Andersonville Prison Account

Thirteen Months at Andersonville Prison and What I Saw There
by
Charles E. Reynolds

A paper delivered before the N. L. Association, Napoleon, Ohio, Saturday evening, April 24, 1869

This is a copy of an address delivered by Mr. C. E. Reynolds, the original of which is in the possession of his daughter, Miss Jean Reynolds. This has been prepared by the Ohio History class of Napoleon Public High under the supervision of Mr. John Cuff, instructor.

During the late Rebellion I enlisted in Co "F" 68 OVI as high private. While serving in that capacity it was my misfortune to be taken prisoner of war, and I propose this evening giving you a brief description of the ups and downs of prison life as I found it. We were in the 17th AC. On the 3rd of Feby, 1864 Genl. Sherman with the 16th and 17th Corps left Vicksburg for Meridian, Miss. It was called Sherman’s Meridian Raid. Each brigade carried rations of hard tack, coffee and sugar, but each regt. was to forage it’s own meat. On the 9th inst. while on a foraging expedition, our whole squad consisting of 7 including myself, was captured. Two were mortally wounded, and left on the field. Three others were wounded, but so slightly they were able to travel. Our money and such of our clothing as the Rebs could wear were taken from us. Fortunately I was so small none of them could wear my clothes, except my boots, which were appropriated ted by a small-footed wretch who had the audacity to thank me for them. With this exception I retained my wearing apparel, which fortunately for me was good and stout. We were informed we would be marched across the country to Enterprise where we would take the cars for Mobile, Ala, unless we should be exchanged on the route for prisoners Genl. Sherman might capture. Our prospects were indeed gloomy and were made more so by the remembrance of the fact that we had just re-enlisted, and upon our return from this raid were to have been sent home on furlough. I will not attempt to give a detailed account of our forced March. Suffice it to say we were not exchanged. We arrived at Mobile, hungry, foot-sore and weary, on the eve of the 15th inst. and were thrust into a loathsome guard-house containing about 35 of the offscourings of the South. Men who refused to enter the Rebel Army or do any kind of duty. Not, however, through any feelings of patriotism for the Stars and Stripes, but from pure cowardice and meanness. With a few exceptions they were the most depraved set of wretches it has ever been my misfortune to be associated with. To be compelled to eat, sleep and mingle with such wretched crew was truly humiliating and demoralizing. We could not stand aloof. There was not room for that, besides they would not permit it. They took great delight in patronizing us. They looked upon us as fledglings in prison life who needed attention and kindly watching over and advice. All which they insisted bestowing upon us to our extreme annoyance and disgust. We occupied a room in the 3rd story, looking out on Montgomery St. We had a very good view of a portion of the business part of the city. The street car rattled merrily underneath our window, Everything outside and around us was full of busy life. Within was utter stagnation and misery. Our morning and evening meal consisted of a few mouthfuls of meat, and a small piece of corn bread made with corn meal and corn cobs -- that is the corn and the cob ground together. This was done by the aid of a machine used by our farmers for grinding corn in the cob for cattle. They claimed that if it were good for cattle it must be good for us. The grand idea which prompted the invention of the machine being that the cob would greatly assist in digesting the corn. To say nothing of economy. Six long and weary days and nights we dragged out a miserable existence in that foul hole. We at that time did not suppose it possible to get into a worse place, and six days was to us a seeming eternity.

On the 21st we were taken up the Ala. River to Cahaba. Then the Provost Marshal searched us, and took all our money and other valuables away from us, We had accumulated some money by selling the brass buttons off our coats - which commanded a very high price - and various other trinkets. These things were all to be returned to us when we left. We were confined in an old brick cotton warehouse, about 100 feet long by 75 ft. wide. There was an opening in the roof about 50 ft. square, the original purpose of which was to air the cotton, but which served us the very good purpose of a chimney, which we needed very much, as our rations of meal, meat and beans had to be cooked by ourselves, in the house, with green pine wood, which created an immense amount of smoke. There were nearly 400 prisoners confined in that one building divided into about 50 messes. Each mess had its own fire and the 50 green pine fires filled the house so full of smoke we could not see across the room. As we cooked two meals a day, we were nearly half the time in that disagreeable situation. However it was better than going hungry, so we endured it. We had one kind neighbor, Mrs. Gardener. She owned a very fine and extensive library which she turned over for our benefit, and which helped to while away many an hour pleasantly which otherwise would have hung heavily on our hands. Many nights she saved us from going supper-less to bed, by sending in corn meal from her own private store house.

