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The National tribune. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1877-1917, March 01, 1878, Image 2

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THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE.
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St
who had purloined tlfom fxfmi tho quartermaster orthoir
regiment; and flfwir wo6d;vft8 brought into, Uiq prison by
tho commissarytndowiforof those tools often ihtulo nn
extra fuel ration by, loaning thorn to Ihbso who. had no
othor moans of cutting it. The quantity of this 'wood was
oxtromoly small, so small, indeed, that I hqsitato to make
an ostimattfc of it, lest 1. .should bo disbelieved; but it is
safe to n$offlitluifcno inOro than One-fourth of atjord was
over given uo a detachment for oneday;,thi& divided equal-
"... . 3Ml ...Vl . 1 . ...A.il.. ' ... 1JJ ..- i.
ljj'
uuui imuu ourg, ana tncir oiocmugrapuuy ucuumu muij
anAwQim: jui-few weoks thoy iniiiglticl undistinguishably
Jivilli thoir follows; Thov soon bocan to doeline Aiiider Alio
1
ly nmongwc) hiindred and seventy men, would' give to
otioh alilOmorothan ono-iiinth of a fooK or, To reduce
it still furtlibr, it was cjual i!5 a green pincjboard one inch
in ihJckfto; twelve inches long by fivtf wide, fliis was
the maxinfum, tlio minimum was no woftd at all; which
was frequent J v the case. I his wood was drawn to us in
various condition); being mostly the tops of troos that
had boon fclUnl to obtain tho stockiide timber U consist
ed of largo find Small Htickk'varyuigTrimVd'fooi to an inch
in diameter, and from two to twenty feet in length. To
roduco this ,to. proper dimerous required the aid of tools,
and those consisted principally of i;on spptcs whiqh had
bbon picked up upon tho railroad while the boys wore being
transported hither, and wooden wedges which had been
whittled out with jack-knives. With theso implements
we could reduce tho wood t6 splinters of sufficient dimen
sions for cooking purposes, but it required the closest
dcOnomy'in the using. Little -"holes Wei'edugin the earth
in whibh the fires were built, and over 'these Our tin pahs,
if we' had them, were hung, in which -we heated water for
scalding our meal preparatory to cooking it, and at the
same time toasting orir morsel of bacon, to economize the
heat.
"THJB TBNNKSSKI2AK8. T1TK PLYMOUTH PlUSOJfEKS.
"In tho early part of May some five hundred Tonncs
secans who had been captured by Forest, and wintered at
Solma and Cahawba, Alabama, arrived among us; tho
most of whom were hatless, bootless, and shoeless, with
out coats pants, and blankets. On leaving tlioso places,
the authorities had told them that they were going to be
exchanged a shrewd piece of ' strategy, ' with which rebel
officers duped the unsuspecting prisoners, upon all occa
sions of removal, to avoid increasing the number of the
guard that accompanied them. They were wholly desti
tute of cups, plates, spoons, and dishes of every kind, as
well as of all meaus of purchasing them; they having been
stripped of the;e things by their captors. In tlioir desti
tute condition, they were turned into tho stockade and loft
to shift for themselves in the best manner they could. To
borrow cups of their fellow-prisoners was an impossibility,
for no one could be expected to lend what, if it were not
returned, would be tho means of his own destruction, par
ticularly when tho borrower was an utter stranger; there
was notiiing left for them but to bake their raw meal and
bacon upon stones and chips, eat it without moisture, tiud
.afterwards to go to the brook liko beasts, to quench their
thirst. To keep themselves from the cold at night, they
scooped out shallow places in the earth with their hands,
and lying down side by side in these, with their bare
heads and naked feet resting upon the surface of the
ground, and their unprotected bodies wot with dews and
storms, the wretched men trembled and shivered till morn
ing. There was no hope of be tering their conditiou, for,
having no money, they could buy nothing; nothing would
be giveu them by their fellows or by the authorities; they
could do nothing by which to earn oven worn-out apparel;
they were utterly helpless to benefit themselves; and yet
these men were kept here for many months and lived.
