Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 10.djvu/38

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

many a privation at Andersonville. The surgeons who were in attendance upon the sick had not decent shoes or stockings; their shoes and boots being in many instances so patched, that the original leather out of which they had been manufactured had become invisible. These gentlemen, men of education and professional ability, and who were reared in luxury, did not know often—while giving their services daily and nightly to such a host of prisoners—where to look for a dinner or a bed. During the six months I was in Andersonville, not one of them received a dollar's pay. The consequence was, that they had been turned out of their boarding houses in the adjacent villages and country houses, and Dr. White, head surgeon, had to provide quarters for them as best he might. These surgeons had often to share the tents of the paroled Federal prisoners. Dr. White himself was often glad to get even a share of the prison rations—corn bread and ham—while engaged in his official and professional duties; often for fourteen or fifteen hours without intermission. He was an able surgeon, humane, enlightened, abstemious and self-denying, and had all the high-souled chivalry and deportment of the best of the F. F. V's.

In this connection, let me refer to Captain Wirz, the Commandant of the prison, who was generally regarded as being very harsh. But his position should be considered. He was a mere keeper of prisoners—a work which can never be popular. The Yankees were nightly and indeed daily trying to run away, as they were bound to do; but he said he was bound to catch them wherever he could find them. Between the jailer and the jailed, there could not and never can be any peculiar love; but, under a rough exterior, more often assumed then felt, this Captain Wirz was as kind-hearted a man as I ever met. Being myself at headquarters I learned his character, and the opinion I formed of him when in the stockade, which was one of a bitter kind enough, I had to change when I came really to know the man. The first collision between Captain Wirz and his prisoners was, when on the 17th of March he wanted to squad them off, for the purpose of exactly ascertaining the number of rations that would be needed at that date, the men wanted to play a flank movement, so as to get counted in two squads, and thereby get double rations. Half the prisoners were placed at the south side of the "swamp," the other at the north side. When the Confederate sergeants counted the squads at the north side, and dismissed each squad as counted and named, hundreds of them dodged across the "swamp" and got into the southern side squads by the time the sergeants were able to get across, in order to get double rations, giving different names to those they went by at the other side. But the number of prisoners