Diary of John L. Ransom
and Lists of the Dead
"Andersonville Diary, Escape, and List of the Dead: With Name, Co., Regiment, Date of Death and No. of Grave in Cemetery" by John L. Ransom; Auburn, NY; 1881.
A Rebel ruse to gobble up Union troops - A complete surprise - Careless Officers - Heroic Defence - Beginning of a long imprisonment
Belle Island, Richmond, Va., Nov. 22, 1863. I was captured near Rogersville, East Tennessee, on the 6th of this month, while acting as Brigade Quarter-Master Sergt. The Brigade was divided, two regiments twenty miles away, while Brigade Head-Quarters with 7th Ohio and 1st Tennessee Mounted Infantry were at Rogersville. The brigade quarter-master had a large quantity of clothing on hand, which we were about to issue to the brigade as soon as possible. The rebel citizens got up a dance at one of the public houses in the village, and invited all the union officers. This was the evening of Nov. 5th. Nearly all the officers attended and were away from the command nearly all night and many were away all night. We were encamped in a bend of the Holston River. It was a dark rainy night and the river rose rapidly before morning. The dance was a ruse to get our officers away from their command. At break of day the pickets were drove in by rebel cavalry, and orders were immediately received from commanding officer to get wagon train out on the road in ten minutes. The quarter-master had been to the dance and had not returned, consequently it devolved upon me to see to wagon train, which I did, and in probably ten minutes the whole seventy-six mule army wagons were in line out on the main road, while the companies were forming into line and getting ready for a fight. Rebels had us completely surrounded and soon began to fire volley after volley into our disorganized ranks. Not one officer in five was present; Gen. commanding and staff as soon as they realized our danger, started for the river, swam across and got away. We had a small company of artillery with us commanded by a lieutenant. The lieutenant in the absence of other officers, assumed command of the two regiments, and right gallantly did he do service. Kept forming his men for the better protection of his wagon train, while the rebels were shifting around from one point to another, and all the time sending volley after volley into our ranks. Our men did well, and had there been plenty of officers and ammunition, we might have gained the day. After ten hours fighting we were obliged to surrender after having lost in killed over a hundred, and three or four times that number in wounded. After surrendering we were drawn up into line, counted off and hurriedly marched away south. By eight o'clock at night had probably marched ten miles, and encamped until morning. We expected that our troops would intercept and release us, but they did not. An hour before daylight we were up and on the march toward Bristol, Va., that being the nearest railroad station. We were cavalrymen, and marching on foot made us very lame, and we could hardly hobble along. Were very well fed on corn bread and bacon. Reached Bristol, Va., Nov. 8th and were soon aboard of cattle cars en-route for the rebel capital. I must tell here how I came into possession of a very nice and large bed spread which is doing good service even now these cold nights. After we were captured everything was taken away from us, blankets, overcoats, and in many cases our boots and shoes. I had on a new pair of boots, which by muddying them over had escaped the rebel eyes thus far, as being a good pair. As our blankets had been taken away from us we suffered considerably from cold. I saw that if I was going to remain a prisoner of war it behooved me to get hold of a blanket. After a few hours of march I became so lame walking with my new boots on that the rebels were compelled to put me on an old horse that was being lead along by one of the guard. This guard had the bed spread before spoken of. Told him I was going into prison at the beginning of a long winter, and should need a blanket, and could'nt he give me his. We had considerable talk, and were very good friends. Said he rather liked me but wouldn't part with his bed spread. Didn't like me that much, treated me however with apple jack out of his canteen. I kept getting my wits together to arrange some plan to get the article in question. Finally told him I had a large sum of money on my person which I expected would be taken away from me anyway, and as he was a good fellow would rather he have it than any one else. He was delighted and all attention, wanted me to be careful and not let any of the other rebels see the transfer. I had a lot of Michigan broken down wild cat money, and pulled it out of an inside pocket and handed him the roll. It was green paper and of course he supposed it greenbacks. Was very glad of the gift and wanted to know what he could do for me. My first proposition to him was to let me escape, but he couldn't do that, then I told him to give me the bed spread, as it might save my life. After some further parley, he consented and handed over the spread. He was afraid to look at his money for fear some one would see him, and so did not discover that it was worthless until we had become separated. Guards were changed that night and never saw him any more.
The cars ran very slow, and being crowded for room the journey to Richmond was very tedious. Arrived on the morning of Nov. 13th, seven days after capture, at the south end of the "long bridge," ordered out of the cars and into line, counted off and started for Belle Isle. Said island is in the James River, probably covers ten or twelve acres, and is right across from Richmond. The river between Richmond and the island is probably a third or half a mile. The "long bridge" is near the lower part of the island. It is a cold, bleak piece of ground and the winter winds have free sweep from up the river. Before noon we were turned into the pen which is merely enclosed by a ditch and the dirt taken from the ditch thrown up on the outside, making a sort of breastwork. The ditch serves as a dead line, and no prisoners must go near the ditch. The prison is in command of a Lieut. Bossieux, a rather young and gallant looking sort of fellow. Is a born Southerner, talking so much like a negro that you would think he was one, if you could hear him talk and not see him. He has two rebel sergeants to act as his assistants, Sergt. Hight and Sergt. Marks. These two men are very cruel, as is also the Lieut. when angered. Outside the prison pen is a bake house, made of boards, the rebel tents for the accommodation of the officers and guard, and a hospital also of tent cloth. Running from the pen is a lane enclosed by high boards going to the water's edge. At night this is closed up by a gate at the pen, and thrown open in the morning. About half of the six thousand prisoners here have tents while the rest sleep and live out of doors. After I had been on this island two or three days, I was standing near the gate eating some rice soup out of an old broken bottle, thoroughly disgusted with the Southern Confederacy, and this prison in particular. A young man came up to me whom I immediately recognized as George W. Hendryx, a member of my own company "A" 9th Mich. Cavalry, who had been captured some time before myself. Was feeling so blue, cross and cold that I didn't care whether it was him or not. He was on his way to the river to get some water. Found I wasn't going to notice him in any way, and so proceeded on his errand. When I say that George Hendryx was one of the most valued friends I had in the regiment, this action on my part will seem strange as indeed it is. Did not want to see him or any one else I had ever seen before. Well, George came back a few moments after, looked at me a short time and says: "I believe you are John L. Ransom, Q.-M. Sergt. of the same Co. with me, although you don't seem to recognize me." Told him "I was that same person, recognized him and there could be no mistake about it." Wanted to know why in the old harry I didn't speak to him then. After telling him just how it was, freezing to death, half starved and gray backs crawling all over me, etc., we settled down into being glad to see one another.
Nov. 23 - Having a few dollars of good yankee money which I have hoarded since my capture, having purchased a large blank book and intend as long as I am a prisoner of war in this confederacy, to note down from day to day as occasion may occur, events as they happen, treatment, ups and downs generally. It will serve to pass away the time and may be interesting at some future time to read over.
Nov. 24 - Very cold weather. Four or five men chilled to death last night. A large portion of the prisoners who have been in confinement any length of time are reduced to almost skeletons from continued hunger, exposure and filth. Having some money just indulged in an extra ration of corn bread for which I paid twenty cents in yankee script, equal to two dollars confederate money, and should say by the crowd collected around that such a sight was an unusual occurrence, and put me in mind of gatherings I have seen at the north around some curiosity. We received for to day's food half a pint of rice soup and one-quarter of a pound loaf of corn bread. The bread is made from the very poorest meal, coarse, sour and musty; would make poor feed for swine at home. The rice is nothing more than boiled in river water with no seasoning whatever, not even salt, but for all that it tasted nice. The greatest difficulty is the small allowance given us. The prisoners are blue, downcast and talk continually of home and something good to eat. They nearly all think there will be an exchange of prisoners before long and the trick of it is to live until the time approaches. We are divided off into hundreds with a sergeant to each squad who draws the food and divides it up among his men, and woe unto him if a man is wronged out of his share - his life is not worth the snap of a finger if caught cheating. No wood tonight and it is very cold. The nights are long and are made hideous by the moans of suffering wretches.
Nov. 25 - Hendryx is in a very good tent with some nine or ten others and is now trying to get me into the already crowded shelter. They say I can have the first vacancy and as it is impossible for a dozen to remain together long without losing some by sickness, my chances will be good in a few days at fartherest. Food again at four o'clock. In place of soup received about four ounces of salt horse, as we call it.
Nov. 26 - Hendryx sacrificed his own comfort and lay out doors with me last night and I got along much better than the night before. Are getting food twice to day; old prisoners say it is fully a third more than they have been getting. Hardly understand how we could live on much less. A Michigan man (could not learn his name) while at work a few moments ago on the outside with a squad of detailed yankees repairing a part of the embankment which recent rains had washed away, stepped upon the wall to give orders to his men when one of the guards shot him through the head, killing him instantly. Lieut. Bossieux, commander of the prison, having heard the shot, came to learn the cause. He told the guard he ought to be more careful and not shoot those who were on parole and doing fatigue duty, and ordered the body carried to the dead house. Seems tough to me but others don't seem to mind it much. I am mad.
Nov. 27 - Stormy and disagreeable weather. From fifteen to twenty and twenty-five die every day and are buried just outside the prison with no coffins - nothing but canvas wrapped around them. Eight sticks of four foot wood given every squad of one hundred men to-day, and when split up and divided it amounted to nothing towards warming a person. Two or three can put their wood together and boil a little coffee made from bread crusts. The sick are taken out every morning and either sent over to the city or kept in the hospital just outside the prison and on the island. None admitted unless carried out in blankets and so far gone there is not much chance of recovery. Medical attendance is scarce.
Nov. 28 - Very cold and men suffer terribly with hardly any clothing on some of them. A man taken outside to-day, bucked and gagging for talking with a guard; a severe punishment this very cold weather.
Nov. 30 - Came across E.P. Sanders, from Lansing, Michigan, and a jolly old soul is he. Can't get discouraged where he is. Talk a great deal about making our escape but there is not much prospect. We are very strongly guarded with artillery bearing on every part of the prison. The long bridge I have heard so much about crosses the river just below the island. It is very long and has been condemned for years - trains move very slow across it. There was a big fire over in Richmond last night about 2 o'clock; could hear all the fire bells and see the house tops covered with people looking at it. Great excitement among the Johnny Rebs.
Dec. 1 - With no news concerning the great subject - exchange of prisoners. Very hungry and am not having a good time of it. Take it all around I begin to wish I had stayed at home and was at the Jackson Citizen office pulling the old press. Dream continually nights about something good to eat; seems rather hard such plenty at the North and starving here. Have just seen a big fight among the prisoners; just like so many snarly dogs, cross and peevish. A great deal of fighting going on. Rebels collect around on the outside in crowds to see the Yankees bruise themselves and it is quite sport for them. Have succeeded in getting into the tent with Hendryx. One of the mess has been sent over to Richmond Hospital leaving a vacancy which I am to fill. There are nine others, myself making ten. The names are as follows: W.C. Robinson, orderly sergeant, 34th Illinois; W.H. Mustard, hospital steward 100th Pennsylvania; Joe Myers, 34th Illinois; H. Freeman, hospital steward 30th Ohio; C.G. Strong, 4th Ohio cavalry; Corporal John McCarten, 6th Kentucky; U. Kindred, 1st East Tennessee infantry; E.P. Sanders, 20th Michigan infantry; George Hendryx and myself of the 9th Michigan cavalry. A very good crowd of boys, and all try to make their places as pleasant as possible. Gen. Neil Dow to-day came over from Libby Prison on parole of honor to help issue some clothing that has arrived for Belle Isle prisoners from the Sanitary Commission at the North. Sergeant Robinson taken outside to help Gen. Dow in issuing clothing and thinks through his influence to get more out for the same purpose. A man froze to death last night where I slept. The body lay until nearly dark before it was removed. My blanket comes in good play, and it made the boys laugh when I told how I got it. We tell stories, dance around, keep as clean as we can without soap and make the best of a very bad situation.
Dec. 2 - Pleasant weather and favorable for prisoners. At about nine in the morning the work of hunting for vermin commences, and all over camp sit the poor starved wretches, nearly stripped, engaged in picking off and killing the big gray backs. The ground is fairly alive with them, and it requires continual labor to keep from being eaten up alive by them. I just saw a man shot. He was called down to the bank by the guard, and as he leaned over to do some trading another guard close by shot him through the side and it is said mortally wounded him. It was made up between the guards to shoot the man, and when the lieutenant came round to make inquiries concerning the affair, one of them remarked that the ______ passed a counterfeit bill on him the night before, and he thought he would put him where he could not do the like again. The wounded man was taken to the hospital and has since died. His name was Gilbert. He was from New Jersey. Food twice to-day; buggy bean soup and a very small allowance of corn bread. Hungry all the time.
Dec. 3 - Rumors of exchange to be effected soon. Rebels say we will all be exchanged before many days. It cannot be possible our government will allow us to remain here all winter. Gen. Dow is still issuing clothing, but the rebels get more than our men do of it. Guards nearly all dressed in Yankee uniforms. In our mess we have established regulations, and any one not conforming with the rules is to be turned out of the tent. Must take plenty of exercise, keep clean, free as circumstances will permit of vermin, drink no water until it has been boiled, which process purifies and makes it more healthy, are not to allow ourselves to get despondent, and must talk, laugh and make as light of our affairs as possible. Sure death for a person to give up and lose all ambition. Received a spoonful of salt to-day for the first time since I came here.
Dec. 4 - Exchange news below par to-day. Rather colder than yesterday; a great many sick and dying off rapidly. Rebel guards are more strict than usual, and one risks his life by speaking to them at all. Wrote a letter home to-day, also one to a friend in Washington. Doubtful whether I ever hear from them. Robinson comes inside every night and always brings something good. We look forward to the time of his coming with pleasure. Occasionally he brings a stick of wood which we split up fine and build a cheerful fire in our little sod fireplace, sit up close together and talk of home and friends so far away. We call our establishment the "Astor House of Belle Isle." There are so many worse off than we are that we are very well contented and enjoy ourselves after a fashion.
Dec. 5 - Cold and raw weather with no wood. Men are too weak to walk nights to keep warm, sink down and chill to death. At least a dozen were carried out this morning feet foremost. Through Robinson's influence Hendryx and myself will go out tomorrow to issue clothing, and will come in nights to sleep. We are to receive extra rations for our services. In good spirits tonight with a good fire and very comfortable for this place.
Dec. 6 - One month a prisoner to-day - longer than any year of my life before. Hope I am not to see another month in the Confederacy. A great deal of stealing going on among the men. There are organized bands of raiders who do pretty much as they please. A ration of bread is often of more consequence than a man's life. Have received food but once to-day; very cold; at least one hundred men limping around with frozen feet, and some of them crying like little children. Am at work on the outside to-day; go out at nine in the morning and return at four in the afternoon, and by right smart figuring carry in much extra food for tent mates, enough to give all hands a good square meal.
Dec. 7 - No news of importance. The rebels say a flag of truce boat has arrived at City Point and Commissioner Olds telegraphed for and undoubtedly will agree upon terms for an exchange of prisoners. Men receiving boxes from their friends at the north and am writing for one myself without much hope of ever getting it.
Dec. 8 - The men all turned out of the enclosure and are being squadded over. A very stormy and cold day; called out before breakfast and nearly dark before again sent inside. Very muddy and the men have suffered terribly, stand up all day in the cold drizzling rain, with no chance for exercise and many barefooted. I counted nine or ten who went out in the morning not able to get back at night; three of the number being dead.
Dec. 9 - Rumors that one thousand go off to-day to our lines and the same number every day until all are removed. It was not believed until a few moments ago the Lieutenant stepped upon the bank and said that in less than a week we would all be home again, and such a cheering among us; every man who could yell had his mouth stretched. Persons who fifteen minutes ago could not rise to their feet are jumping around in excitement, shaking hands with another and crying, "A general exchange! A general exchange!" All in good spirits and we talk of the good dinners we will get on the road home. Food twice to-day and a little salt.
Dec. 10 - Instead of prisoners going away five hundred more have come, which makes it very crowded. Some are still confident we will go away soon, but I place no reliance on rebel reports. Rather warmer than usual, and the men busying themselves hunting vermin. A priest in the camp distributing tracts. Men told him to bring bread; they want no tracts. Exchange news has died away, and more despondent than ever. I to-day got hold of a Richmond Enquirer which spoke of bread riots in the city, women running around the streets and yelling, "Peace or bread!"
Dec. 11 - Was on guard last night over the clothing outside. Lieut. Bossieux asked Corp. McCarten and myself to eat supper with him last night, which we were very glad to do. Henry, the negro servant, said to the lieutenant after we had through eating: "I golly, masser, don't neber ask them boys to eat with us again, dey eat us out clean gone;" and so we did eat everything on the table and looked for more.
Dec. 12 - At just daylight I got up and was walking around the prison to see if any Michigan men had died through the night, and was just in time to see a young fellow come out of his tent nearly naked and deliberately walk up the steps that lead over the bank. Just as he got on the top the guard fired; sending a ball through his brain, and the poor fellow fell dead in the ditch. I went and got permission to help pull him out. He had been sick for a number of days and was burning up with fever, and no doubt deranged at the time, else he would have known better than to have risked his life in such a manner. His name was Perry McMichael, and he was from Minnesota. Perhaps he is better off, and a much easier death than to die of disease as he undoubtedly would in a few days longer. The work of issuing clothing slowly goes on. In place of Gen. Dow, Col. Sanderson comes over on parole of honor; and is not liked at all. Is of New York and a perfect tyrant; treats us as bad or worse than the rebels themselves. Col. Boyd also comes occasionally and is a perfect gentleman. Talked to me to-day concerning Sanderson's movements, and said if he got through to our lines should complain of him to the authorities at Washington. He took down notes in his diary against him.
Dec. 13 - Nothing of any importance to note down. The officers come over from Richmond every day or two, and make a showing of issuing clothing. The work goes on slowly, and it would seem that if clothing was ever needed and ought to be issued, it is now; yet the officers seem to want to nurse the job and make it last as long as possible. Many cruelties are practiced, principally by the rebel sergeants. The lieutenant does not countenance much cruelty, still he is very quick tempered, and when provoked is apt to do some very severe things. The Yankees are a hard crowd to manage; will steal anything, no matter what, regardless of consequences. Still I don't know as it is any wonder, cooped up as they are in such a place, and called upon to endure such privations. The death rate gradually increases from day to day. A little Cincinnati soldier died to-day. Was captured same time as myself, and we had messed together a number of times before I became identified with the "Astor House Mess." Was in very poor health when captured, but could never quite find out what ailed him. I have many talks with the rebels, and am quite a privileged character. By so doing an able to do much for the boys inside, and there are good boys in there, whom I would do as much for as myself.
Dec. 17 - I have plenty to eat. Go outside every day whether clothing is issued or not. To explain the manner of issuing clothing: The men are called outside by squads, that is, one squad of a hundred men at a time; all stand in a row in front of the boxes of clothing. The officer in charge, Col. Sanderson, begins with the first at the head of the column, looks him over, and says to us paroled men: "Here, give this man a pair of pants," or coat, or such clothing as he may stand in need of. In this way he gets through with a hundred men in about half an hour. Us boys often manage to give three or four articles when only one has been ordered. There seems to be plenty of clothing here, and we can see no reason why it should not be given away. Have to be very careful, though, for if we are caught at these tricks are sent inside to stay. Officers stay on the island only two or three hours, and clothe four or five hundred men, when they could just as well do three or four hundred times as much. It is comical the notes that come in some of the good warm woolen stockings. These have evidently been knit by the good mothers, wives and sisters at the North, and some of the romantic sort have written letters and placed inside, asking the receiver to let them know about himself, his name, etc., etc. Most of them come from the New England states, and they cheer the boys up a great deal.
Dec. 18 - To-day as a squad was drawn up in front of us, waiting for clothing, I saw an Irishman in the ranks who looked familiar. Looked at him for some time and finally thought I recognized in him an old neighbor of mine in Jackson, Michigan; one Jimmy Devers, a whole souled and comical genius as ever it was my fortune to meet. Went up to him and asked what regiment he belonged to; said he belonged to the 23rd Indiana, at which I could not believe it was my old acquaintance. Went back to my work. Pretty soon he said to me: "Ain't you Johnny Ransom?" And then I knew I was right. He had lived in Jackson, but had enlisted in an Indiana regiment. Well, we were glad to see one another and you may just bet that Jimmy got as good a suit of clothes as ever he had in our own lines. Jimmy is a case; was captured on the 1st day of July at the Gettysburg battle, and is consequently an old prisoner. Is very tough and hardy. Says the Johnny Rebs have a big contract on their hands to kill him. But I tell him to take good care of himself anyway, as there is no knowing what he will be called upon to pass through yet.
Dec. 20 - James River nearly frozen over, and rebels say it has not been so cold for years as at the present time. There are hundreds with frozen feet, ears, hands, etc., and laying all over the prison; and the suffering is terrible. Hendryx and myself are intent on some plan for escape. The lieutenant has spies who are on the watch. The authorities know all about any conspiracy almost as soon as it is known among ourselves. Last night just after dark two or three Yankees agreed to give the guard $10 if he would let them get over the bank, to which he promised; and as soon as they got nearly over fired and immediately gave the alarm. One of them received a shot in one of his legs and the others scrambled back over the bank; the three minus their $10 bill and a sound leg. They cannot be trusted at all and will promise anything for greenbacks. Sergt. Bullock of our regiment is here and very sick with fever; cannot possibly live many weeks in such a place as this. Col. Sanderson still issuing clothing, but very unfair, and the men who need it most get none at all. All the outsiders received a suit throughout to-day, myself among the rest. Got a letter from home, everybody is well. They say keep up good heart and we will be exchanged before many weeks.
Dec. 21 - Still cold. Have enough to eat myself, but am one of a thousand. The scurvy is appearing among some of the men, and is an awful disease - caused by want of vegetable diet, acids, etc. Two small pox cases taken to the hospital to-day. A sutler has been established on the island and sells at the following rates: poor brown sugar, $8 per pound; butter, $11; cheese, $10; sour milk $3 per quart and the only article I buy; eggs, $10 per dozen; oysters, $6 per quart and the cheapest food in the market.
Dec. 22 - A large mail came this morning, but nothing for me. A man who gets a letter is besieged with questions, and a crowd gathers around to learn the news, if any, regarding our future. Rations smaller than usual, and Lieut. Bossieux says that it is either exchange or starve with us prisoners sure, as they have not the food to give us. To-day saw a copy of the Richmond Enquirer in which was a long article treating on exchange of prisoners, saying our government would not exchange owing to an excess held by us, and unless their terms were agreed to, as they could not afford to keep us, the coming summer would reduce our ranks so that they would not have many to feed another winter. Rather poor prospects ahead for us poor imprisoned yanks. Lots of Sanitary stores sent on to the island for us, but as yet none have been issued, the rebels (officers in particular), getting fat on what rightfully belongs to us.
Dec. 23 - Almost Christmas and we are planning for a Christmas dinner. Very cold. The rebels are testing their big guns on the opposite shore of the river and fairly shake the ground we stand on. We can see the shells as they leave the guns until they explode, affording quite a pastime for us watching their war machines. Militia in sight drilling over in Richmond. A woman found among us - a prisoner of war. Some one who knew the secret informed Lieutenant Bossieux and he immediately had her taken outside, when she told him the whole story - how she had "followed her lovyer a soldiering" in disguise, and being of a romantic turn, enjoyed it hugely until the funny part was done away with and Madame Collier, from East Tennessee, found herself in durance vile; nothing to do but make the best of it and conceal her sex if possible, hoping for a release, which, however, did not come in the shape she wished. The lieutenant has sent her over to Richmond to be cared for and she is to be sent north by the first flag of truce boat. She tells of another female being among us, but as yet she has not been found out.
Dec. 24 - Must hang up my stockings to night for habit's sake if nothing else. I am enjoying splendid health, and prison life agrees with me. Wrote home to-day.
Dec. 25 - and Christmas - One year ago to-day first went into camp at Coldwater, little dreaming what changes a year would bring around, but there are exchange rumors afloat and hope to see white folks again before many months. All ordered out to be squadded over again, which was quite a disappointment to our mess as we were making preparations for a grand dinner, gotten up by outside hands, Mustard, Myers, Hendryx and myself. However, we had our good things for supper instead of dinner, and it was a big thing, consisting of corn bread and butter, oysters, coffee, beef, crackers, cheese, etc.; all we could possibly eat or do away with, and costing the snug little sum of $200 Confederate money, or $20 in greenbacks. Lay awake long before daylight listening to the bells. As they rang out Christmas good morning I imagined they were in Jackson, Michigan, my old home, and from the spires of the old Presbyterian and Episcopal churches. Little do they think as they are saying their Merry Christmases and enjoying themselves so much, of the hunger and starving here. But there are better days coming.
Dec. 26 - News of exchange and no officers over from Libby to issue clothing. Extra quantity of wood. Rebels all drunk and very domineering. Punish for the smallest kind of excuse. Some men tunneled out of the pen but were retaken and were made to crawl back through the same hole they went out of and the lieutenant kept hitting them with a board as they went down and then ran back and forward from one hole to the other as they stuck up their heads would hit them with a club, keeping them at it for nearly an hour. A large crowd of both rebels and Yankees collected around to see the fun.
Dec. 27 - Col. Sanderson and Col. Boyd came over this morning in a great hurry and began to issue clothing very fast saying an exchange had been agreed upon and they wanted to get rid of it before we all went away. Pretty soon the news got inside and the greatest cheering, yelling, shaking of hands and congratulating one another took place. Just before dinner five hundred were taken out, counted and sent away. Everybody anxious to go away first which of course they cannot do. Sergts. Hight and Marks stand at the gate with big clubs keeping order, letting them out two at a time, occasionally knocking a man down and it is seldom he gets up again very soon. Some of the outside went and the rest go to-morrow. It is a sure thing - a general exchange and all will be sent away immediately. Everybody in good spirits. Guess northern folks will be surprised to see such looking objects come among them. They are the worst looking crowd I ever saw. Extra ration of food and wood to-night and am anxiously waiting for the morrow.
Dec. 28 - For some reason or other no more being taken away and more despondent than ever. Very cold.
Dec. 29 - Nearly as cold weather as I ever saw at the North. All the supplies brought by hand over the long bridge, owing to the river being frozen over and not strong enough to hold up. Rebel officers all drunk during the holidays. Snow an inch deep.
Dec. 30 - No rations issued yesterday to any of the prisoners and a third of all here are on the very point of starvation. Lieut. Bossieux sympathizes with us in word but says it is impossible to help it as they have not the food for us. This is perhaps true as regards edibles but there is no excuse for our receiving such small supplies of wood. They could give us plenty of shelter, plenty of wood and conveniences we do not now get if they felt so disposed.
Dec. 31 - Still very cold and no news encouraging. Rebels very strict. One prisoner found a brother among the guards who had been living in the south for a good many years and lately conscripted into the Confederate army. New Year's eve. Man wounded by the guard shooting, and ball broke his leg. Might better have shot him dead for he will surely die. Raw rice and corn bread issued to-day in small quantities. Richmond Enquirer spoke of the five hundred who left here day before yesterday and they have reached Washington.