"Soon afterward came two thousand more, who had
been recently captured at Plymouth, North Carolina.
Theso men came to Audesonville with better provisions
than any that had before arrived. By tho terms of sur
render, thoy 'were allowed to retain their money, knap
sacks, and extra clothing; together with certain articles
pertaining to culinary uses. These ' things J were private
property, bought and paid for by each man, and, by all
law and decency, should have been preserved to him with
out stipulation; but such was not generally tho case. It
was a matter of the greatest surprise to us that the rebel
authorities respected theso terms after they had been
made with them, yet, by some oversight doubtless on their
part, they wore respected; but they knew full well that
suoh articles as could be of use to their army would just
as surely find their way ultimately into their possession,
for trifling returns, as if they had taken them by force.
A few days before tho capture of these men, thoy had been
enlisted as veterans, and received pay as such. Each man
had consequently a large amount of money some as much
as three hundred dollars and nearly every one had an
overcoat, extra pants, shirts, drawers, and blankets. It
was pleasant to look upon them, to see their noble forms
arrayed in the comfortable uniforms of our loved country;
but, while we wore glud to find them eo well provided with
materials for thoir comfort, we Avere by no means rejoiced
to see them among us; for wo know too well by our own
expeiienece that their present good cheer could not last.
They were, as a general thing, noble-minded and intelli
gent, with a high sense of honor and integrity, men whoso
associations had evidently been of the best character; thoy
had enlisted and periled their lives to save that of the na
tion, because they felt it to be a duty. It was sad to think
how soon they would be brought low, their courage gone,
and squalid want and misery claim them for their victims.
Thoy brought us some news on the oxchange question,
and liko all prisoners who had been but recently captured,
indulged in flattering anticipations of speedy release; and
being animated with this hope, they spent thoir money
freely, buying such things of the older prisoners as they
could induce them to part with, and paying exorbitant
prices therefor. Liko all new prisoners, who had had no
previous experience in tho kind of life we were loading,
they were horror-stricken with our appearance; but thoy
attributed it entirely to our indoleut habits, for they could
not believe that men professing to be Christians could be
so totally devoid of humanity as to reduce the helpless
beings in their power to such a terrible condition of wrotoh
edness. They accordingly charged us with being the
cause of our dirty appearance, and jeered at us when we
told them we were powerless to prevent or improve it.
We, knowing full well that they would soon learn tho
true state of affairs, forebore to reply to their taunts.
"In a brief time thoy had wasted thoir money, and when
it was gone they could endure the climate and the fare
no bettor than wo ; as soon as tho soap they had brought
with them was exhausted, their appearance was no clean
lier than ours. Tho pine smoke penetrated tlioir skin, as
it had done ours, and ground itself into their flesh fre
quent and copious ablutions would not remove it from
them; tho soft soap thoy received once in three or four
weeks whitened their skins or cleansed their ,hands nomore
'Iwtir urtrtit liftn-i
A v v (iwvrii uwu.uti v .w-w. .--.--
hoiTibltwtrcntm6nt. and in a short time hundreds of them
j wMe placed in tho, grave. r4Jho money they put; in.olrcu
i lation, doubtless Saved many a man's life, for it often. fell
S into the hands of those who, after an experience of eight
! months of prison life, know how' WocortoniTzd their little
funds. Tho thousands of dollars spent by them, while
they added ii few comforts to others, proved of .brief ad
vantage 10 themselves, and in the end (hoy were the means
of hastening their uuhappy fate; for thoy could not oasily
assiuiilnfcitc- tho habits of the othor prisonerslfand diedb
fore thoy" porild becomo inured to the climiitg and fare of
the prison. I behevo J staid tho truth 111 saying tnat, be
fore that fatal summer was past, two in threo of those two
thousand strpinj, robust healthy meut thn;t camo.amo
us1,' uusnoa wiin spirit! mui nope, siopc wiuir ihsu siuup
He
to go out into thq woods we could all bo provided -with
cabins, for wo are willing to help ourselves- injoVorv wav
liberty to make our cscapcTikeVonts thai,' let the authori
I'ties bring hs logs and furnish axes fOr usfnnd wo will do
uw rusi: or supposing mail 10 lnvoivotoo crroat nvnmiKnfn
the confederate government, let us flraw-1111011 Mm mnimv
lof which they have rdbbed us, arid we will purchase the
materials and hire them brought out to us. It is not the
fault of theso mofi that they are destitute, for thoy are
utterly helpless in the hands of thoir onmnins! nmi iimha
i unfortunately fonts, arc too Utile inclined to pity to as-
M v uruuu.u) anow us 10 noip ourselves,
while weliave been inspecting thosenovel she
among
in
tho prisoners' grave at Andersonvillo and Millon.
