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Title: Fifteen Months in Dixie; Or, My Personal Experience in Rebel Prisons

Author: William W. Day

Release date: January 21, 2016 [eBook #50991]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Edwards, Lisa Anne Hatfield and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
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A Story of the Hardships, Privations and Sufferings of
the “Boys in Blue” during the late
War of the Rebellion.
W. W. DAY,

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


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

“Man’s unhumanity to man.”

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

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

W. W. DAY.

Lemond, Minnesota, September, 1889.


1 Introduction
2 The Battle of Chickamauga
5 Captured
6 The Field Hospital
8 A trip over the battle field
8 The Atlanta Prison Pen
9 The “Engine Thieves”
10 Onward to Richmond
12 Libby Prison
13 Scott’s Building
15 “Zult”
16 Danville Prison
17 Bug Soup
18 Patriotic Songs
19 Searched—Small-pox
20 The “Very O Lord”
21 Escape of Johney Squires
22 Skirmishing
25 En Route to Andersonville
27 Description of Andersonville
28 “Dugouts” and “Gophers”
29 Winder and Wirz
31 “Poll Parrot”
32 Georgia Home “Gyaards”
33 Insufficient and poor quality of rations.
34 Digging Wells
35 Providence Spring
35 Stealing a board from the dead line
36 A break in the stockade
36 Plymouth Pilgrims
38 The Raiders
39 Capture and hanging of the raiders
41 Spanking
42 Close quarters
43 Joe Hall and “Tip” Hoover
46 The Negro. Catholic Priest
47 Mortality at Andersonville Dr. Jones’ report
57 Remarks on Dr. Jones’ report
59 Progress of the war
59 Tribute to Logan
60 New quarters
61 Number of deaths in Andersonville
62 Jeff Davis
64 Good-bye Andersonville
65 Arrival at Charleston
66 Historic Ground
66 Florence
68 Naked and cold and hungry, Sherman
69 Letter to Wisconsin Sanitary Commission.
70 Tribute to the Sanitary Commission.
72 Honey
73 Vale Dixie
74 Exchange Commenced
75 My turn comes
77 Homeward bound
77 Conclusion


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

On the 18th of September our Division was bivouacked at Maclamore’s Cove, a few miles from Lee & Gordon’s Mills. Heavy skirmishing had been going on all day at Lee & Gordon’s Mills and Rossville between Crittenden and McCook’s forces and those of the enemy. About 4 P. M., the “Assembly” sounded and we “fell in” and commenced our march for the battlefield. At dark my Regt. was thrown out as flankers. We marched until 10 o’clock along the banks of a small creek while on the opposite side of the creek a similar line of the enemy marched parallel with us. We reached Crawfish Springs about 10 P. M., here we took the road again and continued our march until sunrise on the morning of the 19th when we halted and prepared breakfast. Before we had finished our breakfast we heard a terrible roar and crash of musketry to our front, which was east. This was the opening of the battle of Chickamauga. Immediately afterward an Aide came dashing up to Lieut. Col. Ely, commanding 10th Wis. We were ordered to fall in and load at will. Then the order was given “forward, double quick, march,” and forward we went through brush, over rocks and fallen trees, keeping our alignment almost as perfect as though we were marching in review. 3Very soon we began to hear the sharp “fizt and ping” of bullets, a sound already familiar to our ears for we were veterans of two years service, and then we began to take the Johnies in “out of the wet.” Forward, and still forward, we rushed all the time firing at the enemy who was falling back. After advancing nearly a mile in this manner we found the enemy, en masse, in the edge of a corn field. Our Division halted, the skirmishers fell back into line and the business of the day commenced in deadly earnest. We were ordered to lie down and load and fire at will. Reader, I wish I had the ability to describe what followed. Not more than twenty-five rods in front of us was a dense mass of rebs who were pouring in a shower of bullets that fairly made the ground boil. To the rear of my regiment was a section of Loomis’ 1st Mich. Battery which was firing double shotted canister over our heads. How we did hug the ground, bullets from the front like a swarm of bees, canister from the rear screeching and yelling like lost spirits in deepest sheol. But this could not last long, mortal man could not stand such a shower of lead while he had willing legs to carry him out of such a place.

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

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

We then marched to the rear and halted in a corn field. The stragglers from the regiment began to come in and the brigade was soon together again, but we did no more fighting that day. But just before night we were marched to the front and formed in line of battle. About 8 o’clock in the evening Johnson’s Division attempted to relieve another division in our front, Wood’s, I think it was, when the latter division poured a galling fire into the former, supposing they were rebels. Some of the balls came through the ranks of the 10th, whereupon Company K opened fire without orders and a sad mistake it proved for it revealed our position and a rebel battery opened on us with shells. To say that they made it lively for us is to say but part of the truth. The woods were fairly ablaze 4with bursting shells. The way they hissed and shrieked and howled and crashed was trying to the nerves of a timid man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I left the line I fired my gun at the enemy, and as I retreated I loaded it again, on the run, all but the cap. When Capt. Collins left me I began to look for some safe place and seeing a twenty-four pounder battery, with a Union flag, I started toward it. They were firing canister at the time as I supposed, at the enemy, but they fell around me so thickly that they fairly made the sand boil. I began to think it was a rebel battery with a 5Union flag as a decoy, so I filed right until I got out of range.

