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"QUOTES" FROM THE PEN


Written after the War--I will relate one amusing incident connected with prison life. I know a Connecticut man, John Chapman, Company B, Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers. His home was in Suffield, Conn., and since the war, while on a visit to my uncle in that town, Chapman told me the story, so I did not get it second-hand. Chapman took into Andersonville a little dog, which had been with him since his enlistment, two years before, with him at the battles of South Moutain and Antietam, and which was with him when he was captured at Plymouth, N. C. From Andersonville, Chapman, with his dog, went to Charleston then to Florence, S. C., all the time jealously guarding his dog, but one morning, at Florence, the dog was not there. Chapman barely lived to reach home. One day, after the war, at a dining-room in Hartford, he overheard a man say, "The sweetest morsel I ever tasted was a yellow dog I stole and cooked and ate in Florence Prison." Chapman at once said to the man, "Friend, that was my dog".--Charles M. Smith, Pvt., Co. F, 1st MA CAV
April 8, 1864--We sometimes draw cow peas for rations, and being a printer by trade, I spread the cow peas out on a blanket and quickly pick them up one at a time, after the manner of picking up type. One drawback is the practice of unconsciously putting the beans into my mouth. In this way I often eat up the whole printing office.--John Ransom, Sgt., 9th MI CAV
May 16, 1864--A funny way of escape has just been discovered by Wirz. A man pretends to be dead and is carried out on a stretcher, and left with a row of dead. As soon as it gets dark, Mr. Dead-man jumps up and runs. Wirz, suspecting the trick, took to watching and discovered a "dead man" running away. An examination now takes place by the surgeon before being permitted out from under guard. I hear a number have gotten away by this method, and it seems very probable, as dead men are so plenty that not much attention is paid to them.--John Ransom, Sgt., 9th MI CAV
June 5, 1864--A man without lice was looked upon as a being to be shunned.--S. O. Lord, Pvt., Co. D, 11th CN INF
June 6, 1864--Lively skirmishing today; caught and killed 17 or 20 lice, all fat and in good condition.--Eugene Forbes, Sgt., Co. B, 14th NJ CAV
June 9, 1864--An ohio boy at one time set himself up in the provision business by altering a greenback of one dollar into one hundred. We considered it fair to take every advantage of them we could contrive, and it amused us to hear them gravely charge us with want of honesty. Says one of them one day to me, "I've learn that yourn Yanks, down thar whar you live, make wooden pumpkins seeds, and I'll be dod rot if I don't beleve I got some of um and planted, a year afore this war for not a durned one cum'd up 'cept what the pesky hins scratched up".--Lessel Long, Pvt., Co. F, 13th IN INF
June 19, 1864--When a man is shot now it is called "paroled".--John Ransom, Sgt., 9th MI CAV
September 1, 1864--From the fourth of July until the first day of September, every day in those two months, I killed three hundred lice and nits. When I got up to this number I would stop killing until the next day.--S. J. Gibson, Cpl., 103rd PA INF
September 23, 1864--Well, we had to have some kind of amusement and didn't have anything to play with, so some of the boys got to racing lice. That got to be quite an amusement. We would get a tin plate from some one and make a small ring in the center of the plate then make a ring around the cut edge of it, then heat it in the sun, drop the two lice in the center of the plate, and bet on the one getting out of the ring first. Someone would say drop and as soon as they struck the plate they would start and it was fun to see them run. There was two kinds of lice, some were dark, some slimmer and more round and lighter in color. One fellow had one that was the best. That fellow would bave bet any money on it if he had it. I see poor fellows crawl up to look at the lice race that would be dead in thirty minutes, and I have seen them sitting up on the ground, their head between their hands, and fall over dead, lay there till dead wagon came and hauled them out.--William B. Clifton, Pvt., Co. K, 8th IN CAV
Novermber 4, 1864--A branch of business carried on at the prison, was "raising" Confederate notes. Confederate money was poorly made, both in design and execution. The "ones" and "twos" and "tens" and "twenties" were almost alike except in the figures that told their denomination. If a man could get one or two-dollar bills, he knew where to take it and have it converted into a ten or twenty. "All work done in the best style of art and warranted to Pass." In buying beans or meal with this money, we always aimed to trade so as to get one or two small bills in change so that we could make another "raise". I expect that good brother who thought we stole the sacks from the quartermaster, will think this looks like counterfeiting. It does look that way, and those Yanks been caught up it they might have been sent to Andersonville, the worst imprisonment I can think of and sentenced to remain there as long as Confederate money had a value.--John B. Vaughter, Sgt., Co. C., 4th KY INF
