the cars halted there along time, we momentarily
expecting an order to get out. Then the train started up and moved out
of the City toward the southeast. This was inexplicable, but after we
had proceeded this way for several hours some one conceived the idea that
the Rebels, to avoid treating with Butler, were taking us into the
Department of some other commander to exchange us. This explanation
satisfied us, and our spirits rose again.

Night found us at Gaston, N. C., where we received a few crackers for
rations, and changed cars. It was dark, and we resorted to a little
strategy to secure more room. About thirty of us got into a tight box
car, and immediately announced that it was too full to admit any more.
When an officer came along with another squad to stow away, we would yell
out to him to take some of the men out, as we were crowded unbearably.
In the mean time everybody in the car would pack closely around the door,
so as to give the impression that the car was densely crowded. The Rebel
would look convinced, and demand:

“Why, how many men have you got in de cah?”

Then one of us would order the imaginary host in the invisible recesses

“Stand still there, and be counted,” while he would gravely count up to
one hundred or one hundred and twenty, which was the utmost limit of the
car, and the Rebel would hurry off to put his prisoners somewhere else.
We managed to play this successfully during the whole journey, and not
only obtained room to lie down in the car, but also drew three or four
times as many rations as were intended for us, so that while we at no
time had enough, we were farther from starvation than our less strategic

The second afternoon we arrived at Raleigh, the capitol of North
Carolina, and were camped in a piece of timber, and shortly after dark
orders were issued to us all to lie flat on the ground and not rise up
till daylight. About the middle of the night a man belonging to a New
Jersey regiment, who had apparently forgotten the order, stood up, and
was immediately shot dead by the guard.

For four or five days more the decrepit little locomotive strained along,
dragging after it the rattling’ old cars. The scenery was intensely
monotonous. It was a flat, almost unending, stretch of pine barrens and
the land so poor that a disgusted Illinoisan, used to the fertility of
the great American Bottom, said rather strongly, that,

“By George, they’d have to manure this ground before they could even make
brick out of it.”

It was a surprise to all of us who had heard so much of the wealth of
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to find the soil a
sterile sand bank, interspersed with swamps.

We had still no idea of where we were going. We only knew that our
general course was southward, and that we had passed through the
Carolinas, and were in Georgia. We furbished up our school knowledge of
geography and endeavored to recall something of the location of Raleigh,
Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta, through which we passed, but the attempt
was not a success.

Late on the afternoon of the 25th of February the Seventh Indiana
Sergeant approached me with the inquiry:

“Do you know where Macon is?”

The place had not then become as well known as it was afterward.

It seemed to me that I had read something of Macon in Revolutionary
history, and that it was a fort on the sea coast. He said that the guard
had told him that we were to be taken to a point near that place, and we
agreed that it was probably a new place of exchange. A little later we
passed through the town of Macon, Ga, and turned upon a road that led
almost due south.

About midnight the train stopped, and we were ordered off. We were in
the midst of a forest of tall trees that loaded the air with the heavy
balsamic odor peculiar to pine trees. A few small rude houses were
scattered around near.

Stretching out into the darkness was a double row of great heaps of
burning pitch pine, that smoked and flamed fiercely, and lit up a little
space around in the somber forest with a ruddy glare. Between these two
rows lay a road, which we were ordered to take.

The scene was weird and uncanny. I had recently read the “Iliad,” and
the long lines of huge fires reminded me of that scene in the first book,
where the Greeks burn on the sea shore the bodies of those smitten by
Apollo’s pestilential-arrows

For nine long nights, through all the dusky air,
The pyres, thick flaming shot a dismal glare.

Five hundred weary men moved along slowly through double lines of guards.
Five hundred men marched silently towards the gates that were to shut out
life and hope from most of them forever. A quarter of a mile from the
railroad we came to a massive palisade of great squared logs standing
upright in the ground. The fires blazed up and showed us a section of
these, and two massive wooden gates, with heavy iron hinges and bolts.
They swung open as we stood there and we passed through into the space

We were in Andersonville.



As the next nine months of the existence of those of us who survived were
spent in intimate connection with the soil of Georgia, and, as it
exercised a potential influence upon our comfort and well-being, or
rather lack of these–a mention of some of its peculiar characteristics
may help the reader to a fuller comprehension of the conditions
surrounding us–our environment, as Darwin would say.

Georgia, which, next to Texas, is the largest State in the South, and has
nearly twenty-five per cent. more area than the great State of New York,
is divided into two distinct and widely differing sections, by a
geological line extending directly across the State from Augusta, on the
Savannah River, through Macon, on the Ocmulgee, to Columbus, on the
Chattahoochie. That part lying to the north and west of this line is
usually spoken of as “Upper Georgia;” while that lying to the south and
east, extending to the Atlantic Ocean and the Florida line, is called
“Lower Georgia.” In this part of the State–though far removed from each
other–were the prisons of Andersonville, Savannah, Millen and
Blackshear, in which we were incarcerated one after the other.

Upper Georgia–the capital of which is Atlanta–is a fruitful,
productive, metalliferous region, that will in time become quite wealthy.
Lower Georgia, which has an extent about equal to that of Indiana, is not
only poorer now than a worn-out province of Asia Minor, but in all
probability will ever remain so.

It is a starved, sterile land, impressing one as a desert in the first
stages of reclamation into productive soil, or a productive soil in the
last steps of deterioration into a desert. It is a vast expanse of arid,
yellow sand, broken at intervals by foul swamps, with a jungle-life
growth of unwholesome vegetation, and teeming With venomous snakes, and
all manner of hideous crawling thing.

The original forest still stands almost unbroken on this wide stretch of
thirty thousand square miles, but it does not cover it as we say of
forests in more favored lands. The tall, solemn pines, upright and
symmetrical as huge masts, and wholly destitute of limbs, except the
little, umbrella-like crest at the very top, stand far apart from each
other in an unfriendly isolation. There is no fraternal interlacing of
branches to form a kindly, umbrageous shadow. Between them is no genial
undergrowth of vines, shrubs, and demi-trees, generous in fruits, berries
and nuts, such as make one of the charms of Northern forests. On the
ground is no rich, springing sod of emerald green, fragrant with the
elusive sweetness of white clover, and dainty flowers, but a sparse,
wiry, famished grass, scattered thinly over the surface in tufts and
patches, like the hair on a mangy cur.

The giant pines seem to have sucked up into their immense boles all the
nutriment in the earth, and starved out every minor growth. So wide and
clean is the space between them, that one can look through the forest in
any direction for miles, with almost as little interference with the view
as on a prairie. In the swampier parts the trees are lower, and their
limbs are hung with heavy festoons of the gloomy Spanish moss, or “death
moss,” as it is more frequently called, because where it grows rankest
the malaria is the deadliest. Everywhere Nature seems sad, subdued and

I have long entertained a peculiar theory to account for the decadence
and ruin of countries. My reading of the world’s history seems to teach
me that when a strong people take possession of a fertile land, they
reduce it to cultivation, thrive upon its bountifulness, multiply into
millions the mouths to be fed from it, tax it to the last limit of
production of the necessities of life, take from it continually, and give
nothing back, starve and overwork it as cruel, grasping men do a servant
or a beast, and when at last it breaks down under the strain, it revenges
itself by starving many of them with great famines, while the others go
off in search of new countries to put through the same process of
exhaustion. We have seen one country after another undergo this process
as the seat of empire took its westward way, from the cradle of the race
on the banks of the Oxus to the fertile plains in the Valley of the
Euphrates. Impoverishing these, men next sought the Valley of the Nile,
then the Grecian Peninsula; next Syracuse and the Italian Peninsula,
then the Iberian Peninsula, and the African shores of the Mediterranean.
Exhausting all these, they were deserted for the French, German and
English portions of Europe. The turn of the latter is now come; famines
are becoming terribly frequent, and mankind is pouring into the virgin
fields of America.

Lower Georgia, the Carolinas and Eastern Virginia have all the
characteristics of these starved and worn-out lands. It would seem as
if, away back in the distance of ages, some numerous and civilized race
had drained from the soil the last atom of food-producing constituents,
and that it is now slowly gathering back, as the centuries pass, the
elements that have been wrung from the land.

Lower Georgia is very thinly settled. Much of the land is still in the
hands of the Government. The three or four railroads which pass through
it have little reference to local traffic. There are no towns along them
as a rule; stations are made every ten miles, and not named, but
numbered, as “Station No. 4”–“No. 10”, etc. The roads were built as
through lines, to bring to the seaboard the rich products of the

Andersonville is one of the few stations dignified with a same, probably
because it contained some half dozen of shabby houses, whereas at the
others there was usually nothing more than a mere open shed, to shelter
goods and travelers. It is on a rudely constructed, rickety railroad,
that runs from Macon to Albany, the head of navigation on the Flint
River, which is, one hundred and six miles from Macon, and two hundred
and fifty from the Gulf of Mexico. Andersonville is about sixty miles
from Macon, and, consequently, about three hundred miles from the Gulf.
The camp was merely a hole cut in the wilderness. It was as remote a
point from, our armies, as they then lay, as the Southern Confederacy
could give. The nearest was Sherman, at Chattanooga, four hundred miles
away, and on the other side of a range of mountains hundreds of miles

To us it seemed beyond the last forlorn limits of civilization. We felt
that we were more completely at the mercy of our foes than ever. While
in Richmond we were in the heart of the Confederacy; we were in the midst
of the Rebel military and, civil force, and were surrounded on every hand
by visible evidences of the great magnitude of that power, but this,
while it enforced our ready submission, did not overawe us depressingly,
We knew that though the Rebels were all about us in great force, our own
men were also near, and in still greater force–that while they were very
strong our army was still stronger, and there was no telling what day
this superiority of strength, might be demonstrated in such a way as to
decisively benefit us.

But here we felt as did the Ancient Mariner:

Alone on a wide, wide sea,
So lonely ’twas that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.



We roused up promptly with the dawn to take a survey of our new abiding
place. We found ourselves in an immense pen, about one thousand feet
long by eight hundred wide, as a young surveyor–a member of the Thirty-
fourth Ohio–informed us after he had paced it off. He estimated that it
contained about sixteen acres. The walls were formed by pine logs
twenty-five feet long, from two to three feet in diameter, hewn square,
set into the ground to a depth of five feet, and placed so close together
as to leave no crack through which the country outside could be seen.
There being five feet of the logs in the ground, the wall was, of course,
twenty feet high. This manner of enclosure was in some respects superior
to a wall of masonry. It was equally unscalable, and much more difficult
to undermine or batter down.

The pen was Longest due north and south. It was! divided in the center
by a creek about a yard wide and ten inches deep, running from west to
east. On each side of this was a quaking bog of slimy ooze one hundred
and fifty feet wide, and so yielding that one attempting to walk upon it
would sink to the waist. From this swamp the sand-hills sloped north and
south to the stockade. All the trees inside the stockade, save two, had
been cut down and used in its construction. All the rank vegetation of
the swamp had also been cut off.

There were two entrances to the stockade, one on each side of the creek,
midway between it and the ends, and called respectively the “North Gate”
and the “South Gate.” These were constructed double, by building
smaller stockades around them on the outside, with another set of gates.
When prisoners or wagons with rations were brought in, they were first
brought inside the outer gates, which were carefully secured, before the
inner gates were opened. This was done to prevent the gates being
carried by a rush by those confined inside.

At regular intervals along the palisades were little perches, upon which
stood guards, who overlooked the whole inside of the prison.

The only view we had of the outside was that obtained by looking from the
highest points of the North or South Sides across the depression where
the stockade crossed the swamp. In this way we could see about forty
acres at a time of the adjoining woodland, or say one hundred and sixty
acres altogether, and this meager landscape had to content us for the
next half year.

Before our inspection was finished, a wagon drove in with rations, and a
quart of meal, a sweet potato and a few ounces of salt beef were issued
to each one of us.

In a few minutes we were all hard at work preparing our first meal in
Andersonville. The debris of the forest left a temporary abundance of
fuel, and we had already a cheerful fire blazing for every little squad.
There were a number of tobacco presses in the rooms we occupied in
Richmond, and to each of these was a quantity of sheets of tin, evidently
used to put between the layers of tobacco. The deft hands of the
mechanics among us bent these up into square pans, which were real handy
cooking utensils, holding about–a quart. Water was carried in them from
the creek; the meal mixed in them to a dough, or else boiled as mush in
the same vessels; the potatoes were boiled; and their final service was
to hold a little meal to be carefully browned, and then water boiled upon
it, so as to form a feeble imitation of coffee. I found my education at
Jonesville in the art of baking a hoe-cake now came in good play, both
for myself and companions. Taking one of the pieces of tin which had not
yet been made into a pan, we spread upon it a layer of dough about a
half-inch thick. Propping this up nearly upright before the fire, it was
soon nicely browned over. This process made it sweat itself loose from
the tin, when it was turned over and the bottom browned also. Save that
it was destitute of salt, it was quite a toothsome bit of nutriment for a
hungry man, and I recommend my readers to try making a “pone” of this
kind once, just to see what it was like.

The supreme indifference with which the Rebels always treated the matter
of cooking utensils for us, excited my wonder. It never seemed to occur
to them that we could have any more need of vessels for our food than
cattle or swine. Never, during my whole prison life, did I see so much
as a tin cup or a bucket issued to a prisoner. Starving men were driven
to all sorts of shifts for want of these. Pantaloons or coats were
pulled off and their sleeves or legs used to draw a mess’s meal in.
Boots were common vessels for carrying water, and when the feet of these
gave way the legs were ingeniously closed up with pine pegs, so as to
form rude leathern buckets. Men whose pocket knives had escaped the
search at the gates made very ingenious little tubs and buckets, and
these devices enabled us to get along after a fashion.

After our meal was disposed of, we held a council on the situation.
Though we had been sadly disappointed in not being exchanged, it seemed
that on the whole our condition had been bettered. This first ration was
a decided improvement on those of the Pemberton building; we had left the
snow and ice behind at Richmond–or rather at some place between Raleigh,
N. C., and Columbia, S. C.–and the air here, though chill, was not
nipping, but bracing. It looked as if we would have a plenty of wood for
shelter and fuel, it was certainly better to have sixteen acres to roam
over than the stiffing confines of a building; and, still better, it
seemed as if there would be plenty of opportunities to get beyond the
stockade, and attempt a journey through the woods to that blissful land–
“Our lines.”

We settled down to make the best of things. A Rebel Sergeant came in
presently and arranged us in hundreds. We subdivided these into messes
of twenty-five, and began devising means for shelter. Nothing showed the
inborn capacity of the Northern soldier to take care of himself better
than the way in which we accomplished this with the rude materials at our
command. No ax, spade nor mattock was allowed us by the Rebels, who
treated us in regard to these the same as in respect to culinary vessels.
The only tools were a few pocket-knives, and perhaps half-a-dozen
hatchets which some infantrymen-principally members of the Third
Michigan–were allowed to retain. Yet, despite all these drawbacks, we
had quite a village of huts erected in a few days,–nearly enough, in
fact, to afford tolerable shelter for the whole five hundred of us first-

The wither and poles that grew in the swamp were bent into the shape of
the semi-circular bows that support the canvas covers of army wagons, and
both ends thrust in the ground. These formed the timbers of our
dwellings. They were held in place by weaving in, basket-wise, a network
of briers and vines. Tufts of the long leaves which are the
distinguishing characteristic of the Georgia pine (popularly known as the
“long-leaved pine”) were wrought into this network until a thatch was
formed, that was a fair protection against the rain–it was like the
Irishman’s unglazed window-sash, which “kep’ out the coarsest uv the

The results accomplished were as astonishing to us as to the Rebels,
who would have lain unsheltered upon the sand until bleached out like
field-rotted flax, before thinking to protect themselves in this way.
As our village was approaching completion, the Rebel Sergeant who called
the roll entered. He was very odd-looking. The cervical muscles were
distorted in such a way as to suggest to us the name of “Wry-necked
Smith,” by which we always designated him. Pete Bates, of the Third
Michigan, who was the wag of our squad, accounted for Smith’s condition
by saying that while on dress parade once the Colonel of Smith’s regiment
had commanded “eyes right,” and then forgot to give the order “front.”
Smith, being a good soldier, had kept his eyes in the position of gazing
at the buttons of the third man to the right, waiting for the order to
restore them to their natural direction, until they had become
permanently fixed in their obliquity and he was compelled to go through
life taking a biased view of all things.

Smith walked in, made a diagonal survey of the encampment, which, if he
had ever seen “Mitchell’s Geography,” probably reminded him of the
picture of a Kaffir village, in that instructive but awfully dull book,
and then expressed the opinion that usually welled up to every Rebel’s

“Well, I’ll be durned, if you Yanks don’t just beat the devil.”

Of course, we replied with the well-worn prison joke, that we supposed we
did, as we beat the Rebels, who were worse than the devil.

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 his shoulders. Sunken gray
eyes, too dull and cold to light up, marked a hard, stony face, the
salient feature of which was a thin-upped, 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

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 all the inquisitors of the
world ever slew by the less dreadful rack and wheel. It was he who in
August could point to the 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 an incompetent; the son, always cautiously
distant from the scene of hostilities, was the tormentor of those whom
the fortunes of war, and the arms of brave men threw into his hands.

Winder gazed at us stonily for a few minutes without speaking, and,
turning, rode out again.

Our troubles, from that hour, rapidly increased.



The stockade was not quite finished at the time of our arrival–a gap of
several hundred feet appearing at the southwest corner. A gang of about
two hundred negros were at work felling trees, hewing legs, and placing
them upright in the trenches. We had an opportunity–soon to disappear
forever–of studying the workings of the “peculiar institution” in its
very home. The negros were of the lowest field-hand class, strong, dull,
ox-like, but each having in our eyes an admixture of cunning and
secretiveness that their masters pretended was not in them. Their
demeanor toward us illustrated this. We were the objects of the most
supreme interest to them, but when near us and in the presence of a white
Rebel, this interest took the shape of stupid, open-eyed, open-mouthed
wonder, something akin to the look on the face of the rustic lout, gazing
for the first time upon a locomotive or a steam threshing machine.
But if chance threw one of them near us when he thought himself
unobserved by the Rebels, the blank, vacant face lighted up with an
entirely different expression. He was no longer the credulous yokel who
believed the Yankees were only slightly modified devils, ready at any
instant to return to their original horn-and-tail condition and snatch
him away to the bluest kind of perdition; he knew, apparently quite as
well as his master, that they were in some way his friends and allies,
and he lost no opportunity in communicating his appreciation of that
fact, and of offering his services in any possible way. And these offers
were sincere. It is the testimony of every Union prisoner in the South
that he was never betrayed by or disappointed in a field-negro, but could
always approach any one of them with perfect confidence in his extending
all the aid in his power, whether as a guide to escape, as sentinel to
signal danger, or a purveyor of food. These services were frequently
attended with the greatest personal risk, but they were none the less
readily undertaken. This applies only to the field-hands; the house
servants were treacherous and wholly unreliable. Very many of our men
who managed to get away from the prisons were recaptured through their
betrayal by house servants, but none were retaken where a field hand
could prevent it.

We were much interested in watching the negro work. They wove in a great
deal of their peculiar, wild, mournful music, whenever the character of
the labor permitted. They seemed to sing the music for the music’s sake
alone, and were as heedless of the fitness of the accompanying words,
as the composer of a modern opera is of his libretto. One middle aged
man, with a powerful, mellow baritone, like the round, full notes of a
French horn, played by a virtuoso, was the musical leader of the party.
He never seemed to bother himself about air, notes or words, but
improvised all as he went along, and he sang as the spirit moved him.
He would suddenly break out with–

“Oh, he’s gone up dah, nevah to come back agin,”

At this every darkey within hearing would roll out, in admirable
consonance with the pitch, air and time started by the leader–


Then would ring out from the leader as from the throbbing lips of a
silver trumpet

“Lord bress him soul; I done hope he is happy now!”

And the antiphonal two hundred would chant back


And so on for hours. They never seemed to weary of singing, and we
certainly did not of listening to them. The absolute independence of the
conventionalities of tune and sentiment, gave them freedom to wander
through a kaleideoscopic variety of harmonic effects, as spontaneous and
changeful as the song of a bird.

I sat one evening, long after the shadows of night had fallen upon the
hillside, with one of my chums–a Frank Berkstresser, of the Ninth
Maryland Infantry, who before enlisting was a mathematical tutor in
college at Hancock, Maryland. As we listened to the unwearying flow of
melody from the camp of the laborers, I thought of and repeated to him
Longfellow’s fine lines:


And the voice of his devotion
Filled my soul with strong emotion;
For its tones by turns were glad
Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.

Paul and Silas, in their prison,
Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen,
And an earthquake’s arm of might
Broke their dungeon gates at night.

But, alas, what holy angel
Brings the slave this glad evangel
And what earthquake’s arm of might.
Breaks his prison gags at night.

Said I: “Now, isn’t that fine, Berkstresser?”

He was a Democrat, of fearfully pro-slavery ideas, and he replied,

“O, the poetry’s tolerable, but the sentiment’s damnable.”



The official designation of our prison was “Camp Sumpter,” but this was
scarcely known outside of the Rebel documents, reports and orders.
It was the same way with the prison five miles from Millen, to which we
were afterward transferred. The Rebels styled it officially “Camp
Lawton,” but we called it always “Millen.”

Having our huts finished, the next solicitude was about escape, and this
was the burden of our thoughts, day and night. We held conferences, at
which every man was required to contribute all the geographical knowledge
of that section of Georgia that he might have left over from his
schoolboy days, and also that gained by persistent questioning of such
guards and other Rebels as he had come in contact with. When first
landed in the prison we were as ignorant of our whereabouts as if we had
been dropped into the center of Africa. But one of the prisoners was
found to have a fragment of a school atlas, in which was an outline map
of Georgia, that had Macon, Atlanta, Milledgeville, and Savannah laid
down upon it. As we knew we had come southward from Macon, we felt
pretty certain we were in the southwestern corner of the State.
Conversations with guards and others gave us the information that the
Chattahooche flowed some two score of miles to the westward, and that the
Flint lay a little nearer on the east. Our map showed that these two
united and flowed together into Appalachicola Bay, where, some of us
remembered, a newspaper item had said that we had gunboats stationed.
The creek that ran through the stockade flowed to the east, and we
reasoned that if we followed its course we would be led to the Flint,
down which we could float on a log or raft to the Appalachicola. This
was the favorite scheme of the party with which I sided. Another party
believed the most feasible plan was to go northward, and endeavor to gain
the mountains, and thence get into East Tennessee.

But the main thing was to get away from the stockade; this, as the French
say of all first steps, was what would cost.

Our first attempt was made about a week after our arrival. We found two
logs on the east side that were a couple of feet shorter than the rest,
and it seemed as if they could be successfully scaled. About fifty of us
resolved to make the attempt. We made a rope twenty-five or thirty feet
long, and strong enough to bear a man, out of strings and strips of
cloth. A stout stick was fastened to the end, so that it would catch on
the logs on either side of the gap. On a night dark enough to favor our
scheme, we gathered together, drew cuts to determine each boy’s place in
the line, fell in single rank, according to this arrangement, and marched
to the place. The line was thrown skillfully, the stick caught fairly in
the notch, and the boy who had drawn number one climbed up amid a
suspense so keen that I could hear my heart beating. It seemed ages
before he reached the top, and that the noise he made must certainly
attract the attention of the guard. It did not. We saw our comrade’s.
figure outlined against the sky as he slid, over the top, and then heard
the dull thump as he sprang to the ground on the other side. “Number
two,” was whispered by our leader, and he performed the feat as
successfully as his predecessor. “Number, three,” and he followed
noiselessly and quickly. Thus it went on, until, just as we heard number
fifteen drop, we also heard a Rebel voice say in a vicious undertone:

“Halt! halt, there, d–n you!”

This was enough. The game was up; we were discovered, and the remaining
thirty-five of us left that locality with all the speed in our heels,
getting away just in time to escape a volley which a squad of guards,
posted in the lookouts, poured upon the spot where we had been standing.

The next morning the fifteen who had got over the Stockade were brought
in, each chained to a sixty-four pound ball. Their story was that one of
the N’Yaarkers, who had become cognizant of our scheme, had sought to
obtain favor in the Rebel eyes by betraying us. The Rebels stationed a
squad at the crossing place, and as each man dropped down from the
Stockade he was caught by the shoulder, the muzzle of a revolver thrust
into his face, and an order to surrender whispered into his ear. It was
expected that the guards in the sentry-boxes would do such execution
among those of us still inside as would prove a warning to other would-be
escapes. They were defeated in this benevolent intention by the
readiness with which we divined the meaning of that incautiously loud
halt, and our alacrity in leaving the unhealthy locality.

The traitorous N’Yaarker was rewarded with a detail into the commissary
department, where he fed and fattened like a rat that had secured
undisturbed homestead rights in the center of a cheese. When the
miserable remnant of us were leaving Andersonville months afterward, I
saw him, sleek, rotund, and well-clothed, lounging leisurely in the door
of a tent. He regarded us a moment contemptuously, and then went on
conversing with a fellow N’Yaarker, in the foul slang that none but such
as he were low enough to use.

I have always imagined that the fellow returned home, at the close of the
war, and became a prominent member of Tweed’s gang.

We protested against the barbarity of compelling men to wear irons for
exercising their natural right of attempting to escape, but no attention
was paid to our protest.

Another result of this abortive effort was the establishment of the
notorious “Dead Line.” A few days later a gang of negros came in and
drove a line of stakes down at a distance of twenty feet from the
stockade. They nailed upon this a strip of stuff four inches wide, and
then an order was issued that if this was crossed, or even touched, the
guards would fire upon the offender without warning.

Our surveyor figured up this new contraction of our space, and came to
the conclusion that the Dead Line and the Swamp took up about three
acres, and we were left now only thirteen acres. This was not of much
consequence then, however, as we still had plenty of room.

The first man was killed the morning after the Dead-Line was put up.
The victim vas a German, wearing the white crescent of the Second
Division of the Eleventh Corps, whom we had nicknamed “Sigel.” Hardship
and exposure had crazed him, and brought on a severe attack of St.
Vitus’s dance. As he went hobbling around with a vacuous grin upon his
face, he spied an old piece of cloth lying on the ground inside the Dead
Line. He stooped down and reached under for it. At that instant the
guard fired. The charge of ball-and-buck entered the poor old fellow’s
shoulder and tore through his body. He fell dead, still clutching the
dirty rag that had cost him his Life.



The emptying of the prisons at Danville and Richmond into Andersonville
went on slowly during the month of March. They came in by train loads of
from five hundred to eight hundred, at intervals of two or three days.
By the end of the month there were about five thousand in the stockade.
There was a fair amount of space for this number, and as yet we suffered
no inconvenience from our crowding, though most persons would fancy that
thirteen acres of ground was a rather limited area for five thousand men
to live, move and have their being a upon. Yet a few weeks later we were
to see seven times that many packed into that space.

One morning a new Rebel officer came in to superintend calling the roll.
He was an undersized, fidgety man, with an insignificant face, and a
mouth that protruded like a rabbit’s. His bright little eyes, like those
of a squirrel or a rat, assisted in giving his countenance a look of
kinship to the family of rodent animals–a genus which lives by stealth
and cunning, subsisting on that which it can steal away from stronger and
braver creatures. He was dressed in a pair of gray trousers, with the
other part of his body covered with a calico garment, like that which
small boys used to wear, called “waists.” This was fastened to the
pantaloons by buttons, precisely as was the custom with the garments of
boys struggling with the orthography of words in two syllables. Upon his
head was perched a little gray cap. Sticking in his belt, and fastened
to his wrist by a strap two or three feet long, was one of those
formidable looking, but harmless English revolvers, that have ten barrels
around the edge of the cylinder, and fire a musket-bullet from the
center. The wearer of this composite costume, and bearer of this amateur
arsenal, stepped nervously about and sputtered volubly in very broken
English. He said to Wry-Necked Smith:

“Py Gott, you don’t vatch dem dam Yankees glose enough! Dey are
schlippin’ rount, and peatin’ you efery dimes.”

This was Captain Henri Wirz, the new commandant of the interior of the
prison. There has been a great deal of misapprehension of the character
of Wirz. He is usually regarded as a villain of large mental caliber,
and with a genius for cruelty. He was nothing of the kind. He was
simply contemptible, from whatever point of view he was studied. Gnat-
brained, cowardly, and feeble natured, he had not a quality that
commanded respect from any one who knew him. His cruelty did not seem
designed so much as the ebullitions of a peevish, snarling little temper,
united to a mind incapable of conceiving the results of his acts, or
understanding the pain he was Inflicting.

I never heard anything of his profession or vocation before entering the
army. I always believed, however, that he had been a cheap clerk in a
small dry-goods store, a third or fourth rate book-keeper, or something
similar. Imagine, if you please, one such, who never had brains or self-
command sufficient to control himself, placed in command of thirty-five
thousand men. Being a fool he could not help being an infliction to
them, even with the best of intentions, and Wirz was not troubled with
good intentions.

I mention the probability of his having been a dry-goods clerk or book-
keeper, not with any disrespect to two honorable vocations, but because
Wirz had had some training as an accountant, and this was what gave him
the place over us. Rebels, as a rule, are astonishingly ignorant of
arithmetic and accounting, generally. They are good shots, fine
horsemen, ready speakers and ardent politicians, but, like all
noncommercial people, they flounder hopelessly in what people of this
section would consider simple mathematical processes. One of our
constant amusements was in befogging and “beating” those charged with
calling rolls and issuing rations. It was not at all difficult at times
to make a hundred men count as a hundred and ten, and so on.

Wirz could count beyond one hundred, and this determined his selection
for the place. His first move was a stupid change. We had been grouped
in the natural way into hundreds and thousands. He re-arranged the men
in “squads” of ninety, and three of these–two hundred and seventy men–
into a “detachment.” The detachments were numbered in order from the
North Gate, and the squads were numbered “one, two, three.” On the rolls
this was stated after the man’s name. For instance, a chum of mine, and
in the same squad with me, was Charles L. Soule, of the Third Michigan
Infantry. His name appeared on the rolls:

“Chas. L. Soule, priv. Co. E, 8d Mich. Inf., 1-2.”

That is, he belonged to the Second Squad of the First Detachment.

Where Wirz got his, preposterous idea of organization from has always
been a mystery to me. It was awkward in every way–in drawing rations,
counting, dividing into messes, etc.

Wirz was not long in giving us a taste of his quality. The next morning
after his first appearance he came in when roll-call was sounded, and
ordered all the squads and detachments to form, and remain standing in
ranks until all were counted. Any soldier will say that there is no duty
more annoying and difficult than standing still in ranks for any
considerable length of time, especially when there is nothing to do or to
engage the attention. It took Wirz between two and three hours to count
the whole camp, and by that time we of the first detachments were almost
all out of ranks. Thereupon Wirz announced that no rations would be
issued to the camp that day. The orders to stand in ranks were repeated
the next morning, with a warning that a failure to obey would be punished
as that of the previous day had been. Though we were so hungry, that,
to use the words of a Thirty-Fifth Pennsylvanian standing next to me–his
“big intestines were eating his little ones up,” it was impossible to
keep the rank formation during the long hours. One man after another
straggled away, and again we lost our rations. That afternoon we became
desperate. Plots were considered for a daring assault to force the gates
or scale the stockade. The men were crazy enough to attempt anything
rather than sit down and patiently starve. Many offered themselves as
leaders in any attempt that it might be thought best to make. The
hopelessness of any such venture was apparent, even to famished men,
and the propositions went no farther than inflammatory talk.

The third morning the orders were again repeated. This time we succeeded
in remaining in ranks in such a manner as to satisfy Wirz, and we were
given our rations for that day, but those of the other days were
permanently withheld.

That afternoon Wirz ventured into camp alone. He vas assailed with a
storm of curses and execrations, and a shower of clubs. He pulled out
his revolver, as if to fire upon his assailants. A yell was raised to
take his pistol away from him and a crowd rushed forward to do this.
Without waiting to fire a shot, he turned and ran to the gate for dear
life. He did not come in again for a long while, and never afterward
without a retinue of guards.



One of the train-loads from Richmond was almost wholly made up of our old
acquaintances–the N’Yaarkers. The number of these had swelled to four
hundred or five hundred–all leagued together in the fellowship of crime.

We did not manifest any keen desire for intimate social relations with
them, and they did not seem to hunger for our society, so they moved
across the creek to the unoccupied South Side, and established their camp
there, at a considerable distance from us.

One afternoon a number of us went across to their camp, to witness a
fight according to the rules of the Prize Ring, which was to come off
between two professional pugilists. These were a couple of bounty-
jumpers who had some little reputation in New York sporting circles,
under the names of the “Staleybridge Chicken” and the “Haarlem Infant.”

On the way from Richmond a cast-iron skillet, or spider, had been stolen
by the crowd from the Rebels. It was a small affair, holding a half
gallon, and worth to-day about fifty cents. In Andersonville its worth
was literally above rubies. Two men belonging to different messes each
claimed the ownership of the utensil, on the ground of being most active
in securing it. Their claims were strenuously supported by their
respective messes, at the heads of which were the aforesaid Infant and
Chicken. A great deal of strong talk, and several indecisive knock-downs
resulted in an agreement to settle the matter by wager of battle between
the Infant and Chicken.

When we arrived a twenty-four foot ring had been prepared by drawing a
deep mark in the sand. In diagonally opposite corners of these the
seconds were kneeling on one knee and supporting their principals on the
other by their sides they had little vessels of water, and bundles of
rags to answer for sponges. Another corner was occupied by the umpire,
a foul-mouthed, loud-tongued Tombs shyster, named Pete Bradley. A long-
bodied, short-legged hoodlum, nick-named “Heenan,” armed with a club,
acted as ring keeper, and “belted” back, remorselessly, any of the
spectators who crowded over the line. Did he see a foot obtruding itself
so much as an inch over the mark in the sand–and the pressure from the
crowd behind was so great that it was difficult for the front fellows to
keep off the line–his heavy club and a blasting curse would fall upon
the offender simultaneously.

Every effort was made to have all things conform as nearly as possible to
the recognized practices of the “London Prize Ring.”

At Bradley’s call of “Time!” the principals would rise from their
seconds’ knees, advance briskly to the scratch across the center of the
ring, and spar away sharply for a little time, until one got in a blow
that sent the other to the ground, where he would lie until his second
picked him up, carried him back, washed his face off, and gave him a
drink. He then rested until the next call of time.

This sort of performance went on for an hour or more, with the knockdowns
and other casualities pretty evenly divided between the two. Then it
became apparent that the Infant was getting more than he had storage room
for. His interest in the skillet was evidently abating, the leering grin
he wore upon his face during the early part of the engagement had
disappeared long ago, as the successive “hot ones” which the Chicken had
succeeded in planting upon his mouth, put it out of his power to “smile
and smile,” “e’en though he might still be a villain.” He began coming
up to the scratch as sluggishly as a hired man starting out for his day’s
work, and finally he did not come up at all. A bunch of blood soaked
rags was tossed into the air from his corner, and Bradley declared the
Chicken to be the victor, amid enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

We voted the thing rather tame. In the whole hour and a-half there was
not so much savage fighting, not so much damage done, as a couple of
earnest, but unscientific men, who have no time to waste, will frequently
crowd into an impromptu affair not exceeding five minutes in duration.

Our next visit to the N’Yaarkers was on a different errand. The moment
they arrived in camp we began to be annoyed by their depredations.
Blankets–the sole protection of men–would be snatched off as they slept
at night. Articles of clothing and cooking utensils would go the same
way, and occasionally a man would be robbed in open daylight. All these,
it was believed, with good reason, were the work of the N’Yaarkers, and
the stolen things were conveyed to their camp. Occasionally depredators
would be caught and beaten, but they would give a signal which would
bring to their assistance the whole body of N’Yaarkers, and turn the
tables on their assailants.

We had in our squad a little watchmaker named Dan Martin, of the Eighth
New York Infantry. Other boys let him take their watches to tinker up,
so as to make a show of running, and be available for trading to the

One day Martin was at the creek, when a N’Yaarker asked him to let him
look at a watch. Martin incautiously did so, when the N’Yaarker snatched
it and sped away to the camp of his crowd. Martin ran back to us and
told his story. This was the last feather which was to break the camel’s
back of our patience. Peter Bates, of the Third Michigan, the Sergeant
of our squad, had considerable confidence in his muscular ability.
He flamed up into mighty wrath, and swore a sulphurous oath that we would
get that watch back, whereupon about two hundred of us avowed our
willingness to help reclaim it.

Each of us providing ourselves with a club, we started on our errand.
The rest of the camp–about four thousand–gathered on the hillside to
watch us. We thought they might have sent us some assistance, as it was
about as much their fight as ours, but they did not, and we were too
proud to ask it. The crossing of the swamp was quite difficult. Only
one could go over at a time, and he very slowly. The N’Yaarkers
understood that trouble was pending, and they began mustering to receive
us. From the way they turned out it was evident that we should have come
over with three hundred instead of two hundred, but it was too late then
to alter the program. As we came up a stalwart Irishman stepped out and
asked us what we wanted.

Bates replied: “We have come over to get a watch that one of your fellows
took from one of ours, and by — we’re going to have it.”

The Irishman’s reply was equally explicit though not strictly logical in
construction. Said he: “We havn’t got your watch, and be ye can’t have

This joined the issue just as fairly as if it had been done by all the
documentary formula that passed between Turkey and Russia prior to the
late war. Bates and the Irishman then exchanged very derogatory opinions
of each other, and began striking with their clubs. The rest of us took
this as our cue, and each, selecting as small a N’Yaarker as we could
readily find, sailed in.

There is a very expressive bit of slang coming into general use in the
West, which speaks of a man “biting off more than he can chew.”

That is what we had done. We had taken a contract that we should have
divided, and sub-let the bigger half. Two minutes after the engagement
became general there was no doubt that we would have been much better off
if we had staid on our own side of the creek. The watch was a very poor
one, anyhow. We thought we would just say good day to our N’Yaark
friends, and return home hastily. But they declined to be left so
precipitately. They wanted to stay with us awhile. It was lots of fun
for them, and for the, four thousand yelling spectators on the opposite
hill, who were greatly enjoying our discomfiture. There was hardly
enough of the amusement to go clear around, however, and it all fell
short just before it reached us. We earnestly wished that some of the
boys would come over and help us let go of the N’Yaarkers, but they were
enjoying the thing too much to interfere.

We were driven down the hill, pell-mell, with the N’Yaarkers pursuing
hotly with yell and blow. At the swamp we tried to make a stand to
secure our passage across, but it was only partially successful. Very
few got back without some severe hurts, and many received blows that
greatly hastened their deaths.

After this the N’Yaarkers became bolder in their robberies, and more
arrogant in their demeanor than ever, and we had the poor revenge upon
those who would not assist us, of seeing a reign of terror inaugurated
over the whole camp.



The rations diminished perceptibly day by day. When we first entered we
each received something over a quart of tolerably good meal, a sweet
potato, a piece of meat about the size of one’s two fingers, and
occasionally a spoonful of salt. First the salt disappeared. Then the
sweet potato took unto itself wings and flew away, never to return.
An attempt was ostensibly made to issue us cow-peas instead, and the
first issue was only a quart to a detachment of two hundred and seventy
men. This has two-thirds of a pint to each squad of ninety, and made but
a few spoonfuls for each of the four messes in the squad. When it came
to dividing among the men, the beans had to be counted. Nobody received
enough to pay for cooking, and we were at a loss what to do until
somebody suggested that we play poker for them. This met general
acceptance, and after that, as long as beans were drawn, a large portion
of the day was spent in absorbing games of “bluff” and “draw,” at a bean
“ante,” and no “limit.”

After a number of hours’ diligent playing, some lucky or skillful player
would be in possession of all the beans in a mess, a squad, and sometimes
a detachment, and have enough for a good meal.

Next the meal began to diminish in quantity and deteriorate in quality.
It became so exceedingly coarse that the common remark was that the next
step would be to bring us the corn in the shock, and feed it to us like
stock. Then meat followed suit with the rest. The rations decreased in
size, and the number of days that we did not get any, kept constantly
increasing in proportion to the days that we did, until eventually the
meat bade us a final adieu, and joined the sweet potato in that
undiscovered country from whose bourne no ration ever returned.

The fuel and building material in the stockade were speedily exhausted.
The later comers had nothing whatever to build shelter with.

But, after the Spring rains had fairly set in, it seemed that we had not
tasted misery until then. About the middle of March the windows of
heaven opened, and it began a rain like that of the time of Noah. It was
tropical in quantity and persistency, and arctic in temperature. For
dreary hours that lengthened into weary days and nights, and these again
into never-ending weeks, the driving, drenching flood poured down upon
the sodden earth, searching the very marrow of the five thousand hapless
men against whose chilled frames it beat with pitiless monotony, and
soaked the sand bank upon which we lay until it was like a sponge filled
with ice-water. It seems to me now that it must have been two or three
weeks that the sun was wholly hidden behind the dripping clouds, not
shining out once in all that time. The intervals when it did not rain
were rare and short. An hour’s respite would be followed by a day of
steady, regular pelting of the great rain drops.

I find that the report of the Smithsonian Institute gives the average
annual rainfall in the section around Andersonville, at fifty-six inches-
–nearly five feet–while that of foggy England is only thirty-two. Our
experience would lead me to think that we got the five feet all at once.

We first comers, who had huts, were measurably better off than the later
arrivals. It was much drier in our leaf-thatched tents, and we were
spared much of the annoyance that comes from the steady dash of rain
against the body for hours.

The condition of those who had no tents was truly pitiable.

They sat or lay on the hill-side the live-long day and night, and took
the washing flow with such gloomy composure as they could muster.

All soldiers will agree with me that there is no campaigning hardship
comparable to a cold rain. One can brace up against the extremes of heat
and cold, and mitigate their inclemency in various ways. But there is no
escaping a long-continued, chilling rain. It seems to penetrate to the
heart, and leach away the very vital force.

The only relief attainable was found in huddling over little fires kept
alive by small groups with their slender stocks of wood. As this wood
was all pitch-pine, that burned with a very sooty flame, the effect upon
the appearance of the hoverers was, startling. Face, neck and hands
became covered with mixture of lampblack and turpentine, forming a
coating as thick as heavy brown paper, and absolutely irremovable by
water alone. The hair also became of midnight blackness, and gummed up
into elflocks of fantastic shape and effect. Any one of us could have
gone on the negro minstrel stage, without changing a hair, and put to
blush the most elaborate make-up of the grotesque burnt-cork artists.

No wood was issued to us. The only way of getting it was to stand around
the gate for hours until a guard off duty could be coaxed or hired to
accompany a small party to the woods, to bring back a load of such knots
and limbs as could be picked up. Our chief persuaders to the guards to
do us this favor were rings, pencils, knives, combs, and such trifles as
we might have in our pockets, and, more especially, the brass buttons on
our uniforms. Rebel soldiers, like Indians, negros and other imperfectly
civilized people, were passionately fond of bright and gaudy things.
A handful of brass buttons would catch every one of them as swiftly and
as surely as a piece of red flannel will a gudgeon. Our regular fee for
an escort for three of us to the woods was six over-coat or dress-coat
buttons, or ten or twelve jacket buttons. All in the mess contributed to
this fund, and the fuel obtained was carefully guarded and husbanded.

This manner of conducting the wood business is a fair sample of the
management, or rather the lack of it, of every other detail of prison
administration. All the hardships we suffered from lack of fuel and
shelter could have been prevented without the slightest expense or
trouble to the Confederacy. Two hundred men allowed to go out on parole,
and supplied with ages, would have brought in from the adjacent woods,
in a week’s time, enough material to make everybody comfortable tents,
and to supply all the fuel needed.

The mortality caused by the storm was, of course, very great. The
official report says the total number in the prison in March was four
thousand six hundred and three, of whom two hundred and eighty-three

Among the first to die was the one whom we expected to live longest.
He was by much the largest man in prison, and was called, because of
this, “BIG JOE.” He was a Sergeant in the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry,
and seemed the picture of health. One morning the news ran through the
prison that “Big Joe is dead,” and a visit to his squad showed his stiff,
lifeless form, occupying as much ground as Goliath’s, after his encounter
with David.

His early demise was an example of a general law, the workings of which
few in the army failed to notice. It was always the large and strong who
first succumbed to hardship. The stalwart, huge-limbed, toil-inured men
sank down earliest on the march, yielded soonest to malarial influences,
and fell first under the combined effects of home-sickness, exposure and
the privations of army life. The slender, withy boys, as supple and weak
as cats, had apparently the nine lives of those animals. There were few
exceptions to this rule in the army–there were none in Andersonville.
I can recall few or no instances where a large, strong, “hearty” man
lived through a few months of imprisonment. The survivors were
invariably youths, at the verge of manhood,–slender, quick, active,
medium-statured fellows, of a cheerful temperament, in whom one would
have expected comparatively little powers of endurance.

The theory which I constructed for my own private use in accounting for
this phenomenon I offer with proper diffidence to others who may be in
search of a hypothesis to explain facts that they have observed. It is

a. The circulation of the blood maintains health, and consequently life
by carrying away from the various parts of the body the particles of
worn-out and poisonous tissue, and replacing them with fresh, structure-
building material.

b. The man is healthiest in whom this process goes on most freely and

c. Men of considerable muscular power are disposed to be sluggish; the
exertion of great strength does not favor circulation. It rather retards
it, and disturbs its equilibrium by congesting the blood in quantities in
the sets of muscles called into action.

d. In light, active men, on the other hand, the circulation goes on
perfectly and evenly, because all the parts are put in motion, and kept
so in such a manner as to promote the movement of the blood to every
extremity. They do not strain one set of muscles by long continued
effort, as a strong man does, but call one into play after another.

There is no compulsion on the reader to accept this speculation at any
valuation whatever. There is not even any charge for it. I will lay
down this simple axiom:

No strong man, is a healthy man

from the athlete in the circus who lifts pieces of artillery and catches
cannon balls, to the exhibition swell in a country gymnasium. If my
theory is not a sufficient explanation of this, there is nothing to
prevent the reader from building up one to suit him better.



There were two regiments guarding us–the Twenty-Sixth Alabama and the
Fifty-Fifth Georgia. Never were two regiments of the same army more
different. The Alabamians were the superiors of the Georgians in every
way that one set of men could be superior to another. They were manly,
soldierly, and honorable, where the Georgians were treacherous and
brutal. We had nothing to complain of at the hands of the Alabamians;
we suffered from the Georgians everything that mean-spirited cruelty
could devise. The Georgians were always on the look-out for something
that they could torture into such apparent violation of orders, as would
justify them in shooting men down; the Alabamians never fired until they
were satisfied that a deliberate offense was intended. I can recall of
my own seeing at least a dozen instances where men of the Fifty-Fifth
Georgia Killed prisoners under the pretense that they were across the
Dead Line, when the victims were a yard or more from the Dead Line, and
had not the remotest idea of going any nearer.

The only man I ever knew to be killed by one of the Twenty-Sixth Alabama
was named Hubbard, from Chicago, Ills., and a member of the Thirty-Eighth
Illinois. He had lost one leg, and went hobbling about the camp on
crutches, chattering continually in a loud, discordant voice, saying all
manner of hateful and annoying things, wherever he saw an opportunity.
This and his beak-like nose gained for him the name of “Poll Parrot.”
His misfortune caused him to be tolerated where another man would have
been suppressed. By-and-by he gave still greater cause for offense by
his obsequious attempts to curry favor with Captain Wirz, who took him
outside several times for purposes that were not well explained.
Finally, some hours after one of Poll Parrot’s visits outside, a Rebel
officer came in with a guard, and, proceeding with suspicious directness
to a tent which was the mouth of a large tunnel that a hundred men or
more had been quietly pushing forward, broke the tunnel in, and took the
occupants of the tent outside for punishment. The question that demanded
immediate solution then was:

“Who is the traitor who has informed the Rebels?”

Suspicion pointed very strongly to “Poll Parrot.” By the next morning
the evidence collected seemed to amount to a certainty, and a crowd
caught the Parrot with the intention of lynching him. He succeeded in
breaking away from them and ran under the Dead Line, near where I was
sitting in, my tent. At first it looked as if he had done this to secure
the protection of the guard. The latter–a Twenty-Sixth Alabamian–
ordered him out. Poll Parrot rose up on his one leg, put his back
against the Dead Line, faced the guard, and said in his harsh, cackling

“No; I won’t go out. If I’ve lost the confidence of my comrades I want
to die.”

Part of the crowd were taken back by this move, and felt disposed to
accept it as a demonstration of the Parrot’s innocence. The rest thought
it was a piece of bravado, because of his belief that the Rebels would
not injure, him after he had served them. They renewed their yells, the
guard again ordered the Parrot out, but the latter, tearing open his
blouse, cackled out:

“No, I won’t go; fire at me, guard. There’s my heart shoot me right

There was no help for it. The Rebel leveled his gun and fired. The
charge struck the Parrot’s lower jaw, and carried it completely away,
leaving his tongue and the roof of his mouth exposed. As he was carried
back to die, he wagged his tongue rigorously, in attempting to speak, but
it was of no use.

The guard set his gun down and buried his face in his hands. It was the
only time that I saw a sentinel show anything but exultation at killing a

A ludicrous contrast to this took place a few nights later. The rains
had ceased, the weather had become warmer, and our spirits rising with
this increase in the comfort of our surroundings, a number of us were
sitting around “Nosey”–a boy with a superb tenor voice–who was singing
patriotic songs. We were coming in strong on the chorus, in a way that
spoke vastly more for our enthusiasm for the Union than our musical
knowledge. “Nosey” sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” “The Battle Cry of
Freedom,” “Brave Boys are They,” etc., capitally, and we threw our whole
lungs into the chorus. It was quite dark, and while our noise was going
on the guards changed, new men coming on duty. Suddenly, bang! went the
gun of the guard in the box about fifty feet away from us. We knew it
was a Fifty-Fifth Georgian, and supposed that, irritated at our singing,
he was trying to kill some of us for spite. At the sound of the gun we
jumped up and scattered. As no one gave the usual agonized yell of a
prisoner when shot, we supposed the ball had not taken effect. We could
hear the sentinel ramming down another cartridge, hear him “return
rammer,” and cock his rifle. Again the gun cracked, and again there was
no sound of anybody being hit. Again we could hear the sentry churning
down another cartridge. The drums began beating the long roll in the
camps, and officers could be heard turning the men out. The thing was
becoming exciting, and one of us sang out to the guard:

“S-a-y! What the are you shooting at, any how?”

“I’m a shootin’ at that —- —- Yank thar by the Dead Line, and by —
if you’uns don’t take him in I’ll blow the whole head offn him.”

“What Yank? Where’s any Yank?”

“Why, thar–right thar–a-standin’ agin the Ded Line.”

“Why, you Rebel fool, that’s a chunk of wood. You can’t get any furlough
for shooting that!”

At this there was a general roar from the rest of the camp, which the
other guards took up, and as the Reserves came double-quicking up, and
learned the occasion of the alarm, they gave the rascal who had been so
anxious to kill somebody a torrent of abuse for having disturbed them.

A part of our crowd had been out after wood during the day, and secured a
piece of a log as large as two of them could carry, and bringing it in,
stood it up near the Dead Line. When the guard mounted to his post he
was sure he saw a temerarious Yankee in front of him, and hastened to
slay him.

It was an unusual good fortune that nobody was struck. It was very rare
that the guards fired into the prison without hitting at least one
person. The Georgia Reserves, who formed our guards later in the season,
were armed with an old gun called a Queen Anne musket, altered to
percussion. It carried a bullet as big as a large marble, and three or
four buckshot. When fired into a group of men it was sure to bring
several down.

I was standing one day in the line at the gate, waiting for a chance to
go out after wood. A Fifty-Fifth Georgian was the gate guard, and he
drew a line in the sand with his bayonet which we should not cross.
The crowd behind pushed one man till he put his foot a few inches over
the line, to save himself from falling; the guard sank a bayonet through
the foot as quick as a flash.

End of Andersonville, v1
by John McElroy

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Late of Co. L. 16th Ill Cav.




So far only old prisoners–those taken at Gettysburg, Chicamauga and Mine
Run–had been brought in. The armies had been very quiet during the
Winter, preparing for the death grapple in the Spring. There had been
nothing done, save a few cavalry raids, such as our own, and Averill’s
attempt to gain and break up the Rebel salt works at Wytheville, and
Saltville. Consequently none but a few cavalry prisoners were added to
the number already in the hands of the Rebels.

The first lot of new ones came in about the middle of March. There were
about seven hundred of them, who had been captured at the battle of
Oolustee, Fla., on the 20th of February. About five hundred of them were
white, and belonged to the Seventh Connecticut, the Seventh New
Hampshire, Forty Seventh, Forty-Eighth and One Hundred and Fifteenth New
York, and Sherman’s regular battery. The rest were colored, and belonged
to the Eighth United States, and Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts. The story
they told of the battle was one which had many shameful reiterations
during the war. It was the story told whenever Banks, Sturgis, Butler,
or one of a host of similar smaller failures were trusted with commands.
It was a senseless waste of the lives of private soldiers, and the
property of the United States by pretentious blunderers, who, in some
inscrutable manner, had attained to responsible commands. In this
instance, a bungling Brigadier named Seymore had marched his forces
across the State of Florida, to do he hardly knew what, and in the
neighborhood of an enemy of whose numbers, disposition, location, and
intentions he was profoundly ignorant. The Rebels, under General
Finnegan, waited till he had strung his command along through swamps
and cane brakes, scores of miles from his supports, and then fell
unexpectedly upon his advance. The regiment was overpowered, and another
regiment that hurried up to its support, suffered the same fate. The
balance of the regiments were sent in in the same manner–each arriving
on the field just after its predecessor had been thoroughly whipped by
the concentrated force of the Rebels. The men fought gallantly, but the
stupidity of a Commanding General is a thing that the gods themselves
strive against in vain. We suffered a humiliating defeat, with a loss of
two thousand men and a fine rifled battery, which was brought to
Andersonville and placed in position to command the prison.

The majority of the Seventh New Hampshire were an unwelcome addition to
our numbers. They were N’Yaarkers–old time colleagues of those already
in with us–veteran bounty jumpers, that had been drawn to New Hampshire
by the size of the bounty offered there, and had been assigned to fill up
the wasted ranks of the veteran Seventh regiment. They had tried to
desert as soon as they received their bounty, but the Government clung to
them literally with hooks of steel, sending many of them to the regiment
in irons. Thus foiled, they deserted to the Rebels during the retreat
from the battlefield. They were quite an accession to the force of our
N’Yaarkers, and helped much to establish the hoodlum reign which was
shortly inaugurated over the whole prison.

The Forty-Eighth New Yorkers who came in were a set of chaps so odd in
every way as to be a source of never-failing interest. The name of their
regiment was ‘L’Enfants Perdu’ (the Lost Children), which we anglicized
into “The Lost Ducks.” It was believed that every nation in Europe was
represented in their ranks, and it used to be said jocularly, that no two
of them spoke the same language. As near as I could find out they were
all or nearly all South Europeans, Italians, Spaniards; Portuguese,
Levantines, with a predominance of the French element. They wore a
little cap with an upturned brim, and a strap resting on the chin, a coat
with funny little tales about two inches long, and a brass chain across
the breast; and for pantaloons they had a sort of a petticoat reaching to
the knees, and sewed together down the middle. They were just as
singular otherwise as in their looks, speech and uniform. On one
occasion the whole mob of us went over in a mass to their squad to see
them cook and eat a large water snake, which two of them had succeeded in
capturing in the swamps, and carried off to their mess, jabbering in high
glee over their treasure trove. Any of us were ready to eat a piece of
dog, cat, horse or mule, if we could get it, but, it was generally
agreed, as Dawson, of my company expressed it, that “Nobody but one of
them darned queer Lost Ducks would eat a varmint like a water snake.”

Major Albert Bogle, of the Eighth United States, (colored) had fallen
into the hands of the rebels by reason of a severe wound in the leg,
which left him helpless upon the field at Oolustee. The Rebels treated
him with studied indignity. They utterly refused to recognize him as an
officer, or even as a man. Instead of being sent to Macon or Columbia,
where the other officers were, he was sent to Andersonville, the same as
an enlisted man. No care was given his wound, no surgeon would examine
it or dress it. He was thrown into a stock car, without a bed or
blanket, and hauled over the rough, jolting road to Andersonville.
Once a Rebel officer rode up and fired several shots at him, as he lay
helpless on the car floor. Fortunately the Rebel’s marksmanship was as
bad as his intentions, and none of the shots took effect. He was placed
in a squad near me, and compelled to get up and hobble into line when the
rest were mustered for roll-call. No opportunity to insult, “the nigger
officer,” was neglected, and the N’Yaarkers vied with the Rebels in
heaping abuse upon him. He was a fine, intelligent young man, and bore
it all with dignified self-possession, until after a lapse of some weeks
the Rebels changed their policy and took him from the prison to send to
where the other officers were.

The negro soldiers were also treated as badly as possible. The wounded
were turned into the Stockade without having their hurts attended to.
One stalwart, soldierly Sergeant had received a bullet which had forced
its way under the scalp for some distance, and partially imbedded itself
in the skull, where it still remained. He suffered intense agony, and
would pass the whole night walking up and down the street in front of our
tent, moaning distressingly. The, bullet could be felt plainly with the
fingers, and we were sure that it would not be a minute’s work, with a
sharp knife, to remove it and give the man relief. But we could not
prevail upon the Rebel Surgeons even to see the man. Finally
inflammation set in and he died.

The negros were made into a squad by themselves, and taken out every day
to work around the prison. A white Sergeant was placed over them, who
was the object of the contumely of the guards and other Rebels. One day
as he was standing near the gate, waiting his orders to come out, the
gate guard, without any provocation whatever, dropped his gun until the
muzzle rested against the Sergeant’s stomach, and fired, killing him

The Sergeantcy was then offered to me, but as I had no accident policy, I
was constrained to decline the honor.



April brought sunny skies and balmy weather. Existence became much more
tolerable. With freedom it would have been enjoyable, even had we been
no better fed, clothed and sheltered. But imprisonment had never seemed
so hard to bear–even in the first few weeks–as now. It was easier to
submit to confinement to a limited area, when cold and rain were aiding
hunger to benumb the faculties and chill the energies than it was now,
when Nature was rousing her slumbering forces to activity, and earth,
and air and sky were filled with stimulus to man to imitate her example.
The yearning to be up and doing something-to turn these golden hours to
good account for self and country–pressed into heart and brain as the
vivifying sap pressed into tree-duct and plant cell, awaking all
vegetation to energetic life.

To be compelled, at such a time, to lie around in vacuous idleness–
to spend days that should be crowded full of action in a monotonous,
objectless routine of hunting lice, gathering at roll-call, and drawing
and cooking our scanty rations, was torturing.

But to many of our number the aspirations for freedom were not, as with
us, the desire for a wider, manlier field of action, so much as an
intense longing to get where care and comforts would arrest their swift
progress to the shadowy hereafter. The cruel rains had sapped away their
stamina, and they could not recover it with the meager and innutritious
diet of coarse meal, and an occasional scrap of salt meat. Quick
consumption, bronchitis, pneumonia, low fever and diarrhea seized upon
these ready victims for their ravages, and bore them off at the rate of
nearly a score a day.

It now became a part of, the day’s regular routine to take a walk past
the gates in the morning, inspect and count the dead, and see if any
friends were among them. Clothes having by this time become a very
important consideration with the prisoners, it was the custom of the mess
in which a man died to remove from his person all garments that were of
any account, and so many bodies were carried out nearly naked. The hands
were crossed upon the breast, the big toes tied together with a bit of
string, and a slip of paper containing the man’s name, rank, company and
regiment was pinned on the breast of his shirt.

The appearance of the dead was indescribably ghastly. The unclosed eyes
shone with a stony glitter–

An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high:
But, O, more terrible than that,
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye.

The lips and nostrils were distorted with pain and hunger, the sallow,
dirt-grimed skin drawn tensely over the facial bones, and the whole
framed with the long, lank, matted hair and beard. Millions of lice
swarmed over the wasted limbs and ridged ribs. These verminous pests had
become so numerous–owing to our lack of changes of clothing, and of
facilities for boiling what we had–that the most a healthy man could
do was to keep the number feeding upon his person down to a reasonable
limit–say a few tablespoonfuls. When a man became so sick as to be
unable to help himself, the parasites speedily increased into millions,
or, to speak more comprehensively, into pints and quarts. It did not
even seem exaggeration when some one declared that lie had seen a dead
man with more than a gallon of lice on him.

There is no doubt that the irritation from the biting of these myriads
materially the days of those who died.

Where a sick man had friends or comrades, of course part of their duty,
in taking care of him, was to “louse” his clothing. One of the most
effectual ways of doing this was to turn the garments wrong side out and
hold the seams as close to the fire as possible, without burning the
cloth. In a short time the lice would swell up and burst open, like pop-
corn. This method was a favorite one for another reason than its
efficacy: it gave one a keener sense of revenge upon his rascally little
tormentors than he could get in any other way.

As the weather grew warmer and the number in the prison increased, the
lice became more unendurable. They even filled the hot sand under our
feet, and voracious troops would climb up on one like streams of ants
swarming up a tree. We began to have a full comprehension of the third
plague with which the Lord visited the Egyptians:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod,
and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice through all
the land of Egypt.

And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and
smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man and in beast;
all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of

The total number of deaths in April, according to the official report,
was five hundred and seventy-six, or an average of over nineteen a day.
There was an average of five thousand prisoner’s in the pen during all
but the last few days of the month, when the number was increased by the
arrival of the captured garrison of Plymouth. This would make the loss
over eleven per cent., and so worse than decimation. At that rate we
should all have died in about eight months. We could have gone through a
sharp campaign lasting those thirty days and not lost so great a
proportion of our forces. The British had about as many men as were in
the Stockade at the battle of New Orleans, yet their loss in killed fell
much short of the deaths in the pen in April.

A makeshift of a hospital was established in the northeastern corner of
the Stockade. A portion of the ground was divided from the rest of the
prison by a railing, a few tent flies were stretched, and in these the
long leaves of the pine were made into apologies for beds of about the
goodness of the straw on which a Northern farmer beds his stock. The
sick taken there were no better off than if they had staid with their

What they needed to bring about their recovery was clean clothing,
nutritious food, shelter and freedom from the tortures of the lice.
They obtained none of these. Save a few decoctions of roots, there were
no medicines; the sick were fed the same coarse corn meal that brought
about the malignant dysentery from which they all suffered; they wore and
slept in the same vermin-infested clothes, and there could be but one
result: the official records show that seventy-six per cent. of those
taken to the hospitals died there.

The establishment of the hospital was specially unfortunate for my little
squad. The ground required for it compelled a general reduction of the
space we all occupied. We had to tear down our huts and move. By this
time the materials had become so dry that we could not rebuild with them,
as the pine tufts fell to pieces. This reduced the tent and bedding
material of our party–now numbering five–to a cavalry overcoat and a
blanket. We scooped a hole a foot deep in the sand and stuck our tent-
poles around it. By day we spread our blanket over the poles for a tent.
At night we lay down upon the overcoat and covered ourselves with the
blanket. It required considerable stretching to make it go over five;
the two out side fellows used to get very chilly, and squeeze the three
inside ones until they felt no thicker than a wafer. But it had to do,
and we took turns sleeping on the outside. In the course of a few weeks
three of my chums died and left myself and B. B. Andrews (now Dr.
Andrews, of Astoria, Ill.) sole heirs to and occupants of, the overcoat
and blanket.



We awoke one morning, in the last part of April, to find about two
thousand freshly arrived prisoners lying asleep in the main streets
running from the gates. They were attired in stylish new uniforms,
with fancy hats and shoes; the Sergeants and Corporals wore patent
leather or silk chevrons, and each man had a large, well-filled knapsack,
of the kind new recruits usually carried on coming first to the front,
and which the older soldiers spoke of humorously as “bureaus.” They were
the snuggest, nattiest lot of soldiers we had ever seen, outside of the
“paper collar” fellows forming the headquarter guard of some General in a
large City. As one of my companions surveyed them, he said:

“Hulloa! I’m blanked if the Johnnies haven’t caught a regiment of
Brigadier Generals, somewhere.”

