Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/246
Southern Historical Society Papers.
daring and reckless attempt to escape from the Point, by seizing a small boat fastened to the river bank and rowing to the Virginia shore. Both of these officers had been wounded, and Hudgins was still on crutches, and the probabilities are, if they had not been swamped and drowned during the dark, blustering night, that the terrible cold and piercing wind would have frozen them to death, clothed as they were, before they could have reached the Virginia shore, said to be over two miles distant. It was a very hazardous attempt, but they preferred risking the danger to longer bearing the insults and cruelty they daily suffered. While Morgan was striking at the chain which fastened the boat, the noise was heard, and he and his bold comrade were arrested and closely confined all night in a guard room, without fire or blankets. They were afterwards clad in a peculiar felon's suit, made of blankets sewed up before and open behind, the close fitting body being joined to the covering for the arms and legs, all being one garment. They wore blanket caps running to a point, with tassels; a ball and chain, attached only to condemned criminals, was fastened to a leg of each. This infamous and barbarous treatment of gallant Confederate officers, honorable prisoners of war, under no parole whatever, was a shame and disgrace to the authorities who ordered its infliction, and certainly no injury nor shame to the brave men sought to be insulted and dishonored. The punishment was intended to insult us all, and to humiliate us as much as possible; but they degraded and debased themselves by their utter want of chivalry and magnanimity, and their harsh, unsoldierly and cruel treatment of helpless prisoners. These men had violated none of the laws of war, had broken no pledges, were guilty of nothing unbecoming officers and gentlemen, and were merely trying to exercise a divine and inalienable right to take care of their own persons, and to escape from durance uncommonly vile, if possible. In the felon's garb mentioned, and with ball and chain attached to their limbs, these gentlemen were sent back to their quarters during the day, to be remanded to the chilly guard room at night. Their clothing had all been taken from them and retained, when they were forced to don their present degrading garments. We were all justly very indignant at the papable insult offered us, and a committee, composed of Colonel Hinton, Major Hanvey and Major Taylor, was sent to remonstrate against the gross indignity. Major Brady was interviewed; but showed himself anything but a high-toned gentleman, falsified promises made, and did not repudiate the charge