Page images

for the fourth year an unconquered country, have, in the entire history of that war, represented every event as a Yankee success, and a mortal blow to the Confederacy, are no more discreditable witnesses in these particulars than when they parade before the world their nursery dramas of the horrors of "rebel” prisons.

To the sufferings of my first days in Fort Warren my memory reverts with an irrepressible shudder. If I had been in health I might easily have endured the hardships assigned me, including the straw sack; the diaphamous slices of bread and the bits of fat pork. But the nervous affection from which I had long suffered, and which was now aggravated by the anxieties and rude trials of imprisonment, had taken an alarming aspect. A partial paralysis of my body threatened to succeed. I could not rise from my bed or from a long sitting without finding my arm, or perhaps my whole side, temporarily powerless.

The kindness of my fellow-prisoners, in these circumstances, is never to be forgotten. I was relieved from my part of cooking and washing dishes, and was excused from "the police duty" assigned to prisoners, which included the cleaning of their quarters and a number of unpleasant tasks. My messmates came to my aid with friendly sympathy. I obtained medical advice from Dr. Hambleton, of Georgia, my fellowprisoner and excellent friend. Although I had but little faith in the justice or humanity of the Government at Washington, I thought it could scarcely insist upon torturing me, and would be satisfied to secure my person. I had applied for a parole on account of my health, but in vain had I waited for a reply. I had never, even, been allowed to see the order committing me to Fort Warren; and it seemed that the authorities had not been willing to spare me any agony of doubt or suspense.

I had been in prison nearly a fortnight, when I wrote the following letter to Washington:

FORT WARREN, BOSTON HARBOR, June, 1864. MR. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the United States Navy:

SIR: On the 10th of last month, I was taken one hundred and fifty miles out at sea on a British vessel, where I was simply a citizen passenger, unconnected with any public ser

vice of the Confederate States, and subject to none of the military penalties of your Government. Other passengers were, released: I, alone, of all the ship's company, an innocent passenger, was doomed to Fort Warren. I was taken from a sick bed to be brought here. In these harsh and invidious circumstances, I asked but a parole on account of desperate health; the bare concession of the plainest humanity. Since my confinement here, I have had three attacks of partial paralysis. It is now only left for me to declare to your conscience and to the sympathy of the world—not in terms of importunity or any mere personal disrespect, but in the spirit of a solemn conviction that I am being murdered by an imprisonment, the object of which is not to secure my person (since I offered to do this by an inviolable pledge of honor) but to punish an enfeebled body, and sharpen the torture of a disease that claims pity for its helplessness.

I am, etc.,


To this letter I never received a word of reply or sign of heed.


JOURNAL NOTES IN PRISON.-Precious Tributes of Sympathy.-Portrait of the Yankee.-A New England Shepherd.-Sufferings and Reflections.-Fourth of July in Fort Warren.

JUNE 17.-The hours weigh heavily upon me. In my imprisonment and sickness I have yet much to be thankful for, especially in the assiduous and cheerful attentions of my fellow-prisoner, Doctor Hambleton. The pastimes in our prisonlife are meagre enough. Reading the newspapers and eviscerating Yankee falsehoods are our chief employments.

The good friends I have made in Boston have not forgotten me, and I have frequent occasion to acknowledge their kindness in missions of sympathy and occasionally of "material" comfort, in articles of food banished by "orders from Washington" from the slop-boards of our cook-house. Whatever thoughts I have of the cruel despotism at Washington and of those masses of population subject to it, my heart must always retain grateful and faithful memories of those few in a strange land who administered to my sorrow, and dared an expression of sympathy for me, when in the bonds of prison and disease.

I have a valued and interesting correspondence with some noble ladies in Boston, whom I have never seen, but whose names are known to several of the prisoners here, who have had various tokens of their sympathy. The correspondence in my case commenced with a present of delicious fruit, to which the card of the donor was attached. The charity of these ladies, and, more than all, the sentiments which have sweetened it, are treasured in the hearts of many prisoners here, and they may be sure that when the name and freedom of our beloved country shall no longer be disputed, their deeds will find a public record somewhere and be rewarded with conspicuous gratitude.

Before this war I had lived several years in Washington and in New York; but from all the herd of my acquaintance in the North I have not yet had one line of sympathy or of remembrance.

Yet I have had letters from strangers-among them dear, noble country women of mine in the enemy's lines-which have touched my heart with inexpressible gratitude and pride.

I had been in prison but a few days when I received from Mrs. General, of Kentucky, a stranger to me, but the name of whose gallant husband, fallen on one of the bright fields of the war, lives in the glorious memories of the Confederacy, a letter of sympathy, subscribed, "a sincere though unknown friend." "Do you need aid?" wrote this generous lady. "And will you be allowed to receive any from your friends? It would be a pleasure to relieve your wants as far as we can."

Yesterday I received a letter which is so remarkable, that I cannot forbear transcribing here some passages from it, and taking the liberty of adding the name of the writer-a liberty, I think, which a grateful memoir must admit, unless there is good reason to the contrary:-

June 12th, 1864.


MR. EDWARD A. POLLARD (of Richmond, Va.):

I see from the papers that you are a prisoner of war at Fort Warren. All prisoners need the attention of their friends. Though entirely unknown to you, I have still the honor to be a Virginian, and love from a sense of duty all of her worthy sons. If you need money, clothes, or any thing, write immediately and inform me, with directions to whose care to send them. I have a holy veneration for my Mother State, and if I failed to do any thing in my power for her brave sons, I would feel that I had neglected a religious duty. All of my relatives, except my father's immediate family, are in the "Old Dominion." I have had a brother at Camp Chase, and a cousin at Johnson's Island, and have cause to know how comforting any sympathy is to the prisoner. Do not forget that you have many warm friends in Missouri, and in myself a faithful one. So do not fail to let me know if you wish any thing. I think, sir, that we partake of the independent spirit of our mother, and do not like to receive any thing from strangers; but you know Virginians are not strangers, but brothers and sisters wherever they are found. .

[ocr errors]


Sweet lady, God bless you! I wrote that I was in no such need as to tax the generosity of friends; that the letter of my fair correspondent was itself a treasure; that I was proud to have such a country woman. To think that she had written to a desolate prisoner thus from her distant home, with that hearty and persistent offer of assistance, so unlike cheap sympathy, so really anxious to oblige! Well may Virginia herself be proud of such a daughter! The fragrance of many a womanly deed breathes through the gorgeous wreath Virginia has entwined in this war, and among these we would place this tribute of filial love from distant Missouri.

June 18.-The following is an excellent picture of present Yankee society, which I came across to-day, in an odd book, which gave some account of France under the rule of Henry III.:

"There was no more truth, no more justice, no more mercy. To slander, to lie, to rob, to wrench, to steal; all things are permitted save to do right and speak the truth."

What a perfect delineation of Washington and New York at the present day!

June 19.-The third Sabbath in my granite prison. Some one has had such care for the souls of Confederate prisoners as to have distributed among us a number of tracts, issued by the American Tract Society, 28 Cornhill, Boston. I have just finished reading one of them, entitled "Love Your Enemies”— a characteristic specimen of the Puritan Christianity of the Yankee, the blasphemy and brag of which have filled me with horror and disgust.

The writer, evidently one of the pious spitfires of New England, sets out with a terrible denunciation of the Confederacy, and, with characteristic regard for historical truth, describes the Confederates as outraging our [Yankee] "kindred," and "lurking in traitorous ambush at our [Yankee] door-posts." He then speaks of "their threats and curses, their outbursts of

« PreviousContinue »