By-and-by the “fresh fish,” as all new arrivals were termed, began to
wake up, and then we learned that they belonged to a brigade consisting
of the Eighty-Fifth New York, One Hundred and First and One Hundred and
Third Pennsylvania, Sixteenth Connecticut, Twenty-Fourth New York
Battery, two companies of Massachusetts heavy artillery, and a company of
the Twelfth New York Cavalry.

They had been garrisoning Plymouth, N. C., an important seaport on the
Roanoke River. Three small gunboats assisted them in their duty. The
Rebels constructed a powerful iron clad called the “Albemarle,” at a
point further up the Roanoke, and on the afternoon of the 17th, with her
and three brigades of infantry, made an attack upon the post.
The “Albemarle” ran past the forts unharmed, sank one of the gunboats,
and drove the others away. She then turned her attention to the
garrison, which she took in the rear, while the infantry attacked in
front. Our men held out until the 20th, when they capitulated.
They were allowed to retain their personal effects, of all kinds,
and, as is the case with all men in garrison, these were considerable.

The One Hundred and First and One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania and
Eighty-Fifth New York had just “veteranized,” and received their first
instalment of veteran bounty. Had they not been attacked they would have
sailed for home in a day or two, on their veteran furlough, and this
accounted for their fine raiment. They were made up of boys from good
New York and Pennsylvania families, and were, as a rule, intelligent and
fairly educated.

Their horror at the appearance of their place of incarceration was beyond
expression. At one moment they could not comprehend that we dirty and
haggard tatterdemalions had once been clean, self-respecting, well-fed
soldiers like themselves; at the next they would affirm that they knew
they could not stand it a month, in here we had then endured it from four
to nine months. They took it, in every way, the hardest of any prisoners
that came in, except some of the ‘Hundred-Days’ men, who were brought in
in August, from the Valley of Virginia. They had served nearly all their
time in various garrisons along the seacoast–from Fortress Monroe to
Beaufort–where they had had comparatively little of the actual hardships
of soldiering in the field. They had nearly always had comfortable
quarters, an abundance of food, few hard marches or other severe service.
Consequently they were not so well hardened for Andersonville as the
majority who came in. In other respects they were better prepared,
as they had an abundance of clothing, blankets and cooking utensils,
and each man had some of his veteran bounty still in possession.

It was painful to see how rapidly many of them sank under the miseries of
the situation. They gave up the moment the gates were closed upon them,
and began pining away. We older prisoners buoyed ourselves up
continually with hopes of escape or exchange. We dug tunnels with the
persistence of beavers, and we watched every possible opportunity to get
outside the accursed walls of the pen. But we could not enlist the
interest of these discouraged ones in any of our schemes, or talk.
They resigned themselves to Death, and waited despondingly till he came.

A middle-aged One Hundred and First Pennsylvanian, who had taken up his
quarters near me, was an object of peculiar interest. Reasonably
intelligent and fairly read, I presume that he was a respectable mechanic
before entering the Army. He was evidently a very domestic man, whose
whole happiness centered in his family.

When he first came in he was thoroughly dazed by the greatness of his
misfortune. He would sit for hours with his face in his hands and his
elbows on his knees, gazing out upon the mass of men and huts, with
vacant, lack-luster eyes. We could not interest him in anything.
We tried to show him how to fix his blanket up to give him some shelter,
but he went at the work in a disheartened way, and finally smiled feebly
and stopped. He had some letters from his family and a melaineotype of a
plain-faced woman–his wife–and her children, and spent much time in
looking at them. At first he ate his rations when he drew them, but
finally began to reject, them. In a few days he was delirious with
hunger and homesick ness. He would sit on the sand for hours imagining
that be was at his family table, dispensing his frugal hospitalities to
his wife and children.

Making a motion, as if presenting a dish, he would say:

“Janie, have another biscuit, do!”


“Eddie, son, won’t you have another piece of this nice steak?”


“Maggie, have some more potatos,” and so on, through a whole family of
six, or more. It was a relief to us when he died in about a month after
he came in.

As stated above, the Plymouth men brought in a large amount of money–
variously estimated at from ten thousand to one hundred thousand dollars.
The presence of this quantity of circulating medium immediately started a
lively commerce. All sorts of devices were resorted to by the other
prisoners to get a little of this wealth. Rude chuck-a-luck boards were
constructed out of such material as was attainable, and put in operation.
Dice and cards were brought out by those skilled in such matters.
As those of us already in the Stockade occupied all the ground, there was
no disposition on the part of many to surrender a portion of their space
without exacting a pecuniary compensation. Messes having ground in a
good location would frequently demand and get ten dollars for permission
for two or three to quarter with them. Then there was a great demand for
poles to stretch blankets over to make tents; the Rebels, with their
usual stupid cruelty, would not supply these, nor allow the prisoners to
go out and get them themselves. Many of the older prisoners had poles to
spare which they were saying up for fuel. They sold these to the
Plymouth folks at the rate of ten dollars for three–enough to put up a

The most considerable trading was done through the gates. The Rebel
guards were found quite as keen to barter as they had been in Richmond.
Though the laws against their dealing in the money of the enemy were
still as stringent as ever, their thirst for greenbacks was not abated
one whit, and they were ready to sell anything they had for the coveted
currency. The rate of exchange was seven or eight dollars in Confederate
money for one dollar in greenbacks. Wood, tobacco, meat, flour, beans,
molasses, onions and a villainous kind of whisky made from sorghum, were
the staple articles of trade. A whole race of little traffickers in
these articles sprang up, and finally Selden, the Rebel Quartermaster,
established a sutler shop in the center of the North Side, which he put
in charge of Ira Beverly, of the One Hundredth Ohio, and Charlie
Huckleby, of the Eighth Tennessee. It was a fine illustration of the
development of the commercial instinct in some men. No more unlikely
place for making money could be imagined, yet starting in without a cent,
they contrived to turn and twist and trade, until they had transferred to
their pockets a portion of the funds which were in some one else’s.
The Rebels, of course, got nine out of every ten dollars there was in the
prison, but these middle men contrived to have a little of it stick to
their fingers.

It was only the very few who were able to do this. Nine hundred and
ninety-nine out of every thousand were, like myself, either wholly
destitute of money and unable to get it from anybody else, or they paid
out what money they had to the middlemen, in exorbitant prices for
articles of food.

The N’Yaarkers had still another method for getting food, money, blankets
and clothing. They formed little bands called “Raiders,” under the
leadership of a chief villain. One of these bands would select as their
victim a man who had good blankets, clothes, a watch, or greenbacks.
Frequently he would be one of the little traders, with a sack of beans,
a piece of meat, or something of that kind. Pouncing upon him at night
they would snatch away his possessions, knock down his friends who came
to his assistance, and scurry away into the darkness.



To our minds the world now contained but two grand divisions, as widely
different from each other as happiness and misery. The first–that
portion over which our flag floated was usually spoken of as “God’s
Country;” the other–that under the baneful shadow of the banner of
rebellion–was designated by the most opprobrious epithets at the
speaker’s command.

To get from the latter to the former was to attain, at one bound, the
highest good. Better to be a doorkeeper in the House of the Lord, under
the Stars and Stripes, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness, under
the hateful Southern Cross.

To take even the humblest and hardest of service in the field now would
be a delightsome change. We did not ask to go home–we would be content
with anything, so long as it was in that blest place “within our lines.”
Only let us get back once, and there would be no more grumbling at
rations or guard duty–we would willingly endure all the hardships and
privations that soldier flesh is heir to.

There were two ways of getting back–escape and exchange. Exchange was
like the ever receding mirage of the desert, that lures the thirsty
traveler on over the parched sands, with illusions of refreshing springs,
only to leave his bones at last to whiten by the side of those of his
unremembered predecessors. Every day there came something to build up
the hopes that exchange was near at hand–every day brought something to
extinguish the hopes of the preceding one. We took these varying phases
according to our several temperaments. The sanguine built themselves up
on the encouraging reports; the desponding sank down and died under the
discouraging ones.

Escape was a perpetual allurement. To the actively inclined among us it
seemed always possible, and daring, busy brains were indefatigable in
concocting schemes for it. The only bit of Rebel brain work that I ever
saw for which I did not feel contempt was the perfect precautions taken
to prevent our escape. This is shown by the fact that, although, from
first to last, there were nearly fifty thousand prisoners in
Andersonville, and three out of every five of these were ever on the
alert to take French leave of their captors, only three hundred and
twenty-eight succeeded in getting so far away from Andersonville as to
leave it to be presumed that they had reached our lines.

The first, and almost superhuman difficulty was to get outside the
Stockade. It was simply impossible to scale it. The guards were too
close together to allow an instant’s hope to the most sanguine, that he
could even pass the Dead Line without being shot by some one of them.
This same closeness prevented any hope of bribing them. To be successful
half those on post would have to be bribed, as every part of the Stockade
was clearly visible from every other part, and there was no night so dark
as not to allow a plain view to a number of guards of the dark figure
outlined against the light colored logs of any Yankee who should essay to
clamber towards the top of the palisades.

The gates were so carefully guarded every time they were opened as to
preclude hope of slipping out through theme. They were only unclosed
twice or thrice a day–once to admit, the men to call the roll, once to
let them out again, once to let the wagons come in with rations, and
once, perhaps, to admit, new prisoners. At all these times every
precaution was taken to prevent any one getting out surreptitiously.

This narrowed down the possibilities of passing the limits of the pen
alive, to tunneling. This was also surrounded by almost insuperable
difficulties. First, it required not less than fifty feet of
subterranean excavation to get out, which was an enormous work with our
limited means. Then the logs forming the Stockade were set in the ground
to a depth of five feet, and the tunnel had to go down beneath them.
They had an unpleasant habit of dropping down into the burrow under them.
It added much to the discouragements of tunneling to think of one of
these massive timbers dropping upon a fellow as he worked his mole-like
way under it, and either crushing him to death outright, or pinning him
there to die of suffocation or hunger.

In one instance, in a tunnel near me, but in which I was not interested,
the log slipped down after the digger had got out beyond it.
He immediately began digging for the surface, for life, and was
fortunately able to break through before he suffocated. He got his head
above the ground, and then fainted. The guard outside saw him, pulled
him out of the hole, and when he recovered sensibility hurried him back
into the Stockade.

In another tunnel, also near us, a broad-shouldered German, of the Second
Minnesota, went in to take his turn at digging. He was so much larger
than any of his predecessors that he stuck fast in a narrow part, and
despite all the efforts of himself and comrades, it was found impossible
to move him one way or the other. The comrades were at last reduced to
the humiliation of informing the Officer of the Guard of their tunnel and
the condition of their friend, and of asking assistance to release him,
which was given.

The great tunneling tool was the indispensable half-canteen. The
inventive genius of our people, stimulated by the war, produced nothing
for the comfort and effectiveness of the soldier equal in usefulness to
this humble and unrecognized utensil. It will be remembered that a
canteen was composed of two pieces of tin struck up into the shape of
saucers, and soldered together at the edges. After a soldier had been in
the field a little while, and thrown away or lost the curious and
complicated kitchen furniture he started out with, he found that by
melting the halves of his canteen apart, he had a vessel much handier in
every way than any he had parted with. It could be used for anything–
to make soup or coffee in, bake bread, brown coffee, stew vegetables,
etc., etc. A sufficient handle was made with a split stick. When the
cooking was done, the handle was thrown away, and the half canteen
slipped out of the road into the haversack. There seemed to be no end of
the uses to which this ever-ready disk of blackened sheet iron could be
turned. Several instances are on record where infantry regiments, with
no other tools than this, covered themselves on the field with quite
respectable rifle pits.

The starting point of a tunnel was always some tent close to the Dead
Line, and sufficiently well closed to screen the operations from the
sight of the guards near by. The party engaged in the work organized by
giving every man a number to secure the proper apportionment of the
labor. Number One began digging with his half canteen. After he had
worked until tired, he came out, and Number Two took his place, and so
on. The tunnel was simply a round, rat-like burrow, a little larger than
a man’s body. The digger lay on his stomach, dug ahead of him, threw the
dirt under him, and worked it back with his feet till the man behind him,
also lying on his stomach, could catch it and work it back to the next.
As the tunnel lengthened the number of men behind each other in this way
had to be increased, so that in a tunnel seventy-five feet long there
would be from eight to ten men lying one behind the other. When the dirt
was pushed back to the mouth of the tunnel it was taken up in improvised
bags, made by tying up the bottoms of pantaloon legs, carried to the
Swamp, and emptied. The work in the tunnel was very exhausting, and the
digger had to be relieved every half-hour.

The greatest trouble was to carry the tunnel forward in a straight line.
As nearly everybody dug most of the time with the right hand, there was
an almost irresistible tendency to make the course veer to the left. The
first tunnel I was connected with was a ludicrous illustration of this.
About twenty of us had devoted our nights for over a week to the
prolongation of a burrow. We had not yet reached the Stockade, which
astonished us, as measurement with a string showed that we had gone
nearly twice the distance necessary for the purpose. The thing was
inexplicable, and we ceased operations to consider the matter. The next
day a man walking by a tent some little distance from the one in which
the hole began, was badly startled by the ground giving way under his
feet, and his sinking nearly to his waist in a hole. It was very
singular, but after wondering over the matter for some hours, there came
a glimmer of suspicion that it might be, in some way, connected with the
missing end of our tunnel. One of us started through on an exploring
expedition, and confirmed the suspicions by coming out where the man had
broken through. Our tunnel was shaped like a horse shoe, and the
beginning and end were not fifteen feet apart. After that we practised
digging with our left hand, and made certain compensations for the
tendency to the sinister side.

Another trouble connected with tunneling was the number of traitors and
spies among us. There were many–principally among the N’Yaarker crowd
who were always zealous to betray a tunnel, in order to curry favor with
the Rebel officers. Then, again, the Rebels had numbers of their own men
in the pen at night, as spies. It was hardly even necessary to dress
these in our uniform, because a great many of our own men came into the
prison in Rebel clothes, having been compelled to trade garments with
their captors.

One day in May, quite an excitement was raised by the detection of one of
these “tunnel traitors” in such a way as left no doubt of his guilt.
At first everybody vas in favor of killing him, and they actually started
to beat him to death. This was arrested by a proposition to “have
Captain Jack tattoo him,” and the suggestion was immediately acted upon.

“Captain Jack” was a sailor who had been with us in the Pemberton
building at Richmond. He was a very skilful tattoo artist, but, I am
sure, could make the process nastier than any other that I ever saw
attempt it. He chewed tobacco enormously. After pricking away for a few
minutes at the design on the arm or some portion of the body, he would
deluge it with a flood of tobacco spit, which, he claimed, acted as a
kind of mordant. Piping this off with a filthy rag, he would study the
effect for an instant, and then go ahead with another series of prickings
and tobacco juice drenchings.

The tunnel-traitor was taken to Captain Jack. That worthy decided to
brand him with a great “T,” the top part to extend across his forehead
and the stem to run down his nose. Captain Jack got his tattooing kit
ready, and the fellow was thrown upon the ground and held there. The
Captain took his head between his legs, and began operations. After an
instant’s work with the needles, he opened his mouth, and filled the
wretch’s face and eyes full of the disgusting saliva. The crowd round
about yelled with delight at this new process. For an hour, that was
doubtless an eternity to the rascal undergoing branding, Captain Jack
continued his alternate pickings and drenchings. At the end of that time
the traitor’s face was disfigured with a hideous mark that he would bear
to his grave. We learned afterwards that he was not one of our men, but
a Rebel spy. This added much to our satisfaction with the manner of his
treatment. He disappeared shortly after the operation was finished,
being, I suppose, taken outside. I hardly think Captain Jack would be
pleased to meet him again.



Those who succeeded, one way or another, in passing the Stockade limits,
found still more difficulties lying between them and freedom than would
discourage ordinarily resolute men. The first was to get away from the
immediate vicinity of the prison. All around were Rebel patrols, pickets
and guards, watching every avenue of egress. Several packs of hounds
formed efficient coadjutors of these, and were more dreaded by possible
“escapes,” than any other means at the command of our jailors. Guards
and patrols could be evaded, or circumvented, but the hounds could not.
Nearly every man brought back from a futile attempt at escape told the
same story: he had been able to escape the human Rebels, but not their
canine colleagues. Three of our detachment–members of the Twentieth
Indiana–had an experience of this kind that will serve to illustrate
hundreds of others. They had been taken outside to do some work upon the
cook-house that was being built. A guard was sent with the three a
little distance into the woods to get a piece of timber. The boys
sauntered, along carelessly with the guard, and managed to get pretty
near him. As soon as they were fairly out of sight of the rest, the
strongest of them–Tom Williams–snatched the Rebel’s gun away from him,
and the other two springing upon him as swift as wild cats, throttled
him, so that he could not give the alarm. Still keeping a hand on his
throat, they led him off some distance, and tied him to a sapling with
strings made by tearing up one of their blouses. He was also securely
gagged, and the boys, bidding him a hasty, but not specially tender,
farewell, struck out, as they fondly hoped, for freedom. It was not long
until they were missed, and the parties sent in search found and released
the guard, who gave all the information he possessed as to what had
become of his charges. All the packs of hounds, the squads of cavalry,
and the foot patrols were sent out to scour the adjacent country.
The Yankees kept in the swamps and creeks, and no trace of them was found
that afternoon or evening. By this time they were ten or fifteen miles
away, and thought that they could safely leave the creeks for better
walking on the solid ground. They had gone but a few miles, when the
pack of hounds Captain Wirz was with took their trail, and came after
them in full cry. The boys tried to ran, but, exhausted as they were,
they could make no headway. Two of them were soon caught, but Tom
Williams, who was so desperate that he preferred death to recapture,
jumped into a mill-pond near by. When he came up, it was in a lot of
saw logs and drift wood that hid him from being seen from the shore.
The dogs stopped at the shore, and bayed after the disappearing prey.
The Rebels with them, who had seen Tom spring in, came up and made a
pretty thorough search for him. As they did not think to probe around
the drift wood this was unsuccessful, and they came to the conclusion
that Tom had been drowned. Wirz marched the other two back and, for a
wonder, did not punish them, probably because he was so rejoiced at his
success in capturing them. He was beaming with delight when he returned
them to our squad, and said, with a chuckle:

“Brisoners, I pring you pack two of dem tam Yankees wat got away
yesterday, unt I run de oder raskal into a mill-pont and trowntet him.”

What was our astonishment, about three weeks later, to see Tom, fat and
healthy, and dressed in a full suit of butternut, come stalking into the
pen. He had nearly reached the mountains, when a pack of hounds,
patrolling for deserters or negros, took his trail, where he had crossed
the road from one field to another, and speedily ran him down. He had
been put in a little country jail, and well fed till an opportunity
occurred to send him back. This patrolling for negros and deserters was
another of the great obstacles to a successful passage through the
country. The rebels had put, every able-bodied white man in the ranks,
and were bending every energy to keep him there. The whole country was
carefully policed by Provost Marshals to bring out those who were
shirking military duty, or had deserted their colors, and to check any
movement by the negros. One could not go anywhere without a pass, as
every road was continually watched by men and hounds. It was the policy
of our men, when escaping, to avoid roads as much as possible by
traveling through the woods and fields.

From what I saw of the hounds, and what I could learn from others,
I believe that each pack was made up of two bloodhounds and from twenty-
five to fifty other dogs, The bloodhounds were debased descendants of the
strong and fierce hounds imported from Cuba–many of them by the United
States Government–for hunting Indians, during the Seminole war. The
other dogs were the mongrels that are found in such plentifulness about
every Southern house–increasing, as a rule, in numbers as the inhabitant
of the house is lower down and poorer. They are like wolves, sneaking
and cowardly when alone, fierce and bold when in packs. Each pack was
managed by a well-armed man, who rode a mule; and carried, slung over his
shoulders by a cord, a cow horn, scraped very thin, with which he
controlled the band by signals.

What always puzzled me much was why the hounds took only Yankee trails,
in the vicinity of the prison. There was about the Stockade from six
thousand to ten thousand Rebels and negros, including guards, officers,
servants, workmen, etc. These were, of course, continually in motion and
must have daily made trails leading in every direction. It was the
custom of the Rebels to send a pack of hounds around the prison every
morning, to examine if any Yankees had escaped during the night. It was
believed that they rarely failed to find a prisoner’s tracks, and still
more rarely ran off upon a Rebel’s. If those outside the Stockade had
been confined to certain path and roads we could have understood this,
but, as I understand, they were not. It was part of the interest of the
day, for us, to watch the packs go yelping around the pen searching for
tracks. We got information in this way whether any tunnel had been
successfully opened during the night.

The use of hounds furnished us a crushing reply to the ever recurring
Rebel question:

“Why are you-uns puttin’ niggers in the field to fight we-uns for?”

The questioner was always silenced by the return interrogatory:

“Is that as bad as running white men down with blood hounds?”



In May the long gathering storm of war burst with angry violence all
along the line held by the contending armies. The campaign began which
was to terminate eleven months later in the obliteration of the Southern
Confederacy. May 1, Sigel moved up the Shenandoah Valley with thirty
thousand men; May 3, Butler began his blundering movement against
Petersburg; May 3, the Army of the Potomac left Culpeper, and on the 5th
began its deadly grapple with Lee, in the Wilderness; May 6, Sherman
moved from Chattanooga, and engaged Joe Johnston at Rocky Face Ridge and
Tunnel Hill.

Each of these columns lost heavily in prisoners. It could not be
otherwise; it was a consequence of the aggressive movements. An army
acting offensively usually suffers more from capture than one on the
defensive. Our armies were penetrating the enemy’s country in close
proximity to a determined and vigilant foe. Every scout, every skirmish
line, every picket, every foraging party ran the risk of falling into a
Rebel trap. This was in addition to the risk of capture in action.

The bulk of the prisoners were taken from the Army of the Potomac. For
this there were two reasons: First, that there were many more men in that
Army than in any other; and second, that the entanglement in the dense
thickets and shrubbery of the Wilderness enabled both sides to capture
great numbers of the other’s men. Grant lost in prisoners from May 5 to
May 31, seven thousand four hundred and fifty; he probably captured two-
thirds of that number from the Johnnies.

Wirz’s headquarters were established in a large log house which had been
built in the fort a little distant from the southeast corner of the
prison. Every day–and sometimes twice or thrice a day–we would see
great squads of prisoners marched up to these headquarters, where they
would be searched, their names entered upon the prison records, by clerks
(detailed prisoners; few Rebels had the requisite clerical skill) and
then be marched into the prison. As they entered, the Rebel guards would
stand to arms. The infantry would be in line of battle, the cavalry
mounted, and the artillerymen standing by their guns, ready to open at
the instant with grape and canister.

The disparity between the number coming in from the Army of the Potomac
and Western armies was so great, that we Westerners began to take some
advantage of it. If we saw a squad of one hundred and fifty or
thereabouts at the headquarters, we felt pretty certain they were from
Sherman, and gathered to meet them, and learn the news from our friends.
If there were from five hundred to two thousand we knew they were from
the Army of the Potomac, and there were none of our comrades among them.
There were three exceptions to this rule while we were in Andersonville.
The first was in June, when the drunken and incompetent Sturgis (now
Colonel of the Seventh United States Cavalry) shamefully sacrificed a
superb division at Guntown, Miss. The next was after Hood made his
desperate attack on Sherman, on the 22d of July, and the third was when
Stoneman was captured at Macon. At each of these times about two
thousand prisoners were brought in.

By the end of May there were eighteen thousand four hundred and fifty-
four prisoners in the Stockade. Before the reader dismisses this
statement from his mind let him reflect how great a number this is.
It is more active, able-bodied young men than there are in any of our
leading Cities, save New York and Philadelphia. It is more than the
average population of an Ohio County. It is four times as many troops as
Taylor won the victory of Buena Vista with, and about twice as many as
Scott went into battle with at any time in his march to the City of

These eighteen thousand four hundred and fifty-four men were cooped up on
less than thirteen acres of ground, making about fifteen hundred to the
acre. No room could be given up for streets, or for the usual
arrangements of a camp, and most kinds of exercise were wholly precluded.
The men crowded together like pigs nesting in the woods on cold nights.
The ground, despite all our efforts, became indescribably filthy, and
this condition grew rapidly worse as the season advanced and the sun’s
rays gained fervency. As it is impossible to describe this adequately,
I must again ask the reader to assist with a few comparisons. He has an
idea of how much filth is produced, on an ordinary City lot, in a week,
by its occupation by a family say of six persons. Now let him imagine
what would be the result if that lot, instead of having upon it six
persons, with every appliance for keeping themselves clean, and for
removing and concealing filth, was the home of one hundred and eight men,
with none of these appliances.

That he may figure out these proportions for himself, I will repeat some
of the elements of the problem: We will say that an average City lot is
thirty feet front by one hundred deep. This is more front than most of
them have, but we will be liberal. This gives us a surface of three
thousand square feet. An acre contains forty-three thousand five hundred
and sixty square feet. Upon thirteen of these acres, we had eighteen
thousand four hundred and fifty-four men. After he has found the number
of square feet that each man had for sleeping apartment, dining room,
kitchen, exercise grounds and outhouses, and decided that nobody could
live for any length of time in such contracted space, I will tell him
that a few weeks later double that many men were crowded upon that space
that over thirty-five thousand were packed upon those twelve and a-half
or thirteen acres.

But I will not anticipate. With the warm weather the condition of the
swamp in the center of the prison became simply horrible. We hear so
much now-a-days of blood poisoning from the effluvia of sinks and sewers,
that reading it, I wonder how a man inside the Stockade, and into whose
nostrils came a breath of that noisomeness, escaped being carried off by
a malignant typhus. In the slimy ooze were billions of white maggots.
They would crawl out by thousands on the warm sand, and, lying there a
few minutes, sprout a wing or a pair of them. With these they would
essay a clumsy flight, ending by dropping down upon some exposed portion
of a man’s body, and stinging him like a gad-fly. Still worse, they
would drop into what he was cooking, and the utmost care could not
prevent a mess of food from being contaminated with them.

All the water that we had to use was that in the creek which flowed
through this seething mass of corruption, and received its sewerage.
How pure the water was when it came into the Stockade was a question.
We always believed that it received the drainage from the camps of the
guards, a half-a-mile away.

A road was made across the swamp, along the Dead Line at the west side,
where the creek entered the pen. Those getting water would go to this
spot, and reach as far up the stream as possible, to get the water that
was least filthy. As they could reach nearly to the Dead Line this
furnished an excuse to such of the guards as were murderously inclined to
fire upon them. I think I hazard nothing in saying that for weeks at
least one man a day was killed at this place. The murders became
monotonous; there was a dreadful sameness to them. A gun would crack;
looking up we would see, still smoking, the muzzle of the musket of one
of the guards on either side of the creek. At the same instant would
rise a piercing shriek from the man struck, now floundering in the creek
in his death agony. Then thousands of throats would yell out curses and
denunciations, and–

“O, give the Rebel —- —- —- —- a furlough!”

It was our belief that every guard who killed a Yankee was rewarded with
a thirty-day furlough. Mr. Frederick Holliger, now of Toledo, formerly a
member of the Seventy-Second Ohio, and captured at Guntown, tells me, as
his introduction to Andersonville life, that a few hours after his entry
he went to the brook to get a drink, reached out too far, and was fired
upon by the guard, who missed him, but killed another man and wounded a
second. The other prisoners standing near then attacked him, and beat
him nearly to death, for having drawn the fire of the guard.

Nothing could be more inexcusable than these murders. Whatever defense
there might be for firing on men who touched the Dead Line in other parts
of the prison, there could be none here. The men had no intention of
escaping; they had no designs upon the Stockade; they were not leading
any party to assail it. They were in every instance killed in the act of
reaching out with their cups to dip up a little water.



Let the reader understand that in any strictures I make I do not complain
of the necessary hardships of war. I understood fully and accepted the
conditions of a soldier’s career. My going into the field uniformed and
armed implied an intention, at least, of killing, wounding, or capturing,
some of the enemy. There was consequently no ground of complaint if I
was, myself killed, wounded, or captured. If I did not want to take
these chances I ought to stay at home. In the same way, I recognized the
right of our captors or guards to take proper precautions to prevent our
escape. I never questioned for an instant the right of a guard to fire
upon those attempting to escape, and to kill them. Had I been posted
over prisoners I should have had no compunction about shooting at those
trying to get away, and consequently I could not blame the Rebels for
doing the same thing. It was a matter of soldierly duty.

But not one of the men assassinated by the guards at Andersonville were
trying to escape, nor could they have got away if not arrested by a
bullet. In a majority of instances there was not even a transgression of
a prison rule, and when there was such a transgression it was a mere
harmless inadvertence. The slaying of every man there was a foul crime.

The most of this was done by very young boys; some of it by old men.
The Twenty-Sixth Alabama and Fifty-Fifth Georgia, had guarded us since
the opening of the prison, but now they were ordered to the field, and
their places filled by the Georgia “Reserves,” an organization of boys
under, and men over the military age. As General Grant aptly-phrased it,
“They had robbed the cradle and the grave,” in forming these regiments.
The boys, who had grown up from children since the war began, could not
comprehend that a Yankee was a human being, or that it was any more
wrongful to shoot one than to kill a mad dog. Their young imaginations
had been inflamed with stories of the total depravity of the Unionists
until they believed it was a meritorious thing to seize every opportunity
to exterminate them.

Early one morning I overheard a conversation between two of these
youthful guards:

“Say, Bill, I heerd that you shot a Yank last night?”

“Now, you just bet I did. God! you jest ought to’ve heerd him holler.”

Evidently the juvenile murderer had no more conception that he had
committed crime than if he had killed a rattlesnake.

Among those who came in about the last of the month were two thousand men
from Butler’s command, lost in the disastrous action of May 15, by which
Butler was “bottled up” at Bermuda Hundreds. At that time the Rebel
hatred for Butler verged on insanity, and they vented this upon these men
who were so luckless–in every sense–as to be in his command. Every
pains was taken to mistreat them. Stripped of every article of clothing,
equipment, and cooking utensils–everything, except a shirt and a pair of
pantaloons, they were turned bareheaded and barefooted into the prison,
and the worst possible place in the pen hunted out to locate them upon.
This was under the bank, at the edge of the Swamp and at the eastern side
of the prison, where the sinks were, and all filth from the upper part of
the camp flowed down to them. The sand upon which they lay was dry and
burning as that of a tropical desert; they were without the slightest
shelter of any kind, the maggot flies swarmed over them, and the stench
was frightful. If one of them survived the germ theory of disease is a

The increasing number of prisoners made it necessary for the Rebels to
improve their means of guarding and holding us in check. They threw up a
line of rifle pits around the Stockade for the infantry guards.
At intervals along this were piles of hand grenades, which could be used
with fearful effect in case of an outbreak. A strong star fort was
thrown up at a little distance from the southwest corner. Eleven field
pieces were mounted in this in such a way as to rake the Stockade
diagonally. A smaller fort, mounting five guns, was built at the
northwest corner, and at the northeast and southeast corners were small
lunettes, with a couple of howitzers each. Packed as we were we had
reason to dread a single round from any of these works, which could not
fail to produce fearful havoc.

Still a plot was concocted for a break, and it seemed to the sanguine
portions of us that it must prove successful. First a secret society was
organized, bound by the most stringent oaths that could be devised.
The members of this were divided into companies of fifty men each; under
officers regularly elected. The secrecy was assumed in order to shut out
Rebel spies and the traitors from a knowledge of the contemplated
outbreak. A man named Baker–belonging, I think, to some New York
regiment–was the grand organizer of the scheme. We were careful in each
of our companies to admit none to membership except such as long
acquaintance gave us entire confidence in.

The plan was to dig large tunnels to the Stockade at various places, and
then hollow out the ground at the foot of the timbers, so that a half
dozen or so could be pushed over with a little effort, and make a gap ten
or twelve feet wide. All these were to be thrown down at a preconcerted
signal, the companies were to rush out and seize the eleven guns of the
headquarters fort. The Plymouth Brigade was then to man these and turn
them on the camp of the Reserves who, it was imagined, would drop their
arms and take to their heels after receiving a round or so of shell.
We would gather what arms we could, and place them in the hands of the
most active and determined. This would give us frown eight to ten
thousand fairly armed, resolute men, with which we thought we could march
to Appalachicola Bay, or to Sherman.

We worked energetically at our tunnels, which soon began to assume such
shape as to give assurance that they would answer our expectations in
opening the prison walls.

Then came the usual blight to all such enterprises: a spy or a traitor
revealed everything to Wirz. One day a guard came in, seized Baker and
took him out. What was done with him I know not; we never heard of him
after he passed the inner gate.

Immediately afterward all the Sergeants of detachments were summoned
outside. There they met Wirz, who made a speech informing them that he
knew all the details of the plot, and had made sufficient preparations to
defeat it. The guard had been strongly reinforced, and disposed in such
a manner as to protect the guns from capture. The Stockade had been
secured to prevent its falling, even if undermined. He said, in
addition, that Sherman had been badly defeated by Johnston, and driven
back across the river, so that any hopes of co-operation by him would be

When the Sergeants returned, he caused the following notice to be posted
on the gates


Not wishing to shed the blood of hundreds, not connected with those
who concocted a mad plan to force the Stockade, and make in this way
their escape, I hereby warn the leaders and those who formed
themselves into a band to carry out this, that I am in possession of
all the facts, and have made my dispositions accordingly, so as to
frustrate it. No choice would be left me but to open with grape and
canister on the Stockade, and what effect this would have, in this
densely crowded place, need not be told.

May 25,1864.
H. Wirz.

The next day a line of tall poles, bearing white flags, were put up at
some little distance from the Dead Line, and a notice was read to us at
roll call that if, except at roll call, any gathering exceeding one
hundred was observed, closer the Stockade than these poles, the guns
would open with grape and canister without warning.

The number of deaths in the Stockade in May was seven hundred and eight,
about as many as had been killed in Sherman’s army during the same time.



After Wirz’s threat of grape and canister upon the slightest provocation,
we lived in daily apprehension of some pretext being found for opening
the guns upon us for a general massacre. Bitter experience had long
since taught us that the Rebels rarely threatened in vain. Wirz,
especially, was much more likely to kill without warning, than to warn
without killing. This was because of the essential weakness of his
nature. He knew no art of government, no method of discipline save “kill
them!” His petty little mind’s scope reached no further. He could
conceive of no other way of managing men than the punishment of every
offense, or seeming offense, with death. Men who have any talent for
governing find little occasion for the death penalty. The stronger they
are in themselves–the more fitted for controlling others–the less their
need of enforcing their authority by harsh measures.

There was a general expression of determination among the prisoners to
answer any cannonade with a desperate attempt to force the Stockade.
It was agreed that anything was better than dying like rats in a pit or
wild animals in a battue. It was believed that if anything would occur
which would rouse half those in the pen to make a headlong effort in
concert, the palisade could be scaled, and the gates carried, and, though
it would be at a fearful loss of life, the majority of those making
the attempt would get out. If the Rebels would discharge grape and
canister, or throw a shell into the prison, it would lash everybody to
such a pitch that they would see that the sole forlorn hope of safety lay
in wresting the arms away from our tormentors. The great element in our
favor was the shortness of the distance between us and the cannon.
We could hope to traverse this before the guns could be reloaded more
than once.

Whether it would have been possible to succeed I am unable to say.
It would have depended wholly upon the spirit and unanimity with which
the effort was made. Had ten thousand rushed forward at once, each with
a determination to do or die, I think it would have been successful
without a loss of a tenth of the number. But the insuperable trouble–in
our disorganized state–was want of concert of action. I am quite sure,
however, that the attempt would have been made had the guns opened.

One day, while the agitation of this matter was feverish, I was cooking
my dinner–that is, boiling my pitiful little ration of unsalted meal, in
my fruit can, with the aid of a handful of splinters that I had been able
to pick up by a half day’s diligent search. Suddenly the long rifle in
the headquarters fort rang out angrily. A fuse shell shrieked across the
prison–close to the tops of the logs, and burst in the woods beyond.
It was answered with a yell of defiance from ten thousand throats.

I sprang up-my heart in my mouth. The long dreaded time had arrived; the
Rebels had opened the massacre in which they must exterminate us, or we

I looked across to the opposite bank, on which were standing twelve
thousand men–erect, excited, defiant. I was sure that at the next shot
they would surge straight against the Stockade like a mighty human
billow, and then a carnage would begin the like of which modern times had
never seen.

The excitement and suspense were terrible. We waited for what seemed
ages for the next gun. It was not fired. Old Winder was merely showing
the prisoners how he could rally the guards to oppose an outbreak.
Though the gun had a shell in it, it was merely a signal, and the guards
came double-quicking up by regiments, going into position in the rifle
pits and the hand-grenade piles.

As we realized what the whole affair meant, we relieved our surcharged
feelings with a few general yells of execration upon Rebels generally,
and upon those around us particularly, and resumed our occupation of
cooking rations, killing lice, and discussing the prospects of exchange
and escape.

The rations, like everything else about us, had steadily grown worse.
A bakery was built outside of the Stockade in May and our meal was baked
there into loaves about the size of brick. Each of us got a half of one
of these for a day’s ration. This, and occasionally a small slice of
salt pork, was call that I received. I wish the reader would prepare
himself an object lesson as to how little life can be supported on for
any length of time, by procuring a piece of corn bread the size of an
ordinary brickbat, and a thin slice of pork, and then imagine how he
would fare, with that as his sole daily ration, for long hungry weeks and
months. Dio Lewis satisfied himself that he could sustain life on sixty
cents, a week. I am sure that the food furnished us by the Rebels would
not, at present prices cost one-third that. They pretended to give us
one-third of pound of bacon and one and one-fourth pounds of corn meal.
A week’s rations then would be two and one-third pounds of bacon–worth
ten cents, and eight and three-fourths pounds of meal, worth, say, ten
cents more. As a matter of fact, I do not presume that at any time we
got this full ration. It would surprise me to learn that we averaged
two-thirds of it.

The meal was ground very coarse and produced great irrition in the
bowels. We used to have the most frightful cramps that men ever suffered
from. Those who were predisposed intestinal affections were speedily
carried off by incurable diarrhea and dysentery. Of the twelve thousand
and twelve men who died, four thousand died of chronic diarrhea; eight
hundred and seventeen died of acute diarrhea, and one thousand three
hundred and eighty-four died of dysenteria, making total of six thousand
two hundred and one victims to enteric disorders.

Let the reader reflect a moment upon this number, till comprehends fully
how many six thousand two hundred and men are, and how much force,
energy, training, and rich possibilities for the good of the community
and country died with those six thousand two hundred and one young,
active men. It may help his perception of the magnitude of this number
to remember that the total loss of the British, during the Crimean war,
by death in all shapes, was four thousand five hundred and ninety-five,
or one thousand seven hundred and six less than the deaths in
Andersonville from dysenteric diseases alone.

The loathsome maggot flies swarmed about the bakery, and dropped into the
trough where the dough was being mixed, so that it was rare to get a
ration of bread not contaminated with a few of them.

It was not long until the bakery became inadequate to supply bread for
all the prisoners. Then great iron kettles were set, and mush was issued
to a number of detachments, instead of bread. There was not so much
cleanliness and care in preparing this as a farmer shows in cooking food
for stock. A deep wagon-bed would be shoveled full of the smoking paste,
which was then hailed inside and issued out to the detachments, the
latter receiving it on blankets, pieces of shelter tents, or, lacking
even these, upon the bare sand.

As still more prisoners came in, neither bread nor mush could be
furnished them, and a part of the detachments received their rations in
meal. Earnest solicitation at length resulted in having occasional
scanty issues of wood to cook this with. My detachment was allowed to
choose which it would take–bread, mush or meal. It took the latter.

Cooking the meal was the topic of daily interest. There were three ways
of doing it: Bread, mush and “dumplings.” In the latter the meal was
dampened until it would hold together, and was rolled into little balls,
the size of marbles, which were then boiled. The bread was the most
satisfactory and nourishing; the mush the bulkiest–it made a bigger
show, but did not stay with one so long. The dumplings held an
intermediate position–the water in which they were boiled becoming a
sort of a broth that helped to stay the stomach. We received no salt,
as a rule. No one knows the intense longing for this, when one goes
without it for a while. When, after a privation of weeks we would get a
teaspoonful of salt apiece, it seemed as if every muscle in our bodies
was invigorated. We traded buttons to the guards for red peppers, and
made our mush, or bread, or dumplings, hot with the fiery-pods, in hopes
that this would make up for the lack of salt, but it was a failure.
One pinch of salt was worth all the pepper pods in the Southern
Confederacy. My little squad–now diminished by death from five to
three–cooked our rations together to economize wood and waste of meal,
and quarreled among, ourselves daily as to whether the joint stock should
be converted into bread, mush or dumplings. The decision depended upon
the state of the stomach. If very hungry, we made mush; if less
famished, dumplings; if disposed to weigh matters, bread.

This may seem a trifling matter, but it was far from it. We all remember
the man who was very fond of white beans, but after having fifty or sixty
meals of them in succession, began to find a suspicion of monotony in the
provender. We had now six months of unvarying diet of corn meal and
water, and even so slight a change as a variation in the way of combining
the two was an agreeable novelty.

At the end of June there were twenty-six thousand three hundred and
sixty-seven prisoners in the Stockade, and one thousand two hundred–just
forty per day–had died during the month.



May and June made sad havoc in the already thin ranks of our battalion.
Nearly a score died in my company–L–and the other companies suffered
proportionately. Among the first to die of my company comrades, was a
genial little Corporal, “Billy” Phillips–who was a favorite with us all.
Everything was done for him that kindness could suggest, but it was of
little avail. Then “Bruno” Weeks–a young boy, the son of a preacher,
who had run away from his home in Fulton County, Ohio, to join us,
succumbed to hardship and privation.

The next to go was good-natured, harmless Victor Seitz, a Detroit cigar
maker, a German, and one of the slowest of created mortals. How he ever
came to go into the cavalry was beyond the wildest surmises of his
comrades. Why his supernatural slowness and clumsiness did not result in
his being killed at least once a day, while in the service, was even
still farther beyond the power of conjecture. No accident ever happened
in the company that Seitz did not have some share in. Did a horse fall
on a slippery road, it was almost sure to be Seitz’s, and that imported
son of the Fatherland was equally sure to be caught under him. Did
somebody tumble over a bank of a dark night, it was Seitz that we soon
heard making his way back, swearing in deep German gutterals, with
frequent allusion to ‘tausend teuflin.’ Did a shanty blow down, we ran
over and pulled Seitz out of the debris, when he would exclaim:

“Zo! dot vos pretty vunny now, ain’t it?”

And as he surveyed the scene of his trouble with true German phlegm, he
would fish a brier-wood pipe from the recesses of his pockets, fill it
with tobacco, and go plodding off in a cloud of smoke in search of some
fresh way to narrowly escape destruction. He did not know enough about
horses to put a snaffle-bit in one’s mouth, and yet he would draw the
friskiest, most mettlesome animal in the corral, upon whose back he was
scarcely more at home than he would be upon a slack rope. It was no
uncommon thing to see a horse break out of ranks, and go past the
battalion like the wind, with poor Seitz clinging to his mane like the
traditional grim Death to a deceased African. We then knew that Seitz
had thoughtlessly sunk the keen spurs he would persist in wearing; deep
into the flanks of his high-mettled animal.

These accidents became so much a matter-of-course that when anything
unusual occurred in the company our first impulse was to go and help
Seitz out.

When the bugle sounded “boots and saddles,” the rest of us would pack up,
mount, “count off by fours from the right,” and be ready to move out
before the last notes of the call had fairly died away. Just then we
would notice an unsaddled horse still tied to the hitching place. It was
Seitz’s, and that worthy would be seen approaching, pipe in mouth, and
bridle in hand, with calm, equable steps, as if any time before the
expiration of his enlistment would be soon enough to accomplish the
saddling of his steed. A chorus of impatient and derisive remarks would
go up from his impatient comrades:

“For heaven’s sake, Seitz, hurry up!”

“Seitz! you are like a cow’s tail–always behind!”

“Seitz, you are slower than the second coming of the Savior!”

“Christmas is a railroad train alongside of you, Seitz!”

“If you ain’t on that horse in half a second, Seitz, we’ll go off and
leave you, and the Johnnies will skin you alive!” etc., etc.

Not a ripple of emotion would roll over Seitz’s placid features under the
sharpest of these objurgations. At last, losing all patience, two or
three boys would dismount, run to Seitz’s horse, pack, saddle and bridle
him, as if he were struck with a whirlwind. Then Seitz would mount, and
we would move ‘off.

For all this, we liked him. His good nature was boundless, and his
disposition to oblige equal to the severest test. He did not lack a
grain of his full share of the calm, steadfast courage of his race, and
would stay where he was put, though Erebus yawned and bade him fly.
He was very useful, despite his unfitness for many of the duties of a
cavalryman. He was a good guard, and always ready to take charge of
prisoners, or be sentry around wagons or a forage pile-duties that most
of the boys cordially hated.

But he came into the last trouble at Andersonville. He stood up pretty
well under the hardships of Belle Isle, but lost his cheerfulness–his
unrepining calmness–after a few weeks in the Stockade. One day we
remembered that none of us had seen him for several days, and we started
in search of him. We found him in a distant part of the camp, lying near
the Dead Line. His long fair hair was matted together, his blue eyes had
the flush of fever. Every part of his clothing was gray with the lice
that were hastening his death with their torments. He uttered the first
complaint I ever heard him make, as I came up to him:

“My Gott, M —-, dis is worse dun a dog’s det!”

In a few days we gave him all the funeral in our power; tied his big toes
together, folded his hands across his breast, pinned to his shirt a slip
of paper, upon which was written:

Co. L, Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry.

And laid his body at the South Gate, beside some scores of others that
were awaiting the arrival of the six-mule wagon that hauled them to the
Potter’s Field, which was to be their last resting-place.

John Emerson and John Stiggall, of my company, were two Norwegian boys,
and fine specimens of their race–intelligent, faithful, and always ready
for duty. They had an affection for each other that reminded one of the
stories told of the sworn attachment and the unfailing devotion that were
common between two Gothic warrior youths. Coming into Andersonville some
little time after the rest of us, they found all the desirable ground
taken up, and they established their quarters at the base of the hill,
near the Swamp. There they dug a little hole to lie in, and put in a
layer of pine leaves. Between them they had an overcoat and a blanket.
At night they lay upon the coat and covered themselves with the blanket.
By day the blanket served as a tent. The hardships and annoyances that
we endured made everybody else cross and irritable. At times it seemed
impossible to say or listen to pleasant words, and nobody was ever
allowed to go any length of time spoiling for a fight. He could usually
be accommodated upon the spot to any extent he desired, by simply making
his wishes known. Even the best of chums would have sharp quarrels and
brisk fights, and this disposition increased as disease made greater
inroads upon them. I saw in one instance two brothers-both of whom died
the next day of scurvy–and who were so helpless as to be unable to rise,
pull themselves up on their knees by clenching the poles of their tents–
in order to strike each other with clubs, and they kept striking until
the bystanders interfered and took their weapons away from them.

But Stiggall and Emerson never quarreled with each other. Their
tenderness and affection were remarkable to witness. They began to go
the way that so many were going; diarrhea and scurvy set in; they wasted
away till their muscles and tissues almost disappeared, leaving the skin
lying fiat upon the bones; but their principal solicitude was for each
other, and each seemed actually jealous of any person else doing anything
for the other. I met Emerson one day, with one leg drawn clear out of
shape, and rendered almost useless by the scurvy. He was very weak, but
was hobbling down towards the Creek with a bucket made from a boot leg.
I said:

“Johnny, just give me your bucket. I’ll fill it for you, and bring it up
to your tent.”

“No; much obliged, M —-” he wheezed out; “my pardner wants a cool
drink, and I guess I’d better get it for him.”

Stiggall died in June. He was one of the first victims of scurvy, which,
in the succeeding few weeks, carried off so many. All of us who had read
sea-stories had read much of this disease and its horrors, but we had
little conception of the dreadful reality. It usually manifested itself
first in the mouth. The breath became unbearably fetid; the gums swelled
until they protruded, livid and disgusting, beyond the lips. The teeth
became so loose that they frequently fell out, and the sufferer would
pick them up and set them back in their sockets. In attempting to bite
the hard corn bread furnished by the bakery the teeth often stuck fast
and were pulled out. The gums had a fashion of breaking away, in large
chunks, which would be swallowed or spit out. All the time one was
eating his mouth would be filled with blood, fragments of gums and
loosened teeth.

Frightful, malignant ulcers appeared in other parts of the body; the
ever-present maggot flies laid eggs in these, and soon worms swarmed
therein. The sufferer looked and felt as if, though he yet lived and
moved, his body was anticipating the rotting it would undergo a little
later in the grave.

The last change was ushered in by the lower parts of the legs swelling.
When this appeared, we considered the man doomed. We all had scurvy,
more or less, but as long as it kept out of our legs we were hopeful.
First, the ankle joints swelled, then the foot became useless. The
swelling increased until the knees became stiff, and the skin from these
down was distended until it looked pale, colorless and transparent as a
tightly blown bladder. The leg was so much larger at the bottom than at
the thigh, that the sufferers used to make grim jokes about being modeled
like a churn, “with the biggest end down.” The man then became utterly
helpless and usually died in a short time.

The official report puts down the number of deaths from scurvy at three
thousand five hundred and seventy-four, but Dr. Jones, the Rebel surgeon,
reported to the Rebel Government his belief that nine-tenths of the great
mortality of the prison was due, either directly or indirectly, to this

The only effort made by the Rebel doctors to check its ravages was
occasionally to give a handful of sumach berries to some particularly bad

When Stiggall died we thought Emerson would certainly follow him in a day
or two, but, to our surprise, he lingered along until August before



The gradually lengthening Summer days were insufferably long and
wearisome. Each was hotter, longer and more tedious than its
predecessors. In my company was a none-too-bright fellow, named Dawson.
During the chilly rains or the nipping, winds of our first days in
prison, Dawson would, as he rose in, the morning, survey the forbidding
skies with lack-luster eyes and remark, oracularly:

“Well, Ole Boo gits us agin, to-day.”

He was so unvarying in this salutation to the morn that his designation
of disagreeable weather as “Ole Boo” became generally adopted by us.
When the hot weather came on, Dawson’s remark, upon rising and seeing
excellent prospects for a scorcher, changed to: “Well, Ole Sol, the
Haymaker, is going to git in his work on us agin to-day.”

As long as he lived and was able to talk, this was Dawson’s invariable
observation at the break of day.

He was quite right. The Ole Haymaker would do some famous work before he
descended in the West, sending his level rays through the wide
interstices between the somber pines.

By nine o’clock in the morning his beams would begin to fairly singe
everything in the crowded pen. The hot sand would glow as one sees it in
the center of the unshaded highway some scorching noon in August. The
high walls of the prison prevented the circulation inside of any breeze
that might be in motion, while the foul stench rising from the putrid
Swamp and the rotting ground seemed to reach the skies.

One can readily comprehend the horrors of death on the burning sands of
a desert. But the desert sand is at least clean; there is nothing worse
about it than heat and intense dryness. It is not, as that was at
Andersonville, poisoned with the excretions of thousands of sick and
dying men, filled with disgusting vermin, and loading the air with the
germs of death. The difference is as that between a brick-kiln and a
sewer. Should the fates ever decide that I shall be flung out upon sands
to perish, I beg that the hottest place in the Sahara may be selected,
rather than such a spot as the interior of the Andersonville Stockade.

It may be said that we had an abundance of water, which made a decided
improvement on a desert. Doubtless–had that water been pure. But every
mouthful of it was a blood poison, and helped promote disease and death.
Even before reaching the Stockade it was so polluted by the drainage of
the Rebel camps as to be utterly unfit for human use. In our part of the
prison we sank several wells–some as deep as forty feet–to procure
water. We had no other tools for this than our ever-faithful half
canteens, and nothing wherewith to wall the wells. But a firm clay was
reached a few feet below the surface, which afforded tolerable strong
sides for the lower part, ana furnished material to make adobe bricks for
curbs to keep out the sand of the upper part. The sides were continually
giving away, however, and fellows were perpetually falling down the
holes, to the great damage of their legs and arms. The water, which was
drawn up in little cans, or boot leg buckets, by strings made of strips
of cloth, was much better than that of the creek, but was still far from
pure, as it contained the seepage from the filthy ground.

The intense heat led men to drink great quantities of water, and this
superinduced malignant dropsical complaints, which, next to diarrhea,
scurvy and gangrene, were the ailments most active in carrying men off.
Those affected in this way swelled up frightfully from day to day. Their
clothes speedily became too small for them, and were ripped off, leaving
them entirely naked, and they suffered intensely until death at last came
to their relief. Among those of my squad who died in this way, was a
young man named Baxter, of the Fifth Indiana Cavalry, taken at
Chicamauga. He was very fine looking–tall, slender, with regular
features and intensely black hair and eyes; he sang nicely, and was
generally liked. A more pitiable object than he, when last I saw him,
just before his death, can not be imagined. His body had swollen until
it seemed marvelous that the human skin could bear so much distention
without disruption, All the old look of bright intelligence had been.
driven from his face by the distortion of his features. His swarthy hair
and beard, grown long and ragged, had that peculiar repulsive look which
the black hair of the sick is prone to assume.

I attributed much of my freedom from the diseases to which others
succumbed to abstention from water drinking. Long before I entered the
army, I had constructed a theory–on premises that were doubtless as
insufficient as those that boyish theories are usually based upon–that
drinking water was a habit, and a pernicious one, which sapped away the
energy. I took some trouble to curb my appetite for water, and soon
found that I got along very comfortably without drinking anything beyond
that which was contained in my food. I followed this up after entering
the army, drinking nothing at any time but a little coffee, and finding
no need, even on the dustiest marches, for anything more. I do not
presume that in a year I drank a quart of cold water. Experience seemed
to confirm my views, for I noticed that the first to sink under a
fatigue, or to yield to sickness, were those who were always on the
lookout for drinking water, springing from their horses and struggling
around every well or spring on the line of march for an opportunity to
fill their canteens.

I made liberal use of the Creek for bathing purposes, however, visiting
it four or five times a, day during the hot days, to wash myself all
over. This did not cool one off much, for the shallow stream was nearly
as hot as the sand, but it seemed to do some good, and it helped pass
away the tedious hours. The stream was nearly all the time filled as
full of bathers as they could stand, and the water could do little
towards cleansing so many. The occasional rain storms that swept across
the prison were welcomed, not only because they cooled the air
temporarily, but because they gave us a shower-bath. As they came up,
nearly every one stripped naked and got out where he could enjoy the full
benefit of the falling water. Fancy, if possible, the spectacle of
twenty-five thousand or thirty thousand men without a stitch of clothing
upon them. The like has not been seen, I imagine, since the naked
followers of Boadicea gathered in force to do battle to the Roman

It was impossible to get really clean. Our bodies seemed covered with a
varnish-like, gummy matter that defied removal by water alone.
I imagined that it came from the rosin or turpentine, arising from the
little pitch pine fires over which we hovered when cooking our rations.
It would yield to nothing except strong soap-and soap, as I have before
stated–was nearly as scarce in the Southern Confederacy as salt. We in
prison saw even less of it, or rather, none at all. The scarcity of it,
and our desire for it, recalls a bit of personal experience.

I had steadfastly refused all offers of positions outside the prison on
parole, as, like the great majority of the prisoners, my hatred of the
Rebels grew more bitter, day by day; I felt as if I would rather die than
accept the smallest favor at their hands, and I shared the common
contempt for those who did. But, when the movement for a grand attack on
the Stockade–mentioned in a previous chapter–was apparently rapidly
coming to a head, I was offered a temporary detail outside to, assist in
making up some rolls. I resolved to accept; first because I thought I
might get some information that would be of use in our enterprise; and,
next, because I foresaw that the rush through the gaps in the Stockade
would be bloody business, and by going out in advance I would avoid that
much of the danger, and still be able to give effective assistance.

I was taken up to Wirz’s office. He was writing at a desk at one end of
a large room when the Sergeant brought me in. He turned around, told the
Sergeant to leave me, and ordered me to sit down upon a box at the other
end of the room.

Turning his back and resuming his writing, in a few minutes he had
forgotten me. I sat quietly, taking in the details for a half-hour, and
then, having exhausted everything else in the room, I began wondering
what was in the bog I was sitting upon. The lid was loose; I hitched it
forward a little without attracting Wirz’s attention, and slipped my left
hand down of a voyage of discovery. It seemed very likely that there was
something there that a loyal Yankee deserved better than a Rebel.
I found that it was a fine article of soft soap. A handful was scooped
up and speedily shoved into my left pantaloon pocket. Expecting every
instant that Wirz would turn around and order me to come to the desk to
show my handwriting, hastily and furtively wiped my hand on the back of
my shirt and watched Wirz with as innocent an expression as a school boy
assumes when he has just flipped a chewed paper wad across the room.
Wirz was still engrossed in his writing, and did not look around. I was
emboldened to reach down for another handful. This was also successfully
transferred, the hand wiped off on the back of the shirt, and the face
wore its expression of infantile ingenuousness. Still Wirz did not look
up. I kept dipping up handful after handful, until I had gotten about a
quart in the left hand pocket. After each handful I rubbed my hand off
on the back of my shirt and waited an instant for a summons to the desk.
Then the process was repeated with the other hand, and a quart of the
saponaceous mush was packed in the right hand pocket

Shortly after Wirz rose and ordered a guard to take me away and keep me,
until he decided what to do with me. The day was intensely hot, and soon
the soap in my pockets and on the back of my shirt began burning like
double strength Spanish fly blisters. There was nothing to do but grin
and bear it. I set my teeth, squatted down under the shade of the
parapet of the fort, and stood it silently and sullenly. For the first
time in my life I thoroughly appreciated the story of the Spartan boy,
who stole the fox and suffered the animal to tear his bowels out rather
than give a sign which would lead to the exposure of his theft.

Between four and five o’clock-after I had endured the thing for five or
six hours, a guard came with orders from Wirz that I should be returned
to the Stockade. Upon hastily removing my clothes, after coming inside,
I found I had a blister on each thigh, and one down my back, that would
have delighted an old practitioner of the heroic school. But I also had
a half gallon of excellent soft soap. My chums and I took a magnificent
wash, and gave our clothes the same, and we still had soap enough left to
barter for some onions that we had long coveted, and which tasted as
sweet to us as manna to the Israelites.



The time moved with leaden feet. Do the best we could, there were very
many tiresome hours for which no occupation whatever could be found.
All that was necessary to be done during the day–attending roll call,
drawing and cooking rations, killing lice and washing–could be disposed
of in an hour’s time, and we were left with fifteen or sixteen waking
hours, for which there was absolutely no employment. Very many tried to
escape both the heat and ennui by sleeping as much as possible through
the day, but I noticed that those who did this soon died, and
consequently I did not do it. Card playing had sufficed to pass away the
hours at first, but our cards soon wore out, and deprived us of this
resource. My chum, Andrews, and I constructed a set of chessmen with an
infinite deal of trouble. We found a soft, white root in the swamp which
answered our purpose. A boy near us had a tolerably sharp pocket-knife,
for the use of which a couple of hours each day, we gave a few spoonfuls
of meal. The knife was the only one among a large number of prisoners,
as the Rebel guards had an affection for that style of cutlery, which led
them to search incoming prisoners, very closely. The fortunate owner of
this derived quite a little income of meal by shrewdly loaning it to his
knifeless comrades. The shapes that we made for pieces and pawns were
necessarily very rude, but they were sufficiently distinct for
identification. We blackened one set with pitch pine soot, found a piece
of plank that would answer for a board and purchased it from its
possessor for part of a ration of meal, and so were fitted out with what
served until our release to distract our attention from much of the
surrounding misery.

Every one else procured such amusement as they could. Newcomers, who
still had money and cards, gambled as long as their means lasted. Those
who had books read them until the leaves fell apart. Those who had paper
and pen and ink tried to write descriptions and keep journals, but this
was usually given up after being in prison a few weeks. I was fortunate
enough to know a boy who had brought a copy of “Gray’s Anatomy” into
prison with him. I was not specially interested in the subject, but it
was Hobson’s choice; I could read anatomy or nothing, and so I tackled it
with such good will that before my friend became sick and was taken
outside, and his book with him, I had obtained a very fair knowledge of
the rudiments of physiology.

There was a little band of devoted Christian workers, among whom were
Orderly Sergeant Thomas J. Sheppard, Ninety-Seventh O. Y. L, now a
leading Baptist minister in Eastern Ohio; Boston Corbett, who afterward
slew John Wilkes Booth, and Frank Smith, now at the head of the Railroad
Bethel work at Toledo. They were indefatigable in trying to evangelize
the prison. A few of them would take their station in some part of the
Stockade (a different one every time), and begin singing some old
familiar hymn like

“Come, Thou fount of every blessing,”

and in a few minutes they would have an attentive audience of as many
thousand as could get within hearing. The singing would be followed by
regular services, during which Sheppard, Smith, Corbett, and some others
would make short, spirited, practical addresses, which no doubt did much
good to all who heard them, though the grains of leaven were entirely too
small to leaven such an immense measure of meal. They conducted several
funerals, as nearly like the way it was done at home as possible. Their
ministrations were not confined to mere lip service, but they labored
assiduously in caring for the sick, and made many a poor fellow’s way to
the grave much smoother for him.

This was about all the religious services that we were favored with.
The Rebel preachers did not make that effort to save our misguided souls
which one would have imagined they would having us where we could not
choose but hear they might have taken advantage of our situation to rake
us fore and aft with their theological artillery. They only attempted it
in one instance. While in Richmond a preacher came into our room and
announced in an authoritative way that he would address us on religious
subjects. We uncovered respectfully, and gathered around him. He was a
loud-tongued, brawling Boanerges, who addressed the Lord as if drilling a

He spoke but a few moments before making apparent his belief that the
worst of crimes was that of being a Yankee, and that a man must not only
be saved through Christ’s blood, but also serve in the Rebel army before
he could attain to heaven.

Of course we raised such a yell of derision that the sermon was brought
to an abrupt conclusion.

The only minister who came into the Stockade was a Catholic priest,
middle-aged, tall, slender, and unmistakably devout. He was unwearied in
his attention to the sick, and the whole day could be seen moving around
through the prison, attending to those who needed spiritual consolation.
It was interesting to see him administer the extreme unction to a dying
man. Placing a long purple scarf about his own neck and a small brazen
crucifix in the hands of the dying one, he would kneel by the latter’s
side and anoint him upon the eyes, ears, nostrils; lips, hands, feet and
breast, with sacred oil; from a little brass vessel, repeating the while,
in an impressive voice, the solemn offices of the Church.

His unwearying devotion gained the admiration of all, no matter how
little inclined one might be to view priestliness generally with favor.
He was evidently of such stuff as Christian heros have ever been made of,
and would have faced stake and fagot, at the call of duty, with
unquailing eye. His name was Father Hamilton, and he was stationed at
Macon. The world should know more of a man whose services were so
creditable to humanity and his Church:

The good father had the wisdom of the serpent, with the harmlessness of
the dove. Though full of commiseration for the unhappy lot of the
prisoners, nothing could betray him into the slightest expression of
opinion regarding the war or those who were the authors of all this
misery. In our impatience at our treatment, and hunger for news, we
forgot his sacerdotal character, and importuned him for tidings of the
exchange. His invariable reply was that he lived apart from these things
and kept himself ignorant of them.

“But, father,” said I one day, with an impatience that I could not wholly
repress, “you must certainly hear or read something of this, while you
are outside among the Rebel officers.” Like many other people, I
supposed that the whole world was excited over that in which I felt a
deep interest.

“No, my son,” replied he, in his usual calm, measured tones. “I go not
among them, nor do I hear anything from them. When I leave the prison in
the evening, full of sorrow at what I have seen here, I find that the
best use I can make of my time is in studying the Word of God, and
especially the Psalms of David.”

