Genealogy Trails

Andersonville Prison
Diary of John L. Ransom

and Lists of the Dead

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"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.

Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Kim Mohler

 

RE-CAPTURED
Home guards gobble me up - Well treated and well fed - Taken to Doctortown and from thence to Blackshear - The two buck boys as runaways - Ride on a passenger train - Prospects ahead, etc.

Doctortown Station, No. 5, Nov. 30 - Ha! Ha! My boy, you are a prisoner of war again. Once more with a blasted rebel standing guard over me, and it all happened in this wise: Just before dark I went up to that house I spoke of in my writings yesterday. Walked boldly up and rapped at the door; and what was my complete astonishment when a white woman answered my rapping. Asked me what I wanted, and I told her something to eat. Told me to come in and set down. She was a dark looking woman and could easily be mistaken from my hiding place of the day for a negro. Began asking me questions. Told her I was a rebel soldier, had been in the hospital sick and was trying to reach home in the adjoining county. Was very talkative; told how her husband had been killed at Atlanta, etc. She would go out and in from a shanty kitchen in her preparation of my supper. I looked out through a window and saw a little darky riding away from the house, a few minutes after I went inside. Thought I had walked into a trap, and was very uneasy. Still the woman talked and worked, and I talked, telling as smoothe lies as I knew how. For a full hour and a half sat there, and she all the time getting supper. Made up my mind that I was the same as captured, and so put on a bold face and made the best of it. Was very well satisfied with my escapade anyway, if I could only get a whack at that supper before the circus commenced. Well, after a while heard some hounds coming through the woods and towards the house. Looked at the woman and her face pleaded guilty, just as if she had done something very mean. The back door of the house was open and pretty soon half a dozen large blood hounds bounded into the room and began snuffing me over; about this time the woman began to cry. Told her I understood the whole thing and she need not make a scene over it. Said she knew I was a Yankee and had sent for some men at Doctortown. Then five horsemen surrounded the house, dismounted and four of them came in with guns cocked prepared for a desperate encounter. I said: "good evening, gentlemen." "Good evening," said the foremost, "we are looking for a runaway Yankee prowling around here." "Well," says I, "you needn't look any farther, you have found him." "Yes, I see," was the answer. They all sat down, and just then the woman said "supper is ready and to draw nigh." Drawed as nigh as I could to that supper and proceeded to take vengeance on the woman. The fellows proved to be home guards stationed here at Doctortown. The woman had mounted a negro boy on a horse just as soon as I made my appearance at the house and sent for them. They proved to be good fellows. Talked there at the house a full hour on the fortunes of war, etc. Told them of my long imprisonment and escape and all about myself. After a while we got ready to start for this place. One rebel rode in front, one on each side, and two in the rear of me. Was informed that if I tried to run they would shoot me. Told them no danger of my running, as I could hardly walk. They soon saw that such was the case after going a little way, and sent back one of the men to borrow the woman's horse. Was put on the animal's back and we reached Doctortown not far from midnight. As we were leaving the house the woman gave me a bundle; said in it was a shirt and stockings. Told her she had injured me enough and I would take them. No false delicacy will prevent my taking a shirt. And so my adventure has ended and have enjoyed it hugely. Had plenty to eat with the exception of the two days, and at the last had a horseback ride. How well I was reminded of my last ride when first taken prisoner and at the time I got the coverlid. In the bundle was a good white shirt, pair of stockings, and a chunk of dried beef of two pounds or so. One of the captors gave me ten dollars in Confederate money. Now am in an old vacant building and guarded and it is the middle of the afternoon. Many citizens have visited me and I tell the guard he ought to charge admission; money in it. Some of the callers bring food and are allowed to give it to me, and am stocked with more than can conveniently carry. Have had a good wash up, put on my clean white shirt with standing collar, and new stockings and am happy. Doctortown is a small village with probably six or eight hundred population, and nigger young ones by the score. Am treated kindly and well, and judge from conversations that I hear, that the battles are very disastrous to the rebels and that the war is pretty well over. All the negroes are hard pressed, fortifying every available point to contest the advance of the Union Army. This is cheering news to me. My escape has given me confidence in myself, and I shall try it again the first opportunity. A woman has just given me a bottle of milk and two dollars in money. Thanked her with my heart in my mouth. Having been captured and brought to this place, am here waiting for them to get instructions as to what they shall do with me. They say I will probably be sent to the prison at Blackshear, which is forty or fifty miles away. Think I should be content to stay here with plenty to eat. Am in a good clean room in a dwelling. Can talk with any one who chooses to come and see me. The room was locked during the night, and this morning was thrown open, and I can wander through three rooms. Guard is off a few rods where he can see all around the house. Occasionally I go out doors and am having a good time. LATER - Have seen a Savannah paper which says Sherman and his hosts are marching toward that city, and for the citizens to rally to repel the invader. My swollen ankle is being rubbed to-day with ointment furnished by an old darky. I tell you there are humane people the world over, who will not see even an enemy suffer if they can help it. While I have seen some of the worst people in the South, I have also seen some of the very best, and those, too, who were purely southern people and rebels. There are many pleasant associations connected with my prison life, as well as some directly to the opposite.

Dec. 1 - Still at Doctortown, and the town is doctoring me up "right smart." There is also a joke to this, but a weak one. The whole town are exercised over the coming of the Yankee army, and I laugh in my sleeve. Once in a while some poor ignorant and bigoted fellow amuses himself cursing me and the whole U.S. army. Don't talk back much, having too much regard for my bodily comfort. Orders have come to put me on a train for Blackshear. Have made quite a number of friends here, who slyly talk to me encouragingly. There are many Union people all through the South, although they have not dared to express themselves as such, but now they are more decided in their expressions and actions. Had a canteen of milk, and many other luxuries. Darkys are profuse in their gifts of small things. Have now a comb, good jack knife, and many little nicknacks. One old negress brought me a chicken nicely roasted. Think of that, prisoners of war, roast chicken! Shall jump off the cars every twenty rods hereafter. Tried to get a paper of the guard, who was reading the latest, but he wouldn't let me see it. Looks rather blue himself, and I surmise there is something in it which he don't like. All right, old fellow, my turn will come some day. Young darky brought me a cane, which is an improvement on my old one. Walk now the length of my limit with an old fashioned crook cane and feel quite proud. LATER - Got all ready to take a train due at 3:30, and it didn't stop. Must wait until morning. Hope they won't stop for a month.

Blackshear, Ga., Dec. 2 - In with the same men whom I deserted on the cars. We are near the Florida line. Was put in a passenger train at Doctortown and rode in style to this place. On the train were two more Yanks named David and Eli S. Buck, who are Michigan men. They were runaways who had been out in the woods nearly three months and were in sight of our gunboats when recaptured. Belong to the 6th Michigan Cavalry. David Buck was one of Kilpatrick's scouts; a very smart and brave fellow, understands living in the woods, and thoroughly posted. We have mutually agreed to get away the first chance, and shall get to our lines. David Buck used to attend school at Leoni, Mich., and was educated for a preacher. They are cousins. We three Yankees were quite a curiosity to the passengers on the train that brought us to this place. Some of them had evidently never seen a Yankee before, and we were stared at for all we were worth. Some smarties were anxious to argue the point with us in a rather "we have got you" style. David Buck is a good talker, and satisfactorily held up our end of the war question; in fact, I thought talked them all out on their own grounds. The ladies in particular sneered and stared at us. Occasionally we saw some faces which looked as if they were Union, and we often got a kind word from some of them. The railroads are in a broken down condition, out of decent repair, and trains run very slow. The Confederacy is most assuredly hard up, and will go to pieces some of these days. My out door life of the few days I roamed through the woods, was just jolly. Being out from under rebel guard made me the happiest chap imaginable. Knew that I couldn't escape to our lines, as I was not able to travel much, and my sole business was to remain a tramp as long as possible, and to get enough to eat, which I did. The negroes, and especially the field hands, are all Union darkys, and fed me all I wanted as a general thing. Made a mistake in going to the house of a white woman for food.

Dec. 3 - Blackshear is an out-of-the-way place, and shouldn't think the Yankee army would ever find us here. The climate is delightful. Here it is December and at the North right in the middle of winter, and probably good sleighing, and cold; while here it is actually warm during the day time, and at night not uncomfortably cold. The Buck boys are jolly good fellows, and full of fun. Seem to have taken a new lease of life myself. Both of them are in good health and fleshy, and open for an escape any hour. And we don't stay here but a few days, the guards say. Why not keep us on the cars and run us around the country all the time? There is no wall or anything around us here, only guards. Encamped right in the open air. Have food once a day, just whatever they have to give us. Last night had sweet potatoes. I am getting considerably heavier in weight, and must weigh one hundred and forty pounds or more. Still lame, however, and I fear permanently so. Teeth are firm in my mouth now, and can eat as well as ever, and oh! such an appetite. Would like to see the pile of food that I couldn't eat. Found Rowe and Bullock, and Hub Dakin. They are well, and all live in jolly expectancy of the next move. The old coverlid still protects my person. The Bucks have also each a good blanket, and we are comfortable. Some fresh beef given us to-day; not much, but suppose all they have got. Guard said he wished to God he was one of us prisoners instead of guarding us.

Dec. 4 - Another delightfully cool morning. There are not a great many guards here to watch over us, and it would be possible for all to break away without much trouble. The men, however, are so sure of liberty that they prefer to wait until given legitimately. Would like to have seen this guard hold us last summer at Andersonville. Fresh meat again to-day. Rebels go out to neighboring plantations and take cattle, drive them here, and butcher for us to eat. Rice is also given us to eat. Have plenty of wood to cook with. Have traded off the old missmated pair of brogans for a smaller and good pair, and feel quite like a dandy. Have some money to buy extras. Have plenty of food yet from that given me at Doctortown. Divide with the Bucks, or rather, it is all one common mess, and what any one owns belongs equally to the others. Rebels glum and cross, and sometimes we laugh at them, and then they swear and tell us to shut up or they will blow our heads off. Blackshear is a funny name and it is a funny town, if there is any, for as yet I haven't been able to see it. Probably a barn and a hen-coop comprise the place. Cars go thundering by as if the Yanks were after them. About every train loaded with troops. Go first one way and then the other. Think they are trying to keep out of the way themselves.

Dec. 5 - Guard said that orders were not to talk with any of the prisoners, and above all not to let us get hold of any newspapers. No citizens are allowed to come near us. That shows which way the wind blows. Half a dozen got away from here last night, and guards more strict to-day, with an increased force. Going to be moved, it is said, in a few days. Why don't they run us right into the ocean? That wouldn't do though, our gunboats are there. Well, keep us then, that is punishment enough. Do what you are a mind to. You dare not starve us now, for we would break away. In fact, although under guard, we are masters of the situation. Can see an old darky with an ox hitched to a cart with harness on, the cart loaded with sugar cane. This is quite a sugar country, it is said. On the road here saw the famous palmetto trees in groves. Live-oaks are scattered all over, and are a funny affair. Persimmon and pecan trees also abound here. We are pretty well south now, spending the winter. But few die now; no more than would naturally die in any camp with the same numbers. It is said that some men get away every night, and it is probably so.

Dec. 6 - Thirteen months ago to-day captured - one year and one month. Must be something due me from Uncle Sam in wages, by this time. All come in a lump when it does come. No great loss without small gain, and while I have been suffering the long imprisonment my wages have been accumulating. Believe that we are also entitled to ration money while in prison. Pile it on, you can't pay us any too much for this business. This is the land of the blood hound. Are as common as the ordinary cur at the North. Are a noble looking dog except when they are after you, and then they are beastly. Should think that any one of them could whip a man; are very large, strong, and savage looking. Should think it would be hard for the negro to run away. See no horses about here at all - all mules and oxen, and even cows hitched up to draw loads. I walk the prison over forty times a day. Everybody knows me, and I hail and am hailed as I walk around, and am asked what I think of the situation. Tell them of my escape and the good time I had, which incites them to do likewise the first opportunity. Occasionally a man here who growls and grumbles, and says and thinks we will never get away, etc. Some would find fault if they were going to be hung. Should think they would compare their condition with that of six months ago and be contented.

Dec. 7 - Another day of smiling weather. Still call our mess the "Astor House Mess." It is composed of only three - the Bucks and myself. I am the only one of the original mess here, and it is still the most prosperous and best fed of any. We are all the time at work at something. Have a good piece of soap, and have washed our clothing throughout, and are clean and neat for prisoners of war. Eli S. Buck is a large fellow, and a farmer when at home. Both are young, and from the same neighborhood. As I have said before, are cousins, and think a great deal of one another, which is good to see. Relatives rarely get along together in prison as well as those who are not related. There were brothers in Andersonville who would not mess together. Seems funny, but such is the case. Should like to see myself throwing over a brother for any one else. Guards denounce Jeff Davis as the author of their misfortunes. We also denounce him as the author of ours, so we are agreed on one point. Going to move. The "mess" will escape en masse at the first move, just for the sake of roaming the woods. With the Bucks in company with me, shall have a good time, and we can undoubtedly soon reach our troops in as much as they are raiding through the South. Dave Buck is the acknowledged leader of us. He prays; think of that.

