Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/133
Diary of Captain Robert E. Park.
[Continued from February Number.]
March 7th to 12th, 1865—A number of prisoners, mainly from the privates' pen, have signified a willingness to take the hated oath of allegiance, and are now kept in separate barracks, clothed in blue suits and given better rations. They are called "Galvanized" men, and sometimes "Company Q." These weak and cowardly men are willing to betray their own country and people, and swear to support a government which they can but detest. Such men could not have been of any real value to the South, but rather skulking nuisances, and they are to be pitied as well as despised. They are either ignorant and deluded, or actuated by self-interest or want of principle. They regard their personal comfort and safety more than the good of their relatives and friends and their native land. Many prisoners seem to have thrown aside all modesty. We have to wash our hands, faces and feet in the sluggish ditch-water which runs through the campus, and a good many strip to their waists and bathe themselves, utterly regardless of the presence of hundreds of fellow prisoners passing constantly near them. The water is brackish and covered with green scum. Men stand in a row along the banks, and all wash at one time. The dirty off-scouring from each man flows to his neighbor, and is used again. Some throw back the water with their hands and seek a cleaner supply. The whole scene is sickening.
Beer, made of fermented corn meal and cheap or mean molasses, and weak lemonade are sold at various stands, made of boxes, in the pen, and are bought by those, able to do so. I doubt their cleanliness, and have touched but few glasses. Want of proper medicine and attention, combined with boiled fresh beef and thin, watery soup, keep many ill with constant diarrhoea. There are no night-vessels, and at all times of these cold, wintry nights officers are forced to go to the rear, several hundred feet distant. Fresh boiled beef, without vegetables, seems to cause and aggravate the very prevalent disease. The Yankee surgeons know it, but order no change of diet. Such meanness is despicable in its littleness and barbarity. It is known that Ahl and Wolfe have spies among the prisoners, who mingle freely with them, seek their confidence and then basely betray them. They listen to and watch every one, and promptly act the ignoble parts of eavesdroppers and tale-