We were not any longer good company for each other. We had heard over
and over again all each other’s stories and jokes, and each knew as much
about the other’s previous history as we chose to communicate. The story
of every individual’s past life, relations, friends, regiment, and
soldier experience had been told again and again, until the repetition
was wearisome. The cool nights following the hot days were favorable to
little gossiping seances like the yarn-spinning watches of sailors on
pleasant nights. Our squad, though its stock of stories was worn
threadbare, was fortunate enough to have a sweet singer in Israel “Nosey”
Payne–of whose tunefulness we never tired. He had a large repertoire of
patriotic songs, which he sang with feeling and correctness, and which
helped much to make the calm Summer nights pass agreeably. Among the
best of these was “Brave Boys are They,” which I always thought was the
finest ballad, both in poetry and music, produced by the War.



With each long, hot Summer hour the lice, the maggot-flies and the
N’Yaarkers increased in numbers and venomous activity. They were ever-
present annoyances and troubles; no time was free from them. The lice
worried us by day and tormented us by night; the maggot-flies fouled our
food, and laid in sores and wounds larvae that speedily became masses of
wriggling worms. The N’Yaarkers were human vermin that preyed upon and
harried us unceasingly.

They formed themselves into bands numbering from five to twenty-five,
each led by a bold, unscrupulous, energetic scoundrel. We now called
them “Raiders,” and the most prominent and best known of the bands were
called by the names of their ruffian leaders, as “Mosby’s Raiders,”
“Curtis’s Raiders,” “Delaney’s Raiders,” “Sarsfield’s Raiders,”
“Collins’s Raiders,” etc.

As long as we old prisoners formed the bulk of those inside the Stockade,
the Raiders had slender picking. They would occasionally snatch a
blanket from the tent poles, or knock a boy down at the Creek and take
his silver watch from him; but this was all. Abundant opportunities for
securing richer swag came to them with the advent of the Plymouth
Pilgrims. As had been before stated, these boys brought in with them a
large portion of their first instalment of veteran bounty–aggregating in
amount, according to varying estimates, between twenty-five thousand and
one hundred thousand dollars. The Pilgrims were likewise well clothed,
had an abundance of blankets and camp equipage, and a plentiful supply of
personal trinkets, that could be readily traded off to the Rebels. An
average one of them–even if his money were all gone–was a bonanza to
any band which could succeed in plundering him. His watch and chain,
shoes, knife, ring, handkerchief, combs and similar trifles, would net
several hundred dollars in Confederate money. The blockade, which cut
off the Rebel communication with the outer world, made these in great
demand. Many of the prisoners that came in from the Army of the Potomac
repaid robbing equally well. As a rule those from that Army were not
searched so closely as those from the West, and not unfrequently they
came in with all their belongings untouched, where Sherman’s men,
arriving the same day, would be stripped nearly to the buff.

The methods of the Raiders were various, ranging all the way from sneak
thievery to highway robbery. All the arts learned in the prisons and
purlieus of New York were put into exercise. Decoys, “bunko-steerers” at
home, would be on the look-out for promising subjects as each crowd of
fresh prisoners entered the gate, and by kindly offers to find them a
sleeping place, lure them to where they could be easily despoiled during
the night. If the victim resisted there was always sufficient force at
hand to conquer him, and not seldom his life paid the penalty of his
contumacy. I have known as many as three of these to be killed in a
night, and their bodies–with throats cut, or skulls crushed in–be found
in the morning among the dead at the gates.

All men having money or valuables were under continual espionage, and
when found in places convenient for attack, a rush was made for them.
They were knocked down and their persons rifled with such swift dexterity
that it was done before they realized what had happened.

At first these depredations were only perpetrated at night. The quarry
was selected during the day, and arrangements made for a descent. After
the victim was asleep the band dashed down upon him, and sheared him of
his goods with incredible swiftness. Those near would raise the cry of
“Raiders!” and attack the robbers. If the latter had secured their booty
they retreated with all possible speed, and were soon lost in the crowd.
If not, they would offer battle, and signal for assistance from the other
bands. Severe engagements of this kind were of continual occurrence, in
which men were so badly beaten as to die from the effects. The weapons
used were fists, clubs, axes, tent-poles, etc. The Raiders were
plentifully provided with the usual weapons of their class–slung-shots
and brass-knuckles. Several of them had succeeded in smuggling bowie-
knives into prison.

They had the great advantage in these rows of being well acquainted with
each other, while, except the Plymouth Pilgrims, the rest of the
prisoners were made up of small squads of men from each regiment in the
service, and total strangers to all outside of their own little band.
The Raiders could concentrate, if necessary, four hundred or five hundred
men upon any point of attack, and each member of the gangs had become so
familiarized with all the rest by long association in New York, and
elsewhere, that he never dealt a blow amiss, while their opponents were
nearly as likely to attack friends as enemies.

By the middle of June the continual success of the Raiders emboldened
them so that they no longer confined their depredations to the night,
but made their forays in broad daylight, and there was hardly an hour in
the twenty-four that the cry of “Raiders! Raiders!” did, not go up from
some part of the pen, and on looking in the direction of the cry, one
would see a surging commotion, men struggling, and clubs being plied
vigorously. This was even more common than the guards shooting men at
the Creek crossing.

One day I saw “Dick Allen’s Raiders,” eleven in number, attack a man
wearing the uniform of Ellett’s Marine Brigade. He was a recent comer,
and alone, but he was brave. He had come into possession of a spade, by
some means or another, and he used this with delightful vigor and effect.
Two or three times he struck one of his assailants so fairly on the head
and with such good will that I congratulated myself that he had killed
him. Finally, Dick Allen managed to slip around behind him unnoticed,
and striking him on the head with a slung-shot, knocked him down, when
the whole crowd pounced upon him to kill him, but were driven off by
others rallying to his assistance.

The proceeds of these forays enabled the Raiders to wax fat and lusty,
while others were dying from starvation. They all had good tents,
constructed of stolen blankets, and their headquarters was a large, roomy
tent, with a circular top, situated on the street leading to the South
Gate, and capable of accommodating from seventy-five to one hundred men.
All the material for this had been wrested away from others. While
hundreds were dying of scurvy and diarrhea, from the miserable,
insufficient food, and lack of vegetables, these fellows had flour, fresh
meat, onions, potatoes, green beans, and other things, the very looks of
which were a torture to hungry, scorbutic, dysenteric men. They were on
the best possible terms with the Rebels, whom they fawned upon and
groveled before, and were in return allowed many favors, in the way of
trading, going out upon detail, and making purchases.

Among their special objects of attack were the small traders in the
prison. We had quite a number of these whose genius for barter was so
strong that it took root and flourished even in that unpropitious soil,
and during the time when new prisoners were constantly coming in with
money, they managed to accumulate small sums–from ten dollars upward, by
trading between the guards and the prisoners. In the period immediately
following a prisoner’s entrance he was likely to spend all his money and
trade off all his possessions for food, trusting to fortune to get him
out of there when these were gone. Then was when he was profitable to
these go-betweens, who managed to make him pay handsomely for what he
got. The Raiders kept watch of these traders, and plundered them
whenever occasion served. It reminded one of the habits of the fishing
eagle, which hovers around until some other bird catches a fish, and then
takes it away.



To fully appreciate the condition of affairs let it be remembered that we
were a community of twenty-five thousand boys and young men–none too
regardful of control at best–and now wholly destitute of government.
The Rebels never made the slightest attempt to maintain order in the
prison. Their whole energies were concentrated in preventing our escape.
So long as we staid inside the Stockade, they cared as little what we did
there as for the performances of savages in the interior of Africa.
I doubt if they would have interfered had one-half of us killed and eaten
the other half. They rather took a delight in such atrocities as came to
their notice. It was an ocular demonstration of the total depravity of
the Yankees.

Among ourselves there was no one in position to lay down law and enforce
it. Being all enlisted men we were on a dead level as far as rank was
concerned–the highest being only Sergeants, whose stripes carried no
weight of authority. The time of our stay was–it was hoped–too
transient to make it worth while bothering about organizing any form of
government. The great bulk of the boys were recent comers, who hoped
that in another week or so they would be out again. There were no fat
salaries to tempt any one to take upon himself the duty of ruling the
masses, and all were left to their own devices, to do good or evil,
according to their several bents, and as fear of consequences swayed
them. Each little squad of men was a law unto themselves, and made and
enforced their own regulations on their own territory. The administration
of justice was reduced to its simplest terms. If a fellow did wrong he
was pounded–if there was anybody capable of doing it. If not he went

The almost unvarying success of the Raiders in–their forays gave the
general impression that they were invincible–that is, that not enough
men could be concentrated against them to whip them. Our ill-success in
the attack we made on them in April helped us to the same belief. If we
could not beat them then, we could not now, after we had been enfeebled
by months of starvation and disease. It seemed to us that the Plymouth
Pilgrims, whose organization was yet very strong, should undertake the
task; but, as is usually the case in this world, where we think somebody
else ought to undertake the performance of a disagreeable public duty,
they did not see it in the light that we wished them to. They
established guards around their squads, and helped beat off the Raiders
when their own territory was invaded, but this was all they would do.
The rest of us formed similar guards. In the southwest corner of the
Stockade–where I was–we formed ourselves into a company of fifty active
boys–mostly belonging to my own battalion and to other Illinois
regiments–of which I was elected Captain. My First Lieutenant was a
tall, taciturn, long-armed member of the One Hundred and Eleventh
Illinois, whom we called “Egypt,” as he came from that section of the
State. He was wonderfully handy with his fists. I think he could knock
a fellow down so that he would fall-harder, and lie longer than any
person I ever saw. We made a tacit division of duties: I did the
talking, and “Egypt” went through the manual labor of knocking our
opponents down. In the numerous little encounters in which our company
was engaged, “Egypt” would stand by my side, silent, grim and patient,
while I pursued the dialogue with the leader of the other crowd. As soon
as he thought the conversation had reached the proper point, his long
left arm stretched out like a flash, and the other fellow dropped as if
he had suddenly come in range of a mule that was feeling well. That
unexpected left-hander never failed. It would have made Charles Reade’s
heart leap for joy to see it.

In spite of our company and our watchfulness, the Raiders beat us badly
on one occasion. Marion Friend, of Company I of our battalion, was one
of the small traders, and had accumulated forty dollars by his bartering.
One evening at dusk Delaney’s Raiders, about twenty-five strong, took
advantage of the absence of most of us drawing rations, to make a rush
for Marion. They knocked him down, cut him across the wrist and neck
with a razor, and robbed him of his forty dollars. By the time we could
rally Delaney and his attendant scoundrels were safe from pursuit in the
midst of their friends.

This state of things had become unendurable. Sergeant Leroy L. Key,
of Company M, our battalion, resolved to make an effort to crush the
Raiders. He was a printer, from Bloomington, Illinois, tall, dark,
intelligent and strong-willed, and one of the bravest men I ever knew.
He was ably seconded by “Limber Jim,” of the Sixty-Seventh Illinois,
whose lithe, sinewy form, and striking features reminded one of a young
Sioux brave. He had all of Key’s desperate courage, but not his brains
or his talent for leadership. Though fearfully reduced in numbers, our
battalion had still about one hundred well men in it, and these formed
the nucleus for Key’s band of “Regulators,” as they were styled. Among
them were several who had no equals in physical strength and courage in
any of the Raider chiefs. Our best man was Ned Carrigan, Corporal of
Company I, from Chicago–who was so confessedly the best man in the whole
prison that he was never called upon to demonstrate it. He was a big-
hearted, genial Irish boy, who was never known to get into trouble on his
own account, but only used his fists when some of his comrades were
imposed upon. He had fought in the ring, and on one occasion had killed
a man with a single blow of his fist, in a prize fight near St. Louis.
We were all very proud of him, and it was as good as an entertainment to
us to see the noisiest roughs subside into deferential silence as Ned
would come among them, like some grand mastiff in the midst of a pack of
yelping curs. Ned entered into the regulating scheme heartily. Other
stalwart specimens of physical manhood in our battalion were Sergeant
Goody, Ned Johnson, Tom Larkin, and others, who, while not approaching
Carrigan’s perfect manhood, were still more than a match for the best of
the Raiders.

Key proceeded with the greatest secrecy in the organization of his
forces. He accepted none but Western men, and preferred Illinoisans,
Iowans, Kansans, Indianians and Ohioans. The boys from those States
seemed to naturally go together, and be moved by the same motives.
He informed Wirz what he proposed doing, so that any unusual commotion
within the prison might not be mistaken for an attempt upon the Stockade,
and made the excuse for opening with the artillery. Wirz, who happened
to be in a complaisant humor, approved of the design, and allowed him the
use of the enclosure of the North Gate to confine his prisoners in.

In spite of Key’s efforts at secrecy, information as to his scheme
reached the Raiders. It was debated at their headquarters, and decided
there that Key must be killed. Three men were selected to do this work.
They called on Key, a dusk, on the evening of the 2d of July. In
response to their inquiries, he came out of the blanket-covered hole on
the hillside that he called his tent. They told him what they had heard,
and asked if it was true. He said it was. One of them then drew a
knife, and the other two, “billies” to attack him. But, anticipating
trouble, Key had procured a revolver which one of the Pilgrims had
brought in in his knapsack and drawing this he drove them off, but
without firing a shot.

The occurrence caused the greatest excitement. To us of the Regulators
it showed that the Raiders had penetrated our designs, and were prepared
for them. To the great majority of the prisoners it was the first
intimation that such a thing was contemplated; the news spread from squad
to squad with the greatest rapidity, and soon everybody was discussing
the chances of the movement. For awhile men ceased their interminable
discussion of escape and exchange–let those over worked words and themes
have a rare spell of repose–and debated whether the Raiders would whip
the regulators, or the Regulators conquer the Raiders. The reasons which
I have previously enumerated, induced a general disbelief in the
probability of our success. The Raiders were in good health well fed,
used to operating together, and had the confidence begotten by a long
series of successes. The Regulators lacked in all these respects.

Whether Key had originally fixed on the next day for making the attack,
or whether this affair precipitated the crisis, I know not, but later in
the evening he sent us all order: to be on our guard all night, and ready
for action the next morning.

There was very little sleep anywhere that night. The Rebels learned
through their spies that something unusual was going on inside, and as
their only interpretation of anything unusual there was a design upon the
Stockade, they strengthened the guards, took additional precautions in
every way, and spent the hours in anxious anticipation.

We, fearing that the Raiders might attempt to frustrate the scheme by an
attack in overpowering force on Key’s squad, which would be accompanied
by the assassination of him and Limber Jim, held ourselves in readiness
to offer any assistance that might be needed.

The Raiders, though confident of success, were no less exercised. They
threw out pickets to all the approaches to their headquarters, and
provided otherwise against surprise. They had smuggled in some canteens
of a cheap, vile whisky made from sorghum–and they grew quite hilarious
in their Big Tent over their potations. Two songs had long ago been
accepted by us as peculiarly the Raiders’ own–as some one in their crowd
sang them nearly every evening, and we never heard them anywhere else.
The first began:

In Athol lived a man named Jerry Lanagan;
He battered away till he hadn’t a pound.
His father he died, and he made him a man agin;
Left him a farm of ten acres of ground.

The other related the exploits of an Irish highwayman named Brennan,
whose chief virtue was that

What he rob-bed from the rich he gave unto the poor.

And this was the villainous chorus in which they all joined, and sang in
such a way as suggested highway robbery, murder, mayhem and arson:

Brennan on the moor!
Brennan on the moor!
Proud and undaunted stood
John Brennan on the moor.

They howled these two yearly the live-long night. They became eventually
quite monotonous to us, who were waiting and watching. It would have
been quite a relief if they had thrown in a new one every hour or so,
by way of variety.

Morning at last came. Our companies mustered on their grounds, and then
marched to the space on the South Side where the rations were issued.
Each man was armed with a small club, secured to his wrist by a string.

The Rebels–with their chronic fear of an outbreak animating them–had
all the infantry in line of battle with loaded guns. The cannon in the
works were shotted, the fuses thrust into the touch-holes and the men
stood with lanyards in hand ready to mow down everybody, at any instant.

The sun rose rapidly through the clear sky, which soon glowed down on us
like a brazen oven. The whole camp gathered where it could best view the
encounter. This was upon the North Side. As I have before explained the
two sides sloped toward each other like those of a great trough. The
Raiders’ headquarters stood upon the center of the southern slope, and
consequently those standing on the northern slope saw everything as if
upon the stage of a theater.

While standing in ranks waiting the orders to move, one of my comrades
touched me on the arm, and said:

“My God! just look over there!”

I turned from watching the Rebel artillerists, whose intentions gave me
more uneasiness than anything else, and looked in the direction indicated
by the speaker. The sight was the strangest one my eyes ever
encountered. There were at least fifteen thousand perhaps twenty
thousand–men packed together on the bank, and every eye was turned on
us. The slope was such that each man’s face showed over the shoulders of
the one in front of him, making acres on acres of faces. It was as if
the whole broad hillside was paved or thatched with human countenances.

When all was ready we moved down upon the Big Tent, in as good order as
we could preserve while passing through the narrow tortuous paths between
the tents. Key, Limber Jim, Ned Carigan, Goody, Tom Larkin, and Ned
Johnson led the advance with their companies. The prison was as silent
as a graveyard. As we approached, the Raiders massed themselves in a
strong, heavy line, with the center, against which our advance was
moving, held by the most redoubtable of their leaders. How many there
were of them could not be told, as it was impossible to say where their
line ended and the mass of spectators began. They could not themselves
tell, as the attitude of a large portion of the spectators would be
determined by which way the battle went.

Not a blow was struck until the lines came close together. Then the
Raider center launched itself forward against ours, and grappled savagely
with the leading Regulators. For an instant–it seemed an hour–the
struggle was desperate.

Strong, fierce men clenched and strove to throttle each other; great
muscles strained almost to bursting, and blows with fist and club-dealt
with all the energy of mortal hate–fell like hail. One-perhaps two-
endless minutes the lines surged–throbbed–backward and forward a step
or two, and then, as if by a concentration of mighty effort, our men
flung the Raider line back from it–broken–shattered. The next instant
our leaders were striding through the mass like raging lions. Carrigan,
Limber Jim, Larkin, Johnson and Goody each smote down a swath of men
before them, as they moved resistlessly forward.

We light weights had been sent around on the flanks to separate the
spectators from the combatants, strike the Raiders ‘en revers,’ and,
as far as possible, keep the crowd from reinforcing them.

In five minutes after the first blow–was struck the overthrow of the
Raiders was complete. Resistance ceased, and they sought safety in

As the result became apparent to the–watchers on the opposite hillside,
they vented their pent-up excitement in a yell that made the very ground
tremble, and we answered them with a shout that expressed not only our
exultation over our victory, but our great relief from the intense strain
we had long borne.

We picked up a few prisoners on the battle field, and retired without
making any special effort to get any more then, as we knew, that they
could not escape us.

We were very tired, and very hungry. The time for drawing rations had
arrived. Wagons containing bread and mush had driven to the gates, but
Wirz would not allow these to be opened, lest in the excited condition of
the men an attempt might be made to carry them. Key ordered operations
to cease, that Wirz might be re-assured and let the rations enter.
It was in vain. Wirz was thoroughly scared. The wagons stood out in the
hot sun until the mush fermented and soured, and had to be thrown away,
while we event rationless to bed, and rose the next day with more than
usually empty stomachs to goad us on to our work.



I may not have made it wholly clear to the reader why we did not have the
active assistance of the whole prison in the struggle with the Raiders.
There were many reasons for this. First, the great bulk of the prisoners
were new comers, having been, at the farthest, but three or four weeks in
the Stockade. They did not comprehend the situation of affairs as we
older prisoners did. They did not understand that all the outrages–or
very nearly all–were the work of–a relatively small crowd of graduates
from the metropolitan school of vice. The activity and audacity of the
Raiders gave them the impression that at least half the able-bodied men
in the Stockade were engaged in these depredations. This is always the
case. A half dozen burglars or other active criminals in a town will
produce the impression that a large portion of the population are law
breakers. We never estimated that the raiding N’Yaarkers, with their
spies and other accomplices, exceeded five hundred, but it would have
been difficult to convince a new prisoner that there were not thousands
of them. Secondly, the prisoners were made up of small squads from every
regiment at the front along the whole line from the Mississippi to the
Atlantic. These were strangers to and distrustful of all out side their
own little circles. The Eastern men were especially so. The
Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers each formed groups, and did not fraternize
readily with those outside their State lines. The New Jerseyans held
aloof from all the rest, while the Massachusetts soldiers had very little
in Common with anybody–even their fellow New Englanders. The Michigan
men were modified New Englanders. They had the same tricks of speech;
they said “I be” for “I am,” and “haag” for “hog;” “Let me look at your
knife half a second,” or “Give me just a sup of that water,” where we
said simply “Lend me your knife,” or “hand me a drink.” They were less
reserved than the true Yankees, more disposed to be social, and, with all
their eccentricities, were as manly, honorable a set of fellows as it was
my fortune to meet with in the army. I could ask no better comrades than
the boys of the Third Michigan Infantry, who belonged to the same
“Ninety” with me. The boys from Minnesota and Wisconsin were very much
like those from Michigan. Those from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and
Kansas all seemed cut off the same piece. To all intents and purposes
they might have come from the same County. They spoke the same dialect,
read the same newspapers, had studied McGuffey’s Readers, Mitchell’s
Geography, and Ray’s Arithmetics at school, admired the same great men,
and held generally the same opinions on any given subject. It was never
difficult to get them to act in unison–they did it spontaneously; while
it required an effort to bring about harmony of action with those from
other sections. Had the Western boys in prison been thoroughly advised
of the nature of our enterprise, we could, doubtless, have commanded
their cordial assistance, but they were not, and there was no way in
which it could be done readily, until after the decisive blow was struck.

The work of arresting the leading Raiders went on actively all day on the
Fourth of July. They made occasional shows of fierce resistance, but the
events of the day before had destroyed their prestige, broken their
confidence, and driven away from their, support very many who followed
their lead when they were considered all-powerful. They scattered from
their, former haunts, and mingled with the crowds in other parts of the
prison, but were recognized, and reported to Key, who sent parties to
arrest them. Several times they managed to collect enough adherents to
drive off the squads sent after them, but this only gave them a short
respite, for the squad would return reinforced, and make short work of
them. Besides, the prisoners generally were beginning to understand and
approve of the Regulators’ movement, and were disposed to give all the
assistance needed.

Myself and “Egypt,” my taciturn Lieutenant of the sinewy left arm, were
sent with our company to arrest Pete Donnelly, a notorious character, and
leader of, a bad crowd. He was more “knocker” than Raider, however.
He was an old Pemberton building acquaintance, and as we marched up to
where he was standing at the head of his gathering clan, he recognized me
and said:

“Hello, Illinoy,” (the name by which I was generally known in prison)
“what do you want here?”

I replied, “Pete, Key has sent me for you. I want you to go to

“What the —- does Key want with me?”

“I don’t know, I’m sure; he only said to bring you.”

“But I haven’t had anything to do with them other snoozers you have been
a-having trouble with.”

“I don’t know anything about that; you can talk to Key as to that.
I only know that we are sent for you.”

“Well, you don’t think you can take me unless I choose to go? You haint
got anybody in that crowd big enough to make it worth while for him to
waste his time trying it.”

I replied diffidently that one never knew what–he could do till he
tried; that while none of us were very big, we were as willing a lot of
little fellows as he ever saw, and if it were all the same to him, we
would undertake to waste a little time getting him to headquarters.

The conversation seemed unnecessarily long to “Egypt,” who stood by my
side; about a half step in advance. Pete was becoming angrier and more
defiant every minute. His followers were crowding up to us, club in
hand. Finally Pete thrust his fist in my face, and roared out:

“By —, I ain’t a going with ye, and ye can’t take me,
you —- —- —- ”

This was “Egypt’s” cue. His long left arm uncoupled like the loosening
of the weight of a pile-driver. It caught Mr. Donnelly under the chin,
fairly lifted him from his feet, and dropped him on his back among his
followers. It seemed to me that the predominating expression in his face
as he went, over was that of profound wonder as to where that blow could
have come from, and why he did not see it in time to dodge or ward it

As Pete dropped, the rest of us stepped forward with our clubs, to engage
his followers, while “Egypt” and one or two others tied his hands and
otherwise secured him. But his henchmen made no effort to rescue him,
and we carried him over to headquarters without molestation.

The work of arresting increased in interest and excitement until it
developed into the furore of a hunt, with thousands eagerly engaged in
it. The Raiders’ tents were torn down and pillaged. Blankets, tent
poles, and cooking utensils were carried off as spoils, and the ground
was dug over for secreted property. A large quantity of watches, chains,
knives, rings, gold pens, etc., etc.–the booty of many a raid–was
found, and helped to give impetus to the hunt. Even the Rebel
Quartermaster, with the characteristic keen scent of the Rebels for
spoils, smelled from the outside the opportunity for gaining plunder,
and came in with a squad of Rebels equipped with spades, to dig for
buried treasures. How successful he was I know not, as I took no part m
any of the operations of that nature.

It was claimed that several skeletons of victims of the Raiders were
found buried beneath the tent. I cannot speak with any certainty as to
this, though my impression is that at least one was found.

By evening Key had perhaps one hundred and twenty-five of the most noted
Raiders in his hands. Wirz had allowed him the use of the small stockade
forming the entrance to the North Gate to confine them in.

The next thing was the judgment and punishment of the arrested ones.
For this purpose Key organized a court martial composed of thirteen
Sergeants, chosen from the, latest arrivals of prisoners, that they might
have no prejudice against the Raiders. I believe that a man named Dick
McCullough, belonging to the Third Missouri Cavalry, was the President of
the Court. The trial was carefully conducted, with all the formality of
a legal procedure that the Court and those managing the matter could
remember as applicable to the crimes with which the accused were charged.
Each of these confronted by the witnesses who testified against him, and
allowed to cross-examine them to any extent he desired.
The defense was managed by one of their crowd, the foul-tongued Tombs
shyster, Pete Bradley, of whom I have before spoken. Such was the fear
of the vengeance of the Raiders and their friends that many who had been
badly abused dared not testify against them, dreading midnight
assassination if they did. Others would not go before the Court except
at night. But for all this there was no lack of evidence; there were
thousands who had been robbed and maltreated, or who had seen these
outrages committed on others, and the boldness of the leaders in their
bight of power rendered their identification a matter of no difficulty

The trial lasted several days, and concluded with sentencing quite a
large number to run the gauntlet, a smaller number to wear balls and
chains, and the following six to be hanged:

John Sarsfield, One Hundred and Forty-Fourth New York.
William Collins, alias “Mosby,” Company D, Eighty-Eighth Pennsylvania,
Charles Curtis, Company A, Fifth Rhode Island Artillery.
Patrick Delaney, Company E, Eighty-Third Pennsylvania.
A. Muir, United States Navy.
Terence Sullivan, Seventy-Second New York.

These names and regiments are of little consequence, however, as I
believe all the rascals were professional bounty-jumpers, and did not
belong to any regiment longer than they could find an opportunity to
desert and join another.

Those sentenced to ball-and-chain were brought in immediately, and had
the irons fitted to them that had been worn by some of our men as a
punishment for trying to escape.

It was not yet determined how punishment should be meted out to the
remainder, but circumstances themselves decided the matter. Wirz became
tired of guarding so large a number as Key had arrested, and he informed
Key that he should turn them back into the Stockade immediately. Key
begged for little farther time to consider the disposition of the cases,
but Wirz refused it, and ordered the Officer of the Guard to return all
arrested, save those sentenced to death, to the Stockade. In the
meantime the news had spread through the prison that the Raiders were to
be sent in again unpunished, and an angry mob, numbering some thousands,
and mostly composed of men who had suffered injuries at the hands of the
marauders, gathered at the South Gate, clubs in hand, to get such
satisfaction as they could out of the rascals. They formed in two long,
parallel lines, facing inward, and grimly awaited the incoming of the
objects of their vengeance.

The Officer of the Guard opened the wicket in the gate, and began forcing
the Raiders through it–one at a time–at the point of the bayonet, and
each as he entered was told what he already realized well–that he must
run for his life. They did this with all the energy that they possessed,
and as they ran blows rained on their heads, arms and backs. If they
could succeed in breaking through the line at any place they were
generally let go without any further punishment. Three of the number
were beaten to death. I saw one of these killed. I had no liking for
the gauntlet performance, and refused to have anything to do with it,
as did most, if not all, of my crowd. While the gauntlet was in
operation, I was standing by my tent at the head of a little street,
about two hundred feet from the line, watching what was being done.
A sailor was let in. He had a large bowie knife concealed about his
person somewhere, which he drew, and struck savagely with at his
tormentors on either side. They fell back from before him, but closed in
behind and pounded him terribly. He broke through the line, and ran up
the street towards me. About midway of the distance stood a boy who had
helped carry a dead man out during the day, and while out had secured a
large pine rail which he had brought in with him. He was holding this
straight up in the air, as if at a “present arms.” He seemed to have
known from the first that the Raider would run that way. Just as he came
squarely under it, the boy dropped the rail like the bar of a toll gate.
It struck the Raider across the head, felled him as if by a shot, and his
pursuers then beat him to death.



It began to be pretty generally understood through the prison that six
men had been sentenced to be hanged, though no authoritative announcement
of the fact had been made. There was much canvassing as to where they
should be executed, and whether an attempt to hang them inside of the
Stockade would not rouse their friends to make a desperate effort to
rescue them, which would precipitate a general engagement of even larger
proportions than that of the 3d. Despite the result of the affairs of
that and the succeeding days, the camp was not yet convinced that the
Raiders were really conquered, and the Regulators themselves were not
thoroughly at ease on that score. Some five thousand or six thousand new
prisoners had come in since the first of the month, and it was claimed
that the Raiders had received large reinforcements from those,–a claim
rendered probable by most of the new-comers being from the Army of the

Key and those immediately about him kept their own counsel in the matter,
and suffered no secret of their intentions to leak out, until on the
morning of the 11th, when it became generally known that the sentences
were too be carried into effect that day, and inside the prison.

My first direct information as to this was by a messenger from Key with
an order to assemble my company and stand guard over the carpenters who
were to erect the scaffold. He informed me that all the Regulators would
be held in readiness to come to our relief if we were attacked in force.
I had hoped that if the men were to be hanged I would be spared the
unpleasant duty of assisting, for, though I believed they richly deserved
that punishment, I had much rather some one else administered it upon
them. There was no way out of it, however, that I could see, and so
“Egypt” and I got the boys together, and marched down to the designated
place, which was an open space near the end of the street running from
the South Gate, and kept vacant for the purpose of issuing rations.
It was quite near the spot where the Raiders’ Big Tent had stood, and
afforded as good a view to the rest of the camp as could be found.

Key had secured the loan of a few beams and rough planks, sufficient to
build a rude scaffold with. Our first duty was to care for these as they
came in, for such was the need of wood, and plank for tent purposes, that
they would scarcely have fallen to the ground before they were spirited
away, had we not stood over them all the time with clubs.

The carpenters sent by Key came over and set to work. The N’Yaarkers
gathered around in considerable numbers, sullen and abusive. They cursed
us with all their rich vocabulary of foul epithets, vowed that we should
never carry out the execution, and swore that they had marked each one
for vengeance. We returned the compliments in kind, and occasionally it
seemed as if a general collision was imminent; but we succeeded in
avoiding this, and by noon the scaffold was finished. It was a very
simple affair. A stout beam was fastened on the top of two posts, about
fifteen feet high. At about the height of a man’s head a couple of
boards stretched across the space between the posts, and met in the
center. The ends at the posts laid on cleats; the ends in the center
rested upon a couple of boards, standing upright, and each having a piece
of rope fastened through a hole in it in such a manner, that a man could
snatch it from under the planks serving as the floor of the scaffold, and
let the whole thing drop. A rude ladder to ascend by completed the

As the arrangements neared completion the excitement in and around the
prison grew intense. Key came over with the balance of the Regulators,
and we formed a hollow square around the scaffold, our company marking
the line on the East Side. There were now thirty thousand in the prison.
Of these about one-third packed themselves as tightly about our square as
they could stand. The remaining twenty thousand were wedged together in
a solid mass on the North Side. Again I contemplated the wonderful,
startling, spectacle of a mosaic pavement of human faces covering the
whole broad hillside.

Outside, the Rebel, infantry was standing in the rifle pits, the
artillerymen were in place about their loaded and trained pieces, the No.
4 of each gun holding the lanyard cord in his hand, ready to fire the
piece at the instant of command. The small squad of cavalry was drawn up
on the hill near the Star Fort, and near it were the masters of the
hounds, with their yelping packs.

All the hangers-on of the Rebel camp–clerks, teamsters, employer,
negros, hundreds of white and colored women, in all forming a motley
crowd of between one and two thousand, were gathered together in a group
between the end of the rifle pits and the Star Fort. They had a good
view from there, but a still better one could be had, a little farther to
the right, and in front of the guns. They kept edging up in that
direction, as crowds will, though they knew the danger they would incur
if the artillery opened.

The day was broiling hot. The sun shot his perpendicular rays down with
blistering fierceness, and the densely packed, motionless crowds made the
heat almost insupportable.

Key took up his position inside the square to direct matters. With him
were Limber Jim, Dick McCullough, and one or two others. Also, Ned
Johnson, Tom Larkin, Sergeant Goody, and three others who were to act as
hangmen. Each of these six was provided with a white sack, such as the
Rebels brought in meal in. Two Corporals of my company–“Stag” Harris
and Wat Payne–were appointed to pull the stays from under the platform
at the signal.

A little after noon the South Gate opened, and Wirz rode in, dressed in a
suit of white duck, and mounted on his white horse–a conjunction which
had gained for him the appellation of “Death on a Pale Horse.” Behind
him walked the faithful old priest, wearing his Church’s purple insignia
of the deepest sorrow, and reading the service for the condemned. The
six doomed men followed, walking between double ranks of Rebel guards.

All came inside the hollow square and halted. Wirz then said:

“Brizners, I return to you dose men so Boot as I got dem. You haf tried
dem yourselves, and found dem guilty–I haf had notting to do wit it.
I vash my hands of eferyting connected wit dem. Do wit dem as you like,
and may Gott haf mercy on you and on dem. Garts, about face! Voryvarts,

With this he marched out and left us.

For a moment the condemned looked stunned. They seemed to comprehend for
the first time that it was really the determination of the Regulators to
hang them. Before that they had evidently thought that the talk of
hanging was merely bluff. One of them gasped out:

“My God, men, you don’t really mean to hang us up there!”

Key answered grimly and laconically:

“That seems to be about the size of it.”

At this they burst out in a passionate storm of intercessions and
imprecations, which lasted for a minute or so, when it was stopped by one
of them saying imperatively:

“All of you stop now, and let the priest talk for us.”

At this the priest closed the book upon which he had kept his eyes bent
since his entrance, and facing the multitude on the North Side began a
plea for mercy.

The condemned faced in the, same direction, to read their fate in the
countenances of those whom he was addressing. This movement brought
Curtis–a low-statured, massively built man–on the right of their line,
and about ten or fifteen steps from my company.

The whole camp had been as still as death since Wirz’s exit. The silence
seemed to become even more profound as the priest began his appeal.
For a minute every ear was strained to catch what he said. Then, as the
nearest of the thousands comprehended what he was saying they raised a
shout of “No! no!! NO!!” “Hang them! hang them!” “Don’t let them go!

“Hang the rascals! hang the villains!”

“Hang,’em! hang ’em! hang ’em!”

This was taken up all over the prison, and tens of thousands throats
yelled it in a fearful chorus.

Curtis turned from the crowd with desperation convulsing his features.
Tearing off the broad-brimmed hat which he wore, he flung it on the
ground with the exclamation!

“By God, I’ll die this way first!” and, drawing his head down and folding
his arms about it, he dashed forward for the center of my company, like a
great stone hurled from a catapult.

“Egypt” and I saw where he was going to strike, and ran down the line to
help stop him. As he came up we rained blows on his head with our clubs,
but so many of us struck at him at once that we broke each other’s clubs
to pieces, and only knocked him on his knees. He rose with an almost
superhuman effort, and plunged into the mass beyond.

The excitement almost became delirium. For an instant I feared that
everything was gone to ruin. “Egypt” and I strained every energy to
restore our lines, before the break could be taken advantage of by the
others. Our boys behaved splendidly, standing firm, and in a few seconds
the line was restored.

As Curtis broke through, Delaney, a brawny Irishman standing next to him,
started to follow. He took one step. At the same instant Limber Jim’s
long legs took three great strides, and placed him directly in front of
Delaney. Jim’s right hand held an enormous bowie-knife, and as he raised
it above Delaney he hissed out:

“If you dare move another step, you open you —- —- —-, I’ll open
you from one end to the other.

Delaney stopped. This checked the others till our lines reformed.

When Wirz saw the commotion he was panic-stricken with fear that the
long-dreaded assault on the Stockade had begun. He ran down from the
headquarter steps to the Captain of the battery, shrieking:

“Fire! fire! fire!”

The Captain, not being a fool, could see that the rush was not towards
the Stockade, but away from it, and he refrained from giving the order.

But the spectators who had gotten before the guns, heard Wirz’s excited
yell, and remembering the consequences to themselves should the artillery
be discharged, became frenzied with fear, and screamed, and fell down
over and trampled upon each other in endeavoring to get away. The guards
on that side of the Stockade ran down in a panic, and the ten thousand
prisoners immediately around us, expecting no less than that the next
instant we would be swept with grape and canister, stampeded
tumultuously. There were quite a number of wells right around us, and
all of these were filled full of men that fell into them as the crowd
rushed away. Many had legs and arms broken, and I have no doubt that
several were killed.

It was the stormiest five minutes that I ever saw.

While this was going on two of my company, belonging to the Fifth Iowa
Cavalry, were in hot pursuit of Curtis. I had seen them start and
shouted to them to come back, as I feared they would be set upon by the
Raiders and murdered. But the din was so overpowering that they could not
hear me, and doubtless would not have come back if they had heard.

Curtis ran diagonally down the hill, jumping over the tents and knocking
down the men who happened in his way. Arriving at the swamp he plunged
in, sinking nearly to his hips in the fetid, filthy ooze. He forged his
way through with terrible effort. His pursuers followed his example, and
caught up to him just as he emerged on the other side. They struck him
on the back of the head with their clubs, and knocked him down.

By this time order had been restored about us. The guns remained silent,
and the crowd massed around us again. From where we were we could see
the successful end of the chase after Curtis, and could see his captors
start back with him. Their success was announced with a roar of applause
from the North Side. Both captors and captured were greatly exhausted,
and they were coming back very slowly. Key ordered the balance up on to
the scaffold. They obeyed promptly. The priest resumed his reading of
the service for the condemned. The excitement seemed to make the doomed
ones exceedingly thirsty. I never saw men drink such inordinate
quantities of water. They called for it continually, gulped down a quart
or more at a time, and kept two men going nearly all the time carrying it
to them.

When Curtis finally arrived, he sat on the ground for a minute or so, to
rest, and then, reeking with filth, slowly and painfully climbed the
steps. Delaney seemed to think he was suffering as much from fright as
anything else, and said to him:

“Come on up, now, show yourself a man, and die game.”

Again the priest resumed his reading, but it had no interest to Delaney,
who kept calling out directions to Pete Donelly, who was standing in the
crowd, as to dispositions to be made of certain bits of stolen property:
to give a watch to this one, a ring to another, and so on. Once the
priest stopped and said:

“My son, let the things of this earth go, and turn your attention toward
those of heaven.”

Delaney paid no attention to this admonition. The whole six then began
delivering farewell messages to those in the crowd. Key pulled a watch
from his pocket and said:

“Two minutes more to talk.”

Delaney said cheerfully:

“Well, good by, b’ys; if I’ve hurted any of y ez, I hope ye’ll forgive
me. Shpake up, now, any of yez that I’ve hurted, and say yell forgive

We called upon Marion Friend, whose throat Delaney had tried to cut three
weeks before while robbing him of forty dollars, to come forward, but
Friend was not in a forgiving mood, and refused with an oath.

Key said:

“Time’s up!” put the watch back in his pocket and raised his hand like an
officer commanding a gun. Harris and Payne laid hold of the ropes to the
supports of the planks. Each of the six hangmen tied a condemned man’s
hands, pulled a meal sack down over his head, placed the noose around his
neck, drew it up tolerably close, and sprang to the ground. The priest
began praying aloud.

Key dropped his hand. Payne and Harris snatched the supports out with a
single jerk. The planks fell with a clatter. Five of the bodies swung
around dizzily in the air. The sixth that of “Mosby,” a large, powerful,
raw-boned man, one of the worst in the lot, and who, among other crimes,
had killed Limber Jim’s brother-broke the rope, and fell with a thud to
the ground. Some of the men ran forward, examined the body, and decided
that he still lived. The rope was cut off his neck, the meal sack
removed, and water thrown in his face until consciousness returned.
At the first instant he thought he was in eternity. He gasped out:

“Where am I? Am I in the other world?”

Limber Jim muttered that they would soon show him where he was, and went
on grimly fixing up the scaffold anew. “Mosby” soon realized what had
happened, and the unrelenting purpose of the Regulator Chiefs. Then he
began to beg piteously for his life, saying:

“O for God’s sake, do not put me up there again! God has spared my life
once. He meant that you should be merciful to me.”

Limber Jim deigned him no reply. When the scaffold was rearranged, and a
stout rope had replaced the broken one, he pulled the meal sack once more
over “Mosby’s” head, who never ceased his pleadings. Then picking up the
large man as if he were a baby, he carried him to the scaffold and handed
him up to Tom Larkin, who fitted the noose around his neck and sprang
down. The supports had not been set with the same delicacy as at first,
and Limber Jim had to set his heel and wrench desperately at them before
he could force them out. Then “Mosby” passed away without a struggle.

After hanging till life was extinct, the bodies were cut down, the meal-
sacks pulled off their faces, and the Regulators formal two parallel
lines, through which all the prisoners passed and took a look at the
bodies. Pete Donnelly and Dick Allen knelt down and wiped the froth off
Delaney’s lips, and swore vengeance against those who had done him to



After the executions Key, knowing that he, and all those prominently
connected with the hanging, would be in hourly danger of assassination if
they remained inside, secured details as nurses and ward-masters in the
hospital, and went outside. In this crowd were Key, Ned Carrigan, Limber
Jim, Dick McCullough, the six hangmen, the two Corporals who pulled the
props from under the scaffold, and perhaps some others whom I do not now

In the meanwhile provision had been made for the future maintenance of
order in the prison by the organization of a regular police force, which
in time came to number twelve hundred men. These were divided into
companies, under appropriate officers. Guards were detailed for certain
locations, patrols passed through the camp in all directions continually,
and signals with whistles could summon sufficient assistance to suppress
any disturbance, or carry out any orders from the chief.

The chieftainship was first held by Key, but when he went outside he
appointed Sergeant A. R. Hill, of the One Hundredth O. V. I.–now a
resident of Wauseon, Ohio,–his successor. Hill was one of the
notabilities of that immense throng. A great, broad-shouldered, giant,
in the prime of his manhood–the beginning of his thirtieth year–he was
as good-natured as big, and as mild-mannered as brave. He spoke slowly,
softly, and with a slightly rustic twang, that was very tempting to a
certain class of sharps to take him up for a “luberly greeny.” The man
who did so usually repented his error in sack-cloth and ashes.

Hill first came into prominence as the victor in the most stubbornly
contested fight in the prison history of Belle Isle. When the squad of
the One Hundredth Ohio–captured at Limestone Station, East Tennessee, in
September,1863–arrived on Belle Isle, a certain Jack Oliver, of the
Nineteenth Indiana, was the undisputed fistic monarch of the Island.
He did not bear his blushing honors modestly; few of a right arm that
indefinite locality known as “the middle of next week,” is something
that the possessor can as little resist showing as can a girl her first
solitaire ring. To know that one can certainly strike a disagreeable
fellow out of time is pretty sure to breed a desire to do that thing
whenever occasion serves. Jack Oliver was one who did not let his biceps
rust in inaction, but thrashed everybody on the Island whom he thought
needed it, and his ideas as to those who should be included in this class
widened daily, until it began to appear that he would soon feel it his
duty to let no unwhipped man escape, but pound everybody on the Island.

One day his evil genius led him to abuse a rather elderly man belonging
to Hill’s mess. As he fired off his tirade of contumely, Hill said with
more than his usual “soft” rusticity:

–an–old–one–such–bad names.”

Jack Oliver turned on him savagely.

“Well! may be you want to take it up?”

The grin on Hill’s face looked still more verdant, as he answered with
gentle deliberation:


Jack foamed, but his fiercest bluster could not drive that infantile
smile from Hill’s face, nor provoke a change in the calm slowness of his

It was evident that nothing would do but a battle-royal, and Jack had
sense enough to see that the imperturbable rustic was likely to give him
a job of some difficulty. He went off and came back with his clan, while
Hill’s comrades of the One Hundredth gathered around to insure him fair
play. Jack pulled off his coat and vest, rolled up his sleeves, and made
other elaborate preparations for the affray. Hill, without removing a
garment, said, as he surveyed him with a mocking smile:


Jack roared out,

“By —, I’ll make you partickeler before I get through with you. Now,
how shall we settle this? Regular stand-up-and knock-down, or rough and

If anything Hill’s face was more vacantly serene, and his tones blander
than ever, as he answered:

“Strike–any–gait–that–suits–you,–Mister;–I guess–I–will–be–

They closed. Hill feinted with his left, and as Jack uncovered to guard,
he caught him fairly on the lower left ribs, by a blow from his mighty
right fist, that sounded–as one of the by-standers expressed it–“like
striking a hollow log with a maul.”

The color in Jack’s face paled. He did not seem to understand how he had
laid himself open to such a pass, and made the same mistake, receiving
again a sounding blow in the short ribs. This taught him nothing,
either, for again he opened his guard in response to a feint, and again
caught a blow on his luckless left, ribs, that drove the blood from his
face and the breath from his body. He reeled back among his supporters
for an instant to breathe. Recovering his wind, be dashed at Hill
feinted strongly with his right, but delivered a terrible kick against
the lower part of the latter’s abdomen. Both closed and fought savagely
at half-arm’s length for an instant; during which Hill struck Jack so
fairly in the mouth as to break out three front teeth, which the latter
swallowed. Then they clenched and struggled to throw each other. Hill’s
superior strength and skill crushed his opponent to the ground, and he
fell upon him. As they grappled there, one of Jack’s followers sought to
aid his leader by catching Hill by the hair, intending to kick him in the
face. In an instant he was knocked down by a stalwart member of the One
Hundredth, and then literally lifted out of the ring by kicks.

Jack was soon so badly beaten as to be unable to cry “enough! “One of
his friends did that service for him, the fight ceased, and thenceforth
Mr. Oliver resigned his pugilistic crown, and retired to the shades of
private life. He died of scurvy and diarrhea, some months afterward, in

The almost hourly scenes of violence and crime that marked the days and
nights before the Regulators began operations were now succeeded by the
greatest order. The prison was freer from crime than the best governed
City. There were frequent squabbles and fights, of course, and many
petty larcenies. Rations of bread and of wood, articles of clothing,
and the wretched little cans and half canteens that formed our cooking
utensils, were still stolen, but all these were in a sneak-thief way.
There was an entire absence of the audacious open-day robbery and murder
–the “raiding” of the previous few weeks. The summary punishment
inflicted on the condemned was sufficient to cow even bolder men than the
Raiders, and they were frightened into at least quiescence.

Sergeant Hill’s administration was vigorous, and secured the best
results. He became a judge of all infractions of morals and law, and sat
at the door of his tent to dispense justice to all comers, like the Cadi
of a Mahometan Village. His judicial methods and punishments also
reminded one strongly of the primitive judicature of Oriental lands.
The wronged one came before him and told his tale: he had his blouse, or
his quart cup, or his shoes, or his watch, or his money stolen during the
night. The suspected one was also summoned, confronted with his accuser,
and sharply interrogated. Hill would revolve the stories in his mind,
decide the innocence or guilt of the accused, and if he thought the
accusation sustained, order the culprit to punishment. He did not
imitate his Mussulman prototypes to the extent of bowstringing or
decapitating the condemned, nor did he cut any thief’s hands off, nor yet
nail his ears to a doorpost, but he introduced a modification of the
bastinado that made those who were punished by it even wish they were
dead. The instrument used was what is called in the South a “shake”–
a split shingle, a yard or more long, and with one end whittled down to
form a handle. The culprit was made to bend down until he could catch
around his ankles with his hands. The part of the body thus brought into
most prominence was denuded of clothing and “spanked” from one to twenty
times, as Hill ordered, by the “shake” in same strong and willing hand.
It was very amusing–to the bystanders. The “spankee” never seemed to
enter very heartily into the mirth of the occasion. As a rule he slept
on his face for a week or so after, and took his meals standing.

The fear of the spanking, and Hill’s skill in detecting the guilty ones,
had a very salutary effect upon the smaller criminals.

The Raiders who had been put into irons were very restive under the
infliction, and begged Hill daily to release them. They professed the
greatest penitence, and promised the most exemplary behavior for the
future. Hill refused to release them, declaring that they should wear
the irons until delivered up to our Government.

One of the Raiders–named Heffron–had, shortly after his arrest, turned
State’s evidence, and given testimony that assisted materially in the
conviction of his companions. One morning, a week or so after the
hanging, his body was found lying among the other dead at the South Gate.
The impression made by the fingers of the hand that had strangled him,
were still plainly visible about the throat. There was no doubt as to
why he had been killed, or that the Raiders were his murderers, but the
actual perpetrators were never discovered.



All during July the prisoners came streaming in by hundreds and thousands
from every portion of the long line of battle, stretching from the
Eastern bank of the Mississippi to the shores of the Atlantic. Over one
thousand squandered by Sturgis at Guntown came in; two thousand of those
captured in the desperate blow dealt by Hood against the Army of the
Tennessee on the 22d of the month before Atlanta; hundreds from Hunter’s
luckless column in the Shenandoah Valley, thousands from Grant’s lines in
front of Petersburg. In all, seven thousand one hundred and twenty-eight
were, during the month, turned into that seething mass of corrupting
humanity to be polluted and tainted by it, and to assist in turn to make
it fouler and deadlier. Over seventy hecatombs of chosen victims–
of fair youths in the first flush of hopeful manhood, at the threshold of
a life of honor to themselves and of usefulness to the community;
beardless boys, rich in the priceless affections of homes, fathers,
mothers, sisters and sweethearts, with minds thrilling with high
aspirations for the bright future, were sent in as the monthly sacrifice
to this Minotaur of the Rebellion, who, couched in his foul lair, slew
them, not with the merciful delivery of speedy death, as his Cretan
prototype did the annual tribute of Athenian youths and maidens, but,
gloating over his prey, doomed them to lingering destruction. He rotted
their flesh with the scurvy, racked their minds with intolerable
suspense, burned their bodies with the slow fire of famine, and delighted
in each separate pang, until they sank beneath the fearful accumulation.
Theseus [Sherman. D.W.]–the deliverer–was coming. His terrible sword
could be seen gleaming as it rose and fell on the banks of the James, and
in the mountains beyond Atlanta, where he was hewing his way towards them
and the heart of the Southern Confederacy. But he came too late to save
them. Strike as swiftly and as heavily as he would, he could not strike
so hard nor so sure at his foes with saber blow and musket shot, as they
could at the hapless youths with the dreadful armament of starvation and

Though the deaths were one thousand eight hundred and seventeen more than
were killed at the battle of Shiloh–this left the number in the prison
at the end of the month thirty-one thousand six hundred and seventy-
eight. Let me assist the reader’s comprehension of the magnitude of this
number by giving the population of a few important Cities, according to
the census of 1870:

Cambridge, Mass 89,639
Charleston, S. C. 48,958
Columbus, O. 31,274
Dayton, O. 30,473
Fall River, Mass 26,766
Kansas City, Mo 32,260

The number of prisoners exceeded the whole number of men between the ages
of eighteen and forty-five in several of the States and Territories in
the Union. Here, for instance, are the returns for 1870, of men of
military age in some portions of the country:

Arizona 5,157
Colorado 15,166
Dakota 5,301
Idaho 9,431
Montana 12,418
Nebraska 35,677
Nevada 24,762
New Hampshire 60,684
Oregon 23,959
Rhode Island 44,377
Vermont 62,450
West Virginia 6,832

It was more soldiers than could be raised to-day, under strong pressure,
in either Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Dakota, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine,
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Medico, Oregon,
Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont or West Virginia.

These thirty-one thousand six hundred and seventy-eight active young men,
who were likely to find the confines of a State too narrow for them, were
cooped up on thirteen acres of ground–less than a farmer gives for play-
ground for a half dozen colts or a small flock of sheep. There was
hardly room for all to lie down at night, and to walk a few hundred feet
in any direction would require an hour’s patient threading of the mass of
men and tents.

The weather became hotter and hotter; at midday the sand would burn the
hand. The thin skins of fair and auburn-haired men blistered under the
sun’s rays, and swelled up in great watery puffs, which soon became the
breeding grounds of the hideous maggots, or the still more deadly
gangrene. The loathsome swamp grew in rank offensiveness with every
burning hour. The pestilence literally stalked at noon-day, and struck
his victims down on every hand. One could not look a rod in any
direction without seeing at least a dozen men in the last frightful
stages of rotting Death.

Let me describe the scene immediately around my own tent during the last
two weeks of July, as a sample of the condition of the whole prison:
I will take a space not larger than a good sized parlor or sitting room.
On this were at least fifty of us. Directly in front of me lay two
brothers–named Sherwood–belonging to Company I, of my battalion, who
came originally from Missouri. They were now in the last stages of
scurvy and diarrhea. Every particle of muscle and fat about their limbs
and bodies had apparently wasted away, leaving the skin clinging close to
the bone of the face, arms, hands, ribs and thighs–everywhere except the
feet and legs, where it was swollen tense and transparent, distended with
gallons of purulent matter. Their livid gums, from which most of their
teeth had already fallen, protruded far beyond their lips. To their left
lay a Sergeant and two others of their company, all three slowly dying
from diarrhea, and beyond was a fair-haired German, young and intelligent
looking, whose life was ebbing tediously away. To my right was a
handsome young Sergeant of an Illinois Infantry Regiment, captured at
Kenesaw. His left arm had been amputated between the shoulder and elbow,
and he was turned into the Stockade with the stump all undressed, save
the ligating of the arteries. Of course, he had not been inside an hour
until the maggot flies had laid eggs in the open wound, and before the
day was gone the worms were hatched out, and rioting amid the inflamed
and super-sensitive nerves, where their every motion was agony.
Accustomed as we were to misery, we found a still lower depth in his
misfortune, and I would be happier could I forget his pale, drawn face,
as he wandered uncomplainingly to and fro, holding his maimed limb with
his right hand, occasionally stopping to squeeze it, as one does a boil,
and press from it a stream of maggots and pus. I do not think he ate or
slept for a week before he died. Next to him staid an Irish Sergeant of
a New York Regiment, a fine soldierly man, who, with pardonable pride,
wore, conspicuously on his left breast, a medal gained by gallantry while
a British soldier in the Crimea. He was wasting away with diarrhea, and
died before the month was out.

This was what one could see on every square rod of the prison. Where I
was was not only no worse than the rest of the prison, but was probably
much better and healthier, as it was the highest ground inside, farthest
from the Swamp, and having the dead line on two sides, had a ventilation
that those nearer the center could not possibly have. Yet, with all
these conditions in our favor, the mortality was as I have described.

Near us an exasperating idiot, who played the flute, had established
himself. Like all poor players, he affected the low, mournful notes,
as plaintive as the distant cooing of the dove in lowering, weather.
He played or rather tooted away in his “blues”-inducing strain hour after
hour, despite our energetic protests, and occasionally flinging a club at
him. There was no more stop to him than to a man with a hand-organ, and
to this day the low, sad notes of a flute are the swiftest reminder to me
of those sorrowful, death-laden days.

I had an illustration one morning of how far decomposition would progress
in a man’s body before he died. My chum and I found a treasure-trove in
the streets, in the shape of the body of a man who died during the night.
The value of this “find” was that if we took it to the gate, we would be
allowed to carry it outside to the deadhouse, and on our way back have an
opportunity to pick up a chunk of wood, to use in cooking. While
discussing our good luck another party came up and claimed the body.
A verbal dispute led to one of blows, in which we came off victorious,
and I hastily caught hold of the arm near the elbow to help bear the body
away. The skin gave way under my hand, and slipped with it down to the
wrist, like a torn sleeve. It was sickening, but I clung to my prize,
and secured a very good chunk of wood while outside with it. The wood
was very much needed by my mess, as our squad had then had none for more
than a week.



Naturally, we had a consuming hunger for news of what was being
accomplished by our armies toward crushing the Rebellion. Now, more than
ever, had we reason to ardently wish for the destruction of the Rebel
power. Before capture we had love of country and a natural desire for
the triumph of her flag to animate us. Now we had a hatred of the Rebels
that passed expression, and a fierce longing to see those who daily
tortured and insulted us trampled down in the dust of humiliation.

The daily arrival of prisoners kept us tolerably well informed as to the
general progress of the campaign, and we added to the information thus
obtained by getting–almost daily–in some manner or another–a copy of a
Rebel paper. Most frequently these were Atlanta papers, or an issue of
the “Memphis-Corinth-Jackson-Grenada-Chattanooga-Resacca-Marietta-Atlanta
Appeal,” as they used to facetiously term a Memphis paper that left that
City when it was taken in 1862, and for two years fell back from place to
place, as Sherman’s Army advanced, until at last it gave up the struggle
in September, 1864, in a little Town south of Atlanta, after about two
thousand miles of weary retreat from an indefatigable pursuer. The
papers were brought in by “fresh fish,” purchased from the guards at from
fifty cents to one dollar apiece, or occasionally thrown in to us when
they had some specially disagreeable intelligence, like the defeat of
Banks, or Sturgis, or Bunter, to exult over. I was particularly
fortunate in getting hold of these. Becoming installed as general reader
for a neighborhood of several thousand men, everything of this kind was
immediately brought to me, to be read aloud for the benefit of everybody.
All the older prisoners knew me by the nick-name of “Illinoy”–
a designation arising from my wearing on my cap, when I entered prison,
a neat little white metal badge of “ILLS.” When any reading matter was
brought into our neighborhood, there would be a general cry of:

“Take it up to ‘Illinoy,'” and then hundreds would mass around my
quarters to bear the news read.

The Rebel papers usually had very meager reports of the operations of the
armies, and these were greatly distorted, but they were still very
interesting, and as we always started in to read with the expectation
that the whole statement was a mass of perversions and lies, where truth
was an infrequent accident, we were not likely to be much impressed with

There was a marled difference in the tone of the reports brought in from
the different armies. Sherman’s men were always sanguine. They had no
doubt that they were pushing the enemy straight to the wall, and that
every day brought the Southern Confederacy much nearer its downfall.
Those from the Army of the Potomac were never so hopeful. They would
admit that Grant was pounding Lee terribly, but the shadow of the
frequent defeats of the Army of the Potomac seemed to hang depressingly
over them.

There came a day, however, when our sanguine hopes as to Sherman were
checked by a possibility that he had failed; that his long campaign
towards Atlanta had culminated in such a reverse under the very walls of
the City as would compel an abandonment of the enterprise, and possibly a
humiliating retreat. We knew that Jeff. Davis and his Government were
strongly dissatisfied with the Fabian policy of Joe Johnston. The papers
had told us of the Rebel President’s visit to Atlanta, of his bitter
comments on Johnston’s tactics; of his going so far as to sneer about the
necessity of providing pontoons at Key West, so that Johnston might
continue his retreat even to Cuba. Then came the news of Johnston’s
Supersession by Hood, and the papers were full of the exulting
predictions of what would now be accomplished “when that gallant young
soldier is once fairly in the saddle.”

All this meant one supreme effort to arrest the onward course of Sherman.
It indicated a resolve to stake the fate of Atlanta, and the fortunes of
the Confederacy in the West, upon the hazard of one desperate fight.
We watched the summoning up of every Rebel energy for the blow with
apprehension. We dreaded another Chickamauga.

The blow fell on the 22d of July. It was well planned. The Army of the
Tennessee, the left of Sherman’s forces, was the part struck. On the
night of the 21st Hood marched a heavy force around its left flank and
gained its rear. On the 22d this force fell on the rear with the
impetuous violence of a cyclone, while the Rebels in the works
immediately around Atlanta attacked furiously in front.

It was an ordeal that no other army ever passed through successfully.
The steadiest troops in Europe would think it foolhardiness to attempt to
withstand an assault in force in front and rear at the same time.
The finest legions that follow any flag to-day must almost inevitably
succumb to such a mode of attack. But the seasoned veterans of the Army
of the Tennessee encountered the shock with an obstinacy which showed
that the finest material for soldiery this planet holds was that in which
undaunted hearts beat beneath blue blouses. Springing over the front of
their breastworks, they drove back with a withering fire the force
assailing them in the rear. This beaten off, they jumped back to their
proper places, and repulsed the assault in front. This was the way the
battle was waged until night compelled a cessation of operations. Our
boys were alternately behind the breastworks firing at Rebels advancing
upon the front, and in front of the works firing upon those coming up in
the rear. Sometimes part of our line would be on one side of the works,
and part on the other.

In the prison we were greatly excited over the result of the engagement,
of which we were uncertain for many days. A host of new prisoners
perhaps two thousand–was brought in from there, but as they were
captured during the progress of the fight, they could not speak
definitely as to its issue. The Rebel papers exulted without stint over
what they termed “a glorious victory.” They were particularly jubilant
over the death of McPherson, who, they claimed, was the brain and guiding
hand of Sherman’s army. One paper likened him to the pilot-fish, which
guides the shark to his prey. Now that he was gone, said the paper,
Sherman’s army becomes a great lumbering hulk, with no one in it capable
of directing it, and it must soon fall to utter ruin under the skilfully
delivered strokes of the gallant Hood.

We also knew that great numbers of wounded had been brought to the prison
hospital, and this seemed to confirm the Rebel claim of a victory, as it
showed they retained possession of the battle field.

About the 1st of August a large squad of Sherman’s men, captured in one
of the engagements subsequent to the 22d, came in. We gathered around
them eagerly. Among them I noticed a bright, curly-haired, blue-eyed
infantryman–or boy, rather, as he was yet beardless. His cap was marked
“68th O. Y. Y. L,” his sleeves were garnished with re-enlistment stripes,
and on the breast of his blouse was a silver arrow. To the eye of the
soldier this said that he was a veteran member of the Sixty-Eighth
Regiment of Ohio Infantry (that is, having already served three years, he
had re-enlisted for the war), and that he belonged to the Third Division
of the Seventeenth Army Corps. He was so young and fresh looking that
one could hardly believe him to be a veteran, but if his stripes had not
said this, the soldierly arrangement of clothing and accouterments, and
the graceful, self-possessed pose of limbs and body would have told the
observer that he was one of those “Old Reliables” with whom Sherman and
Grant had already subdued a third of the Confederacy. His blanket,
which, for a wonder, the Rebels had neglected to take from him, was
tightly rolled, its ends tied together, and thrown over his shoulder
scarf-fashion. His pantaloons were tucked inside his stocking tops,
that were pulled up as far as possible, and tied tightly around his ankle
with a string. A none-too-clean haversack, containing the inevitable
sooty quart cup, and even blacker half-canteen, waft slung easily from
the shoulder opposite to that on which the blanket rested. Hand him his
faithful Springfield rifle, put three days’ rations in his haversack, and
forty rounds in his cartridge bog, and he would be ready, without an
instant’s demur or question, to march to the ends of the earth, and fight
anything that crossed his path. He was a type of the honest, honorable,
self respecting American boy, who, as a soldier, the world has not
equaled in the sixty centuries that war has been a profession.
I suggested to him that he was rather a youngster to be wearing veteran
chevrons. “Yes,” said he, “I am not so old as some of the rest of the
boys, but I have seen about as much service and been in the business
about as long as any of them. They call me ‘Old Dad,’ I suppose because
I was the youngest boy in the Regiment, when we first entered the
service, though our whole Company, officers and all, were only a lot of
boys, and the Regiment to day, what’s left of ’em, are about as young a
lot of officers and men as there are in the service. Why, our old
Colonel ain’t only twenty-four years old now, and he has been in command
ever since we went into Vicksburg. I have heard it said by our boys that
since we veteranized the whole Regiment, officers, and men, average less
than twenty-four years old. But they are gray-hounds to march and
stayers in a fight, you bet. Why, the rest of the troops over in West
Tennessee used to call our Brigade ‘Leggett’s Cavalry,’ for they always
had us chasing Old Forrest, and we kept him skedaddling, too, pretty
lively. But I tell you we did get into a red hot scrimmage on the 22d.
It just laid over Champion Hills, or any of the big fights around
Vicksburg, and they were lively enough to amuse any one.”