December 26, 1864--There werre about a dozen of us who went together and fixed up a place in one of the sheds which we called our own. There we remained several days and night. The weather was very cold and having no clothing we suffered terribly. We would all lay down together and crowd up to each other as close as we could to get all the warmth possible, one from the other. In this way we spent our time, only getting out long enough to answer at roll call and draw our rations. After eating our scanty supply we would lay down and remain as quiet as we could. We had been here but a short time until we were bothered terribly with the greybacks. As soon as we would begin to get a little warm they would commence their daily and nightly drill. They would have division, brigade, and regiment and company drills, ending up with a general review. When those large fellows began to prance around in front of the lines it would make some one halloo out, "I must turn over, I can't stand this any longer." So we would all turn to the right or the left as the case might be. This would stop the chaps for a short time.--Lessel Long, Pvt., Co. F, 13th IN INF
March 27, 1864--Sometimes we have visitors of citizens and women who come to look at us. There is sympathy in some of their faces and in some a lack of it.--John L. Ransom, Sgt, Co. A, 9th Michigan Cavalry
April 25, 1864--On the 21st the tunnel was opened and two fellows escaped to the outside. Myself next went out--jumped up and ran for dear life. In an hour we had traveled perhaps three miles. We heard dogs after us. Capt. Wirz interviewed us. We were put in the chain gang-not so bad at all. We had more to eat than when inside. Am not permenently hurt any.--John L. Ransom
May 9, 1864--Men are continuously going up to the dead line and getting shot. they do not get much sympathy, as they should know better.--John Ransom
May 15, 1864--Sunday comes again. But, oh what a place to spend the Sabbath. No chiming bells. Nothing to put us in the mind of this being the Lords day. OH! How I long to be at home once more (and) got to church every Sunday.--Leander W. Kennedy, Co. I, 5th Michigan Infantry
May 25, 1864--In the early summer, Captain Wirz issued to the prisoners picks and shovels, with which to dig wells for increased water supply. From some of these wells the men started tunnels through which to escape. Discovering this, the commander withdrew the tools, and ordered the wells to be filled up.--John L. Maile, Co. F, 8th Michigan Infantry
May 27, 1864--Some of the old prisoners made a raid on the new prisoners and stole their blankets and rations and the new fellows pitched in and there was a big fight and many a poor cuss got his head mashed with clubs or stones.--Albert H. Schatzel, Pvt., Co. A, 1st Vermont Cavalry
May 27, 1864--We twist up pieces of tin, stovepipe, etc. for dishes. A favorite and common dish is half of a canteen. Our spoons are made of wood. Hardly one man in ten has a dish of any kind to put his rations of soup or molasses in, and often old shoes, dirty caps are brought into requisition.--John L. Ransom
May 28, 1864--There is one commodity never had in any market. It is ahead of any Dutch brewery extract; it is meal beer made by letting corn meal sour in water. The vender cries, "here is your nice meal beer; right sour, well seasoned with sassafras."--John Northrup, Pvt., Co. D., 7th Connecticut Infantry
May 31, 1864--We all expect the l ice will rallie on us and take the whole party for a lunch for there isn't enough of us for a meal.--W. F. Lyon, Pvt., Co. C., 9th Minnesota Infantry
May 28, 1864--A man named Turner, who lived near the prison, kept a pack of bloodhounds, and he was employed by Captain Wirz to catch those who escaped. Every morning at daylight the dogs were called together, and with their master, who was mounted on a large bay horse, they made a circuit of the prison.--Josiah Brownell, Pvt., Co. A, 13th U. S. Infantry
June 1, 1864--Took a walk around camp. Deplorable sight. Some without clothing, some in last agonies of death; others writhing under the pangs of disease or wounds; some as black as mulatttos with smoke and dirt.--Eugene Forbes, Sgt., Co. B, 4th New Jersey Infantry
June 11, 1864--I went down to the gate and got the exact number of prisoners in the bull pen both black and white and I found them to be 22,330 and we are all packed on ten acre square. There is 18 in the piece but 8 of it is taken up for what is called the dead line and woe to the yank that gets his body inside of that line for every yank they shoot they get 30 days furlough and they don't stop to let you get in far before rip goes you jacket.--Albert H. Schatzel
June 17, 1864--It was often that the last to arrive at the prison were the first to succumb. The beans were so wormy and weavel eaten that it took one of us to skim off the maggots and insects all the time it was boiling.--Bjorn Aslaksan, Pvt., Co. H, 9th Minnesota Cavalry