Our prison was on the North bank of the river, and our iron barred windows looked down on the lower wharf. One day while a crowd of us were gathered round the window looking at a steamer about to depart, a beautiful young lady seated herself at the Calliope on the hurricane deck, and looking up at our gloomy old abode for a moment suddenly struck up that old National Air, the Star Spangled Banner. I had heard it a thousand times before, yet it never sounded half so sweet and musical as on that occasion. As we listened every heart in that dull old prison thrilled with joy and gladness. The blood leaped wildly through our veins, off went our hats, and the united power of 400 voices sent up shout after shout and cheer after cheer, till those old walls rang as they never rang before. The officers of the boat, as soon as they realized what was going on, stopped her. She looked up, laughed merrily and waving her scarf at us tripped lightly downstairs; she had done enough. We were perfectly wild with enthusiasm. The guard hearing the uproar inside, and being unable to discover the cause, were terrified half out of their wits. The relief was speedily brought out, and preparations made for a stout resistance. They thought we were about to make a rush upon the door and strike for liberty. It is my firm belief, from what the guard afterwards told me that had we make the rush, the entire guard would have dropped their arms and taken up their heels quite lively. After that little excitement we were happy for a week.

Then we were more depressed than ever. Pensacola lay about 75 miles to the South. That was a haven of rest to any who could reach it, but that was the question, how to reach it? Brick walls surrounded by armed guards, the deep river, and 75 miles of country must first be overcome. These would have been comparatively easy matters but for one obstacle, blood hounds. Nearly a hundred at different times succeeded in crossing the river, and some in getting nearly to the coast, but were at last tracked down by the hounds. And often the dogs would attack the fugitive before the master came up. Unless he could get out of their way in some manner, his life was really in danger. This deterred many from making any attempt to escape. Of the many who gave it a trial I know of but one who was successful. We thought Cahaba was the worst place in the world. Had we known then, what was in store for us, we would have appreciated our good quarters and wholesome food, and would not have been so anxious to leave.

In April the papers were full of Exchange news. The commissioners had made arrangements to exchange us as fast as we could be delivered at the coast. We had then been prisoners nearly two months but it seemed an age. Had we been told we should not be exchanged within a year, we would have thought it impossible to survive it. Finally the order for our release came. We were to be sent to Savannah, Ga. where we should be received by our vessels. All was bustle and confusion. Some of the more incredulous and skeptical insisted that we were simply to be transferred to some Eastern prison, and that the papers had manufactured this story to prevent our attempting an escape on the road, but the majority of us were in perfect ecstasies. We would not have deviated a hair's breadth on the route had we been sent alone.

We were packed in common box cars with one guard at each door. At every station, in less than half a minute after the train had fairly stopped, and sometimes even before, every house about the station was filled with Yanks after something to eat. It was very seldom that the women turned them away without giving them something. Georgia is famous for its pies, They make them out of anything and everything. They are very simple affairs, and, I should judge, very easily made. It has a lower crust of course, it has also an upper crust to hide its contents, but for no other earthly reason that I ever could discover, and being especially fond of pies I assure you I have given the subject a great deal of attention and study. Inside, or between the crusts, you will discover the article whence the pie derives its name, cooked or raw as the case may be. If an egg pie, one hard-boiled egg will be laid out to the best advantage. If a chicken pie, then a piece or several pieces of chicken and in this instance it will be raw, as the pie crust seems to cook before the chicken gets barely warmed. One chicken pie will last a long time. As we were so soon to be within our lines we paid but little attention to economy, and the little Pie and Gingerbread peddlers were well patronized.

Once or twice our suspicions were slightly aroused as when we asked an intelligent looking man at Columbus, Ga. where we were going - he answered to Andersonville. We had heard but little of that place then, except that there had been a prison just started there. Still we would not believe but we were surely going to Savannah. But when we found ourselves surely on the road to Andersonville we began questioning our guards, and finally the adjutant in charge, told us we would be there but a day or two at the farthest, which again reassured us. As we drew near the station we looked in every direction for the prison house, but in vain, no building large enough could we see. Finally we espied, way off in the distance to the left, what we took for a Negro camp, with no houses, tents nor shelter of any kind. There seemed to be a body of about 10,000 Negroes huddled together in an exceeding small compass. So small that there seemed to be scarcely room for them to move about. Yet they were constantly in motion. They were so thick we could not see the ground. We did not then fully realize the the condition of those beings so jostled and crowded together. We saw the camp, and thought they were very much crowded, and wondered what so many darkies were doing there, but that was all. We could not find out from our guards what it was, neither could we see the prison in which we were to be confined. Then we were positive we would not stay long, as they had no accommodations for us.

We stopped at the station and were ordered off the cars. There was a little bit of a dried up specimen of humanity waiting to receive us. This was Capt. Wirz, commander of the prison. He was about 5 feet 6 inches in height and weighed about 110 pounds. At first sight the expression of his countenance struck a chill of horror to our souls. It indicated a heart calloused and hardened to all the finer sensibilities of man. He wore upon his face a continual snarl, much resembling that of a sneaking snapping cur. "When serious, he was a bull dog, when he laughed, he was a tiger." No one having once looked him in the face would ever dream asking a favor of him. He was more than ordinarily endowed with intellect. His education, in one sense, was good, but he lacked one thing - humanity, Without this, a man in power is a terrible oppressor. He tried to form us into line to be counted, but one poor fellow, a cavalryman, could not keep his place. Wirz swore terribly at him, and threatened to shoot him, but finally contented himself with kicking him affectionately on the shins. I will state that Wirz often threatened to shoot different ones, and has been accused of having actually done so, yet he never shot a prisoner at Andersonville, of this I am positive. He manifested his inhumanity and brutality in a manner far more terrible to the thousands of defenseless men under his charge, than the mere shooting of three or four of their number at different times could possibly have done.