“So you were in the affair on the 22d, were you! We are awful anxious to
hear all about it. Come over here to my quarters and tell us all you
know. All we know is that there has been a big fight, with McPherson
killed, and a heavy loss of life besides, and the Rebels claim a great

“O, they be —–. It was the sickest victory they ever got. About one
more victory of that kind would make their infernal old Confederacy ready
for a coroner’s inquest. Well, I can tell you pretty much all about that
fight, for I reckon if the truth was known, our regiment fired about the
first and last shot that opened and closed the fighting on that day.
Well, you see the whole Army got across the river, and were closing in
around the City of Atlanta. Our Corps, the Seventeenth, was the extreme
left of the army, and were moving up toward the City from the East.
The Fifteenth (Logan’s) Corps joined us on the right, then the Army of
the Cumberland further to the right. We run onto the Rebs about sundown
the 21st. They had some breastworks on a ridge in front of us, and we
had a pretty sharp fight before we drove them off. We went right to
work, and kept at it all night in changing and strengthening the old
Rebel barricades, fronting them towards Atlanta, and by morning had some
good solid works along our whole line. During the night we fancied we
could hear wagons or artillery moving away in front of us, apparently
going South, or towards our left. About three or four o’clock in the
morning, while I was shoveling dirt like a beaver out on the works, the
Lieutenant came to me and said the Colonel wanted to see me, pointing to
a large tree in the rear, where I could find him. I reported and found
him with General Leggett, who commanded our Division, talking mighty
serious, and Bob Wheeler, of F Company, standing there with his
Springfield at a parade rest. As soon as I came up, the Colonel says:

“Boys, the General wants two level-headed chaps to go out beyond the
pickets to the front and toward the left. I have selected you for the
duty. Go as quietly as possible and as fast as you can; keep your eyes
and ears open; don’t fire a shot if you can help it, and come back and
tell us exactly what you have seen and heard, and not what you imagine or
suspect. I have selected you for the duty.’

“He gave us the countersign, and off we started over the breastworks and
through the thick woods. We soon came to our skirmish or pickets, only a
few rods in front of our works, and cautioned them not to fire on us in
going or returning. We went out as much as half a mile or more, until we
could plainly hear the sound of wagons and artillery. We then cautiously
crept forward until we could see the main road leading south from the
City filled with marching men, artillery and teams. We could hear the
commands of the officers and see the flags and banners of regiment after
regiment as they passed us. We got back quietly and quickly, passed
through our picket line all right, and found the General and our Colonel
sitting on a log where we had left them, waiting for us. We reported
what we had seen and heard, and gave it as our opinion that the Johnnies
were evacuating Atlanta. The General shook his head, and the Colonel
says: ‘You may re turn to your company.’ Bob says to me:

“‘The old General shakes his head as though he thought them d—d Rebs
ain’t evacuating Atlanta so mighty sudden, but are up to some devilment
again. I ain’t sure but he’s right. They ain’t going to keep falling
back and falling back to all eternity, but are just agoin’ to give us a
rip-roaring great big fight one o’ these days–when they get a good
ready. You hear me!’

“Saying which we both went to our companies, and laid down to get a
little sleep. It was about daylight then, and I must have snoozed away
until near noon, when I heard the order ‘fall in!’ and found the regiment
getting into line, and the boys all tallying about going right into
Atlanta; that the Rebels had evacuated the City during the night, and
that we were going to have a race with the Fifteenth Corps as to which
would get into the City first. We could look away out across a large
field in front of our works, and see the skirmish line advancing steadily
towards the main works around the City. Not a shot was being, fired on
either side.

“To our surprise, instead of marching to the front and toward the City,
we filed off into a small road cut through the woods and marched rapidly
to the rear. We could not understand what it meant. We marched at quick
time, feeling pretty mad that we had to go to the rear, when the rest of
our Division were going into Atlanta.

“We passed the Sixteenth Corps lying on their arms, back in some open
fields, and the wagon trains of our Corps all comfortably corralled, and
finally found ourselves out by the Seventeenth Corps headquarters. Two
or three companies were sent out to picket several roads that seemed to
cross at that point, as it was reported ‘Rebel Cavalry’ had been seen on
these roads but a short time before, and this accounted for our being
rushed out in such a great hurry.

“We had just stacked arms and were going to take a little rest after our
rapid march, when several Rebel prisoners were brought in by some of the
boys who had straggled a little. They found the Rebels on the road we
had just marched out on. Up to this time not a shot had been fired.
All was quiet back at the main works we had just left, when suddenly we
saw several staff officers come tearing up to the Colonel, who ordered us
to ‘fall in!’ ‘Take aims!’ ‘about, face!’ The Lieutenant Colonel dashed
down one of the roads where one of the companies had gone out on picket.
The Major and Adjutant galloped down the others. We did not wait for
them to come back, though, but moved right back on the road we had just
come out, in line of battle, our colors in the road, and our flanks in
open timber. We soon reached a fence enclosing a large field, and there
could see a line of Rebels moving by the flank, and forming, facing
toward Atlanta, but to the left and in the rear of the position occupied
by our Corps. As soon as we reached the fence we fired a round or two
into the backs of these gray coats, who broke into confusion.

“Just then the other companies joined us, and we moved off on ‘double
quick by the right flank,’ for you see we were completely cut off from
the troops up at the front, and we had to get well over to the right to
get around the flank of the Rebels. Just about the time we fired on the
rebels the Sixteenth Corps opened up a hot fire of musketry and artillery
on them, some of their shot coming over mighty close to where we were.
We marched pretty fast, and finally turned in through some open fields to
the left, and came out just in the rear of the Sixteenth Corps, who were
fighting like devils along their whole line.

“Just as we came out into the open field we saw General R. K. Scott,
who used to be our Colonel, and who commanded our brigade, come tearing
toward us with one or two aids or orderlies. He was on his big clay-bank
horse, ‘Old Hatchie,’ as we called him, as we captured him on the
battlefield at the battle of ‘Matamora,’ or ‘Hell on the Hatchie,’ as our
boys always called it. He rode up to the Colonel, said something
hastily, when all at once we heard the all-firedest crash of musketry and
artillery way up at the front where we had built the works the night
before and left the rest of our brigade and Division getting ready to
prance into Atlanta when we were sent off to the rear. Scott put spurs
to his old horse, who was one of the fastest runners in our Division,
and away he went back towards the position where his brigade and the
troops immediately to their left were now hotly engaged. He rode right
along in rear of the Sixteenth Corps, paying no attention apparently to
the shot and shell and bullets that were tearing up the earth and
exploding and striking all around him. His aids and orderlies vainly
tried to keep up with him. We could plainly see the Rebel lines as they
came out of the woods into the open grounds to attack the Sixteenth
Corps, which had hastily formed in the open field, without any signs of
works, and were standing up like men, having a hand-to-hand fight.
We were just far enough in the rear so that every blasted shot or shell
that was fired too high to hit the ranks of the Sixteenth Corps came
rattling over amongst us. All this time we were marching fast, following
in the direction General Scott had taken, who evidently had ordered the
Colonel to join his brigade up at the front. We were down under the
crest of a little hill, following along the bank of a little creek,
keeping under cover of the bank as much as possible to protect us from
the shots of the enemy. We suddenly saw General Logan and one or two of
his staff upon the right bank of the ravine riding rapidly toward us.
As he neared the head of the regiment he shouted:

“‘Halt! What regiment is that, and where are you going?’ “The Colonel,
in a loud voice, that all could hear, told him: “The Sixty-Eighth Ohio;
going to join our brigade of the Third Division–your old Division,
General, of the Seventeenth Corps.”

“Logan says, ‘you had better go right in here on the left of Dodge.
The Third Division have hardly ground enough left now to bury their dead.
God knows they need you. But try it on, if you think you can get to

“Just at this moment a staff officer came riding up on the opposite side
of the ravine from where Logan was and interrupted Logan, who was about
telling the Colonel not to try to go to the position held by the Third
Division by the road cut through the woods whence we had come out, but to
keep off to the right towards the Fifteenth Corps, as the woods referred
to were full of Rebels. The officer saluted Logan, and shouted across:

“General Sherman directs me to inform you of the death of General
McPherson, and orders you to take command of the Army of the Tennessee;
have Dodge close well up to the Seventeenth Corps, and Sherman will
reinforce you to the extent of the whole army.’

“Logan, standing in his stirrups, on his beautiful black horse, formed a
picture against the blue sky as we looked up the ravine at him, his black
eyes fairly blazing and his long black hair waving in the wind.
He replied in a ringing, clear tone that we all could hear:

“Say to General Sherman I have heard of McPherson’s death, and have
assumed the command of the Army of the Tennessee, and have already
anticipated his orders in regard to closing the gap between Dodge and the
Seventeenth Corps.’

“This, of course, all happened in one quarter of the time I have been
telling you. Logan put spurs to his horse and rode in one direction,
the staff officer of General Sherman in another, and we started on a
rapid step toward the front. This was the first we had heard of
McPherson’s death, and it made us feel very bad. Some of the officers
and men cried as though they had lost a brother; others pressed their
lips, gritted their teeth, and swore to avenge his death. He was a great
favorite with all his Army, particularly of our Corps, which he commanded
for a long while. Our company, especially, knew him well, and loved him
dearly, for we had been his Headquarters Guard for over a year. As we
marched along, toward the front, we could see brigades, and regiments,
and batteries of artillery; coming over from the right of the Army, and
taking position in new lines in rear of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth
Corps. Major Generals and their staffs, Brigadier Generals and their
staffs, were mighty thick along the banks of the little ravine we were
following; stragglers and wounded men by the hundred were pouring in to
the safe shelter formed by the broken ground along which we were rapidly
marching; stories were heard of divisions, brigades and regiments that
these wounded or stragglers belonged, having been all cut to pieces;
officers all killed; and the speaker, the only one of his command not
killed, wounded or captured. But you boys have heard and seen the same
cowardly sneaks, probably, in fights that you were in. The battle raged
furiously all this time; part of the time the Sixteenth Corps seemed to
be in the worst; then it would let up on them and the Seventeenth Corps
would be hotly engaged along their whole front.

“We had probably marched half an hour since leaving Logan, and were
getting pretty near back to our main line of works, when the Colonel
ordered a halt and knapsacks to be unslung and piled up. I tell you it
was a relief to get them off, for it was a fearful hot day, and we had
been marching almost double quick. We knew that this meant business
though, and that we were stripping for the fight, which we would soon be
in. Just at this moment we saw an ambulance, with the horses on a dead
run, followed by two or three mounted officers and men, coming right
towards us out of the very woods Logan had cautioned the Colonel to
avoid. When the ambulance got to where we were it halted. It was pretty
well out of danger from the bullets and shell of the enemy. They
stopped, and we recognized Major Strong, of McPherson’s Staff, whom the
all knew, as he was the Chief Inspector of our Corps, and in the
ambulance he had the body of General McPherson. Major Strong,
it appears, during a slight lull in the fighting at that part of the
line, having taken an ambulance and driven into the very jaws of death to
recover the remains of his loved commander. It seems he found the body
right by the side of the little road that we had gone out on when we went
to the rear. He was dead when he found him, having been shot off his
horse, the bullet striking him in the back, just below his heart,
probably killing him instantly. There was a young fellow with him who
was wounded also, when Strong found them. He belonged to our First
Division, and recognized General McPherson, and stood by him until Major
Strong came up. He was in the ambulance with the body of McPherson when
they stopped by us.

“It seems that when the fight opened away back in the rear where we had
been, and at the left of the Sixteenth Corps which was almost directly in
the rear of the Seventeenth Corps, McPherson sent his staff and orderlies
with various orders to different parts of the line, and started himself
to ride over from the Seventeenth Corps to the Sixteenth Corps, taking
exactly the same course our Regiment had, perhaps an hour before, but the
Rebels had discovered there was a gap between the Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Corps, and meeting no opposition to their advances in this
strip of woods, where they were hidden from view, they had marched right
along down in the rear, and with their line at right angles with the line
of works occupied by the left of the Seventeenth Corps; they were thus
parallel and close to the little road McPherson had taken, and probably
he rode right into them and was killed before he realized the true

“Having piled our knapsacks, and left a couple of our older men, who were
played out with the heat and most ready to drop with sunstroke, to guard
them, we started on again. The ambulance with the corpse of Gen.
McPherson moved off towards the right of the Army, which was the last we
ever saw of that brave and handsome soldier.

“We bore off a little to the right of a large open field on top of a high
hill where one of our batteries was pounding away at a tremendous rate.
We came up to the main line of works just about at the left of the
Fifteenth Corps. They seemed to be having an easy time of it just then–
no fighting going on in their front, except occasional shots from some
heavy guns on the main line of Rebel works around the City. We crossed
right over the Fifteenth Corps’ works and filed to the left, keeping
along on the outside of our works. We had not gone far before the Rebel
gunners in the main works around the City discovered us; and the way they
did tear loose at us was a caution. Their aim was rather bad, however,
and most of their shots went over us. We saw one of them–I think it was
a shell–strike an artillery caisson belonging to one of our-batteries.
It exploded as it struck, and then the caisson, which was full of
ammunition, exploded with an awful noise, throwing pieces of wood and
iron and its own load of shot and shell high into the air, scattering
death and destruction to the men and horses attached to it. We thought
we saw arms and legs and parts of bodies of men flying in every
direction; but we were glad to learn afterwards that it was the contents
of the knapsacks of the Battery boys, who had strapped them on the
caissons for transportation.

“Just after passing the hill where our battery was making things so
lively, they stopped firing to let us pass. We saw General Leggett, our
Division Commander, come riding toward us. He was outside of our line of
works, too. You know how we build breastworks–sort of zigzag like, you
know, so they cannot be enfiladed. Well, that’s just the way the works
were along there, and you never saw such a curious shape as we formed our
Division in. Why, part of them were on one side of the works, and go
along a little further and here was a regiment, or part of a regiment on
the other side, both sets firing in opposite directions.

“No sir’ee, they were not demoralized or in confusion, they were cool and
as steady as on parade. But the old Division had, you know, never been
driven from any position they had once taken, in all their long service,
and they did not propose to leave that ridge until they got orders from
some one beside the Rebs.

“There were times when a fellow did not know which side of the works was
the safest, for the Johnnies were in front of us and in rear of us.
You see, our Fourth Division, which had been to the left of us, had been
forced to quit their works, when the Rebs got into the works in their
rear, so that our Division was now at the point where our line turned
sharply to the left, and rear–in the direction of the Sixteenth Corps.

“We got into business before we had been there over three minutes.
A line of the Rebs tried to charge across the open fields in front of us,
but by the help of the old twenty-four pounders (which proved to be part
of Cooper’s Illinois Battery, that we had been alongside of in many a
hard fight before), we drove them back a-flying, only to have to jump
over on the outside of our works the next minute to tackle a heavy force
that came for our rear through that blasted strip of woods. We soon
drove them off, and the firing on both sides seemed to have pretty much

“‘Our Brigade,’ which we discovered, was now commanded by ‘Old Whiskers’
(Colonel Piles, of the Seventy-Eighth Ohio. I’ll bet he’s got the
longest whiskers of any man in the Army.) You see General Scott had not
been seen or heard of since he had started to the rear after our regiment
when the fighting first commenced. We all believed that he was either
killed or captured, or he would have been with his command. He was a
splendid soldier, and a bull-dog of a fighter. His absence was a great
loss, but we had not much time to think of such things, for our brigade
was then ordered to leave the works and to move to the right about twenty
or thirty rods across a large ravine, where we were placed in position in
an open corn-field, forming a new line at quite an angle from the line of
works we had just left, extending to the left, and getting us back nearer
onto a line with the Sixteenth Corps. The battery of howitzers, now
reinforced by a part of the Third Ohio heavy guns, still occupied the old
works on the highest part of the hill, just to the right of our new line.
We took our position just on the brow of a hill, and were ordered to lie
down, and the rear rank to go for rails, which we discovered a few rods
behind us in the shape of a good ten-rail fence. Every rear-rank chap
came back with all the rails he could lug, and we barely had time to lay
them down in front of us, forming a little barricade of six to eight or
ten inches high, when we heard the most unearthly Rebel yell directly in
front of us. It grew louder and came nearer and nearer, until we could
see a solid line of the gray coats coming out of the woods and down the
opposite slope, their battle flags flying, officers in front with drawn
swords, arms at right shoulder, and every one of them yelling like so
many Sioux Indians. The line seemed to be massed six or eight ranks
deep, followed closely by the second line, and that by the third, each,
if possible, yelling louder and appearing more desperately reckless than
the one ahead. At their first appearance we opened on them, and so did
the bully old twenty-four-pounders, with canister.

“On they came; the first line staggered and wavered back on to the
second, which was coming on the double quick. Such a raking as we did
give them. Oh, Lordy, how we did wish that we had the breech loading
Spencers or Winchesters. But we had the old reliable Springfields, and
we poured it in hot and heavy. By the time the charging column got down
the opposite slope, and were struggling through the thicket of
undergrowth in the ravine, they were one confused mass of officers and
men, the three lines now forming one solid column, which made several
desperate efforts to rush up to the top of the hill where we were
punishing them so. One of their first surges came mighty near going
right over the left of our Regiment, as they were lying down behind their
little rail piles. But the boys clubbed their guns and the officers used
their revolvers and swords and drove them back down the hill.

“The Seventy-Eighth and Twentieth Ohio, our right and left bowers, who
had been brigaded with us ever since ‘Shiloh,’ were into it as hot and
heavy as we had been, and had lost numbers of their officers and men, but
were hanging on to their little rail piles when the fight was over.
At one time the Rebs were right in on top of the Seventy-Eighth. One big
Reb grabbed their colors, and tried to pull them out of the hands of the
color-bearer. But old Captain Orr, a little, short, dried-up fellow,
about sixty years old, struck him with his sword across the back of the
neck, and killed him deader than a mackerel, right in his tracks.

“It was now getting dark, and the Johnnies concluded they had taken a
bigger contract in trying to drive us off that hill in one day than they
had counted on, so they quit charging on us, but drew back under cover of
the woods and along the old line of works that we had left, and kept up a
pecking away and sharp-shooting at us all night long. They opened fire
on us from a number of pieces of artillery from the front, from the left,
and from some heavy guns away over to the right of us, in the main works
around Atlanta.

“We did not fool away much time that night, either. We got our shovels
and picks, and while part of us were sharpshooting and trying to keep the
Rebels from working up too close to us, the rest of the boys were putting
up some good solid earthworks right where our rail piles had been, and by
morning we were in splendid shape to have received our friends, no matter
which way they had come at us, for they kept up such an all-fired
shelling of us from so many different directions; that the boys had built
traverses and bomb-proofs at all sorts of angles and in all directions.

“There was one point off to our right, a few rods up along our old line
of works where there was a crowd of Rebel sharpshooters that annoyed us
more than all the rest, by their constant firing at us through the night.
They killed one of Company H’s boys, and wounded several others. Finally
Captain Williams, of D Company, came along and said he wanted a couple of
good shots out of our company to go with him, so I went for one. He took
about ten of us, and we crawled down into the ravine in front of where we
were building the works, and got behind a large fallen tree, and we laid
there and could just fire right up into the rear of those fellows as they
lay behind a traverse extending back from our old line of works. It was
so dark we could only see where to fire by the flash of guns, but every
time they would shoot, some of us would let them have one. They staid
there until almost daylight, when they, concluded as things looked, since
we were going to stay, they had better be going.

“It was an awful night. Down in the ravine below us lay hundreds of
killed and wounded Rebels, groaning and crying aloud for water and for
help. We did do what we could for those right around us–but it was so
dark, and so many shell bursting and bullets flying around that a fellow
could not get about much. I tell you it was pretty tough next morning to
go along to the different companies of our regiment and hear who were
among the killed and wounded, and to see the long row of graves that were
being dug to bury our comrades and our officers. There was the Captain
of Company E, Nelson Skeeles, of Fulton County, O., one of–the bravest
and best officers in the regiment. By his side lay First Sergeant
Lesnit, and next were the two great, powerful Shepherds–cousins but more
like brothers. One, it seems, was killed while supporting the head of
the other, who had just received a death wound, thus dying in each
other’s arms.

“But I can’t begin to think or tell you the names of all the poor boys
that we laid away to rest in their last, long sleep on that gloomy day.
Our Major was severely wounded, and several other officers had been hit
more or less badly.

“It was a frightful sight, though, to go over the field in front of our
works on that morning. The Rebel dead and badly wounded laid where they
had fallen. The bottom and opposite side of the ravine showed how
destructive our fire and that of the canister from the howitzers had
been. The underbrush was cut, slashed, and torn into shreds, and the
larger trees were scarred, bruised and broken by the thousands of bullets
and other missiles that had been poured into them from almost every
conceivable direction during the day before.

“A lot of us boys went way over to the left into Fuller’s Division of the
Sixteenth Corps, to see how some of our boys over there had got through
the scrimmage, for they had about as nasty a fight as any part of the
Army, and if it had not been for their being just where they were, I am
not sure but what the old Seventeenth Corps would have had a different
story to tell now. We found our friends had been way out by Decatur,
where their brigade had got into a pretty lively fight on their own hook.

“We got back to camp, and the first thing I knew I was detailed for
picket duty, and we were posted over a few rods across the ravine in our
front. We had not been out but a short time when we saw a flag of truce,
borne by an officer, coming towards us. We halted him, and made him wait
until a report was sent back to Corps headquarters. The Rebel officer
was quite chatty and talkative with our picket officer, while waiting.
He said he was on General Cleburne’s staff, and that the troops that
charged us so fiercely the evening before was Cleburne’s whole Division,
and that after their last repulse, knowing the hill where we were posted
was the most important position along our line, he felt that if they
would keep close to us during the night, and keep up a show of fight,
that we would pull out and abandon the hill before morning. He said that
he, with about fifty of their best men, had volunteered to keep up the
demonstration, and it was his party that had occupied the traverse in our
old works the night before and had annoyed us and the Battery men by
their constant sharpshooting, which we fellows behind the old tree had
finally tired out. He said they staid until almost daylight, and that he
lost more than half his men before he left. He also told us that General
Scott was captured by their Division, at about the time and almost the
same spot as where General McPherson was killed, and that he was not hurt
or wounded, and was now a prisoner in their hands.

“Quite a lot of our, staff officers soon came out, and as near as we
could learn the Rebels wanted a truce to bury their dead. Our folks
tried to get up an exchange of prisoners that had been taken by both
sides the day before, but for some reason they could not bring it about.
But the truce for burying the dead was agreed to. Along about dusk some
of the boys on my post got to telling about a lot of silver and brass
instruments that belonged to one of the bands of the Fourth Division,
which had been hung up in some small trees a little way over in front of
where we were when the fight was going on the day before, and that when,
a bullet would strike one of the horns they could hear it go ‘pin-g’ and
in a few minutes ‘pan-g’ would go another bullet through one of them.

“A new picket was just coming’ on, and I had picked up my blanket and
haversack, and was about ready to start back to camp, when, thinks I,
‘I’ll just go out there and see about them horns.’ I told the boys what
I was going to do. They all seemed to think it was safe enough, so out I
started. I had not gone more than a hundred yards, I should think, when
here I found the horns all hanging around on the trees just as the boys
had described. Some of them had lots of bullet holes in them. But I saw
a beautiful, nice looking silver bugle hanging off to one side a little.
‘I Thinks,’ says I, ‘I’ll just take that little toot horn in out of the-
wet, and take it back to camp.’ I was just reaching up after it when I
heard some one say,

“‘Halt!’ and I’ll be dog-Boned if there wasn’t two of the meanest looking
Rebels, standing not ten feet from me, with their guns cocked and pointed
at me, and, of course, I knew I was a goner; they walked me back about
one hundred and fifty yards, where their picket line was. From there I
was kept going for an hour or two until we got over to a place on the
railroad called East Point. There I got in with a big crowd of our
prisoners, who were taken the day before, and we have been fooling along
in a lot of old cattle cars getting down here ever since.

“So this is ‘Andersonville,’ is it a Well, by —!”



Clothing had now become an object of real solicitude to us older
prisoners. The veterans of our crowd–the surviving remnant of those
captured at Gettysburg–had been prisoners over a year. The next in
seniority–the Chickamauga boys–had been in ten months. The Mine Run
fellows were eight months old, and my battalion had had seven months’
incarceration. None of us were models of well-dressed gentlemen when
captured. Our garments told the whole story of the hard campaigning we
had undergone. Now, with months of the wear and tear of prison life,
sleeping on the sand, working in tunnels, digging wells, etc., we were
tattered and torn to an extent that a second-class tramp would have
considered disgraceful.

This is no reflection upon the quality of the clothes furnished by the
Government. We simply reached the limit of the wear of textile fabrics.
I am particular to say this, because I want to contribute my little mite
towards doing justice to a badly abused part of our Army organization–
the Quartermaster’s Department. It is fashionable to speak of “shoddy,”
and utter some stereotyped sneers about “brown paper shoes,” and
“musketo-netting overcoats,” when any discussion of the Quartermaster
service is the subject of conversation, but I have no hesitation in
asking the indorsement of my comrades to the statement that we have never
found anywhere else as durable garments as those furnished us by the
Government during our service in the Army. The clothes were not as fine
in texture, nor so stylish in cut as those we wore before or since, but
when it came to wear they could be relied on to the last thread. It was
always marvelous to me that they lasted so well, with the rough usage a
soldier in the field must necessarily give them.

But to return to my subject. I can best illustrate the way our clothes
dropped off us, piece by piece, like the petals from the last rose of
Summer, by taking my own case as an example: When I entered prison I was
clad in the ordinary garb of an enlisted man of the cavalry–stout,
comfortable boots, woolen pocks, drawers, pantaloons, with a
“reenforcement,” or “ready-made patches,” as the infantry called them;
vest, warm, snug-fitting jacket, under and over shirts, heavy overcoat,
and a forage-cap. First my boots fell into cureless ruin, but this was
no special hardship, as the weather had become quite warm, and it was
more pleasant than otherwise to go barefooted. Then part of the
underclothing retired from service. The jacket and vest followed, their
end being hastened by having their best portions taken to patch up the
pantaloons, which kept giving out at the most embarrassing places. Then
the cape of the overcoat was called upon to assist in repairing these
continually-recurring breaches in the nether garments. The same
insatiate demand finally consumed the whole coat, in a vain attempt to
prevent an exposure of person greater than consistent with the usages of
society. The pantaloons–or what, by courtesy, I called such, were a
monument of careful and ingenious, but hopeless, patching, that should
have called forth the admiration of a Florentine artist in mosaic.
I have been shown–in later years–many table tops, ornamented in
marquetry, inlaid with thousands of little bits of wood, cunningly
arranged, and patiently joined together. I always look at them with
interest, for I know the work spent upon them: I remember my
Andersonville pantaloons.

The clothing upon the upper part of my body had been reduced to the
remains of a knit undershirt. It had fallen into so many holes that it
looked like the coarse “riddles” through which ashes and gravel are
sifted. Wherever these holes were the sun had burned my back, breast and
shoulders deeply black. The parts covered by the threads and fragments
forming the boundaries of the holes, were still white. When I pulled my
alleged shirt off, to wash or to free it from some of its teeming
population, my skin showed a fine lace pattern in black and white, that
was very interesting to my comrades, and the subject of countless jokes
by them.

They used to descant loudly on the chaste elegance of the design, the
richness of the tracing, etc., and beg me to furnish them with a copy of
it when I got home, for their sisters to work window curtains or tidies
by. They were sure that so striking a novelty in patterns would be very
acceptable. I would reply to their witticisms in the language of
Portia’s Prince of Morocco:

Mislike me not for my complexion–
The shadowed livery of the burning sun.

One of the stories told me in my childhood by an old negro nurse, was of
a poverty stricken little girl “who slept on the floor and was covered
with the door,” and she once asked–

“Mamma how do poor folks get along who haven’t any door?”

In the same spirit I used to wonder how poor fellows got along who hadn’t
any shirt.

One common way of keeping up one’s clothing was by stealing mealsacks.
The meal furnished as rations was brought in in white cotton sacks.
Sergeants of detachments were required to return these when the rations
were issued the next day. I have before alluded to the general
incapacity of the Rebels to deal accurately with even simple numbers.
It was never very difficult for a shrewd Sergeant to make nine sacks
count as ten. After awhile the Rebels began to see through this sleight
of hand manipulation, and to check it. Then the Sergeants resorted to
the device of tearing the sacks in two, and turning each half in as a
whole one. The cotton cloth gained in this way was used for patching,
or, if a boy could succeed in beating the Rebels out of enough of it,
he would fabricate himself a shirt or a pair of pantaloons. We obtained
all our thread in the same way. A half of a sack, carefully raveled out,
would furnish a couple of handfuls of thread. Had it not been for this
resource all our sewing and mending would have come to a standstill.

Most of our needles were manufactured by ourselves from bones. A piece
of bone, split as near as possible to the required size, was carefully
rubbed down upon a brick, and then had an eye laboriously worked through
it with a bit of wire or something else available for the purpose.
The needles were about the size of ordinary darning needles, and answered
the purpose very well.

These devices gave one some conception of the way savages provide for the
wants of their lives. Time was with them, as with us, of little
importance. It was no loss of time to them, nor to us, to spend a large
portion of the waking hours of a week in fabricating a needle out of a
bone, where a civilized man could purchase a much better one with the
product of three minutes’ labor. I do not think any red Indian of the
plains exceeded us in the patience with which we worked away at these
minutia of life’s needs.

Of course the most common source of clothing was the dead, and no body
was carried out with any clothing on it that could be of service to the
survivors. The Plymouth Pilgrims, who were so well clothed on coming in,
and were now dying off very rapidly, furnished many good suits to cover
the nakedness of older, prisoners. Most of the prisoners from the Army
of the Potomac were well dressed, and as very many died within a month or
six weeks after their entrance, they left their clothes in pretty good
condition for those who constituted themselves their heirs,
administrators and assigns.

For my own part, I had the greatest aversion to wearing dead men’s
clothes, and could only bring myself to it after I had been a year in
prison, and it became a question between doing that and freezing to

Every new batch of prisoners was besieged with anxious inquiries on the
subject which lay closest to all our hearts:

“What are they doing about exchange!”

Nothing in human experience–save the anxious expectancy of a sail by
castaways on a desert island–could equal the intense eagerness with
which this question was asked, and the answer awaited. To thousands now
hanging on the verge of eternity it meant life or death. Between the
first day of July and the first of November over twelve thousand men
died, who would doubtless have lived had they been able to reach our
lines–“get to God’s country,” as we expressed it.

The new comers brought little reliable news of contemplated exchange.
There was none to bring in the first place, and in the next, soldiers in
active service in the field had other things to busy themselves with than
reading up the details of the negotiations between the Commissioners of
Exchange. They had all heard rumors, however, and by the time they
reached Andersonville, they had crystallized these into actual statements
of fact. A half hour after they entered the Stockade, a report like this
would spread like wildfire:

“An Army of the Potomac man has just come in, who was captured in front
of Petersburg. He says that he read in the New York Herald, the day
before he was taken, that an exchange had been agreed upon, and that our
ships had already started for Savannah to take us home.”

Then our hopes would soar up like balloons. We fed ourselves on such
stuff from day to day, and doubtless many lives were greatly prolonged by
the continual encouragement. There was hardly a day when I did not say
to myself that I would much rather die than endure imprisonment another
month, and had I believed that another month would see me still there,
I am pretty certain that I should have ended the matter by crossing the
Dead Line. I was firmly resolved not to die the disgusting, agonizing
death that so many around me were dying.

One of our best purveyors of information was a bright, blue-eyed, fair-
haired little drummer boy, as handsome as a girl, well-bred as a lady,
and evidently the darling of some refined loving mother. He belonged,
I think, to some loyal Virginia regiment, was captured in one of the
actions in the Shenandoa Valley, and had been with us in Richmond.
We called him “Red Cap,” from his wearing a jaunty, gold-laced, crimson
cap. Ordinarily, the smaller a drummer boy is the harder he is, but no
amount of attrition with rough men could coarse the ingrained refinement
of Red Cap’s manners. He was between thirteen and fourteen, and it
seemed utterly shameful that men, calling themselves soldier should make
war on such a tender boy and drag him off to prison.

But no six-footer had a more soldierly heart than little Red Cap, and
none were more loyal to the cause. It was a pleasure to hear him tell
the story of the fights and movements his regiment had been engaged in.
He was a good observer and told his tale with boyish fervor. Shortly
after Wirz assumed command he took Red Cap into his office as an Orderly.
His bright face and winning manner; fascinated the women visitors at
headquarters, and numbers of them tried to adopt him, but with poor
success. Like the rest of us, he could see few charms in an existence
under the Rebel flag, and turned a deaf ear to their blandishments.
He kept his ears open to the conversation of the Rebel officers around
him, and frequently secured permission to visit the interior of the
Stockade, when he would communicate to us all that he has heard.
He received a flattering reception every time he cams in, and no orator
ever secured a more attentive audience than would gather around him to
listen to what he had to say. He was, beyond a doubt, the best known and
most popular person in the prison, and I know all the survivors of his
old admirer; share my great interest in him, and my curiosity as to
whether he yet lives, and whether his subsequent career has justified the
sanguine hopes we all had as to his future. I hope that if he sees this,
or any one who knows anything about him, he will communicate with me.
There are thousands who will be glad to hear from him.

A most remarkable coincidence occurred in regard to this comrade.
Several days after the above had been written, and “set up,” but before
it had yet appeared in the paper, I received the following letter:

Alleghany County, Md., March 24.

To the Editor of the BLADE:

Last evening I saw a copy of your paper, in which was a chapter or two of
a prison life of a soldier during the late war. I was forcibly struck
with the correctness of what he wrote, and the names of several of my old
comrades which he quoted: Hill, Limber Jim, etc., etc. I was a drummer
boy of Company I, Tenth West Virginia Infantry, and was fifteen years of
age a day or two after arriving in Andersonville, which was in the last
of February, 1884. Nineteen of my comrades were there with me, and, poor
fellows, they are there yet. I have no doubt that I would have remained
there, too, had I not been more fortunate.

I do not know who your soldier correspondent is, but assume to say that
from the following description he will remember having seen me in
Andersonville: I was the little boy that for three or four months
officiated as orderly for Captain Wirz. I wore a red cap, and every day
could be seen riding Wirz’s gray mare, either at headquarters, or about
the Stockade. I was acting in this capacity when the six raiders–
“Mosby,” (proper name Collins) Delaney, Curtis, and–I forget the other
names–were executed. I believe that I was the first that conveyed the
intelligence to them that Confederate General Winder had approved their
sentence. As soon as Wirz received the dispatch to that effect, I ran
down to the stocks and told them.

I visited Hill, of Wauseon, Fulton County, O., since the war, and found
him hale and hearty. I have not heard from him for a number of years
until reading your correspondent’s letter last evening. It is the only
letter of the series that I have seen, but after reading that one, I feel
called upon to certify that I have no doubts of the truthfulness of your
correspondent’s story. The world will never know or believe the horrors
of Andersonville and other prisons in the South. No living, human being,
in my judgment, will ever be able to properly paint the horrors of those
infernal dens.

I formed the acquaintance of several Ohio soldiers whilst in prison.
Among these were O. D. Streeter, of Cleveland, who went to Andersonville
about the same time that I did, and escaped, and was the only man that I
ever knew that escaped and reached our lines. After an absence of
several months he was retaken in one of Sherman’s battles before Atlanta,
and brought back. I also knew John L. Richards, of Fostoria, Seneca
County, O. or Eaglesville, Wood County. Also, a man by the name of
Beverly, who was a partner of Charley Aucklebv, of Tennessee. I would
like to hear from all of these parties. They all know me.

Mr. Editor, I will close by wishing all my comrades who shared in the
sufferings and dangers of Confederate prisons, a long and useful life.
Yours truly,



Speaking of the manner in which the Plymouth Pilgrims were now dying,
I am reminded of my theory that the ordinary man’s endurance of this
prison life did not average over three months. The Plymouth boys arrived
in May; the bulk of those who died passed away in July and August.
The great increase of prisoners from all sources was in May, June and
July. The greatest mortality among these was in August, September and

Many came in who had been in good health during their service in the
field, but who seemed utterly overwhelmed by the appalling misery they
saw on every hand, and giving way to despondency, died in a few days or
weeks. I do not mean to include them in the above class, as their
sickness was more mental than physical. my idea is that, taking one
hundred ordinarily healthful young soldiers from a regiment in active
service, and putting them into Andersonville, by the end of the third
month at least thirty-three of those weakest and most vulnerable to
disease would have succumbed to the exposure, the pollution of ground and
air, and the insufficiency of the ration of coarse corn meal. After this
the mortality would be somewhat less, say at the end of six months fifty
of them would be dead. The remainder would hang on still more
tenaciously, and at the end of a year there would be fifteen or twenty
still alive. There were sixty-three of my company taken; thirteen lived
through. I believe this was about the usual proportion for those who
were in as long as we. In all there were forty-five thousand six hundred
and thirteen prisoners brought into Andersonville. Of these twelve
thousand nine hundred and twelve died there, to say nothing of thousands
that died in other prisons in Georgia and the Carolinas, immediately
after their removal from Andersonville. One of every three and a-half
men upon whom the gates of the Stockade closed never repassed them alive.
Twenty-nine per cent. of the boys who so much as set foot in
Andersonville died there. Let it be kept in mind all the time, that the
average stay of a prisoner there was not four months. The great majority
came in after the 1st of May, and left before the middle of September.
May 1, 1864, there were ten thousand four hundred and twenty-seven in the
Stockade. August 8 there were thirty-three thousand one hundred and
fourteen; September 30 all these were dead or gone, except eight thousand
two hundred and eighteen, of whom four thousand five hundred and ninety
died inside of the next thirty days. The records of the world can shove
no parallel to this astounding mortality.

Since the above matter was first published in the BLADE, a friend has
sent me a transcript of the evidence at the Wirz trial, of Professor
Joseph Jones, a Surgeon of high rank in the Rebel Army, and who stood at
the head of the medical profession in Georgia. He visited Andersonville
at the instance of the Surgeon-General of the Confederate States’ Army,
to make a study, for the benefit of science, of the phenomena of disease
occurring there. His capacity and opportunities for observation, and for
clearly estimating the value of the facts coming under his notice were,
of course, vastly superior to mine, and as he states the case stronger
than I dare to, for fear of being accused of exaggeration and downright
untruth, I reproduce the major part of his testimony–embodying also his
official report to medical headquarters at Richmond–that my readers may
know how the prison appeared to the eyes of one who, though a bitter
Rebel, was still a humane man and a conscientious observer, striving to
learn the truth:


[Transcript from the printed testimony at the Wirz Trial, pages 618 to
639, inclusive.]

OCTOBER 7, 1885.

Dr. Joseph Jones, for the prosecution:

By the Judge Advocate:

Question. Where do you reside

Answer. In Augusta, Georgia.

Q. Are you a graduate of any medical college?

A. Of the University of Pennsylvania.

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

A. Eight years.

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

A. Both.

Q. What position do you hold now?

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

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

A. Since 1858.

Q. How were you employed during the Rebellion?

A. 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.

Q. Under the direction of whom?

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

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

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. For the purpose of making investigations there?

A. For the purpose of prosecuting investigations ordered by the Surgeon

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

A. In obedience to orders which I received.

Q. Did you reduce the results of your investigations to the shape of a

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

(A document being handed to witness.)

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

A. Yes, Sir; I have.

Q. Is it accurate?

A. So far as my examination extended, it is accurate.’

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

Observations upon the diseases of the Federal prisoners, confined to 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,

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. Smallpox 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 fevers.

The Surgeon General of the Confederate States of America furnished me
with the following letter of introduction to the Surgeon in charge of the
Confederate States Military Prison at Andersonville, Ga.:

August 6, 1864.

SIR:–The field of pathological investigations afforded by the large
collection of Federal prisoners in Georgia, is of great extant and
importance, and it is believed that results of value to the profession
may be obtained by careful investigation of the effects of disease upon
the large body of men subjected to a decided change of climate and those
circumstances peculiar to prison life. The Surgeon in charge of the
hospital for Federal prisoners, together with his assistants, will afford
every facility to Surgeon Joseph Jones, in the prosecution of the labors
ordered by the Surgeon General. Efficient assistance must be rendered
Surgeon Jones by the medical officers, not only in his examinations into
the causes and symptoms of the various diseases, but especially in the
arduous labors of post mortem examinations.

The medical officers will assist in the performance of such post-mortems
as Surgeon Jones may indicate, in order that this great field for
pathological investigation may be explored for the benefit of the Medical
Department of the Confederate Army.
S. P. MOORE, Surgeon General.

In charge of Hospital for Federal prisoners, Andersonville, Ga.

In compliance with this letter of the Surgeon General, Isaiah H. White,
Chief Surgeon of the post, and R. R. Stevenson, Surgeon in charge of the
Prison Hospital, afforded the necessary facilities for the prosecution of
my investigations among the sick outside of the Stockade. After the
completion of my labors in the military prison hospital, the following
communication was addressed to Brigadier General John H. Winder, in
consequence of the refusal on the part of the commandant of the interior
of the Confederate States Military Prison to admit me within the Stockade
upon the order of the Surgeon General:

September 16, 1864.

GENERAL:–I respectfully request the commandant of the post of
Andersonville to grant me permission and to furnish the necessary pass
to visit the sick and medical officers within the Stockade of the
Confederate States Prison. I desire to institute certain inquiries
ordered by the Surgeon General. Surgeon Isaiah H. White, Chief Surgeon
of the post, and Surgeon R. R. Stevenson, in charge of the Prison
Hospital, have afforded me every facility for the prosecution of my
labors among the sick outside of the Stockade.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH JONES, Surgeon P. A. C. S.

Brigadier General JOHN H. WINDER,
Commandant, Post Andersonville.

In the absence of General Winder from the post, Captain Winder furnished
the following order:

September 17, 1864.

CAPTAIN:–You will permit Surgeon Joseph Jones, who has orders from the
Surgeon General, to visit the sick within the Stockade that are under
medical treatment. Surgeon Jones is ordered to make certain
investigations which may prove useful to his profession. By direction of
General Winder.
Very respectfully,
W. S. WINDER, A. A. G.

Captain H. WIRZ, Commanding Prison.

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
infantry. The four angles of the outer line are strengthened by
earthworks 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 zig-
zag, 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 the
oxide of iron, which forms 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 portions 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 situated on the northern slope of the
largest hill.

The average number of square feet of ground to each prisoner in August
1864: 35.7

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 then 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 was 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 the 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 their 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 within 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 borders 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 the 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 the 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 24, 1864, to
May 22, 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 24 to September 21, 1864, nine thousand four
hundred and seventy-nine deaths, nearly one-third 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, 1864:


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 lowlands 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 stacks. 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.

If one might judge from the large pieces of corn-bread scattered about in
every direction on the ground the prisoners were either very lavishly
supplied with this article of diet, or else this kind of food was not
relished by them.

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
of 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.

Died in the Stockade from its organization, February 24, 186l to
September 2l …………………………………………….3,254
Died in Hospital during same time ………………………….6,225

Total deaths in Hospital and Stockade ………………………9,479

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 in 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 the 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, oedematous 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 of the 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 brawny 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 the 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, and exuded a thin; fetid, sanious fluid, instead of
pus. Many ulcers which originated from the scorbutic 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 musketo 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 causes of
the 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
potatos 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 eye balls staring up into vacant space, with
the flies swarming down their open and 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 bywords or by the brush. A feeling of
disappointment and even resentment on account of the United States
Government upon the subject of the 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 hundred or more of the prisoners had been released from
confinement in the Stockade on parole, and filled various offices as
clerks, druggists, and 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, oft-times 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 hight, 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. Musketos
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 lying, 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 results 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 amongst the 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 the proper
police and sanitary regulations, and to the absence of intelligent
organization and division of labor. The abuses were in a 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 bushes, situated in the southwestern 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 negros
detailed to carry off the dead; if a patient dies during the night, he
lies there until the 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 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 almost absolute indifference and neglect on the part
of the patients of personal cleanliness; their persons and clothing
inmost 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 negros
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.


We will examine first the consolidated report of the sick and wounded
Federal prisoners. During six months, from the 1st of March to the 31st
of August, forty-two thousand six hundred and eighty-six cases of
diseases and wounds were reported. No classified record of the sick in
the Stockade was kept after the establishment of the hospital without the
Prison. This fact, in conjunction with those already presented relating
to the insufficiency of medical officers and the extreme illness and even
death of many prisoners in the tents in the Stockade, without any medical
attention or record beyond the bare number of the dead, demonstrate that
these figures, large as they, appear to be, are far below the truth.

As the number of prisoners varied greatly at different periods, the
relations between those reported sick and well, as far as those
statistics extend, can best be determined by a comparison of the
statistics of each month.

During this period of six months no less than five hundred and sixty-five
deaths are recorded under the head of ‘morbi vanie.’ In other words,
those men died without having received sufficient medical attention for
the determination of even the name of the disease causing death.

During the month of August fifty-three cases and fifty-three deaths are
recorded as due to marasmus. Surely this large number of deaths must
have been due to some other morbid state than slow wasting. If they were
due to improper and insufficient food, they should have been classed
accordingly, and if to diarrhea or dysentery or scurvy, the
classification should in like manner have been explicit.

We observe a progressive increase of the rate of mortality, from 3.11 per
cent. in March to 9.09 per cent. of mean strength, sick and well, in
August. The ratio of mortality continued to increase during September,
for notwithstanding the removal of one-half of the entire number of
prisoners during the early portion of the month, one thousand seven
hundred and sixty-seven (1,767) deaths are registered from September 1 to
21, and the largest number of deaths upon any one day occurred during
this month, on the 16th, viz. one hundred and nineteen.

The entire number of Federal prisoners confined at Andersonville was
about forty thousand six hundred and eleven; and during the period of
near seven months, from February 24 to September 21, nine thousand four
hundred and seventy-nine (9,479) deaths were recorded; that is, during
this period near one-fourth, or more, exactly one in 4.2, or 13.3 per
cent., terminated fatally. This increase of mortality was due in great
measure to the accumulation of the sources of disease, as the increase of
excrements and filth of all kinds, and the concentration of noxious
effluvia, and also to the progressive effects of salt diet, crowding, and
the hot climate.


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 the decomposing
animal and vegetable filth. The effects of salt meat, and an unvarying
diet of cornmeal, 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 the 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
most 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 coagula 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 were 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 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 it 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 those 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 surfaces is necessary to the development 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 and dysentery. 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

[End of the Witness’s Testimony.]

The variation–from month to month–of the proportion of deaths to the
whole number living is singular and interesting. It supports the theory
I have advanced above, as the following facts, taken from the official
report, will show:
In April one in every sixteen died.
In May one in every twenty-six died.
In June one in every twenty-two died.
In July one in every eighteen died.
In August one in every eleven died.
In September one in every three died.
In October one in every two died.
In November one in every three died.

Does the reader fully understand that in September one-third of those in
the pen died, that in October one-half of the remainder perished, and in
November one-third of those who still survived, died? Let him pause for
a moment and read this over carefully again; because its startling
magnitude will hardly dawn upon him at first reading. It is true that
the fearfully disproportionate mortality of those months was largely due
to the fact that it was mostly the sick that remained behind, but even
this diminishes but little the frightfulness of the showing. Did any one
ever hear of an epidemic so fatal that one-third of those attacked by it
in one month died; one-half of the remnant the next month, and one-third
of the feeble remainder the next month? If he did, his reading has been
much more extensive than mine.

The greatest number of deaths in one day is reported to have occurred on
the 23d of August, when one hundred and twenty-seven died, or one man
every eleven minutes.

The greatest number of prisoners in the Stockade is stated to have been
August 8, when there were thirty-three thousand one hundred and fourteen.

I have always imagined both these statements to be short of the truth,
because my remembrance is that one day in August I counted over two
hundred dead lying in a row. As for the greatest number of prisoners,
I remember quite distinctly standing by the ration wagon during the whole
time of the delivery of rations, to see how many prisoners there really
were inside. That day the One Hundred and Thirty-Third Detachment was
called, and its Sergeant came up and drew rations for a full detachment.
All the other detachments were habitually kept full by replacing those
who died with new comers. As each detachment consisted of two hundred
and seventy men, one hundred and thirty-three detachments would make
thirty-five thousand nine hundred and ten, exclusive of those in the
hospital, and those detailed outside as cooks, clerks, hospital
attendants and various other employments–say from one to two thousand

End of Andersonville, v2
by John McElroy

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Late of Co. L. 16th Ill Cav.




Certainly, in no other great community, that ever existed upon the face
of the globe was there so little daily ebb and flow as in this. Dull as
an ordinary Town or City may be; however monotonous, eventless, even
stupid the lives of its citizens, there is yet, nevertheless, a flow
every day of its life-blood–its population towards its heart, and an ebb
of the same, every evening towards its extremities. These recurring
tides mingle all classes together and promote the general healthfulness,
as the constant motion hither and yon of the ocean’s waters purify and
sweeten them.

The lack of these helped vastly to make the living mass inside the
Stockade a human Dead Sea–or rather a Dying Sea–a putrefying, stinking
lake, resolving itself into phosphorescent corruption, like those rotting
southern seas, whose seething filth burns in hideous reds, and ghastly
greens and yellows.

Being little call for motion of any kind, and no room to exercise
whatever wish there might be in that direction, very many succumbed
unresistingly to the apathy which was so strongly favored by despondency
and the weakness induced by continual hunger, and lying supinely on the
hot sand, day in and day out, speedily brought themselves into such a
condition as invited the attacks of disease.

It required both determination and effort to take a little walking
exercise. The ground was so densely crowded with holes and other devices
for shelter that it took one at least ten minutes to pick his way through
the narrow and tortuous labyrinth which served as paths for communication
between different parts of the Camp. Still further, there was nothing to
see anywhere or to form sufficient inducement for any one to make so
laborious a journey. One simply encountered at every new step the same
unwelcome sights that he had just left; there was a monotony in the
misery as in everything else, and consequently the temptation to sit or
lie still in one’s own quarters became very great.

I used to make it a point to go to some of the remoter parts of the
Stockade once every day, simply for exercise. One can gain some idea of
the crowd, and the difficulty of making one’s way through it, when I say
that no point in the prison could be more than fifteen hundred feet from
where I staid, and, had the way been clear, I could have walked thither
and back in at most a half an hour, yet it usually took me from two to
three hours to make one of these journeys.

This daily trip, a few visits to the Creek to wash all over, a few games
of chess, attendance upon roll call, drawing rations, cooking and eating
the same, “lousing” my fragments of clothes, and doing some little duties
for my sick and helpless comrades, constituted the daily routine for
myself, as for most of the active youths in the prison.

The Creek was the great meeting point for all inside the Stockade.
All able to walk were certain to be there at least once during the day,
and we made it a rendezvous, a place to exchange gossip, discuss the
latest news, canvass the prospects of exchange, and, most of all,
to curse the Rebels. Indeed no conversation ever progressed very far
without both speaker and listener taking frequent rests to say bitter
things as to the Rebels generally, and Wirz, Winder and Davis in

A conversation between two boys–strangers to each other who came to the
Creek to wash themselves or their clothes, or for some other purpose,
would progress thus:

First Boy–“I belong to the Second Corps,–Hancock’s, [the Army of the
Potomac boys always mentioned what Corps they belonged to, where the
Western boys stated their Regiment.] They got me at Spottsylvania, when
they were butting their heads against our breast-works, trying to get
even with us for gobbling up Johnson in the morning,”–He stops suddenly
and changes tone to say: “I hope to God, that when our folks get
Richmond, they will put old Ben Butler in command of it, with orders to
limb, skin and jayhawk it worse than he did New Orleans.”

Second Boy, (fervently 🙂 “I wish to God he would, and that he’d catch
old Jeff., and that grayheaded devil, Winder, and the old Dutch Captain,
strip ’em just as we were, put ’em in this pen, with just the rations
they are givin’ us, and set a guard of plantation niggers over ’em, with
orders to blow their whole infernal heads off, if they dared so much as
to look at the dead line.”

First Boy–(returning to the story of his capture.) “Old Hancock caught
the Johnnies that morning the neatest you ever saw anything in your life.
After the two armies had murdered each other for four or five days in the
Wilderness, by fighting so close together that much of the time you could
almost shake hands with the Graybacks, both hauled off a little, and lay
and glowered at each other. Each side had lost about twenty thousand men
in learning that if it attacked the other it would get mashed fine.
So each built a line of works and lay behind them, and tried to nag the
other into coming out and attacking. At Spottsylvania our lines and
those of the Johnnies weren’t twelve hundred yards apart. The ground was
clear and clean between them, and any force that attempted to cross it to
attack would be cut to pieces, as sure as anything. We laid there three
or four days watching each other–just like boys at school, who shake
fists and dare each other. At one place the Rebel line ran out towards
us like the top of a great letter ‘A.’ The night of the 11th of May it
rained very hard, and then came a fog so thick that you couldn’t see the
length of a company. Hancock thought he’d take advantage of this.
We were all turned out very quietly about four o’clock in the morning.
Not a bit of noise was allowed. We even had to take off our canteens and
tin cups, that they might not rattle against our bayonets. The ground
was so wet that our footsteps couldn’t be heard. It was one of those
deathly, still movements, when you think your heart is making as much
noise as a bass drum.

“The Johnnies didn’t seem to have the faintest suspicion of what was
coming, though they ought, because we would have expected such an attack
from them if we hadn’t made it ourselves. Their pickets were out just a
little ways from their works, and we were almost on to them before they
discovered us. They fired and ran back. At this we raised a yell and
dashed forward at a charge. As we poured over the works, the Rebels came
double-quicking up to defend them. We flanked Johnson’s Division
quicker’n you could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ and had four thousand of ’em in
our grip just as nice as you please. We sent them to the rear under
guard, and started for the next line of Rebel works about a half a mile
away. But we had now waked up the whole of Lee’s army, and they all came
straight for us, like packs of mad wolves. Ewell struck us in the
center; Longstreet let drive at our left flank, and Hill tackled our
right. We fell back to the works we had taken, Warren and Wright came up
to help us, and we had it hot and heavy for the rest of the day and part
of the night. The Johnnies seemed so mad over what we’d done that they
were half crazy. They charged us five times, coming up every time just
as if they were going to lift us right out of the works with the bayonet.
About midnight, after they’d lost over ten thousand men, they seemed to
understand that we had pre-empted that piece of real estate, and didn’t
propose to allow anybody to jump our claim, so they fell back sullen like
to their main works. When they came on the last charge, our Brigadier
walked behind each of our regiments and said:

“Boys, we’ll send ’em back this time for keeps. Give it to ’em by the
acre, and when they begin to waver, we’ll all jump over the works and go
for them with the bayonet.’

“We did it just that way. We poured such a fire on them that the bullets
knocked up the ground in front just like you have seen the deep dust in a
road in the middle of Summer fly up when the first great big drops of a
rain storm strike it. But they came on, yelling and swearing, officers
in front waving swords, and shouting–all that business, you know. When
they got to about one hundred yards from us, they did not seem to be
coming so fast, and there was a good deal of confusion among them. The
brigade bugle sounded

“Stop firing.”

“We all ceased instantly. The rebels looked up in astonishment. Our
General sang out:

“Fix bayonets!’ but we knew what was coming, and were already executing
the order. You can imagine the crash that ran down the line, as every
fellow snatched his bayonet out and slapped it on the muzzle of his gun.
Then the General’s voice rang out like a bugle:


“We cheered till everything seemed to split, and jumped over the works,
almost every man at the same minute. The Johnnies seemed to have been
puzzled at the stoppage of our fire. When we all came sailing over the
works, with guns brought right, down where they meant business, they were
so astonished for a minute that they stood stock still, not knowing
whether to come for us, or run. We did not allow them long to debate,
but went right towards them on the double quick, with the bayonets
looking awful savage and hungry. It was too much for Mr. Johnny Reb’s
nerves. They all seemed to about face’ at once, and they lit out of
there as if they had been sent for in a hurry. We chased after ’em as
fast as we could, and picked up just lots of ’em. Finally it began to be
real funny. A Johnny’s wind would begin to give out he’d fall behind his
comrades; he’d hear us yell and think that we were right behind him,
ready to sink a bayonet through him’; he’d turn around, throw up his
hands, and sing out:

“I surrender, mister! I surrender!’ and find that we were a hundred feet
off, and would have to have a bayonet as long as one of McClellan’s
general orders to touch him.

“Well, my company was the left of our regiment, and our regiment was the
left of the brigade, and we swung out ahead of all the rest of the boys.
In our excitement of chasing the Johnnies, we didn’t see that we had
passed an angle of their works. About thirty of us had become separated
from the company and were chasing a squad of about seventy-five or one
hundred. We had got up so close to them that we hollered:

“‘Halt there, now, or we’ll blow your heads off.’

“They turned round with, ‘halt yourselves; you —- Yankee —- —-‘

“We looked around at this, and saw that we were not one hundred feet away
from the angle of the works, which were filled with Rebels waiting for
our fellows to get to where they could have a good flank fire upon them.
There was nothing to do but to throw down our guns and surrender, and we
had hardly gone inside of the works, until the Johnnies opened on our
brigade and drove it back. This ended the battle at Spottsylvania Court

Second Boy (irrelevantly.) “Some day the underpinning will fly out from
under the South, and let it sink right into the middle kittle o’ hell.”

First Boy (savagely.) “I only wish the whole Southern Confederacy was
hanging over hell by a single string, and I had a knife.”



I have before mentioned as among the things that grew upon one with
increasing acquaintance with the Rebels on their native heath, was
astonishment at their lack of mechanical skill and at their inability to
grapple with numbers and the simpler processes of arithmetic. Another
characteristic of the same nature was their wonderful lack of musical
ability, or of any kind of tuneful creativeness.

Elsewhere, all over the world, people living under similar conditions to
the Southerners are exceedingly musical, and we owe the great majority of
the sweetest compositions which delight the ear and subdue the senses to
unlettered song-makers of the Swiss mountains, the Tyrolese valleys, the
Bavarian Highlands, and the minstrels of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The music of English-speaking people is very largely made up of these
contributions from the folk-songs of dwellers in the wilder and more
mountainous parts of the British Isles. One rarely goes far out of the
way in attributing to this source any air that he may hear that
captivates him with its seductive opulence of harmony. Exquisite
melodies, limpid and unstrained as the carol of a bird in Spring-time,
and as plaintive as the cooing of a turtle-dove seems as natural products
of the Scottish Highlands as the gorse which blazons on their hillsides
in August. Debarred from expressing their aspirations as people of
broader culture do–in painting, in sculpture, in poetry and prose, these
mountaineers make song the flexible and ready instrument for the
communication of every emotion that sweeps across their souls.

Love, hatred, grief, revenge, anger, and especially war seems to tune
their minds to harmony, and awake the voice of song in them hearts. The
battles which the Scotch and Irish fought to replace the luckless Stuarts
upon the British throne–the bloody rebellions of 1715 and 1745, left a
rich legacy of sweet song, the outpouring of loving, passionate loyalty
to a wretched cause; songs which are today esteemed and sung wherever the
English language is spoken, by people who have long since forgotten what
burning feelings gave birth to their favorite melodies.

For a century the bones of both the Pretenders have moldered in alien
soil; the names of James Edward, and Charles Edward, which were once
trumpet blasts to rouse armed men, mean as little to the multitude of
today as those of the Saxon Ethelbert, and Danish Hardicanute, yet the
world goes on singing–and will probably as long as the English language
is spoken–“Wha’ll be King but Charlie?” “When Jamie Come Hame,” “Over
the Water to Charlie,” “Charlie is my Darling,” “The Bonny Blue Bonnets
are Over the Border,” “Saddle Your Steeds and Awa,” and a myriad others
whose infinite tenderness and melody no modern composer can equal.

Yet these same Scotch and Irish, the same Jacobite English, transplanted
on account of their chronic rebelliousness to the mountains of Virginia,
the Carolinas, and Georgia, seem to have lost their tunefulness, as some
fine singing birds do when carried from their native shores.

The descendants of those who drew swords for James and Charles at Preston
Pans and Culloden dwell to-day in the dales and valleys of the
Alleganies, as their fathers did in the dales and valleys of the
Grampians, but their voices are mute.

As a rule the Southerners are fond of music. They are fond of singing
and listening to old-fashioned ballads, most of which have never been
printed, but handed down from one generation to the other, like the
‘Volklieder’ of Germany. They sing these with the wild, fervid
impressiveness characteristic of the ballad singing of unlettered people.
Very many play tolerably on the violin and banjo, and occasionally one is
found whose instrumentation may be called good. But above this hight
they never soar. The only musician produced by the South of whom the
rest of the country has ever heard, is Blind Tom, the negro idiot. No
composer, no song writer of any kind has appeared within the borders of

It was a disappointment to me that even the stress of the war, the
passion and fierceness with which the Rebels felt and fought, could not
stimulate any adherent of the Stars and Bars into the production of a
single lyric worthy in the remotest degree of the magnitude of the
struggle, and the depth of the popular feeling. Where two million
Scotch, fighting to restore the fallen fortunes of the worse than
worthless Stuarts, filled the world with immortal music, eleven million
of Southerners, fighting for what they claimed to be individual freedom
and national life, did not produce any original verse, or a bar of music
that the world could recognize as such. This is the fact; and an
undeniable one. Its explanation I must leave to abler analysts
than I am.

Searching for peculiar causes we find but two that make the South differ
from the ancestral home of these people. These two were Climate and
Slavery. Climatic effects will not account for the phenomenon, because
we see that the peasantry of the mountains of Spain and the South of
France as ignorant as these people, and dwellers in a still more
enervating atmosphere-are very fertile in musical composition, and their
songs are to the Romanic languages what the Scotch and Irish ballads are
to the English.

Then it must be ascribed to the incubus of Slavery upon the intellect,
which has repressed this as it has all other healthy growths in the
South. Slavery seems to benumb all the faculties except the passions.
The fact that the mountaineers had but few or no slaves, does not seem to
be of importance in the case. They lived under the deadly shadow of the
upas tree, and suffered the consequences of its stunting their
development in all directions, as the ague-smitten inhabitant of the
Roman Campana finds every sense and every muscle clogged by the filtering
in of the insidious miasma. They did not compose songs and music,
because they did not have the intellectual energy for that work.

The negros displayed all the musical creativeness of that section.
Their wonderful prolificness in wild, rude songs, with strangely
melodious airs that burned themselves into the memory, was one of the
salient characteristics of that down-trodden race. Like the Russian
serfs, and the bondmen of all ages and lands, the songs they made and
sang all had an undertone of touching plaintiveness, born of ages of dumb
suffering. The themes were exceedingly simple, and the range of subjects
limited. The joys, and sorrows, hopes and despairs of love’s
gratification or disappointment, of struggles for freedom, contests with
malign persons and influences, of rage, hatred, jealousy, revenge, such
as form the motifs for the majority of the poetry of free and strong
races, were wholly absent from their lyrics. Religion, hunger and toil
were their main inspiration. They sang of the pleasures of idling in the
genial sunshine; the delights of abundance of food; the eternal happiness
that awaited them in the heavenly future, where the slave-driver ceased
from troubling and the weary were at rest; where Time rolled around in
endless cycles of days spent in basking, harp in hand, and silken clad,
in golden streets, under the soft effulgence of cloudless skies, glowing
with warmth and kindness emanating from the Creator himself. Had their
masters condescended to borrow the music of the slaves, they would have
found none whose sentiments were suitable for the ode of a people
undergoing the pangs of what was hoped to be the birth of a new nation.