NEW YEAR'S DAY - And the place it finds us - Apples to eat and an old comrade joins us - Matters getting worse with occasional rumors of exchange, etc., etc.
Jan. 1, 1864 - A great time this morning wishing one another a Happy New Year. Robinson bought on the outside a dozen apples and gave us all a treat. Nothing but corn bread to eat and very poor quality. Dr. F.L. Lewis, Vet. Surg. 9th Mich. cavalry, came in to-day; was captured at Dandridge, East Tennessee, where our regiment had a severe engagement. Tells me all the news. Col. Acker wounded, etc., etc. Thinks it a queer New Year trip, but also thinks we will be exchanged before many weeks.
Jan. 2 - Rebel congress about to meet, and the people of Richmond demand through the papers that the prisoners confined here be removed immediately, as there is hardly enough for themselves to eat, aside from feeding us "Northern Hirelings." Hear of bread riots and lots of trouble across the river. A big fire last night in the vicinity of Libby Prison.
Jan. 3 - Received a letter from Michigan. Not quite so cold, but disagreeable weather. Nine men bucked and gagged at one time on the outside, two of them for stealing sour beans from a swill-barrel. They would get permission to pass through the gate to see the lieutenant, and instead, would walk around the cookhouse to some barrels containing swill, scoop up their hats full and then run inside; but they were caught, and are suffering a hard punishment for it.
Jan. 4 - Some ladies visited the island to see us blue coats, and laughed very much at our condition; thought it so comical and ludicrous the way the prisoners crowded the bank next the cookhouse, looking over at the piles of bread, and compared us to wild men, and hungry dogs. A chicken belonging to the lieutenant flew up on the bank and was snatched off in short order, and to pay for it we are not to receive a mouthful of food to-day, making five or six thousand suffer for one man catching a little chicken.
Jan. 5 - Succeeded in getting Dr. Lewis into our tent; is rather under the weather, owing to exposure and hardship. Jimmy Devers spends the evenings with us and we have funny times talking over better days - and are nearly talked out. I have said all I can think, and am just beginning to talk it all over again. All our stories have been told from two, to three or four times, and are getting stale. We offer a reward for a good new story.
Jan. 6 - Still prisoners of war, without the remotest idea as to how long we are to remain so. Some of the paroled Yankees on the outside curse and treat the inside prisoners more cruel (when they have a chance) than the rebels themselves. Blass, a Spaniard, who has been a prisoner over a year and refuses to be exchanged, is the lieutenant's right hand man. He tied up a man a few days ago for some misdemeanor and whipped him. He is afraid to come inside, knowing he would lose his life in a jiffy. He also raises the rebel flag at the island mornings, and lowers it at night. It is a dirty rag, and the appearance of it ought to disgust any sensible person.
Jan. 7 - Rainy, cold and disagreeable weather. Henry Stilson, a fellow who was captured with me, was carried out dead this morning. He was diseased when taken, and fell an easy prey to their cruelties. A good deal of raiding is going on among the men. One Captain Moseby commands a band of cut-throats who do nearly as they please, cheating, robbing and knocking down - operating principally upon new prisoners who are unacquainted with prison life. Moseby is named after the rebel guerilla, his real name being something else. He is from New York City, and is a regular bummer.
Jan. 8 - All taken outside to-day to be squadded over - an all day job, and nothing to eat. The men being in hundreds and some dying off every day, leave vacancies in the squads of as many as die out of them, and in order to keep them filled up have to be squadded over every few days, thereby saving rations. Richmond papers are much alarmed for fear of a break among the prisoners confined within the city. It is said there are six hundred muskets secreted among the Belle Islanders. The citizens are frightened almost to death, double guards are placed over us, and very strict orders issued to them.
Jan. 9 - A signal light suspended over the island all last night for some reason unknown to the men confined here. We are cautioned against approaching within eight or ten feet from the bank. One of the raiders went through a man who lay near the bank and started to run after robbing him. A guard who saw the whole affair shot the villain dead and was applauded by all who knew of the affair. Fifteen or twenty carried out this morning dead and thirty or forty nearly so in blankets.
Jan. 10 - A brass band over to-day giving us a tune. Looks more like a wandering tribe of vagabonds than musicians. Discoursed sweet music, such as "Bonnie Blue Flag," "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and for their pains got three groans from their enemies in limbo. Dying off very fast on the island.
Jan. 11 - A steady rain for twenty-four hours, and have not been dry during the time. However it is a warm rain and get along very well. We are still issuing clothing but very slow. About one hundred per day get partly clothed up. No news of exchange. Abe Lincoln reported dead. Papers very bitter on Beast Butler, as they call him. Manage by a good deal of skirmishing to get the papers almost every day in which we read their rebel lies. A plan afoot for escape, but am afraid to say anything of the particulars for fear of my diary being taken away from me. As I came inside to-night with some bread in my haversack some fellows who were on the watch pitched into me and gobbled my saved up rations. I don't care for myself for I have been to supper, but the boys in the tent will have to go without anything to eat for this night. It don't matter much - they are all hungry and it did them as much good as it would our mess.
Jan. 12 - James River very high. A continual roar in our ears caused by the water falling over the cataract just above the island. Rebels fired a large shell over the prison to scare us.
Jan. 15 - Everything runs along about the same. Little excitements from day to day. The weather is fair, and taken all together thus far this winter has been very favorable to us as prisoners. Lieut. Bossieux lost his dog. Some Yanks snatched him into a tent and eat him up. Bossieux very mad and is anxious to know who the guilty ones are. All he can do is to keep all our rations from us one day, and he does it. Seems pretty rough when a man will eat a dog, but such is the case.
Jan. 18 - Too much exertion to even write in my diary. Talk of getting away by escaping, but find no feasible plan. Rebs very watchful. Some mail to-day but nothing for me. Saw some papers, and a new prisoner brought with him a New York paper, but not a word in it about "exchange." Am still outside most every day. Geo. Hendryx at work in the cook house cooking rations for the prisoners. Comes down where I am every day and hands me something to take inside for the boys. He tells the Lieut. he has a brother inside that he is feeding. Although it is against orders, Lieut. Bossieux pays no attention to it.
Jan. 20 - Rebel officers over to-day inspecting us Yanks. Some of the worst looking Arabs in shape of officers I ever saw. Jimmy Devers comes to our tent every night and sits with us until bed time. Is a jolly chap and keeps us all in good spirits with his sayings. Sergt. Robinson, I learned to-day, instead of being a sergeant is a lieutenant. His whole company being captured, he preferred to go with them and share their trials, than go with the officers. The men are very much attached to him and no wonder, as he is a fine fellow. His home is in Sterling, Whiteside Co., Illinois. Corp. McCartin is, as his name would indicate, an Irishman, and his home is in Louisville, Ky. Is a shoemaker by trade. He is also a Mason, and I am going to write down wherein the fact of his being a Mason has brought good into the camp to-day. The boys feeling rather more hungry than usual were rather despondent, when the corporal gets up and says: "Boys, I'll go and get something to eat." Went out of the tent and in twenty minutes came back with three or four pounds of bacon and two loaves of corn bread. We were surprised and asked how he had performed the miracle. Told us then that he was a Mason, as also was the lieutenant in charge, from whom the food came. We decided then and there that the first opportunity that presented itself we would join the Masons. Can see the rebels drilling across the river.
Jan. 22 - Cold and clear weather. Nothing to write to-day. It's a task.
Jan. 24 - We are all troubled with heart-burn, sour stomach, etc. Drink weak lye made from ashes for it. Every day some new ones come inside, but they know nothing as to the prospects of our being exchanged. All are considerably surprised to find themselves in quite so bad a place, and the subject of prison life begins to interest them. Good deal of gambling going on among prisoners. Chuck-a-luck is the favorite game. You lay your ration of bread down on a figure on a board, and a fellow with a dice-box shakes it up a little, throws out the dice, and your bread is gone. Don't understand the game myself. That's all I ever saw of the game. Lay down the bread and it's gone. Rather a one sided affair. Some men are very filthy, which makes it disagreeable for those of more cleanly habits. I believe that many, very many, who now die, would live if they adopted the rules that our mess has, and lived up to them. It is the only way to get along.
Jan. 25 - Being in this place brings out a man for just what he is worth. Those whom we expect the most from in the way of braving hardships and dangers, prove to be nobody at all. And very often those whom we expect the least from prove to be heroes every inch of them. Notably one of these is George Hendryx, who is nothing but a good looking, effeminate boy, fit, you would say, to be going to school with a mother to look after him, and for not much else. But instead, he is brave, cheerful, smart, watching every chance to get the best of the Johnny Rebs. His position in the cook-house has given him a chance to feed, I presume, hundreds of men. Near the cook-house is a store-house, and in it are several hogsheads of hams. These hams were sent from the Sanitary Commission at the North for Union prisoners, but they for whom they were intended do not get them, and they are being eaten up by the rebels. Hendryx has managed to get up a board in the cook-house floor, where he can crawl fifteen or twenty feet under the store-house and up through the floor. By this Yankee trick he has stolen, I presume one hundred hams and gotten them inside where they belong. This is very risky on his part, for should he be discovered it would go very hard with him. He is about an unselfish a fellow as you can well find. This is only one of his plans to outwit the rebels for our benefit. His head is all the time, too, planning some way of escape. Well, we all hope he won't get caught. All shake in our boots for him. Was on guard last night, outside, over the clothing. There is so much clothing stole by the rebels that Bossieux put a guard of two over the boxes through the night, and if any of the Rebs come around to steal we are instructed to wake up the lieutenant, who sleeps near by in a tent. I was on duty last night with Joe Myers, and Hendryx came where we were and unfolded a plan for escape which he has been working up. It is a risky affair, and had best be thought over pretty thorough before put into execution. Robinson has been found out as a lieutenant, and taken over to Richmond to be placed with the officers in Libby Prison. We are sorry that we must lose him.
Jan. 26 - Ninety-two squads of prisoners confined on less than six acres of ground - one hundred in a squad, making nine thousand and two hundred altogether. The lice are getting the upper hand of us. The ground is literally covered with them. Bean soup to-day and is made from the following recipe (don't know from what cook book, some new edition): Beans are very wormy and musty. Hard work finding a bean without from one to three bugs in it. They are put into a large caldron kettle of river water and boiled for a couple of hours. No seasoning, not even salt, put into them. It is then taken out and brought inside. Six pails full for each squad - about a pint per man, and not over a pint of beans in each bucket. The water is hardly colored and I could see clear through to the bottom and count every bean in the pail. The men drink it because it is warm. There is not enough strength or substance in it to do any good. We sometimes have very good bean soup when they have meat to boil with it.
Jan. 27 - More prisoners came to-day and say there is to be no general exchange during the war, and we are to be sent off into Georgia immediately. Stormy and disagreeable weather and everybody down-hearted. Very still among the men, owing to the bad news - hardly a word spoken by anybody. The least bit off anything encouraging would change the stillness into a perfect bedlam. I this morning looked into a tent where there were seventeen men and started back frightened at the view inside. What a tableau for a New York theatre? There were all old prisoners nearly naked, very dirty and poor, some of them sick lying on the cold ground with nothing under or over them, and no fire; had just been talking over the prospect ahead and all looked the very picture of despair, with their hollow eyes, sunken cheeks and haggard expression. I have before imagined such scenes but never before realized what they were until now. And such is but a fair sample of hundreds of men fully as bad.
Jan. 28 - No officers over from Libby for a few days past. Nearly all the clothing issued. A few days more will close up the clothing business, and then probably all the outsiders will be sent inside; and for fear such will be the case we have decided upon to-morrow night for the escape (which I have not said much about in my diary.) The nights are dark and cloudy. Messrs. Mustard and Hendryx both sleep outside now, and I must manage to, both to-night and to-morrow night. I have been two weeks trying to get a map of Virginia, and have at least succeeded. A negro brought it to me from the city. It has cost over thirty dollars Confederate money - at the North would have cost twenty-five cents. I would not take for it, unless I could get another one, one thousand dollars in gold. We are well rigged, have some food saved up to take along; in good health and determined to get away. Lieut. Bossieux suspects, and to-day took the pains to say in our hearing that he knew an escape among the outsiders was in view, and as sure as there was a God in heaven if we tried it and got caught, and we surely would be, he would first shoot all he could before catching us, and the balance would be tied up and whipped every day until he got tired, as long as we lived. We must expect trouble. It does not change us in the least; if anything, makes us the more determined to get away. To-night we are to start, and I will write down the plans we have, running the risk of the rebels getting hold of it. At a few moments past eleven and before midnight the guard will let us cross his beat and go to the water's edge. We all have rebel clothing which we are to wear, furnished partly by a negro, and partly by the guard who helps us off. We take the quarter-master's boat which we unlock, and having been furnished the countersign give it to the picket who will pretend that he thinks we are rebel guards going over to the city, in case we are caught, which will screen him in a measure. Having passed him, we get into the boat and row across the river, give the countersign to the guards on the other side of the river, and talk with them a little, being ourselves posted on general information regarding the place. To quiet their suspicions if they have any, we then start up into the town and when out of sight of the guards take a turn to the left, and go straight to the Richmond jail; taking care to avoid patrols, etc. We will then meet with a negro who will guide us ten miles up the river, and then leave us in charge of friendly blacks who will keep us through the next day and at night pilot us farther along toward our lives. If possible, I shall steal the rebel flag, which is kept nights in the lieutenant's tent, and a few other relics, to take along with me. The big bell in Richmond strikes six, and we close our diary, hoping never to look upon it again until we return to free our fellow prisoners, with the glorious army of the North. Now we leave our diary to finish preparations for the flight for freedom. May God aid us in this land of tyranny, where we have met nothing but suffering. Good bye, Belle Isle and Prison. Hail! Freedom, Home, Friends, and the Grand Army of the Old Flag! What is in store for us in the future?
Feb. 5 - Have been reading over the last few pages of my diary. It sounds well, but the rebel flag still floats over Belle Isle. Our escapade was a grand fizzle, and all hands have been punished in more ways than one in the last few days. Bossieux suspected something going on among us and had us secretly watched, and long before we had made a move toward fulfilling our projected plans we were thrown into a guard house on the island; next morning taken out of it, and underwent a severe cross-questioning. He found our rebel clothing, food we had packed, found the lock to the boat broke, and numerous other signs of an abandonment. Well, the result has been that we were bucked and gagged twice a day for an hour each time, and for four hours each of us carried a big stick of wood up and down in front of the gate, a guard to prick us with his bayonet if we walked too slow to suit him. Then Hendryx has been strung up by the thumbs. Nights we have been thrown into a damp, cold guard house to shiver all night. Every day now for six days we have walked with our sticks of wood so many hours per day, and last night were turned inside with all the prisoners to stay, Bossieux says, till we are rot, he can place no dependence in us.
Feb. 6 - We have to laugh over our trials and tribulations. Where we had plenty a week ago, plenty of exercise, and many favors, we are now right where we were at first, fareing just as the rest, with no favors shown us. It's all right, we can stand it just as well as the rest. We have never belittled ourselves in the least with our dealings with the rebels. Bossieux told us himself, as we came inside, that he didn't blame us in the least for trying to get away, but he was obliged to punish us for the attempt. Hendryx says that he will be out again in three days.
Feb. 8 - Butler reported as commissioner on exchange and the rebels declare that they would never recognize him and would rather that we should all die here than negotiate with the Beast. Congress still in session over in the city and we watch the papers eagerly for something relative to us. They Holy Sabbath day and the church bells ringing for morning service. Don't think I shall attend this morning; it is such a long walk and then I look so bad; have nothing fit to wear. A man stabbed a few minutes ago by his tent mate, killing him instantly. They had all along been the best friends until a dispute arose, and one of them drew a knife and killed his comrade. Strong talk of lynching the murderer. Have not heard the particulars. Corp. McCartin is missing from the island and am confident from what I have seen that he has escaped and by the help of Lieut. Bossieux. No endeavors are being made to look him up, still he offers a reward for his apprehension. They are both members of the secret craft.
Feb. 9 - Great news this morning. A raid is being made on Richmond by Kilpatrick, Rebels manning their forts in sight of us. All are at work, women, children, in fact everybody who can shovel. No cars running over the big bridge. Double guards placed over us and the greatest activity prevails among them. It is really amusing to see them flying around and many are the jokes at their expense. All business is suspended in Richmond; no papers issued, and everybody with their guns or working utensils. Brass bands are playing their best to encourage the broken down Confederacy. A portion of the congress came over this afternoon to take a look at us, among whom were Davis, Benjamin and Howell Cobb. They are a substantial looking set of men and of the regular southern cut. The broad brim hats, gold headed canes and aristocratic toss of the head, alone would tell who they were. They are a proud, stern set of men and look as if they would like to brush us out of existence. Still we are not going to be brushed out so easy and they found men among us who were not afraid to stare, or hold our heads as high as their lordships. A band accompanied them and played the Bonnie Blue Flag, which was hissed and groaned at by the Yankees, and in return a thousand voices sang Yankee Doodle, very much to their discomfiture.
Feb. 10 - The hospital signal lights suspended over the island all night in order to direct the batteries where to aim their pieces in case of an outbreak which is greatly feared. Rockets sent up at intervals during the night over Richmond. Reported that there are six hundred muskets secreted among the prisoners and citizens very much alarmed and afraid of us. I hope there is but cannot believe it. It is impossible for me to sleep and I lay awake thinking how we are situated and wondering how long the play is to last.
Feb. 11 - Cold and pleasant. A good deal of fighting going on among us - a discontented set of beings; just like so many hungry wolves penned up together. Rebels still at work fortifying all around Richmond. A number of Yankees have been taken out on parole of honor to work building breastworks, etc., but a very few will go and it is considered a great crime among us to work for them. Have they forgotten our existence at the North? It seems as if we were neglected by our government but will not judge them hastily until we know more. There are perhaps sufficient reasons for our remaining here. Very strongly guarded, nevertheless we talk of escape and are all the while building air castles.
Feb. 12 - Lieut. Bossieux has sent a squad of men from the island composed of runaways over to Castle Thunder to remain during the war as hostages, among whom were our friends Myers and Mustard. I never expect to see them again.
Feb. 13 - Very cold. The rebels are again settling down and getting over their scare. Not much to eat now and the men more disheartened than ever. A rebel preacher delivered us a sermon of two hours length from a dry goods box. He was listened to attentively and made the remark before closing that he didn't know as he was doing any good talking to us. It was like casting pearls before swine and he would close his remarks, to which a Yankee told him he might have stopped long ago if he had wanted to; no one would have made any objections. Was told that six hundred are to start for Georgia to-day and subsequently six hundred every day until all are removed from Richmond. Lieut. Bossieux says it is so but there is going to be an exchange of sick in a few days and all outside hands shall be sent north with them.
Feb. 14 - Had quite an adventure last night with the raiders. One of Capt. Moseby's robbers was trying to steal a blanket from our tent by reaching through the tent opening when Dad (E.P. Sanders), who is always awake, threw a brick hitting him on the arm, breaking the brick, and as he jumped, halloed to us, "Come boys, let's catch the rascal," and out of the door he went. Dr. and myself nobly rushed to the rescue and reached the door just in time to see Dad turn a short corner way up the street and close on to the heels of Mr. Robber, but he slipped and fell and the thief got away. Were soon snugly ensconced in bed once more congratulating ourselves on losing nothing as we thought. But on getting up this morning I found my shoes gone and am barefoot in the middle of winter. However I can get more and have no fear on that score. Six hundred sent away to-day, some say to our lines while others think to Georgia. Rebels say to our lines, and that a general exchange has been agreed upon. Great excitement among the men. Evening - Lieut. Bossieux called me outside just before night and told me he was called upon to furnish some hostages to be sent to Charleston to be kept during the war, and had decided to send Hendryx and myself, with some others. Said it was better to send those who were always trying to get away. Have succeeded in buying a pair of shoes, which, although about four sizes too large, are much better than none. Thanks to the Sanitary Commission I have good woolen stockings, under clothing complete, and am otherwise well dressed. Six hundred sent away this afternoon under a very strong guard, which does not look like an exchange.
Feb. 17 - Still on the island. Another squad taken out yesterday. It will not be our turn to go for some days, even if six hundred are taken out every day. Have not been sent for as hostages yet. Hendryx and myself have decided to flank out and go with the next that go, no matter where their destination may be. If we don't get away, with a ghost of a chance, then it will be funny.
Feb. 20 - All sorts of rumors afloat, but still we stay here. Strange officers come over and look at us. Bossieux away considerable, and something evidently up. Anything for a change. My health is good, and tough as a bear.
Feb. 23 - None have been taken away from the island for a number of days. Have heard that a box came for me, and is over in Richmond. Hope the rebel that eats the contents of that box will get choked to death. I wrote to the Governor of Michigan, Austin Blair, who is in Washington, D.C., some weeks ago. He has known me from boyhood. Always lived in the neighborhood at Jackson, Mich. Asked him to notify my father and brothers of my whereabouts. To-day I received a letter from him saying that he had done as requested, also that the Sanitary Commission had sent me some eatables. This is undoubtedly the box which I have heard from and is over in Richmond. Rebels are trying to get recruits from among us for their one-horse Confederacy. Believe that one or two have deserted our ranks and gone over. Bad luck to them.
A good-bye to Belle Isle - Good place to be moved from - Astor House Mess on its travels - New scenes - The raid on Richmond and consequent scare - All's well if it ends well - Men shot, etc., etc.
Pemerton Building, Richmond, Va., Feb. 24 - We are confined on the third floor of the building, which is a large tobacco warehouse. Was removed from the island yesterday. Was a warm day and it was a long walk. Came across the "long bridge," and it is a long bridge. Was not sorry to bid adieu to Belle Isle. Were searched last night but our mess has lost nothing, owing to the following process we have of fooling them: One of the four manages to be in the front part of the crowd and is searched first, and is then put on the floor underneath and we let our traps down through a crack in the floor to him, and when our turn comes we have nothing about us worth taking away. The men so ravenous when the rations were brought in, that the boxes of bread and poor meat were raided upon before dividing, and consequently some had nothing to eat at all, while others had plenty. Our mess did not get a mouthful and have had nothing to eat since yesterday afternoon, and it is now nearly dark. The lice are very thick. You can see them all over the floors, walls, etc., in fact everything literally covered with them; they seem much larger than the stock on Belle Isle and a different species. We talk of escape night and day - and are nearly crazy on the subject. No more news about exchange. Papers state that Richmond is threatened, and that Kilpatrick's cavalry is making a raid on the place for the purposes of releasing us and burning the town. Unusual bustle among them.
Feb. 25 - We divide the night up into four watches and take turns standing guard while the other three sleep, to protect ourselves from Captain Moseby's gang of robbers. We all armed with iron slats pulled off the window casings. They are afraid to pitch in to us, as we are a stout crowd and would fight well for our worldly goods. We expect to take it before long. They are eyeing us rather sharp, and I guess will make an attack to-night. Very long days and more lonesome than when on the island. Got rations to-day, and the allowance did not half satisfy our hunger.
Feb. 26 - Rather cold, almost spring. Guards unusually strict. Hendryx was standing near the window, and I close by him, looking at the high, ten story tobacco building, when the guard fired at us. The ball just grazed Hendryx's head and lodge in the ceiling above; all we could do to prevent Hendryx throwing a brick at the guard.
Feb. 27 - Organizing the militia; hauling artillery past the prison. Have a good view of all that is going on. Bought a compass from one of the guards for seven dollars, greenbacks; worth half a dollar at home. It is already rumored among the men that we have a compass, a map of Virginia, a preparation to put on our feet to prevent dogs from tracking us, and we are looked up to as if we were sons of Irish lords in disguise, and are quite noted personages. Cold last night, and we suffer much in not having blankets enough to keep us warm. The walls are cold and damp, making it disagreeable, and the stench nearly makes us sick. It is impossible for a person to imagine prison life until he has seen and realized it. No news of importance. Time passes much more drearily than when on Belle Isle. Were all searched again to-day but still keep my diary, although expecting to lose it every day; would be quite a loss, as the longer I write and remain a prisoner the more attached am I to my record of passing events. A man shot for putting his head out of the window. Men all say it served him right, for he had no business to thus expose himself against strict orders to the contrary. We are nearly opposite and not more than twenty rods from Libby Prison, which is a large tobacco warehouse. Can see plenty of union officers, which it is a treat to look at. Hendryx had a fight with the raiders - got licked. He ain't so pretty as he was before, but knows more. I am very wise about such matters, consequently retain my beauty.
Feb. 28 - Had the honor (?) of seeing Jefferson Davis again and part of his congress to-day. They visited Libby and we were allowed to look out of the windows to see them as they passed in and out of the building. Strut around like chickens with frozen feet. David Benjamin walked with the President and is a much better looking man. Prisoners were notified that if they made any insulting remarks they would be fired at. Have no more exalted opinion of them than before.
Feb. 29 - Excitement among the Johnnies - flying around as if the Yankee army were threatening Richmond. Cannot learn what the commotion is, but hope it is something that will benefit us. LATER: The occasion of the excitement among the rebels is that Dahlgreen is making a raid on Richmond, acting in conjunction with Kilpatrick, for the purpose of liberating prisoners. We are heavily guarded and not allowed to look out of the windows, nevertheless we manage to see about all there is going on.
Feb. 30 - Rebels in hot water all night and considerably agitated. Imagined we could hear firing during the night. This morning small squads of tired out union soldiers marched by our prison under guard, evidently captured through the night. Look as if they were completely played out. Go straggling by sometimes not more than half a dozen at a time. Would give something to hear the news. We are all excitement here. Negroes also go by in squads sometimes of hundreds in charge of overseers, and singing their quaint negro melodies. It is supposed by us that the negroes work on the fortifications, and are moved from one part of the city to another, for that purpose. Our troops have evidently been repulsed with considerable loss. We hear that Dahlgreen has been shot and killed. At the very first intimation that our troops were anywhere near, the prisoners would have made a break.
March 1 - Working along towards Spring slowly. A dead calm after the raid scare. We much prefer the open air imprisonment to confinement. Have considerable trouble with the thieves which disgrace the name of union soldier. Are the most contemptible rascals in existence. Often walk up to a man and coolly take his food and proceed to eat it before the owner. If the victim resists then a fight is the consequence, and the poor man not only loses his food but gets licked as well.
March 2 - The food we get here is poor, water very good, weather outside admirable, vermin still under control and the "Astor House Mess" flourishing. We are all in good health with the exception of Dr. Lewis, who is ailing. I was never tougher - seems if your humble servant was proof against the hardest rebel treatment. No exchange news. Trade and dicker with the guards and work ourselves into many luxuries, or rather work the luxuries into ourselves. Have become quite interested in a young soldier boy from Ohio named Bill Havens. Is sick with some kind of fever and is thoroughly bad off. Was tenderly brought up and well educated I should judge. Says he ran away from home to become a drummer. Has been wounded twice, in numerous engagements, now a prisoner of war and sick. Will try and keep track of him. Every nationality is here represented and from every branch of the service, and from all parts of the world. There are smart men here and those that are not so smart, in fact a conglomeration of humanity - hash, as it were.
March 3 - The ham given us to-day was rotten, with those nameless little white things crawling around through it. Promptly threw it out of the window and was scolded for it by a fellow prisoner who wanted it himself. Shall never become hungry enough to eat poor meat. Guards careless with their guns. An old man shot in the arm. Hendryx tried to pull a brick out of the casing to throw at the shooter. Barbarians these rebs.