June 23, 1864--Another pass time was whitteling. Give a Yankee a jack knife and he can make almost anything. The rebels found out the most expert whittlers and furnished them materials to work upon and thus many prisoners earned extra rations in this way.--Thomas A. Gossett, Pvt., Co. I, 7th Indiana Infantry
June 28, 1864--To what extremes bad men will go to secure their own comfort was fully illustrated in the doings of a band of robbers in Andersonville, or "Mosby's Maurauders", as the rest of the prisoners call them. Their rendezvous was near the southwest end of the prison.--John W. Urban, Pvt., Co. D, 1st Pennsylvania Infantry
July 2, 1864--Early in the morning seen a boy about to die. The little fellow called for his mother.--Albert H. Schatzel
July 4, 1864--So far as I know, the idea that brought about the overthrow of the murderous raiders came from Wirz himself; and it is certain that the efforts of the "law and order" organization, and of the police force, all of whom deserve great credit in arresting the "raiders", would have been fruitless but for the cooperation of Wirz.--John E. Warren, Wisconsin Artillery
July 16, 1864--Today a tunnel was discovered by the rebel authorities. Four of the prisoners had dug a well 60 feet deep and about 20 feet down they had struck out dug 20 feet outside the stockade and were a going to escape in 10 nights, one of our men betrayed them for a plug of tobacco.--Samuel Burdick, Pvt., Co. H, 17th Iowa Infantry
July 19, 1864--I have thought of my past life much and of the happy days when dear Mary was alive and alright. O why was my dear wife taken from me and others left that were not as happy as we were? But God's ways are not our ways, or his thoughts our thoughts, and he doeth all things well. It is nine weeks since I was captured.--Amos E. Stearns, Pvt., Co. A, 25th Mass. Infantry
August 3, 1864--Thieving was the order of the day. When we lay down at night we would tie our cup and spoon to our arms and I have often felt a pull at my string. None but an old prisoner can realize that value of a cup and spoon to our boys in prison.--S. O. Lord, Pvt., Co. D, 11th Connecticut Infantry
August 9, 1864--On the 7th, 8th, and 9th the weather was so awfully hot that it really appeared as if the heat would kill us all; those were the most terrible days in the history of our prison. On the 9th one hundred and seventy five prisoners died, and the mortality in the three days was nearly five hundred.--John W. Urban
August 12, 1864--We had a chance to look around and see what the storm had done for us. The entire prison, including the swamp, was swept in such a manner as to be quite clean compared to its former condition. Almost all the filth and vermon on the ground was swept away. It was soon discovered that a strong, pure spring of water had burst out. The water was cool and pure in great contrast to the filthy stuff we had been using.--John W. Urban
August 13, 1864--Occupying a wall-tent near our dispensary was a lady with a young child. I at first supposed that she was the wife of one of the officers in charge, but soon learned that she was a prisoner, having been captured in company with her husband, who was steamboat captain and a civilian.--Solon Hyde, Pvt., 17th Ohio Infantry
August 19, 1864--Each morning, at 9 o'clock, a lone drummer appeared at the south gate and beat "sick call", when the worst cases of sick would be carried up and examined by two attending physicians, a few of which would be admitted to the hospital and the rest returned to their respective divisions. The same drummer thumped away each morning to summon the camp to deliver up its dead.--Charles Fosdick, Pvt., Co. K, 5th Iowa Infantry
September 13, 1864--One the 13th of September the only remaining one of my company died, leaving me alone as far as my company was concerned. This event made me very sad. I, the youngest boy in the regiment, and sick besides, I nerved up for the worst and resolved to stand the thing through, that I might tell the poor boys' friends where they died.--Charles Fosdick
September 19, 1864--A priest belonging to the Catholic church was almost daily among us, and worked faithfully among the sick and dying members of his own church. He had also always a kind word for all of us.--John W. Urban
October 23, 1864--As for myself, I never felt so utterly depressed, cursed, and God-forsaken in all my life before. All my former experiences in battles, on marches, and at my capture were not a drop in the bucket as compared with this.--Walter E. Smith, Pvt., Co. K, 14th Illinois Infantry
December 29, 1864--We sit around our scanty fires shivering and hungry thinking of what good times we might enjoy were we permitted to be at home. We endeavor to keep a stiff upper lip.--George M. Shearer, Pvt., Co. E, 17th Iowa Infantry
February 24, 1865--Our clothes were nearly worn out, and we had to go around and seek out the dead and rob them of the clothes they had in order to keep from freezing to death ourselves.--Bjorn Aslaksan
March 7, 1865--In March, 1865, we began to hear rumors of the advance of our forces from the guards, and to look forward with hope to the time when we should once more be free.--Thadeus L. Waters, Pvt., Co. G, 2nd Michigan Cavalry