We were marched up to head quarters, where our names were recorded and we were assigned to detachments in the prison. We were not searched; here we had a good view of the Negro Camp. We found it to be a stockade, built of rough hewn pine logs, about 15 feet high, well guarded by men stationed at regular intervals about 50 feet apart, on small platforms built on the top. This enclosed about 18 acres of ground, only 12 or 14 acres of which was available for quarters, as a deep ravine ran through the middle, near the Center of which was a stream that supplied the camp with water. Upon this closer view we discovered the inmates to be white men, though their faces wore the color of the soil, which was of a yellowish clay. Huddled over a pitch pine fire, smoke in time gave them this color. Here then we were to go. We went in that afternoon. As the heavy wooden door closed behind us my heart sank within me, and hope which till that time had buoyed me up, fled. And such a sense of utter and hopeless desolation crept over me as I hope never to feel again.

The sight that first met our gaze was enough to make one's very soul sicken with horror. The scene beggars all description. At every step we met pale, emaciated, ghost-like figures, nearly naked, the impress of want, misery and disease plainly depicted on every countenance, wandering aimlessly around. It is impossible to give any one, not an actual witness and participant any correct idea of the real suffering connected with that institution. You can get an abstract idea of it. As the outward appearance of the prison, its size and accommodations, the number of men confined therein; you may even picture to yourself the grave yard at the back door, with its countless number of mute, appealing tomb stones (tomb stones, did I say? Well - if the moldering skeletons will rest the easier, let us call them so) You may do all this - and more, and yet it will be but a very feeble idea. There were then 12000 men in the stockade - and every foot of the high ground was considered fully taken up by the present occupants. There was no room for us then. The only place left for us was the ravine, or more properly - swale, and a sickening prospect it was; but one spot of dry land, and that at the west end, was to be found, and upon this we located.

We sat down perfectly disheartened; we had waded over our shoe tops to get to it. Ours was an island in a great sea of filth and corruption -- the air seemed thick with the floating miasma arising from the swale. This ground being so much lower than the rest of the land, the filth of the whole stockade was washed into it with every rain, and all the debris of the camp was deposited there. This interesting spot was to be our home. It did not seem possible we could exist there, but it was the best we could do so we must submit to it, especially as we were to remain there but a few days. Our first business was to fix our quarters and make the most of our scanty means, I had an overcoat which had served me through my imprisonment the year before. Each of the other four had one blanket. These with the clothes upon our backs, constituted our only "stock and store" of bedding and clothing, and that was four times the amount possessed by the majority of prisoners there. We procured some sticks (I forgot how we got them - for they were very scarce articles) and set them in the ground, and stretched one blanket over them for a shelter from the sun and rain. Three of us shared this mansion. My overcoat was spread down for a bed, and the remaining blanket formed our covering. Our cooking utensils consisted of one tin cup. We had also two or three cloth pouches to hold our rations when we drew them, and I assure you very small ones would hold all we drew for one day.

Next morning we came to a more realizing sense of our condition. At 8 o'clock we were roughly called out to attend Roll Call. We waded to shore, found our proper detachment and were counted. The whole stockade was divided into detachments of 100 men each. During the last 24 hours there had been 19 deaths, which was about the average during the month. Soon after we drew our rations, consisting of a cup of corn meal, and a few beans, each, and received the further consolation of a promise that the dose should be repeated in the afternoon. All but the meal was cooked. We asked the sergeant how we should cook our meal. He replied "over a fire, of course." Strange we had not thought of that. We waded back and took a good survey of our premises. We discovered a stump of an old pine tree, that was certainly wood. All we had to do then was to borrow an axe. We started off in search of one, when we very soon discovered that the demand by far exceeded the supply. Finally we found one and asked the loan of it..for a short time. The man looked at us in utter astonishment and asked us if we came in with that new crowd yesterday? We told him we did. He laughed and said he thought so, then told us if he lent that axe he would never see it again, (which was very complimentary, but perhaps true) that the men never lent anything unless it was to the next mess, and then they kept their eyes upon it. But finally he consented to go with us and watch while we cut a few chips - enough to bake our bread for the one meal, but no more, for if we left a single chip someone would steal it, as wood was wood then. We mixed our meal in the tin cup (many used their caps if they had one) and spread the dough upon a nice pine chip and stood it up before the fire. When the outside was brown, we turned the cake and baked the other side, and it was done. But like the man who ate the "crow", "we could eat it, but could not say we hankered after it," for the chip was green and by some fiendish chemical process the turpentine got into the bread and nearly spoiled our breakfast. In the course of time, we exhausted the sap from that chip and afterward had good sweet bread.