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

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

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

Reb,—“Give me yo’ah gun, I say.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I said in the introduction that the Chickamauga campaign did not end in absolute defeat. And, although we were most unmercifully whipped, I still maintain that assertion, Gen. Grant to the contrary, notwithstanding. Rosecrans saved Chattanooga and that was the bone of contention, the prime object of the campaign. But it was a case similar to that of an Arkansas doctor, who when asked how his patients, at a house where he was called the night before, were getting on replied: “Wall, the child is 6dead and the-ah mother is dead, but I’ll be dogoned if I don’t believe I’ll pull the old man through all right.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the way to the hospital we passed over a portion of the battlefield. While marching along I heard the groans of a man off to the right of the road, I called the guard’s attention to it and together we went to the place from whence the sound proceeded; there, lying behind a log, we found a wounded Union soldier. He begged for water saying he had not tasted a drop since he was wounded on the 19th, two days before. He was shot in the abdomen and a portion of the caul, about four inches in length, protruded from the wound. I gave him water, and the guard helped me to carry him to the wagon. His name was Serg. James Morgan, of some Indiana Regiment, the 46th, I think. He lived five days. I cared for him while he lived. One morning I went to see him and found him dead. I searched his pockets and found his Sergeant’s Warrant and a photograph of his sister, with her name and post-office 7address written upon it. These I preserved during my fifteen months imprisonment and sent to her address after I arrived in our lines. I received a letter from her thanking me for preserving those mementoes of her brother; also for the particulars of his death. I also received a letter from Capt. Studebaker, Morgan’s brother-in-law, and to whose company Morgan belonged, dated at Jonesboro, N. C., May 1865, in which he said that my letter gave the family the first news of the fate of Morgan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next morning I secured an old 8rattle-bones of a horse and went over to the Cloud Farm for rations. I reported to the Provost Marshal on Gen. Bragg’s staff, and not being able to procure any rations here, he sent a cavalryman with me as a safe guard. We went down to Crawfish Springs, where I procured a sack full of hard tack and returned to the hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prison Pen here was small, being used only as a stopping place for prisoners en route for Richmond. The enclosure was made of boards 9and was twelve feet in height. On two sides were barracks which would shelter probably five hundred men. In the center was a well of good water. The guards were on the platforms inside and nearly as high as the fence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But our heroes jump from the train 10and take to the woods. They are pursued with men and blood-hounds, are captured and thrown into prison and treated as brigands. Some die, some are hanged, some are exchanged and some make their escape. Lieut. Mason was of the last named class. He was promoted to a 1st Lieutenancy, fought at Chickamauga in my brigade and was taken prisoner and identified as one of the engine thieves, and held for trial. He told me this story seated upon a sixty pound ball, which was attached to his ankle by a ten foot chain.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Columbia was a beautiful city. I 11never saw such flower gardens and ornamental shrubbery as I saw there, but you may be sure that I did not cry when I heard that it was burned down. I don’t know whether any of those brutes who refused to sell me bread for starving, wounded men, were burned or not, if they were, they got a foretaste of their manifest destiny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

Ship Chandlers and Grocers.

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

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

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

Soon after our entrance into the Prison we heard some of our officers calling from the room over our heads. They had been appraised of our arrival by the officers who came with us. I went to a hole in the back part of the room and heard my name called and was told by the officer speaking to come up on the stairs. There was a broad stairway leading from our floor up to the floor overhead, but the hatchway was closed. I went up on the stairs as requested. A narrow board had been pried up and, looking up, I saw Captain Collins whom I had not seen since we left the line of battle together on that eventful 20th of September. To say that we were rejoiced to see each other is to say but little. Questions were asked as to the whereabouts of different comrades, as to who was dead and who alive, and, last but not least, “was I hungry?” Hungry! Poor, weak word 13to express the intense gnawing at my stomach. Hungry! Yes, from head to foot, every nerve and fiber of my system was hungry. He gave me a handful of crackers, genuine crackers, not hard tack with B. C. marked upon them, but crackers. Some of the readers of this sketch were there and know all about it. Those of you who were never in a rebel prison can never imagine how good those crackers tasted. One man who was there and witnessed the above, and who was making anxious inquiries for comrades, was Lieutenant G. W. Buffum, of the 1st Wisconsin Regiment, now the Hon. George W. Buffum, of Clinton Falls Township, Steele county, Minnesota. Ask him whether I was hungry or not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heretofore I had escaped being searched for money and valuables, but one day a rebel came up and ordered all Chickamauga prisoners down to the second floor. I did not immediately obey his orders and soon there was much speculation among us as to what was wanted. Some were of the opinion that there was to be an exchange of Chickamauga prisoners. Others thought they were to be removed to another prison. To settle the question in my own mind I went down. I had not got half way down the stairs before I found what the order meant, for there standing in two ranks, open order, were the 14Chickamauga boys, a rebel to each rank, searching them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One day salt was issued to us and nothing but salt. I suppose “Majah” Turner thought we could eat salt and that would cause us to drink so much water that it would fill us up. A German, who could not talk English, was 15not present when the salt was divided. He afterward learned that salt had been issued and went to the Sergeant of his mess and called, “zult, zult.”

“What?” said the Sergeant.

“Zult, zult.” said Dutchy.

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

“Zult, zult!” says Duchy.

“Go to h—l” says the Sergeant.

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I did not feel so lonesome after I joined my comrades of the 10th Wis. There is something peculiar about the feelings of old soldiers towards each other. Two years before these men were nothing to me. I had never seen them until I joined the regiment at Milwaukee. But what a change those two years had wrought. We had camped together on the tented field and lain side by side in the bivouac. We had touched elbows on those long, weary marches through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama 17and Georgia, had stood shoulder to shoulder in many hard fought battles, and now we are companions in Southern prisons. They were not as kind-hearted, nor as intelligent as Billings but there was the feeling of comradeship which no persons on earth understand as do old soldiers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18The result of this kind of diet and drink was, that almost every man was attacked with a very aggravated form of camp diarrhea, which in time became chronic. Many poor fellows were carried to their graves, and many more are lingering out a miserable existence to-day as a result of drinking that terrible hell-broth. And there was no excuse for this, for not more than ten rods north of the canal was a large spring just in the edge of Dan River, which would have furnished water for the whole city of Danville. The guards simply refused to go so far.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We use to tease them by singing,

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


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

About that time a guard would call 19out. “Yo’, Yanks up dah, yo’ stop dat kyind of singing or I’ll shoot.” “Shoot and be dammed.”—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1st, 1864, was a terribly cold day. The Rebel Steward thinking we were not getting air enough, opened two windows in the ward I was in and then toasted himself at a good fire in another ward. I was charitably inclined and wished from the bottom of my heart that that Steward might have the benefit of a 21hot fire, both here and hereafter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