The three songs most popular at the South, and generally regarded as
distinctively Southern, were “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” “Maryland, My
Maryland,” and “Stonewall Jackson Crossing into Maryland.” The first of
these was the greatest favorite by long odds. Women sang, men whistled,
and the so-called musicians played it wherever we went. While in the
field before capture, it was the commonest of experiences to have Rebel
women sing it at us tauntingly from the house that we passed or near
which we stopped. If ever near enough a Rebel camp, we were sure to hear
its wailing crescendo rising upon the air from the lips or instruments of
some one more quartered there. At Richmond it rang upon us constantly
from some source or another, and the same was true wherever else we went
in the so-called Confederacy.

All familiar with Scotch songs will readily recognize the name and air as
an old friend, and one of the fierce Jacobite melodies that for a long
time disturbed the tranquility of the Brunswick family on the English
throne. The new words supplied by the Rebels are the merest doggerel,
and fit the music as poorly as the unchanged name of the song fitted to
its new use. The flag of the Rebellion was not a bonnie blue one; but
had quite as much red and white as azure. It did not have a single star,
but thirteen.

Near in popularity was “Maryland, My Maryland.” The versification of
this was of a much higher Order, being fairly respectable. The air is
old, and a familiar one to all college students, and belongs to one of
the most common of German household songs:

O, Tannenbaum! O, Tannenbaum, wie tru sind deine Blatter!
Da gruenst nicht nur zur Sommerseit,
Nein, auch in Winter, when es Schneit, etc.

which Longfellow has finely translated,

O, hemlock tree! O, hemlock tree! how faithful are thy branches!
Green not alone in Summer time,
But in the Winter’s float and rime.
O, hemlock tree O, hemlock tree! how faithful are thy branches. etc.

The Rebel version ran:


The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His touch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to the wand’ring son’s appeal,
My mother State, to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the duet,
Thy beaming sword shall never rust
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust–
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day,
Come! with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Comet for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come! to thins own heroic throng,
That stalks with Liberty along,
And give a new Key to thy song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain–
‘Sic semper’ ’tis the proud refrain,
That baffles millions back amain,
Arise, in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
But thou wast ever bravely meek,
But lo! there surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, from creek to creek–
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the vandal toll.
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant Thunder hem,
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum.
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb–
Hnzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes–she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

“Stonewall Jackson Crossing into Maryland,” was another travesty, of
about the same literary merit, or rather demerit, as “The Bonnie Blue
Flag.” Its air was that of the well-known and popular negro minstrel
song,” Billy Patterson.” For all that, it sounded very martial and
stirring when played by a brass band.

We heard these songs with tiresome iteration, daily and nightly, during
our stay in the Southern Confederacy. Some one of the guards seemed to
be perpetually beguiling the weariness of his watch by singing in all
keys, in every sort of a voice, and with the wildest latitude as to air
and time. They became so terribly irritating to us, that to this day the
remembrance of those soul-lacerating lyrics abides with me as one of the
chief of the minor torments of our situation. They were, in fact, nearly
as bad as the lice.

We revenged ourselves as best we could by constructing fearfully wicked,
obscene and insulting parodies on these, and by singing them with
irritating effusiveness in the hearing of the guards who were inflicting
these nuisances upon us.

Of the same nature was the garrison music. One fife, played by an
asthmatic old fellow whose breathings were nearly as audible as his
notes, and one rheumatic drummer, constituted the entire band for the
post. The fifer actually knew but one tune “The Bonnie Blue Flag”–
and did not know that well. But it was all that he had, and he played it
with wearisome monotony for every camp call–five or six times a day,
and seven days in the week. He called us up in the morning with it for a
reveille; he sounded the “roll call” and “drill call,” breakfast, dinner
and supper with it, and finally sent us to bed, with the same dreary wail
that had rung in our ears all day. I never hated any piece of music as I
came to hate that threnody of treason. It would have been such a relief
if the, old asthmatic who played it could have been induced to learn
another tune to play on Sundays, and give us one day of rest. He did
not, but desecrated the Lord’s Day by playing as vilely as on the rest of
the week. The Rebels were fully conscious of their musical deficiencies,
and made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to induce the musicians among
the prisoners to come outside and form a band.



“Illinoy,” said tall, gaunt Jack North, of the One Hundred and Fourteenth
Illinois, to me, one day, as we sat contemplating our naked, and sadly
attenuated underpinning; “what do our legs and feet most look most like?”

“Give it up, Jack,” said I.

“Why–darning needles stuck in pumpkin seeds, of course.” I never heard
a better comparison for our wasted limbs.

The effects of the great bodily emaciation were sometimes very startling.
Boys of a fleshy habit would change so in a few weeks as to lose all
resemblance to their former selves, and comrades who came into prison
later would utterly fail to recognize them. Most fat men, as most large
men, died in a little while after entering, though there were exceptions.
One of these was a boy of my own company, named George Hillicks. George
had shot up within a few years to over six feet in hight, and then, as
such boys occasionally do, had, after enlisting with us, taken on such a
development of flesh that we nicknamed him the “Giant,” and he became a
pretty good load for even the strongest horse. George held his flesh
through Belle Isle, and the earlier weeks in Andersonville, but June,
July, and August “fetched him,” as the boys said. He seemed to melt away
like an icicle on a Spring day, and he grew so thin that his hight seemed
preternatural. We called him “Flagstaff,” and cracked all sorts of jokes
about putting an insulator on his head, and setting him up for a
telegraph pole, braiding his legs and using him for a whip lash, letting
his hair grow a little longer, and trading him off to the Rebels for a
sponge and staff for the artillery, etc. We all expected him to die,
and looked continually for the development of the fatal scurvy symptoms,
which were to seal his doom. But he worried through, and came out at
last in good shape, a happy result due as much as to anything else to his
having in Chester Hayward, of Prairie City, Ill.,–one of the most
devoted chums I ever knew. Chester nursed and looked out for George with
wife-like fidelity, and had his reward in bringing him safe through our
lines. There were thousands of instances of this generous devotion to
each other by chums in Andersonville, and I know of nothing that reflects
any more credit upon our boy soldiers.

There was little chance for any one to accumulate flesh on the rations we
were receiving. I say it in all soberness that I do not believe that a
healthy hen could have grown fat upon them. I am sure that any good-
sized “shanghai” eats more every day than the meager half loaf that we
had to maintain life upon. Scanty as this was, and hungry as all were,
very many could not eat it. Their stomachs revolted against the trash;
it became so nauseous to them that they could not force it down, even
when famishing, and they died of starvation with the chunks of the so-
called bread under their head. I found myself rapidly approaching this
condition. I had been blessed with a good digestion and a talent for
sleeping under the most discouraging circumstances. These, I have no
doubt, were of the greatest assistance to me in my struggle for
existence. But now the rations became fearfully obnoxious to me, and it
was only with the greatest effort–pulling the bread into little pieces
and swallowing each, of these as one would a pill–that I succeeded in
worrying the stuff down. I had not as yet fallen away very much, but as
I had never, up, to that time, weighed so much as one hundred and twenty-
five pounds, there was no great amount of adipose to lose. It was
evident that unless some change occurred my time was near at hand.

There was not only hunger for more food, but longing with an intensity
beyond expression for alteration of some kind in the rations.
The changeless monotony of the miserable saltless bread, or worse mush,
for days, weeks and months, became unbearable. If those wretched mule
teams had only once a month hauled in something different–if they had
come in loaded with sweet potatos, green corn or wheat flour, there would
be thousands of men still living who now slumber beneath those melancholy
pines. It would have given something to look forward to, and remember
when past. But to know each day that the gates would open to admit the
same distasteful apologies for food took away the appetite and raised
one’s gorge, even while famishing for something to eat.

We could for a while forget the stench, the lice, the heat, the maggots,
the dead and dying around us, the insulting malignance of our jailors;
but it was, very hard work to banish thoughts and longings for food from
our minds. Hundreds became actually insane from brooding over it. Crazy
men could be found in all parts of the camp. Numbers of them wandered
around entirely naked. Their babblings and maunderings about something
to eat were painful to hear. I have before mentioned the case of the
Plymouth Pilgrim near me, whose insanity took the form of imagining that
he was sitting at the table with his family, and who would go through the
show of helping them to imaginary viands and delicacies. The cravings
for green food of those afflicted with the scurvy were, agonizing. Large
numbers of watermelons were brought to the prison, and sold to those who
had the money to pay for them at from one to five dollars, greenbacks,
apiece. A boy who had means to buy a piece of these would be followed
about while eating it by a crowd of perhaps twenty-five or thirty livid-
gummed scorbutics, each imploring him for the rind when he was through
with it.

We thought of food all day, and were visited with torturing dreams of it
at night. One of the pleasant recollections of my pre-military life was
a banquet at the “Planter’s House,” St. Louis, at which I was a boyish
guest. It was, doubtless, an ordinary affair, as banquets go, but to me
then, with all the keen appreciation of youth and first experience, it
was a feast worthy of Lucullus. But now this delightful reminiscence
became a torment. Hundreds of times I dreamed I was again at the
“Planter’s.” I saw the wide corridors, with their mosaic pavement;
I entered the grand dining-room, keeping timidly near the friend to whose
kindness I owed this wonderful favor; I saw again the mirror-lined walls,
the evergreen decked ceilings, the festoons and mottos, the tables
gleaming with cutglass and silver, the buffets with wines and fruits,
the brigade of sleek, black, white-aproned waiters, headed by one who had
presence enough for a major General. Again I reveled in all the dainties
and dishes on the bill-of-fare; calling for everything that I dared to,
just to see what each was like, and to be able to say afterwards that I
had partaken of it; all these bewildering delights of the first
realization of what a boy has read and wondered much over, and longed
for, would dance their rout and reel through my somnolent brain. Then I
would awake to find myself a half-naked, half-starved, vermin-eaten
wretch, crouching in a hole in the ground, waiting for my keepers to
fling me a chunk of corn bread.

Naturally the boys–and especially the country boys and new prisoners–
talked much of victuals–what they had had, and what they would have
again, when they got out. Take this as a sample of the conversation
which might be heard in any group of boys, sitting together on the sand,
killin lice and talking of exchange:

Tom–“Well, Bill, when we get back to God’s country, you and Jim and John
must all come to my house and take dinner with me. I want to give you a
square meal. I want to show you just what good livin’ is. You know my
mother is just the best cook in all that section. When she lays herself
out to get up a meal all the other women in the neighborhood just stand
back and admire!”

Bill–“O, that’s all right; but I’ll bet she can’t hold a candle to my
mother, when it comes to good cooking.”

Jim–“No, nor to mine.”

John–(with patronizing contempt.) “O, shucks! None of you fellers were
ever at our house, even when we had one of our common weekday dinners.”

Tom–(unheedful of the counter claims.) I hev teen studyin’ up the dinner
I’d like, and the bill-of-fare I’d set out for you fellers when you come
over to see me. First, of course, we’ll lay the foundation like with a
nice, juicy loin roast, and some mashed potatos.

Bill–(interrupting.) “Now, do you like mashed potatos with beef? The
way may mother does is to pare the potatos, and lay them in the pan along
with the beef. Then, you know, they come out just as nice and crisp, and
brown; they have soaked up all the beef gravy, and they crinkle between
your teeth–”

Jim–“Now, I tell you, mashed Neshannocks with butter on ’em is plenty
good enough for me.”

John–“If you’d et some of the new kind of peachblows that we raised in
the old pasture lot the year before I enlisted, you’d never say another
word about your Neshannocks.”

Tom–(taking breath and starting in fresh.) “Then we’ll hev some fried
Spring chickens, of our dominick breed. Them dominicks of ours have the
nicest, tenderest meat, better’n quail, a darned sight, and the way my
mother can fry Spring chickens—-”

Bill–(aside to Jim.) “Every durned woman in the country thinks she can
‘spry ching frickens;’ but my mother—”

John–“You fellers all know that there’s nobody knows half as much about
chicken doin’s as these ‘tinerant Methodis’ preachers. They give ’em
chicken wherever they go, and folks do say that out in the new
settlements they can’t get no preachin’, no gospel, nor nothin’, until
the chickens become so plenty that a preacher is reasonably sure of
havin’ one for his dinner wherever he may go. Now, there’s old Peter
Cartwright, who has traveled over Illinoy and Indianny since the Year
One, and preached more good sermons than any other man who ever set on
saddle-bags, and has et more chickens than there are birds in a big
pigeon roost. Well, he took dinner at our house when he came up to
dedicate the big, white church at Simpkin’s Corners, and when he passed
up his plate the third time for more chicken, he sez, sez he:–I’ve et
at a great many hundred tables in the fifty years I have labored in the
vineyard of the Redeemer, but I must say, Mrs. Kiggins, that your way of
frying chickens is a leetle the nicest that I ever knew. I only wish
that the sisters generally would get your reseet.’ Yes, that’s what he
said,–‘a leetle the nicest.'”

Tom–“An’ then, we’ll hev biscuits an’ butter. I’ll just bet five
hundred dollars to a cent, and give back the cent if I win, that we have
the best butter at our house that there is in Central Illinoy. You can’t
never hev good butter onless you have a spring house; there’s no use of
talkin’–all the patent churns that lazy men ever invented–all the fancy
milk pans an’ coolers, can’t make up for a spring house. Locations for a
spring house are scarcer than hen’s teeth in Illinoy, but we hev one, and
there ain’t a better one in Orange County, New York. Then you’ll see
dome of the biscuits my mother makes.”

Bill–“Well, now, my mother’s a boss biscuit-maker, too.”

Jim–“You kin just gamble that mine is.”

John–“O, that’s the way you fellers ought to think an’ talk, but my

Tom–(coming in again with fresh vigor) “They’re jest as light an’ fluffy
as a dandelion puff, and they melt in your month like a ripe Bartlett
pear. You just pull ’em open–Now you know that I think there’s nothin’
that shows a person’s raisin’ so well as to see him eat biscuits an’
butter. If he’s been raised mostly on corn bread, an’ common doins,’
an’ don’t know much about good things to eat, he’ll most likely cut his
biscuit open with a case knife, an’ make it fall as flat as one o’
yesterday’s pancakes. But if he is used to biscuits, has had ’em often
at his house, he’ll–just pull ’em open, slow an’ easy like, then he’ll
lay a little slice of butter inside, and drop a few drops of clear honey
on this, an’ stick the two halves back, together again, an–”

“Oh, for God Almighty’s sake, stop talking that infernal nonsense,” roar
out a half dozen of the surrounding crowd, whose mouths have been
watering over this unctuous recital of the good things of the table.
“You blamed fools, do you want to drive yourselves and everybody else
crazy with such stuff as that. Dry up and try to think of something



Early in August, F. Marriott, our Company Bugler, died. Previous to
coming to America he had been for many years an English soldier, and I
accepted him as a type of that stolid, doggedly brave class, which forms
the bulk of the English armies, and has for centuries carried the British
flag with dauntless courage into every land under the sun. Rough, surly
and unsocial, he did his duty with the unemotional steadiness of a
machine. He knew nothing but to obey orders, and obeyed them under all
circumstances promptly, but with stony impassiveness. With the command
to move forward into action, he moved forward without a word, and with
face as blank as a side of sole leather. He went as far as ordered,
halted at the word, and retired at command as phlegmatically as he
advanced. If he cared a straw whether he advanced or retreated, if it
mattered to the extent of a pinch of salt whether we whipped the Rebels
or they defeated us, he kept that feeling so deeply hidden in the
recesses of his sturdy bosom that no one ever suspected it. In the
excitement of action the rest of the boys shouted, and swore, and
expressed their tense feelings in various ways, but Marriott might as
well have been a graven image, for all the expression that he suffered to
escape. Doubtless, if the Captain had ordered him to shoot one of the
company through the heart, he would have executed the command according
to the manual of arms, brought his carbine to a “recover,” and at the
word marched back to his quarters without an inquiry as to the cause of
the proceedings. He made no friends, and though his surliness repelled
us, he made few enemies. Indeed, he was rather a favorite, since he was
a genuine character; his gruffness had no taint of selfish greed in it;
he minded his own business strictly, and wanted others to do the same.
When he first came into the company, it is true, he gained the enmity of
nearly everybody in it, but an incident occurred which turned the tide in
his favor. Some annoying little depredations had been practiced on the
boys, and it needed but a word of suspicion to inflame all their minds
against the surly Englishman as the unknown perpetrator. The feeling
intensified, until about half of the company were in a mood to kill the
Bugler outright. As we were returning from stable duty one evening,
some little occurrence fanned the smoldering anger into a fierce blaze;
a couple of the smaller boys began an attack upon him; others hastened to
their assistance, and soon half the company were engaged in the assault.

He succeeded in disengaging himself from his assailants, and, squaring
himself off, said, defiantly:

“Dom yer cowardly heyes; jest come hat me one hat a time, hand hI’ll
wollop the ‘ole gang uv ye’s.”

One of our Sergeants styled himself proudly “a Chicago rough,” and was as
vain of his pugilistic abilities as a small boy is of a father who plays
in the band. We all hated him cordially–even more than we did Marriott.

He thought this was a good time to show off, and forcing his way through
the crowd, he said, vauntingly:

“Just fall back and form a ring, boys, and see me polish off the—fool.”

The ring was formed, with the Bugler and the Sergeant in the center.
Though the latter was the younger and stronger the first round showed him
that it would have profited him much more to have let Marriott’s
challenge pass unheeded. As a rule, it is as well to ignore all
invitations of this kind from Englishmen, and especially from those who,
like Marriott, have served a term in the army, for they are likely to be
so handy with their fists as to make the consequences of an acceptance
more lively than desirable.

So the Sergeant found. “Marriott,” as one of the spectators expressed
it, “went around him like a cooper around a barrel.” He planted his
blows just where he wished, to the intense delight of the boys, who
yelled enthusiastically whenever he got in “a hot one,” and their delight
at seeing the Sergeant drubbed so thoroughly and artistically, worked an
entire revolution in his favor.

Thenceforward we viewed his eccentricities with lenient eyes, and became
rather proud of his bull-dog stolidity and surliness. The whole
battalion soon came to share this feeling, and everybody enjoyed hearing
his deep-toned growl, which mischievous boys would incite by some petty
annoyances deliberately designed for that purpose. I will mention
incidentally, that after his encounter with the Sergeant no one ever
again volunteered to “polish” him off.

Andersonville did not improve either his temper or his communicativeness.
He seemed to want to get as far away from the rest of us as possible,
and took up his quarters in a remote corner of the Stockade, among utter
strangers. Those of us who wandered up in his neighborhood occasionally,
to see how he was getting along, were received with such scant courtesy,
that we did not hasten to repeat the visit. At length, after none of us
had seen him for weeks, we thought that comradeship demanded another
visit. We found him in the last stages of scurvy and diarrhea. Chunks
of uneaten corn bread lay by his head. They were at least a week old.
The rations since then had evidently been stolen from the helpless man by
those around him. The place where he lay was indescribably filthy, and
his body was swarming with vermin. Some good Samaritan had filled his
little black oyster can with water, and placed it within his reach.
For a week, at least, he had not been able to rise from the ground;
he could barely reach for the water near him. He gave us such a glare of
recognition as I remembered to have seen light up the fast-darkening eyes
of a savage old mastiff, that I and my boyish companions once found dying
in the woods of disease and hurts. Had he been able he would have driven
us away, or at least assailed us with biting English epithets. Thus he
had doubtless driven away all those who had attempted to help him.
We did what little we could, and staid with him until the next afternoon,
when he died. We prepared his body, in the customary way: folded the
hands across his breast, tied the toes together, and carried it outside,
not forgetting each of us, to bring back a load of wood.

The scarcity of mechanics of all kinds in the Confederacy, and the urgent
needs of the people for many things which the war and the blockade
prevented their obtaining, led to continual inducements being offered to
the artizans among us to go outside and work at their trade. Shoemakers
seemed most in demand; next to these blacksmiths, machinists, molders and
metal workers generally. Not a week passed during my imprisonment that I
did not see a Rebel emissary of some kind about the prison seeking to
engage skilled workmen for some purpose or another. While in Richmond
the managers of the Tredegar Iron Works were brazen and persistent in
their efforts to seduce what are termed “malleable iron workers,” to
enter their employ. A boy who was master of any one of the commoner
trades had but to make his wishes known, and he would be allowed to go
out on parole to work. I was a printer, and I think that at least a
dozen times I was approached by Rebel publishers with offers of a parole,
and work at good prices. One from Columbia, S. C., offered me two
dollars and a half a “thousand” for composition. As the highest price
for such work that I had received before enlisting was thirty cents a
thousand, this seemed a chance to accumulate untold wealth. Since a man
working in day time can set from thirty-five to fifty “thousand” a week,
this would make weekly wages run from eighty-seven dollars and fifty
cents to one hundred and twenty-five dollars–but it was in Confederate
money, then worth from ten to twenty cents on the dollar.

Still better offers were made to iron workers of all kinds,
to shoemakers, tanners, weavers, tailors, hatters, engineers, machinists,
millers, railroad men, and similar tradesmen. Any of these could have
made a handsome thing by accepting the offers made them almost weekly.
As nearly all in the prison had useful trades, it would have been of
immense benefit to the Confederacy if they could have been induced to
work at them. There is no measuring the benefit it would have been to
the Southern cause if all the hundreds of tanners and shoemakers in the
Stockade could have, been persuaded to go outside and labor in providing
leather and shoes for the almost shoeless people and soldiery. The
machinists alone could have done more good to the Southern Confederacy
than one of our brigades was doing harm, by consenting to go to the
railroad shops at Griswoldville and ply their handicraft. The lack of
material resources in the South was one of the strongest allies our arms
had. This lack of resources was primarily caused by a lack of skilled
labor to develop those resources, and nowhere could there be found a
finer collection of skilled laborers than in the thirty-three thousand
prisoners incarcerated in Andersonville.

All solicitations to accept a parole and go outside to work at one’s
trade were treated with the scorn they deserved. If any mechanic yielded
to them, the fact did not come under my notice. The usual reply to
invitations of this kind was:

“No, Sir! By God, I’ll stay in here till I rot, and the maggots carry me
out through the cracks in the Stockade, before I’ll so much as raise my
little finger to help the infernal Confederacy, or Rebels, in any shape
or form.”

In August a Macon shoemaker came in to get some of his trade to go back
with him to work in the Confederate shoe factory. He prosecuted his
search for these until he reached the center of the camp on the North
Side, when some of the shoemakers who had gathered around him, apparently
considering his propositions, seized him and threw him into a well.
He was kept there a whole day, and only released when Wirz cut off the
rations of the prison for that day, and announced that no more would be
issued until the man was returned safe and sound to the gate.

The terrible crowding was somewhat ameliorated by the opening in July of
an addition–six hundred feet long–to the North Side of the Stockade.
This increased the room inside to twenty acres, giving about an acre to
every one thousand seven hundred men,–a preposterously contracted area
still. The new ground was not a hotbed of virulent poison like the olds
however, and those who moved on to it had that much in their favor.

The palisades between the new and the old portions of the pen were left
standing when the new portion was opened. We were still suffering a
great deal of inconvenience from lack of wood. That night the standing
timbers were attacked by thousands of prisoners armed with every species
of a tool to cut wood, from a case-knife to an ax. They worked the live-
long night with such energy that by morning not only every inch of the
logs above ground had disappeared, but that below had been dug up, and
there was not enough left of the eight hundred foot wall of twenty-five-
foot logs to make a box of matches.

One afternoon–early in August–one of the violent rain storms common to
that section sprung up, and in a little while the water was falling in
torrents. The little creek running through the camp swelled up
immensely, and swept out large gaps in the Stockade, both in the west and
east sides. The Rebels noticed the breaches as soon as the prisoners.
Two guns were fired from the Star Tort, and all the guards rushed out,
and formed so as to prevent any egress, if one was attempted. Taken by
surprise, we were not in a condition to profit by the opportunity until
it was too late.

The storm did one good thing: it swept away a great deal of filth, and
left the camp much more wholesome. The foul stench rising from the camp
made an excellent electrical conductor, and the lightning struck several
times within one hundred feet of the prison.

Toward the end of August there happened what the religously inclined
termed a Providential Dispensation. The water in the Creek was
indescribably bad. No amount of familiarity with it, no increase of
intimacy with our offensive surroundings, could lessen the disgust at the
polluted water. As I have said previously, before the stream entered the
Stockade, it was rendered too filthy for any use by the contaminations
from the camps of the guards, situated about a half-mile above.
Immediately on entering the Stockade the contamination became terrible.
The oozy seep at the bottom of the hillsides drained directly into it all
the mass of filth from a population of thirty-three thousand. Imagine
the condition of an open sewer, passing through the heart of a city of
that many people, and receiving all the offensive product of so dense a
gathering into a shallow, sluggish stream, a yard wide and five inches
deep, and heated by the burning rays of the sun in the thirty-second
degree of latitude. Imagine, if one can, without becoming sick at the
stomach, all of these people having to wash in and drink of this foul

There is not a scintilla of exaggeration in this statement. That it is
within the exact truth is demonstrable by the testimony of any man–Rebel
or Union–who ever saw the inside of the Stockade at Andersonville. I am
quite content to have its truth–as well as that of any other statement
made in this book–be determined by the evidence of any one, no matter
how bitter his hatred of the Union, who had any personal knowledge of the
condition of affairs at Andersonville. No one can successfully deny that
there were at least thirty-three thousand prisoners in the Stockade, and
that the one shallow, narrow creek, which passed through the prison, was
at once their main sewer and their source of supply of water for bathing,
drinking and washing. With these main facts admitted, the reader’s
common sense of natural consequences will furnish the rest of the

It is true that some of the more fortunate of us had wells; thanks to our
own energy in overcoming extraordinary obstacles; no thanks to our
gaolers for making the slightest effort to provide these necessities of
life. We dug the wells with case and pocket knives, and half canteens to
a depth of from twenty to thirty feet, pulling up the dirt in pantaloons
legs, and running continual risk of being smothered to death by the
caving in of the unwalled sides. Not only did the Rebels refuse to give
us boards with which to wall the wells, and buckets for drawing the
water, but they did all in their power to prevent us from digging the
wells, and made continual forays to capture the digging tools, because
the wells were frequently used as the starting places for tunnels.
Professor Jones lays special stress on this tunnel feature in his
testimony, which I have introduced in a previous chapter.

The great majority of the prisoners who went to the Creek for water, went
as near as possible to the Dead Line on the West Side, where the Creek
entered the Stockade, that they might get water with as little filth in
it as possible. In the crowds struggling there for their turn to take a
dip, some one nearly every day got so close to the Dead Line as to arouse
a suspicion in the guard’s mind that he was touching it. The suspicion
was the unfortunate one’s death warrant, and also its execution. As the
sluggish brain of the guard conceived it he leveled his gun; the distance
to his victim was not over one hundred feet; he never failed his aim; the
first warning the wretched prisoner got that he was suspected of
transgressing a prison-rule was the charge of “ball-and-buck” that tore
through his body. It was lucky if he was, the only one of the group
killed. More wicked and unjustifiable murders never were committed than
these almost daily assassinations at the Creek.

One morning the camp was astonished beyond measure to discover that
during the night a large, bold spring had burst out on the North Side,
about midway between the Swamp and the summit of the hill. It poured out
its grateful flood of pure, sweet water in an apparently exhaustless
quantity. To the many who looked in wonder upon it, it seemed as truly a
heaven-wrought miracle as when Moses’s enchanted rod smote the parched
rock in Sinai’s desert waste, and the living waters gushed forth.

The police took charge of the spring, and every one was compelled to take
his regular turn in filling his vessel. This was kept up during our
whole stay in Andersonville, and every morning, shortly after daybreak,
a thousand men could be seen standing in line, waiting their turns to
fill their cans and cups with the precious liquid.

I am told by comrades who have revisited the Stockade of recent years,
that the spring is yet running as when we left, and is held in most pious
veneration by the negros of that vicinity, who still preserve the
tradition of its miraculous origin, and ascribe to its water wonderful
grace giving and healing properties, similar to those which pious
Catholics believe exist in the holy water of the fountain at Lourdes.

I must confess that I do not think they are so very far from right.
If I could believe that any water was sacred and thaumaturgic, it would
be of that fountain which appeared so opportunely for the benefit of the
perishing thousands of Andersonville. And when I hear of people bringing
water for baptismal purposes from the Jordan, I say in my heart, “How
much more would I value for myself and friends the administration of the
chrismal sacrament with the diviner flow from that low sand-hill in
Western Georgia.”



Every morning after roll-call, thousands of sick gathered at the South
Gate, where the doctors made some pretense of affording medical relief.
The scene there reminded me of the illustrations in my Sunday-School
lessons of that time when “great multitudes came unto Him,” by the shores
of the Sea of Galilee, “having with them those that were lame, blind,
dumb, maimed, and many others.” Had the crowds worn the flouting robes
of the East, the picture would have lacked nothing but the presence of
the Son of Man to make it complete. Here were the burning sands and
parching sun; hither came scores of groups of three or four comrades,
laboriously staggering under the weight of a blanket in which they had
carried a disabled and dying friend from some distant part of the
Stockade. Beside them hobbled the scorbutics with swollen and distorted
limbs, each more loathsome and nearer death than the lepers whom Christ’s
divine touch made whole. Dozens, unable to walk, and having no comrades
to carry them, crawled painfully along, with frequent stops, on their
hands and knees. Every, form of intense physical suffering that it is
possible for disease to induce in the human frame was visible at these
daily parades of the sick of the prison. As over three thousand (three
thousand and seventy-six) died in August, there were probably twelve
thousand dangerously sick at any given time daring the month; and a large
part of these collected at the South Gate every morning.

Measurably-calloused as we had become by the daily sights of horror
around us, we encountered spectacles in these gatherings which no amount
of visible misery could accustom us to. I remember one especially that
burned itself deeply into my memory. It was of a young man not over
twenty-five, who a few weeks ago–his clothes looked comparatively new–
had evidently been the picture of manly beauty and youthful vigor.
He had had a well-knit, lithe form; dark curling hair fell over a
forehead which had once been fair, and his eyes still showed that they
had gleamed with a bold, adventurous spirit. The red clover leaf on his
cap showed that he belonged to the First Division of the Second Corps,
the three chevrons on his arm that he was a Sergeant, and the stripe at
his cuff that he was a veteran. Some kind-hearted boys had found him in
a miserable condition on the North Side, and carried him over in a
blanket to where the doctors could see him. He had but little clothing
on, save his blouse and cap. Ulcers of some kind had formed in his
abdomen, and these were now masses of squirming worms. It was so much
worse than the usual forms of suffering, that quite a little crowd of
compassionate spectators gathered around and expressed their pity.
The sufferer turned to one who lay beside him with:

“Comrade: If we were only under the old Stars and Stripes, we wouldn’t
care a G-d d–n for a few worms, would we?”

This was not profane. It was an utterance from the depths of a brave
man’s heart, couched in the strongest language at his command. It seemed
terrible that so gallant a soul should depart from earth in this
miserable fashion. Some of us, much moved by the sight, went to the
doctors and put the case as strongly as possible, begging them to do
something to alleviate his suffering. They declined to see the case,
but got rid of us by giving us a bottle of turpentine, with directions to
pour it upon the ulcers to kill the maggots. We did so. It must have
been cruel torture, and as absurd remedially as cruel, but our hero set
his teeth and endured, without a groan. He was then carried out to the
hospital to die.

I said the doctors made a pretense of affording medical relief. It was
hardly that, since about all the prescription for those inside the
Stockade consisted in giving a handful of sumach berries to each of those
complaining of scurvy. The berries might have done some good, had there
been enough of them, and had their action been assisted by proper food.
As it was, they were probably nearly, if not wholly, useless. Nothing
was given to arrest the ravages of dysentery.

A limited number of the worst cases were admitted to the Hospital each
day. As this only had capacity for about one-quarter of the sick in the
Stockade, new patients could only be admitted as others died. It seemed,
anyway, like signing a man’s death warrant to send him to the Hospital,
as three out of every four who went out there died. The following from
the official report of the Hospital shows this:

Total number admitted …………………………………..12,900
Died …………………………………………. 8,663
Exchanged …………………………………….. 828
Took the oath of allegiance …………………….. 25
Sent elsewhere ………………………………… 2,889

Total …………………………………………12,400

Average deaths, 76 per cent.

Early in August I made a successful effort to get out to the Hospital. I
had several reasons for this: First, one of my chums, W. W. Watts, of
my own company, had been sent out a little whale before very sick with
scurvy and pneumonia, and I wanted to see if I could do anything for him,
if he still lived: I have mentioned before that for awhile after our
entrance into Andersonville five of us slept on one overcoat and covered
ourselves with one blanket. Two of these had already died, leaving as
possessors of-the blanket and overcoat, W. W. Watts, B. B. Andrews, and

Next, I wanted to go out to see if there was any prospect of escape.
I had long since given up hopes of escaping from the Stockade. All our
attempts at tunneling had resulted in dead failures, and now, to make us
wholly despair of success in that direction, another Stockade was built
clear around the prison, at a distance of one hundred and twenty feet
from the first palisades. It was manifest that though we might succeed
in tunneling past one Stockade, we could not go beyond the second one.

I had the scurvy rather badly, and being naturally slight in frame,
I presented a very sick appearance to the physicians, and was passed out
to the Hospital.

While this was a wretched affair, it was still a vast improvement on the
Stockade. About five acres of ground, a little southeast of the
Stockade, and bordering on a creek, were enclosed by a board fence,
around which the guard walked, trees shaded the ground tolerably well.
There were tents and flies to shelter part of the sick, and in these were
beds made of pine leaves. There were regular streets and alleys running
through the grounds, and as the management was in the hands of our own
men, the place was kept reasonably clean and orderly for Andersonville.

There was also some improvement in the food. Rice in some degree
replaced the nauseous and innutritious corn bread, and if served in
sufficient quantities, would doubtless have promoted the recovery of many
men dying from dysenteric diseases. We also received small quantities of
“okra,” a plant peculiar to the South, whose pods contained a
mucilaginous matter that made a soup very grateful to those suffering
from scurvy.

But all these ameliorations of condition were too slight to even arrest
the progress of the disease of the thousands of dying men brought out
from the Stockade. These still wore the same lice-infested garments as
in prison; no baths or even ordinary applications of soap and water
cleaned their dirt-grimed skins, to give their pores an opportunity to
assist in restoring them to health; even their long, lank and matted
hair, swarming with vermin, was not trimmed. The most ordinary and
obvious measures for their comfort and care were neglected. If a man
recovered he did it almost in spite of fate. The medicines given were
scanty and crude. The principal remedial agent–as far as my observation
extended–was a rank, fetid species of unrectified spirits, which, I was
told, was made from sorgum seed. It had a light-green tinge, and was
about as inviting to the taste as spirits of turpentine. It was given to
the sick in small quantities mixed with water. I had had some experience
with Kentucky “apple-jack,” which, it was popularly believed among the
boys, would dissolve a piece of the fattest pork thrown into it, but that
seemed balmy and oily alongside of this. After tasting some, I ceased to
wonder at the atrocities of Wirz and his associates. Nothing would seem
too bad to a man who made that his habitual tipple.

[For a more particular description of the Hospital I must refer my reader
to the testimony of Professor Jones, in a previous chapter.]

Certainly this continent has never seen–and I fervently trust it will
never again see–such a gigantic concentration of misery as that Hospital
displayed daily. The official statistics tell the story of this with
terrible brevity: There were three thousand seven hundred and nine in the
Hospital in August; one thousand four hundred and eighty-nine–nearly
every other man died. The rate afterwards became much higher than this.

The most conspicuous suffering was in the gangrene wards. Horrible sores
spreading almost visibly from hour to hour, devoured men’s limbs and
bodies. I remember one ward in which the alterations appeared to be
altogether in the back, where they ate out the tissue between the skin
and the ribs. The attendants seemed trying to arrest the progress of the
sloughing by drenching the sores with a solution of blue vitriol. This
was exquisitely painful, and in the morning, when the drenching was going
on, the whole hospital rang with the most agonizing screams.

But the gangrene mostly attacked the legs and arms, and the led more than
the arms. Sometimes it killed men inside of a week; sometimes they
lingered on indefinitely. I remember one man in the Stockade who cut his
hand with the sharp corner of a card of corn bread he was lifting from
the ration wagon; gangrene set in immediately, and he died four days

One form that was quit prevalent was a cancer of the lower one corner of
the mouth, and it finally ate the whole side of the face out. Of course
the sufferer had the greatest trouble in eating and drinking. For the
latter it was customary to whittle out a little wooden tube, and fasten
it in a tin cup, through which he could suck up the water. As this mouth
cancer seemed contagious, none of us would allow any one afflicted with
it to use any of our cooking utensils. The Rebel doctors at the hospital
resorted to wholesale amputations to check the progress of the gangrene.

They had a two hours session of limb-lopping every morning, each of which
resulted in quite a pile of severed members. I presume more bungling
operations are rarely seen outside of Russian or Turkish hospitals.
Their unskilfulness was apparent even to non-scientific observers like
myself. The standard of medical education in the South–as indeed of
every other form of education–was quite low. The Chief Surgeon of the
prison, Dr. Isaiah White, and perhaps two or three others, seemed to be
gentlemen of fair abilities and attainments. The remainder were of that
class of illiterate and unlearning quacks who physic and blister the poor
whites and negros in the country districts of the South; who believe they
can stop bleeding of the nose by repeating a verse from the Bible; who
think that if in gathering their favorite remedy of boneset they cut the
stem upwards it will purge their patients, and if downward it will vomit
them, and who hold that there is nothing so good for “fits” as a black
cat, killed in the dark of the moon, cut open, and bound while yet warm,
upon the naked chest of the victim of the convulsions.

They had a case of instruments captured from some of our field hospitals,
which were dull and fearfully out of order. With poor instruments and
unskilled hands the operations became mangling.

In the Hospital I saw an admirable illustration of the affection which a
sailor will lavish on a ship’s boy, whom he takes a fancy to, and makes
his “chicken,” as the phrase is. The United States sloop “Water Witch”
had recently been captured in Ossabaw Sound, and her crew brought into
prison. One of her boys–a bright, handsome little fellow of about
fifteen–had lost one of his arms in the fight. He was brought into the
Hospital, and the old fellow whose “chicken” he was, was allowed to
accompany and nurse him. This “old barnacle-back” was as surly a growler
as ever went aloft, but to his “chicken” he was as tender and thoughtful
as a woman. They found a shady nook in one corner, and any moment one
looked in that direction he could see the old tar hard at work at
something for the comfort and pleasure of his pet. Now he was dressing
the wound as deftly and gently as a mother caring for a new-born babe;
now he was trying to concoct some relish out of the slender materials he
could beg or steal from the Quartermaster; now trying to arrange the
shade of the bed of pine leaves in a more comfortable manner; now
repairing or washing his clothes, and so on.

All the sailors were particularly favored by being allowed to bring their
bags in untouched by the guards. This “chicken” had a wonderful supply
of clothes, the handiwork of his protector who, like most good sailors,
was very skillful with the needle. He had suits of fine white duck,
embroidered with blue in a way that would ravish the heart of a fine
lady, and blue suits similarly embroidered with white. No belle ever
kept her clothes in better order than these were. When the duck came up
from the old sailor’s patient washing it was as spotless as new-fallen

I found my chum in a very bad condition. His appetite was entirely gone,
but he had an inordinate craving for tobacco–for strong, black plug–
which he smoked in a pipe. He had already traded off all his brass
buttons to the guards for this. I had accumulated a few buttons to bribe
the guard to take me out for wood, and I gave these also for tobacco for
him. When I awoke one morning the man who laid next to me on the right
was dead, having died sometime during the night. I searched his pockets
and took what was in them. These were a silk pocket handkerchief, a
gutta percha finger-ring, a comb, a pencil, and a leather pocket-book,
making in all quite a nice little “find.” I hied over to the guard, and
succeeded in trading the personal estate which I had inherited from the
intestate deceased, for a handful of peaches, a handful of hardly ripe
figs, and a long plug of tobacco. I hastened back to Watts, expecting
that the figs and peaches would do him a world of good. At first I did
not show him the tobacco, as I was strongly opposed to his using it,
thinking that it was making him much worse. But he looked at the
tempting peaches and figs with lack-luster eyes; he was too far gone to
care for them. He pushed them back to me, saying faintly:

“No, you take ’em, Mc; I don’t want ’em; I can’t eat ’em!”

I then produced the tobacco, and his face lighted up. Concluding that
this was all the comfort that he could have, and that I might as well
gratify him, I cut up some of the weed, filled his pipe and lighted it.
He smoked calmly and almost happily all the afternoon, hardly speaking a
word to me. As it grew dark he asked me to bring him a drink. I did so,
and as I raised him up he said:

“Mc, this thing’s ended. Tell my father that I stood it as long as I
could, and—-”

The death rattle sounded in his throat, and when I laid him back it was
all over. Straightening out his limbs, folding his hands across his
breast, and composing his features as best I could, I lay, down beside
the body and slept till morning, when I did what little else I could
toward preparing for the grave all that was left of my long-suffering
little friend.



After Watt’s death, I set earnestly about seeing what could be done in
the way of escape. Frank Harvey, of the First West Virginia Cavalry,
a boy of about my own age and disposition, joined with me in the scheme.
I was still possessed with my original plan of making my way down the
creeks to the Flint River, down the Flint River to where it emptied into
the Appalachicola River, and down that stream to its debauchure into the
bay that connected with the Gulf of Mexico. I was sure of finding my way
by this route, because, if nothing else offered, I could get astride of a
log and float down the current. The way to Sherman, in the other
direction, was long, torturous and difficult, with a fearful gauntlet of
blood-hounds, patrols and the scouts of Hood’s Army to be run. I had but
little difficulty in persuading Harvey into an acceptance of my views,
and we began arranging for a solution of the first great problem–how to
get outside of the Hospital guards. As I have explained before, the
Hospital was surrounded by a board fence, with guards walking their beats
on the ground outside. A small creek flowed through the southern end of
the grounds, and at its lower end was used as a sink. The boards of the
fence came down to the surface of the water, where the Creek passed out,
but we found, by careful prodding with a stick, that the hole between the
boards and the bottom of the Creek was sufficiently large to allow the
passage of our bodies, and there had been no stakes driven or other
precautions used to prevent egress by this channel. A guard was posted
there, and probably ordered to stand at the edge of the stream, but it
smelled so vilely in those scorching days that he had consulted his
feelings and probably his health, by retiring to the top of the bank,
a rod or more distant. We watched night after night, and at last were
gratified to find that none went nearer the Creak than the top of this

Then we waited for the moon to come right, so that the first part of the
night should be dark. This took several days, but at last we knew that
the next night she would not rise until between 9 and 10 o’clock, which
would give us nearly two hours of the dense darkness of a moonless Summer
night in the South. We had first thought of saving up some rations for
the trip, but then reflected that these would be ruined by the filthy
water into which we must sink to go under the fence. It was not
difficult to abandon the food idea, since it was very hard to force
ourselves to lay by even the smallest portion of our scanty rations.

As the next day wore on, our minds were wrought up into exalted tension
by the rapid approach of the supreme moment, with all its chances and
consequences. The experience of the past few months was not such as to
mentally fit us for such a hazard. It prepared us for sullen,
uncomplaining endurance, for calmly contemplating the worst that could
come; but it did not strengthen that fiber of mind that leads to
venturesome activity and daring exploits. Doubtless the weakness of our
bodies reacted upon our spirits. We contemplated all the perils that
confronted us; perils that, now looming up with impending nearness, took
a clearer and more threatening shape than they had ever done before.

We considered the desperate chances of passing the guard unseen; or, if
noticed, of escaping his fire without death or severe wounds. But
supposing him fortunately evaded, then came the gauntlet of the hounds
and the patrols hunting deserters. After this, a long, weary journey,
with bare feet and almost naked bodies, through an unknown country
abounding with enemies; the dangers of assassination by the embittered
populace; the risks of dying with hunger and fatigue in the gloomy depths
of a swamp; the scanty hopes that, if we reached the seashore, we could
get to our vessels.

Not one of all these contingencies failed to expand itself to all its
alarming proportions, and unite with its fellows to form a dreadful
vista, like the valleys filled with demons and genii, dragons and malign
enchantments, which confront the heros of the “Arabian Nights,” when they
set out to perform their exploits.

But behind us lay more miseries and horrors than a riotous imagination
could conceive; before us could certainly be nothing worse. We would put
life and freedom to the hazard of a touch, and win or lose it all.

The day had been intolerably hot. The sun’s rays seemed to sear the
earth, like heated irons, and the air that lay on the burning sand was
broken by wavy lines, such as one sees indicate the radiation from a hot

Except the wretched chain-gang plodding torturously back and forward on
the hillside, not a soul nor an animal could be seen in motion outside
the Stockade. The hounds were panting in their kennel; the Rebel
officers, half or wholly drunken with villainous sorgum whisky, were
stretched at full length in the shade at headquarters; the half-caked
gunners crouched under the shadow of the embankments of the forts, the
guards hung limply over the Stockade in front of their little perches;
the thirty thousand boys inside the Stockade, prone or supine upon the
glowing sand, gasped for breath–for one draft of sweet, cool, wholesome
air that did not bear on its wings the subtle seeds of rank corruption
and death. Everywhere was the prostration of discomfort–the inertia of

Only the sick moved; only the pain-racked cried out; only the dying
struggled; only the agonies of dissolution could make life assert itself
against the exhaustion of the heat.

Harvey and I, lying in the scanty shade of the trunk of a tall pine, and
with hearts filled with solicitude as to the outcome of what the evening
would bring us, looked out over the scene as we had done daily for long
months, and remained silent for hours, until the sun, as if weary with
torturing and slaying, began going down in the blazing West. The groans
of the thousands of sick around us, the shrieks of the rotting ones in
the gangrene wards rang incessantly in our ears.

As the sun disappeared, and the heat abated, the suspended activity was
restored. The Master of the Hounds came out with his yelping pack, and
started on his rounds; the Rebel officers aroused themselves from their
siesta and went lazily about their duties; the fifer produced his cracked
fife and piped forth his unvarying “Bonnie Blue Flag,” as a signal for
dress parade, and drums beaten by unskilled hands in the camps of the
different regiments, repeated the signal. In time Stockade the mass of
humanity became full of motion as an ant hill, and resembled it very much
from our point of view, with the boys threading their way among the
burrows, tents and holes.

It was becoming dark quite rapidly. The moments seemed galloping onward
toward the time when we must make the decisive step. We drew from the
dirty rag in which it was wrapped the little piece of corn bread that we
had saved for our supper, carefully divided it into two equal parts,
and each took one and ate it in silence. This done, we held a final
consultation as to our plans, and went over each detail carefully, that
we might fully understand each other under all possible circumstances,
and act in concert. One point we laboriously impressed upon each other,
and that was; that under no circumstances were we to allow ourselves to
be tempted to leave the Creek until we reached its junction with the
Flint River. I then picked up two pine leaves, broke them off to unequal
lengths, rolled them in my hands behind my back for a second, and
presenting them to Harney with their ends sticking out of my closed hand,

“The one that gets the longest one goes first.”

Harvey reached forth and drew the longer one.

We made a tour of reconnaissance. Everything seemed as usual, and
wonderfully calm compared with the tumult in our minds. The Hospital
guards were pacing their beats lazily; those on the Stockade were
drawling listlessly the first “call around” of the evening:

“Post numbah foah! Half-past seven o’clock! and a-l-l’s we-l-ll!”

Inside the Stockade was a Babel of sounds, above all of which rose the
melody of religious and patriotic songs, sung in various parts of the
camp. From the headquarters came the shouts and laughter of the Rebel
officers having a little “frolic” in the cool of the evening. The groans
of the sick around us were gradually hushing, as the abatement of the
terrible heat let all but the worst cases sink into a brief slumber,
from which they awoke before midnight to renew their outcries. But those
in the Gangrene wards seemed to be denied even this scanty blessing.
Apparently they never slept, for their shrieks never ceased. A multitude
of whip-poor-wills in the woods around us began their usual dismal cry,
which had never seemed so unearthly and full of dreadful presages as now.

It was, now quite dark, and we stole noiselessly down to the Creek and
reconnoitered. We listened. The guard was not pacing his beat, as we
could not hear his footsteps. A large, ill-shapen lump against the trunk
of one of the trees on the bank showed that he was leaning there resting
himself. We watched him for several minutes, but he did not move, and
the thought shot into our minds that he might be asleep; but it seemed
impossible: it was too early in the evening.

Now, if ever, was the opportunity. Harney squeezed my hand, stepped
noiselessly into the Creek, laid himself gently down into the filthy
water, and while my heart was beating so that I was certain it could be
heard some distance from me, began making toward the fence. He passed
under easily, and I raised my eyes toward the guard, while on my strained
ear fell the soft plashing made by Harvey as he pulled himself cautiously
forward. It seemed as if the sentinel must hear this; he could not help
it, and every second I expected to see the black lump address itself to
motion, and the musket flash out fiendishly. But he did not; the lump
remained motionless; the musket silent.

When I thought that Harvey had gained a sufficient distance I followed.
It seemed as if the disgusting water would smother me as I laid myself
down into it, and such was my agitation that it appeared almost
impossible that I should escape making such a noise as would attract the
guard’s notice. Catching hold of the roots and limbs at the side of the
stream, I pulled myself slowly along, and as noiselessly as possible.

I passed under the fence without difficulty, and was outside, and within
fifteen feet of the guard. I had lain down into the creek upon my right
side, that my face might be toward the guard, and I could watch him
closely all the time.

As I came under the fence he was still leaning motionless against the
tree, but to my heated imagination he appeared to have turned and be
watching me. I hardly breathed; the filthy water rippling past me seemed
to roar to attract the guard’s attention; I reached my hand out
cautiously to grasp a root to pull myself along by, and caught instead a
dry branch, which broke with a loud crack. My heart absolutely stood
still. The guard evidently heard the noise. The black lump separated
itself from the tree, and a straight line which I knew to be his musket
separated itself from the lump. In a brief instant I lived a year of
mortal apprehension. So certain was I that he had discovered me, and was
leveling his piece to fire, that I could scarcely restrain myself from
springing up and dashing away to avoid the shot. Then I heard him take a
step, and to my unutterable surprise and relief, he walked off farther
from the Creek, evidently to speak to the man whose beat joined his.

I pulled away more swiftly, but still with the greatest caution, until
after half-an-hour’s painful effort I had gotten fully one hundred and
fifty yards away from the Hospital fence, and found Harney crouched on a
cypress knee, close to the water’s edge, watching for me.

We waited there a few minutes, until I could rest, and calm my perturbed
nerves down to something nearer their normal equilibrium, and then
started on. We hoped that if we were as lucky in our next step as in the
first one we would reach the Flint River by daylight, and have a good
long start before the morning roll-call revealed our absence. We could
hear the hounds still baying in the distance, but this sound was too
customary to give us any uneasiness.

But our progress was terribly slow. Every step hurt fearfully. The
Creek bed was full of roots and snags, and briers, and vines trailed
across it. These caught and tore our bare feet and legs, rendered
abnormally tender by the scurvy. It seemed as if every step was marked
with blood. The vines tripped us, and we frequently fell headlong. We
struggled on determinedly for nearly an hour, and were perhaps a mile
from the Hospital.

The moon came up, and its light showed that the creek continued its
course through a dense jungle like that we had been traversing, while on
the high ground to our left were the open pine woods I have previously

We stopped and debated for a few minutes. We recalled our promise to
keep in the Creek, the experience of other boys who had tried to escape
and been caught by the hounds. If we staid in the Creek we were sure the
hounds would not find our trail, but it was equally certain that at this
rate we would be exhausted and starved before we got out of sight of the
prison. It seemed that we had gone far enough to be out of reach of the
packs patrolling immediately around the Stockade, and there could be but
little risk in trying a short walk on the dry ground. We concluded to
take the chances, and, ascending the bank, we walked and ran as fast as
we could for about two miles further.

All at once it struck me that with all our progress the hounds sounded as
near as when we started. I shivered at the thought, and though nearly
ready to drop with fatigue, urged myself and Harney on.

An instant later their baying rang out on the still night air right
behind us, and with fearful distinctness. There was no mistake now; they
had found our trail, and were running us down. The change from fearful
apprehension to the crushing reality stopped us stock-still in our

At the next breath the hounds came bursting through the woods in plain
sight, and in full cry. We obeyed our first impulse; rushed back into
the swamp, forced our way for a few yards through the flesh-tearing
impediments, until we gained a large cypress, upon whose great knees we
climbed–thoroughly exhausted–just as the yelping pack reached the edge
of the water, and stopped there and bayed at us. It was a physical
impossibility for us to go another step.

In a moment the low-browed villain who had charge of the hounds came
galloping up on his mule, tooting signals to his dogs as he came, on the
cow-horn slung from his shoulders.

He immediately discovered us, covered us with his revolver, and yelled

“Come ashore, there, quick: you—- —- —- —-s!”

There was no help for it. We climbed down off the knees and started
towards the land. As we neared it, the hounds became almost frantic,
and it seemed as if we would be torn to pieces the moment they could
reach us. But the master dismounted and drove them back. He was surly-
even savage–to us, but seemed in too much hurry to get back to waste any
time annoying us with the dogs. He ordered us to get around in front of
the mule, and start back to camp. We moved as rapidly as our fatigue and
our lacerated feet would allow us, and before midnight were again in the
hospital, fatigued, filthy, torn, bruised and wretched beyond description
or conception.

The next morning we were turned back into the Stockade as punishment.



Harney and I were specially fortunate in being turned back into the
Stockade without being brought before Captain Wirz.

We subsequently learned that we owed this good luck to Wirz’s absence on
sick leave–his place being supplied by Lieutenant Davis, a moderate
brained Baltimorean, and one of that horde of Marylanders in the Rebel
Army, whose principal service to the Confederacy consisted in working
themselves into “bomb-proof” places, and forcing those whom they
displaced into the field. Winder was the illustrious head of this crowd
of bomb-proof Rebels from “Maryland, My Maryland!” whose enthusiasm for
the Southern cause and consistency in serving it only in such places as
were out of range of the Yankee artillery, was the subject of many bitter
jibes by the Rebels–especially by those whose secure berths they
possessed themselves of.

Lieutenant Davis went into the war with great brashness. He was one of
the mob which attacked the Sixth Massachusetts in its passage through
Baltimore, but, like all of that class of roughs, he got his stomach full
of war as soon as the real business of fighting began, and he retired to
where the chances of attaining a ripe old age were better than in front
of the Army of the Potomac’s muskets. We shall hear of Davis again.

Encountering Captain Wirz was one of the terrors of an abortive attempt
to escape. When recaptured prisoners were brought before him he would
frequently give way to paroxysms of screaming rage, so violent as to
closely verge on insanity. Brandishing the fearful and wonderful
revolver–of which I have spoken in such a manner as to threaten the
luckless captives with instant death, he would shriek out imprecations,
curses; and foul epithets in French, German and English, until he fairly
frothed at the mouth. There were plenty of stories current in camp of his
having several times given away to his rage so far as to actually shoot
men down in these interviews, and still more of his knocking boys down
and jumping upon them, until he inflicted injuries that soon resulted in
death. How true these rumors were I am unable to say of my own personal
knowledge, since I never saw him kill any one, nor have I talked with any
one who did. There were a number of cases of this kind testified to upon
his trial, but they all happened among “paroles” outside the Stockade,
or among the prisoners inside after we left, so I knew nothing of them.

One of the Old Switzer’s favorite ways of ending these seances was to
inform the boys that he would have them shot in an hour or so, and bid
them prepare for death. After keeping them in fearful suspense for hours
he would order them to be punished with the stocks, the ball-and-chain,
the chain-gang, or–if his fierce mood had burned itself entirely out–
as was quite likely with a man of his shallop’ brain and vacillating
temper–to be simply returned to the stockade.

Nothing, I am sure, since the days of the Inquisition–or still later,
since the terrible punishments visited upon the insurgents of 1848 by the
Austrian aristocrats–has been so diabolical as the stocks and chain-
gangs, as used by Wirz. At one time seven men, sitting in the stocks
near the Star Fort–in plain view of the camp–became objects of interest
to everybody inside. They were never relieved from their painful
position, but were kept there until all of them died. I think it was
nearly two weeks before the last one succumbed. What they endured in
that time even imagination cannot conceive–I do not think that an Indian
tribe ever devised keener torture for its captives.

The chain-gang consisted of a number of men–varying from twelve to
twenty-five, all chained to one sixty-four pound ball. They were also
stationed near the Star Fort, standing out in the hot sun, without a
particle of shade over them. When one moved they all had to move.
They were scourged with the dysentery, and the necessities of some one
of their number kept them constantly in motion. I can see them
distinctly yet, tramping laboriously and painfully back and forward over
that burning hillside, every moment of the long, weary Summer days.

A comrade writes to remind me of the beneficent work of the Masonic
Order. I mention it most gladly, as it was the sole recognition on the
part of any of our foes of our claims to human kinship. The churches of
all denominations–except the solitary Catholic priest, Father Hamilton,
–ignored us as wholly as if we were dumb beasts. Lay humanitarians were
equally indifferent, and the only interest manifested by any Rebel in the
welfare of any prisoner was by the Masonic brotherhood. The Rebel Masons
interested themselves in securing details outside the Stockade in the
cookhouse, the commissary, and elsewhere, for the brethren among the
prisoners who would accept such favors. Such as did not feel inclined to
go outside on parole received frequent presents in the way of food, and
especially of vegetables, which were literally beyond price. Materials
were sent inside to build tents for the Masons, and I think such as made
themselves known before death, received burial according to the rites of
the Order. Doctor White, and perhaps other Surgeons, belonged to the
fraternity, and the wearing of a Masonic emblem by a new prisoner was
pretty sure to catch their eyes, and be the means of securing for the
wearer the tender of their good offices, such as a detail into the
Hospital as nurse, ward-master, etc.

I was not fortunate enough to be one of the mystic brethren, and so
missed all share in any of these benefits, as well as in any others,
and I take special pride in one thing: that during my whole imprisonment
I was not beholden to a Rebel for a single favor of any kind. The Rebel
does not live who can say that he ever gave me so much as a handful of
meal, a spoonful of salt, an inch of thread, or a stick of wood.
From first to last I received nothing but my rations, except occasional
trifles that I succeeded in stealing from the stupid officers charged
with issuing rations. I owe no man in the Southern Confederacy gratitude
for anything–not even for a kind word.

Speaking of secret society pins recalls a noteworthy story which has been
told me since the war, of boys whom I knew. At the breaking out of
hostilities there existed in Toledo a festive little secret society,
such as lurking boys frequently organize, with no other object than fun
and the usual adolescent love of mystery. There were a dozen or so
members in it who called themselves “The Royal Reubens,” and were headed
by a bookbinder named Ned Hopkins. Some one started a branch of the
Order in Napoleon, O., and among the members was Charles E. Reynolds,
of that town. The badge of the society was a peculiarly shaped gold pin.
Reynolds and Hopkins never met, and had no acquaintance with each other.
When the war broke out, Hopkins enlisted in Battery H, First Ohio
Artillery, and was sent to the Army of the Potomac, where he was
captured, in the Fall of 1863, while scouting, in the neighborhood of
Richmond. Reynolds entered the Sixty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry,
and was taken in the neighborhood of Jackson, Miss.,–two thousand miles
from the place of Hopkins’s capture. At Andersonville Hopkins became one
of the officers in charge of the Hospital. One day a Rebel Sergeant, who
called the roll in the Stockade, after studying Hopkins’s pin a minute,

“I seed a Yank in the Stockade to-day a-wearing a pin egzackly like that

This aroused Hopkins’s interest, and he went inside in search of the
other “feller.” Having his squad and detachment there was little
difficulty in finding him. He recognized the pin, spoke to its wearer,
gave him the “grand hailing sign” of the “Royal Reubens,” and it was duly
responded to. The upshot of the matter was that he took Reynolds out
with him as clerk, and saved his life, as the latter was going down hill
very rapidly. Reynolds, in turn, secured the detail of a comrade of the
Sixty-Eighth who was failing fast, and succeeded in saving his life–all
of which happy results were directly attributable to that insignificant
boyish society, and its equally unimportant badge of membership.

Along in the last of August the Rebels learned that there were between
two and three hundred Captains and Lieutenants in the Stockade, passing
themselves off as enlisted men. The motive of these officers was two-
fold: first, a chivalrous wish to share the fortunes and fate of their
boys, and second, disinclination to gratify the Rebels by the knowledge
of the rank of their captives. The secret was so well kept that none of
us suspected it until the fact was announced by the Rebels themselves.
They were taken out immediately, and sent to Macon, where the
commissioned officers’ prison was. It would not do to trust such
possible leaders with us another day.



I have in other places dwelt upon the insufficiency and the nauseousness
of the food. No words that I can use, no insistence upon this theme, can
give the reader any idea of its mortal importance to us.

Let the reader consider for a moment the quantity, quality, and variety
of food that he now holds to be necessary for the maintenance of life and
health. I trust that every one who peruses this book–that every one in
fact over whom the Stars and Stripes wave–has his cup of coffee, his
biscuits and his beefsteak for breakfast–a substantial dinner of roast
or boiled–and a lighter, but still sufficient meal in the evening.
In all, certainly not less than fifty different articles are set before
him during the day, for his choice as elements of nourishment. Let him
scan this extended bill-of-fare, which long custom has made so common-
place as to be uninteresting–perhaps even wearisome to think about–
and see what he could omit from it, if necessity compelled him. After a
reluctant farewell to fish, butter, eggs, milk, sugar, green and
preserved fruits, etc., he thinks that perhaps under extraordinary
circumstances he might be able to merely sustain life for a limited
period on a diet of bread and meat three times a day, washed down with
creamless, unsweetened coffee, and varied occasionally with additions of
potatos, onions, beans, etc. It would astonish the Innocent to have one
of our veterans inform him that this was not even the first stage of
destitution; that a soldier who had these was expected to be on the
summit level of contentment. Any of the boys who followed Grant to
Appomattox Court House, Sherman to the Sea, or “Pap” Thomas till his
glorious career culminated with the annihilation of Hood, will tell him
of many weeks when a slice of fat pork on a piece of “hard tack” had to
do duty for the breakfast of beefsteak and biscuits; when another slice
of fat pork and another cracker served for the dinner of roast beef and
vegetables, and a third cracker and slice of pork was a substitute for
the supper of toast and chops.

I say to these veterans in turn that they did not arrive at the first
stages of destitution compared with the depths to which we were dragged.
The restriction for a few weeks to a diet of crackers and fat pork was
certainly a hardship, but the crackers alone, chemists tell us, contain
all the elements necessary to support life, and in our Army they were
always well made and very palatable. I believe I risk nothing in saying
that one of the ordinary square crackers of our Commissary Department
contained much more real nutriment than the whole of our average ration.

I have before compared the size, shape and appearance of the daily half
loaf of corn bread issued to us to a half-brick, and I do not yet know of
a more fitting comparison. At first we got a small piece of rusty bacon
along with this; but the size of this diminished steadily until at last
it faded away entirely, and during the last six months of our
imprisonment I do not believe that we received rations of meat above a
half-dozen times.

To this smallness was added ineffable badness. The meal was ground very
coarsely, by dull, weakly propelled stones, that imperfectly crushed the
grains, and left the tough, hard coating of the kernels in large, sharp,
mica-like scales, which cut and inflamed the stomach and intestines,
like handfuls of pounded glass. The alimentary canals of all compelled
to eat it were kept in a continual state of irritation that usually
terminated in incurable dysentery.