March 4 - And now we are getting ready to move somewhere, the Lord only knows where. One good thing about their old prisons, we are always ready for a change. Have made many new acquaintances while here in Pemberton, and some agreeable ones; my boy Havens has fever and chills. Is rather better to-day. It is said we move to-night. Minnesota Indians confined here, and a number of sailors and marines. I am quite a hand to look at men, sometimes for hours, and study them over, then get to talking with them and see how near I was right in my conjectures. Its almost as good as reading books. The Astor House Mess is now composed of but four members: E.P. Sanders, F.L. Lewis, Geo. W. Hendryx and myself; we still adhere to our sanitary regulations and as a consequence are in better health than a majority of those here. Sanders may be said to be at the head of the mess, (we call him Dad), while Lewis is a sort of moderator and advisor, with Hendryx and myself as the rank and file. Are quite attached to one another, and don't believe that either one would steal from the other. I certainly wouldn't take anything short of pumpkin pie or something of that sort. Of course a man would steal pie, at least we all say so, and Lewis even declares he would steal dough cakes and pancakes such as his wife used to make. We are all well dressed, thanks to the Sanitary Commission and our own ingenuity in getting what was intended for us to have. False alarm of fire.
Routed at Midnight
March 8 - Were unloaded last night and given a chance to straighten our limbs. Stayed all night in the woods, side of the track, under a heavy guard. Don't know where we are, as guards are very reticent.
March 10 - Still traveling, and unloaded nights to sleep by the track. Rebel citizens and women improve every opportunity to see live Yankees. Are fed passably well. Lewis feeling poorly. Watch a chance to escape but find none.
March 13 - Ran very slow through the night, and are in the vicinity of Macon, Ga. Will reach our prison to-night. Received a pone of corn bread apiece weighing about two pounds, which is liberal on their part. Two more days such riding as this would kill me. The lice are fairly eating us up alive, having had no chance to rid ourselves of them since leaving Richmond. One of the guards struck Hendryx during the night. We were talking on the all important subject, and the guard hearing us chatting away to ourselves struck over into the crowd where the noise came from and hit George in the back part of the head. He didn't speak for a minute or two and I was afraid it had killed him, which happily proved to the contrary. As soon as it came daylight he showed the brute where he had struck him, and took the occasion to dress him down a little, whereupon the rebel threatened that if he said another word to him he would blow his head off. A drizzling rain has set in.
Camp Sumpter, Andersonville, Ga., March 14 - Arrived at our destination at last and a dismal hole it is, too. We got off the cars at two o'clock this morning in a cold rain, and were marched into our pen between a strong guard carrying lighted pitch pine knots to prevent our crawling off in the dark. I could hardly walk having been cramped up so long, and feel as if I was a hundred years old. Have stood up ever since we came from the cars, and shivering with the cold. The rain has wet us to the skin and we are worn out and miserable. Nothing to eat to-day, and another dismal night just setting in.
March 15 - At about midnight I could stand up no longer, and lay down in the mud and water. Could hardly get up. Shall get food this morning, and after eating shall feel better. There is a good deal to write about here, but I must postpone it until some future time, for I can hardly hold a pencil now. LATER: Have drawn some rations which consisted of nearly a quart of corn meal, half a pound of beef, and some salt. This is splendid. I have just partaken of a delicious repast and feel like a different person. Dr. Lewis is discouraged and thinks he cannot live long in such a place as this.
March 16 - The prison is not yet entirely completed. One side is yet open, and through the opening two pieces of artillery are pointed. About 1800 Yankees are here now. Col. Piersons commands the prison, and rides in and talks with the men. Is quite sociable, and says we are all to be exchanged in a few weeks. He was informed that such talk would not go down any longer. We had been fooled enough, and paid no attention to what they told us. Our mess is gradually settling down. Have picked out our ground, rolled some big logs together, and are trying to make ourselves comfortable. I am in the best of spirits, and will live with them for some time to come if they will only give me one quarter enough to eat, and they are doing it now, and am in my glory. Weather cleared up, and very cold nights. We put on all our clothes nights and take them off day-times. The men do most of their sleeping through the day, and shiver through the long nights.
March 17 - Get almost enough to eat, such as it is, but don't get it regularly; sometimes in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon. Six hundred more prisoners came last night, and from Belle Isle, Va., our old home. Andersonville is situated on two hillsides, with a small stream of swampy water running through the center, and on both sides of the stream is a piece of swamp with two or three acres in it. We have plenty of wood now, but it will not last long. They will undoubtedly furnish us with wood from the outside, when it is burned up on the inside. A very unhealthy climate. A good many are being poisoned by poisonous roots, and there is a thick green scum on the water. All who drink freely are made sick, and their faces swell up so they cannot see.
March 18 - There are about fifteen acres of ground enclosed in the stockade and we have the freedom of the whole ground. Plenty of room, but they are filling it up. Six hundred new men coming each day from Richmond. Guards are perched upon top of the stockade; are very strict, and to-day one man was shot for approaching too near the wall. A little warm to-day. Found W.B. Rowe, from Jackson, Mich.; he is well and talks encouraging. We have no shelter of any kind whatever. Eighteen or twenty die per day. Cold and damp nights. The dews wet things through completely, and by morning all nearly chilled. Wood getting scarce. On the outside it is a regular wilderness of pines. Railroad a mile off and can just see the cars as they go by, which is the only sign of civilization in sight. Rebels all the while at work making the prison stronger. Very poor meal, and not so much to-day as formerly. My young friend Billy Havens was sent to the hospital about the time we left Richmond. Shall be glad to hear of his recovery. Prevailing conversation is food and exchange.
March 19 - A good deal of fighting going on among us. A large number of sailors and marines are confined with us, and they are a quarrelsome set. I have a very sore hand, caused by cutting a hole through the car trying to get out. I have to write with my left hand. It is going to be an awful place during the summer months here, and thousands will die no doubt.
March 21 - Prison gradually filling up with forlorn looking creatures. Wood is being burned up gradually. Have taken in my old acquaintance and a member of my own company "A" 9th Mich. Cavalry, Wm. B. Rowe. Sergt. Rowe is a tall, straight, dark complexioned man, about thirty-five years old. He was captured while carrying dispatches from Knoxville to Gen. Burnside. Has been a prisoner two or three months, and was in Pemerton Building until sent here. He is a tough, able-bodied man. Every day I find new Michigan men, some of them old acquaintances.
March 23 - Stockade all up, and we are penned in. Our mess is out of filthy lucre - otherwise, busted. Sold my overcoat to a guard, and for luxuries we are eating that up. My blanket keeps us all warm. There are two more in our mess. Daytimes the large spread is stretched three or four feet high on four sticks, and keeps off the sun, and at night taken down for a cover.
March 24 - Digging a tunnel to get out of this place. Prison getting filthy. Prisoners somewhat to blame for it. Good many dying, and they are those who take no care of themselves, drink poor water, etc.
March 25 - Lieut. Piersons is no longer in command of the prison, but instead a Capt. Wirtz. Came inside to-day and looked us over. Is not a very prepossessing looking chap. Is about thirty-five or forty years old, rather tall, and a little stoop shouldered; skin has a pale, white livered look, with thin lips. Has a sneering sort of cast of countenance. Makes a fellow feel as if he would like to go up and boot him. Should judge he was a Swede, or some such countryman. Hendryx thinks he could make it warm for him in short order if he only had a chance. Wirtz wears considerable jewelry on his person - long watch chain, something that looks like a diamond for a pin in his shirt, and wears patent leather boots or shoes. I asked him if he didn't think we would be exchanged soon. He said: Oh, yes, we would be exchanged soon. Somehow or other his assurance don't elate us much; perhaps it was his manner when saying it. Andersonville is getting to be a rather bad place as it grows warmer. Several sick with fevers and sores.
March 26 - Well, well, my birthday came six days ago, and how old do you think I am? Let me see. Appearances would seem to indicate that I am thirty or thereabouts, but as I was born on the 20th day of March, 1843, I must now be just twenty-one years of age, this being the year 1864. Of age and six days over. I thought that when a man became of age, he generally became free and his own master as well. If this ain't a burlesque on that old time-honored custom, then carry me out - but not feet foremost.
March 27 - We have issued to us once each day about a pint of beans, or more properly peas, (full of bugs), and three-quarters of a pint of meal, and nearly every day a piece of bacon the size of your two fingers, probably about three or four ounces. This is very good rations taken in comparison to what I have received before. The pine which we use in cooking is pitch pine, and a black smoke arises from it; consequently we are black as negroes. Prison gradually filling from day to day, and situation rather more unhealthy. Occasionally a squad comes in who have been lately captured, and they tell of our battles, sometimes victorious and sometimes otherwise. Sometimes we are hopeful and sometimes the reverse. Take all the exercise we can, drink no water, and try to get along. It is a sad sight to see the men die so fast. New prisoners die the quickest and are buried in the near vicinity, we are told in trenches without coffins. Sometimes we have visitors of citizens and women who come to look at us. There is sympathy in some of their faces and in some a lack of it. A dead line composed of slats of boards runs around the inside of the wall, about twelve or fourteen feet from the wall, and we are not allowed to go near it on pain of being shot by the guard.
March 28 - We are squadded over to-day, and rations about to come in. It's a sickly dirty place. Seems as if the sun was not over a mile high, and has a particular grudge against us. Wirtz comes inside and has began to be very insolent. Is constantly watching for tunnels. He is a brute. We call him the "Flying Dutchman." Came across Sergt. Bullock, of my regiment, whom I last saw on Belle Isle. From a fat, chubby young fellow, he is a perfect wreck. Lost his voice and can hardly speak aloud; nothing but skin and bone, and black and ragged. Never saw such a change in a human being. Cannot possibly live, I don't think; still he is plucky and hates to die. Goes all around enquiring for news, and the least thing encouraging cheers him up. Capt. Moseby, of the raiders, is in the same squad with me. He is quite an intelligent fellow and often talks with us. We lend him our boiling cup which he returns with thanks. Better to keep on the right side of him, if we can without countenancing his murderous operations.
March 29 - Raiders getting more bold as the situation grows worse. Often rob a man now of all he has, in public, making no attempt at concealment. In sticking up for the weaker party, our mess gets into trouble nearly every day, and particularly Hendryx, who will fight any time.
March 30 - The gate opens every little while letting some poor victims into this terrible place, which is already much worse than Belle Isle. Seems as if our government is at fault in not providing some way to get us out of here. The hot weather months must kill us all outright. Feel myself at times sick and feverish with no strength seemingly. Dr. Lewis worries, worries, all the day long, and it's all we can do to keep him from giving up entirely. Sergt. Rowe takes things as they come in dogged silence. Looks like a caged lion. Hendryx sputters around, scolding away, etc.
April 1 - This is an April Fool sure. Saw a fellow to-day from our regiment, named Casey. Says I was reported dead at the regiment, which is cheerful. Perhaps it is just as well though, for them to anticipate the event a few months. It is said that Wirtz shot some one this morning. Often hear the guards shoot and hear of men being killed. Am not ambitious to go near them. Have completely lost my desire to be on the outside working for extra rations. Prefer to stick it out where I am than to have anything to do with them. They are an ungodly crew, and should have the warmest corner in that place we sometimes hear mentioned.
April 2 - James Robins, an Indiana soldier, is in our close proximity. Was wounded and taken prisoner not long since. Wound, which is in the thigh, is in a terrible condition, and gangrene setting in. Although he was carried to the gate to-day, was refused admission to the hospital or medical attendance. Rebels say they have no medicine for us. Robins has been telling me about himself and family at home, and his case is only one of a great many good substantial men of families who must die in Southern prisons, as victims to mismanagement. The poorer the Confederacy, and the meaner they are, the more need that our government should get us away from here, and not put objectionable men at the head of exchange to prevent our being sent home or back to our commands.
April 3 - We have stopped wondering at suffering or being surprised at anything. Can't do the subject justice and so don't try. Walk around camp every morning looking for acquaintances, the sick, etc. Can see a dozen most every morning laying around dead. A great many are terribly afflicted with diarrhea, and scurvy begins to take hold of some. Scurvy is a bad disease, and taken in connection with the former is sure death. Some have dropsy as well as scurvy, and the swollen limbs and body are sad to see. To think that these victims have people at home, mothers, wives and sisters, who are thinking of them and would do much for them if they had the chance, little dreaming of their condition.
April 4 - Same old story - coming in and being carried out; all have a feeling of lassitude which prevents much exertion. Have been digging in a tunnel for a day or two with a dozen others who are in the secret. It's hard work. A number of tunnels have been discovered. The water now is very warm and sickening.
April 5 - Dr. Lewis talks about nothing except his family. Is the bluest mortal here, and worries himself sick, let alone causes sufficient for that purpose. Is poorly adapted for hardships. For reading we have the "Pilgrim's Progress," donated to me by some one on Belle Isle. Guess I can repeat nearly all the book by heart. Make new acquaintances each day. "Scotty," a marine, just now is edifying our mess with his salt water yarns, and they are tough ones. I tell him he may die here; still he declares they are true.
April 6 - John Smith is here and numerous of his family. So many go by nick-names, that seldom any go by their real names. Its "Minnesota," "Big Charlie," "Little Jim," "Marine Jack," "Indiana Feller," "Mopey," "Skinny," "Smarty," etc. Hendryx is known by the latter name, Sanders is called "Dad," Rowe is called the "Michigan Sergeant," Lewis is called plain "Doc," while I am called, for some unknown reason, "Bugler." I have heard it said that I looked just like a Dutch bugler, and perhaps that is the reason for my cognomen. Probably thirty die per day. The slightest news about exchange is told from one to the other, and gains every time repeated, until finally its grand good news and sure exchange immediately. The weak ones feed upon these reports and struggle along from day to day. One hour they are all hope and expectation and the next hour as bad the other way. The worst looking scalawags perched upon the stockade as guards, from boys just large enough to handle a gun, to old men who ought to have been dead years ago for the good of their country. Some prisoners nearly naked, the majority in rags and daily becoming more destitute. My clothes are good and kept clean, health fair although very poor in flesh. Man killed at the dead line.
April 7 - Capt. Wirtz prowls around the stockade with a rebel escort of guards, looking for tunnels. Is very suspicious of amateur wells which some have dug for water. It is useless to speak to him about our condition, as he will give us no satisfaction whatever. Says it is good enough for us _______ Yankees. I am deputized by half a dozen or so to speak to him as to the probabilities of a change, and whether we may not reasonably expect to be exchanged without passing the summer here. In his position he must know something in relation to our future. At the first favorable moment shall approach his highness. Prison is all the time being made stronger, more guards coming and artillery looking at us rather unpleasantly from many directions. Think it impossible for any to get away here, so far from our lines. The men too are not able to withstand the hardships attendant upon an escape, still fully one-half of all here are constantly on the alert for chances to get away. Foremost in all schemes for freedom is Hendryx, and we are engaging in a new tunnel enterprise. The yankee is a curious animal, never quiet until dead. There are some here who pray and try to preach. Very many too who have heretofore been religiously inclined, throw off all restraint and are about the worst. Tried and found wanting it seems to me. Those who find the least fault, make the best of things as they come and grin and bear it, get along the best. Weather getting warmer, water warmer and nastier, food worse and less in quantities, and more prisoners coming nearly every day.
April 8 - We are digging with an old fire shovel at our tunnel. The shovel is a prize; we also use half of canteens, pieces of boards, etc. Its laborious work. A dozen are engaged in it. Like going into a grave to go into a tunnel. Soil light and liable to cave in. Take turns in digging. Waste dirt carried to the stream in small quantities and thrown in. Not much faith in the enterprise, but work with the rest as a sort of duty. Raiders acting fearful. Was boiling my cup of meal to-day and one of the raiders ran against it and over it went. Give him a whack side of the head that made him see stars I should judge, and in return he made me see the whole heavens. Battese, a big Indian, rather helped me out of the scrape. All of our mess came to my rescue. Came near being a big fight with dozens engaged. Battese is a large full blooded six foot Minnesota Indian, has quarters near is, and is a noble fellow. He and other Indians have been in our hundred for some weeks. They are quiet, attend to their own business, and won't stand much nonsense. Great deal of fighting. One Duffy, a New York rough, claims the lightweight championship of Andersonville. Regular battles quite often. Remarkable how men will stand up and be pummeled. Dr. Lewis daily getting worse off. Is troubled with scurvy and dropsy. If he was at home would be considered dangerously ill and in bed, but he walks around slowly inquiring for news in a pitiful way. I have probably fifty acquaintances here that visit us each day to talk the situation over. Jimmy Devers, my Michigan friend whom I found on Belle Isle, Sergt. Bullock, of my regiment; Tom McGill, also of Michigan; Michael Hoare, a schoolmate of mine from earliest recollection, Dorr Blakeman, also a resident of Jackson, Michigan, a little fellow named Swan, who lived in Ypsylanti, Mich.; Burckhardt from near Lansing; Hub Dakin, from Dansville, Mich., and many others, meet often to compare notes, and we have many a hearty laugh in the midst of misery. I dicker and trade and often make an extra ration. We sometimes draw small cow peas for rations, and being a printer by trade, I spread the peas out on a blanket and quickly pick them up one at a time, after the manner of picking up type. One drawback is of unconsciously putting the beans into my mouth. In this way I often eat up the whole printing office. I have trials of skill with a fellow named Land, who is also a printer. There are no other typos here that I know of.
April 9 - See here Mr. Confederacy, this is going a little too far. You have no business to kill us off at this rate. About thirty or forty die daily. They have rigged up an excuse for a hospital on the outside, where the sick are taken. Admit none though who can walk or help themselves in any way. Some of our men are detailed to help as nurses, but in a majority of cases those who go out on parole of honor are cut-throats and robbers, who abuse a sick prisoner. Still, there are exceptions to this rule. We hear stories of Capt. Wirtz's cruelty in punishing the men, but I hardly credit all the stories. More prisoners to-day. Some captured near Petersburg. Don't know anything about exchange. Scurvy and dropsy taking hold of the men. Many are blind as soon as it becomes night, and it is called moon blind. Caused, I suppose, by sleeping with the moon shining in the face. Talked with Michael Hoare, an old school fellow of mine. Mike was captured while we were in Pemerton Building, and was one of Dahlgreen's men. Was taken right in the suburbs of Richmond. Has told me all the news of their failure on account of Kilpatrick failing to make a junction at some point. Mike is a great tall, slim fellow, and a good one. Said he heard my name called out in Richmond as having a box of eatables from the North. He also saw a man named Shaw claim the box with a written order from me. Shaw was one of our mess on Belle Isle. He was sent to Richmond while sick, from the island, knew of my expecting the box, and forced an order to get it. Well, that was rough, still I probably wouldn't have got it any way. Better him than some rebel. Mike gave me a lot of black pepper which we put into our soup, which is a luxury. He has no end of talk at his tongue's end, and it is good to hear. Recounts how once when I was about eight or ten years old and he some older, I threw a base ball club and hit him on the shins. Then ran and he couldn't catch me. It was when we were both going to school to A.A. Henderson, in Jackson, Mich. Think I remember the incident, but am strongly under the impression that he caught me. It is thus that old friends meet after many years. John McGuire is also here, another Jackson man. He has a family at home and is worried. Says he used to frequently see my brother George at Hilton Head, before being captured.
April 10 - Getting warmer and warmer. Can see the trees swaying back and forth on the outside, but inside not a breath of fresh air. Our wood is all gone, and we are now digging up stumps and roots for fuel to cook with. Some of the first prisoners here have passable huts made of logs, sticks, pieces of blankets, etc. Room about all taken up in here now. Rations not so large. Talk that they intend to make the meal into bread before sending it inside, which will be an improvement. Rations have settled down to less than a pint of meal per day, with occasionally a few peas, or an apology for a piece of bacon, for each man. Should judge that they have hounds on the outside to catch run-aways, from the noise. Wirtz don't come in as much as formerly. The men make it uncomfortable for him. As Jimmy Devers says, "He is a terror." I have omitted to mention Jimmy's name of late, although he is with us all the time - not in our mess, but close by. He has an old pack of cards with which we play to pass away the time. Many of the men have testaments, and "house-wives" which they have brought with them from home, and it is pitiful to see them look at these things while thinking of their loved ones at home.
April 11 - Dr. Lewis is very bad off with the scurvy and diarrhea. We don't think he can stand it much longer, but make out to me that he will stick it through. Our government must hear of our condition here and get us away before long. If they don't, it is a poor government to tie to. Hendryx and myself are poor, as also are all the mess. Still in good health compared with the generality of the prisoners. Jimmy Devers has evidently sort of dried up, and it don't seem to make any difference whether he gets anything to eat or not. He has now been a prisoner of war nearly a year, and is in good health and hopeful of getting away in time. Sticks up for our government and says there is some good reason for our continued imprisonment. I can see none. As many as 12,000 men here now, and crowded for room. Death rate is in the neighborhood of eighty per day. Hendryx prowls around all over the prison, bringing us what good news he can, which is not much. A very heavy dew nights, which is almost a rain. Rebels very domineering. Many are tunneling to get out. Our tunnel has been abandoned, as the location was not practicable. Yank shot to-day near our quarters. Approached too near the dead line. Many of the men have dug down through the sand and reached water, but it is poor; no better than out of the creek.
April 12 - Another beautiful but warm day with no news. Insects of all descriptions making their appearance, such as lizards, a worm four or five inches long, fleas, maggots, etc. There is so much filth about the camp that it is terrible trying to live here. New prisoners are made sick the first hours of their arrival by the stench which pervades the prison. Old prisoners do not mind it so much, having become used to it. No visitors come near us any more. Everybody sick, almost, with scurvy - an awful disease. New cases every day. I am afraid some contagious disease will get among us, and if so every man will die. My blanket a perfect God-send. Is large and furnishes shelter from the burning sun. Hendryx has a very sore arm which troubles him much. Even he begins to look and feel bad. James Gordan, or Gordenian (I don't know which), was killed to-day by the guard. In crossing the creek on a small board crossway men are often shot. It runs very near the dead line, and guards take the occasion to shoot parties who put their hands on the dead line in going across. Some also reach up under the dead line to get purer water, and are shot. Men seemingly reckless of their lives. New prisoners coming in and are shocked at the sights.
April 13 - Jack Shannon, from Ann Arbor, died this morning. The raiders are the stronger party now, and do as they please; and we are in nearly as much danger now from our own men as from the rebels. Capt. Moseby, of my own one hundred, figures conspicuously among the robberies, and is a terrible villain. During the night some one stole my jacket. Have traded off all superfluous clothes, and with the loss of jacket have only pants, shirt, shoes (no stockings), and hat; yet I am well dressed in comparison with some others. Many have nothing but an old pair of pants which reach, perhaps, to the knees, and perhaps not. Hendryx has two shirts, and should be mobbed. I do quite a business trading rations, making soup for the sick ones, taking in payment their raw food which they cannot eat. Get many a little snack by so doing.
April 14 - At least twenty fights among our own men this fore-noon. It beats all what a snarling crowd we are getting to be. The men are perfectly reckless, and had just as soon have their necks broken by fighting as anything else. New onions in camp. Very small, and sell for $2 a bunch of four or five. Van Tassel, a Pennsylvanian, is about to die. Many give me parting injunctions relative to their families, in case I should live through. Have half a dozen photographs of dead men's wives, with addresses on the back of them. Seems to be pretty generally conceded that if any get through, I will. Not a man here now is in good health. An utter impossibility to remain well. Signs of scurvy about my person. Still adhere to our sanitary rules. Lewis anxious to get to the hospital. Will die any way shortly, whether there or here. Jimmy Devers, the old prisoner, coming down. Those who have stood is bravely begin to weaken.
April 15 - The hospital is a tough place to be in, from all accounts. The detailed Yankees as soon as they get a little authority are certain to use it for all it is worth. In some cases before a man is fairly dead, he is stripped of everything, coat, pants, shirt, finger rings (if he has any), and everything of value taken away. These the nurses trade to the guards. Does not seem possible but such is the case, sad to relate. Not very pleasant for a man just breathing his last, and perhaps thinking of loved ones at home who are all so unconscious of the conditions of their soldier father or brother, to be suddenly jerked about and fought over, with the cursing and blaspheming he is apt to hear. The sick now, or a portion of them, are huddled up in one corner of the prison, to get as bad as they can before being admitted to the outside hospital. Every day I visit it, and come away sick at heart that human beings should be thus treated.
April 26 - Ten days since I wrote in my diary, and in those ten days was too much occupied in trying to dig a tunnel to escape out of, to write any. On the 21st the tunnel was opened and two fellows belonging to a Massachusetts regiment escaped to the outside. Hendryx and myself next went out. The night was very dark. Came up out of the ground away on the outside of the guard. We crawled along to gain the woods, and get by some pickets, and when forty or fifty rods from the stockade, a shot was fired at some one coming out of the hole. We immediately jumped up and ran for dear life, seemingly making more noise than a troop of cavalry. It was almost daylight and away we went. Found I could not run far and we slowed up, knowing we would be caught, but hoping to get to some house and get something to eat first. Found I was all broke up for my exertion. In an hour we had traveled perhaps three miles, were all covered with mud, and scratched up. I had fell, too, in getting over some logs, and it seemed to me broken all the ribs in my body. Just as it was coming light in the cast we heard dogs after us. We expected it, and so armed ourselves with clubs and sat down on a log. In a few moments the hounds came up with us and began smelling of us. Pretty soon five mounted rebels arrived on the scene of action. They laughed to think we expected to get away. Started us back toward our charnel pen. Dogs did not offer to bite us, but guards told us that if we had offered resistance or started to run they would have torn us. Arrived at the prison and after waiting an hour Capt. Wirtz interviewed us. After cussing us a few minutes we were put in the chain gang, where we remained two days. This was not very fine, but contrary to expectation not so bad after all. We had more to eat than when inside, and we had shade to lay in, and although my ankles were made very sore, do not regret my escapade. Am not permanently hurt any. We had quite an allowance of bacon while out, and some spring water to drink. Also from the surgeon I got some elder berries to steep into a tea to drink for scurvy, which is beginning to take hold of me. Lewis is sick and can hardly walk around. His days are few. Have taken another into our mess, named Swan, from Ypsilanti, Mich. Is a fresh looking boy for this place and looks like a girl.
April 27 - Well, I was out from under rebel guard for an hour or so any way. Hurt my side though, and caught a little cold. Am sore somewhat. Have given up the idea of escaping. Think if Hendryx had been alone he would have gotten away. Is tougher than I am. A man caught stealing from one of his comrades and stabbed with a knife and killed. To show how little such things are noticed here I will give the particulars as near as I could get them. There were five or six men stopping together in a sort of shanty. Two of them were speculators, and had some money, corn bread, etc., and would not divide with their comrades, who belonged to their own company and regiment. Some time in the night one of them got up and was stealing bread from a haversack belonging to his more prosperous neighbor, and during the operation woke up the owner, who seized a knife and stabbed the poor fellow dead. The one who did the murder spoke out and said: "Harry, I believe Bill is dead; he was just stealing from me and I run my knife into him." "Good enough for him," says Harry. The two men then got up and straightened out "Bill," and then both lay down and went to sleep. An occupant of the hut told me these particulars and they are true. This morning poor Bill lay in the hut until eight or nine o'clock, and was then carried outside. The man who did the killing made no secret of it, but told it to all who wanted to know the particulars, who were only a few, as the occurrence was not an unusual one.