Dec. 8 - There are many men of many minds here. That used to be a favorite copy at writing school in Jackson, Mich. "Many men of many minds, many birds of many kinds." How a person's thoughts go back to the old boyhood days in such a place as this. Happiest times of life are those of youth, but we didn't know it. Everybody told us so, but we didn't believe it; but now it is plain. Every one, I think, has that experience. We all see where we might have done different if we only had our lives to live over, but alas, it is not to be. A majority of the men here have about half enough to eat. Our mess has enough to eat, thanks to our own ingenuity. Now expect to go away from here every day. Have borrowed a needle, begged some thread, and have been sewing up my clothing; am well fixed up, as are also the Bucks. Am quite handy with the needle, and it is difficult to make some of them believe I am not a tailor by trade. If I always keep my ways mended as I do my clothes, I shall get along very well. Eli has come with four large yams bought of a guard and we will proceed to cook and eat a good supper, and then go to bed and perhaps dream of something pleasant to remember the next day. Rumors of all kinds in camp, and rebels say something is up that will interest us, but I can get no satisfaction as to what it is. Drew cuts for the extra potato, and Dave won, and he cut that article of food into three pieces and we all had a share. Good boy.

Dec. 9 - Still in Blackshear, and quiet. Many incidents happened when I was out in the wood, and I am just crazy to get there once more. Look at the tall trees in sight, and could hug them. My long sickness and the terrible place in which I was confined so long, and my recovering health, and the hope now of getting entirely well and recovering my liberty, has made a new man of me - a new lease of life, as it were. The Bucks are the best of fellows, and having money which they use for my benefit the same as their own, we get along swimmingly. One of these days my Northern friends and relatives will hear from me. Am getting over my lameness, and have an appetite for more than my supply of food. Certainly had a good constitution to stand all that has been passed through, during which time thousands and thousands died, of apparently better health than myself. Of all my many messmates and friends in prison, have lost track of them all; some died, in fact nearly all, and the balance scattered, the Lord only knows where. What stories we can talk over when we meet at the North. This Blackshear country is rather a nice section. Warm and pleasant, although rather low. Don't know where we are located, but must be not far from the coast.

Dec. 10 - The grand change has come and a car load of prisoners go away from here to-day. Although the Bucks and myself were the last in prison, we are determined to flank out and go with the first that go. Our destination is probably Charleston, from what I can learn. We three will escape on the road, or make a desperate effort to do so, anyway. Can walk much better now than ten days ago, and feel equal to the emergency. Fine weather and in good spirits, although many here are tired of being moved from place to place. More guards have come to take charge of us on the road, and it looks very discouraging for getting away, although "Dave" says we will make it all right. Place great reliance in him, as he has caution as well as the intention to escape. So like Hendryx, and added to it has more practical quiet common sense. Eli Buck and myself acknowledge him as leader in all things. Now comes the tug of war.

Dec. 11 - We flanked out this morning, or rather paid three fellows two dollars apiece for their turn to go. Are now thirty miles from Blackshear; have been unloaded from the cars and are encamped by the side of the railroad track for the night. Most dark. Rebel soldiers going by on the trains, with hoots and yells. We are strongly guarded, and it augurs not for us to get away to-night. Our best hold is jumping from the cars. Ride on open platform cars with guards standing and sitting on the sides, six guards to each car. About sixty prisoners ride on each car, and there are thirty or forty cars. Were given rations yesterday, but none to-day. It is said we get nothing to eat to-night, which is bad; more so for the other prisoners than ourselves. Low country we come through, and swampy. Bucks think we may get away before morning, but I doubt it. Rebs flying around lively, and Yanks going for them I guess.

Dec. 12 - Routed up at an early hour and loaded on to the cars, which stood upon a side track, and after being loaded have been here for six mortal hours. Small rations given us just before loading up. All are cramped and mad. We will more than jump the first opportunity. We go to Charleston, via Savannah. Wish they would hurry up their old vehicles for transportation. Being doubled up like a jack knife makes my legs stiff and sore, and difficult to use my limbs from cramped position. Worth four hundred dollars a day to see the rebel troops fly around. Would give something to know the exact position now of both armies. Guards are sleepy and tired out from doing double duty, and I think we can get away if they move us by night, which I am afraid they won't do. Bucks jubilant and confident, consequently so am I.

A SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE
Jump off the cars near Savannah - Find friendly negroes - Travel by night and rest by day - Good times with many adventures - A morning bath - Almost run into rebel pickets, etc. etc.

In the Woods, Dec. 13 - How does that sound for a location to date from? Yesterday long toward night our train started from its abiding place and rolled slowly toward its destination, wherever that might be. When near Savannah, not more than a mile this side, David Buck jumped off the cars and rolled down the bank. I jumped next and Eli Buck came right after me. Hastily got up and joined one another, and hurried off in an easterly direction through the wet, swampy country. A number of shots were fired at us, but we were surprised and glad to find that none hit us, although my cap was knocked off by a bullet hitting the fore-piece. Eli Buck was also singed by a bullet. It seemed as if a dozen shots were fired. Train did not stop, and we ran until tired out. Knew that we were within a line of forts which encircle Savannah, going all the way around it and only twenty rods or so apart. It was dark when we jumped off, and we soon came in the vicinity of a school house in which was being held a negro prayer meeting. We peeked in at the windows, but dared not stop so near our jumping off place. Worked around until we were near the railroad again and guided by the track going south - the same way we had come. It was very dark. Dave Buck went ahead, Eli next and myself last, going Indian file and very slow. All at once Dave stopped and whispered to us to keep still, which you may be sure we did. Had come within ten feet of a person who was going directly in the opposite direction and also stopped, at the same time we did. Dave Buck says: "Who comes there?" A negro woman says "it's me," and he walked up close to her and asked where she was going. She says: "Oh! I knows you; you are Yankees and has jumped off de cars." By this time we had come up even with Dave and the woman. Owned up to her that such was the case. She said we were her friends, and would not tell of us. Also said that not twenty rods ahead there was a rebel picket, and we were going right into them. I think if I ever wanted to kiss a woman, it was that poor, black, negro wench. She told us to go about thirty rods away and near an old shed, and she would send us her brother; he would know what to do. We went to the place designated and waited there an hour, and then we saw two dusky forms coming through the darkness, and between them a wooden tray of food consisting of boiled turnips, corn bread and smoked bacon. We lay there behind that old shed and ate and talked, and talked and ate, for a full hour more. The negro, "Major," said he was working on the forts, putting them in order to oppose the coming of the Yankees, and he thought he could get us through the line before morning to a safe hiding place. If we all shook hands once we did fifty times, all around. The negroes were fairly jubilant at being able to help genuine Yankees. Were very smart colored people, knowing more than the ordinary run of their race. Major said that in all the forts was a reserve picket force, and between the forts the picket. He said pretty well south was a dilapidated fort which had not as yet been repaired any, and that was the one to go through or near, as he did not think there was any picket there. "Bress de Lord, for yo' safety." says the good woman. We ate all they brought us, and then started under the guidance of Major at somewhere near midnight. Walked slow and by a roundabout way to get to the fort and was a long time about it, going through a large turnip patch and over and through hedges. Major's own safety as much as ours depended upon the trip. Finally came near the fort and discovered there were rebels inside and a picket off but a few rods. Major left us and crawled slowly ahead to reconnoiter; returned in a few minutes and told us to follow. We all climbed over the side of the fort, which was very much out of repair. The reserve picket was asleep around a fire which had nearly gone out. Major piloted us through the fort, actually stepping over the sleeping rebels. After getting on the outside there was a wide ditch which we went through. Ditch was partially full of water. We then went way round near the railroad again, and started south, guided by the darky, who hurried us along at a rapid gait. By near day light we were five or six miles from Savannah, and then stopped for consultation and rest. Finally went a mile further, where we are now laying low in a swamp, pretty well tired out and muddy beyond recognition. Major left us at day light, saying he would find us a guide before night who would show us still further. He had to go back and work on the forts. And so I am again loose, a free man, with the same old feeling I had when in the woods before. We got out of a thick settled country safely, and again await developments. Heard drums and bugles playing reveille this morning in many directions, and "We are all surrounded." David Buck is very confident of getting away to our lines. Eli thinks it is so if Dave says so, and I don't know, or care so very much. The main point with me is to stay out in the woods as long as I can. My old legs have had a hard time of it since last night and ache, and are very lame. It's another beautiful and cold day, this 13th of December. Biting frost nights, but warmer in the day time. Our plan is to work our way to the Ogechee River, and wait for the Stars and Stripes to come to us. Major said Sherman was marching right toward us all the time, driving the rebel army with no trouble at all. Told us to keep our ears open and we would hear cannon one of these days, possibly within a week. The excitement of the last twenty-four hours has worn me out, and I couldn't travel to-day if it was necessary. Have a plenty to eat, and for a wonder I ain't hungry for anything except things we haven't got. Dave is happy as an oyster, and wants to yell. Where they are so confident I am satisfied all will be well. As soon as it comes night we are going up to some negro huts less than a mile off, where we hope and expect that Major has posted the inmates in regard to us. The railroad is only a short distance off, and the river only three or four miles. As near as we know, are about twenty miles from the Atlantic coast. Tell the boys it may be necessary for me to stay here for two or three days to get recruited up, but they think three or four miles to-night will do me good. Don't like to burden them and shall try it.

Dec. 14 - We are now three miles from yesterday's resting place, and near the Miller plantation. Soon as dark last night we went to the negro huts and found them expecting us. Had a jubilee. No whites near, but all away. The Buck boys passed near here before when out in the woods, and knew of many darkys who befriended them. Had a surfeit of food. Stayed at the huts until after midnight, and then a woman brought us to this place. To-night we go to Jocko's hut, across the river. A darky will row us across the Little Ogechee to Jocco's hut, and then he will take us in tow. It is a rice country about here, with canals running every way. Negroes all tickled to death because Yankees coming. I am feeling better than yesterday, but difficult to travel. Tell the boys they had better leave me with the friendly blacks and go ahead to our lines, but they won't. Plenty to eat and milk to drink, which is just what I want. The whites now are all away from their homes and most of the negroes. Imagine we can hear the booming of cannon, but guess we are mistaken. Dave is very entertaining and good company. Don't get tired of him and his talk. Both of them are in rebel dress throughout, and can talk and act just like rebels. Know the commanders of different rebel regiments. They say that when out before they on different occasions mixed with the Southern army, without detection. Said they didn't wonder the widow woman knew I was a Yankee. Ain't up to that kind of thing.

Dec. 15 - Jocko's hut was not across the river as I supposed and wrote yesterday, but on the same side we were on. At about ten o'clock last night we went to his abiding place as directed and knocked. After a long time an old black head was stuck out of the window with a nightcap on. The owner of the head didn't know Jocko or anything about him; was short and crusty; said: "Go way from dar!" Kept talking to him and he scolding at being disturbed. Said he had rheumatics and couldn't get out to let us in. After a long time opened the door and we set down on the door step. Told him we were Yankees and wanted help. Was the funniest darky we have met yet. Would give something for his picture as he was framed in his window in the moonlight talking to us, with the picturesque surroundings, and us Yankees trying to win him over to aid us. Finally owned up that he was Jocko, but said he couldn't row us across the river. He was lame and could not walk, had no boat, and if he had the river was so swift he couldn't get us across, and if it wasn't swift, the rebels would catch him at it and hang him. Talked a long time and with much teasing. By degrees his scruples gave way, one at a time. Didn't know but he might row us across if he only had a boat, and finally didn't know but he could find a boat. To get thus far into his good graces took at least three hours. Went looking around and found an old scow, fixed up some old oars, and we got in; before doing so however, he had warmed up enough to give us some boiled sweet potatoes and cold baked fish. Rowed us way down the river and landed us on the noted Miller plantation and a mile in rear of the negro houses. Jocko, after we forced our acquaintance on him with all kind of argument, proved to be a smart able bodied old negro, but awful afraid of being caught helping runaways. Would give something for his picture as he appeared to us looking out of his cabin window. Just an old fashioned, genuine negro, and so black that charcoal would make a white mark on him. Took up probably three miles from his hut, two miles of water and one of land, and then started back home after shaking us a dozen times by the hand, and "God blessing us." Said: "Ole Massa Miller's niggers all Union niggers," and to go up to the huts in broad day light and they would help us. No whites at home on the plantation. We arrived where Jocko left us an hour or so before daylight, and lay down to sleep until light. I woke up after a while feeling wet, and found the tide had risen and we were surrounded with water; woke up the boys and scrambled out of that in a hurry, going through two feet of water in some places. The spot where we had laid down was a higher piece of ground than that adjoining. Got on to dry land and proceeded to get dry. At about ten o'clock Dave went up to the negro huts and made himself known, which was hard work. The negroes are all afraid that we are rebels and trying to get them into a scrape, but after we once get them thoroughly satisfied that we are genuine Yanks they are all right, and will do anything for us. The negroes have shown us the big house, there being no white around, they having left to escape the coming Yankee army. We went up into the cupola and looked way off on the ocean, and saw our own noble gunboats. What would we give to be aboard of them? Their close proximity makes us discuss the feasibility of going down the river and out to them, but the negroes say there are chain boats across the river farther down, and picketed. Still it makes us anxious, our being so near, and we have decided to go down the river to-night in a boat and see if we can't reach them. It is now the middle of the afternoon and we lay off from the huts eighty rods, and the negroes are about to bring us some dinner. During the night we traveled over oyster beds by the acre, artificial ones, and they cut our feet. Negroes say there are two other runaways hid a mile off and they are going to bring them to our abiding place. LATER - Negroes have just fed us with corn bread and a kind of fish about the size of sardines, boiled by the kettle full, and they are nice. Fully as good as sardines. Think I know now where nearly all the imported sardines come from. Negroes catch them by the thousand, in nets, put them in kettles, and cook them a few minutes, when they are ready to eat. Scoop them out of the creeks. The two other runaways are here with us. They are out of the 3rd Ohio Cavalry. Have been out in the woods for two weeks. Escaped from Blackshear and traveled this far. I used to know one of them in Savannah. We do not take to them at all, as they are not of our kind. Shall separate to-night, they going their way and we going ours. Have secured a dug-out boat to go down the Ogechee River with to-night. The negroes tell us of a Mr. Kimball, a white man, living up the country fifteen miles, who is a Union man, and helps runaways, or any one of Union proclivities. He lays up the river, and our gunboats lay down the river. Both have wonderful charms for us, and shall decide before night which route to take. Are on rice plantation, and a valuable one. Before the "wah" there were over fifteen hundred negroes on this place. Cotton is also part of the production. Have decided to go down the river and try to reach our gunboats. It's a very hazardous undertaking, and I have my doubts as to its successful termination.