We made a tour of inspection around the camp, but could find no one we knew. When we told our exchange story to the old residenters - that is those who had been prisoners on Belle Isle, and in Libby Prison, they sneered at it and said after we had been moved as often as they had been under the promise of an Exchange we would be satisfied with that game. And as day after day came and passed away and still no order for our removal we were at last forced to give it up, and slowly and sadly, settled down to the cruel belief that our case was hopeless. How many times we thought of the good comfortable quarters we had left at Cahaba, and wished ourselves safe back again, But that could not be -- this was to be our home, for how long we knew not; to many poor souls we knew it would be forever. If we were not among that number, no credit could certainly be given to the Prison Regulations, nor its officers.

There was a little wooden railing around the inner part of the stockade, six feet from the walls. This was called the Dead Line - anyone stepping or falling inside this railing was liable to he shot by the meanest guard. These guards were not the best marksmen and often the man shot at was missed, and some poor innocent bystander paid the penalty for his comrade's mishap.

In the north east corner of the prison was the Hospital, consisting of a few miserable old "A" tents, which would neither protect one from the storms nor heat of the Sun. On the ground was thrown a very little straw, on the straw, side by side, were lain six men. It was hard enough for one to die in his own quarters, among his friends, but to die in one of those hot suffocating and crowded tents was terrible. There was no escape, once there; no one was sent away alive, the only question was how long will it take him to die! This Hospital was in charge of a steward, asst. Steward and Clerk, all our own men. The prison furnished Physicians and Medicine only. In the morning all in the camp who thought themselves in need of medical treatment, and not in the hospita1, presented themselves at the door of the Steward’s tent in front of which was placed a huge pole supported by two forked sticks to prevent the crowd rushing in upon them. The victims ranged themselves in single file against this pole and awaited their turn. The doctor, aided by the clerk with his book in which to record the name and the medicine, stood inside the railing ready for them. Victim No. 1 appears and commences with "Dr. I'm---" "Shut up your mouth" warns the Dr, "and let's see your tongue". The poor fellow timidly presents the tip of that organ with his mouth as nearly closed as possible. Then says the Dr. "Open your mouth and stick out your tongue!" Then the subject gives him a full view. Dr. looks at it, nods his head wisely -- and whispers to the clerk -- "give him No. 4" And the same programme is repeated with each man. And we are finally impressed with the idea that one of two things is certain. Either the men are all strangely afflicted alike, or that No. 4 is the grandest medicine in the world since it is given for every disease that flesh is heir to. The question might arise in one's mind, what is No. 4? but that is one step farther than you must go. Of one thing be assured. Each of the 13,000 mounds at the back door, hides a victim of No. 4. In this hospital as asst. Steward in charge I found an old brother Reuben who got me transferred into the hospital as clerk during the next month. The number of sick was every day increasing and additional assistance became necessary. Every train now brought new arrivals of prisoners, who were stowed away somehow, until there was scarcely room for them all to lie down. The condition of the men then was terrible. The heat was intense, and the stream of water being perfectly exposed became really unfit for use, and worse still the entire slop from the Cook house just outside the stockade was emptied into the stream, and we received full benefit of that. The no. of sick had increased so fearfully that a Hospital was built outside the prison, consisting of a board fence enclosing several acres of ground, with tents put up and straw laid on the ground; in a few of the tents board bunks were built. The great advantage of this place, was the fresh, pure air and plenty of room. When we moved into the new quarters it seemed like coming out of a Charnel house.

The number in the stockade increased to 27,000. All in the 12 or 14 acres of ground. They had thought it crowded with 12,000. Now they were suffocating. Roll Call was suspended as there was no longer room for the men to form into lines by detachment. Their condition was now truly terrible. But few had any shelter from the heat of the sun and the raging storms. Once it rained 22 days in succession. The nights there are always cold and chilly. Could you have looked in upon them early in the morning succeeding a stormy night, you could never have blotted it from your memory. An attempt to describe it would be a miserable failure; to realize it you must have witnessed it.

It now took so long to distribute the Rations ,they issued but once a day at 2 o’clock p.m. And those who could eat the trash at all would devour every morsel in five minutes, and then their appetites be but half appeased. But not another crumb could they get for 24 hours. Many plans for escape were concocted. At one time they undermined several rods of the stockade walls, so that the strength of half a dozen men could throw it down. They commenced digging the cave under an old tent, worked nights, and carried the earth from the cave and threw it into the swale. It was done so quietly that but comparatively few of the prisoners knew of it. The evening the escape was to have been made, someone reported the whole plot to Capt. Wirz. That put an end to it. Each outside company of the stockade was commanded by a fort mounted with 6 to 9 guns. After this there was a standing order to open the guns upon the camp indiscriminately upon the exhibition of any unusual excitement near any part of the prison walls. Several other schemes for escape wore planned, but there was always one traitor to expose them; who he was could never be found out.