During the month of December a number of the prisoners in No. 3 attempted a jail delivery by crawling out through the drain of the water-closet. They were detected however and most of them captured and returned to prison. Among those who got away was John Squires, of Co. K., 10th Wis. He had part of a rebel uniform and managed to keep clear of the Home guards for a number of days, but was finally captured and returned to prison. But this did not discourage him. He had finished out his uniform while at large and was ready to try it again at the first opportunity. But Johnny was no Micawber who waited for something to turn up; he made his own opportunities. One day he took his knife and unscrewed the “catch” of the door lock and walked out, as he passed through the door he turned to his fellow prisoners and remarked “Now look he’ah yo’ Yanks, if yo’ don’t have this flo’ah cleaned when I git back yo’ll git no ration to-day.” Then turning he saluted the guard, walked down stairs, saluted the outer guard, walked across the square, over the bridge, passing two guards, past where a number of rebel soldiers were working 22on a fort and on to “God’s Country” where he arrived after weeks of wandering and hunger and cold in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the valleys of West Virginia:—another case of “cheek.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fetid waters of the canal, the unsifted corn meal made into half baked bread, and a lack of vegetables and acids, together with the rigid prison rules, which resulted in filth, and stench, beyond description, were the prime causes of the great mortality 23at Danville. During the five months in which I was confined at Danville, more than 500 of 4,200 prisoners died, or about one in eight.

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

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

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

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

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



Since the foregoing chapter was printed in The People’s Press, we have received the following endorsement of the story from a comrade who knows HOW IT WAS by a personal experience.

Merton, Minn., March 26, ’89.

Editor People’s Press:

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

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

Dexter Lane.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing end them—To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—’tis a consummation
Devoutedly to be wished. To die,—to sleep;—
To sleep! perchance to dream, aye there’s the rub;
26For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause, there’s the respect,
That makes calamity of so long a life;
For who would bear the whips and scorn of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of misprized love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life:
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzled the will;
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27The Stockade was in the form of a parallelogram, being longest from north to south. I estimated that it was fifty rods east and west, by sixty rods north and south and that it contained eighteen acres, but from this must be subtracted the land lying between the Dead-line and Stockade, and the swamp land lying each side of the little stream, known to us as “Deadrun,” leaving, according to my estimate, twelve acres available for the use of the prisoners.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George W. Rouse, Co. D. 10th Wisconsin Inf.—16-3.

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

Wirz had originated a very clumsy and unmilitary organization of the prisoners. He had organized them into companies of ninety men and assigned three companies to a detachment. At the head of these companies and detachments was a sergeant. For convenience in dividing rations, 28we subdivided these companies into squads, or messes, each mess electing their own sergeant. As at Richmond and Danville I was elected sergeant of my mess at Andersonville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think the settlers in western Minnesota and Dakota must be indebted to Andersonville prisoners for the idea of “dugouts.” When we arrived here, we found many of the unfortunate prisoners from Belle Isle who had no “pup tent” or blanket to spare, had provided themselves warm quarters by burrowing into the ground. They had dug holes about the size of the head of a barrel at the surface of the ground and gradually enlarged as they dug down, until they were something the shape of the inside of a large bell. These dugouts were four or five feet deep and usually had two occupants. These gophers were hard looking specimens of humanity. They had built fires in their holes, out of pitch pine; over this they had done their cooking, and over this they had crooned during the cold storms of March; they had had some bacon, but no soap, and the mixture of lamp black from the pine, and grease from the bacon, had disfigured them beyond the recognition of their own mothers. Their hair was long and unkempt, and filled with lamp black until it was so stiff that it stuck out like “quills of the fretful porcupine.” Their clothes were in rags, yes in tatters. They were shoeless, hatless, and usually coatless. They looked more like the terrible fancies of Gustave Dore than like human beings. And yet these poor boys were originally fair-haired, fair-skinned, blue-eyed, loyal, brave sons of fathers and mothers who were in 29easy circumstances, and in many cases wealthy; who would have shed their hearts’ last drop of blood, for that poor boy, if it would have been of any avail. Or they were husbands to fair women, and fathers to sweet blue-eyed children, who were waiting for husband and papa, to come home.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of his personal appearance I have no recollection, but the above is a true picture of his character. He filled a place in the Confederacy which no brave officer of equal rank would have accepted. Hill, Longstreet, Early, Polk, Hardee, even Forrest and Mosby would have spurned with contempt 30an offer of assignment to the position occupied by the cowardly John H. Winder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many attempts were made to tunnel 31out that summer, but so far as I know that was the only successful one. All sorts of ways were resorted to, the favorite way being to start a well and dig down ten or twelve feet, then start a tunnel in it near the surface of the ground. By this means the fresh dirt would be accounted for, as well digging was within the limits of the prison rules. But before the “gopher-hole,” as the tunnels were called by the western boys, was far advanced, a gang of negroes appeared upon the scene and dug it up. We always believed there were spies among us. Some thought the spies were some of our own men who were playing traitor to curry favor with Wirz. Others believed Wirz kept rebel spies among us. I incline to the former opinion.

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

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

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

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

The 29th Alabama was an old regiment and had been to the front and seen war, had fired at Yankees, and had been fired at by Yankees in return; they had no need to shoot defenseless prisoners in order to establish the enviable reputation of having killed a “damned Yank;” while the 55th Georgia was a new regiment, or at least one which had not faced the 32music of bullets and shells on the field of battle, they had a reputation to make yet, and they made one as guards at Andersonville, but the devil himself would not be proud of it, while the 5th Georgia Home Guards, another regiment of guards, was worse than the 55th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your true Yankee is an ingenious 34fellow, and is always trying to better his situation. Many cooking dishes were manufactured by the prisoners out of tin cans, pieces of sheet iron, or car roofing, which had been picked up on the road to prison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During the early part of August 35Providence furnished what Winder and Wirz refused to furnish. After a terrible rain storm, a spring broke out under the walls of the stockade about ten or fifteen rods north of this bridge. Boards were furnished, out of which a trough was made which carried the water into the prison. The water was of good quality, and of sufficient quantity to have supplied the prisoners, could it have been saved by means of a tank or reservoir. This was the historical “Providence Spring” known and worshiped by all ex-Andersonville prisoners.

