English Diary

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25th. Four more of the raiders arrested this morning, including Collins. the leader of the gang. It is reported they are going to be tried, and if found guilty, to be hanged.
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26th. Capt. Wirz came into camp yesterday and ordered the chief of police to have all the leaders of the raiders arrested and sent to the guard house.
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27th. Don't feel very well today; I am all broken up with rheumatism, caused by rain and exposure, having only one old torn blanket for the four of us.
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28th. The camp today presented one of the wildest scenes I have ever witnessed. The balance of the prison thieves were arrested, but not until after a general fight had taken place, in which clubs and knives had been freely used; four or five men were killed, but the raiders were overpowered and taken to the guard-house.
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29th. The new addition to the stockade was opened to the prisoners this morning. They were scarcely in and the guards taken off, when the prisoners commenced tearing down the logs for firewood; I never saw such a scramble.
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30th. No rations today; the rebels say it is to punish us for destroying the stockade.
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July 1864. The prison Sergeants were ordered to write out new company rolls this morning, there being so many deaths and sick in the hospital, that there are very few of the old prisoners left; this is regarded as a good sign for parole or exchange. The weather is very hot; several shots fired at the prisoners last night; one man shot in the knee; over a hundred deaths reported yesterday. I am almost crippled with rheumatism; there are many cases of insanity, the poor fellows not knowing what they do, wander inside the dead line and are shot.
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2d. The raiders were tried and convicted yesterday; the six leaders were found guilty of murder in the first degree by the jury and sentenced to be hanged.
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3d. We cannot live long on the quantity of rations we have been getting. Thinking of our friends at home who are preparing to celebrate the Nation's birthday of freedom tomorrow; they do not imagine the condition of us poor sufferers in this accursed place.
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4th. No rations of any kind today; this is the way the rebels intends us to celebrate the Fourth. A thousand deaths would be preferable to this intense suffering; I have been in twenty engagements and skirmishes, and would rather be in twice as many again than endure the tortures of this hell.
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5th. Captain Wirz sent for all the sergeants of squads and told them he was imformed of an organization in camp numbering six thousand men who were resolved in breaking out of prison, and capture the guards, muskets and artillery; he admonished us to beware, for he was well prepared, night or day, and would not be caught sleeping; he read an order to us received from Richmond, instructing him to open fire when any demonstration was made; he said he would do so with grape and canister, and would not stop while a man was left kicking, inside or out. He has two white flags up, one on each hill inside of the stockade; warning us not to congregate in crowds outside of those flags or he will open fire on us.
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6th. Rations, one pint of meal and two or three spoonfuls of beans and two ounces of bacon; prisoners almost crazy with hunger; there is a gang of men in here this morning selecting a place to build a scaffold upon which to hang the six raiders; I think they are only doing this to frighten the balance of them.
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8th. It is reported this morning that one hundred and twenty-five have died in the last 24 houis; it is comparatively quiet here now since the raiders have been arrested; and we have a good strong police force of about four hundred men, who are divided into squads with a captain in command of each; two-thirds of the prisoners cannot stand or walk, but lie around in all positions.
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9th. Men came in to put up the scaffold today, and to their great astonishment there was no lumber; the prisoners carried it off during the night for firewood and this morning not a stick could be seen; when the news reached Capt. Wirz he was as mad as a hornet and drove all through the camp with twenty of his guards, but could not find any of the lumber; he carried four revolvers.
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10th. One hundred and fifty-two prisoners have died within the last 24 hours; they say almost as many die in the hospital as here. It is said the raiders will be hanged tomorrow, and that is the chief topic of conversation. It is awful hot here now; the sun almost melts us.
