Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/245

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The Historical Register on our Papers.

The Historical Register on our Papers.

The following notice of our Papers appears in the October number of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register:

Southern Historical Papers. Richmond, Va.: Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., Secretary of the Southern Historical Society.

The Southern Historical Society is doing an exceedingly valuable work in publishing these Papers, which have not received in the North the attention to which they are entitled. They make already five volumes, with a sixth half completed, and they are full of the most useful materials for the history of the late war. The battle of Gettysburg is especially fully treated, there being more than a score of papers on it, and nearly all by officers who personally took part in it; and Murfreesboro' and many other battles are more or less fully treated. The purpose of the Society is, we believe, especially to show the gallant part which the South played in the contest, and there is naturally now and then something of the warmth and one-sidedness of men who find not only their patriotism but their personal reputation at stake. But this is to be expected always in the raw material of history, and the more these Papers are studied the more valuable they will be found. Not only the battles, military and naval, but incidental matters, like the capture of Davis and the treatment of prisoners, are discussed. As to the capture of Davis, the author makes sad work of Wilson's account, but he is forced to admit that the ex-President was captured on his way to the spring with women with a pail, and that he had a cloak thrown over him, probably for disguise; and the affidavits of the Federal officers there show that it seemed to them an imperfect imitation of feminine costume; so that the dispute so vehemently waged is narrowed down to the fine point of whether it was his cloak or his wife's, and precisely what she exclaimed about his hurting somebody if they were not careful.

The painful matter of the treatment of the prisoners at Andersonville is not so candidly handled. It appears that the frightful mortality arose in part from the poor quality and character of the food, for which the authorities were not perhaps wholly to blame. The more potent causes were, however, the over-crowding, the foul water, the total absence of drainage, shelter, &c. As there was an abundance of vacant land near, and also of water and timber, these evils might easily have been cured by putting the prisoners at work enlarging the stockade, digging drains, building huts, and so forth. Yet the horrible mortality continued without any attempt at amelioration through the year of 1864, the deaths reaching during that frightful summer ten thousand in the twenty thousand usually confined there. There had been some attempts to escape by prisoners employed on the works, and no doubt it was supposed that by exchange or removal the number might be diminished; but that surely cannot excuse the continued neglect of the most simple