Dec. 16 - Another adventure, and a red hot one. Started down the river in our dug-out boat somewhere near midnight. Ran down all right for an hour, frequently seeing rebel pickets and camp fires. Saw we were going into the lion's mouth, as the farther down the more rebels. All at once our boat gave a lurch and landed in a tree top which was sticking out of the water, and there we were, swaying around in the cold water in the middle or near the middle of the Ogechee. Dave went ashore and to a negro hut, woke up the inmates, and narrated our troubles. A negro got up, and with another boat came to the rescue. Were about froze with the cold and wet. Said not more than a mile farther down we would have run right into a chain boat, with pickets posted on it. It really seems as if a Divine providence were guiding us. After getting a breakfast of good things started off toward the Big Ogechee River, and have traveled three or four miles. Are now encamped, or rather laying down, on a little hillock waiting for evening, to get out of this vicinity which is a dangerous one. In our river escapade lost many of our things, but still hang to my coverlid and diary. There are three or four houses in view, and principally white residences, those of the poor white trash order, and they are the very ones we must avoid. Have caught cold and am fearfully out of traveling condition, but must go it now. A mistake in coming down the river. Am resting up, preparatory to traveling all night up the country. No chance of getting out by the coast. Have enough food to last all day and night, and that is a good deal. Can't carry more than a day's supply. Have now been out in the woods, this is the fourth day, and every day has been fresh adventures thick and fast. If I could only travel like my comrades, would get along. Bucks praise me up and encourage me to work away, and I do. For breakfast had more of those imported sardines. Storm brewing of some sort and quite chilly. Saw rebel infantry marching along the highway not more than eighty rods off. Hugged the ground very close. Dogs came very near us, and if they had seen us would have attracted the rebels' attention. Am writing with a pencil less than an inch long. Shall print this diary and make my everlasting fortune, and when wealthy will visit this country and make every negro who has helped us millionaires. Could not move from here half a mile by daylight without being seen, and as a consequence we are feeling very sore on the situation. Don't know but I shall be so lame to-night that I cannot walk at all, and then the boys must leave me and go ahead for themselves. However, they say I am worth a hundred dead men yet, and will prod me along like a tired ox. Dave goes now bareheaded, or not quite so bad as that, as he has a handkerchief tied over his head. The programme now is to go as straight to Mr. Kimball's as we can. He is probably twenty miles away; is a white Union man I spoke of a day or so ago in this same diary. Will stick to him like a brother. Can hear wagons go along the road toward Savannah, which is only thirteen or fourteen miles away. LATER - Most dark enough to travel and I am straightened up and am taking an inventory of myself. Find I can walk with the greatest difficulty. The boys argue that after I get warmed up I will go like a top, and we will see.

Dec. 17 - And another day of vicissitudes. We traveled last night about four miles, piloted by a young negro. It was a terrible walk to me; slow and painful. Were fed, and have food for to-day. Are now about three miles from a canal which we must cross before another morning. Negroes say "Sherman most here" and "Bress de Lord!" Mr. Kimball lives nine miles away and we must reach him some way, but it seems an impossibility for me to go so far. Are now in a high and fine country, but too open for us. Have to lay down all day in the bushes. David is a thorough scout. Goes crawling around on his hands and knees taking in his bearings. Troops are encamped on the main road. Every cross road has its pickets, and it is slow business to escape running into them. Eli S. Buck has a sore throat and is hoarse. Pretty good jaunt for him, tough as he is. Shall have no guide to-night, as Dave thinks he can engineer us all right in the right direction. Some thinks he will leave us both and reach Kimball's to-night, and then come back and see us through. Guess I will be on hand to go along however.

Dec. 18 - Six days of freedom and what a sight of hardship, sweetened by kind treatment and the satisfaction of being out from under guard. We traveled last night some four miles and now are in a very precarious position. When almost daylight we came to the canal, and found cavalry pickets all along the tow-path; walked along until we came to a lock. A cavalryman was riding his horse up and down by the lock. At the lock there was a smouldering tire. It was absolutely necessary that we get across before daylight. As the mounted picket turned his horse's head to go from us, Dave slid across the tow-path and went across the timbers which formed the lock, and by the time the picket turned around to come back Dave was hid on the opposite shore. At the next trip of the rebel Eli went the same as Dave. The third one to go was myself, and I expected to get caught, sure. Could not go as quiet as the rest, and was slower. Thought the picket saw me when half way across but kept right on going, and for a wonder made it all right. Was thoroughly scared for the first time since jumping off the train. Am very nervous. All shook hands when the picket turned about to go back the fourth time. Getting light in the east and we must move on, as the country is very open. Dare not travel over half a mile, and here we are hid almost in a woman's door yard, not over thirty rods from her very door. Are in some evergreen bushes and shrubs. It's now most noon, and have seen a rather elderly lady go out and in the house a number of times. The intrepid Dave is going up to the house to interview the lady soon. LATER - Dave crawled along from our hiding place until he came to the open ground, and then straightened boldly up and walked to the house. In fifteen minutes he came back with some bread and dried beef, and said the woman was a Union woman and would help us. Her daughter slept at her uncle's a mile off last night, and expected her back soon, and perhaps the uncle, who is a violent Secesh, with her. Said for us to lay low. LATER - The daughter came home on horseback and alone. Could see the old lady telling the daughter about us and pointing our way. About the middle of the afternoon the old lady started out toward us. Behind her came a young darky, and behind the darky came another darky; then a dog, then a white boy, then a darky and then the daughter. Old lady peeked in, and so did the rest except the grown up girl, who was too afraid. Finally came closer, and as she got a good view of us she says: "Why, mother, they look just like anybody else." She had never seen a Yankee before. Brought us some more food, and after dark will set a table for us to come to the house and eat. Her name is Mrs. Dickinson. They went back to the house and we proceeded to shake hands with one another. During the afternoon five rebel soldiers came to the house, one at a time. It is now most dark and we are about ready to go to the house and eat. Mr. Kimball lives only four miles away.

Dec. 19 - We are now less than half a mile from Mr. Kimball's. After dark last night we went to Mrs. Dickinson's house and partook of a splendid supper. I wrote a paper directed to the officer commanding the first Yankee troops that should arrive here telling what she has done for us runaway Yankees. She talked a great deal, and I thought was careless leaving the front door open. Three or four times I got up and shut that door. We had taken off our blankets and other wraps and left them in a sort of a kitchen, and were talking in the best room. I heard the gate click, and on looking out saw two rebel officers coming to the house and not six rods off. We jumped into the other room and out of the back door and behind a corn house, bare headed. The officers were asked into the front room by the daughter. They asked who the parties were who ran out of the back way. She said she reckoned no one. They kept at her and jokingly intimated that some of her skulking lovers had been to see her. She kept talking back and finally said: "Mother, did any one just go away?" And the old lady said: "Why, yes, brother Sam and his 'boy' just went off home." Them confounded rebels had come to see the girl and spend the evening, and we shivering out in the cold. Joked her for about an hour and a half about her lovers and we hearing every word. Finally they got up and bid her good night, saying they would send back some men to guard the house and keep her lovers away. Just as soon as they were down the road a ways, the daughter came out very frightened and said for us to hurry off, as they would send back troops to look for us. Hurried into the house, got our things and some dried beef, and started off toward Mr. Kimball's house. Reached here just before daylight and lay down back of the house about eighty rods, in the corner of the fence, to sleep a little before morning. Just at break of day heard some one calling hogs. David got up and went toward an old man whom we knew was our friend Kimball. Came to us, and was glad to shake hands with genuine Yankees. Said one of his neighbors was coming over early to go with him to hunt some hogs, and for us to go farther off and stay until night, and he would think up during the day what to do with us. Did not want anything to eat. Came to this place where we now are, and feeling that our journey was most ended. Mr. Kimball said that Sherman was not over fifty miles off, and coming right along twenty miles per day, and our plan was to hide and await coming events. Mr. Kimball is an old man, probably sixty years old, white haired and stoop shouldered. He had five sons, all drafted into the rebel army. All refused to serve. Two have been shot by the rebels, one is in some prison for his Union proclivities, and two are refugees. The old man has been imprisoned time and again, his stock confiscated, property destroyed, and all together had a hard time of it. Still he is true blue, a Union man to the back bone. Really think our troubles coming to an end. Kimball said: "Glory to God, the old Stars and Stripes shall float over my house in less than a week!" It's a noble man who will stand out through all that he has, for his principles, when his interests are all here. Is not only willing, but glad to help us, and says anything he has is ours, if it will keep us toward our escape. LATER - Have been laying all day watching Kimball's house. Along in the morning the neighbor spoken of came to Kimball's, and they both went off on horseback to shoot hogs. The swine here roam over a large territory and become most wild, and when they want fresh pork they have to go after it with a gun. You may be sure that hunters did not come near us with Mr. Kimball for a guide. A negro boy went with them with a light wagon and mule attached. Near noon they returned with some killed hogs in the wagon. At three or four o'clock the old man came down where we were "to look after his boys," he said. Is in the best of spirits. Says we are to hid to-night where he tells us, and stay until our troops reach us. That is jolly good news for me, as I hate to travel. Said come to the house after dark and he would have a supper prepared for us, and has just left us. LATER - Have just eaten a splendid supper at Kimball's and getting ready to travel three miles to a safe hiding place.

Dec. 20 - Well, we are just well fixed and happy. After partaking of a royal repast last night, served in an out-building near the main building of the Kimball home, we were directed to this place which is on the banks of the Big Ogechee river, in a most delightful spot. While we were at Kimball's he had negro sentinels stationed at different points on the plantation to announce the coming of any rebel soldiers or citizens that might see fit to come near. He gave us an axe, a quart of salt, a ham too big to carry conveniently, and all the sweet potatoes we could drag along; also a butcher knife. Went with us a mile as guide and then told us so we found the place pointed out. Also gave us some shelled corn to bait hogs and told Dave how to make a deadfall to catch them. We left the main road going directly West until we came to a fence, then turned to the left and followed the line of the fence, and when we had got to the end of it kept straight ahead going through a swampy low section. After a while came to higher and dry land and to the banks of the river. Is a sort of an island, and as I said before, a very pretty and pleasant spot. Out in the river grows tall canebrake which effectually hides us from any one going either up or down the river. Tall pines are here in abundance and nice grass plats, with as handsome palm clusters as ever I saw. Are going to build us a house to keep off the cold and rain. Have matches and a rousing fire cooked our breakfast of nice ham and sweet potatoes. We also roasted some corn and had corn coffee. Any quantity of hogs running around and Dave is already thinking of a trap to catch them. It will be necessary for we are making that ham look sick. Eat so much breakfast that we can hardly walk and don't know but will commit suicide by eating. Buzzards fly around attracted by the cooking. Are as large and look like turkeys. Our government should give to Mr. Kimball a fortune for his patriotism and sacrifices to the Union cause. About eight miles above is a long bridge across the river and there it is thought a big fight will take place when Sherman attempts to cross, and so we will know when they approach, as we could hear a battle that distant. NIGHT - We have built the cosyest and nicest little house to lay in. Cut poles with the axe and made a frame, and then covered the top with palm leaves just like shingles on a house at the North, then fixed three sides the same way, each leaf overlapping the other, and the fourth side open to a fire and the river. The water is cold and clear and nice to drink; just like spring water. Have eaten the ham half up; ditto potatoes. The increase prosperity makes me feel well bodily, and mentally am more so. It is still the "Astor House Mess." We all cook, and we all eat. Dave prays to-night as he does every night and morning, and I ain't sure but all through the day. Is a thorough Christian if ever there was one. I also wrote a letter for Mr. Kimball to the commanding Union officer who may first approach these parts. In it I told how he had befriended us and others. We heard boats going by on the river to-day. At such times all we do is keep still, as no one can see us. Rebels are too busy to look for us or any one else. All they can do now to take care of themselves. Eli is making up our bed, getting ready to turn in. I have just brought a tin pail of nice water and we all drink. Take off our shoes for the first time in some days. A beautiful night - clear and cold. And thus ends another day, and we are in safety.