In the stockade, there was a large band of stout desperate men who ruled the camp with an iron hand. They were called Raiders. Each man was armed with a Club; highway robbery was their vocation; night, their time of action. A man was knocked on the head with the club and his pockets picked in a twinkling, and if the robber was pursued he soon gained his quarters where a host of his friends were ready to meet and defend him. The body grew so numerous and strong, that the peace and order of the camp was finally utterly destroyed. A man with a dollar in his pocket was unsafe and his life really in danger even in the day time, away from his own quarters. There was estimated to be nearly one million dollars in the stockade. It was divided there much the same as everywhere; the bulk of it was held by about 3,000 persons. But sometimes a man was so unfortunate as to look as though he had plenty of money in his pocket, when he had not a cent. He was a sure victim. Affairs at length became so desperate, a committee was appointed to confer with Capt. Wirz and determine what was best to be done. It was decided that the principal Raiders should be arrested and tried by a jury of our own men. Capt. Wirz had a room built adjoining the stockade on the outside in which to conduct the trial, but he expressly stated it should be conducted solely by ourselves, as he would shoulder no responsibility in the affair. A very strong guard, of our own men, was detailed to make the arrests. Most desperate was the resistance, but all were secured and placed in Wirz's guard house for safe keeping till the Court Martial could be organized. Mr. Cable, a very able man who claimed to have been private secretary to E. M. Stanton was first selected as Judge Advocate, but through illness ho was unable to officiate. A man fully competent for the position was selected in his stead. They picked a jury of twelve men from the sergeants of New Detachments, who had just come into the stockade and therefore free from prejudice, and unbiased in their opinions. The Raiders selected one of the ablest men in the Stockade to defend them. The counsel on both sides would have been a credit to any bar in the state. The trial occupied several days and was conducted with the utmost candor and fairness on either side. One of the rebel Officers who was present at the trial said the plea in defense of the Raiders was the most eloquent and pathetic appeal he ever listened to. The Jury returned a verdict of "guilty". The six men who were proven to be the leaders of the gang wore sentenced to be hung. The others were sentenced to the chain gang for different lengths of time. The men to be hung wore placed in charge of Capt. Wirz till the day appointed for their execution. As they wore under sentence of death Wirz sent a Priest to them that they might confess their sins, repent and receive absolution; but believing they were in no particular danger they would have nothing to do with him. On the morning of the 11th of July, 1864, material for the Gallows and Negroes to construct it were sent into the stockade; and in a short time the preparations were completed. Wirz brought the prisoners to the gate of the stockade and told the committee awaiting to receive them that he returned these men in as good condition as he received them; they could deal with them in such manner as they in their own good judgment might deem proper and best for the promotion of good order, and the welfare of the Stockade. He would take none of the responsibility of the proceedings upon himself, and he washed his hands of the whole affair. The gate was shut and locked. The doomed six men taken in charge by a strong guard and led to the gallows. Still they would not believe the truth but laughed and jested as though it were a huge farce and they the principal actors. The Priest begged of them to listen to him, but they would not. They mounted the scaffold, with its six pieces of hemp awaiting them, with a careless swagger. When asked if they had anything to say, one or two gave certain messages to be delivered to their friends, but all was said in such manner as plainly indicated to everyone that they still considered it as a farce or a joke. The nooses were adjusted about their necks. A prayer offered to God for their souls. The sacks pulled down over their faces. The trap sprung and still doubting, they were launched into eternity. All but one, Curtis, the grand chief; his rope broke and he fell half stunned to the ground. In an instant he recovered himself, and, realizing for the first time his desperate situation, pulled off the sack and made a desperate effort to reach his quarters where his friends could assist him. He was a powerful man and forced his way through the crowd with apparent ease, knocking down everyone in his way. It was a thrilling scene. The poor victim running, the gibbet with five lifeless bodies dangling from it mid-air, an empty space in the center with its broken cord beckoning him to return to his fate. A thousand hoarse voices around the Gibbet, cheated out of 1/6 of it; prey, shouting loudly "stop him, kill him." His pursuer, Limber Jim, brandishing his long, gleaming knife, close at the flying victim's heels. Everyone knew if he reached his quarters, his Band was so strong they could not retake him. Yet no one interfered. He dashed on into the swale nearly up to his waist in mud and filth, reached the other side, and almost to his den dropped exhausted, was retaken and brought back to the scaffold. He pled hard for his life. He asked them in God's name if he had not been sufficiently punished? Certainly their thirst for vengeance must be satisfied with the five dead bodies hanging round him, and he almost dead. It must surely be the Almighty’s will that he escape, else why had his rope broken and the others held? He said he was not prepared to meet his Maker. Each of his dead comrades had been hurried into Eternity totally unprepared. They had supposed they would be lead to the scaffold for effect, but would be surely pardoned at the last moment upon promise of good behavior. But he had now received a lesson which would last him all his life, if they would but let him go. And as he stood there, pale, and trembling, his teeth chattering, and his eyes protruding from their sockets, surrounded by his five swinging, lifeless comrades, types of his own awaiting fate pleading for his life, he was the most wretched, woe-begone, pitiable object I ever beheld. It was a most affecting sight, and many eyes were moistened with tears of compassion and many hearts, perhaps, silently plead for him, and in all probability had he been either of the other five his life would have been spared him. But he was the chief of the Ring Leaders, and they felt that he, most of all deserved his fate. He then begged if his life could not be spared, they at least grant him a respite only long enough to make his peace with God, that his soul might not be lost with his body; but even this no one had the authority to grant. He struggled desperately but in vain. Once more the fatal noose was adjusted, the sack drawn down, the trap sprung and he, too, was ushered unprepared into the presence of his Maker. That awful scene filled the souls of the followers of those ill-fated beings with terror and cast a gloom over the whole prison. We had witnessed death in nearly all its horrible phases, yet none had seemed so terrible as this. However it had the salutary effect of entirely breaking up the band of Raiders. There was then a large Police force organized, to protect the men against thefts and everyone convicted of stealing was brought up and whipped. That summary mode of punishment soon restored perfect order.