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11th. About twenty men came in this morning to put up the scaffold; rations served at nine this morning; the rebels say the raiders are to be executed this afternoon, as soon as the scaffold is finished. It had become known about that we were going to hang some of our own men. When the appointed time arrived, a large crowd of citizens — men, women and children, gathered on the high ground between the principal forts and the prison to witness the hanging. Capt. Wirz was alarmed and excited, fearing we had some Yankee trick on hand to get up a commotion and all break out and capture the place. He had the whole rebel force under arms and the cannon of all the forts loaded with grape and canister and trained on the prison. Everything was ready to fire at the signal. But this act created an exciting scene, which Captain Wirz thought was the expected break. He ran to the signal battery yelling "Fire! fire! — shoot! shoot !" The Captain of the battery being a man of cool judgement, did not obey Wirz. The citizens and guards who were in the way of the cannon stampeded into a regular panic, injuring many of the citizens. Had the Captain of the battery obeyed Wirz, there would be 24 cannon loaded with grape and canister opened upon that human mass in the prison. The 35,000 lives in the prison hung on the firing-cord of that signal gun.
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LATER, — 5. GO P. M. The six raiders were hanged this afternoon; it was an awful sight; the judge, jury, etc., were all prisoners, no rebels participating at all. At about half-past four, Captain Wirz rode into camp at the head of the guards who had the condemned men in charge to the scaffold, and delivered the sentenced men to our police, who stood around with clubs. One of the condemned men escaped through the crowd to the swamp but was soon brought back.
He knows that he has gong astray.
And sees the danger of his way.
And to the right would turn again.
If a pardon he could gain.
Not for the crime he would repent.
But much he fears the punishment
The spoils he got among the throng,
He had hoped would serve him long.
The six men were hanged together; after hanging about twenty minutes, they were taken down and carried out to the dead-house, I was one of the six who carried Mosby, the leader, out, and was glad to breathe fresh air for a few minutes.
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July 12, 1864. All the talk in camp is about the hanging of the raiders. The scaffold upon which they were hanged was all carried away in an hour by the boys; I have a piece of it which I want to lake home if I ever get out alive. The raiders were buried this morning; the number of deaths in camp reached its highest mark yesterday, one hundred and eighty-five having died. I don't wonder, as everything is composed of dirt and filth; the stench from the swamp is sickening and the water full of maggots and all kinds of vermin, which we must use or die of thirst; there is a spring inside the dead-line, but cannot get to it without running the risk of being shot.
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13th. We are suffering very much from heat, as we have no shelter of any kind to protect us from the scorching sun; we are almost all barefooted and hatless. Have not heard how many died yesterday, but think from the heat there must have been a great many; the wagons have been busy all day hauling away the dead; they use a regular hay wagon, and when thev throw in one body upon the rest, you can see it shake the whole load. Oh! what a horrible sight!
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14th. One of the guards shot at a man this morning but missed him and struck a prisoner who was sitting smoking his pipe, hitting him in the upper part of the jaw, passing out at the opposite side, cutting his tongue in two. Ten detachments get one load of wood per day for twenty-five hundred men. Oh! only God in heaven known how we are treated.
We suffer much, we suffer long,
Beneath their vile oppression.
Nor could they say we did them wrong,
Theirs was the first aggression.
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15th. Rations, one pint of corn meal and about twenty beans and three or four ounces of bacon, all raw and no way to cook them.
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16th. The rebels are engaged in throwing up breastworks and making rifle pits all around the stockade; we can see them at work. They are evidently afraid of Sherman's raid or Kilpatrick; they would as soon see the devil as the latter general. Deaths average about one hundred and twenty per day, and the rebels say it will take us all away in August, as that is the hottest month in the year in Georgia.
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17th. It it terribly hot here. Another prisoner was shot by the guards this morning; he was taken sick while near the dead-line and was vomiting, and had hold of the railing to support himself when the guard, who was only twenty feet from him, shot him, the ball passing clear through his breast; he belonged to a New York regiment. They say when a guard shoots a prisoner he gets thirty days furlough. I guess that accounts for the shooting of so many prisoners. We are truly in a wretched condition, and the gigantic, the proud, the boasted republic of the world, America is allowing its citizens, its soldiers, its volunteers to remain here to starve, to rot, and to die.
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18th. Captain Wirz drove through the prison today; the men hooted at him, but he paid no attention to them.
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19th. Upwards of seven thousand prisoners have died in the stockade since I came here, not including the number who have died in the hospital.