"iUffeY lttduTM;R.-mHKOHSOP l-UH VtilSbKSlIQUSTS
"The hotter to understand and apprcoiato tho horrors
of tbe situation in which wo wore, placed, I will take the
-liberty to introduce tho reader;, into tho interior of tho
stockade, and point out ,to him the daily routine of the
place, together with the appearance of its inmates.
"'Wo obtain our pasrios from Oaptain AYirz, arid present
them at the south gate, whoro&hey are examined by tho
officer in charge of it, who pronounces them all right and
turns them over to the sergeant, with orders for our ad
mission; he thereupon opens a little wicket and we enter.
Pjissing hurriedly clown tho wagon road, wo cross the dead
lino without halting, lost thje sentry may mistake us for
prisoners and fire upon us, wjiorc wo come to a halt and
tako a brief survey of the scene. It is early morning, and
the first gray streaks of dawn aro lighting up the sky;
but the bright rays of the sun, itself still below the hori
zon, seom to pass far over our heads, as if to avoid a con
tact with tho loathsome objects around, as birds are said
to fly high above the sea, in whoso bosom the cities of the
plain lie engulfed. Before us are the 'huts' of the prison
ers, looking like little irregular heaps of black rags, strewn
thickly and in inextricable confusion over the ground, ly
ing beside which are human forms, stretched at full length
upon the sand, their upturned faces black with grime, and
their naked bodies wet with doy; they lie in this unshel
tered manner because thoy have notiiing" to protect them
against the night. Two tall trees stand in the corner, off
to our right, looking grimly down upon the piteous spec
tacle. Turning round to our loft, our oye passes rapidly
over the low, white belt of fog that stretches across the
pon from west to east, where lies the swamp from which
those sleeping beings draw their water to quench their
burning thirst or cleanse their fdthy garments; beyond the
fog we can faintly see a continuation of the irregular heaps
which had attracted our attention at first, and the dim
outline of the wall, upon whose top the sentry stands with
sleepless oye, his long musket gleaming in the breaking
light, liko a bar of polished silver. In the dim perspect
ive we descry the skeleton roof pf along, low building in
the northwest extremity of the yard, but its outline is too
faint to be examined from thi&Qint. Within the walls,
a strip of unoccupied ground, a few yards in width,
stretches around the whole the inclosure made by tho
dead-line and to treaa upon it is death. Tho damp morn
ing mist rises ujion the place as the air grows warmer from
the ascending sun, antl the view is shut out from our
eyes.
"Treading lightly, lest we disturb these slumbering be
ings, whom it would be cruel to bring back to misery from
the blissful unconsciousness into which they have sunk,
let us examine tho huts before us. The first that meets
our eye is formed by fastening long strips of cloth together
with wooden pins, which is then stretched across a couple
of poles that are placed with one end upon the ground, the
other resting upon a bank of sand laboriously raised a few
feet high by the hands; it is open, liko trellis work, and
black with smoke and dirt, and affords a covering only in
spots to the wretched beings lying beneath it. Further
on is another style of habitation for these things contain
all the household goods of two or three men. This con
sists of but two parts, a short pole set upright in the earth
and a piece of blanket stretched over it. Kext to this is
a hole scooped out in the sand, in which the owner, while
lying upon his side, can have a support for his back, and
here half a dozen nearly naked men are lying, with their
faces turned from each other, like pigs; but into it the
rain, sometimes settles, and drives the unfortunate ocou
paut into the pelting storm. Another form of the burrow
is an improvement upon this primitive habitation three
or four have joined together in excavating beneath tho
surface, first digging a hole some three feet in depth, of
the size of their bodies, and afterwards scooping out the
sane at right angles to it; into these they crawl and are
protected against the heat and storm; but the fine parti
cles of which tho roof is composed, becoming detached
upon the slightest jar, drop down in their faces, threaten
ing to smother them in their sleep. Here we find another
hut; this has been built with adobe, formed from a bluish
clay that was found near the swamp. With much labor
and patience the poor fellows have molded the materials
with their hands and dried them in the sun. Three walls
have been built, three or four feet high, and slightly in
clining toward the centre, over which they have stretched
an old shirt, which can be made of more service here than
upon the owner's shoulders.