That I have not over-stated this evil can be seen by reference to the
testimony of so competent a scientific observer as Professor Jones, and I
add to that unimpeachable testimony the following extract from the
statement made in an attempted defense of Andersonville by Doctor R.
Randolph Stevenson, who styles himself, formerly Surgeon in the Army of
the Confederate States of America, Chief Surgeon of the Confederate
States Military Prison Hospitals, Andersonville, Ga.:

V. From the sameness of the food, and from 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

In both the well and the sick, the red corpuscles were diminished; and in
all diseases uncomplicated with inflammation, the fibrinous element was
deficient. In cases of ulceration of the mucous membrane of the
intestinal canal, the fibrinous element of the blood appeared to be
increased; while in simple diarrhea, uncomplicated with ulceration, and
dependent upon the character of the food and the existence of scurvy,
it was either diminished or remained stationary. Heart-clots were very
common, if not universally present, in the 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 fibrinous concretions were almost universally absent.
From the watery condition of the blood there resulted various serous
effusions into the pericardium, into the ventricles of the brain, and
into the abdominal cavity.

In almost all cases which I examined after death, even in the most
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 firm coagula were
universally present. The presence of these clots in the cases of
hospital gangrene, whilst they were absent in the cases in which there
were no inflammatory symptoms, appears to sustain the conclusion that
hospital gangrene is a species of inflammation (imperfect and irregular
though it may be in its progress), in which the fibrinous element and
coagulability 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 fibrinous constituent.

VI. The impoverished condition of the blood, which led to serous
effusions within the ventricles of the brain, and around the brain and
spinal cord, and into the pericardial and abdominal cavities, was
gradually induced by the action of several causes, but chiefly by the
character of the food.

The Federal prisoners, as a general rule, had been reared upon wheat
bread and Irish potatos; and the Indian corn so extensively used at the
South, was almost unknown to them as an article of diet previous to their
capture. Owing to the impossibility of obtaining the necessary sieves in
the Confederacy for the separation of the husk from the corn-meal, the
rations of the Confederate soldiers, as well as of the Federal prisoners,
consisted of unbolted corn-flour, and meal and grist; this circumstance
rendered the corn-bread still more disagreeable and distasteful to the
Federal prisoners. While Indian meal, even when prepared with the husk,
is one of the most wholesome and nutritious forms of food, as has been
already shown by the health and rapid increase of the Southern
population, and especially of the negros, previous to the present war,
and by the strength, endurance and activity of the Confederate soldiers,
who were throughout the war confined to a great extent to unbolted corn-
meal; it is nevertheless true that those who have not been reared upon
corn-meal, or who have not accustomed themselves to its use gradually,
become excessively tired of this kind of diet when suddenly confined to
it without a due proportion of wheat bread. Large numbers of the Federal
prisoners appeared to be utterly disgusted with Indian corn, and immense
piles of corn-bread could be seen in the Stockade and Hospital
inclosures. Those who were so disgusted with this form of food that they
had no appetite to partake of it, except in quantities insufficient to
supply the waste of the tissues, were, of course, in the condition of men
slowly starving, notwithstanding that the only farinaceous form of food
which the Confederate States produced in sufficient abundance for the
maintenance of armies was not withheld from them. In such cases, an
urgent feeling of hunger was not a prominent symptom; and even when it
existed at first, it soon disappeared, and was succeeded by an actual
loathing of food. In this state the muscular strength was rapidly
diminished, the tissues wasted, and the thin, skeleton-like forms moved
about with the appearance of utter exhaustion and dejection. The mental
condition connected with long confinement, with the most miserable
surroundings, and with no hope for the future, also depressed all the
nervous and vital actions, and was especially active in destroying the
appetite. The effects of mental depression, and of defective nutrition,
were manifested not only in the slow, feeble motions of the wasted,
skeleton-like forms, but also in such lethargy, listlessness, and torpor
of the mental faculties as rendered these unfortunate men oblivious and
indifferent to their afflicted condition. In many cases, even of the
greatest apparent suffering and distress, instead of showing any anxiety
to communicate the causes of their distress, or to relate their
privations, and their longings for their homes and their friends and
relatives, they lay in a listless, lethargic, uncomplaining state, taking
no notice either of their own distressed condition, or of the gigantic
mass of human misery by which they were surrounded. Nothing appalled and
depressed me so much as this silent, uncomplaining misery. It is a fact
of great interest, that notwithstanding this defective nutrition in men
subjected to crowding and filth, contagious fevers were rare; and typhus
fever, which is supposed to be generated in just such a state of things
as existed at Andersonville, was unknown. These facts, established by my
investigations, stand in striking contrast with such a statement as the
following by a recent English writer:

“A deficiency of food, especially of the nitrogenous part, quickly leads
to the breaking up of the animal frame. Plague, pestilence and famine
are associated with each other in the public mind, and the records of
every country show how closely they are related. The medical history of
Ireland is remarkable for the illustrations of how much mischief may be
occasioned by a general deficiency of food. Always the habitat of fever,
it every now and then becomes the very hot-bed of its propagation and
development. Let there be but a small failure in the usual imperfect
supply of food, and the lurking seeds of pestilence are ready to burst
into frightful activity. The famine of the present century is but too
forcible and illustrative of this. It fostered epidemics which have not
been witnessed in this generation, and gave rise to scenes of devastation
and misery which are not surpassed by the most appalling epidemics of the
Middle Ages. The principal form of the scourge was known as the
contagious famine fever (typhus), and it spread, not merely from end to
end of the country in which it had originated, but, breaking through all
boundaries, it crossed the broad ocean, and made itself painfully
manifest in localities where it was previously unknown. Thousands fell
under the virulence of its action, for wherever it came it struck down a
seventh of the people, and of those whom it attacked, one out of nine
perished. Even those who escaped the fatal influence of it, were left
the miserable victims of scurvy and low fever.”

While we readily admit that famine induces that state of the system which
is the most susceptible to the action of fever poisons, and thus induces
the state of the entire population which is most favorable for the rapid
and destructive spread of all contagious fevers, at the same time we are
forced by the facts established by the present war, as well as by a host
of others, both old and new, to admit that we are still ignorant of the
causes necessary for the origin of typhus fever. Added to the imperfect
nature of the rations issued to the Federal prisoners, the difficulties
of their situation were at times greatly increased by the sudden and
desolating Federal raids in Virginia, Georgia, and other States, which
necessitated the sudden transportation from Richmond and other points
threatened of large bodies of prisoners, without the possibility of much
previous preparation; and not only did these men suffer in transition
upon the dilapidated and overburdened line of railroad communication,
but after arriving at Andersonville, the rations were frequently
insufficient to supply the sudden addition of several thousand men.
And as the Confederacy became more and more pressed, and when powerful
hostile armies were plunging through her bosom, the Federal prisoners of
Andersonville suffered incredibly during the hasty removal to Millen,
Savannah, Charleston, and other points, supposed at the time to be secure
from the enemy. Each one of these causes must be weighed when an attempt
is made to estimate the unusual mortality among these prisoners of war.

VII. Scurvy, arising from sameness of food and imperfect nutrition,
caused, either directly or indirectly, nine-tenths of the deaths among
the Federal prisoners at Andersonville.

Not only were the deaths referred to unknown causes, to apoplexy, to
anasarca, and to debility, traceable to scurvy and its effects; and not
only was the mortality in small-pox, pneumonia, and typhoid fever, and in
all acute diseases, more than doubled by the scorbutic taint, but even
those all but universal and deadly bowel affections arose from the same
causes, and derived their fatal character from the same conditions which
produced the scurvy. In truth, these men at Andersonville were in the
condition of a crew at sea, confined in a foul ship upon salt meat and
unvarying food, and without fresh vegetables. Not only so, but these
unfortunate prisoners were men forcibly confined and crowded upon a ship
tossed about on a stormy ocean, without a rudder, without a compass,
without a guiding-star, and without any apparent boundary or to their
voyage; and they reflected in their steadily increasing miseries the
distressed condition and waning fortunes of devastated and bleeding
country, which was compelled, in justice to her own unfortunate sons, to
hold these men in the most distressing captivity.

I saw nothing in the scurvy which prevailed so universally at
Andersonville, at all different from this disease as described by various
standard writers. The mortality was no greater than that which has
afflicted a hundred ships upon long voyages, and it did not exceed the
mortality which has, upon me than one occasion, and in a much shorter
period of time, annihilated large armies and desolated beleaguered
cities. The general results of my investigations upon the chronic
diarrhea and dysentery of the Federal prisoners of Andersonville were
similar to those of the English surgeons during the war against Russia.

IX. Drugs exercised but little influence over the progress and fatal
termination of chronic diarrhea and dysentery in the Military Prison and
Hospital at Andersonville, chiefly because the proper form of nourishment
(milk, rice, vegetables, anti-scorbutics, and nourishing animal and
vegetable soups) was not issued, and could not be procured in sufficient
quantities for the sick prisoners.

Opium allayed pain and checked the bowels temporarily, but the frail dam
was soon swept away, and the patient appears to be but little better,
if not the worse, for this merely palliative treatment. The root of the
difficulty could not be reached by drugs; nothing short of the wanting
elements of nutrition would have tended in any manner to restore the tone
of the digestive system, and of all the wasted and degenerated organs and
tissues. My opinion to this effect was expressed most decidedly to the
medical officers in charge of these unfortunate men. The correctness of
this view was sustained by the healthy and robust condition of the
paroled prisoners, who received an extra ration, and who were able to
make considerable sums by trading, and who supplied themselves with a
liberal and varied diet.

X. 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 gangrene among these prisoners appeared clearly to depend
in great measure upon the state of the general system, induced by diet,
exposure, neglect of personal cleanliness; and by 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 this form of gangrene, attacked the intestinal canal of
patients laboring under ulceration of the bowels, although there were 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 Prison Hospital; and in the
depressed, depraved condition of the system of these Federal prisoners,
death ensued very rapidly after the gangrenous state of the intestines
was established.

XI. A scorbutic condition of the system appeared to favor the origin of
foul ulcers, which frequently took on true hospital gangrene.

Scurvy and 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. . . Scurvy consists
not only in an alteration in the constitution of the blood, which leads
to passive hemorrhages from the bowels, and the effusion into the various
tissues of a deeply-colored fibrinous exudation; but, as we have
conclusively shown by postmortem examination, this state is attended with
consistence of the muscles of the heart, and the mucous membrane of the
alimentary canal, and of solid parts generally. We have, according to
the extent of the deficiency of certain articles of food, every degree of
scorbutic derangement, from the most fearful depravation of the blood
and the perversion of every function subserved by the blood to those
slight derangements which are scarcely distinguishable from a state of
health. We are as yet ignorant of the true nature of the changes of the
blood and tissues in scurvy, and wide field for investigation is open for
the determination the characteristic changes–physical, chemical, and
physiological–of the blood and tissues, and of the secretions and
excretions of scurvy. Such inquiries would be of great value in their
bearing upon the origin of hospital gangrene. Up to the present war,
the results of chemical investigations upon the pathology of the blood in
scurvy were not only contradictory, but meager, and wanting in that
careful detail of the cases from which the blood was abstracted which
would enable us to explain the cause of the apparent discrepancies in
different analyses. Thus it is not yet settled whether the fibrin is
increased or diminished in this disease; and the differences which exist
in the statements of different writers appear to be referable to the
neglect of a critical examination and record of all the symptoms of the
cases from which the blood was abstracted. The true nature of the
changes of the blood in scurvy can be established only by numerous
analyses during different stages of the disease, and followed up by
carefully performed and recorded postmortem examinations. With such data
we could settle such important questions as whether the increase of
fibrin in scurvy was invariably dependent upon some local inflammation.

XII. Gangrenous spots, followed by rapid destruction of tissue, appeared
in some cases in which there had been no previous or existing wound or
abrasion; and without such well established facts, it might be assumed
that the disease was propagated from one patient to another in every
case, either by exhalations from the gangrenous surface or by direct

In such a filthy and crowded hospital as that of the Confederate, States
Military Prison of Camp Sumter, 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
description; the filthy, imperfectly washed, and scanty rags; the limited
number of sponges and wash-bowls (the same wash-bowl and sponge serving
for a score or more of patients), were one and all sources of such
constant circulation of the gangrenous matter, that the disease might
rapidly be propagated from a single gangrenous wound. While the fact
already considered, 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 hospital gangrene upon the
surface, demonstrates the dependence of the disease upon the state of the
constitution, and proves in a clear manner that neither the contact of
the poisonous matter of gangrene, nor the direct action of the poisoned
atmosphere upon the ulcerated surface, is necessary to the development of
the disease; on the other hand, it is equally well-established that the
disease may be communicated by the various ways just mentioned. It is
impossible to determine the length of time which rags and clothing
saturated with gangrenous matter will retain the power of reproducing the
disease when applied to healthy wounds. Professor Brugmans, as quoted by
Guthrie in his commentaries on the surgery of the war in Portugal, Spain,
France, and the Netherlands, says that in 1797, in Holland, ‘charpie,’
composed of linen threads cut of different lengths, which, on inquiry, it
was found had been already used in the great hospitals in France, and had
been subsequently washed and bleached, caused every ulcer to which it was
applied to be affected by hospital gangrene. Guthrie affirms in the same
work, that the fact that this disease was readily communicated by the
application of instruments, lint, or bandages which had been in contact
with infected parts, was too firmly established by the experience of
every one in Portugal and Spain to be a matter of doubt. There are facts
to show that flies may be the means of communicating malignant pustules.
Dr. Wagner, who has related several cases of malignant pustule produced
in man and beasts, both by contact and by eating the flesh of diseased
animals, which happened in the village of Striessa in Saxony, in 1834,
gives two very remarkable cases which occurred eight days after any beast
had been affected with the disease. Both were women, one of twenty-six
and the other of fifty years, and in them the pustules were well marked,
and the general symptoms similar to the other cases. The latter patient
said she had been bitten by a fly upon the back d the neck, at which part
the carbuncle appeared; and the former, that she had also been bitten
upon the right upper arm by a gnat. Upon inquiry, Wagner found that the
skin of one of the infected beasts had been hung on a neighboring wall,
and thought it very possible that the insects might have been attracted
to them by the smell, and had thence conveyed the poison.

[End of Dr. Stevenson’s Statement]


The old adage says that “Hunger is the best sauce for poor food,” but
hunger failed to render this detestable stuff palatable, and it became so
loathsome that very many actually starved to death because unable to
force their organs of deglutition to receive the nauseous dose and pass
it to the stomach. I was always much healthier than the average of the
boys, and my appetite consequently much better, yet for the last month
that I was in Andersonville, it required all my determination to crowd
the bread down my throat, and, as I have stated before, I could only do
this by breaking off small bits at a time, and forcing each down as I
would a pill.

A large part of this repulsiveness was due to the coarseness and foulness
of the meal, the wretched cooking, and the lack of salt, but there was a
still more potent reason than all these. Nature does not intend that man
shall live by bread alone, nor by any one kind of food. She indicates
this by the varying tastes and longings that she gives him. If his body
needs one kind of constituents, his tastes lead him to desire the food
that is richest in those constituents. When he has taken as much as his
system requires, the sense of satiety supervenes, and he “becomes tired”
of that particular food. If tastes are not perverted, but allowed a free
but temperate exercise, they are the surest indicators of the way to
preserve health and strength by a judicious selection of alimentation.

In this case Nature was protesting by a rebellion of the tastes against
any further use of that species of food. She was saying, as plainly as
she ever spoke, that death could only be averted by a change of diet,
which would supply our bodies with the constituents they so sadly needed,
and which could not be supplied by corn meal.

How needless was this confinement of our rations to corn meal, and
especially to such wretchedly prepared meal, is conclusively shown by the
Rebel testimony heretofore given. It would have been very little extra
trouble to the Rebels to have had our meal sifted; we would gladly have
done it ourselves if allowed the utensils and opportunity. It would have
been as little trouble to have varied our rations with green corn and
sweet potatos, of which the country was then full.

A few wagon loads of roasting ears and sweet potatos would have banished
every trace of scurvy from the camp, healed up the wasting dysentery,
and saved thousands of lives. Any day that the Rebels had chosen they
could have gotten a thousand volunteers who would have given their solemn
parole not to escape, and gone any distance into the country, to gather
the potatos and corn, and such other vegetables as were readily
obtainable, and bring, them into the camp.

Whatever else may be said in defense of the Southern management of
military prisons, the permitting seven thousand men to die of the scurvy
in the Summer time, in the midst of an agricultural region, filled with
all manner of green vegetation, must forever remain impossible of



We again began to be exceedingly solicitous over the fate of Atlanta and
Sherman’s Army: we had heard but little directly from that front for
several weeks. Few prisoners had come in since those captured in the
bloody engagements of the 20th, 22d, and 28th of July. In spite of their
confident tones, and our own sanguine hopes, the outlook admitted of very
grave doubts. The battles of the last week of July had been looked at it
in the best light possible–indecisive. Our men had held their own,
it is true, but an invading army can not afford to simply hold its own.
Anything short of an absolute success is to it disguised defeat. Then we
knew that the cavalry column sent out under Stoneman had been so badly
handled by that inefficient commander that it had failed ridiculously in
its object, being beaten in detail, and suffering the loss of its
commander and a considerable portion of its numbers. This had been
followed by a defeat of our infantry at Etowah Creek, and then came a
long interval in which we received no news save what the Rebel papers
contained, and they pretended no doubt that Sherman’s failure was already
demonstrated. Next came well-authenticated news that Sherman had raised
the siege and fallen back to the Chattahoochee, and we felt something of
the bitterness of despair. For days thereafter we heard nothing, though
the hot, close Summer air seemed surcharged with the premonitions of a
war storm about to burst, even as nature heralds in the same way a
concentration of the mighty force of the elements for the grand crash of
the thunderstorm. We waited in tense expectancy for the decision of the
fates whether final victory or defeat should end the long and arduous

At night the guards in the perches around the Stockade called out every
half hour, so as to show the officers that they were awake and attending
to their duty. The formula for this ran thus:

“Post numbah 1; half-past eight o’clock, and a-l-l ‘s w-e-l-l!”

Post No. 2 repeated this cry, and so it went around.

One evening when our anxiety as to Atlanta was wrought to the highest
pitch, one of the guards sang out:

“Post numbah foah–half past eight o’clock–and Atlanta’s–gone–t-o–

The heart of every man within hearing leaped to his mouth. We looked
toward each other, almost speechless with glad surprise, and then gasped

“Did ‘you hear THAT?”

The next instant such a ringing cheer burst out as wells spontaneously
from the throats and hearts of men, in the first ecstatic moments of
victory–a cheer to which our saddened hearts and enfeebled lungs had
long been strangers. It was the genuine, honest, manly Northern cheer,
as different from the shrill Rebel yell as the honest mastiff’s deep-
voiced welcome is from the howl of the prowling wolf.

The shout was taken up all over the prison. Even those who had not heard
the guard understood that it meant that “Atlanta was ours and fairly
won,” and they took up the acclamation with as much enthusiasm as we had
begun it. All thoughts of sleep were put to flight: we would have a
season of rejoicing. Little knots gathered together, debated the news,
and indulged in the most sanguine hopes as to the effect upon the Rebels.
In some parts of the Stockade stump speeches were made. I believe that
Boston Corbett and his party organized a prayer and praise meeting.
In our corner we stirred up our tuneful friend “Nosey,” who sang again
the grand old patriotic hymns that set our thin blood to bounding,
and made us remember that we were still Union soldiers, with higher hopes
than that of starving and dying in Andersonville. He sang the ever-
glorious Star Spangled Banner, as he used to sing it around the camp fire
in happier days, when we were in the field. He sang the rousing “Rally
Round the Flag,” with its wealth of patriotic fire and martial vigor,
and we, with throats hoarse from shouting; joined in the chorus until the
welkin rang again.

The Rebels became excited, lest our exaltation of spirits would lead to
an assault upon the Stockade. They got under arms, and remained so until
the enthusiasm became less demonstrative.

A few days later–on the evening of the 6th of September–the Rebel
Sergeants who called the roll entered the Stockade, and each assembling
his squads, addressed them as follows:

“PRISONERS: I am instructed by General Winder to inform you that a
general exchange has been agreed upon. Twenty thousand men will be
exchanged immediately at Savannah, where your vessels are now waiting for
you. Detachments from One to Ten will prepare to leave early to-morrow

The excitement that this news produced was simply indescribable. I have
seen men in every possible exigency that can confront men, and a large
proportion viewed that which impended over them with at least outward
composure. The boys around me had endured all that we suffered with
stoical firmness. Groans from pain-racked bodies could not be repressed,
and bitter curses and maledictions against the Rebels leaped unbidden to
the lips at the slightest occasion, but there was no murmuring or
whining. There was not a day–hardly an hour–in which one did not see
such exhibitions of manly fortitude as made him proud of belonging to a
race of which every individual was a hero.

But the emotion which pain and suffering and danger could not develop,
joy could, and boys sang, and shouted and cried, and danced as if in a
delirium. “God’s country,” fairer than the sweet promised land of Canaan
appeared to the rapt vision of the Hebrew poet prophet, spread out in
glad vista before the mind’s eye of every one. It had come–at last it
had come that which we had so longed for, wished for, prayed for, dreamed
of; schemed, planned, toiled for, and for which went up the last earnest,
dying wish of the thousands of our comrades who would now know no
exchange save into that eternal “God’s country” where

Sickness and sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more.

Our “preparations,” for leaving were few and simple. When the morning
came, and shortly after the order to move, Andrews and I picked our well-
worn blanket, our tattered overcoat, our rude chessmen, and no less rude
board, our little black can, and the spoon made of hoop-iron, and bade
farewell to the hole-in-the-ground that had been our home for nearly
seven long months.

My feet were still in miserable condition from the lacerations received
in the attempt to escape, but I took one of our tent poles as a staff and
hobbled away. We re-passed the gates which we had entered on that
February night, ages since, it seemed, and crawled slowly over to the

I had come to regard the Rebels around us as such measureless liars that
my first impulse was to believe the reverse of anything they said to us;
and even now, while I hoped for the best, my old habit of mind was so
strongly upon me that I had some doubts of our going to be exchanged,
simply because it was a Rebel who had said so. But in the crowd of
Rebels who stood close to the road upon which we were walking was a young
Second Lieutenant, who said to a Colonel as I passed:

“Weil, those fellows can sing ‘Homeward Bound,’ can’t they?”

This set my last misgiving at rest. Now I was certain that we were going
to be exchanged, and my spirits soared to the skies.

Entering the cars we thumped and pounded toilsomely along, after the
manner of Southern railroads, at the rate of six or eight miles an hour.
Savannah was two hundred and forty miles away, and to our impatient minds
it seemed as if we would never get there. The route lay the whole
distance through the cheerless pine barrens which cover the greater part
of Georgia. The only considerable town on the way was Macon, which had
then a population of five thousand or thereabouts. For scores of miles
there would not be a sign of a human habitation, and in the one hundred
and eighty miles between Macon and Savannah there were only three
insignificant villages. There was a station every ten miles, at which
the only building was an open shed, to shelter from sun and rain a casual
passenger, or a bit of goods.

The occasional specimens of the poor white “cracker” population that we
saw, seemed indigenous products of the starved soil. They suited their
poverty-stricken surroundings as well as the gnarled and scrubby
vegetation suited the sterile sand. Thin-chested, round-shouldered,
scraggy-bearded, dull-eyed and open-mouthed, they all looked alike–all
looked as ignorant, as stupid, and as lazy as they were poor and weak.
They were “low-downers” in every respect, and made our rough and simple.
minded East Tennesseans look like models of elegant and cultured
gentlemen in contrast.

We looked on the poverty-stricken land with good-natured contempt, for we
thought we were leaving it forever, and would soon be in one which,
compared to it, was as the fatness at Egypt to the leanness of the desert
of Sinai.

The second day after leaving Andersonville our train struggled across the
swamps into Savannah, and rolled slowly down the live oak shaded streets
into the center of the City. It seemed like another Deserted Village,
so vacant and noiseless the streets, and the buildings everywhere so
overgrown with luxuriant vegetation: The limbs of the shade trees crashed
along and broke, upon the tops of our cars, as if no train had passed
that way for years. Through the interstices between the trees and clumps
of foliage could be seen the gleaming white marble of the monuments
erected to Greene and Pulaski, looking like giant tombstones in a City of
the Dead. The unbroken stillness–so different from what we expected on
entering the metropolis of Georgia, and a City that was an important port
in Revolutionary days–became absolutely oppressive. We could not
understand it, but our thoughts were more intent upon the coming transfer
to our flag than upon any speculation as to the cause of the remarkable
somnolence of Savannah.

Finally some little boys straggled out to where our car was standing, and
we opened up a conversation with them:

“Say, boys, are our vessels down in the harbor yet?”

The reply came in that piercing treble shriek in which a boy of ten or
twelve makes even his most confidential communications:

“I don’t know.”

“Well,” (with our confidence in exchange somewhat dashed,) “they intend
to exchange us here, don’t they?”

Another falsetto scream, “I don’t know.”

“Well,” (with something of a quaver in the questioner’s voice,) “what are
they going to do, with us, any way?”

“O,” (the treble shriek became almost demoniac) “they are fixing up a
place over by the old jail for you.”

What a sinking of hearts was there then! Andrews and I would not give up
hope so speedily as some others did, and resolved to believe, for awhile
at least, that we were going to be exchanged.

Ordered out of the cars, we were marched along the street. A crowd of
small boys, full of the curiosity of the animal, gathered around us as we
marched. Suddenly a door in a rather nice house opened; an angry-faced
woman appeared on the steps and shouted out:

“Boys! BOYS! What are you doin’ there! Come up on the steps immejitely!
Come away from them n-a-s-t-y things!”

I will admit that we were not prepossessing in appearance; nor were we as
cleanly as young gentlemen should habitually be; in fact, I may as well
confess that I would not now, if I could help it, allow a tramp, as
dilapidated in raiment, as unwashed, unshorn, uncombed, and populous with
insects as we were, to come within several rods of me. Nevertheless,
it was not pleasant to hear so accurate a description of our personal
appearance sent forth on the wings of the wind by a shrill-voiced Rebel

A short march brought us to the place “they were fixing for us by the old
jail.” It was another pen, with high walls of thick pine plank, which
told us only too plainly how vain were our expectations of exchange.

When we were turned inside, and I realized that the gates of another
prison had closed upon me, hope forsook me. I flung our odious little
possessions-our can, chess-board, overcoat, and blanket-upon the ground,
and, sitting down beside them, gave way to the bitterest despair.
I wanted to die, O, so badly. Never in all my life had I desired
anything in the world so much as I did now to get out of it. Had I had
pistol, knife, rope, or poison, I would have ended my prison life then
and there, and departed with the unceremoniousness of a French leave.
I remembered that I could get a quietus from a guard with very little
trouble, but I would not give one of the bitterly hated Rebels the
triumph of shooting me. I longed to be another Samson, with the whole
Southern Confederacy gathered in another Temple of Dagon, that I might
pull down the supporting pillars, and die happy in slaying thousands of
my enemies.

While I was thus sinking deeper and deeper in the Slough of Despond, the
firing of a musket, and the shriek of the man who was struck, attracted
my attention. Looking towards the opposite end of the, pen I saw a guard
bringing his still smoking musket to a “recover arms,” and, not fifteen
feet from him, a prisoner lying on the ground in the agonies of death.
The latter had a pipe in his mouth when he was shot, and his teeth still
clenched its stem. His legs and arms were drawn up convulsively, and he
was rocking backward and forward on his back. The charge had struck him
just above the hip-bone.

The Rebel officer in command of the guard was sitting on his horse inside
the pen at the time, and rode forward to see what the matter was.
Lieutenant Davis, who had come with us from Andersonville, was also
sitting on a horse inside the prison, and he called out in his usual
harsh, disagreeable voice:

“That’s all right, Cunnel; the man’s done just as I awdahed him to.”

I found that lying around inside were a number of bits of plank–each
about five feet long, which had been sawed off by the carpenters engaged
in building the prison. The ground being a bare common, was destitute of
all shelter, and the pieces looked as if they would be quite useful in
building a tent. There may have been an order issued forbidding the
prisoners to touch them, but if so, I had not heard it, and I imagine the
first intimation to the prisoner just killed that the boards were not to
be taken was the bullet which penetrated his vitals. Twenty-five cents
would be a liberal appraisement of the value of the lumber for which the
boy lost his life.

Half an hour afterward we thought we saw all the guards march out of the
front gate. There was still another pile of these same kind of pieces of
board lying at the further side of the prison. The crowd around me
noticed it, and we all made a rush for it. In spite of my lame feet I
outstripped the rest, and was just in the act of stooping down to pick
the boards up when a loud yell from those behind startled me. Glancing
to my left I saw a guard cocking his gun and bringing it up to shoot me.
With one frightened spring, as quick as a flash, and before he could
cover me, I landed fully a rod back in the crowd, and mixed with it.
The fellow tried hard to draw a bead on me, but I was too quick for him,
and he finally lowered his gun with an oath expressive of disappointment
in not being able to kill a Yankee.

Walking back to my place the full ludicrousness of the thing dawned upon
me so forcibly that I forgot all about my excitement and scare, and
laughed aloud. Here, not an hour age I was murmuring because I could
find no way to die; I sighed for death as a bridegroom for the coming of
his bride, an yet, when a Rebel had pointed his gun at me, it had nearly
scared me out of a year’s growth, and made me jump farther than I could
possibly do when my feet were well, and I was in good condition



Andrews and I did not let the fate of the boy who was killed, nor my own
narrow escape from losing the top of my head, deter us from farther
efforts to secure possession of those coveted boards. My readers
remember the story of the boy who, digging vigorously at a hole, replied
to the remark of a passing traveler that there was probably no ground-hog
there, and, even if there was, “ground-hog was mighty poor eatin’, any
way,” with:

“Mister, there’s got to be a ground-hog there; our family’s out o’ meat!”

That was what actuated us: we were out of material for a tent. Our
solitary blanket had rotted and worn full of holes by its long double
duty, as bed-clothes and tent at Andersonville, and there was an
imperative call for a substitute.

Andrews and I flattered ourselves that when we matched our collective or
individual wits against those of a Johnny his defeat was pretty certain,
and with this cheerful estimate of our own powers to animate us, we set
to work to steal the boards from under the guard’s nose. The Johnny had
malice in his heart and buck-and-ball in his musket, but his eyes were
not sufficiently numerous to adequately discharge all the duties laid
upon him. He had too many different things to watch at the same time.
I would approach a gap in the fence not yet closed as if I intended
making a dash through it for liberty, and when the Johnny had
concentrated all his attention on letting me have the contents of his gun
just as soon as he could have a reasonable excuse for doing so, Andrews
would pick u a couple of boards and slip away with them. Then I would
fall back in pretended (and some real) alarm, and–Andrew would come up
and draw his attention by a similar feint, while I made off with a couple
more pieces. After a few hours c this strategy, we found ourselves the
possessors of some dozen planks, with which we made a lean-to, that
formed a tolerable shelter for our heads and the upper portion of our
bodies. As the boards were not over five feet long, and the slope reduce
the sheltered space to about four-and-one-half feet, it left the lower
part of our naked feet and legs to project out-of-doors. Andrews used to
lament very touchingly the sunburning his toe-nails were receiving.
He knew that his complexion was being ruined for life, and all the Balm
of a Thousand Flowers in the world would not restore his comely ankles to
that condition of pristine loveliness which would admit of their
introduction into good society again. Another defect was that, like the
fun in a practical joke, it was all on one side; there was not enough of
it to go clear round. It was very unpleasant, when a storm came up in a
direction different from that we had calculated upon, to be compelled to
get out in the midst of it, and build our house over to face the other

Still we had a tent, and were that much better off than three-fourths of
our comrades who had no shelter at all. We were owners of a brown stone
front on Fifth Avenue compared to the other fellows.

Our tent erected, we began a general survey of our new abiding place.
The ground was a sandy common in the outskirts of Savannah. The sand was
covered with a light sod. The Rebels, who knew nothing of our burrowing
propensities, had neglected to make the plank forming the walls of the
Prison project any distance below the surface of the ground, and had put
up no Dead Line around the inside; so that it looked as if everything was
arranged expressly to invite us to tunnel out. We were not the boys to
neglect such an invitation. By night about three thousand had been
received from Andersonville, and placed inside. When morning came it
looked as if a colony of gigantic rats had been at work. There was a
tunnel every ten or fifteen feet, and at least twelve hundred of us had
gone out through them during the night. I never understood why all in
the pen did not follow our example, and leave the guards watching a
forsaken Prison. There was nothing to prevent it. An hour’s industrious
work with a half-canteen would take any one outside, or if a boy was too
lazy to dig his own tunnel, he could have the use of one of the hundred
others that had been dug.

But escaping was only begun when the Stockade was passed. The site of
Savannah is virtually an island. On the north is the Savannah River; to
the east, southeast and south, are the two Ogeechee rivers, and a chain
of sounds and lagoons connecting with the Atlantic Ocean. To the west is
a canal connecting the Savannah and Big Ogeechee Rivers. We found
ourselves headed off by water whichever way we went. All the bridges
were guarded, and all the boats destroyed. Early in the morning the
Rebels discovered our absence, and the whole garrison of Savannah was
sent out on patrol after us. They picked up the boys in squads of from
ten to thirty, lurking around the shores of the streams waiting for night
to come, to get across, or engaged in building rafts for transportation.
By evening the whole mob of us were back in the pen again. As nobody was
punished for running away, we treated the whole affair as a lark, and
those brought back first stood around the gate and yelled derisively as
the others came in.

That night big fires were built all around the Stockade, and a line of
guards placed on the ground inside of these. In spite of this
precaution, quite a number escaped. The next day a Dead Line was put up
inside of the Prison, twenty feet from the Stockade. This only increased
the labor of burrowing, by making us go farther. Instead of being able
to tunnel out in an hour, it now took three or four hours. That night
several hundred of us, rested from our previous performance, and hopeful
of better luck, brought our faithful half canteens–now scoured very
bright by constant use-into requisition again, and before the morning.
dawned we had gained the high reeds of the swamps, where we lay concealed
until night.

In this way we managed to evade the recapture that came to most of those
who went out, but it was a fearful experience. Having been raised in a
country where venomous snakes abounded, I had that fear and horror of
them that inhabitants of those districts feel, and of which people living
in sections free from such a scourge know little. I fancied that the
Southern swamps were filled with all forms of loathsome and poisonous
reptiles, and it required all my courage to venture into them barefooted.
Besides, the snags and roots hurt our feet fearfully. Our hope was to
find a boat somewhere, in which we could float out to sea, and trust to
being picked up by some of the blockading fleet. But no boat could we
find, with all our painful and diligent search. We learned afterward
that the Rebels made a practice of breaking up all the boats along the
shore to prevent negros and their own deserters from escaping to the
blockading fleet. We thought of making a raft of logs, but had we had
the strength to do this, we would doubtless have thought it too risky,
since we dreaded missing the vessels, and being carried out to sea to
perish of hunger. During the night we came to the railroad bridge
across the Ogeechee. We had some slender hope that, if we could reach
this we might perhaps get across the river, and find better opportunities
for escape. But these last expectations were blasted by the discovery
that it was guarded. There was a post and a fire on the shore next us,
and a single guard with a lantern was stationed on one of the middle
spans. Almost famished with hunger, and so weary and footsore that we
could scarcely move another step, we went back to a cleared place on the
high ground, and laid down to sleep, entirely reckless as to what became
of us. Late in the morning we were awakened by the Rebel patrol and
taken back to the prison. Lieutenant Davis, disgusted with the perpetual
attempts to escape, moved the Dead Line out forty feet from the Stockade;
but this restricted our room greatly, since the number of prisoners in
the pen had now risen to about six thousand, and, besides, it offered
little additional protection against tunneling.

It was not much more difficult to dig fifty feet than it had been to dig
thirty feet. Davis soon realized this, and put the Dead Line back to
twenty feet. His next device was a much more sensible one. A crowd of
one hundred and fifty negros dug a trench twenty feet wide and five feet
deep around the whole prison on the outside, and this ditch was filled
with water from the City Water Works. No one could cross this without
attracting the attention of the guards.

Still we were not discouraged, and Andrews and I joined a crowd that was
constructing a large tunnel from near our quarters on the east side of
the pen. We finished the burrow to within a few inches of the edge of
the ditch, and then ceased operations, to await some stormy night, when
we could hope to get across the ditch unnoticed.

Orders were issued to guards to fire without warning on men who were
observed to be digging or carrying out dirt after nightfall. They
occasionally did so, but the risk did not keep anyone from tunneling.
Our tunnel ran directly under a sentry box. When carrying dirt away the
bearer of the bucket had to turn his back on the guard and walk directly
down the street in front of him, two hundred or three hundred feet, to
the center of the camp, where he scattered the sand around–so as to give
no indication of where it came from. Though we always waited till the
moon went down, it seemed as if, unless the guard were a fool, both by
nature and training, he could not help taking notice of what was going on
under his eyes. I do not recall any more nervous promenades in my life,
than those when, taking my turn, I received my bucket of sand at the
mouth of the tunnel, and walked slowly away with it. The most
disagreeable part was in turning my back to the guard. Could I have
faced him, I had sufficient confidence in my quickness of perception,
and talents as a dodger, to imagine that I could make it difficult for
him to hit me. But in walling with my back to him I was wholly at his
mercy. Fortune, however, favored us, and we were allowed to go on with
our work–night after night–without a shot.

In the meanwhile another happy thought slowly gestated in Davis’s alleged
intellect. How he came to give birth to two ideas with no more than a
week between them, puzzled all who knew him, and still more that he
survived this extraordinary strain upon the gray matter of the cerebrum.
His new idea was to have driven a heavily-laden mule cart around the
inside of the Dead Line at least once a day. The wheels or the mule’s
feet broke through the thin sod covering the tunnels and exposed them.
Our tunnel went with the rest, and those of our crowd who wore shoes had
humiliation added to sorrow by being compelled to go in and spade the
hole full of dirt. This put an end to subterranean engineering.

One day one of the boys watched his opportunity, got under the ration
wagon, and clinging close to the coupling pole with hands and feet, was
carried outside. He was detected, however, as he came from under the
wagon, and brought back.



One of the shrewdest and nearest successful attempts to escape that came
under my notice was that of my friend Sergeant Frank Reverstock, of the
Third West Virginia Cavalry, of whom I have before spoken. Frank, who
was quite small, with a smooth boyish face, had converted to his own use
a citizen’s coat, belonging to a young boy, a Sutler’s assistant, who had
died in Andersonville. He had made himself a pair of bag pantaloons and
a shirt from pieces of meal sacks which he had appropriated from day to
day. He had also the Sutler’s assistant’s shoes, and, to crown all, he
wore on his head one of those hideous looking hats of quilted calico
which the Rebels had taken to wearing in the lack of felt hats, which
they could neither make nor buy. Altogether Frank looked enough like a
Rebel to be dangerous to trust near a country store or a stable full of
horses. When we first arrived in the prison quite a crowd of the
Savannahians rushed in to inspect us. The guards had some difficulty in
keeping them and us separate. While perplexed with this annoyance, one
of them saw Frank standing in our crowd, and, touching him with his
bayonet, said, with some sharpness:

“See heah; you must stand back; you musn’t crowd on them prisoners so.”,

Frank stood back. He did it promptly but calmly, and then, as if his
curiosity as to Yankees was fully satisfied, he walked slowly away up the
street, deliberating as he went on a plan for getting out of the City.
He hit upon an excellent one. Going to the engineer of a freight train
making ready to start back to Macon, he told him that his father was
working in the Confederate machine shops at Griswoldville, near Macon;
that he himself was also one of the machinists employed there, and
desired to go thither but lacked the necessary means to pay his passage.
If the engineer would let him ride up on the engine he would do work
enough to pay the fare. Frank told the story ingeniously, the engineer
and firemen were won over, and gave their consent.

No more zealous assistant ever climbed upon a tender than Frank proved to
be. He loaded wood with a nervous industry, that stood him in place of
great strength. He kept the tender in perfect order, and anticipated,
as far as possible, every want of the engineer and his assistant. They
were delighted with him, and treated him with the greatest kindness,
dividing their food with him, and insisting that he should share their
bed when they “laid by” for the night. Frank would have gladly declined
this latter kindness with thanks, as he was conscious that the quantity
of “graybacks” his clothing contained did not make him a very desirable
sleeping companion for any one, but his friends were so pressing that he
was compelled to accede.

His greatest trouble was a fear of recognition by some one of the
prisoners that were continually passing by the train load, on their way
from Andersonville to other prisons. He was one of the best known of the
prisoners in Andersonville; bright, active, always cheerful, and forever
in motion during waking hours,–every one in the Prison speedily became
familiar with him, and all addressed him as “Sergeant Frankie.” If any
one on the passing trains had caught a glimpse of him, that glimpse would
have been followed almost inevitably with a shout of:

“Hello, Sergeant Frankie! What are you doing there?”

Then the whole game would have been up. Frank escaped this by persistent
watchfulness, and by busying himself on the opposite side of the engine,
with his back turned to the other trains.

At last when nearing Griswoldville, Frank, pointing to a large white
house at some distance across the fields, said:

“Now, right over there is where my uncle lives, and I believe I’ll just
run over and see him, and then walk into Griswoldville.”

He thanked his friends fervently for their kindness, promised to call and
see them frequently, bade them good by, and jumped off the train.

He walked towards the white house as long as he thought he could be seen,
and then entered a large corn field and concealed himself in a thicket in
the center of it until dark, when he made his way to the neighboring
woods, and began journeying northward as fast as his legs could carry
him. When morning broke he had made good progress, but was terribly
tired. It was not prudent to travel by daylight, so he gathered himself
some ears of corn and some berries, of which he made his breakfast, and
finding a suitable thicket he crawled into it, fell asleep, and did not
wake up until late in the afternoon.

After another meal of raw corn and berries he resumed his journey, and
that night made still better progress.

He repeated this for several days and nights–lying in the woods in the
day time, traveling by night through woods, fields, and by-paths avoiding
all the fords, bridges and main roads, and living on what he could glean
from the fields, that he might not take even so much risk as was involved
in going to the negro cabins for food.

But there are always flaws in every man’s armor of caution–even in so
perfect a one as Frank’s. His complete success so far had the natural
effect of inducing a growing carelessness, which wrought his ruin.
One evening he started off briskly, after a refreshing rest and sleep.
He knew that he must be very near Sherman’s lines, and hope cheered him
up with the belief that his freedom would soon be won.

Descending from the hill, in whose dense brushwood he had made his bed
all day, he entered a large field full of standing corn, and made his way
between the rows until he reached, on the other side, the fence that
separated it from the main road, across which was another corn-field,
that Frank intended entering.

But he neglected his usual precautions on approaching a road, and instead
of coming up cautiously and carefully reconnoitering in all directions
before he left cover, he sprang boldly over the fence and strode out for
the other side. As he reached the middle of the road, his ears were
assailed with the sharp click of a musket being cocked, and the harsh

“Halt! halt, dah, I say!”

Turning with a start to his left he saw not ten feet from him, a mounted
patrol, the sound of whose approach had been masked by the deep dust of
the road, into which his horse’s hoofs sank noiselessly.

Frank, of course, yielded without a word, and when sent to the officer in
command he told the old story about his being an employee of the
Griswoldville shops, off on a leave of absence to make a visit to sick
relatives. But, unfortunately, his captors belonged to that section
themselves, and speedily caught him in a maze of cross-questioning from
which he could not extricate himself. It also became apparent from his
language that he was a Yankee, and it was not far from this to the
conclusion that he was a spy–a conclusion to which the proximity of
Sherman’s lines, then less than twenty miles distant-greatly assisted.

By the next morning this belief had become so firmly fixed in the minds
of the Rebels that Frank saw a halter dangling alarmingly near, and he
concluded the wisest plan was to confess who he really was.

It was not the smallest of his griefs to realize by how slight a chance
he had failed. Had he looked down the road before he climbed the fence,
or had he been ten minutes earlier or later, the patrol would not have
been there, he could have gained the next field unperceived, and two more
nights of successful progress would have taken him into Sherman’s lines
at Sand Mountain. The patrol which caught him was on the look-out for
deserters and shirking conscripts, who had become unusually numerous
since the fall of Atlanta.

He was sent back to us at Savannah. As he came into the prison gate
Lieutenant Davis was standing near. He looked sternly at Frank and his
Rebel garments, and muttering,

“By God, I’ll stop this!” caught the coat by the tails, tore it to the
collar, and took it and his hat away from Frank.

There was a strange sequel to this episode. A few weeks afterward a
special exchange for ten thousand was made, and Frank succeeded in being
included in this. He was given the usual furlough from the paroled camp
at Annapolis, and went to his home in a little town near Mansfield, O.

One day while on the cars going–I think to Newark, O., he saw Lieutenant
Davis on the train, in citizens’ clothes. He had been sent by the Rebel
Government to Canada with dispatches relating to some of the raids then
harassing our Northern borders. Davis was the last man in the world to
successfully disguise himself. He had a large, coarse mouth, that made
him remembered by all who had ever seen him. Frank recognized him
instantly and said:

“You are Lieutenant Davis?”

Davis replied:

“You are totally mistaken, sah, I am —–”

Frank insisted that he was right. Davis fumed and blustered, but though
Frank was small, he was as game as a bantam rooster, and he gave Davis to
understand that there had been a vast change in their relative positions;
that the one, while still the same insolent swaggerer, had not regiments
of infantry or batteries of artillery to emphasize his insolence, and the
other was no longer embarrassed in the discussion by the immense odds in
favor of his jailor opponent.

After a stormy scene Frank called in the assistance of some other
soldiers in the car, arrested Davis, and took him to Camp Chase–near
Columbus, O.,–where he was fully identified by a number of paroled
prisoners. He was searched, and documents showing the nature of his
mission beyond a doubt, were found upon his person.

A court martial was immediately convened for his trial.

This found him guilty, and sentenced him to be hanged as a spy.

At the conclusion of the trial Frank stepped up to the prisoner and said:

“Mr. Davis, I believe we’re even on that coat, now.”

Davis was sent to Johnson’s Island for execution, but influences were
immediately set at work to secure Executive clemency. What they were
I know not, but I am informed by the Rev. Robert McCune, who was then
Chaplain of the One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Ohio Infantry and the Post
of Johnson’s Island and who was the spiritual adviser appointed to
prepare Davis for execution, that the sentence was hardly pronounced
before Davis was visited by an emissary, who told him to dismiss his
fears, that he should not suffer the punishment.

It is likely that leading Baltimore Unionists were enlisted in his behalf
through family connections, and as the Border State Unionists were then
potent at Washington, they readily secured a commutation of his sentence
to imprisonment during the war.

It seems that the justice of this world is very unevenly dispensed when
so much solicitude is shown for the life of such a man, and none at all
for the much better men whom he assisted to destroy.

The official notice of the commutation of the sentence was not published
until the day set for the execution, but the certain knowledge that it
would be forthcoming enabled Davis to display a great deal of bravado on
approaching what was supposed to be his end. As the reader can readily
imagine, from what I have heretofore said of him, Davis was the man to
improve to the utmost every opportunity to strut his little hour, and he
did it in this instance. He posed, attitudinized and vapored, so that
the camp and the country were filled with stories of the wonderful
coolness with which he contemplated his approaching fate.

Among other things he said to his guard, as he washed himself elaborately
the night before the day announced for the execution:

“Well, you can be sure of one thing; to-morrow night there will certainly
be one clean corpse on this Island.”

Unfortunately for his braggadocio, he let it leak out in some way that he
had been well aware all the time that he would not be executed.

He was taken to Fort Delaware for confinement, and died there some time

Frank Beverstock went back to his regiment, and served with it until the
close of the war. He then returned home, and, after awhile became a
banker at Bowling Green, O. He was a fine business man and became very
prosperous. But though naturally healthy and vigorous, his system
carried in it the seeds of death, sown there by the hardships of
captivity. He had been one of the victims of the Rebels’ vaccination;
the virus injected into his blood had caused a large part of his right
temple to slough off, and when it healed it left a ghastly cicatrix.

Two years ago he was taken suddenly ill, and died before his friends had
any idea that his condition was serious.



After all Savannah was a wonderful improvement on Andersonville.
We got away from the pestilential Swamp and that poisonous ground.
Every mouthful of air was not laden with disease germs, nor every cup of
water polluted with the seeds of death. The earth did not breed
gangrene, nor the atmosphere promote fever. As only the more vigorous
had come away, we were freed from the depressing spectacle of every third
man dying. The keen disappointment prostrated very many who had been of
average health, and I imagine, several hundred died, but there were
hospital arrangements of some kind, and the sick were taken away from
among us. Those of us who tunneled out had an opportunity of stretching
our legs, which we had not had for months in the overcrowded Stockade we
had left. The attempts to escape did all engaged in them good, even
though they failed, since they aroused new ideas and hopes, set the blood
into more rapid circulation, and toned up the mind and system both.
I had come away from Andersonville with considerable scurvy manifesting
itself in my gums and feet. Soon these signs almost wholly disappeared.

We also got away from those murderous little brats of Reserves,
who guarded us at Andersonville, and shot men down as they would stone
apples out of a tree. Our guards now were mostly, sailors, from the
Rebel fleet in the harbor–Irishmen, Englishmen and Scandinavians, as
free hearted and kindly as sailors always are. I do not think they ever
fired a shot at one of us. The only trouble we had was with that portion
of the guard drawn from the infantry of the garrison. They had the same
rattlesnake venom of the Home Guard crowd wherever we met it, and shot us
down at the least provocation. Fortunately they only formed a small part
of the sentinels.

Best of all, we escaped for a while from the upas-like shadow of Winder
and Wirz, in whose presence strong men sickened and died, as when near
some malign genii of an Eastern story. The peasantry of Italy believed
firmly in the evil eye. Did they ever know any such men as Winder and
his satellite, I could comprehend how much foundation they could have for
such a belief.

Lieutenant Davis had many faults, but there was no comparison between him
and the Andersonville commandant. He was a typical young Southern man;
ignorant and bumptious as to the most common matters of school-boy
knowledge, inordinately vain of himself and his family, coarse in tastes
and thoughts, violent in his prejudices, but after all with some streaks
of honor and generosity that made the widest possible difference between
him and Wirz, who never had any. As one of my chums said to me:

“Wirz is the most even-tempered man I ever knew; he’s always foaming

This was nearly the truth. I never saw Wirz when he was not angry;
if not violently abusive, he was cynical and sardonic. Never, in my
little experience with him did I detect a glint of kindly, generous
humanity; if he ever was moved by any sight of suffering its exhibition
in his face escaped my eye. If he ever had even a wish to mitigate the
pain or hardship of any man the expression of such wish never fell on my
ear. How a man could move daily through such misery as he encountered,
and never be moved by it except to scorn and mocking is beyond my limited

Davis vapored a great deal, swearing big round oaths in the broadest of
Southern patois; he was perpetually threatening to:

“Open on ye wid de ahtillery,” but the only death that I knew him to
directly cause or sanction was that I have described in the previous
chapter. He would not put himself out of the way to annoy and oppress
prisoners, as Wirz would, but frequently showed even a disposition to
humor them in some little thing, when it could be done without danger or
trouble to himself.

By-and-by, however, he got an idea that there was some money to be made
out of the prisoners, and he set his wits to work in this direction.
One day, standing at the gate, he gave one of his peculiar yells that he
used to attract the attention of the camp with:


We all came to “attention,” and he announced:

“Yesterday, while I wuz in the camps (a Rebel always says camps,) some of
you prisoners picked my pockets of seventy-five dollars in greenbacks.
Now, I give you notice that I’ll not send in any moah rations till the
money’s returned to me.”

This was a very stupid method of extortion, since no one believed that he
had lost the money, and at all events he had no business to have the
greenbacks, as the Rebel laws imposed severe penalties upon any citizen,
and still more upon any soldier dealing with, or having in his possession
any of “the money of the enemy.” We did without rations until night,
when they were sent in. There was a story that some of the boys in the
prison had contributed to make up part of the sum, and Davis took it and
was satisfied. I do not know how true the story was. At another time
some of the boys stole the bridle and halter off an old horse that was
driven in with a cart. The things were worth, at a liberal estimate,
one dollar. Davis cut off the rations of the whole six thousand of us
for one day for this. We always imagined that the proceeds went into his

A special exchange was arranged between our Navy Department and that of
the Rebels, by which all seamen and marines among us were exchanged.
Lists of these were sent to the different prisons and the men called for.
About three-fourths of them were dead, but many soldiers divining, the
situation of affairs, answered to the dead men’s names, went away with
the squad and were exchanged. Much of this was through the connivance of
the Rebel officers, who favored those who had ingratiated themselves with
them. In many instances money was paid to secure this privilege, and I
have been informed on good authority that Jack Huckleby, of the Eighth
Tennessee, and Ira Beverly, of the One Hundredth Ohio, who kept the big
sutler shop on the North Side at Andersonville, paid Davis five hundred
dollars each to be allowed to go with the sailors. As for Andrews and
me, we had no friends among the Rebels, nor money to bribe with, so we
stood no show.

The rations issued to us for some time after our arrival seemed riotous
luxury to what we had been getting at Andersonville. Each of us received
daily a half-dozen rude and coarse imitations of our fondly-remembered
hard tack, and with these a small piece of meat or a few spoonfuls of
molasses, and a quart or so of vinegar, and several plugs of tobacco for
each “hundred.” How exquisite was the taste of the crackers and
It was the first wheat bread I had eaten since my entry into Richmond–
nine months before–and molasses had been a stranger to me for years.
After the corn bread we had so long lived upon, this was manna. It seems
that the Commissary at Savannah labored under the delusion that he must
issue to us the same rations as were served out to the Rebel soldiers and
sailors. It was some little time before the fearful mistake came to the
knowledge of Winder. I fancy that the news almost threw him into an
apoplectic fit. Nothing, save his being ordered to the front, could have
caused him such poignant sorrow as the information that so much good food
had been worse than wasted in undoing his work by building up the bodies
of his hated enemies.

Without being told, we knew that he had been heard from when the tobacco,
vinegar and molasses failed to come in, and the crackers gave way to corn
meal. Still this was a vast improvement on Andersonville, as the meal
was fine and sweet, and we each had a spoonful of salt issued to us

I am quite sure that I cannot make the reader who has not had an
experience similar to ours comprehend the wonderful importance to us of
that spoonful of salt. Whether or not the appetite for salt be, as some
scientists claim, a purely artificial want, one thing is certain, and
that is, that either the habit of countless generations or some other
cause, has so deeply ingrained it into our common nature, that it has
come to be nearly as essential as food itself, and no amount of
deprivation can accustom us to its absence. Rather, it seemed that the
longer we did without it the more overpowering became our craving.
I could get along to-day and to-morrow, perhaps the whole week, without
salt in my food, since the lack would be supplied from the excess I had
already swallowed, but at the end of that time Nature would begin to
demand that I renew the supply of saline constituent of my tissues, and
she would become more clamorous with every day that I neglected her
bidding, and finally summon Nausea to aid Longing.

The light artillery of the garrison of Savannah–four batteries, twenty-
four pieces–was stationed around three sides of the prison, the guns
unlimbered, planted at convenient distance, and trained upon us, ready
for instant use. We could see all the grinning mouths through the cracks
in the fence. There were enough of them to send us as high as the
traditional kite flown by Gilderoy. The having at his beck this array of
frowning metal lent Lieutenant Davis such an importance in his own eyes
that his demeanor swelled to the grandiose. It became very amusing to
see him puff up and vaunt over it, as he did on every possible occasion.
For instance, finding a crowd of several hundred lounging around the
gate, he would throw open the wicket, stalk in with the air of a Jove
threatening a rebellious world with the dread thunders of heaven, and

“W-h-a-a y-e-e! Prisoners, I give you jist two minutes to cleah away
from this gate, aw I’ll open on ye wid de ahtillery!”

One of the buglers of the artillery was a superb musician–evidently some
old “regular” whom the Confederacy had seduced into its service, and his
instrument was so sweet toned that we imagined that it was made of
silver. The calls he played were nearly the same as we used in the
cavalry, and for the first few days we became bitterly homesick every
time he sent ringing out the old familiar signals, that to us were so
closely associated with what now seemed the bright and happy days when we
were in the field with our battalion. If we were only back in the
valleys of Tennessee with what alacrity we would respond to that
“assembly;” no Orderly’s patience would be worn out in getting laggards
and lazy ones to “fall in for roll-call;” how eagerly we would attend to
“stable duty;” how gladly mount our faithful horses and ride away to
“water,” and what bareback races ride, going and coming. We would be
even glad to hear “guard” and “drill” sounded; and there would be music
in the disconsolate “surgeon’s call:”

“Come-get-your-q-n-i-n-i-n-e; come, get your quinine; It’ll make you
sad: It’ll make you sick. Come, come.”

O, if we were only back, what admirable soldiers we would be!
One morning, about three or four o’clock, we were awakened by the ground
shaking and a series of heavy, dull thumps sounding oft seaward.
Our silver-voiced bugler seemed to be awakened, too. He set the echoes
ringing with a vigorously played “reveille;” a minute later came an
equally earnest “assembly,” and when “boots and saddles” followed, we
knew that all was not well in Denmark; the thumping and shaking now had
a significance. It meant heavy Yankee guns somewhere near. We heard the
gunners hitching up; the bugle signal “forward,” the wheels roll off,
and for a half hour afterwards we caught the receding sound of the bugle
commanding “right turn,” “left turn,” etc., as the batteries marched
away. Of course, we became considerably wrought up over the matter,
as we fancied that, knowing we were in Savannah, our vessels were trying
to pass up to the City and take it. The thumping and shaking continued
until late in the afternoon.

We subsequently learned that some of our blockaders, finding time banging
heavy upon their hands, had essayed a little diversion by knocking Forts
Jackson and Bledsoe–two small forts defending the passage of the
Savannah–about their defenders’ ears. After capturing the forts our
folks desisted and came no farther.

Quite a number of the old Raider crowd had come with us from
Andersonville. Among these was the shyster, Peter Bradley. They kept up
their old tactics of hanging around the gates, and currying favor with
the Rebels in every possible way, in hopes to get paroles outside or
other favors. The great mass of the prisoners were so bitter against the
Rebels as to feel that they would rather die than ask or accept a favor
from their hands, and they had little else than contempt for these
trucklers. The raider crowd’s favorite theme of conversation with the
Rebels was the strong discontent of the boys with the manner of their
treatment by our Government. The assertion that there was any such
widespread feeling was utterly false. We all had confidence–as we
continue to have to this day–that our Government would do everything for
us possible, consistent with its honor, and the success of military
operations, and outside of the little squad of which I speak, not an
admission could be extracted from anybody that blame could be attached to
any one, except the Rebels. It was regarded as unmanly and unsoldier-
like to the last degree, as well as senseless, to revile our Government
for the crimes committed by its foes.

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

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.

“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



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

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.

Still another distinction that was always noticeable between the two
armies was in the bodily bearing of the men. The Army of the Potomac was
drilled more rigidly than the Western men, and had comparatively few long
marches. Its members had something of the stiffness and precision of
English and German soldiery, while the Western boys had the long,
“reachy” stride, and easy swing that made forty miles a day a rather
commonplace march for an infantry regiment.

This was why we knew the new prisoners to be Sherman’s boys as soon as
they came inside, and we started for them to hear the news. Inviting
them over to our lean-to, we told them our anxiety for the story of the
decisive blow that gave us the Central Gate of the Confederacy, and asked
them to give it to us.



An intelligent, quick-eyed, sunburned boy, without an ounce of surplus
flesh on face or limbs, which had been reduced to gray-hound condition by
the labors and anxieties of the months of battling between Chattanooga
and Atlanta, seemed to be the accepted talker of the crowd, since all the
rest looked at him, as if expecting him to answer for them. He did so:

“You want to know about how we got Atlanta at last, do you? Well, if you
don’t know, I should think you would want to. If I didn’t, I’d want
somebody to tell me all about it just as soon as he could get to me, for
it was one of the neatest little bits of work that ‘old Billy’ and his
boys ever did, and it got away with Hood so bad that he hardly knew what
hurt him.

“Well, first, I’ll tell you that we belong to the old Fourteenth Ohio
Volunteers, which, if you know anything about the Army of the Cumberland,
you’ll remember has just about as good a record as any that trains around
old Pap Thomas–and he don’t ‘low no slouches of any kind near him,
either–you can bet $500 to a cent on that, and offer to give back the
cent if you win. Ours is Jim Steedman’s old regiment–you’ve all heard
of old Chickamauga Jim, who slashed his division of 7,000 fresh men into
the Rebel flank on the second day at Chickamauga, in a way that made
Longstreet wish he’d staid on the Rappahannock, and never tried to get up
any little sociable with the Westerners. If I do say it myself, I
believe we’ve got as good a crowd of square, stand-up, trust’em-every-
minute-in-your-life boys, as ever thawed hard-tack and sowbelly. We got
all the grunters and weak sisters fanned out the first year, and since
then we’ve been on a business basis, all the time. We’re in a mighty
good brigade, too. Most of the regiments have been with us since we
formed the first brigade Pap Thomas ever commanded, and waded with him
through the mud of Kentucky, from Wild Cat to Mill Springs, where he gave
Zollicoffer just a little the awfulest thrashing that a Rebel General
ever got. That, you know, was in January, 1862, and was the first
victory gained by the Western Army, and our people felt so rejoiced over
it that–”

“Yes, yes; we’ve read all about that,” we broke in, “and we’d like to
hear it again, some other time; but tell us now about Atlanta.”

“All right. Let’s see: where was I? O, yes, talking about our brigade.
It is the Third Brigade, of the Third Division, of the Fourteenth Corps,
and is made up of the Fourteenth Ohio, Thirty-eighth Ohio, Tenth
Kentucky, and Seventy-fourth Indiana. Our old Colonel–George P. Este–
commands it. We never liked him very well in camp, but I tell you he’s a
whole team in a fight, and he’d do so well there that all would take to
him again, and he’d be real popular for a while.”

“Now, isn’t that strange,” broke in Andrews, who was given to fits of
speculation of psychological phenomena: “None of us yearn to die, but the
surest way to gain the affection of the boys is to show zeal in leading
them into scrapes where the chances of getting shot are the best.
Courage in action, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. I have
known it to make the most unpopular man in the battalion, the most
popular inside of half an hour. Now, M.(addressing himself to me,) you
remember Lieutenant H., of our battalion. You know he was a very fancy
young fellow; wore as snipish’ clothes as the tailor could make, had gold
lace on his jacket wherever the regulations would allow it, decorated his
shoulders with the stunningest pair of shoulder knots I ever saw, and so
on. Well, he did not stay with us long after we went to the front. He
went back on a detail for a court martial, and staid a good while. When
he rejoined us, he was not in good odor, at all, and the boys weren’t at
all careful in saying unpleasant things when he could hear them, A little
while after he came back we made that reconnaissance up on the Virginia
Road. We stirred up the Johnnies with our skirmish line, and while the
firing was going on in front we sat on our horses in line, waiting for
the order to move forward and engage. You know how solemn such moments
are. I looked down the line and saw Lieutenant H.
at the right of Company–, in command of it. I had not seen him since he
came back, and I sung out:

“‘Hello, Lieutenant, how do you feel?’

“The reply came back, promptly, and with boyish cheerfulness:

“‘Bully, by —-; I’m going to lead seventy men of Company into action

“How his boys did cheer him. When the bugle sounded–‘forward, trot,’
company sailed in as if they meant it, and swept the Johnnies off in
short meter. You never heard anybody say anything against Lieutenant
after that.”