General Sherman was now marching against Atlanta, and the papers were full of interesting news. Sherman was getting whipped at every turn, yet he was steadily advancing. They said that, however, was a ruse. They were decoying him into a trap. It seems Gov. Brown thought differently as he sent an urgent dispatch to Jeff Davis for reinforcements, saying Atlanta was the Key to the South end must be held even should Richmond thereby be sacrificed. Davis refused, and Atlanta fell. Then the hearts of the prisoners beat high with pride at the glorious victory achieved by Genl. Sherman, and in the fond but elusive hope that we might be recaptured by Genl. Stoneman's Cavalry who, we heard, had been sent out to capture Andersonville and release the prisoners. But it was not to be. Our time was not yet come. Stoneman was badly routed and we were left to our fate. Wirz was still afraid, and, for several days kept a special engine at the station, and had his things packed ready to make his exit at a moment’s warning. During that time he was much more considerate in his treatment toward us, and we thought perhaps this might continue. But, as since a celebrated German has observed, "The longer a man lives the more he finds out." So it was with us; we found out that after he became thoroughly convinced there was no danger he was more brutal than ever.

Our Hospital was divided into 3 divisions and each division into wards. The whole was under the control of a Steward, Asst. Steward and Chief Clerk. Each division was controlled by a clerk, and each ward by a ward master. It was the duty of the ward master to call the roll in his ward each morning and see that every man was in his place. This was superintended by 5 Rebel under-officers and if any had escaped during the night he should report it to his division clerk, who should report it to the chief clerk of the Hospital, who should report it to the officer of the day, and he in turn to Capt. Wirz, who would order the Keeper with his hounds upon the track, and anyone of their officers who should neglect to so report any escape, should be put in the stocks for from 6 to 24 hours, or bucked and gagged as Wirz might direct. At this time Genl. Sherman was advancing from Atlanta to Savannah, and nearly every night someone made his escape (which was an easy matter as the fence was low and the guards few and sleepy) thinking they would never again have so short a distance to travel to get to our lines. So we had a general understanding with all those who desired to make the attempt, that they should not be reported missing until the second morning after their escape, which would give them plenty of time to get out of reach of the hounds from Andersonville, and they would have to risk only the chances of being picked up accidentally through the country. Very frequently it would happen that a man would be captured and brought back before he had been reported. Then Wirz would come flying into the Hospital in a towering rage and drag off the delinquent officer to the stocks. This punishment I was so fortunate as to escape for a long time. One morning as Wirz was examining the letters written by the prisoners to their friends North, he came across the expression "So called Southern Confederacy". His rage knew no bounds. So called Forsoothe! He'd show him. Now unfortunate for me. That was my letter, and in about fifteen minutes from that moment I was in the stock, where I remained all day, comforting myself with the thought that it was better perhaps "to be (here) than not to be" (at all). Notwithstanding it rained all day incessantly. I think it was the longest day I ever saw, but like every other day it came to an end at last and I went home a wiser if not a better man. The stocks were very seldom empty. Men from the stockade often went there gladly, as it gave them a breath of fresh air.

