Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/295
Treatment of Prisoners During the War.
that only $100 each was paid the enlisted men for the frontier service. Captain H. R. Rathbone, United States army, came from Washington, and mustered the men into service. I was detailed to assist in preparing the muster-rolls, and can vouch for all the foregoing except the $300, which I leave with the citizens of Venango, Clarion, and other counties represented in the war by the prisoners of Rock Islaid. If the report be true, Judge Petty "struck oil" at Rock Island for 1,797 times $200, or $359,400.
Until June 1st, 1864, no reasonable complaint could be made in regard to the food furnished the prisoners; but from that date until June, 1865, the inmates of Rock Island were subjected to starvation and all its attendant horrors. I know that this charge was denied by the officers of that prison at the very time the atrocity was being perpetrated. God may forgive whoever caused the deed to be done, but surely there is little hope for whoever denies it now. The following is a copy of a circular from the Commissary General of Prisoners, dated June 1st, 1864. It is the ration ordered for each prisoner per day:
|Pork or Bacon.||10 ounces, in lieu of fresh beef.|
|Fresh beef||14 ounces.|
|Flour or soft bread||16 ounces.|
|Hard bread||14 ounces, in lieu of flour or soft bread.|
|Corn meal||16 ounces, in lieu of flour or soft bread.|
|Beans or peas||12½ pounds,||to 100 rations.|
|Or rice or hominy||8 pounds,|
Now all this means only bread and meat sixteen ounces of the former, and fourteen ounces of the latter; and we will add one-hundredth part of eight pounds of hominy. For let the reader observe that if hominy is issued, rice or peas or beans is not issued. Here, then, we have only three articles of food according to the official document, but in so far as that represents the quantities and the kind of articles issued to the prisoners, it is a fraud; as Paul wrote the Galations, "Behold, before God, I lie not." Here is what the prisoners actually received:
Twelve ounces corn bread, four and a half ounces salt beef (usually unfit for human food). No man can conceive the effect of this diet. To realize what he would eat at the end of a month he must experience this treatment for a month. Did the prisoners eat rats and mice and dogs when they could get them? What would they not eat? The cravings of hunger were never relieved. One continued gnawing anguish, that sleep aggravated rather than appeased was ever present. They did eat rats and mice to my knowledge.
The dogs were missing, and who will doubt that the starved wretches, who ate rats, had feasted on the dogs. What difference is there between my statement and the official circular? I say twelve ounces bread; it says sixteen ounces. I say four and a half ounces salt beef; it says ten ounces salt pork. I say two articles of