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

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

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

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

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

This same storm, which occurred on the 12th of August, was the cause of a quite an episode in our otherwise dull life in prison. It was one of those terrible rains which occur sometimes in that region, and had the appearance of a cloud-burst. The rain fell in sheets, the ground in the prison was completely washed, and much good was done in the way of purifying this foul hole. The rapid rush of water down the opposing hills, filled the little stream, which I have called Dead-run, to overflowing, and as there was not sufficient outlet through the stockade, for the fast 36accumulating water, the pressure became so great that about twenty feet of the stockade toppled and fell over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their service had been most entirely in garrisons, where they had always been well supplied with rations and clothing, and exempt from hard marches and exposures, and as a natural 37sequence, were not as well fitted to endure the hardships of prison life, as soldiers who had seen more active service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The supplies of vegetables and food which were sold by the sutlers and restaurateurs, were procured of the guards at the gate, they purchasing 38of the “Crackers” in the vicinity, causing a lively trade to flourish, not only in prison, but with the surrounding country.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A number of murders had been committed by these Raiders, and robberies innumerable, when matters were brought to a focus one day in the early part of July, by Lieutenant Davis, then in command of the Prison vice Wirz who was sick, declaring 39that no more rations would be issued until these men were given up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When they realized this, they began 40to beg for mercy, but they had shown no mercy, and now they were to receive no mercy. They then called upon the priest, who attended them, to speak in their behalf; but the prisoners would have none of it, but called out “hang them.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rebels had a way of punishing 41negroes, which was most exquisite torture. From my quarters in the prison I witnessed the punishment of a negro by this method one day. He was stripped naked and then laid on the ground face downward, his limbs extended to their full length, then his hands and feet were tied to stakes. A burly fellow then took a paddle board full of holes, and applied it to that part of the human anatomy in which our mothers used to appear to be so much interested, when they affectionately drew us across their knee, and pulled off their slipper.

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

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

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

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

“Headquarters Military Prison,
Andersonville, Ga., July 27, 1864.

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

John H. Winder.
Brigadier General Commanding.“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O, how weary we became of waiting. It seemed to us that home, and friends, and the comforts, and necessities of life, were getting further, and further away, instead of nearer, that we could not stand this waiting, and sickness, and misery, and living death 42much longer.

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

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

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

“Our camp-fire shone bright on the mountains
That frowned on the river below,
While we stood by our guns in the morning
And eagerly watched for the foe;
When a rider came out from the darkness,
That hung over mountain and tree,
And shouted “boys up and be ready,
For Sherman will march to the Sea.”
Then cheer upon cheer, for bold Sherman
Went up from each valley and glen,
And the bugles re-echoed the music
That came from the lips of the men;
For we knew that the Stars on our banner
More bright in their splendor would be,
And that blessings from North-land would greet us
When Sherman marched down to the sea.
Then forward, boys, forward to battle
We marched on our wearisome way,
And we stormed the wild hills of Resaca
God bless those who fell on that day:
Then Kenesaw, dark in its glory,
Frowned down on the flag of the free;
But the East and the West bore our standards,
And Sherman marched on to the sea.
Still onward we pressed, till our banner
Swept out from Atlanta’s grim walls,
And the blood of the patriot dampened
The soil where the traitor flag falls:
But we paused not to weep for the fallen,
Who slept by each river and tree,
Yet we twined them a wreath of the laurel
As Sherman marched down to the sea.
Oh, proud was our army that morning,
That stood where the pine proudly towers,
When Sherman said, “boys you are weary;
This day fair Savannah is ours!”
Then sang we a song for our chieftain,
That echoed o’er river and lea,
And the stars in our banner grew brighter
When Sherman marched down to the sea.



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


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

In the latter part of June, however, an addition of nine acres was built, which gave us more room, but did not remove the filth and excrements which had accrued in the older part of the prison. The building on of an addition to the prison was a God-send 43in two ways, it gave more room, and the old north line of stockade was cut down for fuel. The new part was finished one afternoon and a gap made in the old stockade through which the prisoners passed to their new quarters. After dark a raid was made on the old part, and before morning every timber was down, and men who had been compelled to eat their food, at best half cooked, were now supplied with wood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of my comrades, Nelson Herrick, 44of Company B, 10th Wisconsin, had scratched his leg slightly with his finger nail, this had grown into a scorbutic ulcer, at last gangrene supervened upon it, and one of the best men in the 10th Wisconsin was carried to the cemetery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had no intercourse with the guards, and could get no newspapers, hence all the news we got was from the “tenderfeet” when they arrived. But the news we did get after Sherman and Grant began the advance, was of a cheering kind, and we had strong hopes of the ultimate success 45of the Union cause. I cannot imagine what the result, so far as we were concerned, would have been, had Sherman and Grant failed in their great undertakings. Without any hope to cheer us, we must have all been sacrificed in the arms of the Moloch of despair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the trusty unfailing friend of the Union soldier, the caterer and guide of the escaped prisoner, the one on whom he could depend under any, and all circumstances was the negro. The poor black man knew that “Massy Lincum’s sogers” were solving a problem for them which had remained unsolved for more than two hundred years. They knew that the success of the Union arms meant the freedom of the slaves, and they always worshipped a Federal soldier. Any prisoner who escaped from rebel prisons, and succeeded in reaching the Union lines, owes his success to the negroes for without their friendly aid in the way of furnishing food, and pointing out the way, and in most instances acting as guide, they could never have succeeded. He was never so poor but that he would furnish food for a fugitive prisoner and the night was never so dark but that he would guide him on his way, usually 46turning him over to a friend who would run him to the next station on the “underground railroad.”

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


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

“Dr. Joseph Jones for the prosecution.