Dec. 21 - Got up bright and early. Never slept better. Getting rested up. We talk continually. Both Bucks are great talkers, especially David. Cooked and ate our breakfast, and would you believe it the ham is all gone. Incredible, the amount of food we eat. Wonder it don't make us all sick. Sweet potatoes getting low. Dave fixing up his dead fall for hogs. Has rolled some heavy logs together forty rods away from our house, and fixed up a figure four spring trap, with the logs for weight to hold down the animal which may be enticed into it. Has scattered corn in and around the trap, and we wait for developments. Hogs are very shy of us and surroundings. Are apparently fat and in good order. Plenty of roots and shack which they eat, and thrive thereon. Buzzards are very curious in regards to us. They light on the limbs in the tree, and if their support is a dead limb it breaks and makes a great noise in the still woods. Two or three hundred all together make a terrible racket, and scare us sometimes. The weather is very fine, and this must be a healthy climate. Dave is going out to-day to look around. As I have said before, he is a scout and understands spying around, and won't get caught. If we had a fish hook and line or a net of some sort could catch fish to eat. That would be a grand sport as we can see nice large fish in the water. The main road is away about one and a half miles we think by the sound of the teams which occasionally rumble along. Often hear shouting on the road as if cattle were being driven along toward Savannah. Once in a while we hear guns fired off, but it is no doubt hogs being killed. We also hear folks going up and down the river, but cannot see them. After dark we have no fire as that would expose us, it is so much plainer to be seen in the night. The river is wide; should think a third of a mile, as we can view it from away up the stream. The cane that grows in the river is the same as we have for fish poles at the North, and are shipped from the South. Have added some repairs to the house and it is now water tight, we think. Made a bed of soft boughs, and with our three blankets have a good sleeping place. Dave got a tall cane and fastened up on the house, and for a flag fastened on a piece or black cloth - the best we could do. That means no quarter; and it is just about what we mean, too. Don't believe we would be taken very easy now. I am getting fat every day, yet lame, and have come to the conclusion that it will be a long time before I get over it. The cords have contracted so in my right leg that they don't seem to stretch out again to their original length. That scurvy business came very near killing me. LATER - I also went out of our hiding place, and saw away out in a field what I took to be a mound where sweet potatoes are buried. Came back and got a pair of drawers, tied the bottom of the legs together, and sallied forth. The mound of potatoes was a good way back from the house, although in plain sight. I crawled up, and began digging into it with a piece of canteen. Very soon had a hole in, and found some of the nicest potatoes that you can imagine, of the red variety, which I believe are the genuine Southern yam. Filled the drawers cram full, filled my pockets and got all I could possibly carry, then closed up the hole and worked my way back to camp. Eli was alone, Dave not having returned from his scouting trip. Had a war dance around those potatoes. Believe there is a bushel of them, and liked to have killed myself getting them here. After I got into the woods and out of the field, straightened up and got the drawers on my shoulders and picked the way to head-quarters. We don't any of us call any such thing as that as stealing. It's one of the necessities of our lives that we should have food, and if we have not got it, must do the best we can. Now if we can catch a porker will be fixed all right for some days to come. Think it is about the time of year for butchering. We don't expect to be here more than two or three days at fartherest, although I shall hate to leave this beautiful spot, our nice house and all. Listen all the time for the expected battle at the bridge, and at any unusual sound of commotion in that direction we are all excited. LATER - Dave has returned. He went to the main road and saw a negro. Was lucky enough to get a Savannah paper three days old in which there was nothing we did not know in regard to Sherman's coming. The negro said Yankee scouts had been seen just across the river near the bridge, and the main army is expected every day. The rebels will fall back across the river and contest the crossing. Fortifications are built all along clear to Savannah, and it may be reasonably expected that some hard fighting will take place. Savannah is the pride of the South and they will not easily give it up. Dave did not tell the negro that he was a Yankee, but represented himself as a conscript hiding in the woods to keep from fighting in the rebel army. Was glad to see supply of potatoes and says I will do. Has freshly baited his trap for hogs and thinks before night we will have fresh pork to go with the potatoes. LATER - We went around a drove of hogs and gradually worked them up to the trap. Pretty soon they began to pick up the corn and one of them went under the figure four, sprung it and down came the logs and such a squealing and scrambling of those not caught. The axe had been left near the trap standing up against a tree, and Dave ran up and grabbed it and struck the animal on the head and cut his throat. How we did laugh and dance around that defunct porker. Exciting sport this trapping for fresh pork. In half an hour Dave and Eli had the pig skinned and dressed. Is not a large one probably weighs ninety pounds or so, and is fat and nice. Have sliced up enough for about a dozen men and are now cooking it on sticks held up before the fire. Also frying some in a skillet which we are the possessor of. When the hogs run wild and eat acorns, roots and the like, the meat is tough and curly but is sweet and good. We fry out the grease and then slice up the potatoes and cook in it. Thanks to Mr. Kimball we have plenty of salt to season our meat with. The buzzards are after their share which will be small. And now it is most night again and the "Astor House" larder is full. Seems too bad to go to bed with anything to eat on hand, but must. That is the feeling with men who have been starved so long, cannot rest in peace with food laying around. My two comrades are not so bad about that as I am, having been well fed for a longer period. Have sat up three or four hours after dark, talking over what we will do when we get home, and will now turn in for a sound sleep. It's a clear moonlight night, and we can hear very plain a long distance. Can also see the light shining from camp fires in many directions, or what we take to be such.

Dec. 22 - As Dan Rice used to say in the circus ring: "Here we are again." Sleep so sound that all the battles in America could not wake me up. Are just going for that fresh pork to-day. Have three kinds of meat - fried pig, roast pork and broiled hog. Good any way you can fix it. Won't last us three days at this rate, and if we stay long enough we will eat up all the hogs in these woods. Pretty hoggish on our part, and Dave says for gracious sake not to write down how much we eat, but as this diary is to be a record of what takes place, down it goes how much we eat. Tell him that inasmuch as we have a preacher along with us, we ought to have a sermon occasionally. Says he will preach if I will sing, and I agree to that if Eli will take up a collection. One objection Eli and I have to his prayers is the fact that he wants the rebels saved with the rest, yet don't tell him so. Mutually agree that his prayers are that much too long. Asked him if he thought it stealing to get those potatoes as I did, and he says no, and that he will go next time. We begin to expect the Yankees along. It's about time. Don't know what I shall do when I again see Union soldiers with guns in their hands, and behold the Stars and Stripes. Probably go crazy, or daft, or something. This is a cloudy, chilly day, and we putter around gathering up pine knots for the fire, wash our duds and otherwise busy ourselves. Have saved the hog skin to make moccasins of, if the Union army is whipped and we have to stay here eight or ten years. The hair on our heads is getting long again, and we begin to look like wild men of the woods. One pocket comb does for the entire party; two jack knives and a butcher knife. I have four keys jingling away in my pocket to remind me of olden times. Eli has a testament and Dave has a bible, and the writer hereof has not. Still, I get scripture quoted at all hours, which will, perhaps, make up in a measure. Am at liberty to use either one of their books, and I do read more or less. Considerable travel on the highways, and going both ways as near at what we can judge. Dave wants to go out to the road again but we discourage him in it, and he gives it up for to-day at least. Am afraid he will get caught, and then our main stay will be gone. Pitch pine knots make a great smoke which rises among the trees and we are a little afraid of the consequences; still, rebels have plenty to do now without looking us up. Many boats go up and down the river and can hear them talk perhaps fifty rods away. Rebel paper that Dave got spoke of Savannah being the point aimed at by Sherman, also of his repulses; still I notice that he keeps coming right along. Also quoted part of a speech by Jefferson Davis, and he is criticized unmercifully. Says nothing about any exchange of prisoners, and our old comrades are no doubt languishing in some prison. LATER - Considerable firing up in vicinity of the bridge. Can hear volleys of musketry, and an occasional boom of cannon. Hurrah! It is now four o'clock by the sun and the battle is certainly taking place. LATER - Go it Billy Sherman, we are listening and wishing you the best of success. Come right along and we will be with you. Give 'em another - that was a good one. We couldn't be more excited if we were right in the midst of it. Hurrah! It is now warm for the Johnnies. If we had guns would go out and fight in their rear; surround them, as it were. Troops going by to the front, and are cavalry, should think, also artillery. Can hear teamsters swearing away as they always do. LATER - It is now long after dark and we have a good fire. Fighting has partially subsided up the river, but of course we don't know whether Yankee troops have crossed the river or not. Great deal of travel on the road, but can hardly tell which way they are going. Occasional firing. No sleep for us to-night. In the morning shall go out to the road and see how things look. Every little while when the battle raged the loudest, all of us three would hurrah as if mad, but we ain't mad a bit; are tickled most to death.

SAFE AND SOUND
Once more see the old flag and the boys in blue - Mr. Kimball and Mrs. Dickinson recompensed - Find the Ninth Michigan Cavalry - Interviewed by Gen'l Kirkpatrick - All right at last

Dec. 23 - It is not yet daylight in the morning, and are anxiously awaiting the hour to arrive when we may go out to the road. Slept hardly any during the night. More or less fighting all night, and could hear an army go by toward Savannah, also some shouting directly opposite us. Between the hours of about twelve and three all was quiet, and then again more travel. We conjecture that the rebel army has retreated or been driven back, and that the Yankees are now passing along following them up. Shall go out about nine o'clock. LATER - Are eating breakfast before starting out to liberty and safety. Must be very careful now and make no mistake. If we run into a rebel squad now, might get shot. We are nervous, and so anxious can hardly eat. Will pick up what we really need and start. Perhaps good bye, little house on the banks of the Ogechee, we shalt always remember just how you look, and what a happy time we have had on this little island. Dave says: "Pick up your blanket and that skillet, and come along." NIGHT - Safe and sound among our own United States Army troops, after an imprisonment of nearly fourteen months. Will not attempt to describe my feelings now. Could not do it. Staying with the 80th Ohio Infantry, and are pretty well tired out from our exertions of the day. At nine o'clock we started out toward the main road. When near it Eli and I stopped, and Dave went ahead to see who was passing. We waited probably fifteen minutes, and then heard Dave yell out: "Come on boys, all right! Hurry up!" Eli and I had a stream to cross on a log. The stream was some fifteen feet wide, and the log about two feet through. I tried to walk that log and fell in my excitement. Verily believe if the water had been a foot deeper I would have drowned. Was up to my arms, and I was so excited that I liked never to have got out. Lost the axe, which Dave had handed to me, and the old stand-by coverlid which had saved my life time and again floated off down the stream, and I went off without securing it - the more shame to me for it. Dave ran out of the woods swinging his arms and yelling like mad, and pretty soon Eli and myself appeared, whooping and yelling. The 80th Ohio was just going by, or a portion of it, however, and when they saw first one and then another and then the third coming toward them in rebel dress, with clubs which they mistook for guns, they wheeled into line, thinking, perhaps, that a whole regiment would appear next. Dave finally explained by signs, and we approached and satisfied them of our genuineness. Said we were hard looking soldiers, but when we came to tell them where we had been and all the particulars, they did not wonder. Went right along with them, and at noon had plenty to eat. Are the guests of Co I, 80th Ohio. At three the 80th had a skirmish, we staying back a mile with some wagons, and this afternoon rode in a wagon. Only came about three or four miles to-day, and are near Kimball's, whom we shall call and see the first opportunity. The soldiers all look well and feel well, and say the whole confederacy is about cleaned out. Rebels fall back without much fighting. Said there was not enough to call it a fight at the bridge. Where we thought it a battle, they thought it nothing worth speaking of. Believe ten or so were killed, and some wounded. Hear that some Michigan cavalry is with Kilpatrick off on another road, but they do not know whether it is the 9th Mich. Cav., or not. Say they see the cavalry every day nearly, and I must keep watch for my regiment. Soldiers forage on the plantations, and have the best of food; chickens, ducks, sweet potatoes, etc. The supply wagons carry nothing but hard-tack, coffee, sugar and such things. Tell you, coffee is a luxury, and makes one feel almost drunk. Officers come to interview us every five minutes, and we have talked ourselves most to death to-day. They say we probably will not be called upon to do any fighting during this war, as the thing is about settled. They have heard of Andersonville, and from the accounts of the place did not suppose that any lived at all.  New York papers had pictures in, of the scenes there, and if such was the case it seems funny that measures were not taken to get us away from there. Many rebels are captured now, and we look at them from a different stand point than a short time since.

Dec. 24 - This diary must soon come to an end. Will fill the few remaining pages and then stop. Co "I" boys are very kind. They have reduced soldiering to a science. All divided up into messes of from three to five each. Any mess is glad to have us in with them, and we pay them with accounts of our prison life. Know they think half we tell them is lies. I regret the most of anything, the loss of my blanket that stood by me so well. It's a singular fact that the first day of my imprisonment it came into my possession, and the very last day it took its departure, floating off away from me after having performed its mission. Should like to have taken it North to exhibit to my friends. The infantry move only a few miles each day, and I believe we stay here all day. Went and saw Mr. Kimball. The officers commanding knew him for a Union man, and none of his belongings were troubled. In fact, he has anything he wants now. Announces his intention of going with the army until the war closes. Our good old friend Mrs. Dickinson did not fare so well. The soldiers took everything she had on the place fit to eat; all her cattle, pork, potatoes, chickens, and left them entirely destitute. We went and saw them, and will go to head-quarters to see what can be done. LATER - We went to Gen. Smith, commanding 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, and told him the particulars. He sent out foraging wagons, and now she has potatoes, corn, bacon, cattle, mules, and everything she wants. Also received pay for burned fences and other damages. Now they are smiling and happy and declare the Yankees to be as good as she thought them bad this morning. The men being under little restraint on this raid were often destructive. Nearly every citizen declared their loyalty, so no distinction is made. Gen. Smith is a very kind man, and asked us a great many questions. Says the 9th Michigan Cavalry is near us and we may see them any hour. Gen. Hann also takes an interest in us, and was equally instrumental with Gen. Smith in seeing justice done to our friends the Kimballs and Dickinsons. They declare now that one of us must marry the daughter of Mrs. Dickinson, the chaplain performing the ceremony. Well, she is a good girl, and I should judge would make a good wife, but presume she would have something to say herself and will not pop the question to her. They are very grateful, and only afraid that after we all go away the rebel citizens and soldiers will retaliate on them. Many officers have read portions of my diary, and say such scenes as we have passed through seem incredible. Many inquire if we saw so and so of their friends who went to Andersonville, but of course there were so many there that we cannot remember them. This has been comparatively a day of rest for this portion of the Union army, after having successfully crossed the river. We hear the cavalry is doing some fighting on the right, in the direction of Fort McAllister. EVENING - We marched about two or three miles and are again encamped for the night, with pickets out for miles around. Many refugees join the army prepared to go along with them, among whom are a great many negroes.