"But some of these shelters are of a higher grade of
comfort, and aro inhabited by the acknowledged ' aristoc
racy' of the prison. They aro constructed of slabs split
from pine logs, which thoy had brought in from the sur
rounding forest during the time when the prisoners were
permitted to hire a guard to go there with them. They
are of sufficient size to accommodate s.x or seven men, and
form a complete protection against tho weather. Thoy
are high enough to allow tho occupant to stand erect;
little slabs are placed around for seats, pegs and shelves
are arranged upon the walls; bunks of 'pine straw' are
made upon the ground and a door shuts out tho beating
storms. The last structure which we will examine is
formed by placing several poles parallel to each other, ovor
which two blankets sewed together are thrown, forming
a burrow some eighteen inches high, aud as long and high
as the blankets will allow. Its inmates must crawl be
neath it, and when in, are quite well protootod. Very
many of the men those whom we see lying about us on
the surface are unfurnished with auy 'shanty,' either
dug in the ground or built upon it, Thoy are mostly late
arrivals, who have not yet beqn initiated into prison life,
and are waiting to learn how to tako advantage of tho few
conveniences that are furnished them. If we wore allowed
Iters.
the sun has risen above tho horizon, and tlieprii?6nors be-
gjn to appear ; for in the middle of tho day the heat is too
i fervid to admit of much activity, aud. the little 'chores'
which -are necessary tb be pdrformecl must bo completed
uu""h ujiv v,ww wi niuHiuuuug, i rnj juiu iiaKcci, squaitu
wretches, black with smoko aud dh't, feebly drag thoir
emaciated formb from fjho holes' intp which tjioy had
I crawled tho preceding night, aud betrin their m-mmm.
i -. '' -' ,.--,,,,,
I lirt
tions for
nronimi
coming clay, jfassin? ouietlv across thn
swamp, wo hasten up tho rising ground on the north side
. of the stockade;" where a full View bf t'luVsconc may bo had
j at a glance. Taking our station at the summit, wo watch
the tattered forms as thoy creep slowly by, making their
; way to the creek for water. Thoy approach the little
stream, some carrying tin cups or pails made of empty
fruit cans, into which they have inserted strings or vires,
to serve tho purpose of handles; some bearing' small
buckots or wooden pails which tho have fashioned with
their pocket-knives from pine sticks, or occasionally one
of larger dimensions, formed with staves and hoops ; while
others bear old boot legs tightly sewed together, and many,
very many, go empty-handed, having been unable to pro
cure anything in which to carry tho liquid. There is here
every variety of dress, too, from tho apparol of Adam be
fore the fall to a ragged coat and pants ; and these seom
to have grown upon their forms like bark upon a tree, so
black aud dirty have thoy become. There are men with
one-legged pants, and with no pants at all ; men with coats
, of which one of the sleeves has been torn away foi baud
ages, leaving the bare arm exposed; men with no covering
but a pair of dirty drawers, too much torn and worn to be
decently described ; men without socks and shoes, or with
one expiring shoe, the sole being upon the point of depart
ure ; hatless men, their long locks glued together with
pitch, and rolled up like ropes, hanging over their sunken
j eyes They gather into a sort of file when thoy reach the
j swamp, and pass upon tho planks to the creek, each stoop
ing down in turn to dip his little cup into the water, and
, turning back to seek his quarters again. Five thousand
men at this hour in tho morning, daily visit this spot to
get water for breakfast, while the partner of each remains
behind to watch their common effects. But behind this
press that walks to the water side, come other men who
i cannot walk. Thoy creep upon their hands and knees,
or crawl upon thoir breasts, pulling their bodies along by
! burying their elbows in tho sand These miserable beings,
the victims of starvation and the consequent diseases,
writhe and twist themselves to tho stream ; but thoy come
, not all back, for, overcome with the fatigue of their labor
ious effort, they creep to one side of tho path and die.