By the Judge Advocate:

Question. Where do you reside?

Answer. In Augusta, Georgia.

Ques. Are you a graduate of any medical college?

Ans. Of the University of Pennsylvania.

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

Ans. Eight years.

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

Ans. Both.

Ques. What position do you hold now?

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

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

Ans. Since 1858.

Ques. How were you employed during the Rebellion?

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

Ques. Under the direction of whom?

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

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

Ans. Yes Sir.

Ques. For the purpose of making investigations there?

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

Ques. You went there in obedience 48to a letter of instructions?

Ans. In obedience to orders which I received.

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

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

(A document being handed to witness.)

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

Ans. Yes sir, I have.

Ques. Is it accurate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The four angles of the outer line are strengthened by earth-works upon commanding eminences, from which the cannon, in case of an outbreak among the prisoners, may sweep the entire enclosure; and it was designed to connect these works by a line of rifle pits, running zigzag, around the outer stockade; those rifle pits have never been completed. The ground enclosed by the innermost stockade lies in the form of a parallelogram the larger diameter running almost due north and south. This space includes the northern and southern opposing sides of two hills, between which a stream of water runs from west to east. The surface soil of these hills is composed chiefly of sand with varying admixtures of clay and oxide of iron. The clay is sufficiently tenacious to give a considerable 49degree of consistency to the soil. The internal structure of the hills, as revealed by the deep wells, is similar to that already described. The alternate layers of clay and sand, as well as oxide of iron, which form, in its various combinations a cement to the sand, allow of extensive tunneling. The prisoners not only constructed numerous dirt huts with balls of clay and sand, taken from the wells which they have excavated all over those hills, but they have also, in some cases, tunneled extensively from these wells. The lower portion of these hills, bordering on the stream, are wet and boggy from the constant oozing of water. The stockade was built originally to accommodate only ten thousand prisoners, and included at first seventeen acres. Near the close of the month of June the area was enlarged by the addition of ten acres. The ground added was on the northern slope of the largest hill.

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

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

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

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

A striking instance of this occurred in the month of July, when the Federal prisoners within the stockade tried, condemned, and hanged six (6) of their own number, who had been convicted of stealing, and of robbing and murdering their fellow prisoners. They were all hung upon the same day, and thousands of the prisoners gathered around to witness the execution. The Confederate authorities are said not to have interfered with these proceedings. In this collection of men from all parts of the world, every phase of human character was represented; the stronger preyed upon 50the weaker, and even the sick who were unable to defend themselves were robbed of their scanty supplies of food and clothing. Dark stories were afloat, of men, both sick and well, who were murdered at night, strangled to death by comrades for scant supplies of clothing or money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stockade, Confederate States Military Prison.

At the time of my visit to Andersonville a large number of Federal prisoners had been removed to Millen, Savannah, Charleston and other parts of the Confederacy, in anticipation of an advance of General Sherman’s 51forces from Atlanta, with the design of liberating their captive brethren: however, about fifteen thousand prisoners remained confined within the limits of the stockade and Confederate States Military Prison Hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The effects of scurvy were manifested on every hand, and in all its various stages, from the muddy pale complexion, pale gums, feeble, languid muscular motions, lowness of spirits, and fetid breath, to the dusky, dirty leaden complexion, swollen features, spongy purple, livid, fungoid, bleeding gums, loose teeth, œdematous limbs, covered with livid vibices and petechiae, spasmodically flexed, painful and hardened extremities, spontaneous hemorrhages from mucous 52canals, and large, ill conditioned, spreading ulcers covered with a dark purplish fungus growth. I observed that in some cases of scurvy the parotid glands were greatly swollen, and in some instances to such an extent as to preclude entirely the power to articulate. In several cases of dropsy of the abdomen and lower extremities supervening upon scurvy, the patients affirmed that previously to the appearance of the dropsy they had suffered with profuse and obstinate diarrhea, and that when this was checked by a change of diet, from Indian corn bread baked with the husk, to boiled rice, the dropsy appeared. The severe pains and livid patches were frequently associated with swellings in various parts, and especially in the lower extremities, accompanied with stiffness and contractions of the knee joints and ankles, and often with a burning feel of the parts, as if lymph had been effused between the integuments and apeneuroses, preventing the motion of the skin over the swollen parts. Many of the prisoners believed that the scurvy was contagious, and I saw men guarding their wells and springs, fearing lest some man suffering with scurvy might use the water and thus poison them. I observed also numerous cases of hospital gangrene and of spreading scorbutic ulcers, which had supervened upon slight injuries. The scorbutic ulcers presented a dark purple fungoid, elevated surface, with livid swollen edges, exuded a thin, fetid sanious fluid, instead of pus. Many ulcers which originated from the sorbutic condition of the system appeared to become truly gangrenous, assuming all the characteristics of hospital gangrene.

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

The haggard, distressed countenances of these miserable, complaining dejected, living skeletons, crying for medical aid and food, and cursing their Government for its refusal to exchange prisoners, and the ghastly corpses with their glazed eyeballs staring up into vacant space, with the flies swarming down their open grinning mouths, and over their ragged clothes infested with numerous lice, as they lay amongst the sick and dying formed a picture of helpless, hopeless misery which it would be impossible 53to portray by words or by the brush. A feeling of disappointment and even resentment on account of the action of the United States Government upon the subject of exchange of prisoners, appeared to be widespread, and the apparent hopeless, nature of the negotiations for some general exchange of prisoners appeared to be a cause of universal regret and deep and injurious despondency. I heard some of the prisoners go so far as to exonerate the Confederate Government from any charge of intentionally subjecting them to a protracted confinement, with its necessary and unavoidable sufferings in a country cut off from all intercourse with foreign nations, and sorely pressed on all sides, whilst on the other hand they charged their prolonged captivity upon their own Government, which was attempting to make the negro equal to the white man. Some hundreds or more of the prisoners had been released from confinement in the stockade on parole, and filled various offices as clerks, druggists, carpenters, etc., in the various departments. These men were well clothed and presented a stout and healthy appearance, and as a general rule, they presented a much more robust and healthy appearance than the Confederate troops guarding the prisoners.