“You know how it was with Captain G., of our regiment,” said one of the
Fourteenth to another. “He was promoted from Orderly Sergeant to a
Second Lieutenant, and assigned to Company D. All the members of Company
D went to headquarters in a body, and protested against his being put in
their company, and he was not. Well, he behaved so well at Chickamauga
that the boys saw that they had done him a great injustice, and all those
that still lived went again to headquarters, and asked to take all back
that they had said, and to have him put into the company.”

“Well, that was doing the manly thing, sure; but go on about Atlanta.”

“I was telling about our brigade,” resumed the narrator. “Of course, we
think our regiment’s the best by long odds in the army–every fellow
thinks that of his regiment–but next to it come the other regiments of
our brigade. There’s not a cent of discount on any of them.

“Sherman had stretched out his right away to the south and west of
Atlanta. About the middle of August our corps, commanded by Jefferson C.
Davis, was lying in works at Utoy Creek, a couple of miles from Atlanta.
We could see the tall steeples and the high buildings of the City quite
plainly. Things had gone on dull and quiet like for about ten days.
This was longer by a good deal than we had been at rest since we left
Resaca in the Spring. We knew that something was brewing, and that it
must come to a head soon.

“I belong to Company C. Our little mess–now reduced to three by the
loss of two of our best soldiers and cooks, Disbrow and Sulier, killed
behind head-logs in front of Atlanta, by sharpshooters–had one fellow
that we called ‘Observer,’ because he had such a faculty of picking up
news in his prowling around headquarters. He brought us in so much of
this, and it was generally so reliable that we frequently made up his
absence from duty by taking his place. He was never away from a fight,
though. On the night of the 25th of August, ‘Observer’ came in with the
news that something was in the wind. Sherman was getting awful restless,
and we had found out that this always meant lots of trouble to our
friends on the other side.

“Sure enough, orders came to get ready to move, and the next night we all
moved to the right and rear, out of sight of the Johnnies. Our well
built works were left in charge of Garrard’s Cavalry, who concealed their
horses in the rear, and came up and took our places. The whole army
except the Twentieth Corps moved quietly off, and did it so nicely that
we were gone some time before the enemy suspected it. Then the Twentieth
Corps pulled out towards the North, and fell back to the Chattahoochie,
making quite a shove of retreat. The Rebels snapped up the bait
greedily. They thought the siege was being raised, and they poured over
their works to hurry the Twentieth boys off. The Twentieth fellows let
them know that there was lots of sting in them yet, and the Johnnies were
not long in discovering that it would have been money in their pockets if
they had let that ‘moon-and-star’ (that’s the Twentieth’s badge, you
know) crowd alone.

“But the Rebs thought the rest of us were gone for good and that Atlanta
was saved. Naturally they felt mighty happy over it; and resolved to
have a big celebration–a ball, a meeting of jubilee, etc. Extra trains
were run in, with girls and women from the surrounding country, and they
just had a high old time.

“In the meantime we were going through so many different kinds of tactics
that it looked as if Sherman was really crazy this time, sure. Finally
we made a grand left wheel, and then went forward a long way in line of
battle. It puzzled us a good deal, but we knew that Sherman couldn’t get
us into any scrape that Pap Thomas couldn’t get us out of, and so it was
all right.

“Along on the evening of the 31st our right wing seemed to have run
against a hornet’s nest, and we could hear the musketry and cannon speak
out real spiteful, but nothing came down our way. We had struck the
railroad leading south from Atlanta to Macon, and began tearing it up.
The jollity at Atlanta was stopped right in the middle by the appalling
news that the Yankees hadn’t retreated worth a cent, but had broken out
in a new and much worse spot than ever. Then there was no end of trouble
all around, and Hood started part of his army back after us.

“Part of Hardee’s and Pat Cleburne’s command went into position in front
of us. We left them alone till Stanley could come up on our left, and
swing around, so as to cut off their retreat, when we would bag every one
of them. But Stanley was as slow as he always was, and did not come up
until it was too late, and the game was gone.

“The sun was just going down on the evening of the 1st of September, when
we began to see we were in for it, sure. The Fourteenth Corps wheeled
into position near the railroad, and the sound of musketry and artillery
became very loud and clear on our front and left. We turned a little and
marched straight toward the racket, becoming more excited every minute.
We saw the Carlin’s brigade of regulars, who were some distance ahead of
us, pile knapsacks, form in line, fix bayonets, and dash off with
arousing cheer.

“The Rebel fire beat upon them like a Summer rain-storm, the ground shook
with the noise, and just as we reached the edge of the cotton field, we
saw the remnant of the brigade come flying back out of the awful,
blasting shower of bullets. The whole slope was covered with dead and

“Yes,” interrupts one of the Fourteenth; “and they made that charge
right gamely, too, I can tell you. They were good soldiers, and well
led. When we went over the works, I remember seeing the body of a little
Major of one of the regiments lying right on the top. If he hadn’t been
killed he’d been inside in a half-a-dozen steps more. There’s no mistake
about it; those regulars will fight.”

“When we saw this,” resumed the narrator, “it set our fellows fairly
wild; they became just crying mad; I never saw them so before. The order
came to strip for the charge, and our knapsacks were piled in half a
minute. A Lieutenant of our company, who was then on the staff of Gen.
Baird, our division commander, rode slowly down the line and gave us our
instructions to load our guns, fix bayonets, and hold fire until we were
on top of the Rebel works. Then Colonel Este sang out clear and steady
as a bugle signal:

“‘Brigade, forward! Guide center! MARCH!!’

“and we started. Heavens, how they did let into us, as we came up into
range. They had ten pieces of artillery, and more men behind the
breastworks than we had in line, and the fire they poured on us was
simply withering. We walked across the hundreds of dead and dying of the
regular brigade, and at every step our own men fell down among them.
General Baud’s horse was shot down, and the General thrown far over his
head, but he jumped up and ran alongside of us. Major Wilson, our
regimental commander, fell mortally wounded; Lieutenant Kirk was killed,
and also Captain Stopfard, Adjutant General of the brigade. Lieutenants
Cobb and Mitchell dropped with wounds that proved fatal in a few days.
Captain Ugan lost an arm, one-third of the enlisted men fell, but we went
straight ahead, the grape and the musketry becoming worse every step,
until we gained the edge of the hill, where we were checked a minute by
the brush, which the Rebels had fixed up in the shape of abattis. Just
then a terrible fire from a new direction, our left, swept down the whole
length of our line. The Colonel of the Seventeenth New York–as gallant
a man as ever lived saw the new trouble, took his regiment in on the run,
and relieved us of this, but he was himself mortally wounded. If our
boys were half-crazy before, they were frantic now, and as we got out of
the entanglement of the brush, we raised a fearful yell and ran at the
works. We climbed the sides, fired right down into the defenders, and
then began with the bayonet and sword. For a few minutes it was simply
awful. On both sides men acted like infuriated devils. They dashed each
other’s brains out with clubbed muskets; bayonets were driven into men’s
bodies up to the muzzle of the gun; officers ran their swords through
their opponents, and revolvers, after being emptied into the faces of the
Rebels, were thrown with desperate force into the ranks. In our regiment
was a stout German butcher named Frank Fleck. He became so excited that
he threw down his sword, and rushed among the Rebels with his bare fists,
knocking down a swath of them. He yelled to the first Rebel he met

“Py Gott, I’ve no patience mit you,’ and knocked him sprawling.
He caught hold of the commander of the Rebel Brigade, and snatched him
back over the works by main strength. Wonderful to say, he escaped
unhurt, but the boys will probably not soon let him hear the last of

“Py Gott, I’ve no patience mit you.’

“The Tenth Kentucky, by the queerest luck in the world, was matched
against the Rebel Ninth Kentucky. The commanders of the two regiments
were brothers-in-law, and the men relatives, friends, acquaintances and
schoolmates. They hated each other accordingly, and the fight between
them was more bitter, if possible, than anywhere else on the line.
The Thirty-Eighth Ohio and Seventy-fourth Indiana put in some work that
was just magnificent. We hadn’t time to look at it then, but the dead
and wounded piled up after the fight told the story.

“We gradually forced our way over the works, but the Rebels were game to
the last, and we had to make them surrender almost one at a time.
The artillerymen tried to fire on us when we were so close we could lay
our hands on the guns.

“Finally nearly all in the works surrendered, and were disarmed and
marched back. Just then an aid came dashing up with the information that
we must turn the works, and get ready to receive Hardee, who was
advancing to retake the position. We snatched up some shovels lying
near, and began work. We had no time to remove the dead and dying Rebels
on the works, and the dirt we threw covered them up. It proved a false
alarm. Hardee had as much as he could do to save his own hide, and the
affair ended about dark.

“When we came to count up what we had gained, we found that we had
actually taken more prisoners from behind breastworks than there were in
our brigade when we started the charge. We had made the only really
successful bayonet charge of the campaign. Every other time since we
left Chattanooga the party standing on the defensive had been successful.
Here we had taken strong double lines, with ten guns, seven battle flags,
and over two thousand prisoners. We had lost terribly–not less than
one-third of the brigade, and many of our best men. Our regiment went
into the battle with fifteen officers; nine of these were killed or
wounded, and seven of the nine lost either their limbs or lives.
The Thirty-Eighth Ohio, and the other regiments of the brigade lost
equally heavy. We thought Chickamauga awful, but Jonesboro discounted

“Do you know,” said another of the Fourteenth, “I heard our Surgeon
telling about how that Colonel Grower, of the Seventeenth New York,
who came in so splendidly on our left, died? They say he was a Wall
Street broker, before the war. He was hit shortly after he led his
regiment in, and after the fight, was carried back to the hospital.
While our Surgeon was going the rounds Colonel Grower called him, and
said quietly, ‘When you get through with the men, come and see me,

“The Doctor would have attended to him then, but Grower wouldn’t let him.
After he got through he went back to Grower, examined his wound, and told
him that he could only live a few hours. Grower received the news
tranquilly, had the Doctor write a letter to his wife, and gave him his
things to send her, and then grasping the Doctor’s hand, he said:

“Doctor, I’ve just one more favor to ask; will you grant it?’

“The Doctor said, ‘Certainly; what is it?’

“You say I can’t live but a few hours?’

“Yes; that is true.’
“And that I will likely be in great pain!’

“I am sorry to say so.’

“Well, then, do give me morphia enough to put me to sleep, so that I will
wake up only in another world.’

“The Doctor did so; Colonel Grower thanked him; wrung his hand, bade him
good-by, and went to sleep to wake no more.”

“Do you believe in presentiments and superstitions?” said another of the
Fourteenth. There was Fisher Pray, Orderly Sergeant of Company I. He
came from Waterville, O., where his folks are now living. The day before
we started out he had a presentiment that we were going into a fight, and
that he would be killed. He couldn’t shake it off. He told the
Lieutenant, and some of the boys about it, and they tried to ridicule him
out of it, but it was no good. When the sharp firing broke out in front
some of the boys said, ‘Fisher, I do believe you are right,’ and he
nodded his head mournfully. When we were piling knapsacks for the
charge, the Lieutenant, who was a great friend of Fisher’s, said:

“Fisher, you stay here and guard the knapsacks.’

“Fisher’s face blazed in an instant.

“No, sir,’ said he; I never shirked a fight yet, and I won’t begin now.’

“So he went into the fight, and was killed, as he knew he would be. Now,
that’s what I call nerve.”

“The same thing was true of Sergeant Arthur Tarbox, of Company A,” said
the narrator; “he had a presentiment, too; he knew he was going to be
killed, if he went in, and he was offered an honorable chance to stay
out, but he would not take it, and went in and was killed.”

“Well, we staid there the next day, buried our dead, took care of our
wounded, and gathered up the plunder we had taken from the Johnnies.
The rest of the army went off, ‘hot blocks,’ after Hardee and the rest of
Hood’s army, which it was hoped would be caught outside of entrenchments.
But Hood had too much the start, and got into the works at Lovejoy, ahead
of our fellows. The night before we heard several very loud explosions
up to the north. We guessed what that meant, and so did the Twentieth
Corps, who were lying back at the Chattahoochee, and the next morning the
General commanding–Slocum–sent out a reconnaissance. It was met by the
Mayor of Atlanta, who said that the Rebels had blown up their stores and
retreated. The Twentieth Corps then came in and took ‘possession of the
City, and the next day–the 3d–Sherman came in, and issued an order
declaring the campaign at an end, and that we would rest awhile and

“We laid around Atlanta a good while, and things quieted down so that it
seemed almost like peace, after the four months of continual fighting we
had gone through. We had been under a strain so long that now we boys
went in the other direction, and became too careless, and that’s how we
got picked up. We went out about five miles one night after a lot of
nice smoked hams that a nigger told us were stored in an old cotton
press, and which we knew would be enough sight better eating for Company
C, than the commissary pork we had lived on so long. We found the cotton
press, and the hams, just as the nigger told us, and we hitched up a team
to take them into camp. As we hadn’t seen any Johnny signs anywhere,
we set our guns down to help load the meat, and just as we all came
stringing out to the wagon with as much meat as we could carry, a company
of Ferguson’s Cavalry popped out of the woods about one hundred yards in
front of us and were on top of us before we could say I scat. You see
they’d heard of the meat, too.”



Charley Barbour was one of the truest-hearted and best-liked of my
school-boy chums and friends. For several terms we sat together on the
same uncompromisingly uncomfortable bench, worried over the same boy-
maddening problems in “Ray’s Arithmetic-Part III.,” learned the same
jargon of meaningless rules from “Greene’s Grammar,” pondered over
“Mitchell’s Geography and Atlas,” and tried in vain to understand why
Providence made the surface of one State obtrusively pink and another
ultramarine blue; trod slowly and painfully over the rugged road
“Bullion” points out for beginners in Latin, and began to believe we
should hate ourselves and everybody else, if we were gotten up after the
manner shown by “Cutter’s Physiology.” We were caught together in the
same long series of school-boy scrapes–and were usually ferruled
together by the same strong-armed teacher. We shared nearly everything
–our fun and work; enjoyment and annoyance–all were generally meted out
to us together. We read from the same books the story of the wonderful
world we were going to see in that bright future “when we were men;” we
spent our Saturdays and vacations in the miniature explorations of the
rocky hills and caves, and dark cedar woods around our homes, to gather
ocular helps to a better comprehension of that magical land which we were
convinced began just beyond our horizon, and had in it, visible to the
eye of him who traveled through its enchanted breadth, all that
“Gulliver’s Fables,” the “Arabian Nights,” and a hundred books of travel
and adventure told of.

We imagined that the only dull and commonplace spot on earth was that
where we lived. Everywhere else life was a grand spectacular drama, full
of thrilling effects.

Brave and handsome young men were rescuing distressed damsels, beautiful
as they were wealthy; bloody pirates and swarthy murderers were being
foiled by quaint spoken backwoodsmen, who carried unerring rifles;
gallant but blundering Irishmen, speaking the most delightful brogue,
and making the funniest mistakes, were daily thwarting cool and
determined villains; bold tars were encountering fearful sea perils;
lionhearted adventurers were cowing and quelling whole tribes of
barbarians; magicians were casting spells, misers hoarding gold,
scientists making astonishing discoveries, poor and unknown boys
achieving wealth and fame at a single bound, hidden mysteries coming to
light, and so the world was going on, making reams of history with each
diurnal revolution, and furnishing boundless material for the most
delightful books.

At the age of thirteen a perusal of the lives of Benjamin Franklin and
Horace Greeley precipitated my determination to no longer hesitate in
launching my small bark upon the great ocean. I ran away from home in a
truly romantic way, and placed my foot on what I expected to be the first
round of the ladder of fame, by becoming “devil boy” in a printing office
in a distant large City. Charley’s attachment to his mother and his home
was too strong to permit him to take this step, and we parted in sorrow,
mitigated on my side by roseate dreams of the future.

Six years passed. One hot August morning I met an old acquaintance at
the Creek, in Andersonville. He told me to come there the next morning,
after roll-call, and he would take me to see some person who was very
anxious to meet me. I was prompt at the rendezvous, and was soon joined
by the other party. He threaded his way slowly for over half an hour
through the closely-jumbled mass of tents and burrows, and at length
stopped in front of a blanket-tent in the northwestern corner. The
occupant rose and took my hand. For an instant I was puzzled; then the
clear, blue eyes, and well-remembered smile recalled to me my old-time
comrade, Charley Barbour. His story was soon told. He was a Sergeant in
a Western Virginia cavalry regiment–the Fourth, I think. At the time
Hunter was making his retreat from the Valley of Virginia, it was decided
to mislead the enemy by sending out a courier with false dispatches to be
captured. There was a call for a volunteer for this service. Charley
was the first to offer, with that spirit of generous self-sacrifice that
was one of his pleasantest traits when a boy. He knew what he had to
expect. Capture meant imprisonment at Andersonville; our men had now a
pretty clear understanding of what this was. Charley took the dispatches
and rode into the enemy’s lines. He was taken, and the false information
produced the desired effect. On his way to Andersonville he was stripped
of all his clothing but his shirt and pantaloons, and turned into the
Stockade in this condition. When I saw him he had been in a week or
more. He told his story quietly–almost diffidently–not seeming aware
that he had done more than his simple duty. I left him with the promise
and expectation of returning the next day, but when I attempted to find
him again, I was lost in the maze of tents and burrows. I had forgotten
to ask the number of his detachment, and after spending several days in
hunting for him, I was forced to give the search up. He knew as little
of my whereabouts, and though we were all the time within seventeen
hundred feet of each other, neither we nor our common acquaintance could
ever manage to meet again. This will give the reader an idea of the
throng compressed within the narrow limits of the Stockade. After
leaving Andersonville, however, I met this man once more, and learned
from him that Charley had sickened and died within a month after his
entrance to prison.

So ended his day-dream of a career in the busy world.



On the evening of the 11th of October there came an order for one
thousand prisoners to fall in and march out, for transfer to some other

Of course, Andrews and I “flanked” into this crowd. That was our usual
way of doing. Holding that the chances were strongly in favor of every
movement of prisoners being to our lines, we never failed to be numbered
in the first squad of prisoners that were sent out. The seductive mirage
of “exchange” was always luring us on. It must come some time,
certainly, and it would be most likely to come to those who were most
earnestly searching for it. At all events, we should leave no means
untried to avail ourselves of whatever seeming chances there might be.
There could be no other motive for this move, we argued, than exchange.
The Confederacy was not likely to be at the trouble and expense of
hauling us about the country without some good reason–something better
than a wish to make us acquainted with Southern scenery and topography.
It would hardly take us away from Savannah so soon after bringing us
there for any other purpose than delivery to our people.

The Rebels encouraged this belief with direct assertions of its truth.
They framed a plausible lie about there having arisen some difficulty
concerning the admission of our vessels past the harbor defenses of
Savannah, which made it necessary to take us elsewhere–probably to
Charleston–for delivery to our men.

Wishes are always the most powerful allies of belief. There is little
difficulty in convincing a man of that of which he wants to be convinced.
We forgot the lie told us when we were taken from Andersonville, and
believed the one which was told us now.

Andrews and I hastily snatched our worldly possessions–our overcoat,
blanket, can, spoon, chessboard and men, yelled to some of our neighbors
that they could have our hitherto much-treasured house, and running down
to the gate, forced ourselves well up to the front of the crowd that was
being assembled to go out.

The usual scenes accompanying the departure of first squads were being
acted tumultuously. Every one in the camp wanted to be one of the
supposed-to-be-favored few, and if not selected at first, tried to “flank
in”–that is, slip into the place of some one else who had had better
luck. This one naturally resisted displacement, ‘vi et armis,’ and the
fights would become so general as to cause a resemblance to the famed
Fair of Donnybrook. The cry would go up:

“Look out for flankers!”

The lines of the selected would dress up compactly, and outsiders trying
to force themselves in would get mercilessly pounded.

We finally got out of the pen, and into the cars, which soon rolled away
to the westward. We were packed in too densely to be able to lie down.
We could hardly sit down. Andrews and I took up our position in one
corner, piled our little treasures under us, and trying to lean against
each other in such a way as to afford mutual support and rest, dozed
fitfully through a long, weary night.

When morning came we found ourselves running northwest through a poor,
pine-barren country that strongly resembled that we had traversed in
coming to Savannah. The more we looked at it the more familiar it
became, and soon there was no doubt we were going back to Andersonville.

By noon we had reached Millen–eighty miles from Savannah, and fifty-
three from Augusta. It was the junction of the road leading to Macon and
that running to Augusta. We halted a little while at the “Y,” and to us
the minutes were full of anxiety. If we turned off to the left we were
going back to Andersonville. If we took the right hand road we were on
the way to Charleston or Richmond, with the chances in favor of exchange.

At length we started, and, to our joy, our engine took the right hand
track. We stopped again, after a run of five miles, in the midst of one
of the open, scattering forests of long leaved pine that I have before
described. We were ordered out of the cars, and marching a few rods,
came in sight of another of those hateful Stockades, which seemed to be
as natural products of the Sterile sand of that dreary land as its
desolate woods and its breed of boy murderers and gray-headed assassins.

Again our hearts sank, and death seemed more welcome than incarceration
in those gloomy wooden walls. We marched despondently up to the gates of
the Prison, and halted while a party of Rebel clerks made a list of our
names, rank, companies, and regiments. As they were Rebels it was slow
work. Reading and writing never came by nature, as Dogberry would say,
to any man fighting for Secession. As a rule, he took to them as
reluctantly as if, he thought them cunning inventions of the Northern
Abolitionist to perplex and demoralize him. What a half-dozen boys taken
out of our own ranks would have done with ease in an hour or so, these
Rebels worried over all of the afternoon, and then their register of us
was so imperfect, badly written and misspelled, that the Yankee clerks
afterwards detailed for the purpose, never could succeed in reducing it
to intelligibility.

We learned that the place at which we had arrived was Camp Lawton, but we
almost always spoke of it as “Millen,” the same as Camp Sumter is
universally known as Andersonville.

Shortly after dark we were turned inside the Stockade. Being the first
that had entered, there was quite a quantity of wood–the offal from the
timber used in constructing the Stockade–lying on the ground. The night
was chilly one we soon had a number of fires blazing. Green pitch pine,
when burned, gives off a peculiar, pungent odor, which is never forgotten
by one who has once smelled it. I first became acquainted with it on
entering Andersonville, and to this day it is the most powerful
remembrance I can have of the opening of that dreadful Iliad of woes.
On my journey to Washington of late years the locomotives are invariably
fed with pitch pine as we near the Capital, and as the well-remembered
smell reaches me, I grow sick at heart with the flood of saddening
recollections indissolubly associated with it.

As our fires blazed up the clinging, penetrating fumes diffused
themselves everywhere. The night was as cool as the one when we arrived
at Andersonville, the earth, meagerly sodded with sparse, hard, wiry
grass, was the same; the same piney breezes blew in from the surrounding
trees, the same dismal owls hooted at us; the same mournful whip-poor-
will lamented, God knows what, in the gathering twilight. What we both
felt in the gloomy recesses of downcast hearts Andrews expressed as he
turned to me with:

“My God, Mc, this looks like Andersonville all over again.”

A cupful of corn meal was issued to each of us. I hunted up some water.
Andrews made a stiff dough, and spread it about half an inch thick on the
back of our chessboard. He propped this up before the fire, and when the
surface was neatly browned over, slipped it off the board and turned it
over to brown the other side similarly. This done, we divided it
carefully between us, swallowed it in silence, spread our old overcoat on
the ground, tucked chess-board, can, and spoon under far enough to be out
of the reach of thieves, adjusted the thin blanket so as to get the most
possible warmth out of it, crawled in close together, and went to sleep.
This, thank Heaven, we could do; we could still sleep, and Nature had
some opportunity to repair the waste of the day. We slept, and forgot
where we were.



In the morning we took a survey of our new quarters, and found that we
were in a Stockade resembling very much in construction and dimensions
that at Andersonville. The principal difference was that the upright
logs were in their rough state, whereas they were hewed at Andersonville,
and the brook running through the camp was not bordered by a swamp, but
had clean, firm banks.

Our next move was to make the best of the situation. We were divided
into hundreds, each commanded by a Sergeant. Ten hundreds constituted a
division, the head of which was also a Sergeant. I was elected by my
comrades to the Sergeantcy of the Second Hundred of the First Division.
As soon as we were assigned to our ground, we began constructing shelter.
For the first and only time in my prison experience, we found a full
supply of material for this purpose, and the use we made of it showed how
infinitely better we would have fared if in each prison the Rebels had
done even so slight a thing as to bring in a few logs from the
surrounding woods and distribute them to us. A hundred or so of these
would probably have saved thousands of lives at Andersonville and

A large tree lay on the ground assigned to our hundred. Andrews and I
took possession of one side of the ten feet nearest the butt. Other boys
occupied the rest in a similar manner. One of our boys had succeeded in
smuggling an ax in with him, and we kept it in constant use day and
night, each group borrowing it for an hour or so at a time. It was as
dull as a hoe, and we were very weak, so that it was slow work “niggering
off”–(as the boys termed it) a cut of the log. It seemed as if beavers
could have gnawed it off easier and more quickly. We only cut an inch or
so at a time, and then passed the ax to the next users. Making little
wedges with a dull knife, we drove them into the log with clubs, and
split off long, thin strips, like the weatherboards of a house, and by
the time we had split off our share of the log in this slow and laborious
way, we had a fine lot of these strips. We were lucky enough to find
four forked sticks, of which we made the corners of our dwelling, and
roofed it carefully with our strips, held in place by sods torn up from
the edge of the creek bank. The sides and ends were enclosed; we
gathered enough pine tops to cover the ground to a depth of several
inches; we banked up the outside, and ditched around it, and then had the
most comfortable abode we had during our prison career. It was truly a
house builded with our own hands, for we had no tools whatever save the
occasional use of the aforementioned dull axe and equally dull knife.

The rude little hut represented as much actual hard, manual labor as
would be required to build a comfortable little cottage in the North,
but we gladly performed it, as we would have done any other work to
better our condition.

For a while wood was quite plentiful, and we had the luxury daily of warm
fires, which the increasing coolness of the weather made important
accessories to our comfort.

Other prisoners kept coming in. Those we left behind at Savannah
followed us, and the prison there was broken up. Quite a number also
came in from–Andersonville, so that in a little while we had between six
and seven thousand in the Stockade. The last comers found all the
material for tents and all the fuel used up, and consequently did not
fare so well as the earlier arrivals.

The commandant of the prison–one Captain Bowes–was the best of his
class it was my fortune to meet. Compared with the senseless brutality
of Wirz, the reckless deviltry of Davis, or the stupid malignance of
Barrett, at Florence, his administration was mildness and wisdom itself.

He enforced discipline better than any of those named, but has what they
all lacked–executive ability–and he secured results that they could not
possibly attain, and without anything, like the friction that attended
their efforts. I do not remember that any one was shot during our six
weeks’ stay at Millen–a circumstance simply remarkable, since I do not
recall a single week passed anywhere else without at least one murder by
the guards.

One instance will illustrate the difference of his administration from
that of other prison commandants. He came upon the grounds of our
division one morning, accompanied by a pleasant-faced, intelligent-
appearing lad of about fifteen or sixteen. He said to us:

“Gentlemen: (The only instance during our imprisonment when we received
so polite a designation.) This is my son, who will hereafter call your
roll. He will treat you as gentlemen, and I know you will do the same to

This understanding was observed to the letter on both sides. Young Bowes
invariably spoke civilly to us, and we obeyed his orders with a prompt
cheerfulness that left him nothing to complain of.

The only charge I have to make against Bowes is made more in detail in
another chapter, and that is, that he took money from well prisoners for
giving them the first chance to go through on the Sick Exchange.
How culpable this was I must leave each reader to decide for himself.
I thought it very wrong at the time, but possibly my views might have
been colored highly by my not having any money wherewith to procure my
own inclusion in the happy lot of the exchanged.

Of one thing I am certain: that his acceptance of money to bias his
official action was not singular on his part. I am convinced that every
commandant we had over us–except Wirz–was habitually in the receipt of
bribes from prisoners. I never heard that any one succeeded in bribing
Wirz, and this is the sole good thing I can say of that fellow. Against
this it may be said, however, that he plundered the boys so effectually
on entering the prison as to leave them little of the wherewithal to
bribe anybody.

Davis was probably the most unscrupulous bribe-taker of the lot.
He actually received money for permitting prisoners to escape to our
lines, and got down to as low a figure as one hundred dollars for this
sort of service. I never heard that any of the other commandants went
this far.

The rations issued to us were somewhat better than those of
Andersonville, as the meal was finer and better, though it was absurdedly
insufficient in quantity, and we received no salt. On several occasions
fresh beef was dealt out to us, and each time the excitement created
among those who had not tasted fresh meat for weeks and months was
wonderful. On the first occasion the meat was simply the heads of the
cattle killed for the use of the guards. Several wagon loads of these
were brought in and distributed. We broke them up so that every man got
a piece of the bone, which was boiled and reboiled, as long as a single
bubble of grease would rise to the surface of the water; every vestige of
meat was gnawed and scraped from the surface and then the bone was
charred until it crumbled, when it was eaten. No one who has not
experienced it can imagine the inordinate hunger for animal food of those
who had eaten little else than corn bread for so long. Our exhausted
bodies were perishing for lack of proper sustenance. Nature indicated
fresh beef as the best medium to repair the great damage already done,
and our longing for it became beyond description.



Our old antagonists–the Raiders–were present in strong force in Millen.
Like ourselves, they had imagined the departure from Andersonville was
for exchange, and their relations to the Rebels were such that they were
all given a chance to go with the first squads. A number had been
allowed to go with the sailors on the Special Naval Exchange from
Savannah, in the place of sailors and marines who had died. On the way
to Charleston a fight had taken place between them and the real sailors,
during which one of their number–a curly-headed Irishman named Dailey,
who was in such high favor with the Rebels that he was given the place of
driving the ration wagon that came in the North Side at Andersonville–
was killed, and thrown under the wheels of the moving train, which passed
over him.

After things began to settle into shape at Millen, they seemed to believe
that they were in such ascendancy as to numbers and organization that
they could put into execution their schemes of vengeance against those of
us who had been active participants in the execution of their
confederates at Andersonville.

After some little preliminaries they settled upon Corporal “Wat” Payne,
of my company, as their first victim. The reader will remember Payne as
one of the two Corporals who pulled the trigger to the scaffold at the
time of the execution.

Payne was a very good man physically, and was yet in fair condition.
The Raiders came up one day with their best man–Pete Donnelly–and
provoked a fight, intending, in the course of it, to kill Payne. We,
who knew Payee, felt reasonably confident of his ability to handle even
so redoubtable a pugilist as Donnelly, and we gathered together a little
squad of our friends to see fair play.

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.



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–”

Said we:

“First Hundred, about–”

“Second Hundred, about–”

“Third Hundred, about–”

“Fourth Hundred, about–” etc., etc.

Said he:–


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.

Captain Bowes, who was overlooking the prison from an elevation outside,
had, however, divined the trouble at the outset, an was preparing to meet
it. The gunners, who had shotted the pieces and trained them upon us
when we came out to listen t the speech, had again covered us with them,
and were ready to sweep the prison with grape and canister at the instant
of command. The long roll was summoning the infantry regiments back into
line, and some of the cooler-headed among us pointed these facts out and
succeeded in getting the line to dissolve again into groups of muttering,
sullen-faced men. When this was done, the guards marched out, by a
cautious indirect maneuver, so as not to turn their backs to us.

It was believed that we had some among us who would like to avail
themselves of the offer of the Rebels, and that they would try to inform
the Rebels of their desires by going to the gate during the night and
speaking to the Officer-of-the-Guard. A squad armed themselves with
clubs and laid in wait for these. They succeeded in catching several–
snatching some of then back even after they had told the guard their
wishes in a tone so loud that all near could hear distinctly. The
Officer-of-the-Guard rushed in two or three times in a vain attempt to
save the would be deserter from the cruel hands that clutched him and
bore him away to where he had a lesson in loyalty impressed upon the
fleshiest part of his person by a long, flexible strip of pine wielded by
very willing hands.

After this was kept up for several nights different ideas began I to
prevail. It was felt that if a man wanted to join the Rebels, the best
way was to let him go and get rid of him. He was of no benefit to the
Government, and would be of none to the Rebels. After this no
restriction was put upon any one who desired to go outside and take the
oath. But very few did so, however, and these were wholly confined to
the Raider crowd.

End of v3
by John McElroy

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Late of Co. L. 16th Ill Cav.




Leroy L. Key, the heroic Sergeant of Company M, Sixteenth Illinois
Cavalry, who organized and led the Regulators at Andersonville in their
successful conflict with and defeat of the Raiders, and who presided at
the execution of the six condemned men on the 11th of July, furnishes,
at the request of the author, the following story of his prison career
subsequent to that event:

On the 12th day of July, 1864, the day after the hanging of the six
Raiders, by the urgent request of my many friends (of whom you were one),
I sought and obtained from Wirz a parole for myself and the six brave men
who assisted as executioners of those desperados. It seemed that you
were all fearful that we might, after what had been done, be assassinated
if we remained in the Stockade; and that we might be overpowered,
perhaps, by the friends of the Raiders we had hanged, at a time possibly,
when you would not be on hand to give us assistance, and thus lose our
lives for rendering the help we did in getting rid of the worst
pestilence we had to contend with.

On obtaining my parole I was very careful to have it so arranged and
mutually understood, between Wirz and myself, that at any time that my
squad (meaning the survivors of my comrades, with whom I was originally
captured) was sent away from Andersonville, either to be exchanged or to
go to another prison, that I should be allowed to go with them. This was
agreed to, and so written in my parole which I carried until it
absolutely wore out. I took a position in the cook-house, and the other
boys either went to work there, or at the hospital or grave-yard as
occasion required. I worked here, and did the best I could for the many
starving wretches inside, in the way of preparing their food, until the
eighth day of September, at which time, if you remember, quite a train
load of men were removed, as many of us thought, for the purpose of
exchange; but, as we afterwards discovered, to be taken to another
prison. Among the crowd so removed was my squad, or, at least, a portion
of them, being my intimate mess-mates while in the Stockade. As soon as
I found this to be the case I waited on Wirz at his office, and asked
permission to go with them, which he refused, stating that he was
compelled to have men at the cookhouse to cook for those in the Stockade
until they were all gone or exchanged. I reminded him of the condition
in my parole, but this only had the effect of making him mad, and he
threatened me with the stocks if I did not go back and resume work.
I then and there made up my mind to attempt my escape, considering that
the parole had first been broken by the man that granted it.

On inquiry after my return to the cook-house, I found four other boys who
were also planning an escape, and who were only too glad to get me to
join them and take charge of the affair. Our plans were well laid and
well executed, as the sequel will prove, and in this particular my own
experience in the endeavor to escape from Andersonville is not entirely
dissimilar from yours, though it had different results. I very much
regret that in the attempt I lost my penciled memorandum, in which it was
my habit to chronicle what went on around me daily, and where I had the
names of my brave comrades who made the effort to escape with me.
Unfortunately, I cannot now recall to memory the name of one of them or
remember to what commands they belonged.

I knew that our greatest risk was run in eluding the guards, and that in
the morning we should be compelled to cheat the blood-hounds. The first
we managed to do very well, not without many hairbreadth escapes,
however; but we did succeed in getting through both lines of guards,
and found ourselves in the densest pine forest I ever saw. We traveled,
as nearly as we could judge, due north all night until daylight. From
our fatigue and bruises, and the long hours that had elapsed since 8
o’clock, the time of our starting, we thought we had come not less than
twelve or fifteen miles. Imagine our surprise and mortification, then,
when we could plainly hear the reveille, and almost the Sergeant’s voice
calling the roll, while the answers of “Here!” were perfectly distinct.
We could not possibly have been more than a mile, or a mile-and-a-half at
the farthest, from the Stockade.

Our anxiety and mortification were doubled when at the usual hour–as we
supposed–we heard the well-known and long-familiar sound of the hunter’s
horn, calling his hounds to their accustomed task of making the circuit
of the Stockade, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not any
“Yankee” had had the audacity to attempt an escape. The hounds,
anticipating, no doubt, this usual daily work, gave forth glad barks of
joy at being thus called forth to duty. We heard them start, as was
usual, from about the railroad depot (as we imagined), but the sounds
growing fainter and fainter gave us a little hope that our trail had been
missed. Only a short time, however, were we allowed this pleasant
reflection, for ere long–it could not have been more than an hour–we
could plainly see that they were drawing nearer and nearer. They finally
appeared so close that I advised the boys to climb a tree or sapling in
order to keep the dogs from biting them, and to be ready to surrender
when the hunters came up, hoping thus to experience as little misery as
possible, and not dreaming but that we were caught. On, on came the
hounds, nearer and nearer still, till we imagined that we could see the
undergrowth in the forest shaking by coming in contact with their bodies.
Plainer and plainer came the sound of the hunter’s voice urging them
forward. Our hearts were in our throats, and in the terrible excitement
we wondered if it could be possible for Providence to so arrange it that
the dogs would pass us. This last thought, by some strange fancy, had
taken possession of me, and I here frankly acknowledge that I believed it
would happen. Why I believed it, God only knows. My excitement was so
great, indeed, that I almost lost sight of our danger, and felt like
shouting to the dogs myself, while I came near losing my hold on the tree
in which I was hidden. By chance I happened to look around at my nearest
neighbor in distress. His expression was sufficient to quell any
enthusiasm I might have had, and I, too, became despondent. In a very
few minutes our suspense was over. The dogs came within not less than
three hundred yards of us, and we could even see one of them, God in
Heaven can only imagine what great joy was then, brought to our aching
hearts, for almost instantly upon coming into sight, the hounds struck
off on a different trail, and passed us. Their voices became fainter and
fainter, until finally we could hear them no longer. About noon,
however, they were called back and taken to camp, but until that time not
one of us left our position in the trees.

When we were satisfied that we were safe for the present, we descended to
the ground to get what rest we could, in order to be prepared for the
night’s march, having previously agreed to travel at night and sleep in
the day time. “Our Father, who art in Heaven,” etc., were the first
words that escaped my lips, and the first thoughts that came to my mind
as I landed on terra firma. Never before, or since, had I experienced
such a profound reverence for Almighty God, for I firmly believe that
only through some mighty invisible power were we at that time delivered
from untold tortures. Had we been found, we might have been torn and
mutilated by the dogs, or, taken back to Andersonville, have suffered for
days or perhaps weeks in the stocks or chain gang, as the humor of Wirz
might have dictated at the time–either of which would have been almost
certain death.

It was very fortunate for us that before our escape from Andersonville we
were detailed at the cook-house, for by this means we were enabled to
bring away enough food to live for several days without the necessity of
theft. Each one of us had our haversacks full of such small delicacies
as it was possible for us to get when we started, these consisting of
corn bread and fat bacon–nothing less, nothing more. Yet we managed to
subsist comfortably until our fourth day out, when we happened to come
upon a sweet potato patch, the potatos in which had not been dug. In a
very short space of time we were all well supplied with this article, and
lived on them raw during that day and the next night.

Just at evening, in going through a field, we suddenly came across three
negro men, who at first sight of us showed signs of running, thinking, as
they told us afterward, that we were the “patrols.” After explaining to
them who we were and our condition, they took us to a very quiet retreat
in the woods, and two of them went off, stating that they would soon be
back. In a very short time they returned laden with well cooked
provisions, which not only gave us a good supper, but supplied us for the
next day with all that we wanted. They then guided us on our way for
several miles, and left us, after having refused compensation for what
they had done.

We continued to travel in this way for nine long weary nights, and on the
morning of the tenth day, as we were going into the woods to hide as
usual, a little before daylight, we came to a small pond at which there
was a negro boy watering two mules before hitching them to a cane mill,
it then being cane grinding time in Georgia. He saw us at the same time
we did him, and being frightened put whip to the animals and ran off.
We tried every way to stop him, but it was no use. He had the start of
us. We were very fearful of the consequences of this mishap, but had no
remedy, and being very tired, could do nothing else but go into the
woods, go to sleep and trust to luck.

The next thing I remembered was being punched in the ribs by my comrade
nearest to me, and aroused with the remark, “We are gone up.” On opening
my eyes, I saw four men, in citizens’ dress, each of whom had a shot gun
ready for use. We were ordered to get up. The first question asked us

“Who are you.”

This was spoken in so mild a tone as to lead me to believe that we might
possibly be in the hands of gentlemen, if not indeed in those of friends.
It was some time before any one answered. The boys, by their looks and
the expression of their countenances, seemed to appeal to me for a reply
to get them out of their present dilemma, if possible. Before I had time
to collect my thoughts, we were startled by these words, coming from the
same man that had asked the original question:

“You had better not hesitate, for we have an idea who you are, and should
it prove that we are correct, it will be the worse for you.”

“‘Who do you think we are?’ I inquired.”

“‘Horse thieves and moss-backs,’ was the reply.”

I jumped at the conclusion instantly that in order to save our lives, we
had better at once own the truth. In a very few words I told them who we
were, where we were from, how long we had been on the road, etc. At this
they withdrew a short distance from us for consultation, leaving us for
the time in terrible suspense as to what our fate might be. Soon, how
ever, they returned and informed us that they would be compelled to take
us to the County Jail, to await further orders from the Military
Commander of the District. While they were talking together, I took a
hasty inventory of what valuables we had on hand. I found in the crowd
four silver watches, about three hundred dollars in Confederate money,
and possibly, about one hundred dollars in greenbacks. Before their
return, I told the boys to be sure not to refuse any request I should
make. Said I:

“‘Gentlemen, we have here four silver watches and several hundred dollars
in Confederate money and greenbacks, all of which we now offer you, if
you will but allow us to proceed on our journey, we taking our own
chances in the future.'”

This proposition, to my great surprise, was refused. I thought then that
possibly I had been a little indiscreet in exposing our valuables, but in
this I was mistaken, for we had, indeed, fallen into the hands of
gentlemen, whose zeal for the Lost Cause was greater than that for
obtaining worldly wealth, and who not only refused the bribe, but took us
to a well-furnished and well-supplied farm house close by, gave us an
excellent breakfast, allowing us to sit at the table in a beautiful
dining-room, with a lady at the head, filled our haversacks with good,
wholesome food, and allowed us to keep our property, with an admonition
to be careful how we showed it again. We were then put into a wagon and
taken to Hamilton, a small town, the county seat of Hamilton County,
Georgia, and placed in jail, where we remained for two days and nights–
fearing, always, that the jail would be burned over our heads, as we
heard frequent threats of that nature, by the mob on the streets.
But the same kind Providence that had heretofore watched over us, seemed
not to have deserted us in this trouble.

One of the days we were confined at this place was Sunday, and some kind-
hearted lady or ladies (I only wish I knew their names, as well as those
of the gentlemen who had us first in charge, so that I could chronicle
them with honor here) taking compassion upon our forlorn condition, sent
us a splendid dinner on a very large china platter. Whether it was done
intentionally or not, we never learned, but it was a fact, however, that
there was not a knife, fork or spoon upon the dish, and no table to set
it upon. It was placed on the floor, around which we soon gathered, and,
with grateful hearts, we “got away” with it all, in an incredibly short
space of time, while many men and boys looked on, enjoying our ludicrous
attitudes and manners.

From here we were taken to Columbus, Ga., and again placed in jail, and
in the charge of Confederate soldiers. We could easily see that we were
gradually getting into hot water again, and that, ere many days, we would
have to resume our old habits in prison. Our only hope now was that we
would not be returned to Andersonville, knowing well that if we got back
into the clutches of Wirz our chances for life would be slim indeed.
From Columbus we were sent by rail to Macon, where we were placed in a
prison somewhat similar to Andersonville, but of nothing like its
pretensions to security. I soon learned that it was only used as a kind
of reception place for the prisoners who were captured in small squads,
and when they numbered two or three hundred, they would be shipped to
Andersonville, or some other place of greater dimensions and strength.
What became of the other boys who were with me, after we got to Macon,
I do not know, for I lost sight of them there. The very next day after
our arrival, there were shipped to Andersonville from this prison between
two and three hundred men. I was called on to go with the crowd, but
having had a sufficient experience of the hospitality of that hotel,
I concluded to play “old soldier,” so I became too sick to travel.
In this way I escaped being sent off four different times.

Meanwhile, quite a large number of commissioned officers had been sent up
from Charleston to be exchanged at Rough and Ready. With them were about
forty more than the cartel called for, and they were left at Macon for
ten days or two weeks. Among these officers were several of my
acquaintance, one being Lieut. Huntly of our regiment (I am not quite
sure that I am right in the name of this officer, but I think I am),
through whose influence I was allowed to go outside with them on parole.
It was while enjoying this parole that I got more familiarly acquainted
with Captain Hurtell, or Hurtrell, who was in command of the prison at
Macon, and to his honor, I here assert, that he was the only gentleman
and the only officer that had the least humane feeling in his breast,
who ever had charge of me while a prisoner of war after we were taken out
of the hands of our original captors at Jonesville, Va.

It now became very evident that the Rebels were moving the prisoners from
Andersonville and elsewhere, so as to place them beyond the reach of
Sherman and Stoneman. At my present place of confinement the fear of our
recapture had also taken possession of the Rebel authorities, so the
prisoners were sent off in much smaller squads than formerly, frequently
not more than ten or fifteen in a gang, whereas, before, they never
thought of dispatching less than two or three hundred together.
I acknowledge that I began to get very uneasy, fearful that the “old
soldier” dodge would not be much longer successful, and I would be forced
back to my old haunts. It so happened, however, that I managed to make
it serve me, by getting detailed in the prison hospital as nurse, so that
I was enabled to play another “dodge” upon the Rebel officers. At first,
when the Sergeant would come around to find out who were able to walk,
with assistance, to the depot, I was shaking with a chill, which,
according to my representation, had not abated in the least for several
hours. My teeth were actually chattering at the time, for I had learned
how to make them do so. I was passed. The next day the orders for
removal were more stringent than had yet been issued, stating that all
who could stand it to be removed on stretchers must go. I concluded at
once that I was gone, so as soon as I learned how matters were, I got out
from under my dirty blanket, stood up and found I was able to walk, to my
great astonishment, of course. An officer came early in the morning to
muster us into ranks preparatory for removal. I fell in with the rest.
We were marched out and around to the gate of the prison.

Now, it so happened that just as we neared the gate of the prison, the
prisoners were being marched from the Stockade. The officer in charge of
us–we numbering possibly about ten–undertook to place us at the head of
the column coming out, but the guard in charge of that squad refused to
let him do so. We were then ordered to stand at one side with no guard
over us but the officer who had brought us from the Hospital.

Taking this in at a glance, I concluded that now was my chance to make my
second attempt to escape. I stepped behind the gate office (a small
frame building with only one room), which was not more than six feet from
me, and as luck (or Providence) would have it, the negro man whose duty
it was, as I knew, to wait on and take care of this office, and who had
taken quite a liking for me, was standing at the back door. I winked at
him and threw him my blanket and the cup, at the same time telling him in
a whisper to hide them away for me until he heard from me again. With a
grin and a nod, he accepted the trust, and I started down along the walls
of the Stockade alone. In order to make this more plain, and to show
what a risk I was running at the time, I will state that between the
Stockade and a brick wall, fully as high as the Stockade fence that was
parallel with it, throughout its entire length on that side, there was a
space of not more than thirty feet. On the outside of this Stockade was
a platform, built for the guards to walk on, sufficiently clear the top
to allow them to look inside with ease, and on this side, on the
platform, were three guards. I had traveled about fifty feet only, from
the gate office, when I heard the command to “Halt!” I did so, of course.

“Where are you going, you d—d Yank?” said the guard.

“Going after my clothes, that are over there in the wash,” pointing to a
small cabin just beyond the Stockade, where I happened to know that the
officers had their washing done.

“Oh, yes,” said he; “you are one of the Yank’s that’s been on, parole,
are you?”


“Well, hurry up, or you will get left.”

The other guards heard this conversation and thinking it all right I was
allowed to pass without further trouble. I went to the cabin in
question–for I saw the last guard on the line watching me, and boldly
entered. I made a clear statement to the woman in charge of it about how
I had made my escape, and asked her to secrete me in the house until
night. I was soon convinced, however, from what she told me, as well as
from my own knowledge of how things were managed in the Confederacy, that
it would not be right for me to stay there, for if the house was searched
and I found in it, it would be the worse for her. Therefore, not wishing
to entail misery upon another, I begged her to give me something to eat,
and going to the swamp near by, succeeded in getting well without

I lay there all day, and during the time had a very severe chill and
afterwards a burning fever, so that when night came, knowing I could not
travel, I resolved to return to the cabin and spend the night, and give
myself up the next morning. There was no trouble in returning. I
learned that my fears of the morning had not been groundless, for the
guards had actually searched the house for me. The woman told them that
I had got my clothes and left the house shortly after my entrance (which
was the truth except the part about the clothes), I thanked her very
and begged to be allowed to stay in the cabin till morning, when I would
present myself at Captain H.’s office and suffer the consequences. This
she allowed me to do. I shall ever feel grateful to this woman for her
protection. She was white and her given name was “Sallie,” but the other
I have forgotten.

About daylight I strolled over near the office and looked around there
until I saw the Captain take his seat at his desk. I stepped into the
door as soon as I saw that he was not occupied and saluted him “a la

“Who are you?” he asked; “you look like a Yank.”

“Yes, sir,” said I, “I am called by that name since I was captured in the
Federal Army.”

“Well, what are you doing here, and what is your name?”

I told him.

“Why didn’t you answer to your name when it was called at the gate
yesterday, sir?”

“I never heard anyone call my name.” Where were you?”

“I ran away down into the swamp.”

“Were you re-captured and brought back?”

“No, sir, I came back of my own accord.”

“What do you mean by this evasion?”

“I am not trying to evade, sir, or I might not have been here now. The
truth is, Captain, I have been in many prisons since my capture, and have
been treated very badly in all of them, until I came here.”

“I then explained to him freely my escape from Andersonville, and my
subsequent re-capture, how it was that I had played “old soldier” etc.

“Now,” said I, “Captain, as long as I am a prisoner of war, I wish to
stay with you, or under your command. This is my reason for running away
yesterday, when I felt confident that if I did not do so I would be
returned under Wirz’s command, and, if I had been so returned, I would
have killed myself rather than submit to the untold tortures which he
would have put me to, for having the audacity to attempt an escape from

The Captain’s attention was here called to some other matters in hand,
and I was sent back into the Stockade with a command very pleasantly
given, that I should stay there until ordered out, which I very
gratefully promised to do, and did. This was the last chance I ever had
to talk to Captain Hurtrell, to my great sorrow, for I had really formed
a liking for the man, notwithstanding the fact that he was a Rebel, and a
commander of prisoners.

The next day we all had to leave Macon. Whether we were able or not, the
order was imperative. Great was my joy when I learned that we were on
the way to Savannah and not to Andersonville. We traveled over the same
road, so well described in one of your articles on Andersonville, and
arrived in Savannah sometime in the afternoon of the 21st day of
November, 1864. Our squad was placed in some barracks and confined there
until the next day. I was sick at the time, so sick in fact, that I
could hardly hold my head up. Soon after, we were taken to the Florida
depot, as they told us, to be shipped to some prison in those dismal
swamps. I came near fainting when this was told to us, for I was
confident that I could not survive another siege of prison life, if it
was anything to compare to-what I had already suffered. When we arrived
at the depot, it was raining. The officer in charge of us wanted to know
what train to put us on, for there were two, if not three, trains waiting
orders to start. He was told to march us on to a certain flat car, near
by, but before giving the order he demanded a receipt for us, which the
train officer refused. We were accordingly taken back to our quarters,
which proved to be a most fortunate circumstance.

On the 23d day of November, to our great relief, we were called upon to
sign a parole preparatory to being sent down the river on the flat-boat
to our exchange ships, then lying in the harbor. When I say we, I mean
those of us that had recently come from Macon, and a few others, who had
also been fortunate in reaching Savannah in small squads. The other poor
fellows, who had already been loaded on the trains, were taken away to
Florida, and many of them never lived to return. On the 24th those of us
who had been paroled were taken on board our ships, and were once more
safely housed under that great, glorious and beautiful Star Spangled
Banner. Long may she wave.



As November wore away long-continued, chill, searching rains desolated
our days and nights. The great, cold drops pelted down slowly,
dismally, and incessantly. Each seemed to beat through our emaciated
frames against the very marrow of our bones, and to be battering its way
remorselessly into the citadel of life, like the cruel drops that fell
from the basin of the inquisitors upon the firmly-fastened head of their
victim, until his reason fled, and the death-agony cramped his heart to

The lagging, leaden hours were inexpressibly dreary. Compared with many
others, we were quite comfortable, as our hut protected us from the
actual beating of the rain upon our bodies; but we were much more
miserable than under the sweltering heat of Andersonville, as we lay
almost naked upon our bed of pine leaves, shivering in the raw, rasping
air, and looked out over acres of wretches lying dumbly on the sodden
sand, receiving the benumbing drench of the sullen skies without a groan
or a motion.

It was enough to kill healthy, vigorous men, active and resolute, with
bodies well-nourished and well clothed, and with minds vivacious and
hopeful, to stand these day-and-night-long solid drenchings. No one can
imagine how fatal it was to boys whose vitality was sapped by long months
in Andersonville, by coarse, meager, changeless food, by groveling on the
bare earth, and by hopelessness as to any improvement of condition.

Fever, rheumatism, throat and lung diseases and despair now came to
complete the work begun by scurvy, dysentery and gangrene, in

Hundreds, weary of the long struggle, and of hoping against hope, laid
themselves down and yielded to their fate. In the six weeks that we were
at Millen, one man in every ten died. The ghostly pines there sigh over
the unnoted graves of seven hundred boys, for whom life’s morning closed
in the gloomiest shadows. As many as would form a splendid regiment–as
many as constitute the first born of a populous City–more than three
times as many as were slain outright on our side in the bloody battle of
Franklin, succumbed to this new hardship. The country for which they
died does not even have a record of their names. They were simply
blotted out of existence; they became as though they had never been.

About the middle of the month the Rebels yielded to the importunities of
our Government so far as to agree to exchange ten thousand sick. The
Rebel Surgeons took praiseworthy care that our Government should profit
as little as possible by this, by sending every hopeless case, every man
whose lease of life was not likely to extend much beyond his reaching the
parole boat. If he once reached our receiving officers it was all that
was necessary; he counted to them as much as if he had been a Goliath.
A very large portion of those sent through died on the way to our lines,
or within a few hours after their transports at being once more under the
old Stars and Stripes had moderated.

The sending of the sick through gave our commandant–Captain Bowes–a
fine opportunity to fill his pockets, by conniving at the passage of well
men. There was still considerable money in the hands of a few prisoners.
All this, and more, too, were they willing to give for their lives.
In the first batch that went away were two of the leading sutlers at
Andersonville, who had accumulated perhaps one thousand dollars each by
their shrewd and successful bartering. It was generally believed that
they gave every cent to Bowes for the privilege of leaving. I know
nothing of the truth of this, but I am reasonably certain that they paid
him very handsomely.

Soon we heard that one hundred and fifty dollars each had been sufficient
to buy some men out; then one hundred, seventy-five, fifty, thirty,
twenty, ten, and at last five dollars. Whether the upright Bowes drew
the line at the latter figure, and refused to sell his honor for less
than the ruling rates of a street-walker’s virtue, I know not. It was
the lowest quotation that came to my knowledge, but he may have gone
cheaper. I have always observed that when men or women begin to traffic
in themselves, their price falls as rapidly as that of a piece of tainted
meat in hot weather. If one could buy them at the rate they wind up
with, and sell them at their first price, there would be room for an
enormous profit.

The cheapest I ever knew a Rebel officer to be bought was some weeks
after this at Florence. The sick exchange was still going on. I have
before spoken of the Rebel passion for bright gilt buttons. It used to
be a proverbial comment upon the small treasons that were of daily
occurrence on both sides, that you could buy the soul of a mean man in
our crowd for a pint of corn meal, and the soul of a Rebel guard for a
half dozen brass buttons. A boy of the Fifth-fourth Ohio, whose home was
at or near Lima, O., wore a blue vest, with the gilt, bright-trimmed
buttons of a staff officer. The Rebel Surgeon who was examining the sick
for exchange saw the buttons and admired them very much. The boy stepped
back, borrowed a knife from a comrade, cut the buttons off, and handed
them to the Doctor.

“All right, sir,” said he as his itching palm closed over the coveted
ornaments; “you can pass,” and pass he did to home and friends.

Captain Bowes’s merchandizing in the matter of exchange was as open as
the issuing of rations. His agent in conducting the bargaining was a
Raider–a New York gambler and stool-pigeon–whom we called “Mattie.”
He dealt quite fairly, for several times when the exchange was
interrupted, Bowes sent the money back to those who had paid him,
and received it again when the exchange was renewed.

Had it been possible to buy our way out for five cents each Andrews and I
would have had to stay back, since we had not had that much money for
months, and all our friends were in an equally bad plight. Like almost
everybody else we had spent the few dollars we happened to have on
entering prison, in a week or so, and since then we had been entirely

There was no hope left for us but to try to pass the Surgeons as
desperately sick, and we expended our energies in simulating this
condition. Rheumatism was our forte, and I flatter myself we got up two
cases that were apparently bad enough to serve as illustrations for a
patent medicine advertisement. But it would not do. Bad as we made our
condition appear, there were so many more who were infinitely worse,
that we stood no show in the competitive examination. I doubt if we
would have been given an average of “50” in a report. We had to stand
back, and see about one quarter of our number march out and away home.
We could not complain at this–much as we wanted to go ourselves,
since there could be no question that these poor fellows deserved the
precedence. We did grumble savagely, however, at Captain Bowes’s
venality, in selling out chances to moneyed men, since these were
invariably those who were best prepared to withstand the hardships of
imprisonment, as they were mostly new men, and all had good clothes and
blankets. We did not blame the men, however, since it was not in human
nature to resist an opportunity to get away–at any cost-from that
accursed place. “All that a man hath he will give for his life,” and I
think that if I had owned the City of New York in fee simple, I would
have given it away willingly, rather than stand in prison another month.

The sutlers, to whom I have alluded above, had accumulated sufficient to
supply themselves with all the necessaries and some of the comforts of
life, during any probable term of imprisonment, and still have a snug
amount left, but they, would rather give it all up and return to service
with their regiments in the field, than take the chances of any longer
continuance in prison.

I can only surmise how much Bowes realized out of the prisoners by his
venality, but I feel sure that it could not have been less than three
thousand dollars, and I would not be astonished to learn that it was ten
thousand dollars in green.



One night, toward the last of November, there was a general alarm around
the prison. A gun was fired from the Fort, the long-roll was beaten in
the various camps of the guards, and the regiments answered by getting
under arms in haste, and forming near the prison gates.

The reason for this, which we did not learn until weeks later, was that
Sherman, who had cut loose from Atlanta and started on his famous March
to the Sea, had taken such a course as rendered it probable that Millen
was one of his objective points. It was, therefore, necessary that we
should be hurried away with all possible speed. As we had had no news
from Sherman since the end of the Atlanta campaign, and were ignorant of
his having begun his great raid, we were at an utter loss to account for
the commotion among our keepers.

About 3 o’clock in the morning the Rebel Sergeants, who called the roll,
came in and ordered us to turn out immediately and get ready to move.

The morning was one of the most cheerless I ever knew. A cold rain
poured relentlessly down upon us half-naked, shivering wretches, as we
groped around in the darkness for our pitiful little belongings of rags
and cooking utensils, and huddled together in groups, urged on
continually by the curses and abuse of the Rebel officers sent in to get
us ready to move.

Though roused at 3 o’clock, the cars were not ready to receive us till
nearly noon. In the meantime we stood in ranks–numb, trembling, and
heart-sick. The guards around us crouched over fires, and shielded
themselves as best they could with blankets and bits of tent cloth.
We had nothing to build fires with, and were not allowed to approach
those of the guards.

Around us everywhere was the dull, cold, gray, hopeless desolation of the
approach of minter. The hard, wiry grass that thinly covered the once
and sand, the occasional stunted weeds, and the sparse foliage of the
gnarled and dwarfish undergrowth, all were parched brown and sere by the
fiery heat of the long Summer, and now rattled drearily under the
pitiless, cold rain, streaming from lowering clouds that seemed to have
floated down to us from the cheerless summit of some great iceberg; the
tall, naked pines moaned and shivered; dead, sapless leaves fell wearily
to the sodden earth, like withered hopes drifting down to deepen some
Slough of Despond.

Scores of our crowd found this the culmination of their misery. They
laid down upon the ground and yielded to death as s welcome relief,
and we left them lying there unburied when we moved to the cars.

As we passed through the Rebel camp at dawn, on our way to the cars,
Andrews and I noticed a nest of four large, bright, new tin pans–a rare
thing in the Confederacy at that time. We managed to snatch them without
the guard’s attention being attracted, and in an instant had them wrapped
up in our blanket. But the blanket was full of holes, and in spite of
all our efforts, it would slip at the most inconvenient times, so as to
show a broad glare of the bright metal, just when it seemed it could not
help attracting the attention of the guards or their officers. A dozen
times at least we were on the imminent brink of detection, but we finally
got our treasures safely to the cars, and sat down upon them.

The cars were open flats. The rain still beat down unrelentingly.
Andrews and I huddled ourselves together so as to make our bodies afford
as much heat as possible, pulled our faithful old overcoat around us as
far as it would go, and endured the inclemency as best we could.

Our train headed back to Savannah, and again our hearts warmed up with
hopes of exchange. It seemed as if there could be no other purpose of
taking us out of a prison so recently established and at such cost as

As we approached the coast the rain ceased, but a piercing cold wind set
in, that threatened to convert our soaked rags into icicles.

Very many died on the way. When we arrived at Savannah almost, if not
quite, every car had upon it one whom hunger no longer gnawed or disease
wasted; whom cold had pinched for the last time, and for whom the golden
portals of the Beyond had opened for an exchange that neither Davis nor
his despicable tool, Winder, could control.

We did not sentimentalize over these. We could not mourn; the thousands
that we had seen pass away made that emotion hackneyed and wearisome;
with the death of some friend and comrade as regularly an event of each
day as roll call and drawing rations, the sentiment of grief had become
nearly obsolete. We were not hardened; we had simply come to look upon
death as commonplace and ordinary. To have had no one dead or dying
around us would have been regarded as singular.

Besides, why should we feel any regret at the passing away of those whose
condition would probably be bettered thereby! It was difficult to see
where we who still lived were any better off than they who were gone
before and now “forever at peace, each in his windowless palace of rest.”
If imprisonment was to continue only another month, we would rather be
with them.

Arriving at Savannah, we were ordered off the cars. A squad from each
car carried the dead to a designated spot, and land them in a row,
composing their limbs as well as possible, but giving no other funeral
rites, not even making a record of their names and regiments. Negro
laborers came along afterwards, with carts, took the bodies to some
vacant ground, and sunk them out of sight in the sand.

We were given a few crackers each–the same rude imitation of “hard tack”
that had been served out to us when we arrived at Savannah the first
time, and then were marched over and put upon a train on the Atlantic &
Gulf Railroad, running from Savannah along the sea coast towards Florida.
What this meant we had little conception, but hope, which sprang eternal
in the prisoner’s breast, whispered that perhaps it was exchange; that
there was some difficulty about our vessels coming to Savannah, and we
were being taken to some other more convenient sea port; probably to
Florida, to deliver us to our folks there. We satisfied ourselves that
we were running along the sea coast by tasting the water in the streams
we crossed, whenever we could get an opportunity to dip up some. As long
as the water tasted salty we knew we were near the sea, and hope burned

The truth was–as we afterwards learned–the Rebels were terribly puzzled
what to do with us. We were brought to Savannah, but that did not solve
the problem; and we were sent down the Atlantic & Gulf road as a
temporary expedient

The railroad was the worst of the many bad ones which it was my fortune
to ride upon in my excursions while a guest of the Southern Confederacy.
It had run down until it had nearly reached the worn-out condition of
that Western road, of which an employee of a rival route once said, “that
all there was left of it now was two streaks of rust and the right of
way.” As it was one of the non-essential roads to the Southern
Confederacy, it was stripped of the best of its rolling-stock and
machinery to supply the other more important lines.