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20th. One hundred and thirty prisoners died yesterday; it is so hot we are almost roasted. There were 127 of my regiment captured the day I was, and of that number eighty-one have since died, and the rest are more dead than alive; exposure and long confinement is doing its work among us.
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21st. The rebels have erected large forts and breastworks around the camp, to keep us from making a break to get out. There are thirty-seven thousand men crowded into a space of thirty-six acres. There are in this place active young and middle aged men from loving northern homes, clinging to the last spark of life, wallowing in their own filth, many of them reduced to idiocy and some cannot speak, the ground under them giving off the most suffocating stench to mingle with that of bodies decaying in the hot sun. Sometimes we would go and carry them water, of which they would drink, but the stench would drive us away before we could serve all. They would stretch out their wasted hands and implore us by word and signs to give them water, but the glassy stare of their eyes telling us they would soon be out of misery, we leave them to die; we have all the sick comrades we can care for and we must not neglect them for those we cannot save with the means at hand.
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The churches of all denominations except one solitary Catholic Priest, Father Hamilton, ignore us as completely as they would dumb beasts. Father Hamilton was the only religious minister that I ever knew to come into this place, and I certainly believe he is a true Christian. He would minister the Catholic and Protestants alike. Some of the rebel doctors were kind-hearted and shed tears over our distress, but they were powerless to give relief under the Management of "Jeff" Davis and his assistants Winder and Wirz. This starving strain on the weakened constitutions of the prisoners carried them off by the hundreds day after day. Wirz was a low, illborn wretch of the most brutal type. He seemed to delight in, and took pride in showing the guards how he could knock down and kick the poor helpless imbecile prisoners, who were so idiotic that they could not understand him, and would stand and stare vacantly at him when he spoke to them. He practiced the most brutal and barbarous cruelties on this class of helpless prisoners. A large number of those who had been in prison over a year were now insane. They seemed to lose all power of speech and memory; they could not tell their own names, and did not know whether they had been in prison one day or one year. If spoken to, their only answer would be a far-away look, as if they were trying to recall something beyond the reach of their memory. They wondered aimlessly about and kept their comrades constantly watching to keep them from the dead-line. Many were murdered at the dead-line. The gangrene is terrible; prisoners are rotting and falling to pieces from its effect. God save us poor fellows!
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22d. Nothing of any importance to state today; it is comparatively quiet since the raiders were hanged and the police were organized. Jeremiah O. Mahany, of my company, is Chief of Police. A great many men get sun struck, and men who lie out in the sun sick are tortured to death by flies and vermin.
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23d. Excitement in camp over the rumor of an exchange of prisoners; I will not believe it until I am inside our lines — we have been fooled so often.
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24th. There are about two thousand sick in the hospital, just outside the stockade; five or six legs and arms are amputated every day, which gives the physicians great practice.
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25th. No change in our bill of fare.
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August 2. 1864. Have been sick nearly a week; I am totally used up with rheumatism, but feel a little better this morning. Nine men went to our lines today with a proposal to our government for the exchange of prisoners; if the exchange does not soon take place, there will be none left to tell the tale of the suffering and horrible treatment in the slaughter pen at Andersonville. One of the guards was accidently shot outside the gate this afternoon and killed.
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3d. I am better today but it makes me tired and stiff to walk much. About one hundred and fifty have died in the last twenty-four hours; I forgot to mention that Culberson of my company died in the hospital; I did not learn when the poor fellow died; that leaves only Webb, Gallagher and myself out of my company who are alive.
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4th. Great excitement here this morning owing to some of the prisoners tunneling out under the stockade last night; it appears they had been working at it for over two weeks. Wirz came in and examined the tunnel this morning; he said the bloodhounds would soon catch them.
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5th. Wirz came in this morning with twenty guards; he said he heard there were two or three more tunnels; but after a diligent search he could not find any signs of them; The Yankees will fool him again, as he passed over two that I know of.
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6th. It is terribly hot; Wirz was in again this morning with his bodyguard; he is afraid to come in alone, as there are many who will kill him upon the first opportunity.