Dec. 25 - Christmas day and didn't hang up my stocking. No matter, it wouldn't have held anything. Last Christmas we spent on Belle Island, little thinking long imprisonment awaiting us. Us escaped men are to ride in a forage wagon. The army is getting ready to move. Are now twenty-four miles from Savannah and rebels falling back as we press ahead. NIGHT - At about nine o'clock this morning we sat in the forage wagon top of some corn riding in state, I saw some cavalry coming from the front. Soon recognized Col. Acker at the head of the 9th Michigan Cavalry. Jumped out of the wagon and began dancing and yelling in the middle of the road and in front of the troop. Col. Acker said: "Get out of the road you ___ lunatic!" Soon made myself known and was like one arisen from the dead. Major Brockway said: "Ransom, you want to start for home. We don't know you, you are dead. No such man as Ransom on the rolls for ten months." All remember me and are rejoiced to see me back again. Lieut. Col. Way, Surgeon, Adjutant, Sergeant-Major, all shake hands with me. My company "A" was in the rear of the column, and I stood by the road as they moved along, hailing those I recognized. In every case had to tell them who I was and then would go up and shake hands with them at the risk of getting stepped on by the horses. Pretty soon Co. "A" appeared, and wasn't they surprised to see me. The whole company were raised in Jackson, Mich., my home, and I had been regarded as dead for nearly a year. Could hardly believe it was myself that appeared to them. Every one trying to tell me the news at home all at the same time - how I was reported at having died in Richmond and funeral sermon preached. How so and so had been shot and killed, etc., etc. And then I had to tell them of who of our regiment had died in Andersonville - Dr. Lewis, Tom McGill and others. Although Jimmy Devers did not belong to our regiment, many in our company knew him, and I told them of his death. Should have said that as soon as I got to the company, was given Capt. Johnson's lead horse to ride, without saddle or bridle and nothing but a halter to hang on with. Not being used to riding, in rebel dress - two or three pails hanging on me - I made a spectacle for them to laugh at. It was a time of rejoicing. The Buck boys did not get out of the wagon with me and so we became separated without even a good bye. Before I had been with the company half an hour Gen. Kilpatrick and staff came riding by from the rear, and says to Capt. Johnson: "Captain, I hear one of your company has just joined you after escaping from the enemy." Capt. Johnson said, "Yes, sir," and pointed to me as a Sergeant in his company. General Kilpatrick told me to follow him and started ahead at a break neck pace. Inasmuch as the highway was filled with troops, Gen. Kilpatrick and staff rode at the side, through the fields, and any way they could get over the ground. The horse I was on is a pacer and a very hard riding animal and it was all I could do to hang on. Horse would jump over logs and come down on all fours ker-chug, and I kept hoping the general would stop pretty soon; but he didn't. Having no saddle or anything to guide the brute, it was a terrible hard ride for me, and time and again if I had thought I could fall off without breaking my neck should have done so. The soldiers all along the line laughed and hooted at the spectacle and the staff had great sport, which was anything but sport for me. After a while and after riding five or six miles, Kilpatrick drew up in a grove by the side of the road and motioning me to him, asked me when I escaped, etc. Soon saw I was too tired and out of breath. After resting a few minutes I proceeded to tell him what I knew of Savannah, the line of forts around the city, and of other fortifications between us and the city, the location of the rivers, force of rebels, etc. Asked a great many questions and took down notes, or rather the chief of staff, Estes by name, did. After an extended conversation a dispatch was made up and sent to Gen. Sherman who was a few miles away, with the endorsement that an escaped prisoner had given the information and it was reliable. General Kilpatrick told me I would probably not be called upon to do any more duty as I had done good service as a prisoner of war. Said he would sign a furlough and recommend that I go home as soon as communication was opened. Thanked me for information and dismissed me with congratulations on my escape. Then I waited until our company, "A," came up and joined them, and here I am encamped with the boys, who are engaged in getting supper. We are only twelve or fourteen miles from Savannah and the report in camp is to the effect that the city has been evacuated with no fight at all. Fort McAllister was taken to-day, which being the key to Savannah, leaves that city unprotected, hence the evacuation. Communication will now be opened with the gunboats on the coast and I will be sent home to Michigan. I mess with Capt. Johnson and there is peace and plenty among us. I go around from mess to mess this pleasant night talking with the boys, learning and telling the news. O.B. Driscoll, Al Williams, Sergt. Smith, Mell Strickland, Sergt. Fletcher, Teddy Fox, Lieut. Ingraham and all the rest think of something new every few minutes, and I am full. Poor Robt. Strickland, a boy whom I enlisted, was shot since starting out on this march to the sea. Others too, whom I left well are now no more. The boys have had a long and tedious march, yet all are in good health and have enjoyed the trip. They never tire of telling about their fights and skirmishes, and anecdotes concerning Kilpatrick, who is well liked by all the soldiers. Am invited to eat with every mess in the company, also at regimental headquarters, in fact, anywhere I am a mind to, can fill. And now this Diary is finished and is full. Shall not write any more, though I hardly know how I shall get along, without a self-imposed task of some kind.

END OF DIARY

THE FINIS
A brief description of what became of the boys - Refused permission to go home - A reference to Capt. Wirtz - Return home at the end of the war

It may interest some one to know more of many who have been mentioned at different times in this book, and I will proceed to enlighten them.

George W. Hendryx came to the regiment in March, 1865, when we were near Goldsboro, N.C. He says that after running away from Andersonville at the time of the discovery of a break in which all intended to get away in the summer of 1864, he traveled over one hundred and fifty miles and was finally re-taken by bushwhackers. He represented himself as an officer of the 17th Michigan Infantry, escaped from Columbia, S.C., and was sent to that place and put with officers in the prison there, changing his name so as not to be found out as having escaped from Andersonville. In due time he was exchanged with a batch of other officers and went home North. After a short time he joined his regiment and company for duty. He was both delighted and surprised to see me, as he supposed of course I had died in Andersonville, it having been so reported to him at the North. He did valiant service until the war was over, which soon happened. He went home with the regiment and was mustered out of service, since when I have never seen or heard of him for a certainty. Think that he went to California.

Sergt. Wm. B. Rowe was exchanged in March, 1865, but never joined the regiment. His health was ruined to a certain extent from his long confinement. Is still alive, however, and resides at Dansville, Mich.

Sergt. Bullock was also exchanged at the same time, but never did service thereafter. He is now an inmate of a Michigan insane asylum, and has been for some years, whether from the effects of prison life I know not, but should presume it is due to his sufferings there. His was a particularly sad case. He was taken sick in the early days of Andersonville and was sick all the time while in that place, a mere walking and talking skeleton. There is no doubt in my mind that his insanity resulted from his long imprisonment.

E.P. Sanders arrived home in Michigan in April, 1865, and made me a visit at Jackson that Summer. He was the only one of all my comrades in prison that I came in contact with, who fully regained health, or apparently was in good health. He was a particularly strong and healthy man, and is now engaged in farming near Lansing, Michigan.

Lieut. Wm. H. Robinson, who was removed from Belle Isle, from our mess, it having been discovered that he was an officer instead of an orderly sergeant, was exchanged early in 1864, from Richmond, and immediately joined his regiment, doing duty all the time thereafter. Soon after my escape and while with company "A," a note was handed me from Capt. Robinson, my old friend, he having been promoted to a captaincy. The note informed me that he was only a few miles away, and asked me to come and see him that day. You may rest assured I was soon on the road, and that day had the pleasure of taking my dinner with him. He was on his general's staff, and I dined at head-quarters, much to my discomfiture, not being up with such distinguished company. We had a good visit, I remember, and I went to camp at night well satisfied with my ride. Told me that I pipe which I engraved and presented to him on Belle Isle was still in his possession, and always should be. Was a favorite with every one, and a fine looking officer. He is now a resident of Sterling, Whiteside Co., Ill. Is a banker, hardware dealer, one of the City Fathers, and withal a prominent citizen. It was lucky he was an officer and taken away from us on Belle Isle, for he would undoubtedly have died at Andersonville, being of rather a delicate frame and constitution.

My good old friend Battese, I regret to say, I have never seen or heard of since he last visited me in the Marine Hospital at Savannah. Have written many letters and made many inquiries, but to no effect. He was so reticent while with us in the prison, that we did not learn enough of him to make inquiries since then effective. Although for many months I was in his immediate presence, he said nothing of where he lived, his circumstances, or anything else. I only know that his name was Battese, that he belonged to a Minnesota regiment and was a noble fellow. I don't know of a man in the world I would rather see to-day than him, and I hope some day when I have got rich out of this book (if that time should ever come,) to go to Minnesota and look him up. There are many Andersonville survivors who must remember the tall Indian, and certainly I shall, as long as life shall last.

Michael Hoare tells his own story farther along, in answer to a letter written him for information regarding his escape from the Savannah hospital. Mike, at the close of the war, re-enlisted in the regular army and went to the extreme west to fight Indians, and when his term of service expired again re-enlisted and remained in the service. In 1878 he was discharged on account of disability, and is now an inmate of the Disabled Soldier's Home, at Dayton, Ohio. From his letters to me he seems the same jolly, good natured hero as of old. I hope to see him before many months, for the first time since he shook me by the hand and passed in and out of his tunnel from the Marine Hospital and to freedom.

The two cousins Buck, David and Eli S., I last saw top of some corn in an army wagon I jumped from when I first encountered the 9th Mich. Cavalry. Little thought that would be the last time I should see them. Their command belonged to the Eastern Army in the region of the Potomac, and when communication was opened at Savannah they were sent there on transports. I afterward received letters from both of them, and David's picture; also his wife's whom he had just married. David's picture is reproduced in this book and I must say hardly does him justice as he was a good looking and active fellow. Presume Eli is a farmer if alive, and "Dave" probably preaching.

"Limber Jim," who was instrumental in putting down the raiders at Andersonville, was until recently a resident of Joliet, Illinois. He died last winter, in 1880, and it is said his health was always poor after his terrible summer of 1864. He was a hero in every sense of the word, and if our government did not amply repay him for valiant service done while a prisoner of war, then it is at fault.

Sergt. Winn of the 100th Ohio, who befriended me at Savannah, is, I think, a citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio, and a prosperous man. Any way, he was in 1870 or thereabouts. Was an upright man and good fellow.

Every one knows the fate of Capt. Wirtz, our prison commander at Andersonville, who was hung at Washington, D.C., in 1866, for his treatment of us Union prisoners of war. It was a righteous judgment, still I think there are others who deserved hanging fully as much. He was but the willing tool of those higher in command. Those who put him there knew his brutal disposition, and should have suffered the same disposition made of him. Although, I believe at this late day those who were in command and authority over Capt. Wirtz have successfully thrown the blame on his shoulders, it does not excuse them in the least so far as I am concerned. They are just as much to blame that thirteen thousand men died in a few months at that worst place the world has ever seen, as Capt. Wirtz, and should have suffered accordingly. I don't blame any of them for being rebels if they thought it right, but I do their inhuman treatment of prisoners of war.

Hub Dakin is now a resident of Dansville, Mich., the same village in which lives Wm. B. Rowe. He has been more or less disabled since the war, and I believe is now trying to get a pension from the government for disability contracted while in prison. It is very difficult for ex-prisoners of war to get pensions, owing to the almost impossibility of getting sufficient evidence. The existing pension laws require that an officer of the service shall have knowledge of the origin of disease, or else two comrades who may be enlisted men. At this late date it is impossible to remember with accuracy sufficient to come up to the requirements of the law. There is now doubt that all were more or less disabled, and the mere fact of their having spent the summer in Andersonville, should be evidence enough to procure assistance from the government.

And now a closing chapter in regard to myself. As soon as Savannah was occupied by our troops and communications opened with the North, a furlough was made out by Capt. Johnson, of our company, and signed by Assistant Surgeon Young, and then by Col. Acker. I then took the furlough to Gen. Kilpatrick, which he signed, and also endorsed on the back to the effect that he hoped Gen. Sherman would also sign and send me North. From Gen. Kilpatrick's head-quarters I went to see Gen. Sherman at Savannah and was ushered into his presence. The Gen. looked the paper over and then said no men were being sent home now and no furloughs granted for any cause. If I was permanently disabled I could be sent to Northern hospitals, or if I had been an exchanged prisoner of war, could be sent North, but there was no provision made for escaped prisoners of war. Encouraged me with the hope, however, that the war was nearly over and it could not be long before we would all go home. Gave me a paper releasing me from all duty until such time as I saw fit to do duty, and said the first furlough granted should be mine, and he would retain it and send to me as soon as possible. Cannot say that I was very sadly disappointed, as I was having a good time with the company, and regaining my health and getting better every day, with the exception of my leg, which still troubled me. Stayed with the company until Lee surrendered, Lincoln assassinated and all the fighting over and then leaving Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in April, went to my home in Michigan. In a few weeks was followed by the regiment, when we were all mustered out of the service. As had been reported to me at the regiment, I had been regarded as dead, and funeral sermon preached.

It was my sad duty to call upon the relatives of quite a number who died in Andersonville, among whom were those of Dr. Lewis, John McGuire and Jimmy Devers. The relics which had been entrusted to my keeping were all lost with two exceptions, and through no fault of mine. At the time of my severe sickness when first taken to Savannah, and when I was helpless as a child, the things drifted away from me some way, and were lost. But for the fact that Battese had two of my diary books and Sergt. Winn the other, they also would have been lost.