April 28 - Dr. Lewis is still getting worse with scurvy and dropsy combined. Limbs swollen to double their usual size - just like puff-balls. Raiders do about as they please, and their crimes would fill more paper than I have at my disposal.
April 30 - Very small rations given to us now. Not more than one quarter what we want to eat and that of the poorest quality. Splendid weather, but too warm; occasional rains. The Flying Dutchman (Wirtz) offers to give any two at a time twelve hours the start, and if caught to take the punishment he has for runaways. The offer is made to intimidate those thinking to escape. Half the men would take the consequences with two hours start.
May 1 - Warm. Samuel Hutton, of the 9th Mich. Cavalry, died last night; also Peter Christiancy and Joseph Sargent, of Co. D, 9th Mich., have died within a few weeks. Last evening 700 of the 85th New York arrived here. They were taken at Plymouth, N.C. with 1,400 others, making 2,100 in all. The balance are on the road to this place. Wrote a letter home to-day. Have not heard from the North for over six months. Dying off very fast.
May 2 - A crazy man was shot dead by the guard an hour ago. The guard dropped a piece of bread on the inside of the stockade, and the fellow went inside the dead line to get it and was killed. The bread wagon was raided upon as soon as it drove inside to-day and all the bread stolen, for which offence no more will be issued to-day. As I write Wirtz is walking about the prison revolver in hand, cursing and swearing. The men yell out "Hang him up!" "Kill the Dutch louse!" "Buck and gag him!" "Stone him to death!" etc., and he all the time trying to find out who it is insulting him so. "I vish I find out who calls me such insulting vords, I kill the damn Yankee as soon I eat my supper!" And every few minutes a handful of dirt is thrown by some one. Wreaks his vengeance by keeping back rations from the whole camp.
May 3 - A rebel battery came to-day on the cars, and is being posted around the stockade. Ever since my introduction to Andersonville they have been constantly at work making their prison stronger, until now I believe it is impossible for a person to get away. Notwithstanding, there are men all the time at work in divers ways. Rebel officers now say that we are not going to be exchanged during the war, and as they can hold us now and no fear of escape, they had just as soon tell us the truth as not, and we must take things just as they see fit to give them to us. Tom McGill is well and hearty, and as black as any negro. Over 19,000 confined here now, and the death rate ninety or one hundred.
May 4 - Good weather. Gen. Howell Cobb and staff came among us to-day, and inspected the prison. Wirtz accompanied them pointing out and explaining matters. Gen. Winder, who has charge of all the prisoners of war in the South, is here, but has not been inside. Gen. Cobb is a very large and pompous looking man. None of the men dare address his highness. Three men out of every hundred allowed to go out after wood under a strong guard.
May 5 - Cold nights and warm days. Very unhealthy, such extremes. Small-pox cases carried out, and much alarm felt lest it should spread.
May 6 - Six months a prisoner to-day. Longer than any six years of my previous life. It is wonderful how well I stand the hardships here. At home I was not very robust, in fact had a tendency to poor health; but there are not many in prison that stand it as well as I do. There are about eighty-five or ninety dying now per day, as near as I can find out. Of course there are stories to the effect that a hundred and fifty and two hundred die each day, but such is not the case. Have a code of reasoning that is pretty correct. Often wonder if I shall get home again, and come to the conclusion that I shall. My hopeful disposition does more for me than anything else. Sanders trades and dickers around and makes extra eatables for our mess. There is not a hog in the mess. Nearly every day some one is killed for some trifling offence, by the guards. Rather better food to-day than usual.
May 7 - A squad of Yankees taken outside to-day on parole of honor, for the purpose of baking meal into bread. George Hendryx is one of the number, and he will have enough to eat after this, which I am glad of. I could have gotten outside if I so chose, but curious to write down I don't want to go. George says he will try and send in something for us to eat, and I know he will, for a truer hearted fellow never lived.
May 8 - Awful warm and more sickly. About 3,500 have died since I came here, which is a good many, come to think of it - cooked rations of bread to-day. We get a quarter of a loaf of bread, weighing about six ounces, and four or five ounces of pork. These are small allowances, but being cooked it is better for us. Rebels are making promises of feeding us better, which we hope they will keep. There is nothing the matter with me now but the lack of food. The scurvy symptoms which appeared a few weeks ago have all gone.
May 9 - Many rebels riding about camp on horseback. I listened to an animated conversation between an officer and two of our men. Mr. Rebel got talked to pieces and hushed up entirely. He took it good naturedly, however, and for a wonder did not swear and curse us. It is a great treat to see a decent rebel. Am lonesome since Hendryx went outside. Men are continually going up to the dead line and getting shot. They do not get much sympathy, as they should know better.
May 10 - Capt. Wirtz very domineering and abusive. Is afraid to come into camp any more. There are a thousand men in here who would willingly die if they could kill him first. Certainly the worst man I ever saw. New prisoners coming in every day with good clothes, blankets, etc., and occasionally with considerable money. These are victims for the raiders who pitch into them for plunder. Very serious fights occur. Occasionally a party of new comers stick together and whip the raiders, who afterward rally their forces and the affair ends with the robbers victorious. Stones, clubs, knives, slung shots, etc., are used on these occasions, and sometimes the camp gets so stirred up that the rebels, thinking a break is intended, fire into the crowds gathered, and many are killed before quiet is again restored. Then Wirtz writes out an order and sends inside, telling he is prepared for any break, etc., etc. No less than five have died within a radius of thirty feet in the last twenty-four hours. Hendryx has a sore arm and in turning over last night I hurt it. He pitched into me while I was in a sound sleep to pay me for it. Woke up in short order and we had it, rough and tumble. Tore down the tent poles - rolled around - scaring Lewis and all the rest. I am the stoutest, and soon get on top and hold him down, and keep him there until he quiets down, which is always in about five minutes. We have squabbles of this sort often, which don't do any particular harm. Always laugh, shake and make up afterwards. The "Astor House Mess," or the heads rather, have gently requested that we do our fighting by day-light, and Sanders very forcibly remarked that should another scene occur as happened last night, he will take a hand in the business and lick us both. Battese laughed, for about the first time this summer. He has taken quite a shine to both Hendryx and myself. In the fore part of to-day's entry I should have stated that Hendryx has been sent inside, they not being quite ready for him at the cookhouse. He is a baker by trade.
May 11 - Rainy weather and cold nights. Men shiver and cry all night - groan and "holler." I lay awake sometimes for hours, listening to the guards yell out "Post number one; ten o'clock and all's well!" And then Post No. 2 takes up the refrain, and it goes all around the camp, every one with a different sounding voice, squeaky, coarse, and all sorts. Some of them drawl out "H-e-r-e-'s y-e-r m-u-l-e!" and such like changes, instead of "All's well." Rumors of hard fighting about Richmond, and the rebels getting whipped, which of course they deny.
May 12 - Received a few lines from George Hendryx, who again went out to work on the outside last night. Wirtz with a squad of guards is about the camp looking for tunnels. Patrols also looking among the prisoners for deserters. A lame man, for telling of a tunnel, was pounded almost to death last night, and this morning they were chasing him to administer more punishment, when he ran inside the dead line claiming protection of the guard. The guard didn't protect worth a cent, but shot him through the head. A general hurrahing took place, as the rebel had only saved our men the trouble of killing him. More rumors of hard fighting about Richmond. Grant getting the best of it I reckon. Richmond surrounded and rebels evacuating the place. These are the rumors. Guards deny it.
May 13 - Rainy morning. We are guarded by an Alabama regiment, who are about to leave for the front. Georgia militia to take their places. Making preparations for a grand pic-nic outside, given by the citizens of the vicinity to the troops about to leave. I must here tell a funny affair that has happened to me, which, although funny is very annoying. Two or three days before I was captured I bought a pair of cavalry boots of a teamster named Carpenter. The boots were too small for him and just fitted me. Promised to pay him on "pay-day," we not having been paid off in some time. We were both taken prisoners and have been in the same hundred ever since. Has dunned me now about 1,850 times, and has always been mad at not getting his pay. Sold the boots shortly after being captured and gave him half the receipts, and since that have paid him in rations and money as I could get it, until about sixty cents remain unpaid, and that sum is a sticker. He is my evil genius, and fairly haunts the life out of me. Whatever I may get trusted for in after life, it shall never be for a pair of boots. Carpenter is now sick with scurvy, and I am beginning to get the same disease hold of me again. Battese cut my hair which was about a foot long. Gay old cut. Many have long hair, which, being never combed, is matted together and full of vermin. With sunken eyes, blackened countenances from pitch pine smoke, rags and disease, the men look sickening. The air reeks with nastiness, and it is wonder that we live at all. When will relief come to us?
May 14 - A band of music came from Macon yesterday to attend the pic-nic. A large crowd of women were present to grace the occasion. The grounds on which the festivities were held lay a mile off and in sight of all. In the evening a Bowery dance was one of the pleasures enjoyed. "The Girl I Left Behind Me," was about all they could play, and that very poorly.
May 15 - Sabbath day and hot. Would give anything for some shade to lay in. Even this luxury is denied us, and we are obliged to crawl around more dead than alive. Rumors that Sherman is marching toward Atlanta, and that place threatened. Kilpatrick said to be moving toward us for the purpose of effecting our release. Hope he will be more successful than in his attack on Richmond. Rebels have dug a deep ditch all around on the outside of the wall to prevent tunneling, and a guard walks in the bottom of the ditch. Banghart, of my Regiment, died to-day.
May 16 - Two men got away during the night and were brought back before noon. (Was going to say before dinner.) The men are torn by the dogs, and one of them full of buck shot. A funny way of escape has just been discovered by Wirtz. A man pretends to be dead and is carried out on a stretcher and left with the row of dead. As soon as it gets dark, Mr. Dead-man jumps up and runs. Wirtz suspecting the trick took to watching, and discovered a "dead-man" running away. An examination now takes place by the surgeon before being permitted out from under guard. I hear a number of men have gotten away by this method, and it seems very probable, as dead men are so plenty that not much attention is paid to them.
May 17 - Had a funny dream last night. Though the rebels were so hard up for mules that they hitched up a couple of gray-back lice to draw in the bread. Wirtz is watching out for Yankee tricks. Some one told him the other day that Yankees were making a large balloon inside and some day would all rise up in the air and escape. He flew around as if mad, but could find no signs of a balloon. Says there is no telling what "te tam Yankee will do." Some prisoners came to-day who were captured at Dalton, and report the place in our possession, and the rebels driven six miles this side. Kilpatrick and Stoneman are both with Sherman and there are expectations of starting out on some mission soon, supposed to be for this place. Nineteen thousand confined here now and dying at the rate of ninety per day. Philo Lewis, of the 5th Michigan Cav., can live but a day or two. Talks continually of his wife and family in Ypsilanti, Mich. Has pictures of the whole family, which he has given me to take home to them, also a long letter addressed to his wife and children. Mr. Lewis used to be a teacher of singing in Ypsilanti. He is a fine looking man naturally, and a smart man, but he must go the way of thousands of others, and perhaps myself. One of his pupils is here confined. Philo Lewis must not be confounded with F.L. Lewis, the member of our mess. The latter, however, cannot live but a short time unless relief comes. Fine weather but very warm. The sandy soil fairly alive with vermin. If this place is so bad at this time of the year, what must it be in July, August and September? Every man will die, in my estimation, but perhaps we may be relieved before then. We'll try and think so anyway. New prisoners die off the fastest.
May 18 - We have some good singers in camp, and strange as it may seem, a good deal of singing is indulged in. There are some men that are happy as long as they can breathe, and such men smooth over many rough places here. God bless a man who can sing in this place. A priest comes inside praying and chanting. A good man to come to such a place. Performs his duty the same to small-pox patients as to any other. Shall try and find out his name. Some of the wells dug by the Yanks furnish passable water, an improvement anyway on swamp water. Well water in great demand and sells readily for such trinkets as the men have to dispose of. Rebels building forts on the outside. Rebel officers inside trying to induce shoemakers, foundrymen, carpenters and wood choppers, to go out and work for the Confederacy. A very few accepted the offer. Well, life is sweet, and can hardly blame men for accepting the offer; still, I don't want to go, neither do ninety-nine out of every hundred. The soldiers here are loyal to the cause.
May 19 - Nearly twenty thousand men confined here now. New ones coming every day. Rations very small and very poor. The meal that the bread is made out of is ground, seemingly, cob and all, and it scourges the men fearfully. Things getting continually worse. Hundreds of cases of dropsy. Men puff out of human shape and are perfectly horrible to look at. Philo Lewis died to-day. Could not have weighed at the time of his death more than ninety pounds, and was originally a large man, weighing not less than one hundred and seventy. Jack Walker, of the 9th Mich. Cavalry, has received the appointment to assist in carrying out the dead, for which service he receives an extra ration of corn bread.
May 20 - Hendryx sent me in to-day from the outside a dozen small onions and some green tea. No person, on suddenly being lifted from the lowest depths of misery to peace and plenty, and all that money could buy, could feel more joyous or grateful than myself for those things. As the articles were handed in through the gate a crowd saw the transaction, and it was soon known that I had a friend on the outside who sent me in extras. I learn that a conspiracy is being gotten up on the outside, in which Hendryx is at the head, and they will try and overpower the guard and release the prisoners. If Capt. Wirtz only knew it, he has a very dangerous man in George Hendryx. Cram full of adventure, he will be heard from wherever he is.
May 21 - Still good weather and hot, with damp nights. Dr. Lewis lingers along in a miserable state of existence, and scurvy and dropsy doing their worst. His old messmates at the 9th Michigan regimental head-quarters little think of their favorite, story-telling, good fellows' condition now. We take as good care of him as possible under the circumstances. Two men shot to-day by the barbarians, and one of them has lain all the afternoon where he fell.
May 22 - No news of importance. Same old story. Am now a gallant washer-man. Battese, the Minnesota Indian, learn't me in the way of his occupation, made me a wash board by cutting creases in a piece of board, and I am fully installed. We have a sign out, made by myself on a piece of shingle: "WASHING." We get small pieces of bread for our labors. Some of the sick cannot eat their bread, and not being able to keep clean, give us a job. Make probably a pound of bread two or three days in the week. Battese says: "I work, do me good; you do same." Have many applications for admission to the firm, and may enlarge the business.
May 23 - Rains very hard. Seems as if the windows of Heaven had opened up, in fact the windows out all together. It's a grand good thing for the camp, as it washes away the filth and purifies the air.
May 24 - Sherman coming this way, so said, towards Atlanta. It is thought the cavalry will make a break for us, but even if they do they cannot get us north. We are equal to no exertion. Men busy to-day killing swallows that fly low; partly for amusement, but more particularly for food they furnish. Are eaten raw before hardly dead. No, thank you, I will take no swallow.
May 25 - One thousand new prisoners came to-day from near Petersburg, Va. They give us encouraging news as to the termination of the spring campaign. Gen. Burnside said in a speech to his men that Petersburg would be taken in less than a month or Mrs. Burnside would be a widow. Every one hopeful. Getting warmer after the rain. Our squad has a very good well, and about one quarter water enough, of something a trifle better than swamp water. Man killed by the raiders near where we slept. Head all pounded to pieces with a club. Murders an every day occurrence.
May 26 - For the last three days I have had nearly enough to eat such as it is. My washing business gives me extra food. Have taken in a partner, and the firm now is Battese, Ransom & Co. Think of taking in more partners, making Battese president, appointing vice-presidents, secretaries, etc. We charge a ration of bread for admittance. Sand makes a very good soap. If we could get hold of a razor and open a barber shop in connection, our fortunes would be made. We are prolonging Lewis' life by trading for luxuries to give him. Occasionally a little real meat soup, with a piece of onion in it, etc. Am saving up capital to buy a pair of shears I know of. Molasses given us to-day, from two to four spoonfuls apiece, which is indeed a treat. Anything sweet or sour, or in the vegetable line, is the making of us. We have taken to mixing a little meal with water, putting in a little molasses and setting it in the sun to sour. Great trouble in the lack of vessels in which to keep it, and then too, after getting a dish partly well soured, some poor prisoner will deliberately walk up and before we can see him drink it all up. Men are fairly crazy for such things.
May 27 - We twist up pieces of tin, stovepipe, etc., for dishes. A favorite and common dish is half of a canteen. Our spoons are made of wood. Hardly one man in ten has a dish of any kind to put his rations of soup or molasses in, and often old shoes, dirty caps and the like are brought into requisition. Notwithstanding my prosperity in business the scurvy is taking right hold of me. All my old acquaintances visit us daily and we condole with one another. Fresh beef given us to-day, but in very small quantities with no wood or salt to put it into proper shape. No one can very well object to raw beef, however. Great trouble is in getting it to us before being tainted. I persistently let alone meat with even a suspicion of rottenness; makes no difference with nearly all here. We occasionally hear of the conspiracy of outside paroled Yankees. Time will tell if it amounts to anything.
May 28 - No more news. It really seems as if we're all to die here. My mouth getting sore from scurvy and teeth loose. New prisoners coming in every day and death rate increasing. I don't seem to get hardened to the situation and am shuddering all the time at the sights. Rainy weather.
May 29 - Sabbath day but not a pleasant one. Nearly a thousand just came in. Would seem to me that the rebels are victorious in their battles. New men are perfectly thunderstruck at the hole they have gotten into. A great many give right up and die in a few weeks, and some in a week. My limbs are badly swollen with scurvy and dropsy combined. Mouth also very sore. Battese digs for roots which he steeps up and I drink. Could give up and die in a short time but won't. Have got living reduced to a science.
May 30 - Another thousand came to-day and from the eastern army. Prison crowded. Men who came are from Siegel's corps in the Shenandoah Valley. The poor deluded mortals never heard of Andersonville before. Well, they hear of it now. Charlie Hudson, from some part of Ohio, took his canteen an hour ago and went to the swamp for water. He has not returned for the very good reason that he was shot while reaching up under the dead line to get the freshest water. Some one has pulled the body out of the water on to dry land where it will stay until to-morrow, when it will be piled with perhaps forty others on the dead wagon, carted off and buried like a dog. And this is the last of poor Charlie, who has enlivened us many an evening with his songs and stories. The Astor House Mess is very sad to-night.
May 31 - A rebel came inside to-day and enquired for me, in the tenth squad, first mess. I responded, wondering and fearful as to what they should want with me. Was happily surprised on going to the gate to see Hendryx with something in his hand for me. Seemed thunderstruck at my appearance and said I was looking bad. He was looking better than when he went out. Had brought me luxuries in the shape of ginger bread, onions and tea, and am happy. Geo. is a brick. Says it is against orders to send anything inside but he talked them over. Was afraid the raiders would waylay me before reaching the mess but they did not.
June 1 - Reported that the 51st Virginia Regt. is here for the purpose of conducting us north for exchange. Believe nothing of the kind. Prisoners come daily. E.P. Sanders, Rowe and myself carried our old friend Dr. Lewis to the hospital. He was immediately admitted and we came away feeling very sad, knowing he would live but a short time. The sick are not admitted until they are near death, and then there is no hope for them. Rainy day.
June 2 - Another dark, stormy day. Raiders playing the very devil. Muddy and sticky.
June 3 - New prisoners say that an armistice has been agreed upon for the purpose of effecting an exchange, and negotiating for peace. It may be so, and the authorities had good reasons for allowing us to stay here, but how can they pay for all the suffering? And now some negro prisoners brought inside. They belong to the 54th Massachusetts. Came with white prisoners. Many of the negroes wounded, as, indeed, there are wounded among all who come here. No news from Hendryx or Lewis. Quite a number going out after wood to cook with. Hot and wet.
June 4 - Have not been dry for many days. Raining continually. Some men took occasion while out after wood, to overpower the guards and take to the pines. Not yet been brought back. Very small rations of poor molasses, corn bread and bug soup.
June 5 - Exchange rumors to the effect that transports are en-route for Savannah for the purposes of taking us home. Stick right to my washing however. A number of men taken out to be kept as hostages - so said. Raiders rule the prison. Am myself cross and feel like licking somebody, but Hendryx is gone and don't want to try to lick anybody else, fearing I might get licked myself. Some fun fighting him as it didn't make any difference which licked.
June 6 - Eight months a prisoner to-day. A lifetime has been crowded into these eight months. No rations at all. Am now a hair cutter. Have hired the shears. Enough to eat but not the right kind. Scurvy putting in its work, and symptoms of dropsy. Saw Hendryx at the bake house up stairs window, looking over the camp. Probably looking to see if he can locate his old comrades among the sea of human beings. Wirtz comes inside no more, in fact, does very few rebels. The place is too bad for them.
June 7 - Heard to-day that Hendryx had been arrested and in irons for inciting a conspiracy. Not much alarmed for him. He will come out all right. Still rainy. Have hard work keeping my diary dry. Nearly all the old prisoners who were captured with me are dead. Don't know of over 50 or 60 alive out of 800.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
The Astor House Mess still holds together, although depleted - All more or less diseased - As the weather gets warmer the death rate increases - Dying off like sheep - The end is not yet
June 8 - More new prisoners. There are now over 23,000 confined here, and the death rate 100 to 130 per day, and I believe more than that. Rations worse.
June 9 - It is said that a grand break will occur soon, and nearly the whole prison engaged in the plot. Spies inform the rebels of our intentions. Rains yet.
June 10 - The whole camp is in a blaze of excitement. Plans for the outbreak known to Capt. Wirtz. Some traitor unfolded the plans to him. Thirty or forty pieces of artillery pointed at us from the outside, and stockade covered with guards who shoot right and left. Thirty or forty outsiders sent inside, and they tell us how the affair was found out. A number of the ringleaders are undergoing punishment. Hendryx has made his escape, and not been heard of since yesterday. It is said he went away in full Confederate dress, armed, and furnished with a guide to conduct him. Dr. Lewis died to-day. Jack Walker told us about his death. Capt. Wirtz has posted up on the inside a notice for us to read. The following is the notice:
June 11 - And so has ended a really colossal attempt at escape. George Hendryx was one of the originators of the plan. He took advantage of the excitement consequent upon its discovery and made good his escape, and I hope will succeed in getting to our lines. It is the same old situation here only worse, and getting worse all the time. I am not very good at description, and find myself at fault in writing down the horrible condition we are in.
June 12 - Rained every day so far this month. A portion of the camp is a mud hole, and the men are obliged to lay down in it. Fort Pillow prisoners tell some hard stories against the Confederacy at the treatment they received after their capture. They came here nearly starved to death, and a good many were wounded after their surrender. They are most Tennesseeans, and a "right smart sorry set." Battese has taken quite a fatherly interest in me. Keeps right on at the head of the washing and hair cutting business, paying no attention to anything outside of his work. Says: "We get out all right!"
June 13 - It is now as hot and sultry as it was ever my lot to witness. The cloudy weather and recent rains make everything damp and sticky. We don't any of us sweat though, particularly, as we are pretty well dried up. Laying on the ground so much has made sores on nearly every one here, and in many cases gangrene sets in and they are very bad off. Have many sores on my body, but am careful to keep away the poison. To-day saw a man with a bullet hole in his head over an inch deep, and you could look down on it and see maggots squirming around at the bottom. Such things are terrible, but of common occurrence. Andersonville seems to be head-quarters for all the little pests that ever originated - flies by the thousand millions. I have got into one bad scrape, and the one thing now is to get out of it. Can do nothing but take as good care of myself as possible, which I do. Battese works all the time at something. Has scrubbed his hands sore, using sand for soap.
June 14 - Mike Hoare stalks around, cheerful, black and hungry. We have long talks about our school days when little boys together. Mike is a mason by trade, and was solicited to go out and work for the rebels. Told them he would work on nothing but vaults to bury them in. Is a loyal soldier and had rather die here than help them, as, indeed, would a majority of the prisoners. To tell the truth, we are so near death and see so much of it, that it is not dreaded as much as a person would suppose. We stay here day after day, week after week, and month after month, seemingly forgotten by all our friends at the North, and then our sufferings are such that death is a relief in the view of a great many, and not dreaded to any extent. By four o'clock each day the row of dead at the gate would scare the life out of me before coming here, while now it is nothing at all, but the same thing over and over.
June 15 - I am sick; just able to drag around. My teeth are loose, mouth sore, with gums grown down in some places lower than the teeth and bloody, legs swollen up with dropsy and on the road to the trenches. Where there is so much to write about, I can hardly write anything. It's the same old story and must necessarily be repetition. Raiders now do just as they please, kill, plunder and steal in broad daylight, with no one to molest them. Have been trying to organize a police force, but cannot do it. Raiders are the stronger party. Ground covered with maggots. Lice by the fourteen hundred thousand million infest Andersonville. A favorite game among the boys is to play at odd or even, by putting their hand inside some part of their clothing, pull out what they can conveniently get hold of and say "odd or even?" and then count up to see who beats. Think this is an original game here, never saw it at the North. Some of the men claim to have pet lice which they have trained. Am gradually growing worse. Nothing but the good care I have taken of myself has saved me thus far. I hope to last some time yet, and in the mean time relief may come. My diary about written through. It may end about the same time I do, which would be a fit ending.
June 16 - Old prisoners (some of them) will not credit the fact that there is plenty to eat at the North. They think because we are starved here, that it is so all over. They are crazy (as you may say) on the subject of food, and no wonder. In our dreams we see and eat bountiful repasts, and awake to the other extreme. Never could get a chance to talk with Capt. Wirtz, as he comes inside no more. Probably just as well. Is a thoroughly bad man, without an atom of humanity about him. He will get killed, should we ever be released, as there are a great many here who would consider it a Christian duty to rid the earth of his presence. Disease is taking right hold of me now. Battese is an angel; takes better care of me than of himself. Although not in our mess or tent, he is nearly all the time with us. It is wonderful the powers of endurance he has. I have always been blessed with friends, and friends, too, of the right sort. Had quite a talk with Dorr Blakeman, a Jackson, Mich., boy. Was not much acquainted with him at home but knew his people. Is a thoroughly good fellow, and a sensible one. It is a relief to see any one who does not lose his head.
June 17 - Must nurse my writing material. A New York Herald in camp, which says an exchange will commence the 7th of July. Gen. Winder is on a visit to Andersonville. Is quite an aged man, and white haired. Very warm and almost suffocating. Seems as if the sun was right after us and belonged to the Confederacy. Chas. Humphrey, of Massachusetts, who has been in our hundred for months, has gone crazy; wanders about entirely naked, and not even a cap on his head. Many of the prisoners are crazy, and I only speak of those in our immediate proximity. Am in good spirits, notwithstanding my afflictions. Have never really thought yet that I was going to die in this place or in the Confederacy. Saw a new comer pounded to a jelly by the raiders. His cries for relief were awful, but none came. Must a few villains live at the expense of so many? God help us from these worse than rebels.