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

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

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

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

When a gangrenous wound needed washing, the limb was thrust out a little from the blanket, or board, or rags upon which the patient was laying, and water poured over it, and all the putrescent matter allowed to soak into the ground floor of the tent. The supply of rags for dressing wounds was said to be very scant, and I saw the most filthy rags which had been applied several times, and imperfectly washed, used in dressing 54wounds. Where hospital gangrene was prevailing, it was impossible for any wound to escape contagion under these circumstances. The result of the treatment of wounds in the hospital were of the most unsatisfactory character, from this neglect of cleanliness, in the dressings and wounds themselves, as well as from various other causes which will be more fully considered. I saw several gangrenous wounds filled with maggots. I have frequently seen neglected wounds among Confederate soldiers similarly affected; and as far as my experience extends these worms destroy only the dead tissues and do not injure specially the well parts. I have even heard surgeons affirm that a gangrenous wound which had been thoroughly cleansed by maggots, healed more rapidly than if it had been left to itself. This want of cleanliness on the part of the nurses appeared to be the result of carelessness and inattention, rather than of malignant design, and the whole trouble can be traced to the want of proper police and sanitary regulations and to the absence of intelligent organization and division of labor.

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

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

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

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

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

There appeared to be absolute indifference and neglect on the part of the patients of personal cleanliness; their persons and clothing, in most instances, and especially of those suffering with gangrene and scorbutic ulcers, were filthy in the extreme and covered with vermin. It was too often the case that patients were received from the Stockade in a most deplorable condition. I have seen men brought in from the stockade in a dying condition, begrimed from 55head to foot with their own excrements, and so black from smoke and filth that they resembled negroes rather than white men. That this description of the stockade and hospital has not been overdrawn, will appear from the reports of the surgeons in charge, appended to this report.


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

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

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

4th. The fact that hospital gangrene appeared in the stockade first; and originated spontaneously without any previous contagion, and occurred sporadically all over the stockade and prison hospital, was proof positive that this disease will arise whenever the conditions of crowding, filth, foul air and bad diet are present. The exhalations from the hospital and stockade appeared to exert their effects to a considerable distance outside of these localities. The origin of hospital gangrene among these prisoners appeared clearly to depend in great measure upon the state of the general system induced by diet, and various external noxious influences. The rapidity of the appearance and action of the gangrene depended upon the powers and state of the constitution, as well as upon the intensity of the poison in the atmosphere, or upon the direct application of poisonous matter to the wounded 56surface. This was further illustrated by the important fact that hospital gangrene, or a disease resembling it in all essential respects, attacked the intestinal canal of patients laboring under ulceration of the bowels, although there was no local manifestations of gangrene upon the surface of the body. This mode of termination in cases of dysentery was quite common in the foul atmosphere of the Confederate States Military Hospital in the depressed, depraved condition of the system of these Federal prisoners.

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

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

7th. In this foul atmosphere amputation did not arrest hospital gangrene, the disease almost invariably returned. Almost every amputation was followed finally by death, either from the effects of gangrene or from the prevailing diarrhea or dysentry. Nitric acid and escharotics generally in this crowded atmosphere, loaded with noxious effluvia, exerted only temporary effects; after their application to the diseased surfaces, the gangrene would frequently return with redoubled energy; and even after the gangrene had been completely removed by local and constitutional treatment, it would frequently 57return and destroy the patient. As far as my observation extended, very few of the cases of amputation for gangrene recovered. The progress of these cases was frequently very deceptive. I have observed after death the most extensive disorganization of the structures of the stump, when during life there was but little swelling of the part, and the patient was apparently doing well. I endeavored to impress upon the medical officers the view that in this disease treatment was almost useless, without an abundant supply of pure, fresh air, nutritious food, and tonics and stimulants. Such changes, however, as would allow of the isolation of the cases of hospital gangrene appeared to be out of the power of the medical officers.

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

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

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

(End of witnesses’ testimony.)

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

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

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

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

We had heard all sorts of discouraging rumors for the last ten months. The rebels had told us that Lincoln would not exchange prisoners unless the negroes were put upon the same basis as whites. That was just and honorable in the Government, but it was death to us. The fact is that of all the forty-five thousand prisoners 58that I saw in Andersonville there were not to exceed a half dozen negroes, and they were officers’ waiters. The rebels did not take negroes prisoners who were captured in arms, they killed them on the spot, and we knew it, but perhaps our Government did not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

But the victory of the Federals at the battle of Atlanta did not include the surrender of the city. Sherman sent a cavalry corps under General Stoneman to capture Macon, Ga. In this he failed, but he destroyed considerable property, including railroad, rolling stock, bridges and supplies and seriously threatened Macon, giving Winder, at Andersonville, a terrible scare, which resulted in the General Order which I have copied in a previous chapter. Sherman finding that Atlanta was not to be captured without a fight more serious than he cared to risk, moved by the 60flank to Jonesboro south of Atlanta, thus cutting off the supplies for Atlanta. On the 1st of September he moved his army up to within twenty miles of Atlanta, and on the 2d General Slocum moved his forces into that city.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have never been quite satisfied with the tables of mortality published with reference to Andersonville. Dr. Jones in his report, gives the number who died between Feb. 6124th and September 21st, 1864, as nine thousand four hundred and seventy-nine. McElroy gives twelve thousand nine hundred and twelve as the whole number that died during the time Andersonville was used as a prison.