I hope that this Diary may prove successful in its mission of truly portraying the scenes at Andersonville and elsewhere during the time of my imprisonment, and if so, the object of its author shall have been accomplished.

Yours Very Respectfully,
JOHN L. RANSOM,
Late 1st Sergt. Co. A, 9th Mich. Cav.

"Andersonville Diary, ESCAPE, and List of the Dead..." by John L. Ransom; Auburn, NY; 1881]. Transcribed by Kim Mohler.

 

MICHAEL HOARE'S ESCAPE
National Soldier's Home
Dayton, Ohio, May 5th, 1881
Comrade John L. Ransom,

Dear Friend: * * * The night I left the stockade, going within twelve feet of a guard, I went down to the city. Had never been there before and did not know where to go, but wandered about the streets, dressed in an old suit of rebel clothes, until 12 o'clock that night. It was Oct. 18th, 1864, and I had been captured March 5th, in Col. Dahlgreen's raid, the object of which was to release the officers confined in Libby prison and the privates confined on Belle Island and Pemberton prisons. * * * * My whole uniform was disposed of * * * * and I had to wear dirty rebel rags. They marched us to Stevensville. We remained there but a short time when we were marched about two miles and into the heart of a swamp. We did not know what the matter was but found out that Kilpatrick had turned back to look for us, the "forlorn hope," as we were called. If he had been one hour sooner, he would have released us; but fate would have it the other way. From the swamp we were marched to Richmond, surrounded by the mounted mob. They would not let us step out of the ranks even to quench our thirst, and we had to drink the muddy water from the middle of the road. Every little town we came to the rebels would assemble and yell at us, the women the worst. * * * * When we reached the headquarters of rebeldom the whole rebel city was out to meet us * * * * and the self-styled rebel ladies were the worst in their vim and foul language. They made a rush for us, but the guard kept them off until we were safely put in the third story of the Pemberton building, where we were searched and stripped of everything we were not already robbed of. * * * * The next morning the Richmond people cried out for Jeff Davis to hang us, saying we were nothing but outlaws and robbers, on an errand of plunder and rapine. The press tried to excite hostility against us, and succeeded, in a measure. We were kept by ourselves and not allowed to mix with the other prisoners. A special guard was kept over us, and we were allowed but two-thirds the small rations issued to the other men. The windows were all out of the room we were in, and a cold March wind blowing and cutting through our starving, naked bodies. * * * * In July we were going to get hanged in Castle Thunder. We were told the same story every day, and it was getting stale, so we paid no attention to it; but sure enough, we were called out one morning and thought our time had come. They marched us up Casey street toward Castle Thunder, and as we approached it some fairly shivered at their promised doom; but instead of stopping at that celebrated hotel, we were taken across the river and put in cattle cars. Where we were going none knew; but we started and the next day reached Dansville. We were removed from the cars and put into a tobacco warehouse and were kept there until the next morning, when we were put aboard the cars and started south again until we came to the world renowned hell-hole, Andersonville. When we arrived several men were dead in the cars, and the rebels would not let us remove them. The cars were packed like herring boxes, so you may imagine our situation. * * * * From there I was transferred to Savannah, and from the latter place I made my escape, as previously mentioned.

As I have said, I wandered about until 12 o'clock, and was then in a worn out condition. Not knowing where to turn or lay my head, I sat down under a tree to rest myself, and as I sat there, who should come along but a watchman. "Hello!" says he, "what are you doing here at this hour of the night?" I answered that I was one of the guards guarding the Yankees at the stockade, and that I had been down to Bryan street to see my sister. "All right," said he, "You fellows have a hard time guarding them d___d Yankees. Why don't you shoot more of 'em and get 'em out o' the way?" I passed on until I came to a place with a high board fence. I crawled over and looked around and found a small shed divided by a board partition. In one end they kept a cow and in the other some fodder. I went in where the fodder was and threw myself down and went to sleep, intending to be up before day; but what was my surprise when it proved to be broad daylight before I awoke. I lay there thinking what to do, when I heard the gate of the fence open. I jumped up and looked through a crack in the boards and saw an old man enter with a pail in his hand. Presently he came to where I was in the fodder to get some for the cow. As he opened the door he started back with fright, saying, "Who are you and what brings you here?" I saw by his face and voice that he was an Irishman, and I made up my mind to tell him the truth. * * * * He told me to remain where I was and he would try and get me something to eat. He went away and presently returned with a tin pan full of sweet potatoes and bacon. * * * * He told me the only way to get away was by the Isle of Hope, ten miles from the city on the Skidaway shell road. There was a picket post of twelve men right on the road, but I started off, and when I reached the picket put on a bold face and told them I belonged to Maxwell's battery, stationed at the Isle of Hope, and they let me pass. * * * * I passed officers and soldiers on the road, but they never took any notice of me further than to return my kindly greeting. I finally reached the outpost on the road, about a mile from freedom. I had known, even before starting, that to pass that post I should have to have a pass signed by the commanding officer at Savannah; but there were swamps on both sides the road, and I thought I could swim in the marsh and flank the post. I took off my jacket and made the attempt, but had to return to the road. * * * * I saw there was no use trying to escape by the Isle of Hope. I could not pass the outpost, and besides, there was great danger that I should be hung as a spy. So I put back to Savannah that night. I had to wade the marsh to get by the post I first passed. I got safely back to my cowshed and laid there till woke up the next morning by my friend Gleason. When I told him where I had been he would hardly believe me. * * * * He brought me something to eat and went away, but returned at night with two other men. Their names were Wall and Skelley and they belonged to the 3rd Georgia artillery. They said they were northern men, but were in Savannah when the war broke out and had to join the rebel army. I told them the history of my adventure by the Isle of Hope and they were astonished. They said the only way was by the river to Fort Pulaski, fourteen miles from Savannah. The question was, where to get a boat. They were known in Savannah and their movements would be watched. They said they knew where there was a boat, but it was a government boat. I said that made it better, and if they would show me where the boat was, I would do the headwork. So they showed me and left me the management. I went when everything was ready, and muffled the oars and oarlocks, with a sentinel within twenty feet of me. The boat lay in the river, near the gashouse and a government storehouse, and the river was guarded by gunboats and the floating battery, and paved with torpedoes; but there is what is called "the back river," which flows into the Savannah above Smith Island. The mouth of this stream was guarded by a picket crew, sent from the battery every night; so when we left we had to lay in a rice sluice, where we ran the boat in about an eighth of a mile, and raised the grass as the boat passed along to conceal our tracks. We heard them searching the next morning, after the boat had been missed, but the search was at last given up. About this time Skelly began talking about being recaptured, as the shore was picketed all the way. He said there would be nothing done with me, if I was recaptured but to put me back in the stockade, while he and Wall would be shot as deserters. He proposed to returning to Savannah at once. * * * * He began to win the other fellow over and I saw the game was up with me. Skelley was the only one of us who was armed and he had a Colt's revolver. * * * * I told him that his plan was the best and that I didn't want to be the means of getting him into trouble. I gained his confidence, but the thought of returning to Savannah never entered my head. I watched my chance, and at a favorable opportunity, snatched his pistol. * * * * I rose to my feet with the pistol at full cock, pointed it at his breast and told him that one move towards returning to Savannah would end his career by a bullet from his own revolver. He turned all colors, but said nothing. I kept my distance, and at four o'clock in the afternoon told them to get into the boat. I then sat down in the stern and told them to pull out, which they did with a vim. Just as we passed the mouth, we heard the click of oars on the picket boat; but they were too late, and all the danger we had to encounter was the pickets on the shore which we had to hug on account of torpedoes in the channel. I don't know how we ever passed safely over the torpedoes and by the pickets, which latter were within forty yards of us all the way along until we reached Pulaski. All that saved us was that the pickets had fires lighted and were looking at them, and our oars and oarlocks being muffled, they did not hear or see us. It was very dark when we struck the mouth of the Savannah, and whereabouts Fort Pulaski lay we knew not; but we kept pulling until halted by a soldier of the 144th N.Y. Infantry, who was guarding the place at that time. We were ordered to pull in, which we did, and were taken up to the commanding officer and questioned. He said it was the most daring escape ever made, up to that time, considering the obstacles we had to encounter. We were kept in the guard house until my statement was confirmed by the war department, when I was released and sent to Washington, where I reported to the Adjutant-General who gave me a furlough and sent me to the hospital. I remained there until spring, when I rejoined my regiment and was mustered out at the close of the war.

I remain,
Your True Friend,
MICHAEL HOARE
"Andersonville Diary, ESCAPE, and List of the Dead..." by John L. Ransom; Auburn, NY; 1881]

 

THE WAR'S DEAD

The total number of deceased Union soldiers during and in consequence of the war, is 316,233. Of these, only 175,764 have been identified, and the rest will probably remain forever unknown. Of the grand total, 36,868 are known to have been prisoners of war who died in captivity. There are seventy-two National Cemeteries for the dead of the Union armies, besides which there are 320 local and Post cemeteries. The largest of the Government grounds are: Arlington, Va., the former homestead of General Robert E. Lee, 15,547 graves; Fredericksburg, Va., 15,300 graves; Salisbury, N.C., 12,112 graves; Beaufort, S.C., 10,000 graves; Andersonville, Ga., 13,706 graves; Marietta, Ga., 10,000 graves; New Orleans, La., 12,230 graves; Vicksburg, Miss., 17,012 graves; Chattanooga, Tenn., 12,964 graves; Nashville, Tenn., 16,529 graves; Memphis, Tenn., 13,958 graves; Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Mo., 8,601 graves. The National Cemetery near Richmond, Va. contains 6,276 graves, of which 5,450 are of unknown dead, mostly prisoners of war. The cemeteries are kept in good condition, and are generally well sodded and planted with ornamental trees.

EX-PRISONERS AND PENSIONERS

The following is an Appeal to Congress in behalf of the ex-prisoners of war, issued by Felix LaBaume, President of the "National Ex-Prisoners of War Association," and I hope that the united efforts of every one of the survivors will be concentrated with an object in view which will substantially benefit those who performed a most valuable service in putting down the rebellion, suffering horrors and privations that cannot fully be described, and for which privations and sufferings they have never been recognized in the existing pension laws.

APPEAL TO CONGRESS

It is a historical fact that in the early part of 1864, shortly after the battles of the wilderness, certain high officials of the Federal government decided that it was more economical to stop the exchange of prisoners of war entirely.

The policy of non-exchange was understood to be based on the following facts:

That a soldier counted for more in the Confederate army then acting on the defensive; that many of the Andersonville prisoners were men whose term of service had already expired, that all of them were disabled by starvation and exposure, and unfit for further service, while every Confederate was able bodied and "in for the war" so that an exchange would have been a gratuitous strengthening of the armies of the Confederacy, which, at the same time, would have prevented the prisoners held in the South from falling into the hands of Sherman.

August 14th, 1864, General Grant telegraphed to General Butler: "It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons, not to exchange them, but it is humane to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we now commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on till the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those captured, they count for more than dead men."

In accordance with General Grant's opinion General Butler then wrote a letter in reply to General Ould's proposals of exchange.

In his famous Lowell speech, Butler said: "In this letter these questions were argued justly, I think, not diplomatically, but obtrusively and demonstratively, not for the purpose of furthering an exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventing and stopping the exchange, and furnishing a ground on which we could stand." The men who languished at Andersonville and other Confederate prisons, played, in their sufferings and death, an active part in the termination of war.

This part was not so stirring as charging on guns or meeting in the clash of infantry lines. But as the victims of a policy, dictated by the emergency of a desperate condition of affairs, their enforced, long continued hardships and sufferings made it possible for the Union generals and their armies to decide the deplorable struggle so much sooner, and to terminate the existence of the Confederacy by the surrender at Appomatox. No soldier or seaman, in this or any other country, ever made such personal sacrifices or endured such hardships and privations as those who fell into the hands of the Confederates during the late war. The recital of their sufferings would be scarcely believed were they not corroborated by so large a number of unimpeachable witnesses on both sides.

Colonel C.T. Chandler's C.S.A. report on Andersonville, dated Aug. 5, 1864, in which he said: "It is difficult to describe the horrors of the prison, which is a disgrace to civilization," was endorsed by Col. R.H. Chilton, Inspector General C.S.A., as follows: "The condition of the prisoners at Andersonville is a reproach to us as a nation."

The sixty thousand graves filled by the poor victims of the several prisons, tells a story that cannot be denied or misunderstood. When we consider the hardships and privations to which these men were subjected, the wonder is not that so many died, but that any survived. We submit, it is hardly possible that any man who was subjected to the hardships and inhuman treatment of a Confederate prison for even two or three months only, could come out any other than permanently disabled. Statistics show that of those who were released, nearly five per cent, died before reaching home. In a few instances there was a roll kept of thirty to fifty of those men who, when released, were able to travel home alone, and it is now found that nearly three-fourths of the number have since died.

The roll of the Andersonville Survivors Association shows that during the year 1880, the number of deaths averaged sixteen and one-third per cent of the total membership, showing an increase of five per cent over the death rate of 1879.

But few of the most fortunate of these survivors will live to see the age of fifty, and probably within the next ten years the last of them will have passed away.

Congress has from time to time enacted laws most just and liberal (or that were intended to be so,) toward the men who were disabled in the late war, but a large majority of the prison survivors are excluded from a pension under these laws. This comes partly from the unfriendly spirit in which the pension department has been administered for the last six years, and partly from the peculiar circumstances surrounding their several cases.