June 18 - Have now written two large books full; have another at hand. New prisoners who come here have diaries which they will sell for a piece of bread. No news to-day. Dying off as usual - more in numbers each day as the summer advances. Rebels say that they don't begin to have hot weather down here until about August. Well, it is plain to me that all will die. Old prisoners have stood it as long as they can, and are dropping off fast, while the new ones go anyhow. Some one stole my cap during the night. A dead neighbor furnished me with another, however. Fast as the men die they are stripped of their clothing so that those alive can be covered. Pretty hard, but the best we can do. Rebels are anxious to get hold of Yankee buttons. "Buttons with hens on," they enquire for. An insult to the American Eagle - but they don't know any better.
June 19 - A young fellow named Conely tramps around the prison with ball and chain on. His crime was trying to get away. I say he tramps around, he tramps away from the gate with it on at nine in the morning, and as soon as out of sight of the rebels he takes it off, and only puts it on at nine o'clock the next morning to report at the gate duly ironed off. They think, of course, that he wears it all the time. Jimmy Devers looks and is in a very bad way. Too bad if the poor fellow should die now, after being a prisoner almost a year. Talks a great deal about his younger brother in Jackson, named Willie. Says if he should die to be sure and tell Willie not to drink, which has been one of Jimmy's failings, and he sees now what a foolish habit it is. Michael Hoare stands it well. When a man is shot now it is being called "parolled."
June 20 - All the mess slowly but none the less surely succumbing to the diseases incident here. We are not what you may call hungry. I have actually felt the pangs of hunger more when I was a boy going home from school to dinner. But we are sick and faint and all broken down, feverish, etc. It is starvation and disease and exposure that is doing it. Our stomachs have been so abused by the stuff called bread and soups, that they are diseased. The bread is coarse and musty. Believe that half in camp would die now if given rich food to eat.
June 21 - I am a fair writer, and am besieged by men to write letters to the rebel officers praying for release, and I do it, knowing it will do no good, but to please the sufferers. Some of these letters are directed to Capt. Wirtz, some to Gen. Winder, Jeff Davis and other officers. As dictated by them some would bring tears from a stone. One goes on to say he has been a prisoner of war over a year, has a wife and three children destitute, how much he thinks of them, is dying with disease, etc., etc. All kinds of stories are narrated, and handed to the first rebel who comes within reach. Of course they are never heard from. It's pitiful to see the poor wretches who think their letters will get them out, watch the gate from day to day, and always disappointed. Some one has much to answer for.
June 22 - The washing business progresses and is prosperous. One great trouble is, it is run too loose and we often get no pay. Battese, while a good worker, is no business man, and will do anybody's washing on promises, which don't amount to much. Am not able to do much myself, principally hanging out the clothes; that is, laying the shirt on one of the tent poles and then watching it till dry. All day yesterday I lay under the "coverlid" in the shade, hanging on to a strip which was tied to the washing. If I saw a suspicious looking chap hanging around with his eyes on the washed goods, then gave a quick jerk and in she comes out of harm's way. Battese has paid for three or four shirts lost in this way, and one pair of pants. Pays in bread. A great many Irish here, and as a class, they stand hardships well. Jimmy Devers losing heart and thinks he will die. Capt. Wirtz has issued another order, but don't know what it is - to the effect that raiding and killing must be stopped, I believe. Being unable to get around as I used to, do not hear the particulars of what is going on, only in a general way. New men coming in, and bodies carried out. Is there no end but dying?
June 23 - My coverlid nobly does duty, protecting us from the sun's hot rays by day and the heavy dews at night. Have no doubt but it has saved my life many times. Never have heard anything from Hendryx since his escape. Either got away to our lines or shot. Rebels recruiting among us for men to put in their ranks. None will go - yes, I believe one Duffy has gone with them. Much fighting. Men will fight as long as they can stand up. A father fights his own son not ten rods from us. Hardly any are strong enough to do much damage except the raiders, who get enough to eat and are in better condition than the rest. Four or five letters were delivered to their owners. Were from their homes. Remarkable, as I believe this is the first mail since our first coming here. Something wrong. Just shake in my boots - shoes, I mean, (plenty of room), when I think what July and August will do for us. Does not seem to me as if any can stand it. After all, it's hard killing a man. Can stand most anything.
June 24 - Almost July 1st, when Jimmy Devers will have been a prisoner of war one year. Unless relief comes very soon he will die. I have read in my earlier years about prisoners in the revolutionary war, and other wars. It sounded noble and heroic to be a prisoner of war, and accounts of their adventures were quite romantic; but the romance has been knocked out of the prisoner of war business, higher than a kite. It's a fraud. All of the "Astor House Mess" now afflicted with scurvy and dropsy more or less, with the exception of Battese, and myself worst of any. Am fighting the disease, however, all the time, and the growth is but slight. Take exercise every morning and evening, when it is almost impossible for me to walk. Walk all over before the sun comes up, drink of Battese's medicine made of roots, keep clear of vermin, talk and even laugh, and if I do die, it will not be through neglect. Carpenter, the teamster who sold me the boots, is about gone, and thank the Lord he has received his sixty cents from me, in rations. Sorry for the poor fellow. Many who have all along stood it nobly now begin to go under. Wm. B. Rowe, our tall mess-mate, is quite bad off, still, he has an iron constitution and will last some time yet.
June 25 - Another lead pencil wore down to less than an inch in length, and must skirmish around for another one. New men bring in writing material and pencils. To-day saw a New York Herald of date June 11th, nothing in it about exchange, however. That is all the news that particularly interests us, although accounts of recent battles are favorable to the Union side. Our guards are composed of the lowest element of the South - poor white trash. Very ignorant, much more so than the negro. Some of them act as if they never saw a gun before. The rebel adjutant does quite a business selling vegetables to those of the prisoners who have money, and has established a sutler stand not very far from our mess. Hub Dakin, an old acquaintance, is a sort of clerk, and gets enough to eat thereby. Hot! Hot! Raiders kill some one now every day. No restraint in the least. Men who are no doubt respectable at home, are now the worst villains in the world. One of them was sneaking about our quarters during the night, and Sanders knocked him about ten feet with a board. Some one of us must keep awake all the time, and on the watch, fearing to loose what little we have.
June 26 - The same old story, only worse, worse. It seems all the time it was as bad as it could be, but is not. They die now like sheep - fully a hundred each day. New prisoners come inside in squads of hundreds, and in a few weeks are all dead. The change is too great and sudden for them. Old prisoners stand it the best. Found a Jackson, Michigan, man, who says I am reported dead there. Am not, however, and may appear to them yet. Jimmy Devers is very bad with the scurvy and dropsy and will probably die if relief does not come. Sergt. Rowe also is afflicted; in fact all the mess except Battese. He does all the cooking now. He has made me a cane to walk with, brings water from the well, and performs nearly all the manual labor for us. He is a jewel, but a rough one.
June 27 - Raiders going on worse than ever before. A perfect pandemonium. Something must be done, and quickly. There is danger enough from disease, without being killed by raiders. Any moment fifty or a hundred of them are liable to pounce upon our mess, knock right and left and take the very clothing off our backs. No one is safe from them. It is hoped that the more peaceable sort will rise in their might and put them down. Our misery is certainly complete without this trouble added to it. We should die in peace anyway. Battese has called his Indian friends all together, and probably a hundred of us are banded together for self protection. The animal predominates. All restraint is thrown off and the very Old Harry is to pay. The farther advanced the summer, the death rate increases, until they die off by scores. I walk around to see friends of a few days ago and am told "dead." Men stand it nobly and are apparently ordinarily well, when all at once they go. Like a horse, that will stand up until he drops dead. Some of the most horrible sights that can possibly be, are common every day occurrences. Seem men laying all around in the last struggles.
June 28 - It seems to me as if three times as many as ever before are now going off, still I am told that about one hundred and thirty die per day. The reason it seems worse, is because no sick are being taken out now, and they all die here instead of at the hospital. Can see the dead wagon loaded up with twenty or thirty bodies at a time, two lengths, just like four foot wood is loaded on to a wagon at the North, and away they go to the grave yard on a trot. Perhaps one or two will fall off and get run over. No attention paid to that; they are picked up on the road back after more. Was ever before in this world anything so terrible happening? Many entirely naked.
June 29 - Capt. Wirtz sent inside a guard of fifteen or twenty to arrest and take out quite a number of prisoners. They had the names and would go right to their quarters and take them. Some tell-tale traitor has been informing on them, for attempting to escape or something. Wirtz punishes very hard now; so much worse than a few months ago. Has numerous instruments of torture just outside the gate. Sores afflict us now, and the Lord only knows what next. Scurvy and scurvy sores, dropsy, not the least thing to eat that can be called fit for any one, much less a sick man, water that to drink is poison, no shelter, and surrounded by raiders liable to cut our throats any time. Surely, this is a go. Have been reading over the diary, and find nothing but grumbling and growlings. Had best enumerate some of the better things of this life. I am able to walk around the prison, although quite lame. Have black pepper to put in our soups. Am as clean perhaps as any here, with good friends to talk cheerful to. Then, too, the raiders will let us alone until about the last, for some of them will get killed when they attack the "Astor House Mess." Am probably as well off as any here who are not raiders, and I should be thankful, and am thankful. Will live probably two or three months yet. "If t'weren't for hope the heart would break," and I am hopeful yet. A Pennsylvanian of German descent, named Van Tassel, and who has "sorter identified himself with us" for two or three months, died a few moments ago. The worst cases of the sick are again taken to the hospital - that is, a few of the worst cases. Many prefer to die among their friends inside. Henry Clayton also died to-day. Was at one time in charge of our Division, and an old prisoner. Mike Hoare still hangs on nobly, as also do many other of my friends and acquaintances. Dorr Blakeman stands is unusually well. Have had no meat now for ten days; nothing but one-third of a loaf of corn bread and half a pint of cow peas for each man, each day. Wood is entirely gone, and occasionally squads allowed to go and get some under guard. Rowe went out to-day, was not able to carry much, and that had to be divided between a hundred men. One of the most annoying things is being squadded over every few days, sick and all. It's an all day job, and have to stand out until we are all tired out, never getting any food on these days.
June 30 - A new prisoner fainted away on his entrance to Andersonville and is now crazy, a raving maniac. That is how our condition affected him. My pants are the worse for wear from repeated washings, my shirt sleeveless and feet stockingless; have a red cap without any front piece; shoes by some hocus-pocus are not mates, one considerable larger than the other. Wonder what they would think if I should suddenly appear on the streets in Jackson in this garb. Would be a circus; side show and all. But nights I have a grand old coverlid to keep off the wet. Raiders steal blankets and sell to the guards, which leaves all nearly destitute of that very necessary article. Often tell how I got my coverlid, to visitors. Have been peddling pea soup on the streets: "Ten cents in money or a dollar Confed for this rich soup! Who takes it?" And some wretch buys it. Anything in the way of food will sell, or water, if different from swamp water. Rebs making a pretense of fixing up sanitary privileges at the swamp, which amount to nothing. Strong talk of forming a police force to put down raiders and to enforce order. If successful it will prove of great benefit. Sanders, Rowe, Blakeman, Dakin and myself are among those who will take an active part, although the part I take cannot be very active. Half a dozen letters sent inside to prisoners, but no news in them that I can hear of. More hot and sultry, with occasional rains. The crazy man says nothing but "prayer" will save us. He has been sucking a bone now for about two weeks and pays more attention to that than to prayer.
July 1 - Matters much approach a crisis pretty soon with the raiders. It is said that even the rebels are scared and think they will have no prisoners, should an exchange ever occur. John Bowen, a Corp. Christency, Hemmingway, Byron Goodsell and Pete Smith, old acquaintances, have all died within a few days. Jimmy Devers still lives, with wonderful tenacity to life. To-morrow he will have been a prisoner of war a year. Mike Hoare still keeps very well, but the most comical looking genius in the whole prison. Could make a fortune out of him on exhibition at the North. He says I look worse however. That may be, but not so comical. It's tragedy with the most of us. New guards are taking the place of the old ones, and it is said that Wirtz is going away. Hope so. Never have heard one word from Hendryx since his getting away. Sanders is trying to get outside as a butcher. He understands the business. "Dad" has been to Australia, and has told us all about that country. Have also heard all about Ireland and Scotland. Should judge they are fine countries. Rowe has been telling me of the advantage of silk under clothing, and in addition to visiting all the foreign countries, we shall have silk under wear. Rowe once lived in Boston, and I shall likewise go there.
July 2 - Almost the Glorious Fourth of July. How shall we celebrate? Know of no way except to pound on the bake tin, which I shall do. Have taken to rubbing my limbs, which are gradually becoming more dropsical. Badly swollen. One of my teeth came out a few days ago, and all are loose. Mouth very sore. Battese says: "We get away yet." Works around and always busy. If any news, he merely listens and don't say a word. Even he is in poor health, but never mentions it. An acquaintance of his says he owns a good farm in Minnesota. Asked him if he was married - says, "Oh, yes." Any children? "Oh, yes." This is as far as we have got his history. Is very different from Indians in general. Some of them here are despicable cowards - worse than the negro. Probably one hundred negroes are here. Not so tough as the whites. Dead line being fixed up by the rebels. Got down in some places. Bought a piece of soap, first I have seen in many months. Swamp now in frightful condition from the filth of camp. Vermin and raiders have the best of it. Capt. Moseby still leads the villains.
THE RAIDERS PUT DOWN
July 3 - Three hundred and fifty new men from West Virginia were turned into this summer resort this morning. They brought good news as to successful termination of the war, and they also caused war after coming among us. As usual the raiders proceeded to rob them of their valuables and a fight occurred in which hundreds were engaged. The cut throats came out ahead. Complaints were made to Capt. Wirtz that this thing would be tolerated no longer, that these raiders must be put down or the men would rise in their might and break away if assistance was not given with which to preserve order. Wirtz flew around as if he had never thought of it before, issued an order to the effect that no more food would be given us until the leaders were arrested and taken outside for trial. The greatest possible excitement. Hundreds that have before been neutral and non-commital are now joining a police force. Captains are appointed to take charge of the squads which have been furnished with clubs by Wirtz. As I write, this middle of the afternoon, the battle rages. The police go right to raider headquarters knock right and left and make their arrests. Sometimes the police are whipped and have to retreat, but they rally their forces and again make a charge in which they are successful. Can lay in our shade and see the trouble go on. Must be killing some by the shouting. The raiders fight for their very life, and are only taken after being thoroughly whipped. The stockade is loaded with guards who are fearful of a break. I wish I could describe the scene to-day. A number killed. After each arrest a great cheering takes place. NIGHT - Thirty or forty have been taken outside of the worst characters in camp, and still the good work goes on. No food to-day and don't want any. A big strapping fellow called Limber Jim heads the police. Grand old Michael Hoare is at the front and goes for a raider as quick as he would a rebel. Patrol the camp all the time and gradually quieting down. The orderly prisoners are feeling jolly.
July 4 - The men taken outside yesterday are under rebel guard and will be punished. The men are thoroughly aroused, and now that the matter has been taken in hand, it will be followed up to the letter. Other arrests are being made to-day, and occasionally a big fight. Little Terry, whom they could not find yesterday, was to-day taken. Had been hiding in an old well, or hole in the ground. Fought like a little tiger, but had to go. "Limber Jim" is a brick, and should be made a Major General if he ever reaches our lines. Mike Hoare is right up in rank, and true blue. Wm. B. Rowe also makes a good policeman, as does "Dad" Sanders. Battese says he "no time to fight, must wash." Jimmy Devers regrets that he cannot take a hand in, as he likes to fight, and especially with a club. The writer hereof does no fighting, being on the sick list. The excitement of looking on is most too much for me. Can hardly arrest the big graybacks crawling around. Capt. Moseby is one of the arrested onees. His right name is Collins and he has been in our hundred all the time since leaving Richmond. Has got a good long neck to stretch. Another man whom I have seen a great deal of, one Curtiss, is also arrested. I haven't mentioned poor little Bullock for months, seems to me. He was most dead when we first came to Andersonville, and is still alive and tottering around. Has lost his voice entirely and is nothing but a skeleton. Hardly enough of him for disease to get hold of. Would be one of the surprising things on record if he lives through it, and he seems no worse than months ago. It is said that a court will be formed of our own men to try the raiders. Any way, so they are punished. All have killed men, and they themselves should be killed. When arrested, the police had hard work to prevent their being lynched. Police more thoroughly organizing all the time. An extra amount of food this p.m., and police get extra rations, and three out of our mess is doing pretty well, as they are all willing to divide. They tell us all the encounters they have, and much interesting talk. Mike has some queer experiences. Rebel flags at half mast for some of their great men. Just heard that the trial of raiders will begin to-morrow.
July 5 - Court is in session outside and raiders being tried by our own men. Wirtz has done one good thing, but it's a question whether he is entitled to any credit, as he had to be threatened with a break before he would assist us. Rations again to-day. I am quite bad off with my diseases, but still there are so many thousands so much worse off that I do not complain much, or try not to however.
July 6 - Boiling hot, camp reeking with filth, and no sanitary privileges; men dying off over a hundred and forty per day. Stockade enlarged, taking in eight or ten more acres, giving us more room, and stumps to dig up for wood to cook with. Mike Hoare is in good health; not so Jimmy Devers. Jimmy has now been a prisoner over a year, and poor boy, will probably die soon. Have more mementoes than I can carry, from those who have died, to be given to their friends at home. At least a dozen have given me letters, pictures, etc., to take North. Hope I shan't have to turn them over to some one else.
July 7 - The court was gotten up by our own men and from our own men; Judge, jury, counsel, etc. Had a fair trial, and were even defended, but to no purpose. It is reported that six have been sentenced to be hung, while a good many others are condemned to lighter punishment, such as setting in the stocks, strung up by the thumbs, thumb screws, head hanging, etc. The court has been severe, but just. Mike goes out to-morrow to take some part in the court proceedings. The prison seems a different place altogether; still, dread disease is here, and mowing down good and true men. Would seem to me that three or four hundred died each day, though officially but one hundred and forty odd is told. About twenty-seven thousand, I believe, are here now in all. No new ones for a few days. Rebel visitors, who look at us from a distance. It is said the stench keeps all away who have no business here and can keep away. Washing business good. Am negotiating for a pair of pants. Dislike fearfully to wear dead men's clothes, and haven't to any great extent.
July 8 - Oh, how hot, and oh, how miserable. The news that six have been sentenced to be hanged is true, and one of them is Moseby. The camp is thoroughly under control of the police now, and it is a heavenly boon. Of course there is some stealing and robbery, but not as before. Swan, of our mess, is sick with scurvy. I am gradually swelling up and growing weaker. But a few more pages in my diary. Over a hundred and fifty dying per day now, and twenty-six thousand in camp. Guards shoot now very often. Boys, as guards, are the most cruel. It is said that if they kill a Yankee, they are given a thirty days furlough. Guess they need them as soldiers too much to allow of this. The swamp now is fearful, water perfectly reeking with prison offal and poison. Still me drink it and die. Rumors that the six will be hung inside. Bread to-day and it is so coarse as to do more hurt than good to a majority of the prisoners. The place still gets worse. Tunneling is over with; no one engages in it now that I know of. The prison is a success as regards safety; no escape except by death, and very many take advantage of that way. A man who has preached to us (or tried to) is dead. Was a good man I verily believe, and from Pennsylvania. It's almost impossible for me to get correct names to note down; the last named man was called "the preacher," and I can find no other name for him. Our quartette of singers a few rods away is disbanded. One died, one nearly dead, one a policeman and the other cannot sing alone, and so where we used to hear and enjoy good music evenings, there is nothing to attract us from the groans of the dying. Having formed a habit of going to sleep as soon as the air got cooled off and before fairly dark, I wake up at two or three o'clock and stay awake. I then take in all the horrors of the situation. Thousands are groaning, moaning and crying, with no bustle of the daytime to drown it. Guards every half hour call out the time and post, and there is often a shot to make one shiver as if with the ague. Must arrange my sleeping hours to miss getting owly in the morning. Have taken to building air castles of late, on being exchanged. Getting loony, I guess, same as all the rest.
July 9 - Battese brought me some onions, and if they ain't good then no matter; also a sweet potato. One half the men here would get well if they only had something in the vegetable line to eat, or acids. Scurvy is about the most loathsome disease, and when dropsy takes hold with the scurvy, it is terrible. I have both diseases but keep them in check, and it only grows worse slowly. My legs are swollen, but the cords are not contracted much, and I can still walk very well. Our mess all keep clean, in fact are obliged to or else turned adrift. We want none of the dirty sort in our mess. Sanders and Rowe enforce the rules, which is not much work, as all hands are composed of men who prefer to keep clean. I still do a little washing, but more particularly hair cutting, which is easier work. You should see one of my hair cuts. Nobby! Old prisoners have hair a foot long or more, and my business is to cut it off, which I do without regards to anything except to get it off. I should judge that there are one thousand rebel soldiers guarding us, and perhaps a few more, with the usual number of officers. A guard told me to-day that the yanks were "gittin licked," and they didn't want us exchanged; just as soon we should die here as not; a yank asked him if he knew what exchanged meant; said he knew what shootin' meant, and as he began to swing around his old shooting iron we retreated in among the crowd. Heard that there were some new men belonging to my regiment in another part of the prison; have just returned from looking after them and am all tired out. Instead of belonging to the 9th Michigan Cavalry, they belong to the 9th Michigan Infantry. Had a good visit and quite cheered with their accounts of the war news. Some one stole Battese's wash board and he is mad; is looking for it - may bust up the business. Think Hub Dakin will give me a board to make another one. Sanders owns the jack-knife, of this mess, and he don't like to lend it either; borrow it to carve on roots for pipes. Actually take solid comfort "building castles in the air," a thing I have never been addicted to before. Better than getting blue and worrying myself to death. After all, we may get out of this dod-rotted hole. Always an end of some sort to such things.
July 10 - Have bought of a new prisoner quite a large (thick I mean) blank book so as to continue my diary. Although it's a tedious and tiresome task, am determined to keep it up. Don't know of another man in prison who is doing likewise. Wish I had the gift of description that I might describe this place. Know that I am not good at such things, and have more particularly kept track of the mess which was the "Astor House Mess" on Belle Isle, and is still called so here. Thought that Belle Isle was a very bad place, and used about the worst language I knew how to use in describing it, and so find myself at fault in depicting matters here as they are. At Belle Isle we had good water and plenty of it, and I believe it depends more upon water than food as regards health. We also had good pure air from up the James River. Here we have the very worst kind of water. Nothing can be worse or nastier than the stream drizzling its way through this camp. And for air to breathe, it is what arises from this foul place. On all four sides of us are high walls and tall trees, and there is apparently no wind or breeze to blow away the stench, and we are obliged to breathe and live in it. Dead bodies lay around all day in the broiling sun, by the dozen and even hundreds, and we must suffer and live in this atmosphere. It's too horrible for me to describe in fitting language. There was once a very profane man driving a team of horses attached to a wagon in which there were forty or fifty bushels of potatoes. It was a big load and there was a long hill to go up. The very profane man got off the load of potatoes to lighten the weight, and started the team up the hill. It was hard work, but they finally reached the top and stopped to rest. The profane man looked behind him and saw that the end board of the wagon had slipped out just as he had started, and there the potatoes were, scattered all the way along up the hill. Did the man make the very air blue with profanity? No, he sat down on a log feeling that he couldn't do the subject justice and so he remarked: "No! it's no use, I can't do it justice." While I have no reason or desire to swear, I certainly cannot do this prison justice. It's too stupendous an undertaking. Only those who are here will ever know what Andersonville is.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE HEARING
July 11 - This morning lumber was brought into the prison by the rebels, and near the gate a gallows erected for the purpose of executing the six condemned Yankees. At about ten o'clock they were brought inside by Capt. Wirtz and some guards, and delivered over to the police force. Capt. Wirtz then said a few words about their having been tried by our own men and for us to do as we choose with them, that he washed his hands of the whole matter, or words to that effect. I could not catch the exact language, being some little distance away. I have learned by enquiry, their names, which are as follows: John Sarsfield, 144th New York; William Collins, alias "Moseby," Co. D, 88th Pennsylvania; Charles Curtiss, Battery A, 5th Rhode Island Artillery; Pat Delaney, Co. E, 83rd Pennsylvania; A. Munn, U.S. Navy, and W.R. Rickson of the U.S. Navy. After Wirtz made his speech he withdrew his guards, leaving the condemned at the mercy of 28,000 enraged prisoners who had all been more or less wronged by these men. Their hands were tied behind them, and one by one they mounted the scaffold. Curtiss, who was the last, a big stout fellow, managed to get his hands loose and broke away and ran through the crowd and down toward the swamp. It was yelled out that he had a knife in his hand, and so a path was made for him. He reached the swamp and plunged in, trying to get over on the other side, presumably among his friends. It being very warm he over exerted himself, and when in the middle or thereabouts, collapsed and could go no further. The police started after him, waded in and helped him out. He pleaded for water and it was given him. Then led back to the scaffold and helped to mount up. All were given a chance to talk. Munn, a good looking fellow in marine dress, said he came into the prison four months before perfectly honest, and as innocent of crime as any fellow in it. Starvation, with evil companions, had made him what he was. He spoke of his mother and sisters in New York, that he cared nothing as far as himself was concerned, but the news that would be carried home to his people made him want to curse God he had ever been born. Delaney said he would rather be hung than live here as the most of them lived, on their allowance of rations. If allowed to steal could get enough to eat, but as that was stopped would rather hang. Bid all good bye. Said his name was not Delaney and that no one knew who he really was, therefore his friends would never know his fate, his Andersonville history dying with him. Curtiss said he didn't care a _____, only hurry up and not be talking about it all day; making too much fuss over a very small matter. William Collins, alias Moseby, said he was innocent of murder and ought not to be hung; he had stolen blankets and rations to preserve his own life, and begged the crowd not to see him hung as he had a wife and child at home, and for their sake to let him live. The excited crowd began to be impatient for the "show" to commence as they termed it. Sarsfield made quite a speech; he had studied for a lawyer; at the outbreak of the rebellion he had enlisted and served three years in the army, been wounded in battle, furloughed home, would healed up, promoted to first sergeant and also commissioned; his commission as a lieutenant had arrived but had not been mustered in when he was taken prisoner; began by stealing parts of rations, gradually becoming hardened as he became familiar with the crimes practiced; evil associates had helped him to go down hill and here he was. The other did not care to say anything. While the men were talking they were interrupted by all kinds of questions and charges made by the crowd, such as "don't lay it on too thick, you villain," "get ready to jump off," "cut it short," "you was the cause of so and so's death," "less talk and more hanging," etc., etc. At about eleven o'clock they were all blindfolded, hands and feet tied, told to get ready, nooses adjusted and the plank knocked from under. Moseby's rope broke and he fell to the ground, with blood spurting from his ears, mouth and nose. As they was lifting him back to the swinging off place he revived and begged for his life, but no use, was soon dangling with the rest, and died very hard. Munn died easily, as also did Delaney, all the rest died hard and particularly Sarsfield who drew his knees nearly to his chin and then straightened them out with a jerk, the veins in his neck swelling out as if they would burst. It was an awful sight to see, still a necessity. Moseby, although he said he had never killed any one, and I don't believe he ever did deliberately kill a man, such as stabling or pounding a victim to death, yet he has walked up to a poor sick prisoner on a cold night and robbed him of blanket, or perhaps his rations and if necessary using all the force necessary to do it. These things were the same as life to the sick man, for he would invariably die. The result has been that many have died from his robbing propensities. It was right that he should hang, and he did hang most beautifully and Andersonville is the better off for it. None of the rest denied that they had killed men, and probably some had murdered dozens. It has been a good lesson; there are still bad ones in camp but we have the strong arm of the law to keep them in check. All during the hanging scene the stockade was covered with rebels, who were fearful a break would be made if the raiders should try and rescue them. Many citizens too were congregated on the outside in favorable positions for seeing. Artillery was pointed at us from all directions ready to blow us all into eternity in short order; Wirtz stood on a high platform in plain sight of the execution and says we are a hard crowd to kill our own men. After hanging for half an hour or so the six bodies were taken down and carried outside. In noting down the speeches made by the condemned men, having used my own language; in substance it is the same as told by them. I occupied a near position to the hanging and saw it all from first to last, and stood there until they were taken down and carried away. Was a strange sight to see and the first hanging I ever witnessed. The raiders had many friends who crowded around and denounced the whole affair and but for the police there would have been a riot; many both for and against the execution were knocked down. Some will talk and get into trouble thereby; as long as it does no good there is no use in loud talk and exciting arguments; is dangerous to advance any argument, men are so ready to quarrel. Have got back to my quarters thoroughly prostrated and worn out with fatigue and excitement, and only hope that to-day's lesson will right matters as regards raiding. Battese suspended washing long enough to look on and see them hang and grunted his approval. Have omitted to say that the good Catholic priest attended the condemned. Rebel negroes came inside and began to take down the scaffold; prisoners took hold to help them and resulted in its all being carried off to different parts of the prison to be used for kindling wood, and the rebels get none of it back and are mad. The ropes even have been gobbled up, and I suppose sometime may be exhibited at the north as mementoes of to-day's proceedings. Mike Hoare assisted at the hanging. Some fears are entertained that those who officiated will get killed by the friends of those hanged. The person who manipulated the "drop," has been taken outside on parole of honor, as his life would be in danger in here. Jimmy thanks God that he has lived to see justice done the raiders; he is about gone - nothing but skin and bone and can hardly move hand or foot; rest of the mess moderately well. The extra rations derived from our three mess-mates as policemen, helps wonderfully to prolong life. Once in a while some of them gets a chance to go outside on some duty and buy onions or sweet potatoes which is a great luxury.