August came on with its scorching heat. The hospital was crowded. The 4th admitted 400. We had room for 200; the remaining 200 lay in the streets till they died, or those in the tents died and made room for them. They were now dying at the rate of 100 a day. The lower part of the enclosure was used as a Death House, only there was no house. When a man died we pinned a label on his breast, giving his name and regiment, and had him deposited in the Dead House, or more properly, dead yard. Those who died in the stockade were brought to the Hospital on a litter, to ho labeled and recorded. And so very anxious were the men to get outside that foul din into the pure air that they would sometimes in their haste pick up a man before he was quite dead and bring him to us; and it would be discovered he was yet alive. If a man died in good clothes he was buried nearly naked. The living needed apparel; the dead none. Once a man stole into the Dead Yard after night to take the shoes from a corpse. As he was pulling off the last one the corpse raised himself into a sitting posture and asked the man in hollow sepulchral tones what ho was doing? which so terrified the man that he left the shoes and came running into our tent, his hair standing on end, and his eyes rolling about in his head in a very distressing manner, saying "There’s a dead man down there alive". We immediately repaired to the spot and found the man putting on his shoe. It seemed he had been brought out of tho stockade in a fit, and was just coming to himself again. He recovered and afterward went back to the atockade The dead were removed to the graveyard in a lumber wagon; twenty constituted a load, 20 corpses in one wagon, carried in full sight of stockade, piled like pork, legs sticking out of a wagon; comment is unnecessary. They were buried in trenches, 75 bodies in each. They were laid in the bottom, shoulder to shoulder, boards laid over them, and the earth filled up the rest. After a time no boards even were used. At the head of each was placed a narrow board projecting from the earth about 2 feet, upon which was painted a number only. By referring to the Hospital Record you would find opposite that number, the name, regt. and diagnosis of the victim. A medical inspector was sent from Richmond to investigate and report on the condition of the sick, and especially the cause of the fearful mortality. After a thorough investigation, assisted by the surgeons in Post Mortem Examinations, he reported that the majority of deaths was occasioned by want of proper food, which was no more nor loss than actual starvation. And this report, which I saw, he said he sent to Richmond. But it had no effect upon our supplies. Common corn bread, a very little molasses, sometimes a cup of what was called (through courtesy, I suppose) rice soup (two soups to one rice), a very small piece of meat, and once in a while a sweet potato, constituted a ration for the day, though we could only rely upon the Corn Bread and Rice soup. The meat served us was often literally rotten, and had to be thrown away. At this time I weighed but 75 pounds, in consideration of which fact, I was nicknamed "Fatty". Considering us all in that light, we were an exceedingly portly community. But for the humane assistance of the Catholic brethren at Savannah, Ga. we should have all grown fatter and fatter till our own load would have carried us away. A Catholic priest from Savannah visited us and distributed over $lOO,000 among the sick in the Hospital and stockade. No discrimination was made between Catholics and Protestants. This money he said he had collected from the Catholics of Savannah. His munificence did not stop there. He furnished the entire Hospital with flour for several months. Without doubt he was the means of saving hundreds of lives, for with money one could purchase almost anything he really needed, and the wheat flour was life itself. You may form some idea of a man's chances for life and death when he entered Andersonville from the fact that the average length of a man's life there, ascertained by accurate mathematical calculation was 112 days; not quite 4 months. During the month of August, the number of deaths was 2993, an average of a trifle over 96 1/2 per day; and that, too, in a population of less than 30,000 compared with Toledo - 60,000. The first 10 days the deaths were only 836 - the last 10, they were 1,027, an increase of nearly 23%. One day 140 died. What caused this increase? It is simple. The last of July the stock of medicine was almost exhausted and treble rations of whiskey were issued to the sick, and no medicine, or but very little was prescribed. Towards the middle of the month new supplies of medicine reached us, rations of whiskey were reduced, and mortality increased nearly 23%. I know but little of the theory involved here, but I know it is a fact that always when medicine ran short and whiskey was supplied freely, the percentage of mortality decreased. Another advantage whiskey had over the other medicine was, it was not near so hard to take.

A part of the 55th Ga. Regt. was detailed as the regular guard for the prison. Whenever they were on duty we had no fear of ill treatment. They had been prisoners at Camp Chase, and the most of their regt. was there then. They remembered their good treatment. It was very seldom they shot a man for crossing the Dead Line. One day two brothers, walking skeletons, tired of life, joined hands and boldly stepped over the Dead Line hoping to be shot. The 55th were on duty that day, and the guard refused to fire, but called the officer of the day, who came in and led the boys back to their quarters. Had that occurred the day before or the day after - they would have bean shot, for the other Regt’s. on duty there were Home Guards, and they never let an opportunity to shoot a prisoner slip by. In fact nearly all our ill usage came from soldiers who had never been to the front. This 55th Regt. had their own way - one day, for want of better amusement they rode their adjutant on a rail in consequence of which they were all put under arrest, and the 4th Ga. stationed around their camp as guard. They immediately sent word to the commandant of the Post that unless that guard were withdrawn within fifteen minutes they would take their arms and liberate every prisoner at Andersonville. The result was, the guard was withdrawn very quickly. This was not an idle threat. Upon several occasions they had manifested a great deal of sympathy for us, and had even said that if such and such things occurred, they would revolt, and the 4th Ga. would follow them. Did time permit, I might dwell at length upon the character of Wirz showing his brutality and meanness in withholding much that would have greatly tended to relieve and ameliorate our condition, and forcing that upon us which unnecessarily greatly augmented our sufferings. Also the total absence of any desire to add to our comfort by even so small a thing as a kind word. He was one of those hapless wretches whose chief delight consists in gloating over the miseries of others. However he has received his reward; let him rest.