Many paroled prisoners, on reaching the Union lines were at once sent home on furlough, without receiving any medical treatment. The most of these were afterwards discharged under General Order No. 77, dated War Department, Washington, D.C., April 28th, 1865, because physically unfit for service, and hence there is no official record whatever as to their disease.

If one of those men applies for a pension, he is called upon to furnish the affidavit of some army surgeon who treated him after his release and prior to discharge, showing that he then had the disease on which he now claims a pension. For reasons stated, this is impossible. The next thing is a call to furnish an affidavit from some doctor who treated the man while at home on furlough, or certainly immediately following his final discharge, showing that he was then afflicted with identical disease on which pension is now claimed. This is generally impossible, for many reasons.

In most cases the released prisoner felt it was not medicine he wanted, but the kindly nursing of mother or wife, and nourishing food. So no doctor was called, at least for some months after reaching home. In the instances where the doctor was called, not infrequently he cannot now be found, cannot swear that the soldier had any particular disease for the first six months after reaching home, as he was a mere skeleton from starvation, and it required months of careful nursing before he had vitality enough for a disease to manifest itself.

Then again in many cases the poor victim has never suffered from any particular disease, but rather from a combination of numerous ills, the sequence of a wrecked constitution commonly termed by physicians, "General Debility." But the commissioner refuses to grant a pension on disease save where the proof is clear and positive of the contracting of a particular disease while in the service, of its existence at date of final discharge, and of its continuous existence from year to year for each and every year, to present date.

In most cases it is impossible for a prison survivor to furnish any such proof, and hence his application is promptly rejected. Besides these, there are hundreds of other obstacles in the way of the surviving prisoner of war who applies for a pension. One thing is, he is called upon to prove by comrades who were in prison with him, the origin and nature of his disease, and his condition prior to and at the time of his release. This is generally impossible, as he was likely to have but few comrades in prison with him who he was on intimate terms, and these, if not now dead, cannot be found, they are men without sufficient knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and not one out of a hundred could conscientiously swear to the origin and diagnosis of the applicant's disease. Is it not ridiculous for the government to insist upon such preposterous evidence? Which, if produced in due form, is a rule drawn up by the applicant's physician, and sworn to by the witness - "cam grano salis," - and in most cases amounts to perjury for charity's sake.

Hence, it will be seen the difficulties surrounding the prison survivor who is disabled and compelled to apply for a pension are so numerous and insurmountable as to shut out a very large majority of the most needy and deserving cases from the benefits of the general pension laws entirely.

We claim, therefore, that as an act of equal justice to these men, as compared with other soldiers, there ought to be a law passed admitting them to pensions on record or other proof of confinement in a confederate prison for a prescribed length of time - such as Bill 4495 - introduced by the Hon. J. Warren Keifer, M.C., of Ohio provides for. And if this bill is to benefit these poor sufferers any, it must be passed speedily, as those who yet remain will, at best, survive but a few years longer.

This measure is not asked as a pecuniary compensation for the personal losses these men sustained, as silver and gold cannot be weighed as the price for untold sufferings, but it is asked that they may be partly relieved from abject want, and their sufferings alleviated to some extent by providing them with the necessaries of life, for nearly all of them are extremely poor, consequent on the wreck of their physical and mental powers.

REBEL TESTIMONY
We cannot do better than to copy into this book a very complete description of Andersonville Prison, by Joseph Jones, Surgeon P.A.C.S., Professor of Medical Chemistry in the Medical College of Georgia, at Augusta, Ga., as given at the Wirtz trial at Washington, D.C., he being a witness for the prosecution:

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

The Surgeon General of the Confederate States of America furnished me with letters of introduction to the surgeon in charge of the Confederate States Military prison at Andersonville, Ga., and the following is my description of that place:

The Confederate Military Prison at Andersonville, Ga., consists of a strong stockade, twenty feet in height, enclosing twenty-seven acres. The stockade is formed of strong pine logs, firmly planted in the ground. The main stockade is surrounded by two other similar rows of pine logs, the middle stockade being sixteen feet high, and the outer one twelve feet. These are intended for offense and defense. If the inner stockade should at any time be forced by the prisoners, the second forms another line of defense; while in case of the attempt to deliver the prisoners by a force operating upon the exterior, the outer line forms an admirable protection to the Confederate troops, and a most formidable obstacle to cavalry or infantry. The four angles of the outer line are strengthened by earthworks upon commanding eminences, from which the cannon, in case of an outbreak among the prisoners, may sweep the entire enclosure; and it was designed to connect these works by a line of rifle pits running zig-zag around the outer stockade; those rifle pits have never been completed. The ground enclosed by the innermost stockade lies in the form of a parallelogram, the large diameter running almost due north and south. This space includes the northern and southern opposing sides of two hills, between which a stream of water runs from west to east. The surface soil of these two hills is composed chiefly of sand with varying mixtures of clay and oxide of iron. The clay is sufficiently tenacious to give a considerable degree of consistency to the soil. The internal structure of the hills, as revealed by the deep wells, is similar to that as already described. The alternate layers of clay and sand, taken from the wells which they had excavated all over these hills, but they have also, in some cases, tunneled extensively from these wells. The lower portion of these hills, bordering on the stream, are wet and boggy from the constant oozing of water. The stockade was built originally to accommodate ten thousand prisoners, and included at first seventeen acres. Near the close of the month of June the area was enlarged by the addition of ten acres. The ground added was situated on the northern slope of the largest hill.

Within the circumscribed area of the stockade the Federal prisoners were compelled to perform all the functions of life, cooking, washing, the calls of nature, exercise, and sleeping. During the month of March the prison was less crowded than at any subsequent time, and then the average space of ground to each prisoner was only 98.7 feet or less than eleven square yards. The Federal prisoners were gathered from all parts of the Confederate States east of the Mississippi, and crowded into the confined space, until, in the month of June the average number of square feet of ground to each prisoner was only 32.3 or less than four square yards. These figures represent the stockade in a better light even than it really was; for a considerable breadth of land along the stream flowing from west to east between the hills was low and boggy, and was covered with the excrements of the men and thus rendered wholly uninhabitable, and in fact useless for every purpose except that of defection. The pines and other small trees and shrubs, which originally were scattered sparsely over these hills were in a short time cut down by the prisoners for firewood, and no shade tree was left in the entire enclosure of the stockade. With their characteristic industry and ingenuity, the Federals constructed for themselves small huts and caves, and attempted to shield themselves from the rain and sun, and night damps and dew. But few tents were distributed to the prisoners, and those were in most cases torn and rotten. In the location and arrangement of these huts no order appears to have been followed; in fact, regular streets appear to be out of the question on so crowded an area; especially, too, as large bodies of prisoners were from time to time added suddenly and without any preparations. The irregular arrangement of the huts and imperfect shelters was very unfavorable for the maintenance of a proper system of police.

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

The large number of men confined within the stockade soon, under a defective system of police, and with imperfect arrangements, covered the surface of the low ground with excrements. The sinks over the lower portion of the stream were imperfect in their plan and structure, and the excrements were in large measure deposited so near the borders of the stream as not to be washed away, or else accumulated upon the low boggy ground. The volume of water was not sufficient to wash away the feces, and they accumulated in such quantities as to form a mass of liquid excrement. Heavy rains caused the water of the stream to rise and as the arrangements for the passage of the increased amount of water out of the stockade were insufficient, the liquid feces overflowed the low grounds and covered them several inches after the subsidence of the waters. The action of the sun upon this putrefying mass of excrements and fragments of bread and meat and bones excited most rapid fermentation and developed a horrible stench. Improvements were projected for the removal of the filth and for the prevention of its accumulation, but they were only partially and imperfectly carried out. As the forces of the prisoners were reduced by confinement, want of exercise, improper diet, and by scurvy, diarrhea, and dysentery, they were unable to evacuate their bowels within the stream or along its banks; and the excrements were deposited at the very doors of their tents. The vast majority appeared to lose all repulsion of filth, and both sick and well disregarded all the laws of hygiene and personal cleanliness. The accommodations for the sick were imperfect and insufficient. From the organization of the prison, February 24, 1864, to May 22, the sick were treated within the stockade. In the crowded condition of the stockade, and with the tents and huts clustered thickly around the hospital, it was impossible to secure proper ventilation or to maintain the necessary police. The Federal prisoners also made frequent forays upon the hospital stores and carried off the food and clothing of the sick. The hospital was, on the 22nd of May, removed to its present site without the stockade, and five acres of ground covered with oaks and pines appropriated to the use of the sick.

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

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

From want of proper police and hygienic regulations alone it is not wonderful that from February 24 to September 21, 1864, nine thousand four hundred and seventy-nine deaths, nearly one-third the entire number of prisoners have been recorded.

At the time of my visit to Andersonville a large number of Federal prisoners had been removed to Millen, Savannah, Charleston, and other parts of the Confederacy, in anticipation of an advance of General Sherman's forces from Atlanta, with the design of liberating their captive bretheren; however, about fifteen thousand prisoners remained confined within the limits of the stockade and prison hospital.

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

If one might judge from the large pieces of corn bread scattered about in every direction on the ground the prisoners were either very lavishly supplied with this article of diet, or else this kind of food was not relished by them.

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

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

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

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

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

The effects of scurvy were manifest on every hand, and in all its various stages, from the muddy pale complexion, pale gums, feeble, languid muscular motions, lowness of spirits, and fetid breath, to the dusky, dirty, leaden complexion, swollen features, spongy, purple, livid, fungoid, bleeding gums, loose teeth, oedematous limbs, covered with livid vibices, and petechiae spasmodically flexed, painful and hardened extremities, spontaneous hemorrhages from mucous canals, and large ill-conditioned, spreading ulcers covered with a dark purplish fungus growth. I observed that in some of the cases of scurvy the parotid glands were greatly swollen, and in some instances to such an extent as to preclude entirely the power to articulate. In several cases of dropsy the abdomen and lower extremities supervening upon scurvy, the patients affirmed that previously to the appearance of the dropsy they had suffered with profuse and obstinate diarrhea, and that when this was checked by a change of diet, from Indian corn-bread baked with the husk, to boiled rice, the dropsy disappeared. The severe pains and livid patches were frequently associated with swellings in various parts, and especially in the lower extremities, accompanied with stiffness and contractions of the knee joints and ankles, and often with a brawny feel of those parts, as if lymph had been effused between the integuments and apeneuroses, preventing the motion of the skin over the swollen parts. Many of the prisoners believed that scurvy was contagious, and I saw men guarding their wells and springs, fearing lest some man suffering with scurvy might use the water and thus poison them. I observed also numerous cases of hospital gangrene, and of spreading scorbutic ulcers, which had supervened upon slight injuries. The scorbutic ulcers presented a dark, purple fungoid, elevated surface, with livid swollen edges, and exuded a thin, fetid, sanious fluid, instead of pus. Many ulcers which originated from the scorbutic condition of the system appeared to become truly gangrenous, assuming all the characteristics of hospital gangrene. From the crowded conditions, filthy habits, bad diet, and dejected, depressed condition of the prisoners, their systems had become so disordered that the smallest abration of the skin, from the rubbing of a shoe, or from the effects of the sun, or from the prick of a splinter, or from scratching, or a mosquito bite, in some cases, took on a rabid and frightful ulceration and gangrene. The long use of salt meat, oft-times imperfectly cured, as well as the most total deprivation of vegetables and fruit, appeared to be the chief causes of the scurvy. I carefully examined the bakery and the bread furnished the prisoners, and found that they were supplied almost entirely with corn-bread from which the husk had not been separated. This husk acted as an irritant to the alimentary canal, without adding any nutriment to the brain. As far as my examination extended no fault could be found with the mode in which the bread was baked; the difficulty lay in the failure to separate the husk from the corn-meal. I strongly urged the preparation of large quantities of soup from the cow and calves' heads, with the brains and tongues, to which a liberal supply of sweet potatoes and vegetables might have been advantageously added. The material existed in abundance for the preparation of such soup in large quantities with but little additional expense. Such ailment would have been not only highly nutricious, but it would also have acted as an efficient remedial agent for the removal of the scorbutic condition. The sick within the stockade lay under several long sheds which were originally built for barracks. These sheds covered two floors which were open on all sides. The sick lay upon the bare boards, or upon such ragged blankets as they possessed, without, as far as I observed, any bedding or even straw.

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

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

The patients and attendants, near two thousand in number, are crowded into this confined space and are but poorly supplied with old and ragged tents. Large numbers of them were without any bunks in their tents, and lay upon the ground, oft-times without even a blanket. No beds or straw appeared to have been furnished. The tents extend to within a few yards of the small stream, the eastern portion of which, as we have before said, is used as a privy and is loaded with excrements; and I observed a large pile of corn-bread, bones, and filth of all kinds, thirty feet in diameter and several feet high, swarming with myriads of flies, in a vacant space near the pots used for cooking. Millions of flies swarmed over everything, and covered the faces of the sleeping patients, and crawled down their open mouths, and deposited their maggots in the gangrenous wounds of the living, and in the mouths of the dead. Mosquitoes in great numbers also infest the tent, and many of the patients were so stung by these pestiferous insects, that they resembled those suffering from a slight attack of the measles.