July 12 - Good order has prevailed since the hanging. The men have settled right down to the business of dying, with no interruption. I keep thinking our situation can get no worse, but it does get worse every day and not less than one hundred and sixty die each twenty-four hours. Probably one-fourth or one-third of these die inside the stockade, the balance in the hospital outside. All day and up to four o'clock p.m., the dead are being gathered up and carried to the south gate and placed in a row inside the dead line. As the bodies are stripped of their clothing in most cases as soon as the breath leaves, and in some cases before, the row of dead presents a sickening appearance. Legs drawn up and in all shapes. They are black from pitch pine smoke and laying in the sun. Some of them lay there for twenty hours or more, and by that time are in a horrible condition. At four o'clock a four or six mule wagon comes up to the gate and twenty or thirty bodies are loaded on to the wagon and they are carted off to be put in trenches, one hundred in each trench, in the cemetery, which is eighty or a hundred rods away. There must necessarily be a great many whose names are not taken. It is the orders to attach the name, company and regiment to each body, but it is not always done. I was invited to-day to dig in a tunnel, but had to decline. My digging days are over. Must dig now to keep out of the ground, I guess. It is with difficulty now that I can walk, and only with the help of two canes.
July 13 - Can see in the distance the cars go poking along by this station, with wheezing old engines, snorting along. As soon as night comes a great many are blind, caused by sleeping in the open air, with moon shining in the face. Many holes are dug and evacuations made in camp. Near our quarters is a well about five or six feet deep, and the poor blind fellows fall into this pit hole. None seriously hurt, but must be quite shaken up. Half of the prisoners have no settled place for sleeping, wander and lay down wherever they can find room. Have two small gold rings on my finger, worn ever since I left home. Have also a small photograph album with eight photographs in. Relics of civilization. Should I get these things through to our lines they will have quite a history. When I am among the rebels I wind a rag around in finger to cover up the rings, or else take them and put in my pocket. Bad off as I have been, have never seen the time yet that I would part with them. Were presents to me, and the photographs have looked at about one-fourth of the time since imprisonment. One prisoner made some buttons here for his little boy at home, and gave them to me to deliver, as he was about to die. Have them sewed on to my pants for safe keeping.
July 14 - We have been too busy with the raiders of late to manufacture any exchange news, and now all hands are at work trying to see who can tell the biggest yarns. The weak are feeling well to-night over the story that we are all to be sent North this month, before the 20th. Have not learned that the news came from any reliable source. Rumors of midsummer battles with Union troops victorious. It's "bite dog, bite bear," with most of us prisoners; we don't care which licks, what we want is to get out of this pen. Of course, we all care and want our side to win, but it's tough on patriotism. A court is now held every day and offenders punished, principally by buck and gagging, for misdemeanors. The hanging has done worlds of good, still there is much stealing going on yet, but in a sly way, not openly. Hold my own as regards health. The dreaded month of July is half gone, and a good many over one hundred and fifty die each day, but I do not know how many. Hardly any one cares enough about it to help me any in my inquiries. It is all self with the most of them. A guard by accident shot himself. Have often said they didn't know enough to hold a gun. Bury a rebel guard every few days within sight of the prison. Saw some women in the distance. Quite a sight. Are feeling quite jolly to-night since the sun went down. Was visited by my new acquaintances of the 9th Michigan Infantry, who are comparatively new prisoners. Am learning them the way to live here. They are very hopeful fellows and declare the war will be over this coming fall, and tell their reasons very well for thinking so. We gird up our loins and decide that we will try to live it through. Rowe, although often given to despondency, is feeling good and cheerful. There are some noble fellows here. A man shows exactly what he is in Andersonville. No occasion to be any different from what you really are. Very often see a great big fellow in size, in reality a baby in action, actually sniveling and crying, and then again you will see some little runt, "not bigger than a pint of cider," tell the big fellows to "brace up" and be a man. Statue has nothing to do as regards nerve, still there are noble big fellows as well as noble little ones. A Sergt. Hill is judge and jury now, and dispenses justice to evil doers with impartiality. A farce is made of defending some of the arrested ones. Hill inquires all of the particulars of each case, and some times lets the offenders go as more sinned against than sinning. Four receiving punishment.
July 15 - Blank cartridges were this morning fired over the camp by the artillery, and immediately the greatest commotion outside. It seems that the signal in case a break is made, is cannon firing. And this was to show us how quick they could rally and get into shape. In less time than it takes for me to write it, all were at their posts and in condition to open up and kill nine-tenths of all here. Sweltering hot. Dying off one hundred and fifty-five each day. There are twenty-eight thousand confined here now.
July 16 - Well, whoever supposed that it could be any hotter; but to-day is more so than yesterday, and yesterday more than the day before. My coverlid has been rained on so much and burned in the sun, first one and then the other, that it is getting the worse for wear. It was originally a very nice one, and home made. Sun goes right through it now, and reaches down for us. Just like a bake oven. The rabbit mules that draw in the rations look as if they didn't get much more to eat than we do. Driven with one rope line, and harness patched up with ropes, strings, etc. Fit representation of the Confederacy. Not much like U.S. Army teams. A joke on the rebel adjutant has happened. Some one broke into the shanty and tied the two or three sleeping there, and carried off all the goods. Tennessee Bill (a fellow capture with me), had charge of the affair, and is in disgrace with the adjutant on account of it. Every one is glad of the robbery. Probably there was not ten dollars worth of things in there, but they asked outrageous prices for everything. Adjt. very mad, but no good. Is a small, sputtering sort of fellow.
July 17 - Cords contracting in my legs and very difficult for me to walk - after going a little ways have to stop and rest and am faint. Am urged by some to go to the hospital but don't like to do it; mess say had better stay where I am, and Battese says shall not go, and that settles it. Jimmy Devers anxious to be taken to the hospital but is persuaded to give it up. Tom McGill, another Irish friend, is past all recovery; is in another part of the prison. Many old prisoners are dropping off now this fearful hot weather; knew that July and August would thin us out; cannot keep track of them in my disabled condition. A fellow named Hubbard with whom I have conversed a good deal, is dead; a few days ago was in very good health, and its only a question of a few days now with any of us. Succeeded in getting four small onions about as large as hickory nuts, tops and all for two dollars Confederate money. Battese furnished the money but won't eat an onion; ask him if he is afraid it will make his breath smell? It is said that two or three onions or a sweet potato eaten raw daily will cure the scurvy. What a shame that such things are denied us, being so plenty the world over. Never appreciated such things before but shall hereafter. Am talking as if I expected to get home again. I do.
July 18 - Time slowly dragging itself along. Cut some wretches hair most every day. Have a sign out "Hair Cutting," as well as "Washing," and by the way, Battese has a new wash board made from a piece of the scaffold lumber. About half the time do the work for nothing, in fact not more than one in three or four pays anything - expenses not much though, don't have to pay any rent. All the mess keeps their hair cut short which is a very good advertisement. My eyes getting weak with other troubles. Can just hobble around. Death rate more than ever, reported one hundred and sixty-five per day; said by some to be more than that, but 165 is about the figure. Bad enough without making any worse than it really is. Jimmy Devers most dead and begs us to take him to the hospital and guess will have to. Every morning the sick are carried to the gate in blankets and on stretchers, and the worst cases admitted to the hospital. Probably out of five or six hundred half are admitted. Do not think any lives after being taken there; are past all human aid. Four out of every five prefer to stay inside and die with their friends rather than go to the hospital. Hard stories reach us of the treatment of the sick out there and I am sorry to say the cruelty emanates from our own men who act as nurses. These dead beats and bummer nurses are the same bounty jumpers the U.S. authorities have had so much trouble with. Do not mean to say that all the nurses are of that class but a great many of them are.
July 19 - There is no such thing as delicacy here. Nine out of ten would as soon eat with a corpse for a table as any other. In the middle of last night I was awakened by being kicked by a dying man. He was soon dead. In his struggles he had floundered clear into our bed. Got up and moved the body off a few feet, and again went to sleep to dream of the hideous sights. I can never get used to it as some do. Often wake most scared to death, and shuddering from head to foot. Almost dread to go to sleep on this account. I am getting worse and worse, and prison ditto.
July 20 - Am troubled with poor sight together with scurvy and dropsy. My teeth are all loose and it is with difficulty I can eat. Jimmy Devers was taken out to die to-day. I hear that McGill is also dead. John McGuire died last night, both were Jackson men and old acquaintances. Mike Hoare is still policeman and is sorry for me. Does what he can. And so we have seen the last of Jimmy. A prisoner of war one year and eighteen days. Struggled hard to live through it, if ever any one did. Ever since I can remember have known him. John Maguire also, I have always known. Everybody in Jackson, Mich., will remember him, as living on the east side of the river near the wintergreen patch, and his father before him. They were one of the first families who settled that country. His people are well to do, with much property. Leaves a wife and one boy. Tom McGill is also a Jackson boy and a member of my own company. Thus you will see that three of my acquaintances died the same day, for Jimmy cannot live until night I don't think. Not a person in the world but would have thought either of them would kill me a dozen times enduring hardships. Small squad of poor deluded Yanks turned inside with us, captured at Petersburg. It is said they talk of winning recent battles. Battese has traded for an old watch and Mike will try to procure vegetables for it from the guard. That is what will save us if anything.
July 21 - And rebels are still fortifying. Battese has his hands full. Takes care of me like a father. Hear that Kilpatrick is making a raid for this place. Troops (rebel) are arriving here by every train to defend it. Nothing but corn bread issued now and I cannot eat it any more.
July 22 - A petition is gotten up signed by all the sergeants in the prison, to be sent to Washington, D.C., begging to be released. Capt. Wirtz has consented to let three representatives go for that purpose. Rough that it should be necessary to us to beg to be protected by our government.
July 23 - Reports of an exchange in August. Can't stand it till that time. Will soon go up the spout.
July 24 - Have been trying to get into the hospital, but Battese won't let me go. Geo. W. Hutchins, brother of Charlie Hutchins of Jackson, Mich., died to-day, from our mess. Jimmy Devers is dead.
July 25 - Rowe getting very bad. Sanders ditto. Am myself much worse, and cannot walk, and with difficulty stand up. Legs drawn up like a triangle, mouth in terrible shape, and dropsy worse than all. A few more days. At my earnest solicitation was carried to the gate this morning, to be admitted to the hospital. Lay in the sun for some hours to be examined, and finally my turn came and I tried to stand up, but was so excited I fainted away. When I came to myself I lay along with the row of dead on the outside. Raised up and asked a rebel for a drink of water, and he said: "Here, you Yank, if you ain't dead, get inside there!" And with his help was put inside again. Told a man to go to our mess and tell them to come to the gate, and pretty soon Battese and Sanders came and carried me back to our quarters; and here I am, completely played out. Battese flying around to buy me something good to eat. Can't write much more. Exchange rumors.
July 26 - Ain't dead yet. Actually laugh when I think of the rebel who thought if I wasn't dead I had better get inside. Can't walk a step now. Shall try for the hospital no more. Had an onion.
July 27 - Sweltering hot. No worse than yesterday. Said that two hundred die now each day. Rowe very bad and Sanders getting so. Swan dead, Gordon dead, Jack Withers dead, Scotty dead, a large Irishman who has been near us a long time is dead. These and scores of others died yesterday and day before. Hub Dakin came to see me and brought an onion. He is just able to crawl around himself.
July 28 - Taken a step forward toward the trenches since yesterday, and am worse. Had a wash all over this morning. Battese took me to the creek; carries me without any trouble.
July 29 - Alive and kicking. Drank some soured water made from meal and water.
July 30 - Hang on well, and no worse.
MOVED JUST IN TIME
Removed from Andersonville to the Marine hospital, Savannah - Getting through the gate - Battese has saved us - Very sick but by no means dead yet - Better and humane treatment
Aug. 1 - Just about the same. My Indian friend says: "We all get away."
Aug. 2 - Two hundred and twenty die each day. No more news of exchange.
Aug. 3 - Had some good soup, and feel better. All is done for me that can be done by my friends. Rowe and Sanders in almost as bad a condition as myself. Just about where I was two or three weeks ago. Seem to have come down all at once. August goes for them.
Aug. 4 - Storm threatened. Will cool the atmosphere. Hard work to write.
Aug. 5 - Severe storm. Could die in two hours if I wanted to, but don't.
Aug. 12 - Warm. Warm. Warm. If I only had some shade to lay in, and a glass of lemonade.
Aug. 13 - A nice spring of cold water has broken out in camp, enough to furnish nearly all here with drinking water. God has not forgotten us. Battese brings it to me to drink.
Aug. 14 - Battese very hopeful, as exchange rumors are afloat. Talks more about it than ever before.
Aug. 15 - The water is a God-send. Sanders better and Rowe worse.
Aug. 16 - Still in the land of the living. Capt. Wirtz is sick and a Lieut. Davis acting in his stead.
Aug. 17 - Hanging on yet. A good many more than two hundred and twenty-five die now in twenty-four hours. Messes that have stopped near us are all dead.
Aug. 18 - Exchange rumors.
Aug. 19 - Am still hoping for relief. Water is bracing some up, myself with others. Does not hurt us.
Aug. 20 - Some say three hundred now die each day. No more new men coming. Reported that Wirtz is dead.
Aug. 21 - Sleep nearly all the time except when too hot to do so.
Aug. 22 - Exchange rumors.
Aug. 23 - Terribly hot.
Aug. 24 - Had some soup. Not particularly worse, but Rowe is, and Sanders also.
Aug. 25 - In my exuberance of joy must write a few lines. Received a letter from my brother, George W. Ransom, from Hilton Head.± Contained only a few words. (±My brother supposed me dead, as I had been so reported; still, thinking it might not be so, every week or so he would write a letter and direct to me as prisoner of war. This letter, very strangely, reached its destination.)
Aug. 26 - Still am writing. The letter from my brother has done good and cheered me up. Eye sight very poor and writing tires me. Battese sticks by; such disinterested friendship is rare. Prison at its worst.
Aug. 27 - Have now written nearly through three large books, and still at it. The diary am confident will reach my people if I don't. There are many here who are interested and will see that it goes north.
Aug. 28 - No news and no worse; set up part of the time. Dying off a third faster than ever before.
Aug. 29 - Exchange rumors afloat. Any kind of a change would help me.
Aug. 30 - Am in no pain whatever, and no worse.
Aug. 31 - Still waiting for something to turn up. My Indian friend says: "good news yet." NIGHT - The camp is full of exchange rumors.
Sept. 1 - Sanders taken outside to butcher cattle. Is sick but goes all the same. Mike sick and no longer a policeman. Still rumors of exchange.
Sept. 2 - Just about the same; rumors afloat does me good. Am the most hopeful chap on record.
Sept. 3 - Trade off my rations for some little luxury and manage to get up quite a soup. LATER - Sanders sent in to us a quite large piece of fresh beef and a little salt; another God send.
Sept. 4 - Anything good to eat lifts me right up, and the beef soup has done it.
Sept. 4 - The beef critter is a noble animal. Very decided exchange rumors.
Sept. 5 - The nice spring of cold water still flows and furnishes drinking water for all; police guard it night and day so to be taken away only in small quantities. Three hundred said to be dying off each day.
Sept. 6 - Hurrah! Hurrah!! Hurrah!!! Can't holler except on paper. Good news. Seven detachments ordered to be ready to go at a moment's notice. LATER - All who cannot walk must stay behind. If left behind shall die in twenty-four hours. Battese says I shall go. LATER - Seven detachments are going out of the gate; all the sick are left behind. Ours is the tenth detachment and will go to-morrow so said. The greatest excitement; men wild with joy. Am worried fearful that I cannot go, but Battese says I shall.
Sept. 7 - Anxiously waiting the expected summons. Rebels say as soon as transportation comes, and so a car whistle is music to our ears. Hope is a good medicine and am sitting up and have been trying to stand up but can't do it; legs too crooked and with every attempt get faint. Men laugh at the idea of my going, as the rebels are very particular not to let any sick go, still Battese says I am going. MOST DARK - Rebels say we go during the night when transportation comes. Battese grinned when this news come and can't get his face straightened out again.
Marine Hospital, Savannah, Ga., Sept. 15, 1864 - A great change has taken place since I last wrote in my diary. Am in heaven now compared with the past. At about midnight, September 7th, our detachment was ordered outside at Andersonville, and Battese picked me up and carried me to the gate. The men were being let outside in ranks of four, and counted as they went out. They were very strict about letting none go but the well ones, or those who could walk. The rebel adjutant stood upon a box by the gate, watching very close. Pitch pine knots were burning in the near vicinity to give light. As it came our turn to go Battese got me in the middle of the rank, stood me up as well as I could stand, and with himself on one side and Sergt. Rowe on the other began pushing our way through the gate. Could not help myself a particle, and was so faint that I hardly knew what was going on. As we were going the gate the adjutant yells out: "Here, here! Hold on there, that man can't go, hold on there!" and Battese crowding right along outside. The adjutant struck over the heads of the men and tried to stop us, but my noble Indian friend kept straight ahead, hallooing: "He all right, he well, he go!" And so I got outside, and adjutant having too much to look after to follow me. After we were outside, I was carried to the railroad in the same coverlid which I fooled the rebel out of when captured, and which I presume has saved my life a dozen times. We were crowded very thick into box cars. I was nearly dead, and hardly knew where we were or what was going on. We were two days in getting to Savannah. Arrived early in the morning. The railroads here run in the middle of very wide, handsome streets. We were unloaded, I should judge, near the middle of the city. The men as they were unloaded, fell into line and were marched away. Battese got me out of the car, and laid me on the pavement. They then obliged him to go with the rest, leaving me; would not let him take me. I lay there until noon with four or five others, without any guard. Three or four times negro servants came to us from houses near by, and gave us water, milk and food. With much difficulty I could set up, but was completely helpless. A little after noon a wagon came and toted us to a temporary hospital in the outskirts of the city, and near a prison pen they had just built for the well ones. Where I was taken it was merely an open piece of ground, having wall tents erected and a line of guards around it. I was put into a tent and lay on the coverlid. That night some gruel was given to me, and a nurse whom I had seen in Andersonville looked in, and my name was taken. The next morning, September 10th, I woke up and went to move my hands, and could not do it; could not move either limb so much as an inch. Could move my head with difficulty. Seemed to be paralyzed, but in no pain whatever. After a few hours a physician came to my tent, examined and gave me medicine, also left medicine, and one of the nurses fed me some soup or gruel. By night I could move my hands. Lay awake considerable through the night thinking. Was happy as a clam in high tide. Seemed so nice to be under a nice clean tent, and there was such cool pure air. The surroundings were so much better that I thought now would be a good time to die, and I didn't care one way or the other. Next morning the doctor came, and with him Sergt. Winn. Sergt. Winn I had had a little acquaintance with at Andersonville. Doctor said I was terribly reduced, but he thought I would improve. Told them to wash me. A nurse came and washed me, and Winn brought me a white cotton shirt, and an old but clean pair of pants; my old clothing, which was in rags, was taken away. Two or three times during the day I had gruel of some kind, I don't know what. Medicine was given me by the nurses. By night I could move my feet and legs a little. The cords in my feet and legs were contracted so, of course, that I couldn't straighten myself. Kept thinking to myself, "am I really away from that place Andersonville?" It seemed too good to be true. On the morning of the 12th, ambulances moved all to the Marine Hospital, or rather an orchard in same yard with Marine Hospital, where thirty or forty nice new tents have been put up, with bunks about two feet from the ground, inside. Was put into a tent. By this time could move my arms considerable. We were given vinegar weakened with water, and also salt in it. Had medicine. My legs began to get movable more each day, also my arms, and to-day I am laying on my stomach and writing in my diary. Mike Hoare is also in this hospital. One of my tentmates is a man named Land, who is a printer, same as myself. I hear that Wm. B. Rowe is here also, but haven't seen him.
Sept. 16 - How I do sleep; am tired out, and seems to me I can just sleep till doomsday.
Sept. 17 - Four in each tent. A nurse raises me up, sitting posture, and there I stay for hours, dozing and talking away. Whiskey given us in very small quantities, probably half a teaspoonful in half a glass of something, I don't know what. Actually makes me drunk. I am in no pain whatever.
Sept. 18 - Surgeon examined me very thoroughly to-day. Have some bad sores caused by laying down so much; put something on them that makes them ache. Sergt. Winn gave me a pair of socks.
Sept. 19 - A priest gave me some alum for my sore mouth. Had a piece of sweet potato, but couldn't eat it. Fearfully weak. Soup is all I can eat, and don't always stay down.
Sept. 20 - Too cool for me. The priest said he would come and see me often. Good man. My left hand got bruised in some way and rebel done it up. He is afraid gangrene will get in sore. Mike Hoare is quite sick.
Sept. 21 - Don't feel as well as I did some days ago. Can't eat; still can use my limbs and arms more.
Sept. 22 - Good many sick brought here. Everybody is kind, rebels and all. Am now differently sick than at any other time. Take lots of medicine, eat nothing but gruel. Surgeons are very attentive. Man died in my tent. Oh, if I was away by myself, I would get well. Don't want to see a sick man. That makes me sick.
Sept. 23 - Shall write any way; have to watch nurses and rebels or will lose my diary. Vinegar reduced I drink and it is good; crave after acids and salt. Mouth appears to be actually sorer than ever before, but whether it is worse or not can't say. Sergt. Winn says the Doctor says that I must be very careful if I want to get well. How in the old Harry can I be careful? They are the ones that had better be careful and give me the right medicine and food. Gruel made out of a dish cloth to eat.
Sept. 24 - Arrow root soup or whatever you may call it; don't like it; makes me sick. Priest spoke to me. Cross and peevish and they say that is a sure sign will get well. Ain't sure but shall be a Catholic yet. Every little while get out the old diary from under the blanket and write a sentence. Never was made to be sick - too uneasy. This will do for to-day.
A gradual improvement in health - Good treatment which is opportune - Parting with relics to buy luxuries - Daly, the teamster at Andersonville, killed - A visit from Battese the Indian, etc., etc.
Sept. 25 - Can eat better - or drink rather; some rebel general dead and buried with honors outside. Had another wash and general clean up; ocean breezes severe for invalids. Am visited twice a day by the rebel surgeon who instructs nurses about treatment. Food principally arrow root; have a little whiskey. Sleep great deal of the time. Land, my acquaintance and mess-mate, is lame from scurvy, but is not weak and sick as I am. When I think of anything, say: "Land, put her down," and he writes what I tell him. Everything clean here, but then any place is clean after summering in Andersonville. Don't improve much and sometimes not at all; get blue sometimes; nature of the beast suppose; other sick in the tent worry and make me nervous.
Sept. 26 - Am really getting better and hopeful. Battese has the first two books of my diary; would like to see him. Was mistaken about Rowe being in the hospital; he is not, but I hear is in the big stockade with bulk of prisoners. Say we were removed from Andersonville for the reason that our troops were moving that way. Well, thank heaven they moved that way. Mike Hoare, the irrepressible Irishman, is hobbling around and in our tent about half the time; is also getting well. Quite a number die here not having the constitution to rally. This is the first hospital I was ever in. My old coverlid was washed and fumigated the first day in hospital. Am given very little to eat five or six times a day; washed with real soap, an improvement on sand. Half a dozen rebel doctors prowling around, occasionally one that needs dressing down, but as a general thing are very kind. Can see from my bunk a large live oak tree which is a curiosity to me. Although it is hot weather the evenings are cool, in fact cold; ocean breezes. A discussion on the subject has set me down as weighing about ninety-five; I think about one hundred and five or ten pounds; weighed when captured one hundred and seventy-eight; boarding with the confederacy does not agree with me. The swelling about my body has all left me. Sergt. Winn belongs to the 100th Ohio; he has charge of a ward in this hospital.
Sept. 27 - Getting so I can eat a little and like the gruel. Have prided myself all during the imprisonment on keeping a stiff upper lip while I saw big strong men crying like children; cruelty and privations would never make me cry - always so mad, but now it is different and weaken a little sometimes all to myself. Land, my sick comrade, writes at my dictation.
Sept. 28 - Sent word to Battese by a convalescent who is being sent to the large prison, that I am getting well. Would like to see him. Am feeling better. Good many union men in Savannah. Three hundred sick here, with all kinds of diseases - gangrene, dropsy, scurvy, typhoid and other fevers, diarrhea, etc. Good care taken of me. Have medicine often, and gruel. Land does the writing.
Sept. 29 - Yes, I am better, but poor and weak. Feeling hungry more now, and can take nourishment quite often. Mike Hoare calls to see me. He is thinking of escape. Should think a person might escape from here when able. I shall get well now. Sweet potatoes for sale. Like to see such things, but cannot eat them. Rebel officer put his hand on my head a few minutes ago and said something; don't know what. It is said the Yankees can throw shell into Savannah from their gunboats down the river. Sergeant Winn comes to see me and cheers me up. Winn is a sutler as well as nurse, that is, he buys eatables from the guards and other rebels, and sells to our men. Number of marines and sailors in the building adjoining our hospital; also some Yankee officers sick. Winn makes quite a little money. They have soap here to wash with. The encouraging talk of ending the war soon helps me to get well.