The medical fraternity (or part of them) deserve a word of praise, with a few exceptions (the one previously mentioned was one of the exceptions). They were generous, whole—souled men, who did everything in their power to alleviate the suffering condition of the sick. Foremost among them were Dr. Eiland, Roy, Rowzin, Thompson and Pilot. To them we never appealed in vain for any favor, within their power to grant. Any attempt to depict in its true light the real condition of the sick at Andersonville (and that would include them all) in one short lecture, would be vain; and in truth any description even by the most gifted philologist would seem very tame to any of the survivors of that place, On the 21st of Septembcr,64 the number of deaths was 9,479; of those, 3,254 died in the stockade. Many chose to die in the foul atmosphere of the Prison rather than risk themselves in the Hospital among entire strangers.

The bitter feeling of desertion and hopeless agony experienced by many of them just before their death, is beautifully illustrated in the following poem, found on the dead body of T.J. Hyatt, bearing the date Oct. 2Oth, '64 which was but a few days previous to his decease.

"When our country called for men
We came from forge and stone and mill
From workshop, farm, and factory,
The broken ranks to fill.

We left our quiet, happy homes
And the ones we loved so well
To vanquish all the Union’s foes
Or fall where others fell.

Now as in prisons drear we languish
It is our constant cry,
0, ye who yet can save us,
Will ye leave us here to die?

The voice of slander tells you
That our hearts were weak with fear,
That all, or nearly all of us
Were captured in the rear.
The scars upon our bodies,
From the musket ball and shell
The missing legs and shattered arms,
A truer tale will tell.
We have tried to do our duty
In the sight of God on high.
0, ye who yet can save us
Will ye leave us here to die?

From out our prison gate
There's a graveyard near at hand
Where lie ten thousand Union men
Beneath the Georgia sand.
Scores on scores are laid beside them
As day succeeds today,
And thus it ever will be
Till they all shall pass away.
And the last can say when dying,
With upturned gazing eye,
'Both love and faith are dead at home.
They have left us here to die.'"


The man to whom we were most indebted for the sufferings of the sick through the want of proper food, was Dr. J. J. Stevenson, Chief Surgeon in charge of the Post. He received through commutation of rations and other sources over one million dollars (confederate money) which he was ordered to expend in purchasing vegetables and other delicacies for the sick, and which he reported to headquarters as having been so expended; but which in fact he put into his own pocket, converted into green backs and escaped into our lines. These facts, and many more of a similar nature, were brought to light through the exertions of Surgeon E.D. Eiland one of the finest men I ever met in the South, but too late to do us any good, as he and the money were gone. Had this money been properly expended hundreds of lives would have been saved, The total number of deaths from the organizations until the close of Andersonville Prison was, 1 think, l2,864. It is generally given in round numbers 13,000. The latter part of March, 65, the exchange cartel was finally agreed upon, and then with joyous and thankful hearts we bid adieu to that revolting place, the very name of which, for generations to come, will stir the hearts of the American people with indignation. Wives will remember it with tears and heart bleedings, as a place in which their husbands languished and died under the slow and terrible torture of lingering starvation. Fathers and mothers will remember it with deep groans of anguish when they think of their loved sons who started out men fully in the pride of their youth, at the first call for volunteers to defend the flag of our country, who left home full of vigor and fond hopes of advancement; but eventually, when their hopes were highest, fell victims of this terrible monster and slowly but surely wasted away their strength and manhood, until death came as a very welcome messenger and released them from their misery. Fair women will remember it with silent heartaches, as they think of the brave ones who left them to perform their sacred duty for a time, when they should return and fulfill their vows and plighted troths; but who never returned, but were offered up as a sacrifice to the foul fiend, Andersonville. The whole nation will remember it as a dark spot, a fearful whirlpool into which were drawn many of the best and bravest of their youths to be tormented, tempted, bruised, beaten and starved by so slow a process as to lengthen their miseries till they should seek and welcome death. But more especially will the survivors of this plague remember it, as a place where their growth was stunted, their faculties weakened, their sensibilities blunted, fond hopes blasted, hearts scarred; and everything which tends to the elevation and ennobling of mankind, withheld and prevented until they came away miserable wrecks of once vigorous men, The present generation will everywhere have it's surrounding victims to remind them of this horror which is indescribable. Future generations will have its history to remind them of it, and they can only think of it with silent horror and wonder that such things could really have existed in this enlightened and Christian age. And as a proof and still more forcible reminder will be the thirteen thousand graves or head boards which will, or should, stand through all ages as mute, though appalling, witnesses to the sad and horrible results of Andersonville.