The stern arm of vengeance against them we'll raise,
And around them the flames of our bitterness blaze.
For we swore they should pay for the deeds they have done;
And we never will relent — not a tyrant we'll spare,
But hang them on gibbets to rot in the air,
Till those that survive them confess that they feel,
That our army's resistless, and our hearts are of steel.
I learned this morning that one of my regiment got away with those who tunneled out. I witnessed an amputation this afternoon; a prisoner got a sore on his foot and it was decided to amputate it. He did not want to go to the hospital as his brother is here to take care of him, and that accounts for the amputation being performed in the stockade. We point with pride to the thousands of graves and say, these comrades chose the most cruel death rather than dishonor their country in any way by assisting the enemy to destroy it by taking the oath of allegiance, which they often tried to induce us to do.
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Under the most trying circumstances, naked and starving, and raked with pain and disease, with certain torture and death staring us in the face, did we refuse to repeated offers of relief by enlisting in the Rebel Army or working in their shops. Those young men gave up all their bright hopes and prospects of loving homes and pursuits of happiness and submitted to cruel torture and death, believing that their sacrifices and deeds of heroism would ever be kept fresh in the memory of those who would enjoy the freedom for which this price was paid. There are many ungrateful people who would, no doubt, repress the recital of these comrades sufferings, claiming it would only breed sectional hatred, and that these stories are written and told in a spirit of animosity. To this I will say, I know that the truths written and told of these prison hells are very unwelcome to this class of people; but remember, we do not hold the masses of the people or the soldiers of the South responsible for the cruel murder of our fellow-prisoners. For these misguided people we hold the greatest respect, except for those who admire and applaud those bad bold men who wantonly and premeditately did murder their helpless captives. Again we are told that Jefferson Davis and his officers did not have the provisions to feed their captives. This excuse was removed by our government offering to furnish food, clothing and medicines, which was refused. We know that they had no excuse for denying us pure air, water, room and means of shelter. We begged and pleaded with tears in our eyes that we be permitted to save our lives by ditching and draining the swamps in our prison pen and getting the material from the adjoining pine forest to shelter us from sun and rain.
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To those that say Jefferson Davis and his cabinet did not murder their captives, we ask them to discard all testimony of Union soldiers and take the evidence of Southern people and the Confederate records. Examine the report of the Confederate surgeons appointed to inspect the prisons, and you will see where they hastened back to Davis and reported to him the destruction of life there; see where they recommended the removal of the inhuman keepers and the appointment of humane keepers in their stead. You will see that Davis did nothing of the kind, but he did promote John H. Winder to the command of all the prisoners in the South, with full power to torture and murder as he pleased; and when you have examined all this calmly, if you have one spark of humanity in you, you will never express your admiration for that perjured murderer and his traitorous advisers. All this does not effect us; we have seen nothing but misery for over a year and a half. I do not believe that ten out of every hundred will ever reach the friendly shelter of the Stars and Stripes.
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Col. C. T. Chandler of the Confederate army was sent by Jefferson Davis to inspect Andersonville prison. He performed his duties carefully, and in his report to Davis, he said : "I called the attention of Captain Wirz and General Winder to the frightful mortality that must certainly follow the crowded and filthy condition of the prison, and pointed out to them how this could easily be remedied, and recommended a change in diet from corn meal to one of vegetables, of which there were plenty in the surrounding country; to all of which Winder indifferently replied, ''The present arrangement is good enough, as it is having the desired effect, and if let alone, will soon thin the prisoners out so there will be plenty of room." Col. Chandler hastened to Richmond, made his report and recommended change of the officers in charge of the prison. The result was that Jefferson Davis promoted John H. Winder to be General in command of all the prisons in the Confederacy. Who will say with any pretense of telling the truth that "Jeff" Davis is not a murderer? Where is there a man in existence who has such a pile of murders and brutality untold at his door? That thousands of murders committed on helpless captives in the Confederacy were done with his full knowleege and permission, there is not a shadow of doubt, and we need use only the Confederate evidence and records to prove it and say nothing of the 15,000 graves at Andersonville — that harvest of death reaped from thirty-six acres of ground in one year and a half, and upwards of 4000 of that number in one single month.