Sept. 30 - Am decidedly better and getting quite an appetite but can get nothing but broth, gruel, etc. Mouth very bad. Two or three teeth have come out, and can't eat any hard food any way. They give me quinine, at least I think it is quinine. Good many visitors come here to see the sick, and they look like union people. Savannah is a fine place from all accounts of it. Mike is getting entirely over his troubles and talks continually of getting away. There are a great many Irish about here, and they are principally union men. Mike wishes I was able to go with him. Nurses are mostly marines who have been sick and are convalescent. As a class they are good fellows, but some are rough ones. Are very profane. The cords in my legs loosening up a little. Whiskey and water given me to-day, also weakened vinegar and salt. Am all the time getting better. LATER - My faithful friend came to see me to-day. Was awful glad to see him. He is well. A guard came with him. Battese is quite a curiosity among the Savannah rebels. Is a very large, broad shouldered Indian, rather ignorant, but full of common sense and very kind hearted. Is allowed many favors.
Oct. 1 - A prisoner of war nearly a year. Have stood and went through the very worst kind of treatment. Am getting ravenously hungry, but they won't give me much to eat. Even Mike won't give me anything. Says the doctors forbid it. Well, I suppose it is so. One trouble with the men here who are sick, they are too indolent and discouraged, which counteracts the effects of medicines. A dozen or twenty die in the twenty-four hours. Have probably half tablespoonful of whiskey daily, and it is enough. Land is a good fellow. (I wrote this last sentence myself, and Land says he will scratch it out. - Ransom.) A high garden wall surrounds us. Wall is made of stone. Mike dug around the corners of the walls, and in out of the way places, and got together a mess of greens out of pusley. Offered me some and then wouldn't let me have it. Meaner than pusley. Have threatened to lick the whole crowd in a week.
Oct. 2 - Coming cool weather and it braces me right up. Sailors are going away to be exchanged. Ate some sweet potato to-day, and it beats everything how I am gaining. Drink lots of gruel, and the more I drink the more I want. Have vinegar and salt and water mixed together given me, also whiskey, and every little while I am taking something, either food or medicine, and the more I take the more I want. Am just crazy for anything, no matter what. Could eat a mule's ear. Eat rice and vegetable soup. All the talk that I hear is to the effect that the war is almost over. Don't want to be disturbed at all until I am well, which will not be very long now. All say if I don't eat too much will soon be well. Mike lives high. Is an ingenious fellow and contrives to get many good things to eat. Gives me anything that he thinks won't hurt me. Setting up in my bunk. Have washed all over and feel fifty per cent better. Just a jumping toward convalescence.
Oct. 3 - The hospital is crowded now with sick; about thirty die now each day. Men who walked away from Andersonville, and come to get treatment, are too far gone to rally, and die. Heard Jeff. Davis' speech read to-day. He spoke of an exchange soon. I am better where I am for a few weeks yet. Number of sailors went to-day. Knaw onion, raw sweet potato. Battese here, will stay all day and go back to-night. Says he is going with marines to be exchanged. Give him food, which he is loth to eat although hungry. Says he will come to see me after I get home to Michigan.
Oct. 4 - Am now living splendid; vegetable diet is driving off the scurvy and dropsy, in fact the dropsy has dropped out but the effect remains. Set up now part of the time and talk like a runaway horse until tired out and then collapse. Heard that all the prisoners are going to be sent to Millen, Ga. Wrote a few lines directed to my father in Michigan. Am now given more food but not much at a time. Two poor fellows in our tent do not get along as well as I do, although Land is doing well and is going to be a nurse. The hospital is not guarded very close and Mike Hoare cannot resist the temptation to escape. Well, joy go with him. Dosed with quinine and beastly to take. Battese on his last visit to me left the first two books of my diary which he had in his possession. There is no doubt but he has saved my life, although he will take no credit for it. It is said all were moved from Andersonville to different points; ten thousand went to Florence, ten thousand to Charleston and ten thousand to Savannah; but the dead stay there and will for all time to come. What a terrible place and what a narrow escape I had of it. Seems to me that fifteen thousand died while I was there; an army almost and as many men as inhabit a city of fifty thousand population.
Oct. 5 - All in Andersonville will remember Daly, who used to drive the bread wagon into that place. He came to Savannah with us and was in this hospital; a few days ago he went away with some sailors to be exchanged. Soon after leaving Savannah he fell off the cars and was killed, and a few hours after leaving here was brought back and buried; it is said he had been drinking. Getting better every day, eat right smart. Mike waiting for a favorable chance to escape and in the meantime is getting well; heard that Battese has gone away with sailors to our lines. Its wonderful the noticeable change of air here from that at Andersonville - wonder that any lived a month inhaling the poison. If some of those good fellows that died there, Jimmy Devers, Dr. Lewis, Swain, McGuire and scores of others, had lived through it to go home with me, should feel better. Have a disagreeable task to perform - that of going to see the relatives of fifteen or twenty who died and deliver messages. Rebel surgeons act as if the war was most over, and not like very bad enemies. Fresh beef issued to those able to eat it which is not me; can chew nothing hard, in fact cannot chew at all. Am all tired out and will stop for to-day.
Oct. 7 - Haven't time to write much; busy eating. Mouth getting better, cords in my legs loosening up. Battese has not gone; was here to-day and got a square meal. Don't much think that I have heretofore mentioned the fact that I have two small gold rings, which has been treasured carefully all during my imprisonment. They were presents to me before leaving home; it is needless to say they were from lady friends. Have worn them part of the time and part of the time they have been secreted about my clothes. Yankee rings are in great demand by the guards; crave delicacies and vegetables so much that think I may be pardoned for letting them go now, and as Mike says he can get a bushel of sweet potatoes for them, have told him to make the trade, and he says will do it. Sweet potatoes sliced up and put in a dish and cooked with a piece of beef and seasoned, makes a delicious soup. There are grayback lice in the hospital, just enough for company's sake - should feel lonesome without them. Great many visitors come to look at us and from my bunk can see them come through the gate; Yankees are a curiosity in this southern port, as none were ever kept here before; I hear that the citizens donate bread and food to the prisoners.
Oct. 8 - Talk of Millen, about ninety miles from here. Mike will trade off the rings to-night. Owe Sergt. Winn $12 for onions and sweet potatoes, confederate money however; a dollar confed. is only ten cents in money. Hub Dakin, from Dansville, Mich., is in this hospital. It is said Savannah will be in our hands in less than two months. Some Irish citizens told Mike so. Union army victorious everywhere. Going on twelve months a prisoner of war. Don't want to be exchanged now; could not stand the journey home; just want to be let alone one month and then home and friends. Saw myself in a looking glass for the first time in ten months and am the worst looking specimen - don't want to go home in twelve years unless I look different from this; almost inclined to disown myself. Pitch pine smoke is getting peeled off; need skinning. Eye sight improving with other troubles. Can't begin to read a newspaper and with difficulty write a little at a time. Can hear big guns every morning from down the river; it is said to be yankee gunboats bidding the city of Savannah "good morning."
Oct. 9 - The reason we have not been exchanged is because if the exchange is made it will put all the men held by the union forces right into the rebel army, while the union prisoners of war held by the rebels are in no condition to do service; that would seem to me to be a very poor reason. Rowe and Bullock are in the main prison I hear, and well; it is one of the miracles that Bullock lived as he was ailing all through Andersonville. Brass buttons with hens on (eagles) are eagerly sought after by the guards. Mike still harping on escape, but I attend right to the business of getting enough to eat. Although can't eat much have the appetite all the same. The rebel M.D., by name Pendleton, or some such name, says if I am not careful will have a relapse, and is rather inclined to scold; says I get along all together too fast, and tells the nurse and Mike and Land, that I must not eat but little at a time and then only such food as he may direct, and if I don't do as he says, will put me in the main building away from my friends. Says it is suicide the way some act after a long imprisonment. Well, suppose he is right and I must go slow. Names of yankee officers marked on the tents that have occupied them as prisoner of war before us.
Oct. 10 - Mike traded off the gold rings for three pecks of sweet potatoes and half a dozen onions; am in clover. Make nice soup out of beef, potato, bread, onion and salt; can trade a sweet potato for most anything. Mike does the cooking and I do the eating; he won't eat my potatoes, some others do though and without my permission. 'Tis ever thus, wealth brings care and trouble. Battese came to-day to see me and gave him some sweet potatoes. He is going away soon the rebels having promised to send him with next batch of sailors; is a favorite with rebels. Mike baking bread to take with him in his flight. Set now at the door of the tent on a soap box; beautiful shade trees all over the place. Am in the 5th Ward, tent No. 12; coverlid still does me good service. Many die here but not from lack of attention or medicine. They haven't the vitality to rally after their sufferings at Andersonville. Sisters of Charity go from tent to tent looking after men of their own religion; also citizens come among us. Wheat bread we have quite often and is donated by citizens. Guards walk on the outside of the wall and only half a dozen or so on the inside, two being at the gate; not necessary to guard the sick very close. Should judge the place was some fine private residence before being transformed into the Marine Hospital. Have good water. What little hair I have is coming off; probably go home bald-headed.
Oct. 12 - Still getting better fast, and doctor says too fast. Now do nearly all the diary writing. Hardly seems possible that our own Yankee gunboats are so near us, so near that we can hear them fire off their guns, but such is the case. Reports have it that the Johnny Rebels are about worsted. Has been a hard war and cruel one. Mike does all my cooking now, although an invalid. He trades a sweet potato for vinegar, which tastes the best of anything, also has other things suitable for the sick, and this morning had an egg. My gold rings will put me in good health again. All the time medicine, that is, three or four times a day; and sores on my body are healing up now for the first time. Mouth, which was one mass of black bloody swellings on the inside, is now white and inflammation gone, teeth however, loose, and have lost four through scurvy, having come out themselves. My eyes, which had been trying to get in out of sight, are now coming out again and look more respectable. Battese was taken prisoner with eighteen other Indians; they all died but one beside himself.
Oct. 14 - Did not write any yesterday. A man named Hinton died in our tent at about two o'clock this morning, and his bunk is already filled by another sick man. None die through neglect here; all is done that could reasonably be expected. The pants with those buttons on to be taken North for a little boy whose father died in Andersonville, were taken away from me when first taken to the hospital. Have also lost nearly all the relics, pictures and letters given me to take North. For a week or ten days could take care of nothing. Winn took charge of the book that I am writing in now and Battese had the other two books, and now they are all together safe in my charge. Wonder if any one will ever have the patience or time to read it all? Not less than a thousand pages of finely written crow tracks, and some places blurred and unintelligible from being wet and damp. As I set up in my bunk my legs are just fitted for hanging down over the side, and have not been straightened for three or four months. Rub the cords with an ointment furnished me by physician and can see a change for the better. Legs are blue, red and shiny and in some places the skin seems calloused to the bone.
Oct. 15 - Richard is getting to be himself again. A very little satisfies me as regards the upward tendency to health and liberty. Some would think to look at me almost helpless and a prisoner of war, that I hadn't much to feel glad about. Well, let them go through what I have and then see. Citizens look on me with pity when I should be congratulated. Am probably the happiest mortal any where hereabouts. Shall appreciate life, health and enough to eat hereafter. Am anxious for only one thing, and that is to get news home to Michigan of my safety. Have no doubt but I am given up for dead, as I heard I was so reported. Drizzling rain has set in. Birds chipper from among the trees. Hear bells ring about the city of Savannah. Very different from the city of Richmond; there it was all noise and bustle and clatter, every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, while here it is quiet and pleasant and nice. Every one talks and treats you with courtesy and kindness. Don't seem as if they could both be cities of the Confederacy. Savannah has probably seen as little of real war or the consequence of war, as any city in the South.
Oct. 18 - Every day since last writing I have continued to improve, and no end to my appetite. Now walk a trifle with the aid of crutches. Coming cool, and agrees with me. Have fresh beef issued us. Mike not yet gone. Battese went some days ago with others to our lines, at least it was supposed to our lines. Hope to see him sometime. Many have gangrene. Millen still talked of. See city papers every day, and they have a discouraged tone as if their cause were on its last legs. Mike goes to-night for sure, he says. Think if I were in his place would not try to get away, we are so comfortable here. Still liberty is everything, and none know what it is except those deprived of it. It's a duty, we think, to escape if possible, and it seems possible to get away from here. Rebel guards that I sometimes come in contact with are marines who belong to rebel gunboats stationed in the mouth of Savannah River and are on duty here for a change from boat life. They seem a kindly set, and I don't believe they would shoot a prisoner if they saw him trying to get away.
Oct. 19 - Last night I talked with a guard while Mike Hoare went out of his tunnel and got away safely from the hospital. The guard was on the inside and I hobbled to where he was and engaged him in conversation and Mike crawled away. It seems that Mike learned of some union Irish citizens in the city and his idea is to reach them which he may do, as there are scarcely any troops about the city, all being to the front. Now I am alone, best friends all gone one way or the other. The only acquaintances here now are Land and Sergt. Winn, with whom I became acquainted in Andersonville. Not like my other friends though. It is said there are half a dozen hospitals similar to this in Savannah which are filled with Andersonville wrecks. They have need to do something to redeem themselves from past conduct. Don't believe that it is the Confederacy that is taking such good care of us, but it is the city of Savannah; that is about the way it is as near as I can find out.
Oct. 22 - Lieut. Davis commands the prison in Savannah. Is the same individual who officiated at Andersonville during Wirtz's sickness last summer. He is a rough but not a bad man. Probably does as well as he can. Papers state that they will commence to move the prisoners soon to Millen, to a Stockade similar to the one at Andersonville. I am hobbling about the hospital with the help of two crutches. Have not heard a word from old Mike, or Battese or any one that ever heard of before, for some days. Sweet potatoes building me up with the luxuries they are traded for. Had some rice in my soup. Terrible appetite, but for all that don't eat a great deal. Have three sticks propped up at the mouth of our tent, with a little fire under it, cooking food. Men in tent swear because smoke goes inside. Make it all straight by giving them some soup. Rebel surgeons all smoke, at least do while among us. Have seen prisoners who crave tobacco more than food, and said of the two would prefer tobacco. I never have used tobacco in any form.
Oct. 24 - Did not write yesterday. Jumping right along toward health if not wealth. Discarded crutches and have two canes. Get around considerable, a little at a time. It is said that they want Yankee printers who are prisoners of war to go and work in the printing offices in the city on parole of honor (?). Will not do it. Am all right where I am for a month yet, and by that time expect to go to our lines. Hub Dakin in hospital now. Priests still come and go. Convalescent shot and wounded by the guards, the first I have heard of being hurt since I came to this place. A small-pox case discovered in hospital and created great excitement. Was removed. Was loitering near the gate, when an Irish woman came through it with her arms full of wheat bread. All those able to rushed up to get some of it and forty hands were pleading for her favors. After picking her men and giving away half a dozen loaves her eyes lighted on me and I secured a large loaf. She was a jolly, good natured woman, and it is said that she keeps a bake shop. My bad looks stood me in well this time. As beautiful bread as I ever saw.
Oct. 25 - Am feeling splendid and legs doing nobly, and even taking on fat. Am to be a gallant nurse as soon as able, so Sergt. Winn says. Most of the men as soon as convalescent are sent to big prison, but Winn has spoken a good word for me. Papers say the prison at Millen, Ga., is about ready for occupancy, and soon all will be sent there, sick and all. Nights cool, and need more covering than we have. I am congratulated occasionally by prisoners who saw me in Andersonville. They wonder at my being alive. Rains.
Oct. 26 - Time passes now fast; most a year since captured. When the Rebs once get hold of a fellow they hang on for dear life. Talk that all are to be vaccinated any way, whether they want to or not. Don't suppose it will do any harm if good matter is used. Vaccinate me if they want to. Walk better every day. Sometimes I overdo a little and feel bad in consequence. Land is "right smart," in fact, so smart that he will have to go to the big stockade pretty soon.
Oct. 27 - A rebel physician (not a regular one), told me that it looked very dark for the Confederacy just now; that we need have no fears but we would get home very soon, which is grand good news. I have no fears now but all will turn out well. Everything points to a not far away ending of the war, and all will rejoice, rebels and all.
Oct. 28 - Am feeling splendid, and legs most straight. Getting fat fast. Am to be a nurse soon. Reported that they are moving prisoners to Millen. Over a thousand went yesterday. About ten thousand of the Andersonville prisoners came to Savannah, ten thousand went to Florence and ten to Charleston, S.C. Only the sick were left behind there, and it is said they died like sheep after the well ones went away. Great excitement among the Gray-coats. Some bad army news for them, I reckon. Negroes at work fortifying about the city.
Oct. 29 - I suppose we must be moved again, from all reports. Savannah is threatened by Union troops, and we are to be sent to Millen, Ga. Am sorry, for while I remain a prisoner would like to stay here, am getting along so nicely and recovering my health. It is said, however, that Millen is a good place to go to, and we will have to take the consequences whatever they may be. Can eat now anything I can get hold of, provided it can be cooked up and made into the shape of soup. Mouth will not admit of hard food. This hospital is not far from the Savannah jail, and when the gate is open we can see it. It is said that some one was hung there not long ago. Papers referred to it and I asked a guard and he nodded "Yes." Have seen one "hanging bee," and never want to see another one. Last of my three pecks of sweet potatoes almost gone. For a dollar, Confed., bought two quarts of guber peas (pea-nuts), and now I have got them can't eat them. Sell them for a dollar per quarter - two dollars for the lot. It is thus that the Yankee getteth wealth. Have loaned one cane to another convalescent and go around with the aid of only one. Every day a marked improvement. Ain't so tall as I "used to was." Some ladies visited the hospital to-day to see live Yankees, who crowded around. They were as much of a curiosity to us as we were to them.
Oct. 30 - It is said prisoners from main prison are being removed every day, and the sick will go last. Quite a batch of the nearest well ones were sent from here to-day to go with the others. Am to be a nurse pretty soon. Don't think I could nurse a sick cat, still it's policy to be one. Winn tells me that he has made money dickering at trade with the rebels and prisoners. He has trusted me to twelve dollars worth of things and says he don't expect or want pay. The twelve dollars amounts to only one dollar and twenty cents in our money. The surgeon who has had charge of us has been sent away to the front. It seems he had been wounded in battle and was doing home duty until able to again go to his command. Shall always remember him for his kind and skillful treatment. Came round and bid us all good bye, and sick sorry to lose him. Are now in charge of a hospital steward, who does very well. The atmosphere here makes gentlemen of everybody. Papers say that the city must be fortified, and it is being done. Considerable activity about the place. Trains run through at all hours of the night, evidently shifting their troops to other localities. LATER - Since the surgeon went away the rebels are drinking up our whiskey, and to-night are having a sort of carnival, with some of the favorite nurses joining in; singing songs, telling stories, and a good time generally. They are welcome to my share.
Oct. 31 - Reported that the well prisoners have all left this city for Millen and we go to-night or to-morrow. I am duly installed as nurse, and walk with only one cane. Legs still slightly drawn up. Hub Dakin, Land and myself now mess together. Am feeling very well. Will describe my appearance. Will interest me to read in after years, if no one else. Am writing this diary to please myself, now. I weigh one hundred and seventeen pounds, am dressed in rebel jacket, blue pants with one leg torn off and fringed about half way between my knee and good sized foot, the same old pair of miss matched shoes I wore in Andersonville, very good pair of stockings, a "biled" white shirt, and a hat which is a compromise between a clown's and the rebel white partially stiff hat; am poor as a tad pole, in fact look just about like an East Tennessean, of the poor white trash order. You might say that I am an "honery looking cuss" and not be far out of the way. My cheeks are sunken, eyes sunken, sores and blotches both outside and inside my mouth, and my right leg the whole length of it, red, black and blue and tender of touch. My eyes, too, are very weak, and in a bright sun I have to draw the slouch hat away down over them. Bad as this picture is, I am a beauty and picture of health in comparison to my appearance two months ago. When taken prisoner was fleshy, weighing about one hundred and seventy or seventy-five, round faced, in fact an overgrown, ordinary, green looking chap of twenty. Had never endured any hardships at all and was a spring chicken. As has been proven however, I had an iron constitution that has carried me through and above all a disposition to make the best of everything no matter how bad, and considerable will power with the rest. When I think of the thousands and thousands of thorough-bred soldiers, tough and hearty and capable of marching thirty, forty, and even fifty miles in twenty-four hours and think nothing of it, I wonder and keep wondering that it can be so, that I am alive and gaining rapidly in health and strength. Believe now that no matter where we are moved to, I shall continue to improve, and get well. Succumbed only at the last in Andersonville, when no one could possibly keep well. With this general inventory of myself and the remark that I haven't a red cent, or even a Confederate shin-plaster, will put up my diary and get ready to go where ever they see fit to send us, as orders have come to get ready. LATER - We are on the Georgia Central Railroad, en-route for Millen, Ga., which is ninety miles from Savannah, and I believe north. Are in box cars and very crowded with sick prisoners. Two nurses, myself being one of them, have charge of about a hundred sick. There are, however, over six hundred on the train.
REMOVED TO MILLEN
Camp Lawton, Millen, Ga., Nov. 1 - Arrived at our destination not far from midnight, and it was a tedious journey. Two died in the car I was in. Were taken from the cars to this prison in what they call ambulances, but what I call lumber wagons. Are now congregated in the south-east corner of the stockade under hastily put up tents. This morning we have drawn rations, both the sick and the well, which are good and enough. The stockade is similar to that at Andersonville, but in a more settled country, the ground high and grassy, and through the prison runs a stream of good pure water, with no swamp at all. It is apparently a pleasant and healthy location. A portion of the prison is timber land, and the timber has been cut down and lays where it fell, and the men who arrived before us have been busily at work making shanties and places to sleep in. There are about six thousand prisoners here, and I should judge there was room for twelve or fifteen thousand. Men say they are given food twice each day, which consists of meal and fresh beef in rather small quantities, but good and wholesome. The rebel officer in command is a sociable and kindly disposed man, and the guards are not strict, that is, not cruelly so. We are told that our stay here will be short. A number of our men have been detailed to cook for the sick, and their well being is looked to by the rebel surgeon as well as our own men. The same surgeon who for the last ten days had charge of us in Savannah has charge of us now. He does not know over and above much but on the whole does very well. Barrels of molasses (nigger toe) have been rolled inside and it is being issued to the men, about one-fourth of a pint to each man, possibly a little more. Some of the men, luxuriantly, put their allowances together and make molasses candy of it. One serious drawback is the scarcity of dishes, and one man I saw draw his portion in his two hands, which held it until his comrade could find a receptacle for it.
Nov. 2 - Have seen many of my old comrades of Andersonville, among whom is my tried friend Sergt. Wm. B. Rowe; were heartily glad to see one another; also little Bullock who has improved wonderfully in appearance. Everyone is pleased with this place and are cheerful, hoping and expecting to be released before many weeks; they all report as having been well treated in Savannah and have pleasant recollections of that place; from what could be seen of the city by us prisoners it seems the handsomest one in America. Should judge it was a very wealthy place. My duties as nurse are hard, often too much so for my strength, yet the enforced exercise does me good and continue to improve all the time. A cane will be necessary to my locomotion for a long time as am afraid myself permanently injured; my cane is not a gold headed one; it is a round picket which has been pulled off some fence. Very cheering accounts of war doings. All who want to take the oath of allegiance to the confederacy and be released; am happy to say though that out of all here, but two or three has done so, and they are men who are a detriment to any army. The weather now is beautiful, air refreshing, water ditto; all happy and contented and await coming events with interest. Part of the brook, the lower part, is planked and sides boarded up for sanitary privileges; water has also been dammed up and a fall made which carries off the filth with force. Plenty of wood to do cooking with and the men putter around with their cooking utensils such as they have. Sort of prize fight going on now.
Nov. 3 - About a hundred convalescents were taken outside to-day to be sent away to our lines the officials told us. At a later hour the commander came inside and said he wanted twelve men to fall into line and they did so, myself being one of the twelve; he proceeded to glance us over and on looking at me said: "Step back out of the ranks, I want only able bodied men." I stepped down and out considerably chagrinned, as the general impression was that they were to go to our lines with the convalescents who had been taken out before. He marched off the twelve men and it then leaked out that they were to be sent to some prison to be held as hostages until the end of the war. Then I felt better. It is said all the sick will be taken outside as soon as they get quarters fixed up to accommodate them. Think that I shall resign my position as nurse. Would rather stay with the "boys." Land is no longer with the sick but has been turned into the rank and file, also Dakin. Dakin, Rowe and Land are all together, and if the sick are taken outside I shall join my old comrades and mess with them. But few die now; quite a number died from the removal, but now all seem to be on the mend. I am called, contrary to my expectations, a good nurse; certainly have pity for the poor unfortunates, but lack the strength to take care of them. It needs good strong men to act as nurses.
Nov. 4 - The fine weather still continues. Just warm enough, and favorable for prisoners. Food now we get but once a day - not all we want, but three times as much as issued at Andersonville and of good quality. The officer in command, as I have said before, is a kind hearted man, and on his appearance inside he was besieged by hundreds of applications for favors and for the privilege of going outside on parole of honor. He began granting such favors as he could, but has been besieged too much and now stays outside. Has, however, put up a letter box on the inside so that letters will reach him, and every day it is filled half full. Occasionally he takes to a letter and sends inside for the writer of it, and that one answered is the occasion of a fresh batch, until it is said that the poor man is harassed about as much as the President of the United States is for fat offices. As I have before remarked in my diary, the Yankee is a queer animal.
Nov. 5 - Hostages taken out. Everything is bright and pleasant and I see no cause to complain, therefore won't. To-morrow is election day at the North; wish I was there to vote - which I ain't. Will here say that I am a War Democrat to the backbone. Not a very stiff one, as my backbone is weak.
Nov. 6 - One year ago to-day captured. Presidential election at the North between Lincoln and McClellan. Some one fastened up a box, and all requested to vote, for the fun of the thing. Old prisoners haven't life enough to go and vote; new prisoners vote for present administration. I voted for McClellan with a hurrah, and another hurrah, and still another. Had this election occurred while we were at Andersonville, four-fifths would have voted for McClellan. We think ourselves shamefully treated in being left so long as prisoners of war. Abe Lincoln is a good man and a good president, but he is controlled by others who rule the exchange business as well as most other things. Of course our likes and dislikes make no difference to him or any one else. Yes, one year ago to-day captured. A year is a good while, even when pleasantly situated, but how much longer being imprisoned as we have been. It seems a lifetime, and I am twenty years older than a year ago. Little thought that I was to remain all this time in durance vile. Improving in health, disposition and everything else. If both breeches legs were of the same length should be supremely happy. Should make a bon-fire to-night if I wasn't afraid of celebrating a defeat. Had lots of fun hurrahing for "Little Mac."