The police hygiene of the hospital were defective in the extreme; the attendants, who appeared in almost every instance to have been selected from the prisoners, seemed to have in many cases but little interest in the welfare of their fellow-captives. The accusation was made that the nurses in many cases robbed the sick for their clothing, money, and rations, and carried on a clandestine trade with the paroled prisoners and Confederate guards without the hospital enclosure, in the clothing, effects of the sick, dying, and dead Federals. They certainly appeared to neglect the comfort and cleanliness of the sick entrusted to their care in a most shameful manner, even after making due allowances for the difficulties of the situation. Many of the sick were literally encrusted with dirt and filth and covered with vermin. When a gangrenous wound needed washing, the limb was thrust out a little from the blanket, or board, or rags upon which the patient was lying, and water poured over it, and all the putrescent matter allowed to soak into the ground of the tent. The supply of rags for dressing wounds was said to be very scant, and I saw the most filthy rags which had been applied several times and imperfectly washed, used in dressing wounds. Where hospital gangrene was prevailing, it was impossible for any wound to escape contagion under these circumstances. The results of the treatment of wounds in the hospital were of the most unsatisfactory character, from the neglect of cleanliness, in the dressings and wounds themselves, as well as from various other causes which will be more fully considered. I saw several gangrenous wounds filled with maggots. I have frequently seen neglected wounds amongst the Confederate soldiers similarly affected; and as far as my experience extends, these worms destroy only the dead tissues and do not injure specially the well parts. I have heard surgeons affirm that a gangrenous wound that had been thoroughly cleansed by maggots, healed more rapidly than if it had been left to itself. This want of cleanliness on the part of the nurses appeared to be the result of carelessness and inattention, rather than of malignant design, and the whole trouble can be traced to the want of the proper police and sanitary regulations, and to the absence of intelligent organization and division of labor. The abuses were in a large measure due to the almost total absence of system, government, and rigid, but wholesome sanitary regulations. In extenuation of these abuses it was alleged by the medical officers that the Confederate troops were barely sufficient to guard the prisoners, and that it was impossible to obtain any number of experienced nurses from the Confederate forces. In fact, the guard appeared to be too small, even for the regulation of the internal hygiene and police of the hospital.

The manner of disposing of the dead was also calculated to depress the already desponding spirits of these men, many of whom who have been confined for months, and even for two years in Richmond and other places, and whose strength had been wasted by bad air, bad food, and neglect of personal cleanliness. The dead-house is merely a frame covered with old tent and a few bushes, situated in the southwestern corner of the hospital grounds. When a patient dies, he is simply laid in the narrow street in front of his tent, until he is removed by Federal negroes detailed to carry off the dead; if a patient dies during the night, he lies there until the morning, and during the day even the dead were frequently allowed to remain for hours in these walks. In the dead-house the corpses lie upon the bare ground, and were in most cases covered with filth and vermin.

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

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

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

 We will first examine the consolidated report of the sick and wounded Federal prisoners. During six months, from the 1st of March to the 31st of August, forty-two thousand six hundred and eighty-six cases of sickness and wounds were reported. No classified record of the sick in the stockade was kept after the establishment of the hospital without the prison. This fact, in conjunction with those already presented relating to the insufficiency of medical officers and the extreme illness and even death of many prisoners in the tents in the stockade, without any medical attention or record beyond the bare number of the dead, demonstrates that these figures, large as they seem to be, are far below the truth.

As the number of persons varied greatly at different periods, the relations between those reported sick and well, as far as those statistics extend, can best be determined by a comparison of the statistics of each month.

During this period of six months no less than five hundred and sixty-five deaths are recorded under the head of morbi vanie. In other words, those men died without having received sufficient medical attention for the determination of even the name of the disease causing death.

During the month of August fifty-three cases and fifty-three deaths are recorded as due to marasmus. Surely this large number of deaths must have been due to some other morbid state than slow wasting. If they were due to improper and insufficient food, they should have been classed accordingly, and if to diarrhea or dysentery or scurvy, the classification in like manner should have been explicit.

We observe a progressive increase to the rate of mortality, from 3.11 per cent in March to 9.09 per cent of mean strength, sick and well, in August. The ratio of mortality continued to increase during September, for notwithstanding the removal of one-half the entire number of prisoners during the early portion of the month, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven (1,767) deaths are registered from September 1 to 21, and the largest number of deaths upon any one day occurred during this month, on the 16th, viz.: one hundred and nineteen.

The entire number of Federal prisoners confined at Andersonville was about forty thousand six hundred and eleven; and during the period of nearly seven months, from February 24 to September 21, nine thousand four hundred and seventy-nine (9,479) deaths were recorded; that is, during this period near one-fourth, or more, exactly one in 4.2, or 23.3 per cent terminated fatally. This increase in mortality was due in great measure to the accumulation of the sources of disease, as the increase of excrements and filth of all kinds, and the concentration of noxious effluvia, and also to the progressive effects of salt diet, crowding, and the hot climate.

Conclusions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(END OF WITNESS'S TESTIMONY)

SUMMARY

The variation - from month to month - of the proportions of deaths to the whole number of living is singular and interesting. It supports the theory I have advanced above, as the following facts taken from the official report, will show:

In April one in every sixteen died.
In May one in every twenty-six died.
In June one in every twenty-two died.
In July one in every eighteen died.
In August one in every eleven died.
In September one in every three died.
In October one in every two died.
In November one in every three died.

Does the reader fully understand that in September one-third of those in the pen died, that in October one-half of the remainder perished, and in November one-third of those who still survived, died? Let him pause for a moment and read this over carefully again, because its startling magnitude will hardly dawn upon him at first reading. It is true that the fearful disproportionate mortality of those months was largely due to the fact that it was mostly the sick that remained behind, but even this diminishes but little the frightfulness of the showing. Did anyone ever hear of an epidemic so fatal that one-third of those attacked by it in one month died; one-half of the remnant the next month, and one-third of the feeble remainder the next month? If he did his reading has been much more extensive than mine.

THE WAR'S DEAD
The total number of deceased Union soldiers during and in consequence of the war, is 316,233. Of these, only 175,764 have been identified, and the rest will probably remain forever unknown. Of the grand total, 36,868 are known to have been prisoners of war who died in captivity. There are seventy-two National Cemeteries for the dead of the Union armies, besides which there are 320 local and Post cemeteries. The largest of the Government grounds are: Arlington, Va., the former homestead of General Robert E. Lee, 15,547 graves; Fredericksburg, Va., 15,300 graves; Salisbury, N.C., 12,112 graves; Beaufort, S.C., 10,000 graves; Andersonville, Ga., 13,706 graves; Marietta, Ga., 10,000 graves; New Orleans, La., 12,230 graves; Vicksburg, Miss., 17,012 graves; Chattanooga, Tenn., 12,964 graves; Nashville, Tenn., 16,529 graves; Memphis, Tenn., 13,958 graves; Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Mo., 8,601 graves. The National Cemetery near Richmond, Va. contains 6,276 graves, of which 5,450 are of unknown dead, mostly prisoners of war. The cemeteries are kept in good condition, and are generally well sodded and planted with ornamental trees.

EX-PRISONERS AND PENSIONERS
The following is an Appeal to Congress in behalf of the ex-prisoners of war, issued by Felix LaBaume, President of the "National Ex-Prisoners of War Association," and I hope that the united efforts of every one of the survivors will be concentrated with an object in view which will substantially benefit those who performed a most valuable service in putting down the rebellion, suffering horrors and privations that cannot fully be described, and for which privations and sufferings they have never been recognized in the existing pension laws.

APPEAL TO CONGRESS
It is a historical fact that in the early part of 1864, shortly after the battles of the wilderness, certain high officials of the Federal government decided that it was more economical to stop the exchange of prisoners of war entirely.

The policy of non-exchange was understood to be based on the following facts:

That a soldier counted for more in the Confederate army then acting on the defensive; that many of the Andersonville prisoners were men whose term of service had already expired, that all of them were disabled by starvation and exposure, and unfit for further service, while every Confederate was able bodied and "in for the war" so that an exchange would have been a gratuitous strengthening of the armies of the Confederacy, which, at the same time, would have prevented the prisoners held in the South from falling into the hands of Sherman.

August 14th, 1864, General Grant telegraphed to General Butler: "It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons, not to exchange them, but it is humane to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we now commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on till the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those captured, they count for more than dead men."

In accordance with General Grant's opinion General Butler then wrote a letter in reply to General Ould's proposals of exchange.

In his famous Lowell speech, Butler said: "In this letter these questions were argued justly, I think, not diplomatically, but obtrusively and demonstratively, not for the purpose of furthering an exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventing and stopping the exchange, and furnishing a ground on which we could stand." The men who languished at Andersonville and other Confederate prisons, played, in their sufferings and death, an active part in the termination of war.

This part was not so stirring as charging on guns or meeting in the clash of infantry lines. But as the victims of a policy, dictated by the emergency of a desperate condition of affairs, their enforced, long continued hardships and sufferings made it possible for the Union generals and their armies to decide the deplorable struggle so much sooner, and to terminate the existence of the Confederacy by the surrender at Appomatox. No soldier or seaman, in this or any other country, ever made such personal sacrifices or endured such hardships and privations as those who fell into the hands of the Confederates during the late war. The recital of their sufferings would be scarcely believed were they not corroborated by so large a number of unimpeachable witnesses on both sides.

Colonel C.T. Chandler's C.S.A. report on Andersonville, dated Aug. 5, 1864, in which he said: "It is difficult to describe the horrors of the prison, which is a disgrace to civilization," was endorsed by Col. R.H. Chilton, Inspector General C.S.A., as follows: "The condition of the prisoners at Andersonville is a reproach to us as a nation."

The sixty thousand graves filled by the poor victims of the several prisons, tells a story that cannot be denied or misunderstood. When we consider the hardships and privations to which these men were subjected, the wonder is not that so many died, but that any survived. We submit, it is hardly possible that any man who was subjected to the hardships and inhuman treatment of a Confederate prison for even two or three months only, could come out any other than permanently disabled. Statistics show that of those who were released, nearly five per cent, died before reaching home. In a few instances there was a roll kept of thirty to fifty of those men who, when released, were able to travel home alone, and it is now found that nearly three-fourths of the number have since died.

The roll of the Andersonville Survivors Association shows that during the year 1880, the number of deaths averaged sixteen and one-third per cent of the total membership, showing an increase of five per cent over the death rate of 1879.

But few of the most fortunate of these survivors will live to see the age of fifty, and probably within the next ten years the last of them will have passed away.

Congress has from time to time enacted laws most just and liberal (or that were intended to be so,) toward the men who were disabled in the late war, but a large majority of the prison survivors are excluded from a pension under these laws. This comes partly from the unfriendly spirit in which the pension department has been administered for the last six years, and partly from the peculiar circumstances surrounding their several cases.

Many paroled prisoners, on reaching the Union lines were at once sent home on furlough, without receiving any medical treatment. The most of these were afterwards discharged under General Order No. 77, dated War Department, Washington, D.C., April 28th, 1865, because physically unfit for service, and hence there is no official record whatever as to their disease.

If one of those men applies for a pension, he is called upon to furnish the affidavit of some army surgeon who treated him after his release and prior to discharge, showing that he then had the disease on which he now claims a pension. For reasons stated, this is impossible. The next thing is a call to furnish an affidavit from some doctor who treated the man while at home on furlough, or certainly immediately following his final discharge, showing that he was then afflicted with identical disease on which pension is now claimed. This is generally impossible, for many reasons.

In most cases the released prisoner felt it was not medicine he wanted, but the kindly nursing of mother or wife, and nourishing food. So no doctor was called, at least for some months after reaching home. In the instances where the doctor was called, not infrequently he cannot now be found, cannot swear that the soldier had any particular disease for the first six months after reaching home, as he was a mere skeleton from starvation, and it required months of careful nursing before he had vitality enough for a disease to manifest itself.

Then again in many cases the poor victim has never suffered from any particular disease, but rather from a combination of numerous ills, the sequence of a wrecked constitution commonly termed by physicians, "General Debility." But the commissioner refuses to grant a pension on disease save where the proof is clear and positive of the contracting of a particular disease while in the service, of its existence at date of final discharge, and of its continuous existence from year to year for each and every year, to present date.

In most cases it is impossible for a prison survivor to furnish any such proof, and hence his application is promptly rejected. Besides these, there are hundreds of other obstacles in the way of the surviving prisoner of war who applies for a pension. One thing is, he is called upon to prove by comrades who were in prison with him, the origin and nature of his disease, and his condition prior to and at the time of his release. This is generally impossible, as he was likely to have but few comrades in prison with him who he was on intimate terms, and these, if not now dead, cannot be found, they are men without sufficient knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and not one out of a hundred could conscientiously swear to the origin and diagnosis of the applicant's disease. Is it not ridiculous for the government to insist upon such preposterous evidence? Which, if produced in due form, is a rule drawn up by the applicant's physician, and sworn to by the witness - "cam grano salis," - and in most cases amounts to perjury for charity's sake.

Hence, it will be seen the difficulties surrounding the prison survivor who is disabled and compelled to apply for a pension are so numerous and insurmountable as to shut out a very large majority of the most needy and deserving cases from the benefits of the general pension laws entirely.

We claim, therefore, that as an act of equal justice to these men, as compared with other soldiers, there ought to be a law passed admitting them to pensions on record or other proof of confinement in a confederate prison for a prescribed length of time - such as Bill 4495 - introduced by the Hon. J. Warren Keifer, M.C., of Ohio provides for. And if this bill is to benefit these poor sufferers any, it must be passed speedily, as those who yet remain will, at best, survive but a few years longer.

This measure is not asked as a pecuniary compensation for the personal losses these men sustained, as silver and gold cannot be weighed as the price for untold sufferings, but it is asked that they may be partly relieved from abject want, and their sufferings alleviated to some extent by providing them with the necessaries of life, for nearly all of them are extremely poor, consequent on the wreck of their physical and mental powers.

VIEW 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.
Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Kim Mohler.


 


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