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

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

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

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

It is impossible for any person endowed with the common feelings and instincts of humanity to understand, much less to explain, the character of Winder and Wirz. How any person in this enlightened age could be guilty of the cruelties and barbarities practiced by those two ghouls surpass all attempts at explanation. I am of the opinion that the majority of the people of the South were ignorant of the full extent of the horrors of the Southern Military Prisons. I am led to this conclusion by the fact, that, except upon the questions of slavery and war, they were a kind and generous hearted people, generally speaking, as much so, at least, as any community of people of like extent. And for the further reason that not many of them had access to the inside of those prisons, and they would naturally believe the report of interested Confederates, sooner than the reports of interested Federals, particularly, as they had no intercourse with prisoners themselves, except in isolated cases. And still further, all escaped prisoners, who were recaptured 62and returned to prison spoke highly of the kind treatment of the middle and upper classes, only complaining of the treatment of the lower classes or “Clay Eaters.” But somebody knew of these barbarities and cruelties and somebody was responsible for Winder and Wirz holding their positions, and that after a full investigation and report upon the subject by competent men. That SOMEBODY was Jeff Davis and his cabinet.

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

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

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

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

In his examination touching this report, Colonel Chandler says:

“I noticed that General Winder seemed very indifferent to the welfare of the prisoners, indisposed to do anything, or to do as much as I 63thought he ought to do, to alleviate their sufferings. I remonstrated with him as well as I could, and he used that language which I reported to the Department with reference to it—the language stated in the report. When I spoke of the mortality existing among the prisoners, and pointed out to him that the sickly season was coming on, and that it must necessarily increase unless something was done for their relief—the swamp, for instance, drained, proper food furnished, and in better quality, and other sanitary suggestions which I made to him—he replied to me that he thought it was better to see half of them die than to take care of the men.”

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

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

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

To my comrades who were prisoners let me say, our present motto is: “FIAT JUSTITIA, RUAT COELUM.”




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

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

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

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

Time solved the question of our destination. We went to Augusta again so that Savannah was out of the question. Then we crossed over into South Carolina, after which the point was raised whether it was to be Columbia or Charleston. Many of us were of the opinion that Charleston was the point and that we were to be placed under fire of our own guns, as many prisoners had been heretofore, the rebels hoping thereby to deter our forces from firing into the city. Time passed and we arrived at Branchville. Here is the 65junction of the Columbia road with the Augusta and Charleston road, we took the Charleston track and arrived in Charleston about eleven o’clock p. m. having been two days on the road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Post Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Iverson, of the 5th Georgia, was an easy going, but not altogether bad man, except that he was possessed of an ungovernable temper, and when irritated, would commit acts of which he was, no doubt, ashamed when his pulse assumed a normal condition. Lieutenant Barrett, Adjutant of the 5th Georgia, was to Florence what Wirz was to Andersonville. He was a red headed fiery 66tempered, cruel, and vindictive specimen of the better educated class of Southerners. It seemed to be his delight to to torture and maltreat the prisoners. If there was a single redeeming trait in his character, the unfortunate men who were under his care, never by any chance stumbled onto it. His favorite punishment was to tie the offender up by the thumbs so tightly that his toes barely touched the ground, and have him in this condition for an hour or two at a time. The tortures of such a punishment were indescribable. The victim would suffer the tortures of the damned, and when let down would have to be carried to his quarters by his comrades.

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

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

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

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

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

Soon the fall rains set in and the cold winds, which penetrated to our very marrow through the rags with which we were but partly covered, warned us that winter was approaching. We tried hard to keep up our courage amidst all these discouraging 67circumstances, but it was a sickly, weakly sort of courage. Cheerful, we could not be, even the most religiously inclined were sad and despondent. I am convinced that cheerfulness depends and must depend on outward circumstances as well as on an inward state of mind. Why not? We were men not angels, material beings, not spirits; we were subject to the same appetites and passions to which we, and others are subject, under better circumstances. Starvation, privation, misery and torture had not purged from us the longings, the hungerings and thirstings after the necessaries, the conveniences, yes, the luxuries of life, but on the contrary, had increased them ten fold. How was this to terminate? Would our Government set aside the military policy of the Commander of the army, and take a more humane view of the question? Would the Confederates, already driven to extremes to furnish supplies for their own men, at length yield and give us up, to save expense? or, must we still remain to satisfy the insatiate greed of the Moloch of war? were questions we could and did ask ourselves and each other, but there was found no man so wise as to be able to answer them. Time, swift-footed and fleeting, to the fortunate, but laggard, and slow, to us, could alone solve these questions, and after hours of discussion, to Time we referred them.



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

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

My clothing was old when I was taken prisoner, having been worn through the Chickamauga campaign, and while I was in the hospital at Danville some one had, without my consent, traded me worse clothing, so that by this time I was a spectacle for men perhaps, but hardly for angels and women. Shirt, I had none, my coat was out at the elbows and was minus buttons, my pants were worn to shreds, fore and aft, and looked like bifurcated dish rags. My drawers had been burned at Andersonville 68with their rich burden of lice, while my shoes looked like the breaking up of a hard winter, and yet I was too much of a dude to get clothes from Barrett. How the cold winds did play hide and seek through my rags; how my skeleton frame did shiver, and my scurvy loosened teeth rattle and clatter, as “gust followed gust more furiously” through the tattered remains of what was once a splendid uniform. Evidently something had got to be done or I should, like a ship in a storm, be scudding around with bare poles. My first remedy was patching. With all my varied and useful accomplishments, I had become quite expert with a needle, (a small sized darning needle) and I felt perfectly competent to fix up my unmentionables, provided I could find patches and thread. I was in the condition of the Irishman who wanted to “borry tobaccy and a pipe, I have a match of me own, sorr,” but those to whom I applied for patches and thread, were like an Irishman of my company by the name of Mike Callahan. I went to him one day as he sat smoking his “dhudeen.” Said I, “Mike, can you give me a chew of tobacco?” “I cannot sorr,” puff-puff “I don’t use it myself.” “Well have you got any smoking tobacco?” said I. “I have sorr,” puff—puff—puff—“joost phat will do meself,” was his reply. After looking around for a time, I found an old oil cloth knapsack which I cut up into appropriate patches. Ole Gilbert had a piece of home-made cotton cloth, this we raveled and used for thread with which to patch my pants. This shift answered to keep out the wind, but when I sat down, Oh my! it seemed like sitting on an iceberg and holding the North Pole in my lap.

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

“Florence, S. C., Oct. 8th, 1864.