I have before mentioned the scarcity of grease in the South, and the
difficulty of supplying the railroads with lubricants. Apparently there
had been no oil on the Atlantic & Gulf since the beginning of the war,
and the screeches of the dry axles revolving in the worn-out boxes were
agonizing. Some thing would break on the cars or blow out on the engine
every few miles, necessitating a long stop for repairs. Then there was
no supply of fuel along the line. When the engine ran out of wood it
would halt, and a couple of negros riding on the tender would assail a
panel of fence or a fallen tree with their axes, and after an hour or
such matter of hard chopping, would pile sufficient wood upon the tender
to enable us to renew our journey.

Frequently the engine stopped as if from sheer fatigue or inanition.
The Rebel officers tried to get us to assist it up the grade by
dismounting and pushing behind. We respectfully, but firmly, declined.
We were gentlemen of leisure, we said, and decidedly averse to manual
labor; we had been invited on this excursion by Mr. Jeff. Davis and his
friends, who set themselves up as our entertainers, and it would be a
gross breach of hospitality to reflect upon our hosts by working our
passage. If this was insisted upon, we should certainly not visit them
again. Besides, it made no difference to us whether the train got along
or not. We were not losing anything by the delay; we were not anxious to
go anywhere. One part of the Southern Confederacy was just as good as
another to us. So not a finger could they persuade any of us to raise to
help along the journey.

The country we were traversing was sterile and poor–worse even than that
in the neighborhood of Andersonville. Farms and farmhouses were scarce,
and of towns there were none. Not even a collection of houses big enough
to justify a blacksmith shop or a store appeared along the whole route.
But few fields of any kind were seen, and nowhere was there a farm which
gave evidence of a determined effort on the part of its occupants to till
the soil and to improve their condition.

When the train stopped for wood, or for repairs, or from exhaustion,
we were allowed to descend from the cars and stretch our numbed limbs.
It did us good in other ways, too. It seemed almost happiness to be
outside of those cursed Stockades, to rest our eyes by looking away
through the woods, and seeing birds and animals that were free. They
must be happy, because to us to be free once more was the summit of
earthly happiness.

There was a chance, too, to pick up something green to eat, and we were
famishing for this. The scurvy still lingered in our systems, and we
were hungry for an antidote. A plant grew rather plentifully along the
track that looked very much as I imagine a palm leaf fan does in its
green state. The leaf was not so large as an ordinary palm leaf fan,
and came directly out of the ground. The natives called it “bull-grass,”
but anything more unlike grass I never saw, so we rejected that
nomenclature, and dubbed them “green fans.” They were very hard to pull
up, it being usually as much as the strongest of us could do to draw them
out of the ground. When pulled up there was found the smallest bit of a
stock–not as much as a joint of one’s little finger–that was eatable.
It had no particular taste, and probably little nutriment, still it was
fresh and green, and we strained our weak muscles and enfeebled sinews at
every opportunity, endeavoring to pull up a “green fan.”

At one place where we stopped there was a makeshift of a garden, one of
those sorry “truck patches,” which do poor duty about Southern cabins for
the kitchen gardens of the Northern, farmers, and produce a few coarse
cow peas, a scanty lot of collards (a coarse kind of cabbage, with a
stalk about a yard long) and some onions to vary the usual side-meat and
corn pone, diet of the Georgia “cracker.” Scanning the patch’s ruins of
vine arid stalk, Andrews espied a handful of onions, which had; remained
ungathered. They tempted him as the apple did Eve. Without stopping to
communicate his intention to me, he sprang from the car, snatched the
onions from their bed, pulled up, half a dozen collard stalks and was on
his way back before the guard could make up his mind to fire upon him.
The swiftness of his motions saved his life, for had he been more
deliberate the guard would have concluded he was trying to, escape, and
shot him down. As it was he was returning back before the guard could
get his gun up. The onions he had, secured were to us more delicious
than wine upon the lees. They seemed to find their way into every fiber
of our bodies, and invigorate every organ. The collard stalks he had
snatched up, in the expectation of finding in them something resembling
the nutritious “heart” that we remembered as children, seeking and,
finding in the stalks of cabbage. But we were disappointed. The stalks
were as dry and rotten as the bones of Southern, society. Even hunger
could find no meat in them.

After some days of this leisurely journeying toward the South, we halted
permanently about eighty-six miles from Savannah. There was no reason
why we should stop there more than any place else where we had been or
were likely to go. It seemed as if the Rebels had simply tired of
hauling us, and dumped us, off. We had another lot of dead, accumulated
since we left Savannah, and the scenes at that place were repeated.

The train returned for another load of prisoners.



We were informed that the place we were at was Blackshear, and that it
was the Court House, i. e., the County seat of Pierce County. Where they
kept the Court House, or County seat, is beyond conjecture to me, since I
could not see a half dozen houses in the whole clearing, and not one of
them was a respectable dwelling, taking even so low a standard for
respectable dwellings as that afforded by the majority of Georgia houses.

Pierce County, as I have since learned by the census report, is one of
the poorest Counties of a poor section of a very poor State.
A population of less than two thousand is thinly scattered over its five
hundred square miles of territory, and gain a meager subsistence by a
weak simulation of cultivating patches of its sandy dunes and plains in
“nubbin” corn and dropsical sweet potatos. A few “razor-back” hogs–
a species so gaunt and thin that I heard a man once declare that he had
stopped a lot belonging to a neighbor from crawling through the cracks of
a tight board fence by simply tying a knot in their tails–roam the
woods, and supply all the meat used.

Andrews used to insist that some of the hogs which we saw were so thin
that the connection between their fore and hindquarters was only a single
thickness of skin, with hair on both sides–but then Andrews sometimes
seemed to me to have a tendency to exaggerate.

The swine certainly did have proportions that strongly resembled those of
the animals which children cut out of cardboard. They were like the
geometrical definition of a superfice–all length and breadth, and no
thickness. A ham from them would look like a palm-leaf fan.

I never ceased to marvel at the delicate adjustment of the development of
animal life to the soil in these lean sections of Georgia. The poor land
would not maintain anything but lank, lazy men, with few wants, and none
but lank, lazy men, with few wants, sought a maintenance from it. I may
have tangled up cause and effect, in this proposition, but if so, the
reader can disentangle them at his leisure.

I was not astonished to learn that it took five hundred square miles of
Pierce County land to maintain two thousand “crackers,” even as poorly as
they lived. I should want fully that much of it to support one fair-
sized Northern family as it should be.

After leaving the cars we were marched off into the pine woods, by the
side of a considerable stream, and told that this was to be our camp.
A heavy guard was placed around us, and a number of pieces of artillery
mounted where they would command the camp.

We started in to make ourselves comfortable, as at Millen, by building
shanties. The prisoners we left behind followed us, and we soon had our
old crowd of five or six thousand, who had been our companions at
Savannah and Millers, again with us. The place looked very favorable for
escape. We knew we were still near the sea coast–really not more than
forty miles away–and we felt that if we could once get there we should
be safe. Andrews and I meditated plans of escape, and toiled away at our

About a week after our arrival we were startled by an order for the one
thousand of us who had first arrived to get ready to move out. In a few
minutes we were taken outside the guard line, massed close together, and
informed in a few words by a Rebel officer that we were about to be taken
back to Savannah for exchange.

The announcement took away our breath. For an instant the rush of
emotion made us speechless, and when utterance returned, the first use we
made of it was to join in one simultaneous outburst of acclamation.
Those inside the guard line, understanding what our cheer meant, answered
us with a loud shout of congratulation–the first real, genuine, hearty
cheering that had been done since receiving the announcement of the
exchange at Andersonville, three months before.

As soon as the excitement had subsided somewhat, the Rebel proceeded to
explain that we would all be required to sign a parole. This set us to
thinking. After our scornful rejection of the proposition to enlist in
the Rebel army, the Rebels had felt around among us considerably as to
how we were disposed toward taking what was called the “Non-Combatant’s
Oath;” that is, the swearing not to take up arms against the Southern
Confederacy again during the war. To the most of us this seemed only a
little less dishonorable than joining the Rebel army. We held that our
oaths to our own Government placed us at its disposal until it chose to
discharge us, and we could not make any engagements with its enemies that
might come in contravention of that duty. In short, it looked very much
like desertion, and this we did not feel at liberty to consider.

There were still many among us, who, feeling certain that they could not
survive imprisonment much longer, were disposed to look favorably upon
the Non-Combatant’s Oath, thinking that the circumstances of the case
would justify their apparent dereliction from duty. Whether it would or
not I must leave to more skilled casuists than myself to decide. It was
a matter I believed every man must settle with his own conscience. The
opinion that I then held and expressed was, that if a boy, felt that he
was hopelessly sick, and that he could not live if he remained in prison,
he was justified in taking the Oath. In the absence of our own Surgeons
he would have to decide for himself whether be was sick enough to be
warranted in resorting to this means of saving his life. If he was in as
good health as the majority of us were, with a reasonable prospect of
surviving some weeks longer, there was no excuse for taking the Oath,
for in that few weeks we might be exchanged, be recaptured, or make our
escape. I think this was the general opinion of the prisoners.

While the Rebel was talking about our signing the parole, there flashed
upon all of us at the same moment, a suspicion that this was a trap to
delude us into signing the Non-Combatant’s Oath. Instantly there went up
a general shout:

“Read the parole to us.”

The Rebel was handed a blank parole by a companion, and he read over the
printed condition at the top, which was that those signing agreed not to
bear arms against the Confederates in the field, or in garrison, not to
man any works, assist in any expedition, do any sort of guard duty, serve
in any military constabulary, or perform any kind of military service
until properly exchanged.

For a minute this was satisfactory; then their ingrained distrust of any
thing a Rebel said or did returned, and they shouted:

“No, no; let some of us read it; let Ilinoy’ read it–”

The Rebel looked around in a puzzled manner.

“Who the h–l is ‘Illinoy!’ Where is he?” said he.

I saluted and said:

“That’s a nickname they give me.”

“Very well,” said he, “get up on this stump and read this parole to these
d—d fools that won’t believe me.”

I mounted the stump, took the blank from his hand and read it over
slowly, giving as much emphasis as possible to the all-important clause
at the end–“until properly exchanged.” I then said:

“Boys, this seems all right to me,” and they answered, with almost one

“Yes, that’s all right. We’ll sign that.”

I was never so proud of the American soldier-boy as at that moment. They
all felt that signing that paper was to give them freedom and life. They
knew too well from sad experience what the alternative was. Many felt
that unless released another week would see them in their graves. All
knew that every day’s stay in Rebel hands greatly lessened their chances
of life. Yet in all that thousand there was not one voice in favor of
yielding a tittle of honor to save life. They would secure their freedom
honorably, or die faithfully. Remember that this was a miscellaneous
crowd of boys, gathered from all sections of the country, and from many
of whom no exalted conceptions of duty and honor were expected. I wish
some one would point out to me, on the brightest pages of knightly
record, some deed of fealty and truth that equals the simple fidelity of
these unknown heros. I do not think that one of them felt that he was
doing anything especially meritorious. He only obeyed the natural
promptings of his loyal heart.

The business of signing the paroles was then begun in earnest. We were
separated into squads according to the first letters of our names, all
those whose name began with A being placed in one squad, those beginning
with B, in another, and so on. Blank paroles for each letter were spread
out on boxes and planks at different places, and the signing went on
under the superintendence of a Rebel Sergeant and one of the prisoners.
The squad of M’s selected me to superintend the signing for us, and I
stood by to direct the boys, and sign for the very few who could not
write. After this was done we fell into ranks again, called the roll of
the signers, and carefully compared the number of men with the number of
signatures so that nobody should pass unparoled. The oath was then
administered to us, and two day’s rations of corn meal and fresh beef
were issued.

This formality removed the last lingering doubt that we had of the
exchange being a reality, and we gave way to the happiest emotions.
We cheered ourselves hoarse, and the fellows still inside followed our
example, as they expected that they would share our good fortune in a day
or two.

Our next performance was to set to work, cook our two days’ rations at
once and eat them. This was not very difficult, as the whole supply for
two days would hardly make one square meal. That done, many of the boys
went to the guard line and threw their blankets, clothing, cooking
utensils, etc., to their comrades who were still inside. No one thought
they would have any further use for such things.

“To-morrow, at this time, thank Heaven,” said a boy near me, as he tossed
his blanket and overcoat back to some one inside, “we’ll be in God’s
country, and then I wouldn’t touch them d—d lousy old rags with a ten-
foot pole.”

One of the boys in the M squad was a Maine infantryman, who had been with
me in the Pemberton building, in Richmond, and had fashioned himself a
little square pan out of a tin plate of a tobacco press, such as I have
described in an earlier chapter. He had carried it with him ever since,
and it was his sole vessel for all purposes–for cooking, carrying water,
drawing rations, etc. He had cherished it as if it were a farm or a good
situation. But now, as he turned away from signing his name to the
parole, he looked at his faithful servant for a minute in undisguised
contempt; on the eve of restoration to happier, better things, it was a
reminder of all the petty, inglorious contemptible trials and sorrows he
had endured; he actually loathed it for its remembrances, and flinging it
upon the ground he crushed it out of all shape and usefulness with his
feet, trampling upon it as he would everything connected with his prison
life. Months afterward I had to lend this man my little can to cook his
rations in.

Andrews and I flung the bright new tin pans we had stolen at Millen
inside the line, to be scrambled for. It was hard to tell who were the
most surprised at their appearance–the Rebels or our own boys–for few
had any idea that there were such things in the whole Confederacy, and
certainly none looked for them in the possession of two such poverty-
stricken specimens as we were. We thought it best to retain possession
of our little can, spoon, chess-board, blanket, and overcoat.

As we marched down and boarded the train, the Rebels confirmed their
previous action by taking all the guards from around us. Only some eight
or ten were sent to the train, and these quartered themselves in the
caboose, and paid us no further attention.

The train rolled away amid cheering by ourselves and those we left
behind. One thousand happier boys than we never started on a journey.
We were going home. That was enough to wreathe the skies with glory, and
fill the world with sweetness and light. The wintry sun had something of
geniality and warmth, the landscape lost some of its repulsiveness, the
dreary palmettos had less of that hideousness which made us regard them
as very fitting emblems of treason. We even began to feel a little good-
humored contempt for our hateful little Brats of guards, and to reflect
how much vicious education and surroundings were to be held responsible
for their misdeeds.

We laughed and sang as we rolled along toward Savannah–going back much
faster than the came. We re-told old stories, and repeated old jokes,
that had become wearisome months and months ago, but were now freshened
up and given their olden pith by the joyousness of the occasion. We
revived and talked over old schemes gotten up in the earlier days of
prison life, of what “we would do when we got out,” but almost forgotten
since, in the general uncertainty of ever getting out. We exchanged
addresses, and promised faithfully to write to each other and tell how we
found everything at home.

So the afternoon and night passed. We were too excited to sleep, and
passed the hours watching the scenery, recalling the objects we had
passed on the way to Blackshear, and guessing how near we were to

Though we were running along within fifteen or twenty miles of the coast,
with all our guards asleep in the caboose, no one thought of escape.
We could step off the cars and walk over to the seashore as easily as a
man steps out of his door and walks to a neighboring town, but why should
we? Were we not going directly to our vessels in the harbor of Savannah,
and was it not better to do this, than to take the chances of escaping,
and encounter the difficulties of reaching our blockaders! We thought
so, and we staid on the cars.

A cold, gray Winter morning was just breaking as we reached Savannah.
Our train ran down in the City, and then whistled sharply and ran back a
mile or so; it repeated this maneuver two or three times, the evident
design being to keep us on the cars until the people were ready to
receive us. Finally our engine ran with all the speed she was capable
of, and as the train dashed into the street we found ourselves between
two heavy lines of guards with bayonets fixed.

The whole sickening reality was made apparent by one glance at the guard
line. Our parole was a mockery, its only object being to get us to
Savannah as easily as possible, and to prevent benefit from our recapture
to any of Sherman’s Raiders, who might make a dash for the railroad while
we were in transit. There had been no intention of exchanging us. There
was no exchange going on at Savannah.

After all, I do not think we felt the disappointment as keenly as the
first time we were brought to Savannah. Imprisonment had stupefied us;
we were duller and more hopeless.

Ordered down out of the cars, we were formed in line in the street.

Said a Rebel officer:

“Now, any of you fellahs that ah too sick to go to Chahlston, step
fohwahd one pace.”

We looked at each other an instant, and then the whole line stepped
forward. We all felt too sick to go to Charleston, or to do anything
else in the world.



As the train left the northern suburbs of Savannah we came upon a scene
of busy activity, strongly contrasting with the somnolent lethargy that
seemed to be the normal condition of the City and its inhabitants. Long
lines of earthworks were being constructed, gangs of negros were felling
trees, building forts and batteries, making abatis, and toiling with
numbers of huge guns which were being moved out and placed in position.

As we had had no new prisoners nor any papers for some weeks–the papers
being doubtless designedly kept away from us–we were at a loss to know
what this meant. We could not understand this erection of fortifications
on that side, because, knowing as we did how well the flanks of the City
were protected by the Savannah and Ogeeche Rivers, we could not see how a
force from the coast–whence we supposed an attack must come, could hope
to reach the City’s rear, especially as we had just come up on the right
flank of the City, and saw no sign of our folks in that direction.

Our train stopped for a few minutes at the edge of this line of works,
and an old citizen who had been surveying the scene with senile interest,
tottered over to our car to take a look at us. He was a type of the old
man of the South of the scanty middle class, the small farmer. Long
white hair and beard, spectacles with great round, staring glasses,
a broad-brimmed hat of ante-Revolutionary pattern, clothes that had
apparently descended to him from some ancestor who had come over with
Oglethorpe, and a two-handed staff with a head of buckhorn, upon which he
leaned as old peasants do in plays, formed such an image as recalled to
me the picture of the old man in the illustrations in “The Dairyman’s
Daughter.” He was as garrulous as a magpie, and as opinionated as a
Southern white always is. Halting in front of our car, he steadied
himself by planting his staff, clasping it with both lean and skinny
hands, and leaning forward upon it, his jaws then addressed themselves to
motion thus:

“Boys, who mout these be that ye got?
“One of the Guards:–“O, these is some Yanks that we’ve bin hivin’ down
at Camp Sumter.”

“Yes?” (with an upward inflection of the voice, followed by a close
scrutiny of us through the goggle-eyed glasses,) “Wall, they’re a
powerful ornary lookin’ lot, I’ll declah.”

It will be seen that the old, gentleman’s perceptive powers were much
more highly developed than his politeness.

“Well, they ain’t what ye mout call purty, that’s a fack,” said the

“So yer Yanks, air ye?” said the venerable Goober-Grabber, (the nick-name
in the South for Georgians), directing his conversation to me. “Wall,
I’m powerful glad to see ye, an’ ‘specially whar ye can’t do no harm;
I’ve wanted to see some Yankees ever sence the beginnin’ of the wah, but
hev never had no chance. Whah did ye cum from?”

I seemed called upon to answer, and said: “I came from Illinois; most of
the boys in this car are from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and

“‘Deed! All Westerners, air ye? Wall, do ye know I alluz liked the
Westerners a heap sight better than them blue-bellied New England

No discussion with a Rebel ever proceeded very far without his making an
assertion like this. It was a favorite declaration of theirs, but its
absurdity was comical, when one remembered that the majority of them
could not for their lives tell the names of the New England States, and
could no more distinguish a Downeaster from an Illinoisan than they could
tell a Saxon from a Bavarian. One day, while I was holding a
conversation similar to the above with an old man on guard, another
guard, who had been stationed near a squad made up of Germans, that
talked altogether in the language of the Fatherland, broke in with:

“Out there by post numbah foahteen, where I wuz yesterday, there’s a lot
of Yanks who jest jabbered away all the hull time, and I hope I may never
see the back of my neck ef I could understand ary word they said, Are
them the regular blue-belly kind?”

The old gentleman entered upon the next stage of the invariable routine
of discussion with a Rebel:

“Wall, what air you’uns down heah, a-fightin’ we’uns foh?”

As I had answered this question several hundred times, I had found the
most extinguishing reply to be to ask in return:

“What are you’uns coming up into our country to fight we’uns for?”

Disdaining to notice this return in kind, the old man passed on to the
next stage:

“What are you’uns takin’ ouah niggahs away from us foh?”

Now, if negros had been as cheap as oreoide watches, it is doubtful
whether the speaker had ever had money enough in his possession at one
time to buy one, and yet he talked of taking away “ouah niggahs,” as if
they were as plenty about his place as hills of corn. As a rule, the
more abjectly poor a Southerner was, the more readily he worked himself
into a rage over the idea of “takin’ away ouah niggahs.”

I replied in burlesque of his assumption of ownership:

“What are you coming up North to burn my rolling mills and rob my comrade
here’s bank, and plunder my brother’s store, and burn down my uncle’s

No reply, to this counter thrust. The old man passed to the third
inevitable proposition:

“What air you’uns puttin’ ouah niggahs in the field to fight we’uns foh?”

Then the whole car-load shouted back at him at once:

“What are you’uns putting blood-hounds on our trails to hunt us down,

Old Man–(savagely), “Waal, ye don’t think ye kin ever lick us; leastways
sich fellers as ye air?”

Myself–“Well, we warmed it to you pretty lively until you caught us.
There were none of us but what were doing about as good work as any stock
you fellows could turn out. No Rebels in our neighborhood had much to
brag on. We are not a drop in the bucket, either. There’s millions more
better men than we are where we came from, and they are all determined to
stamp out your miserable Confederacy. You’ve got to come to it, sooner
or later; you must knock under, sure as white blossoms make little
apples. You’d better make up your mind to it.”

Old Man–“No, sah, nevah. Ye nevah kin conquer us! We’re the bravest
people and the best fighters on airth. Ye nevah kin whip any people
that’s a fightin’ fur their liberty an’ their right; an’ ye nevah can
whip the South, sah, any way. We’ll fight ye until all the men air
killed, and then the wimmen’ll fight ye, sah.”

Myself–“Well, you may think so, or you may not. From the way our boys
are snatching the Confederacy’s real estate away, it begins to look as if
you’d not have enough to fight anybody on pretty soon. What’s the
meaning of all this fortifying?”

Old Man–“Why, don’t you know? Our folks are fixin’ up a place foh Bill
Sherman to butt his brains out gain’.”

“Bill Sherman!” we all shouted in surprise: “Why he ain’t within two
hundred miles of this place, is he?”

Old Man–“Yes, but he is, tho’. He thinks he’s played a sharp Yankee
trick on Hood. He found out he couldn’t lick him in a squar’ fight,
nohow; he’d tried that on too often; so he just sneaked ’round behind
him, and made a break for the center of the State, where he thought there
was lots of good stealin’ to be done. But we’ll show him. We’ll soon
hev him just whar we want him, an’ we’ll learn him how to go traipesin’
’round the country, stealin’ nigahs, burnin’ cotton, an’ runnin’ off
folkses’ beef critters. He sees now the scrape he’s got into, an’ he’s
tryin’ to get to the coast, whar the gun-boats’ll help ‘im out. But
he’ll nevah git thar, sah; no sah, nevah. He’s mouty nigh the end of his
rope, sah, and we’ll purty’ soon hev him jist whar you fellows air, sah.”

Myself–“Well, if you fellows intended stopping him, why didn’t you do it
up about Atlanta? What did you let him come clear through the State,
burning and stealing, as you say? It was money in your pockets to head
him off as soon as possible.”

Old Man–“Oh, we didn’t set nothing afore him up thar except Joe Brown’s
Pets, these sorry little Reserves; they’re powerful little account; no
stand-up to’em at all; they’d break their necks runnin’ away ef ye so
much as bust a cap near to ’em.”

Our guards, who belonged to these Reserves, instantly felt that the
conversation had progressed farther than was profitable and one of them
spoke up roughly:

“See heah, old man, you must go off; I can’t hev ye talkin’ to these
prisoners; hits agin my awdahs. Go ‘way now!”

The old fellow moved off, but as he did he flung this Parthian arrow:

“When Sherman gits down deep, he’ll find somethin’ different from the–
little snots of Reserves he ran over up about Milledgeville; he’ll find
he’s got to fight real soldiers.”

We could not help enjoying the rage of the guards, over the low estimate
placed upon the fighting ability of themselves and comrades, and as they
raved, around about what they would do if they were only given an
opportunity to go into a line of battle against Sherman, we added fuel to
the flames of their anger by confiding to each other that we always “knew
that little Brats whose highest ambition was to murder a defenseless
prisoner, could be nothing else than cowards end skulkers in the field.”

“Yaas–sonnies,” said Charlie Burroughs, of the Third Michigan, in that
nasal Yankee drawl, that he always assumed, when he wanted to say
anything very cutting; “you–trundle–bed–soldiers–who’ve never–seen–
kind–that–are–starved–down–to tameness. They’re–jest–as–
different–as–a–lion in–a–menagerie–is–from–his–brother–in–the
woods–who–has–a–nigger–every day–for-dinner. You–fellows–will–
go–into–a–circus–tent–and–throw–tobacco–quids in–the–face–of–
the–lion–in–the–cage–when–you–haven’t–spunk enough–to–look–a
woodchuck–in–the–eye–if–you–met–him–alone. It’s–lots–o’–fun
–to you–to–shoot–down–a–sick–and–starving-man–in–the–Stockade,
but–when–you–see–a–Yank with–a–gun–in–his–hand–your–livers

A little later, a paper, which some one had gotten hold of, in some
mysterious manner, was secretly passed to me. I read it as I could find
opportunity, and communicated its contents to the rest of the boys.
The most important of these was a flaming proclamation by Governor Joe
Brown, setting forth that General Sherman was now traversing the State,
committing all sorts of depredations; that he had prepared the way for
his own destruction, and the Governor called upon all good citizens to
rise en masse, and assist in crushing the audacious invader. Bridges
must be burned before and behind him, roads obstructed, and every inch of
soil resolutely disputed.

We enjoyed this. It showed that the Rebels were terribly alarmed, and we
began to feel some of that confidence that “Sherman will come out all
right,” which so marvelously animated all under his command.



The train started in a few minutes after the close of the conversation
with the old Georgian, and we soon came to and crossed the Savannah River
into South Carolina. The river was wide and apparently deep; the tide
was setting back in a swift, muddy current; the crazy old bridge creaked
and shook, and the grinding axles shrieked in the dry journals, as we
pulled across. It looked very much at times as if we were to all crash
down into the turbid flood–and we did not care very much if we did, if
we were not going to be exchanged.

The road lay through the tide swamp region of South Carolina, a peculiar
and interesting country. Though swamps and fens stretched in all
directions as far as the eye could reach, the landscape was more grateful
to the eye than the famine-stricken, pine-barrens of Georgia, which had
become wearisome to the sight. The soil where it appeared, was rich,
vegetation was luxuriant; great clumps of laurel showed glossy richness
in the greenness of its verdure, that reminded us of the fresh color of
the vegetation of our Northern homes, so different from the parched and
impoverished look of Georgian foliage. Immense flocks of wild fowl
fluttered around us; the Georgian woods were almost destitute of living
creatures; the evergreen live-oak, with its queer festoons of Spanish
moss, and the ugly and useless palmettos gave novelty and interest to the

The rice swamps through which we were passing were the princely
possessions of the few nabobs who before the war stood at the head of
South Carolina aristocracy–they were South Carolina, in fact, as
absolutely as Louis XIV. was France. In their hands–but a few score in
number–was concentrated about all there was of South Carolina education,
wealth, culture, and breeding. They represented a pinchbeck imitation of
that regime in France which was happily swept out of existence by the
Revolution, and the destruction of which more than compensated for every
drop of blood shed in those terrible days. Like the provincial ‘grandes
seigneurs’ of Louis XVI’s reign, they were gay, dissipated and turbulent;
“accomplished” in the superficial acquirements that made the “gentleman”
one hundred years ago, but are grotesquely out of place in this sensible,
solid age, which demands that a man shall be of use, and not merely for
show. They ran horses and fought cocks, dawdled through society when
young, and intrigued in politics the rest of their lives, with frequent
spice-work of duels. Esteeming personal courage as a supreme human
virtue, and never wearying of prating their devotion to the highest
standard of intrepidity, they never produced a General who was even
mediocre; nor did any one ever hear of a South Carolina regiment gaining
distinction. Regarding politics and the art of government as, equally
with arms, their natural vocations, they have never given the Nation a
statesman, and their greatest politicians achieved eminence by advocating
ideas which only attracted attention by their balefulness.

Still further resembling the French ‘grandes seigneurs’ of the eighteenth
century, they rolled in wealth wrung from the laborer by reducing the
rewards of his toil to the last fraction that would support his life and
strength. The rice culture was immensely profitable, because they had
found the secret for raising it more cheaply than even the pauper laborer
of the of world could. Their lands had cost them nothing originally, the
improvements of dikes and ditches were comparatively, inexpensive, the
taxes were nominal, and their slaves were not so expensive to keep as
good horses in the North.

Thousands of the acres along the road belonged to the Rhetts, thousands
to the Heywards, thousands to the Manigault the Lowndes, the Middletons,
the Hugers, the Barnwells, and the Elliots–all names too well known in
the history of our country’s sorrows. Occasionally one of their stately
mansions could be seen on some distant elevation, surrounded by noble old
trees, and superb grounds. Here they lived during the healthy part of
the year, but fled thence to summer resort in the highlands as the
miasmatic season approached.

The people we saw at the stations along our route were melancholy
illustrations of the evils of the rule of such an oligarchy. There was
no middle class visible anywhere–nothing but the two extremes. A man
was either a “gentleman,” and wore white shirt and city-made clothes,
or he was a loutish hind, clad in mere apologies for garments. We
thought we had found in the Georgia “cracker” the lowest substratum of
human society, but he was bright intelligence compared to the South
Carolina “clay-eater” and “sand-hiller.” The “cracker” always gave hopes
to one that if he had the advantage of common schools, and could be made
to understand that laziness was dishonorable, he might develop into
something. There was little foundation for such hope in the average low
South Carolinian. His mind was a shaking quagmire, which did not admit
of the erection of any superstructure of education upon it. The South
Carolina guards about us did not know the name of the next town, though
they had been raised in that section. They did not know how far it was
there, or to any place else, and they did not care to learn. They had no
conception of what the war was being waged for, and did not want to find
out; they did not know where their regiment was going, and did not
remember where it had been; they could not tell how long they had been in
service, nor the time they had enlisted for. They only remembered that
sometimes they had had “sorter good times,” and sometimes “they had been
powerful bad,” and they hoped there would be plenty to eat wherever they
went, and not too much hard marching. Then they wondered “whar a
feller’d be likely to make a raise of a canteen of good whisky?”

Bad as the whites were, the rice plantation negros were even worse,
if that were possible. Brought to the country centuries ago, as brutal
savages from Africa, they had learned nothing of Christian civilization,
except that it meant endless toil, in malarious swamps, under the lash of
the taskmaster. They wore, possibly, a little more clothing than their
Senegambian ancestors did; they ate corn meal, yams and rice, instead of
bananas, yams and rice, as their forefathers did, and they had learned a
bastard, almost unintelligible, English. These were the sole blessings
acquired by a transfer from a life of freedom in the jungles of the Gold
Coast, to one of slavery in the swamps of the Combahee.

I could not then, nor can I now, regret the downfall of a system of
society which bore such fruits.

Towards night a distressingly cold breeze, laden with a penetrating mist,
set in from the sea, and put an end to future observations by making us
too uncomfortable to care for scenery or social conditions. We wanted
most to devise a way to keep warm. Andrews and I pulled our overcoat and
blanket closely about us, snuggled together so as to make each one’s
meager body afford the other as much heat as possible–and endured.

We became fearfully hungry. It will be recollected that we ate the whole
of the two days’ rations issued to us at Blackshear at once, and we had
received nothing since. We reached the sullen, fainting stage of great
hunger, and for hours nothing was said by any one, except an occasional
bitter execration on Rebels and Rebel practices.

It was late at night when we reached Charleston. The lights of the City,
and the apparent warmth and comfort there cheered us up somewhat with the
hopes that we might have some share in them. Leaving the train, we were
marched some distance through well-lighted streets, in which were plenty
of people walking to and fro. There were many stores, apparently stocked
with goods, and the citizens seemed to be going about their business very
much as was the custom up North.

At length our head of column made a “right turn,” and we marched away
from the lighted portion of the City, to a part which I could see through
the shadows was filled with ruins. An almost insupportable odor of gas,
escaping I suppose from the ruptured pipes, mingled with the cold,
rasping air from the sea, to make every breath intensely disagreeable.

As I saw the ruins, it flashed upon me that this was the burnt district
of the city, and they were putting us under the fire of our own guns.
At first I felt much alarmed. Little relish as I had on general
principles, for being shot I had much less for being killed by our own
men. Then I reflected that if they put me there–and kept me–a guard
would have to be placed around us, who would necessarily be in as much
clanger as we were, and I knew I could stand any fire that a Rebel could.

We were halted in a vacant lot, and sat down, only to jump up the next
instant, as some one shouted:

“There comes one of ’em!”

It was a great shell from the Swamp Angel Battery. Starting from a point
miles away, where, seemingly, the sky came down to the sea, was a, narrow
ribbon of fire, which slowly unrolled itself against the star-lit vault
over our heads. On, on it came, and was apparently following the sky
down to the horizon behind us. As it reached the zenith, there came to
our ears a prolonged, but not sharp,


We watched it breathlessly, and it seemed to be long minutes in running
its course; then a thump upon the ground, and a vibration, told that it
had struck. For a moment there was a dead silence. Then came a loud
roar, and the crash of breaking timber and crushing walls. The shell had

Ten minutes later another shell followed, with like results. For awhile
we forgot all about hunger in the excitement of watching the messengers
from “God’s country.” What happiness to be where those shells came from.
Soon a Rebel battery of heavy guns somewhere near and in front of us,
waked up, and began answering with dull, slow thumps that made the ground
shudder. This continued about an hour, when it quieted down again, but
our shells kept coming over at regular intervals with the same slow
deliberation, the same prolonged warning, and the same dreadful crash
when they struck. They had already gone on this way for over a year,
and were to keep it up months longer until the City was captured.

The routine was the same from day to day, month in, and month out, from
early in August, 1863, to the middle of April, 1865. Every few minutes
during the day our folks would hurl a great shell into the beleaguered
City, and twice a day, for perhaps an hour each time, the Rebel batteries
would talk back. It must have been a lesson to the Charlestonians of the
persistent, methodical spirit of the North. They prided themselves on
the length of the time they were holding out against the enemy, and the
papers each day had a column headed:


or 391st, 393d, etc., as the number might be since our people opened fire
upon the City. The part where we lay was a mass of ruins. Many large
buildings had been knocked down; very many more were riddled with shot
holes and tottering to their fall. One night a shell passed through a
large building about a quarter of a mile from us. It had already been
struck several times, and was shaky. The shell went through with a
deafening crash. All was still for an instant; then it exploded with a
dull roar, followed by more crashing of timber and walls. The sound died
away and was succeeded by a moment of silence. Finally the great
building fell, a shapeless heap of ruins, with a noise like that of a
dozen field pieces. We wanted to cheer but restrained ourselves. This
was the nearest to us that any shell came.

There was only one section of the City in reach of our guns and this was
nearly destroyed. Fires had come to complete the work begun by the
shells. Outside of the boundaries of this region, the people felt
themselves as safe as in one of our northern Cities to-day. They had an
abiding faith that they were clear out of reach of any artillery that we
could mount. I learned afterwards from some of the prisoners, who went
into Charleston ahead of us, and were camped on the race course outside
of the City, that one day our fellows threw a shell clear over the City
to this race course. There was an immediate and terrible panic among the
citizens. They thought we had mounted some new guns of increased range,
and now the whole city must go. But the next shell fell inside the
established limits, and those following were equally well behaved, so
that the panic abated. I have never heard any explanation of the matter.
It may have been some freak of the gun-squad, trying the effect of an
extra charge of powder. Had our people known of its signal effect, they
could have depopulated the place in a few hours.

The whole matter impressed me queerly. The only artillery I had ever
seen in action were field pieces. They made an earsplitting crash when
they were discharged, and there was likely to be oceans of trouble for
everybody in that neighborhood about that time. I reasoned from this
that bigger guns made a proportionally greater amount of noise, and bred
an infinitely larger quantity of trouble. Now I was hearing the giants
of the world’s ordnance, and they were not so impressive as a lively
battery of three-inch rifles. Their reports did not threaten to shatter
everything, but had a dull resonance, something like that produced by
striking an empty barrel with a wooden maul. Their shells did not come
at one in that wildly, ferocious way, with which a missile from a six-
pounder convinces every fellow in a long line of battle that he is the
identical one it is meant for, but they meandered over in a lazy,
leisurely manner, as if time was no object and no person would feel put
out at having to wait for them. Then, the idea of firing every quarter
of an hour for a year–fixing up a job for a lifetime, as Andrews
expressed it,–and of being fired back at for an hour at 9 o’clock every
morning and evening; of fifty thousand people going on buying and
selling, eating, drinking and sleeping, having dances, drives and balls,
marrying and giving in marriage, all within a few hundred yards of where
the shells were falling-struck me as a most singular method of conducting

We received no rations until the day after our arrival, and then they
were scanty, though fair in quality. We were by this time so hungry and
faint that we could hardly move. We did nothing for hours but lie around
on the ground and try to forget how famished we were. At the
announcement of rations, many acted as if crazy, and it was all that the
Sergeants could do to restrain the impatient mob from tearing the food
away and devouring it, when they were trying to divide it out. Very
many–perhaps thirty–died during the night and morning. No blame for
this is attached to the Charlestonians. They distinguished themselves
from the citizens of every other place in the Southern Confederacy where
we had been, by making efforts to relieve our condition. They sent quite
a quantity of food to us, and the Sisters of Charity came among us,
seeking and ministering to the sick. I believe our experience was the
usual one. The prisoners who passed through Charleston before us all
spoke very highly of the kindness shown them by the citizens there.

We remained in Charleston but a few days. One night we were marched down
to a rickety depot, and put aboard a still more rickety train. When
morning came we found ourselves running northward through a pine barren
country that resembled somewhat that in Georgia, except that the pine was
short-leaved, there was more oak and other hard woods, and the vegetation
generally assumed a more Northern look. We had been put into close box
cars, with guards at the doors and on top. During the night quite a
number of the boys, who had fabricated little saws out of case knives and
fragments of hoop iron, cut holes through the bottoms of the cars,
through which they dropped to the ground and escaped, but were mostly
recaptured after several days. There was no hole cut in our car, and so
Andrews and I staid in.

Just at dusk we came to the insignificant village of Florence, the
junction of the road leading from Charleston to Cheraw with that running
from Wilmington to Kingsville. It was about one hundred and twenty miles
from Charleston, and the same distance from Wilmington. As our train ran
through a cut near the junction a darky stood by the track gazing at us
curiously. When the train had nearly passed him he started to run up the
bank. In the imperfect light the guards mistook him for one of us who
had jumped from the train. They all fired, and the unlucky negro fell,
pierced by a score of bullets.

That night we camped in the open field. When morning came we saw, a few
hundred yards from us, a Stockade of rough logs, with guards stationed
around it. It was another prison pen. They were just bringing the dead
out, and two men were tossing the bodies up into the four-horse wagon
which hauled them away for burial. The men were going about their
business as coolly as if loading slaughtered hogs. ‘One of them would
catch the body by the feet, and the other by the arms. They would give
it a swing–“One, two, three,” and up it would go into the wagon. This
filled heaping full with corpses, a negro mounted the wheel horse,
grasped the lines, and shouted to his animals:

“Now, walk off on your tails, boys.”

The horses strained, the wagon moved, and its load of what were once
gallant, devoted soldiers, was carted off to nameless graves. This was a
part of the daily morning routine.

As we stood looking at the sickeningly familiar architecture of the
prison pen, a Seventh Indianian near me said, in tones of wearisome

“Well, this Southern Confederacy is the d—dest country to stand logs on
end on God Almighty’s footstool.”



It did not require a very acute comprehension to understand that the
Stockade at which we were gazing was likely to be our abiding place for
some indefinite period in the future.

As usual, this discovery was the death-warrant of many whose lives had
only been prolonged by the hoping against hope that the movement would
terminate inside our lines. When the portentous palisades showed to a
fatal certainty that the word of promise had been broken to their hearts,
they gave up the struggle wearily, lay back on the frozen ground, and

Andrews and I were not in the humor for dying just then. The long
imprisonment, the privations of hunger, the scourging by the elements,
the death of four out of every five of our number had indeed dulled and
stupefied us–bred an indifference to our own suffering and a seeming
callosity to that of others, but there still burned in our hearts, and in
the hearts of every one about us, a dull, sullen, smoldering fire of hate
and defiance toward everything Rebel, and a lust for revenge upon those
who had showered woes upon our heads. There was little fear of death;
even the King of Terrors loses most of his awful character upon tolerably
close acquaintance, and we had been on very intimate terms with him for a
year now. He was a constant visitor, who dropped in upon us at all hours
of the day and night, and would not be denied to any one.

Since my entry into prison fully fifteen thousand boys had died around
me, and in no one of them had I seen the least, dread or reluctance to
go. I believe this is generally true of death by disease, everywhere.
Our ever kindly mother, Nature, only makes us dread death when she
desires us to preserve life. When she summons us hence she tenderly
provides that we shall willingly obey the call.

More than for anything else, we wanted to live now to triumph over the
Rebels. To simply die would be of little importance, but to die
unrevenged would be fearful. If we, the despised, the contemned, the
insulted, the starved and maltreated; could live to come back to our
oppressors as the armed ministers of retribution, terrible in the
remembrance of the wrongs of ourselves and comrade’s, irresistible as the
agents of heavenly justice, and mete out to them that Biblical return of
seven-fold of what they had measured out to us, then we would be content
to go to death afterwards. Had the thrice-accursed Confederacy and our
malignant gaolers millions of lives, our great revenge would have stomach
for them all.

The December morning was gray and leaden; dull, somber, snow-laden clouds
swept across the sky before the soughing wind.

The ground, frozen hard and stiff, cut and hurt our bare feet at every
step; an icy breeze drove in through the holes in our rags, and smote our
bodies like blows from sticks. The trees and shrubbery around were as
naked and forlorn as in the North in the days of early Winter before the
snow comes.

Over and around us hung like a cold miasma the sickening odor peculiar to
Southern forests in Winter time.

Out of the naked, repelling, unlovely earth rose the Stockade, in hideous
ugliness. At the gate the two men continued at their monotonous labor of
tossing the dead of the previous day into the wagon-heaving into that
rude hearse the inanimate remains that had once tempted gallant, manly
hearts, glowing with patriotism and devotion to country–piling up
listlessly and wearily, in a mass of nameless, emaciated corpses,
fluttering with rags, and swarming with vermin, the pride, the joy of a
hundred fair Northern homes, whose light had now gone out forever.

Around the prison walls shambled the guards, blanketed like Indians,
and with faces and hearts of wolves. Other Rebels–also clad in dingy
butternut–slouched around lazily, crouched over diminutive fires,
and talked idle gossip in the broadest of “nigger” dialect. Officers
swelled and strutted hither and thither, and negro servants loitered
around, striving to spread the least amount of work over the greatest
amount of time.

While I stood gazing in gloomy silence at the depressing surroundings
Andrews, less speculative and more practical, saw a good-sized pine stump
near by, which had so much of the earth washed away from it that it
looked as if it could be readily pulled up. We had had bitter experience
in other prisons as to the value of wood, and Andrews reasoned that as we
would be likely to have a repetition of this in the Stockade we were
about to enter, we should make an effort to secure the stump. We both
attacked it, and after a great deal of hard work, succeeded in uprooting
it. It was very lucky that we did, since it was the greatest help in
preserving our lives through the three long months that we remained at

While we were arranging our stump so as to carry it to the best
advantage, a vulgar-faced man, with fiery red hair, and wearing on his
collar the yellow bars of a Lieutenant, approached. This was Lieutenant
Barrett, commandant of the interior of the prison, and a more inhuman
wretch even than Captain Wirz, because he had a little more brains than
the commandant at Andersonville, and this extra intellect was wholly
devoted to cruelty. As he came near he commanded, in loud, brutal tones:

“Attention, Prisoners!”

We all stood up and fell in in two ranks. Said he:

“By companies, right wheel, march!”

This was simply preposterous. As every soldier knows, wheeling by
companies is one of the most difficult of manuvers, and requires some
preparation of a battalion before attempting to execute it. Our thousand
was made up of infantry, cavalry and artillery, representing, perhaps,
one hundred different regiments. We had not been divided off into
companies, and were encumbered with blankets, tents, cooking utensils,
wood, etc., which prevented our moving with such freedom as to make a
company wheel, even had we been divided up into companies and drilled for
the maneuver. The attempt to obey the command was, of course, a
ludicrous failure. The Rebel officers standing near Barrett laughed
openly at his stupidity in giving such an order, but he was furious. He
hurled at us a torrent of the vilest abuse the corrupt imagination of man
can conceive, and swore until he was fairly black in the face. He fired
his revolver off over our heads, and shrieked and shouted until he had to
stop from sheer exhaustion. Another officer took command then, and
marched us into prison.

We found this a small copy of Andersonville. There was a stream running
north and south, on either side of which was a swamp. A Stockade of
rough logs, with the bark still on, inclosed several acres. The front of
the prison was toward the West. A piece of artillery stood before the
gate, and a platform at each corner bore a gun, elevated high enough to
rake the whole inside of the prison. A man stood behind each of these
guns continually, so as to open with them at any moment. The earth was
thrown up against the outside of the palisades in a high embankment,
along the top of which the guards on duty walked, it being high enough to
elevate their head, shoulders and breasts above the tops of the logs.
Inside the inevitable dead-line was traced by running a furrow around the
prison-twenty feet from the Stockade–with a plow. In one respect it was
an improvement on Andersonville: regular streets were laid off, so that
motion about the camp was possible, and cleanliness was promoted. Also,
the crowd inside was not so dense as at Camp Sumter.

The prisoners were divided into hundreds and thousands, with Sergeants at
the heads of the divisions. A very good police force-organized and
officered by the prisoners–maintained order and prevented crime. Thefts
and other offenses were punished, as at Andersonville, by the Chief of
Police sentencing the offenders to be spanked or tied up.

We found very many of our Andersonville acquaintances inside, and for
several days comparisons of experience were in order. They had left
Andersonville a few days after us, but were taken to Charleston instead
of Savannah. The same story of exchange was dinned into their ears until
they arrived at Charleston, when the truth was told them, that no
exchange was contemplated, and that they had been deceived for the
purpose of getting them safely out of reach of Sherman.

Still they were treated well in Charleston–better than they bad been
anywhere else. Intelligent physicians had visited the sick, prescribed
for them, furnished them with proper medicines, and admitted the worst
cases to the hospital, where they were given something of the care that
one would expect in such an institution. Wheat bread, molasses and rice
were issued to them, and also a few spoonfuls of vinegar, daily, which
were very grateful to them in their scorbutic condition. The citizens
sent in clothing, food and vegetables. The Sisters of Charity were
indefatigable in ministering to the sick and dying. Altogether, their
recollections of the place were quite pleasant.

Despite the disagreeable prominence which the City had in the Secession
movement, there was a very strong Union element there, and many men found
opportunity to do favors to the prisoners and reveal to them how much
they abhorred Secession.

After they had been in Charleston a fortnight or more, the yellow fever
broke out in the City, and soon extended its ravages to the prisoners,
quite a number dying from it.

Early in October they had been sent away from the City to their present
location, which was then a piece of forest land. There was no stockade
or other enclosure about them, and one night they forced the guard-line,
about fifteen hundred escaping, under a pretty sharp fire from the
guards. After getting out they scattered, each group taking a different
route, some seeking Beaufort, and other places along the seaboard, and
the rest trying to gain the mountains. The whole State was thrown into
the greatest perturbation by the occurrence. The papers magnified the
proportion of the outbreak, and lauded fulsomely the gallantry of the
guards in endeavoring to withstand the desperate assaults of the frenzied
Yankees. The people were wrought up into the highest alarm as to
outrages and excesses that these flying desperados might be expected to
commit. One would think that another Grecian horse, introduced into the
heart of the Confederate Troy, had let out its fatal band of armed men.
All good citizens were enjoined to turn out and assist in arresting the
runaways. The vigilance of all patrolling was redoubled, and such was
the effectiveness of the measures taken that before a month nearly every
one of the fugitives had been retaken and sent back to Florence. Few of
these complained of any special ill-treatment by their captors, while
many reported frequent acts of kindness, especially when their captors
belonged to the middle and upper classes. The low-down class–the clay-
eaters–on the other hand, almost always abused their prisoners, and
sometimes, it is pretty certain, murdered them in cold blood.

About this time Winder came on from Andersonville, and then everything
changed immediately to the complexion of that place. He began the
erection of the Stockade, and made it very strong. The Dead Line was
established, but instead of being a strip of plank upon the top of low
posts, as at Andersonville, it was simply a shallow trench, which was
sometimes plainly visible, and sometimes not. The guards always resolved
matters of doubt against the prisoners, and fired on them when they
supposed them too near where the Dead Line ought to be. Fifteen acres of
ground were enclosed by the palisades, of which five were taken up by the
creek and swamp, and three or four more by the Dead Line; main streets,
etc., leaving about seven or eight for the actual use of the prisoners,
whose number swelled to fifteen thousand by the arrivals from
Andersonville. This made the crowding together nearly as bad as at the
latter place, and for awhile the same fatal results followed. The
mortality, and the sending away of several thousand on the sick exchange,
reduced the aggregate number at the time of our arrival to about eleven
thousand, which gave more room to all, but was still not one-twentieth of
the space which that number of men should have had.

No shelter, nor material for constructing any, was furnished. The ground
was rather thickly wooded, and covered with undergrowth, when the
Stockade was built, and certainly no bit of soil was ever so thoroughly
cleared as this was. The trees and brush were cut down and worked up
into hut building materials by the same slow and laborious process that I
have described as employed in building our huts at Millen.

Then the stumps were attacked for fuel, and with such persistent
thoroughness that after some weeks there was certainly not enough woody
material left in that whole fifteen acres of ground to kindle a small
kitchen fire. The men would begin work on the stump of a good sized
tree, and chip and split it off painfully and slowly until they had
followed it to the extremity of the tap root ten or fifteen feet below
the surface. The lateral roots would be followed with equal
determination, and trenches thirty feet long, and two or three feet deep
were dug with case-knives and half-canteens, to get a root as thick as
one’s wrist. The roots of shrubs and vines were followed up and gathered
with similar industry. The cold weather and the scanty issues of wood
forced men to do this.

The huts constructed were as various as the materials and the tastes of
the builders. Those who were fortunate enough to get plenty of timber
built such cabins as I have described at Millen. Those who had less eked
out their materials in various ways. Most frequently all that a squad of
three or four could get would be a few slender poles and some brush.
They would dig a hole in the ground two feet deep and large enough for
them all to lie in. Then putting up a stick at each end and laying a
ridge pole across, they, would adjust the rest of their material so as to
form sloping sides capable of supporting earth enough to make a water-
tight roof. The great majority were not so well off as these, and had
absolutely, nothing of which to build. They had recourse to the clay of
the swamp, from which they fashioned rude sun-dried bricks, and made
adobe houses, shaped like a bee hive, which lasted very well until a hard
rain came, when they dissolved into red mire about the bodies of their
miserable inmates.

Remember that all these makeshifts were practiced within a half-a-mile of
an almost boundless forest, from which in a day’s time the camp could
have been supplied with material enough to give every man a comfortable



Winder had found in Barrett even a better tool for his cruel purposes
than Wirz. The two resembled each other in many respects. Both were
absolutely destitute of any talent for commanding men, and could no more
handle even one thousand men properly than a cabin boy could navigate a
great ocean steamer. Both were given to the same senseless fits of
insane rage, coming and going without apparent cause, during which they
fired revolvers and guns or threw clubs into crowds of prisoners, or
knocked down such as were within reach of their fists. These exhibitions
were such as an overgrown child might be expected to make. They did not
secure any result except to increase the prisoners’ wonder that such ill-
tempered fools could be given any position of responsibility.

A short time previous to our entry Barrett thought he had reason to
suspect a tunnel. He immediately announced that no more rations should
be issued until its whereabouts was revealed and the, ringleaders in the
attempt to escape delivered up to him. The rations at that time were
very scanty, so that the first day they were cut off the sufferings were
fearful. The boys thought he would surely relent the next day, but they
did not know their man. He was not suffering any, why should he relax
his severity? He strolled leisurely out from his dinner table, picking
his teeth with his penknife in the comfortable, self-satisfied way of a
coarse man who has just filled his stomach to his entire content–an
attitude and an air that was simply maddening to the famishing wretches,
of whom he inquired tantalizingly:

“Air ye’re hungry enough to give up them G-d d d s–s of b—-s yet?”

That night thirteen thousand men, crazy, fainting with hunger, walked
hither and thither, until exhaustion forced them to become quiet, sat on
the ground and pressed their bowels in by leaning against sticks of wood
laid across their thighs; trooped to the Creek and drank water until
their gorges rose and they could swallow no more–did everything in fact
that imagination could suggest–to assuage the pangs of the deadly
gnawing that was consuming their vitals. All the cruelties of the
terrible Spanish Inquisition, if heaped together, would not sum up a
greater aggregate of anguish than was endured by them. The third day
came, and still no signs of yielding by Barrett. The Sergeants counseled
together. Something must be done. The fellow would starve the whole
camp to death with as little compunction as one drowns blind puppies.
It was necessary to get up a tunnel to show Barrett, and to get boys who
would confess to being leaders in the work. A number of gallant fellows
volunteered to brave his wrath, and save the rest of their comrades.
It required high courage to do this, as there was no question but that
the punishment meted out would be as fearful as the cruel mind of the
fellow could conceive. The Sergeants decided that four would be
sufficient to answer the purpose; they selected these by lot, marched
them to the gate and delivered them over to Barrett, who thereupon
ordered the rations to be sent in. He was considerate enough, too, to
feed the men he was going to torture.

The starving men in the Stockade could not wait after the rations were
issued to cook them, but in many instances mixed the meal up with water,
and swallowed it raw. Frequently their stomachs, irritated by the long
fast, rejected the mess; any very many had reached the stage where they
loathed food; a burning fever was consuming them, and seething their
brains with delirium. Hundreds died within a few days, and hundreds more
were so debilitated by the terrible strain that they did not linger long

The boys who had offered themselves as a sacrifice for the rest were put
into a guard house, and kept over night that Barrett might make a day of
the amusement of torturing them. After he had laid in a hearty
breakfast, and doubtless fortified himself with some of the villainous
sorgum whisky, which the Rebels were now reduced to drinking, he set
about his entertainment.

The devoted four were brought out–one by one–and their hands tied
together behind their backs. Then a noose of a slender, strong hemp rope
was slipped over the first one’s thumbs and drawn tight, after which the
rope was thrown over a log projecting from the roof of the guard house,
and two or three Rebels hauled upon it until the miserable Yankee was
lifted from the ground, and hung suspended by the thumbs, while his
weight seemed tearing his limbs from his shoulder blades. The other
three were treated in the same manner.

The agony was simply excruciating. The boys were brave, and had resolved
to stand their punishment without a groan, but this was too much for
human endurance. Their will was strong, but Nature could not be denied,
and they shrieked aloud so pitifully that a young Reserve standing near
fainted. Each one screamed:

“For God’s sake, kill me! kill me! Shoot me if–you want to, but let me
down from here!” The only effect of this upon Barrett was to light up
his brutal face with a leer of fiendish satisfaction. He said to the
guards with a gleeful wink:

“By God, I’ll learn these Yanks to be more afeard of me than of the old
devil himself. They’ll soon understand that I’m not the man to fool
with. I’m old pizen, I am, when I git started. Jest hear ’em squeal,
won’t yer?”

Then walking from one prisoner to another, he said:

“D—n yer skins, ye’ll dig tunnels, will ye? Ye’ll try to git out, and
run through the country stealin’ and carryin’ off niggers, and makin’
more trouble than yer d—-d necks are worth. I’ll learn ye all about
that. If I ketch ye at this sort of work again, d—-d ef I don’t kill
ye ez soon ez I ketch ye.”

And so on, ad infinitum. How long the boys were kept up there undergoing
this torture can not be said. Perhaps it was an hour or more. To the
locker-on it seemed long hours, to the poor fellows themselves it was
ages. When they were let down at last, all fainted, and were carried
away to the hospital, where they were weeks in recovering from the
effects. Some of them were crippled for life.

When we came into the prison there were about eleven thousand there.
More uniformly wretched creatures I had never before seen. Up to the
time of our departure from Andersonville the constant influx of new
prisoners had prevented the misery and wasting away of life from becoming
fully realized. Though thousands were continually dying, thousands more
of healthy, clean, well-clothed men were as continually coming in from
the front, so that a large portion of those inside looked in fairly good
condition. Put now no new prisoners had come in for months; the money
which made such a show about the sutler shops of Andersonville had been
spent; and there was in every face the same look of ghastly emaciation,
the same shrunken muscles and feeble limbs, the same lack-luster eyes and
hopeless countenances.

One of the commonest of sights was to see men whose hands and feet were
simply rotting off. The nights were frequently so cold that ice a
quarter of an inch thick formed on the water. The naked frames of
starving men were poorly calculated to withstand this frosty rigor, and
thousands had their extremities so badly frozen as to destroy the life in
those parts, and induce a rotting of the tissues by a dry gangrene.
The rotted flesh frequently remained in its place for a long time–
a loathsome but painless mass, that gradually sloughed off, leaving the
sinews that passed through it to stand out like shining, white cords.

While this was in some respects less terrible than the hospital gangrene
at Andersonville, it was more generally diffused, and dreadful to the
last degree. The Rebel Surgeons at Florence did not follow the habit of
those at Andersonville, and try to check the disease by wholesale
amputation, but simply let it run its course, and thousands finally
carried their putrefied limbs through our lines, when the Confederacy
broke up in the Spring, to be treated by our Surgeons.

I had been in prison but a little while when a voice called out from a
hole in the ground, as I was passing:

“S-a-y, Sergeant! Won’t you please take these shears and cut my toes

“What?” said I, in amazement, stopping in front of the dugout.

“Just take these shears, won’t you, and cut my toes off?” answered the
inmate, an Indiana infantryman–holding up a pair of dull shears in his
hand, and elevating a foot for me to look at.

I examined the latter carefully. All the flesh of the toes, except
little pads at the ends, had rotted off, leaving the bones as clean as if
scraped. The little tendons still remained, and held the bones to their
places, but this seemed to hurt the rest of the feet and annoy the man.

“You’d better let one of the Rebel doctors see this,” I said, after
finishing my survey, “before you conclude to have them off. May be they
can be saved.”

“No; d—-d if I’m going to have any of them Rebel butchers fooling
around me. I’d die first, and then I wouldn’t,” was the reply. “You can
do it better than they can. It’s just a little snip. Just try it.”

“I don’t like to,” I replied. “I might lame you for life, and make you
lots of trouble.”

“O, bother! what business is that of yours? They’re my toes, and I want
’em off. They hurt me so I can’t sleep. Come, now, take the shears and
cut ’em off.”

I yielded, and taking the shears, snipped one tendon after another, close
to the feet, and in a few seconds had the whole ten toes lying in a heap
at the bottom of the dug-out. I picked them up and handed them to their
owner, who gazed at them, complacently, and remarked:

“Well, I’m darned glad they’re off. I won’t be bothered with corns any
more, I flatter myself.”



We were put into the old squads to fill the places of those who had
recently died, being assigned to these vacancies according to the
initials of our surnames, the same rolls being used that we had signed as
paroles. This separated Andrews and me, for the “A’s” were taken to fill
up the first hundreds of the First Thousand, while the “M’s,” to which I
belonged, went into the next Thousand.

I was put into the Second Hundred of the Second Thousand, and its
Sergeant dying shortly after, I was given his place, and commanded the
hundred, drew its rations, made out its rolls, and looked out for its
sick during the rest of our stay there.

Andrews and I got together again, and began fixing up what little we
could to protect ourselves against the weather. Cold as this was we
decided that it was safer to endure it and risk frost-biting every night
than to build one of the mud-walled and mud-covered holes that so many,
lived in. These were much warmer than lying out on the frozen ground,
but we believed that they were very unhealthy, and that no one lived long
who inhabited them.

So we set about repairing our faithful old blanket–now full of great
holes. We watched the dead men to get pieces of cloth from their
garments to make patches, which we sewed on with yarn raveled from other
fragments of woolen cloth. Some of our company, whom we found in the
prison, donated us the three sticks necessary to make tent-poles–
wonderful generosity when the preciousness of firewood is remembered.
We hoisted our blanket upon these; built a wall of mud bricks at one end,
and in it a little fireplace to economize our scanty fuel to the last
degree, and were once more at home, and much better off than most of our

One of these, the proprietor of a hole in the ground covered with an arch
of adobe bricks, had absolutely no bed-clothes except a couple of short
pieces of board–and very little other clothing. He dug a trench in the
bottom of what was by courtesy called his tent, sufficiently large to
contain his body below his neck. At nightfall he would crawl into this,
put his two bits of board so that they joined over his breast, and then
say: “Now, boys, cover me over;” whereupon his friends would cover him up
with dry sand from the sides of his domicile, in which he would slumber
quietly till morning, when he would rise, shake the sand from his
garments, and declare that he felt as well refreshed as if he had slept
on a spring mattress.

There has been much talk of earth baths of late years in scientific and
medical circles. I have been sorry that our Florence comrade if he still
lives–did not contribute the results of his experience.

The pinching cold cured me of my repugnance to wearing dead men’s
clothes, or rather it made my nakedness so painful that I was glad to
cover it as best I could, and I began foraging among the corpses for
garments. For awhile my efforts to set myself up in the mortuary second-
hand clothing business were not all successful. I found that dying men
with good clothes were as carefully watched over by sets of fellows who
constituted themselves their residuary legatees as if they were men of
fortune dying in the midst of a circle of expectant nephews and nieces.
Before one was fairly cold his clothes would be appropriated and divided,
and I have seen many sharp fights between contesting claimants.

I soon perceived that my best chance was to get up very early in the
morning, and do my hunting. The nights were so cold that many could not
sleep, and they would walk up and down the streets, trying to keep warm
by exercise. Towards morning, becoming exhausted, they would lie down on
the ground almost anywhere, and die. I have frequently seen so many as
fifty of these. My first “find” of any importance was a young
Pennsylvania Zouave, who was lying dead near the bridge that crossed the
Creek. His clothes were all badly worn, except his baggy, dark trousers,
which were nearly new. I removed these, scraped out from each of the
dozens of great folds in the legs about a half pint of lice, and drew the
garments over my own half-frozen limbs, the first real covering those
members had had for four or five months. The pantaloons only came down
about half-way between my knees and feet, but still they were wonderfully
comfortable to what I had been–or rather not been–wearing. I had
picked up a pair of boot bottoms, which answered me for shoes, and now I
began a hunt for socks. This took several morning expeditions, but on
one of them I was rewarded with finding a corpse with a good brown one–
army make–and a few days later I got another, a good, thick genuine one,
knit at home, of blue yarn, by some patient, careful housewife. Almost
the next morning I had the good fortune to find a dead man with a warm,
whole, infantry dress-coat, a most serviceable garment. As I still had
for a shirt the blouse Andrews had given me at Millen, I now considered
my wardrobe complete, and left the rest of the clothes to those who were
more needy than I.

Those who used tobacco seemed to suffer more from a deprivation of the
weed than from lack of food. There were no sacrifices they would not
make to obtain it, and it was no uncommon thing for boys to trade off
half their rations for a chew of “navy plug.” As long as one had
anything–especially buttons–to trade, tobacco could be procured from
the guards, who were plentifully supplied with it. When means of barter
were gone, chewers frequently became so desperate as to beg the guards to
throw them a bit of the precious nicotine. Shortly after our arrival at
Florence, a prison