Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/410
400 Southern Historical Society Papers.
under. I communicated my hopes to one of my messmates, Dave
, I forget his last name, but he was a gallant boy, and the first
dark night we made the attempt. It was unsuccessful. We were caught, our hands tied behind us, the rope attached to a lamp post, so the sentinel on the fence in the rear cduld have us in full view, and we were ordered to mark time. It was 9 o'clock when our monoto- nous tramp began. We heard the sentinels call every hour that night, and when the sun rose, we were still at our unceasing task. At nine in the morning, the adjutant of the prison guard, Davidson, a man whose memory will be held infamous by every prisoner whose mis- fortune it was to be confined in Camp Morton, came out to amuse himself by taunting us and making sport of our misery. This odious, despicable wretch was of the sort that power developes into Neros and Caligulas. He loved cruelty for its own sake. The moaning of a tortured victim was music to his ear. For the slightest offence he had prisoners tied up by the thumbs (one poor fellow was tied eleven hours, and not cut down until he fainted). I was told that the preced- ing winter, when half-frozen prisoners sometimes huddled together for increased warmth, he would rush upon the crowd, with some of his guard, and beat them with clubs, pretending to believe that they were plotting to escape. Many bruised and broken limbs testified to these outrages.
At 12 o'clock, after fifteen hours of punishment, he untied us. We were ready to drop from exhaustion. I could hardly bring my arms back to their natural position, they were so numb and swollen. Marking time was a terrible punishment, but it was nothing com- pared to the excruciating agony caused by having our hands tied so long behind us. My comrade was sent back to his quarters, but I was carried to a guard-house outside, and the corporal in charge instructed to keep me in solitary confinement and feed me on bread and water. Being a humane man, he disobeyed instructions, and my fare was better than at any time during my stay in prison.
Thursday, two weeks afterward, Davidson came and marched me back to the prison-yard, remarking as he parted from me at the gate, "I don't think you will try to escape again, if you do, look out!" The next Monday evening (November 14th), as I was sitting in my bunk, getting ready for bed, one of the men came in and said: " Da- mon, I just saw a crowd with ladders going across the yard towards No. 4, I reckon they are going to make a charge." Instantly I jumped to the ground, and calling out, " Come on, boys," started to