Nov. 7 - A rather cold rain wets all who have not shelter. Many ladies come to see us; don't come through the gate, but look at us through that loophole. Any one with money can buy extras in the way of food, but, alas, we have no money. Am now quite a trader - that is, I make up a very thin dish of soup and sell it for ten cents, or trade it for something. Am ravenously hungry now and can't get enough to eat. The disease has left my system, the body demands food, and I have to exert my speculative genius to get it. Am quite a hand at such things and well calculated to take care of myself. A man belonging to the Masonic order need not stay here an hour. It seems as if every rebel officer was of that craft, and a prisoner has but to make himself known to be taken care of. Pretty strong secret association that will stand the fortunes of war. That is another thing I must do when I get home - join the Masons. No end of things for me to do: visit all the foreign countries that prisoners told me about, and not forgetting to take in Boston by the way, wear silk underclothing, join the masons, and above all educate myself to keep out of rebel prisons. A person has plenty of time to think here, more so than in Andersonville; there it was business to keep alive. Small alligator killed at lower part of the stream.
Nov. 8 - All eager for news. Seems as if we were on the eve of something. So quiet here that it must predict a storm. Once in a while some pesky rebel takes it upon himself to tell us a lot of lies to the effect that our armies are getting beaten; that England joins the Confederacy to whip out the North; that there is no prospect of ending the war; that we are not going to be exchanged at all, but remain prisoners, etc., etc. If he is a good talker and tells his story well it makes us all blue and down hearted. Then, pretty soon, we are told more joyful news which we are ready to believe, and again take heart and think of the good times coming. Would like to hear the election news. Wonder who is elected? Feel stronger every day, and have a little flesh on my bones. As the weather gets cool, we are made painfully aware of the fact that we are sadly deficient in clothing. Will freeze if compelled to stay through the winter. Coverlid still does duty although disabled by past experience, same as all of us. We talk over the many good traits of Battese and others who are separated from us by death and otherwise. The exploits of Hendryx we will never tire of narrating. What a meeting when we can get together in future years, and talk over the days we have lived and suffered together. Exchange rumors fill the air. One good sign - the rebels are making no more improvements about this prison; they say we are not to stay here long. We hear that our troops are marching all through the South. Guess that is the reason why they think of moving us all the time. All right, Johnny Rebels, hope we are an elephant on your hands. Jeff Davis denounced by the papers, which is a good sign. Occasionally get one in camp, and read it all up. No library here. Not a scrap of anything to read; principal occupation looking for stray news.
Nov. 9 - This diary would seem to treat of two things principally, that of food and exchange. Try to write of something else, but my thoughts invariably turn to these two subjects. Prisoners of war will know how to excuse me for thus writing. A dead line has also been fixed up in Camp Lawton, but thus far no one has been shot. Rebel doctors inside examining men who may be troubled with disease prison life might aggravate. Those selected are taken outside and either put in hospitals or sent to our lines. Yankee ingenuity is brought into play to magnify diseases, and very often a thoroughly well man will make believe that he is going to die in less than a week unless taken away. Have laughed for an hour at the way a fellow by the name of Sawyer fooled them. The modus operandi will hardly bear writing in these pages, but will do to tell. Have made a raise of another pair of pants with both legs of the same length, and I discard the old ones to a "poor" prisoner. An advantage in the new pair is that there is plenty of room, too, from being three or four sizes too large, and the legs as long as the others were short. My one suspender has a partner now, and all runs smoothly. Although Bullock is fleshing up and getting better in health, he is a wreck and always will be. Seems to be a complete change in both body and mind. He was a favorite in our regiment, well known and well liked. Rowe is the same stiff, stern patrician as of old, calmly awaiting the next turn in the wheel of fortune.
Nov. 10 - Pleasant and rather cool. My hair is playing me pranks. It grows straight up in the air and only on the topmost part of my head. Where a man is generally bald, it's right the other way with me. If there is anything else that can happen to make me any more ridiculous, now is the time for it to appear. About all I lack now is to have an eye gouged out. A friend says that the reason my hair grows the way it does is because I have been scared so much, and it has stuck up straight so much, that it naturally has a tendency that way. Perhaps that is it. If I thought we were to stay here for any length of time would open up a hair cutting shop; but should hate to get nicely started in business and a trade worked up, then have an exchange come along and knock the whole thing in the head. We are not far from the railroad track, and can listen to the cars going by. Very often Confederate troops occupy them and they give the old familiar rebel yell. Once in a while the Yanks get up steam enough to give a good hurrah back to them. Seems to be a good deal of transferring troops now in the South. I watch all the movements of the rebels and can draw conclusions, and of the opinion that Mr. Confederacy is about whipped and will soon surrender. It certainly looks that way to me. Rumors that we are to be moved.
Nov. 11 - Very well fed. There is goes again. Had determined not to say anything more about how we are fed, and now I have done it. However, I am not grumbling about it in any way. Will merely add that I have an appetite larger than an elephant. Will also say that there are rumors of exchange, for a change - a subject that has been spoken of before. Cannot possibly refrain from saying that I am feeling splendidly and worth a hundred dead men yet. Have two dollars in Confederate money and if I can sell this half canteen of dish-water soup shall have another dollar before dark. "Who takes it? Ah, here ye are! Sold again; business closed for to-night, gentlemen. Early in the morning shall have a fresh supply of this delicious soup, with real grease floating on top." Shutters put up and we settle down for the night without depositing in the bank. Shan't go to sleep until ten or eleven o'clock, but lay and think, and build those air castles that always fall with a crash and bury us in the debris. Often hear the baying of hounds from a distance, through the night - and such strange sounds to the Northern ear. Good night. In rather a sentimental mood. Wonder if she is married?
Nov. 12 - Everything quiet and running smoothly. Waiting for something. Have just heard the election news - Mr. Lincoln again elected, and "Little Mac" nowhere. Just about as I expected. Returns were rather slow in coming in, evidently waiting for the Camp Lawton vote. Well, did what I could for George; hurrahed until my throat was sore and stayed so for a week; know that I influenced twenty or thirty votes, and now can get no office because the political opponent was elected. 'Tis ever thus. Believe I would make a good postmaster for this place. There is none here and should have applied immediately, if my candidate had been elected. More sick taken away on the cars; rebels say to be exchanged. Appears to be a sort of mystery of late, and can't make head nor tail of their movements. Would not be surprised at any hour to receive news to get ready for our lines. Don't know that I have felt so before since my imprisonment. Have lived rather high to-day on capital made yesterday and early this morning. Just my way - make a fortune and then spend it.
Nov. 13 - To-day had an incident happen to me; hardly an incident, but a sort of an adventure. When I was nurse on one or two occasions helped the hospital steward make out his report to his superiors, and in that way got a sort of reputation for knowing how to do these things a little better than the ordinary run of people, and rebels in particular. A rebel sergeant came inside at just about nine o'clock this morning and looked me up and said I was wanted outside, and so went. Was taken to a house not far from the stockade, which proved to be the officers head-quarters. There introduced to three or four officers, whose names do not occur to me, and informed that they were in need of some one to do writing and assist in making out their army papers, and if I would undertake the job, they would see that I had plenty to eat, and I should be sent North at the first opportunity. I respectfully, gently and firmly declined the honor, and after partaking of quite a substantial meal, which they gave me thinking I would reconsider my decision, was escorted back inside. Many thought me very foolish for not taking up with the offer. My reasons for not doing so are these: I would be clearly working for the Confederacy; can see no real difference in it from actually entering their army. If I occupied that position it would relieve some rebel of that duty, and he could stay in the ranks and fight our men. That is one reason. Another is the fact that instead of their letting me go to our lines with the first that went, I would be the very last to go, as they would need me to do duty for them until the last moment. Was always willing to do extra duty for our own men, such as issuing clothing on Belle Isle, also my nursing the sick or in any way doing for them, but when it comes to working in any way for any rebel, I shall beg to be excused. Might have gone out and worked in the printing offices in Savannah had I so wished, as they were short of men all the time, in fact could hardly issue their papers on account of the scarcity of printers. And so I am still loyal to the Stars and Stripes and shall have no fears at looking at my friends in the face when I do go home.
Nov. 14 - The kaleidoscope has taken another turn. Six hundred taken away this forenoon; don't know where to. As I was about the last to come to Millen, my turn will not come for some days if only six hundred are taken out each day. Rebels say they go straight to our lines, but their being heavily guarded and every possible precaution taken to prevent their escape, it does not look like our lines to me. Probably go to Charleston; that seems to be the jumping off place. Charleston, for some reason or other, seems a bad place to go to. Any city familiar with the war I want to avoid. Shall hang back as long as I can, content to let well enough alone. Some of my friends, of which Bullock is one, flanked out with those going off. What I mean by "flanked out" is crowding in when it is not their turn and going with the crowd. Hendryx and I did that when we left Belle Isle, and we brought up in Andersonville. Will let those do the flanking who want to, I don't.
Nov. 15 - At about six or seven o'clock last night six hundred men were taken away, making in all twelve hundred for the day; another six hundred are ready to go at a moment's notice. I don't know what to think. Can hardly believe they go to our lines. Seems almost like a funeral procession to me, as they go through the gate. Rowe and Hub Dakin talk to going to-day, if any go, have decided to flank. I have concluded to wait until it is my turn to go. If it is an exchange there is no danger but all will go, and if not an exchange would rather be here than any place I know of now. LATER - Eight hundred have gone, with Rowe and Dakin in the crowd, and I am here alone as regards personal friends. Could not be induced to go with them. Have a sort of presentiment that all is not right. STILL LATER - Six hundred more have gone, making 2,600 all together that have departed, all heavily guarded.
Nov. 16 - A decided thinness in our ranks this morning. Still house keeping goes right along as usual. Rebels not knowing how to figure give us just about the same for the whole prison as when all were here. Had a talk with a rebel sergeant for about an hour. Tried to find out our destination and could get no satisfaction, although he said we were going to our lines. Told him I was a mason, odd-fellow, had every kind of religion (in hopes to strike his), and flattered him until I was ashamed of myself. In a desultory sort of way he said he "reckoned we war goin' nawth." Well, I will write down the solution I have at last come to, and we will see how near right I am after a little. Our troops, Sherman or Kilpatrick or some of them, are raiding through the South, and we are not safe in Millen, as we were not safe in Andersonville, and as was plainly evident we were not safe in Savannah. There is the whole thing in a nutshell, and we will see. Six hundred gone to-day.
Nov. 17 - It is now said that the prisoners are being moved down on the coast near Florida. That coincides with my own view, and I think it very probable. Will try and go about to-morrow. Hardly think I can go to-day. LATER - The to-day's batch are going out of the gate. Makes me fairly crazy to wait, fearful I am missing it in not going. This lottery way of living is painful on the nerves. There are all kinds of rumors. Even have the story afloat that now the raid is over that drove us away from Andersonville, we are going back there to stay during the war. That would be a joke. However, I stick to my resolution that the rebels don't really know themselves where we are going. They move us because we are not safe here. They are bewildered. Believing this am in a comparatively easy state of mind. Still I worry. Haven't said a word in a week about my health. Well, I am convalescing all the time. Still lame, and always expect to be; can walk very well though, and feeling lively for an old man.
Nov. 18 - None being taken away to-day, I believe on account of not getting transportation. Notice that rebel troops are passing through on the railroad and immense activity among them. Am not well satisfied of the correctness of my views as regards this movement. Have decided now to stay here until the last. Am getting ready for action however. Believe we are going to have a warm time of it in the next few months. Thank fortune I am as well as I am. Can stand considerable now. Food given us in smaller quantities, and hurriedly so too. All appears to be in a hurry. Cloudy, and rather wet weather, and getting decidedly cooler. My noble old coverlid is kept rolled up and ready to accompany me on my travels at any moment. Have my lame and stiff leg in training. Walk all over the prison until tired out so as to strengthen myself. Recruiting officers among us trying to induce prisoners to enter their army. Say it is no exchange for during the war, and half a dozen desert and go with them. Even if we are not exchanged during the war, don't think we will remain prisoners long.
Nov. 19 - A car load went at about noon, and are pretty well thinned out. Over half gone - no one believes to our lines now; all hands afraid of going to Charleston. Believe I shall try and escape on the journey, although in no condition to rough it. Am going to engineer this thing to suit myself and have a little fun. Would like to be out from under rebel guard once more. When I can look around and not see a prison wall and a gun ready to shoot me, I shall rejoice. Have edged up to another comrade and we bunk together. Said comrade is Corporal Smith, belonging to an Indiana regiment. While he is no great guns, seems quite a sensible chap and a decided improvement on many here to mess with. The nights are cool, and a covering of great benefit. My being the owner of a good blanket makes me a very desirable comrade to mess with. Two or three together can keep much warmer than one alone. It is said that a number of outsiders have escaped and taken to the woods. Another load goes to-night or early in the morning. My turn will come pretty soon. Nothing new in our situation or the prospects ahead. Food scarce, but of good quality. More go and I go to-morrow.
Nov. 20 - None as yet gone to-day and it is already most night. My turn would not come until to-morrow, and if none go at all to-day I will probably not get away until about a day after to-morrow. Shan't flank out, but await my turn and go where fate decrees. Had a falling out with my companion Smith, and am again alone walking about the prison with my coverlid on my shoulders. Am determined that this covering protects none but thoroughly good and square fellows. LATER - Going to be a decidedly cold night, and have "made up" with two fellows to sleep together. The going away is the all absorbing topic of conversation. Received for rations this day a very good allowance of hard tack and bacon. This is the first hard-tack received since the trip to Andersonville, and is quite a luxury. It is so hard that I have to tack around and soak mine up before I am able to eat it. There is a joke to this. Will again go to bed as I have done the last week, thinking every night would be the last at Camp Lawton.
Nov. 21 - Got up bright and early, went to the creek and had a good wash, came back, after a good walk over the prison, and ate my two large crackers and small piece of bacon left over from yesterday, and again ready for whatever may turn up. Lost my diminutive cake of soap in the water and must again take to sand to scrub with, until fortune again favors me. Men are very restless and reckless, uncertainty making them so. Try my very best not to have any words or trouble with them, but occasionally get drawn into it, as I did this morning. Came out solid however. Is pretty well understood that I can take care of myself. NOON - Five hundred getting ready to go; my turn comes to-morrow, and then we will see what we will see. Decided rumors that Sherman has taken Atlanta and is marching toward Savannah, the heart of the Confederacy. All in good spirits for the first time in a week.
ESCAPE BUT NOT ESCAPE
Nov. 22 - And now my turn has come, and I get off with the next load going to-day. My trunk is packed and baggage duly checked; shall try and get a "lay over" ticket, and rusticate on the road. Will see the conductor about it. A nice cool day with sun shining brightly - a fit one for an adventure and I am just the boy to have one. Coverlid folded up and thrown across my shoulder, lower end tied as only a soldier knows how. My three large books of written matter on the inside of my thick rebel jacket, and fastened in. Have a small book which I keep at hand to write in now. My old hat has been exchanged for a red Zouave cap, and I look like a red headed woodpecker. Leg behaving beautifully. My latest comrades are James Ready and Bill Somebody. We have decided to go and keep together on the cars. One of them has an apology for a blanket, and the two in conjunction keep all three warm nights. LATER - On the cars, in vicinity of Savannah en route for Blackshear, which is pretty well south and not far from the Florida line. Are very crowded in a close box car and fearfully warm. Try to get away to-night.
IN THE WOODS NEAR DOCTORTOWN STATION, NO. 5, GA., Nov. 23 - A change has come over the spirit of my dreams. During the night the cars ran very slow, and sometimes stopped for hours on side tracks. A very long, tedious night, and all suffered a great deal with just about standing room only. Impossible to get any sleep. Two guards at each side door, which were open about a foot. Guards were passably decent, although strict. Managed to get near the door, and during the night talked considerable with the two guards on the south side of the car. At about three o'clock this a.m., and after going over a long bridge which spanned the Altamaha River and in sight of Doctortown, I went through the open door like a flash and rolled down a high embankment. Almost broke my neck, but not quite. Guard fired a shot at me, but as the cars were going, though not very fast, did not hit me. Expected the cars to stop but they did not, and I had the inexpressible joy of seeing them move off out of sight. Then crossed the railroad track going north, went through a large open field and gained the woods, and am now sitting on the ground leaning up against a big pine tree and out from under rebel guard! The sun is beginning to show itself in the east and it promises to be a fine day. Hardly know what to do with myself. If those on the train notified Doctortown people of my escape they will be after me. Think it was at so early an hour that they might have gone right through without telling any one of the jump off. Am happy and hungry and considerably bruised and scratched up from the escape. The happiness of being here, however, overbalances everything else. If I had George Hendryx with me now would have a jolly time, and mean to have as it is. Sun is now up and it is warmer; birds chippering around, and chipmunks looking at me with curiosity. Can hear hallooing off a mile or so, which sounds like farmers calling cattle or hogs or something. All nature smiles - why should not I? - and I do. Keep my eyes peeled, however, and look all ways for Sunday. Must work farther back toward what I take to be a swamp a mile or so away. Am in a rather low country although apparently a pretty thickly settled one; most too thickly populated for me, judging from the signs of the times. It's now about dinner time, and I have traveled two or three miles from the railroad track, should judge and am in the edge of a swampy forest, although the piece of ground on which I have made my bed is dry and nice. Something to eat wouldn't be a bad thing. Not over sixty rods from where I lay is a path evidently travelled more or less by negroes going from one plantation to another. My hope of food lays by that road. Am watching for passers by. LATER - A negro boy too young to trust has gone by singing and whistling, and carrying a bundle and a tin pail evidently filled with somebody's dinner. In as much as I want to enjoy this outdoor Gypsy life, I will not catch and take the dinner away from him. That would be the heighth of foolishness. Will lay for the next one traveling this way. The next one is a dog and he comes up and looks at me, gives a bark and scuds off. Can't eat a dog. Don't know how it will be to-morrow though. Might be well enough for him to come around later. Well, it is most dark and will get ready to try and sleep. Have broken off spruce boughs and made a soft bed. Have heard my father tell of sleeping on a bed of spruce, and it is healthy. Will try it. Not a crust to eat since yesterday forenoon. Am educated in this way of living though, and have been hungrier. Hope the pesky alligators will let me alone. If they only knew it, I would make a poor meal for them. Thus closes my first day of freedom and it is grand. Only hope they may be many, although I can hardly hope to escape to our lines, not being in a condition to travel.
Nov. 24 - Another beautiful morning, a repetition of yesterday, opens up to me. It is particularly necessary that I procure sustenance wherewith life is prolonged, and will change my head-quarters to a little nearer civilization. Can hear some one chopping not a mile away. Here goes. LATER - Found an old negro fixing up a dilapidated post and rail fence. Approached him and enquired the time of day. (My own watch having run down.) He didn't happen to have his gold watch with him, but reckoned it was nigh time for the horn. Seemed scared at the apparition that appeared to him, and no wonder. Forgave him on the spot. Thought it policy to tell him all about who and what I was, and did so. Was very timid and afraid, but finally said he would divide his dinner as soon as it should be sent to him, and for an hour I lay off a distance of twenty rods or so, waiting for that dinner. It finally came, brought by the same boy I saw go along yesterday. Boy sat down the pail and the old darkey told him to scamper off home - which he did. Then we had dinner of rice, cold yams and fried bacon. It was a glorious repast, and I succeeded in getting quite well acquainted with him. We are on the Bowden plantation and he belongs to a family of that name. Is very fearful of helping me as his master is a strong Secesh., and he says would whip him within an inch of his life if it is known. Promise him not to be seen by any one and he has promised to get me something more to eat after it gets dark. LATER - After my noonday meal went back toward the low ground and waited for my supper, which came half an hour ago and it is not yet dark. Had a good supper of boiled seasoned turnips, corn bread and sour milk, the first milk I have had in about a year. Begs me to go off in the morning, which I have promised to do. Says for me to go two or three miles on to another plantation owned by LeCleve, where there are good negroes who will feed me. Thanked the old fellow for his kindness. Says the war is about over and the Yanks expected to free them all soon. It's getting pretty dark now, and I go to bed filled to overflowing; in fact, most too much so.
Nov. 25 - This morning got up cold and stiff; not enough covering. Pushed off in the direction pointed out by the darkey of yesterday. Have come in the vicinity of negro shanties and laying in wait for some good benevolent colored brother. Most too many dogs yelping around to suit a runaway Yankee. Little nigs and the canines run together. If I can only attract their attention without scaring them to death, shall be all right. However, there is plenty of time, and won't rush things. Time is not valuable with me. Will go sure and careful. Don't appear to be any men folks around; more or less women of all shades of color. This is evidently a large plantation; has thirty or forty negro huts in three or four rows. They are all neat and clean to outward appearances. In the far distance and toward what I take to be the main road is the master's residence. Can just see a part of it. Has a cupola on top and is an ancient structure. Evidently a nice plantation. Lots of cactus grows wild all over, and is bad to tramp through. There is also worlds of palm leaves, such as five cent fans are made of. Hold on there, two or three negro men are coming from the direction of the big house to the huts. Don't look very inviting to trust your welfare with. Will still wait, McCawber like, for something to turn up. If they only knew the designs I have on them, they would turn pale. Shall be ravenous by night and go for them. I am near a spring of water, and lay down flat and drink. The "Astor House Mess" is moving around for a change; hope I won't make a mess of it. Lot of goats looking at me now, wondering, I suppose, what it is. Wonder if they butt? Shoo! Going to rain, and if so I must sleep in one of those shanties. Negroes all washing up and getting ready to eat, with doors open. No, thank you; dined yesterday. Am reminded of the song: "What shall we do, when the war breaks the country up, and scatters us poor darkys all around." This getting away business is about the best investment I ever made. Just the friendliest fellow ever was. More than like a colored man, and will stick closer than a brother if they will only let me. Laugh when I think of the old darky of yesterday's experience, who liked me first rate only wanted me to go away. Have an eye on an isolated hut that looks friendly. Shall approach it at dark. People at the hut are a woman and two or three children, and a jolly looking and acting negro man. Being obliged to lay low in the shade feel the cold, as it is rather damp and moist. LATER - Am in the hut and have eaten a good supper. Shall sleep here to-night. The negro man goes early in the morning, together with all the male darky population, to work on fortifications at Fort McAllister. Says the whole country is wild at the news of approaching Yankee army. Negro man named "Sam" and woman "Sady." Two or three negroes living here in these huts are not trustworthy, and I must keep very quiet and not be seen. Children perfectly awe struck at the sight of a Yankee. Negroes very kind but afraid. Criminal to assist me. Am five miles from Doctortown. Plenty of "gubers" and yams. Tell them all about my imprisonment. Regard the Yankees as their friends. Half a dozen neighbors come in by invitation, shake hands with me, scrape the floor with their feet, and rejoice most to death at the good times coming. "Bress de Lord," has been repeated hundreds of times in the two or three hours I have been here. Surely I have fallen among friends. All the visitors donate of their eatables, and although enough is before me to feed a dozen men, I give it a tussle. Thus ends the second day of my freedom, and it is glorious.
Nov. 26 - An hour before daylight "Sam" awoke me and said I must go with him off a ways to stay through the day. Got up, and we started. Came about a mile to a safe hiding place, and here I am. Have plenty to eat and near good water. Sam will tell another trusty negro of my whereabouts, who will look after me, as he has to go away to work. The negroes are very kind, and I evidently am in good hands. Many of those who will not fight in the Confederate army are hid in these woods and swamps, and there are many small squads looking them up with dogs and guns to force them into the rebel ranks. All able bodied men are conscripted into the army in the South. It is possible I may be captured by some of these hunting parties. It is again most night and have eaten the last of my food. Can hear the baying of hounds and am skeery. Shall take in all the food that comes this way in the meantime. Sam gave me an old jack knife and I shall make a good bed to sleep on, and I also have an additional part of a blanket to keep me warm. In fine spirits and have hopes for the future. Expect an ambassador from my colored friends a little later. LATER - The ambassador has come and gone in the shape of a woman. Brought food; a man told her to tell me to go off a distance of two miles or so, to the locality pointed out, before daylight, and wait there until called upon to-morrow. Rebel guards occupy the main roads, and very unsafe.
Nov. 27 - Before daylight came where I now am. Saw alligators - small ones. This out in the woods life is doing me good. Main road three miles away, but there are paths running everywhere. Saw a white man an hour ago. Think he was a skulker hiding to keep out of the army, but afraid to hail him. Many of these stay in the woods day times, and at night go to their homes, getting food. Am now away quite a distance from any habitation, and am afraid those who will look for me cannot find me. Occasionally hear shots fired; this is a dangerous locality. Have now been out four days and fared splendidly. Have hurt one of my ankles getting through the brush; sort of sprain, and difficult to travel at all. No water near by and must move as soon as possible. Wild hogs roam around through the woods, and can run like a deer. Palm leaves grow in great abundance, and are handsome to look at. Some of them very large. Occasionally see lizards and other reptiles, and am afraid of them. If I was a good traveler I could get along through the country and possibly to our lines. Must wander around and do the best I can however. Am armed with my good stout cane and the knife given me by the negro; have also some matches, but dare not make a fire lest it attract attention. Nights have to get up occasionally and stamp around to get warm. Clear, cool nights and pleasant. Most too light, however, for me to travel. The remnants of yesterday's food, have just eaten. Will now go off in an easterly direction in hopes of seeing the messenger.
Nov. 28 - No one has come to me since day before yesterday. Watched and moved until most night of yesterday but could see or hear no one. Afraid I have lost communication. In the distance can see a habitation and will mog along that way. Most noon. LATER - As I was poking along through some light timber, almost ran into four Confederates with guns. Lay down close to the ground and they passed by me not more than twenty rods away. Think they have heard of my being in the vicinity and looking me up. This probably accounts for not receiving any visitor from the negroes. Getting very hungry, and no water fit to drink. Must get out of this community as fast I can. Wish to gracious I had two good legs. LATER - It is now nearly dark and I have worked my way as near direct north as I know how. Am at least four miles from where I lay last night. Have seen negroes, and white men, but did not approach them. Am completely tired out and hungry, but on the edge of a nice little stream of water. The closing of the fifth day of my escape. Must speak to somebody to-morrow, or starve to death. Good deal of yelling in the woods. Am now in the rear of a hovel which is evidently a negro hut, but off quite a ways from it. Cleared ground all around the house so I can't approach it without being too much in sight. Small negro boy playing around the house. Too dark to write more.
Nov. 29 - The sixth day of freedom, and a hungry one. Still where I wrote last night, and watching the house. A woman goes out and in but cannot tell much about her from this distance. No men folks around. Two or three negro boys playing about. Must approach the house, but hate to. NOON - Still right here. Hold my position. More than hungry. Three days since I have eaten anything, with the exception of a small potato and piece of bread eaten two days ago and left from the day before. That length of time would have been nothing in Andersonville, but now being in better health demand eatables, and it takes right hold of this wandering sinner. Shall go to the house towards night. A solitary woman lives there with some children. My ankle from the sprain and yesterday's walking is swollen and painful. Bathe it in water, which does it good. Chickens running around. Have serious meditations of getting hold of one or two of them after they go to roost, then go farther back into the wilderness, build a fire with my matches and cook them. That would be a royal feast. But if caught at it, it would go harder with me than if caught legitimately. Presume this is the habitation of some of the skulkers who return and stay home nights. Believe that chickens squawk when being taken from the roost. Will give that up and walk boldly to the house. READ MORE
"Andersonville Diary, Escape, and List of the Dead: With Name, Co., Regiment, Date of Death and No. of Grave in Cemetery" by John L. Ransom; Auburn, NY; 1881.