"Presently little fires spring up on every baud, sending
out wreaths of smoke which rise a short distance above
the pen and hover there in a dark cloud, through which the
sun looks red. Let us approach these fires and examine
the culinary department of the prison. Here aro three mis
erable looking beings gathered around a few bits of blaz
i ing pine, which thoy have placed in. a hole to economize
the heat ; their hands, faces, and garments are black with
soot and dirt, aud their Saxon features alone distinguish
, them from the negro. Thoy mix the little ration of meal
with water and a few gi aius of salt : this mixture they
kuead upon a chip, using the utmost care that no particle
j of the meal be lost, and place the dough upor another
' green pine chip and hold it before the smoking lire. It is
painful to look upon them during this operation ; to see
the greed in their hoi low eyes, while they watch tho crumbs
j that occasionally drop from the narrow chip, as the com
' pound, partially dried, is shaken from their trembling
hands; and to note how anxiously they seek each tiny mor
sel among the dirt and ashes, and carefully replace it when
found. The bacon is toasted before the fire upon a stick,
and when cooked has an Oily, smoky taste. Tho mvsterv
of their black appearance is easily solved ; pass your hand
slowly through tho smoke that rises from their fire, and
the oily particles of soot cling tightly to it. Water w,ill
not dissolve it, and they have no soap to act the part of the
"mutual friend," and bring the opposing elemonts into
harmony. If you rub your hand upon your clothes or your
face, the black stain is loft, and continuing tho operation
for a fow moments, you have the same general look as the
prisoners.
This is a fair specimen of the manner in which tho
bread is prepared for eating ; yet there are other improved
i methods, while there aro those that aro oven worse. Some
times a poon is made bythoso who havobake-pans ; others
j again make mush, upon which a little sorghum is spread.
I Some fry the dough in fat saved from bacon ; and yet
others make dumplings, or rather little round balls in
short, every change that hungry men can devise with the
few conveniences thoy have for the purpose, is rung upon
the pittance of corn meal allowod them. But it remains
' corn-meal in the end, notwithstanding the thousand do
vices to render it palatable.
" Crossing the narrow paths that wind tortuously among
i tho ''shanties," trodden here and there without method by
the weary feet of theso wretched men, let uJTpause before
i this strip of blaok blanket that is stretched over a couple
, of poles. Stooping low down we discover a soldier strotehod
! out at full length upon the bare ground. Ho is literally
"alone in the world," and we learn upon questioning him
that his comrade, but a day or two ago, died by his sido,
! and has been carried ont, Ho is too feeble to rise, as ho
! tolls us, and expects soon to bo borno away in his turn.
j His face is begrimed with dirt, his hair is long and mat
1 tod, the dark skin upon his hands and feet is drawn tight-
ly ovor their skeleton frames, shrunkon, calloused, dried,
I as it wore, to the bone. He makes feeblo replies to our
i inqiries, but wo learn that ho passed tho long dreary wln
I tor on Belle Island, whore tho starvation ancf exposure to
I tho severe cold sowed the seeds of disease in his system,
whoso speedy end will be an obscure death and an unknown
t grave. Ho is hopeless, racked with pain ; ho knows that
j a fow days at most will end his niisory, but he complains
j not of his hard fate, and expresses his willingness to suffer
i on if necessary, for tho love of that country whoso life he
I has tried to savo.
"A few steps to tho right wo find a hideous object lying

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