Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 10.djvu/37

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27
The True Story of Andersonville.

Chief Surgeon White to pay from a hundred to two hundred dollars for a quantity of squashes, collards, onions and other garden stuff which could have been purchased in Fulton or Washington market for five or six dollars; although a "greenback" in Andersonville rated at only four times the value of a Confederate dollar—at Richmond it was rated at ten and twelve Confederate dollars. These vegetables were necessarily, from their limited quantity, confined to the hospital. In addition to this the hospital was supplied with eggs, no doubt in limited quantities. [Three dollars in greenbacks for a dozen of eggs.] Fresh beef was supplied to the hospital two or three times a week, and sometimes to the stockade, when it could be had, cattle having for this purpose been sought for miles around the country.

The hospital and sick men in the stockade were supplied with whiskey, three and four barrels having been some days brought into headquarters, and regular details of our own men appointed to distribute it, who, however, often drank the rations themselves. The hospital was supplied with tea and sugar, not abundantly to be sure, but hospitals, even in New York city, are not over-abundantly supplied with such articles.

Nevertheless, great misery prevailed in the stockade. But it was inevitable from the circumstances. The men, two out of every three, had no change of underclothing, and although there was water enough to wash them, they could not get soap, an article of which the Confederate authorities were themselves especially in need. The bodies of our men, and indeed the minds, had become prostrated from long confinement, in many instances sixteen and twenty months. There were gathered into one prison, by the force of events, nearly forty thousand men, to be provided with food, and five thousand with medicine. They were deprived of their accustomed food, and had to live upon the same kind of rations, day after day, nearly the whole of the time. But none, except those who have gone through the mill, know what a tremendous task it is to provide daily rations for such a vast multitude of human beings.

There are some special facts I wish to state of my own knowledge, as they will throw some light on this unhappy subject. It has been stated over and over, and reiterated in a thousand different shapes, that the Confederate authorities meant to starve our men. But I, who was twelve months a prisoner of war, and suffered sickness, and cold, and hunger, in common with the other prisoners, deny this flatly, for, while we all suffered, there was no desire to inflict suffering or hardship upon Federal prisoners. Why, the Confederate authorities were suffering