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Time was moving slowly and we were rapidly sinking into depravity. We had told all the stories we knew and heard and all our neighbors knew. Every scrap of paper that had any reading on it was worn out. Several fights took place daily among the prisoners. Men in our condition were sure to be peevish and irritable, and the best of friends would quarrel about a trifling matter. The "light weight" would get on his feet, stagger around and then balance in front of his opponent; stinging words would pass, and then the bony fist launch feebly out; it misses the mark and the owner following goes to the ground; the other fellow is trying to ward off the blow, loses his balance and falls. This ends the fight, as they are too much exhausted to renew it.
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7th. Nothing new today; there is a stench of things rotting in the heat.
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8th. The hounds tracked the men who got out, and one fellow was torn so badly that he cannot live; the number of deaths is running up; about two hundred die each day; I will try and keep up my courage and trust in God to get me out of this place.
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9. Nothing of interest in the last day or so. Thomas Kelly of Co. H died this morning, the sun is a regular furnace. An order was read to us this morning stating that a general exchange of prisoners was to take place.
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12th. Ten months a prisoner today and what a change!
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13th. It still keeps hot and deaths are increasing in an alarming manner; ten detachments, or about a thousand prisoners are to leave here today for the point of exchange, so the rebels say.
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14th. About twenty-five hundred left today.
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15th. Between three and four thousand prisoners sent off today.
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16th. A prisoner had his leg amputated today at the thigh; this is the third time for him, first at the foot, then at the knee and now half way up his thigh; he sat and held his own leg while they sawed it off.
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17th. No prisoners left here yesterday or today, Alfred Friend, Co. F, 12th. N. Y. C, has just informed me that he is the only man alive out of 53 of his regiment.
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24th. Had to give up writing at last, as I am completely used up with rheumatism.
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28th. Guess my time has come; I was taken to the hospital this morning and put in a tent with ten more sick.
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September 16, 1864. Have been in here over two weeks; the doctor says I will pull through all right; I can't hear any news to put in my diary.
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18th. The doctor wanted to know this afternoon if I got my medicine; I told him that what I wanted was something to eat, instead of medicine.
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24th. The doctor told me that upwards of twelve thousand prisoners have died since we came here.
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28th. One month in the hospital today, but do not seem to improve; our rations are a little better here than in the pen.
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30th. Six men died in this tent since I came here; they say they are dying very fast.
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October 6, 1864. Father Hamilton, a Catholic priest, paid a visit to our tent today; he is a very fine old gentleman, and seemed to take considerable interest in me; he said he would call again tomorrow.
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7th, Father Hamilton called on me again this morning; he says that he is going to attend to the sick at this place, the most of whom are Catholics. He was surprised when I told him I came from "the old sod" and could read Latin; he thought I was too young to be in the army.
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8th. A little better this morning; Father Hamilton and two Sisters of Charity called on me today and gave me something nice to eat.
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9th. I turned on my bed of straw this morning and found that the man next to me was dead; this makes seven out of eleven.
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10th. I got the dead man's rations this morning and feel considerably better: there is great moaring here, day and night, occasioned by so much suffering; it would make you sick to see some of the men swollen as large as a barrell with the dropsy, and doubled up with rheumatism and scurvy, and a great number with arms and legs cut off; I got seven new tent mates today.
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11th. Father Hamilton called today and brought me an under shirt; he said I looked better.
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12th. One year a prisoner today.
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13th. The surgeons have their hands full taking off arms and legs.
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14th. Father Hamilton told me he sold his property in Savannah and bought sixteen hundred barrels of flour for the sick; that accounts for our getting wheat bread.
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15th. Another tent-mate died this morning; I don't seem to improve much; it is quite cool in the mornings now.
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17th. My diary is almost full; only a few leaves are now left. Walter Webb of my company was brought out here today; the poor fellow is almost dead.