Secretary of Wis. State Sanitary Commission.

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

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

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

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

    Yours, &c.,
Wm. W. Day.

P. S. I forgot to mention soap—a 69very essential article.”

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

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

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

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

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

On the 25th of September General 70Hood had got into General Sherman’s rear and started north. But Sherman had anticipated just such a move and had provided for it by sending one division to Chattanooga, and another division to Rome, Ga. On the 29th Sherman sent Thomas back to Chattanooga and afterward to Nashville.

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

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


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

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

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

General Grant, in his Memoirs, speaking of this matter, says: “Mr. Lincoln seeing these accounts, had a letter written asking me if I could give him anything that he could say to the loyal people that would comfort them. I told him there was not the slightest occasion for alarm; that with 60,000 such men as Sherman had with him, such a commanding officer as he, could not be cut off in the open country. He might possibly be prevented from reaching the point 71he had started out to reach, but he would get through somewhere and would finally get to his chosen destination; and even if worst came to worst he could return north. I heard afterwards of Mr. Lincoln’s saying to those who would inquire of him as to what he thought about the safety of Sherman’s army, that Sherman was all right; ‘Grant says they are safe with such a General, and that if they cannot get out where they want to they can crawl back by the hole they went in at.’”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T. F.—“Even.”

Oscar.—“It’s a whack.”

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




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

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

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

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

There was a great deal of discussion among the prisoners at the time about the question of the moral right of a man to take the oath of allegiance to save his life. It was argued on one side that our government had left us to rot like dogs, to shift for ourselves and that as winter was coming on and there was no prospect of exchange, a man had a perfect right to take the oath and save his life. On the other side it was argued that we had taken a solemn oath to support the government of the United States and not to give aid or comfort to any of its enemies; that war was hard at best, and that when we took the oath we knew that imprisonment was a probability just as much as a battle was a probability; that we had just as much right to refuse to fight and to turn traitor 73upon the battle field as we had in prison.

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

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

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

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

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

74On the 6th another thousand was selected and sent away. This looked like business; this was no camp rumor started by nobody knew who, but here were surgeons actually selecting feeble men and sending them through the gates, and they did not return.

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

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

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

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

“You can go out.”

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

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

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

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

Just before night a ration of corn meal was issued to us and I have that ration yet. About ten o’clock that night we were ordered on board the cars and away we went to Charleston, where we arrived soon after daylight. We debarked from the cars and were marched into a vacant warehouse on the dock, where we remained until two o’clock p. m. when we were marched on board a ferry boat. The 75bells jingled, the wheels began to revolve and churn up the water and we are speeding down the harbor. All seems lovely as a June morning, when lo, we are ordered to heave to and tie up to the dock. We were marched off from the boat and up a street. It looked as though the Charleston jail was our destination, instead of that long wished for God’s Country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After we had been delivered on board the New York we were registered by name, company and regiment, and then a new uniform was given us and then—can it be possible, a whole plate full of pork and hard-tack, and a quart cup of coffee. And all this luxury for one man! Surely our stomach will be surprised at such princely treatment. After receiving our supper and clothing we were sent on board another vessel, a receiving ship, which was lashed to the New York. Here we sat down on our bundle of clothes and ate our supper. 76If I was to undertake to tell how good that greasy boiled pork and that dry hard-tack and that muddy black coffee tasted, I am afraid my readers would laugh, but try it yourself and see where the laugh comes in. After supper we exchanged our dirty, lousy rags for the new, clean, soft uniform donated to us by Uncle Sam.

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


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

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

I have frequently noticed that if a man wanted to escape punishment for murder he must needs be a wholesale murderer, your retail fellows fare hard when they get into the clutches of the law. If a man steals a sack of flour to keep his family from starvation, he goes to jail; but if he robs a bank of thousands of dollars in money and spends it in riotous living, or in an aggressive war against what is known as the “Tiger,” whether that Tiger reclines upon the green cloth, or roams at will among the members of Boards of Trade or Stock Exchange, or is denominated a “Bull” or a “Bear” in the wheat ring, why 77he simply goes to Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

The Author.
The Celebrated Prison and Cemetery Revisited.

Editor National Tribune:

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

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

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

William Campbell. 11,180. Citizen 78of Kentucky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A half mile from the prison-pen is the cemetery. Here are buried the 13,714 that died a wretched death from starvation and disease. The appearance of the cemetery has been entirely changed since war days. Then it was an old field. The trenches for the dead were dug about seven feet wide and 100 yards long. No coffins were used. The twisted, emaciated forms of the dead prisoners were laid side by side, at the head of each was driven a little stake on which was marked a number corresponding with the number of the body on the death register. The register was kept by one of the prisoners, and 12,793 names are registered, with State, regiment, company, rank, date of death and number of grave. Only 921 graves lack identification. I found 35 of my regiment numbered, and quite a number whom I knew had died there lie with the unknown. 79The head boards have been taken away, and substantial white marble slabs have been erected in their places. The stones are of two kinds. For the identified soldiers the stones are flat, polished slabs, three feet long, (one-half being under ground), four inches thick and 12 inches wide. On the stone is a raised shield, and on this is recorded the name, rank, state and number. For the unknown the stone is four inches square and projects only five inches above the ground. The rows of graves are about 10 or 12 feet apart. There are a few stones that have been furnished by the family or friends of the dead. Aside from the few, so many stones alike are symbolic of a similar cause and an equal fate. The cemetery covers 25 acres, inclosed by a brick wall five feet high. The main entrance is in the center of the west side. In the center of a diamond-shaped plot rises a flagstaff, where the Stars and Stripes are floating from sunrise to sunset. The cemetery presents a beautiful appearance. The grounds are nicely laid out and neatly kept, under the supervision of J. M. Bryant, who lives in a nice brick cottage inside the grounds.

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

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

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

—Rev., VII: 16, 17.

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

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

American Flag

Transcriber’s Notes

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

A number of spelling irregularities have been retained from the printed edition.

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

The corrections in the Errata have been applied.