Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/258
Southern Historical Society Papers.
kicked some cowardly fellow, who had solicited the oath and release from prison, and, when reported to Ahl, was ordered to the pen occupied by the "galvanized" men. Here he was seized, and placed violently and forcibly upon a blanket, and swinging him rapidly was hurled repeatedly high in air, until exhausted and almost dead from the shameful violence. All are justly indignant at such tyrannical conduct on the part of the ignoble Ahl. An adjutant of a Virginia regiment bribed a sentinel to mail a letter to his sweetheart in Baltimore for him, but the letter was discovered and detained. The adjutant was sent for and asked to explain how he mailed the letter, which he declined to do. Whereupon he was hung up by the thumbs, sustaining his entire weight in that painful position. Occasionally he was lowered and again the name of the guard who mailed his letter demanded, but he invariably refused to tell. His thumbs were almost torn from his hands, their joints were torn apart, and the poor, brave, faithful, honorable fellow fainted at last from excess of pain from the cruel torture. He cannot now use his swollen hands, and is fed by his messmates. He is entirely helpless so far as his hands and arms are concerned. Such conduct as this on the part of Schoepff and Ahl does not soften our asperity towards the Yankee Government, nor make us willing to swear fealty to it.
April 24th and 25th—Captain Ahl came into the pen, arranged the officers in three sides of a hollow square, and had the roll called alphabetically, offering the oath of allegiance to all, with a promise of early release, if accepted. Nearly 900 out of 2,300 agreed to take it. It was a trying and exciting time as each name was called and the response "Yes" or "No" was announced. I answered "No" with emphasis and bitterness. Born on Southern soil, reared under its institutions, nurtured upon its traditions, I cannot consent to take the hated oath. The very thought is repulsive in the extreme.April 26th to 29th—The distressing news of the surrender of General Johnston to Sherman in North Carolina is announced in words of exultation by the Northern papers. The cup of bitterness and sorrow seems full. Those officers who had declined the oath were again ordered out, the roll called a second time, and the oath again offered. Hundreds who had promptly and boldly replied "No" when their names were called after Lee's surrender, now faintly and reluctantly answered "Yes." What a painful mental struggle they must have passed through. My own messmates