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19th. Another tent-mate died this morning, I got hold of a new piece of pencil this morning — mine was hardly an inch long. Webb tells me that one hundred of our regiment are dead; Father Hamilton brought me some cold roast beef this morning, and oh! how good it was.
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20th. Webb called to see me this morning, but had to crawl on his hands and knees, as the cords of his legs are so drawn up that he cannot stretch them out.
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22d. Nothing to say, except that the groans of the sick and dying are terrible; they cry in their dying agony for a mother a wife, child or friend to come to them. Oh! Lord of Heaven, it is awful, awful! It would bring tears from a stone to hear the heartrending cries for a distant friend; some one will have a great deal to answer for.
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When our country called for men, we came from forge and shop and mill;
From workshops, farms and factories, our broken ranks to fill.
We left our quiet Northern homes that once we loved so well.
To vanquish all the Union's foes, or fall where others fell.
Now in prison drear we languish, and it is our constant cry,
Oh! ye who yet can save us, will you leave us here to die!
The voice of slander tells you that our hearts are weak with fear.
That all or nearly all of us were captured in the rear;
But the scars upon our bodies from musket ball and shell.
The missing legs and shattered arms, a true tale will tell.
We tried to do our duty in sight of God on high;
Oh! ye who yet can save us, will you leave us here to die!
There are hearts with hopes still beating, in our pleasant
Northern homes,
Awaiting, watching footsteps that may never come.
In Southern prisons pining, meagre, tattered pale and gaunt.
Growing weaker, weaker, daily, from pinching cold and want.
Those brothers, sons and husbands, poor and helpless captive lie.
Oh! ye who yet can save us, will you leave us here to die!
From out our prison gate there is a grave close at hand,
Where lies thirteen thousand Union men, beneath the Georgia sand
Scores and scores are laid beside them as day succeeds today,
And thus it will ever be till they all shall pass away;
And the last can say when dying, with upturned and glaring eye.
Both love and faith are dead at home, they have left us here to die.
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23d. I forgot to mention that there are fifteen wards in this hospital, twelve tents in each ward, and each tent will contain twelve men; the floor of each tent is covered with straw, without any quilts or blankets. I am in the eleventh ward, tent No. 4; Webb is in the thirteenth ward, tent No. 9. The doctor visits us each day; he does not come in, but stands at the door and asks each patient how he is, and then tells the hospital steward, who accompanies him, to give him such and such a medicine — all by numbers; if they would stay away and give us more grub, we would get well sooner.
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Re: English Diary

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25th. Have not seen Wirz since I came in here. If some of the prisoners come across him after the war is over, he won't live long.
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26th. Father Hamilton called on me this morning and brought me a nice slice of bread and butter; he says he will try and bring me a little milk.
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28th. Feel considerably better; four died in this ward last night, and one fellow died in my tent this afternoon; his name was Darus March. He gave me a picture, in case I get home, to send to Emaline Wooding, Jackson, Susquehanna county.
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29th. Walter Webb called to see me this morning.
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November 8, 1864. Election Day in the North for President of the United States. Wirz has requested that we have a mock election, and each prisoner is to vote, whether of age or not, and says that whatever will be the majority in the hospital will be a fair test as to the result in the North. We all like McClellan but to spite the rebels most of us will vote for Lincoln, So this afternoon each man was given two slips of paper with the names of McClelhm on one and Lincoln on the other; two rebel sergeants visited each tent with a basket and gathered the vote, and at five o'clock they announced the result, which stood, McClellan 531, and Lincoln 1,239. Wirz is terribly angry and says it will be "Link-in and Link-out" for us for some time to come.
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Re: English Diary

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12th. Had another visit from the priest today; he brought me a bottle of milk. it is the first milk I have tasted for thirteen months.
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13th. All the Irish who could walk were called to the gate this afternoon by a Col. McNeill, of the 10th Tennessee (rebel) regiment to see if any of them would take the oath to join the rebel service. Not an Irishman enlisted, but two Yankees did, one from Connecticut and the other from a New York regiment; so you see the Irish are the most loyal.
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