Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/41

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Prison Pastimes. 35

[New Orleans Picayune, Oct. 4, 1891. 1

PRISON PASTIMES.

How Our Soldier Boys at Fort Delaware Amused Themselves While in

Confinement as Prisoners of War The Publication

of the " Prison Times."

From the very many publications of experiences of prison life in the North and South, during the war of i86i-'65, there should be but few persons who are not familiar with the narratives, both true and false, of the suffering and utter wretchedness that prevailed among the thousands of captives from both armies, held for an exchange, that was unfortunately delayed by the action of the Fede- ral authorities in violating the cartel then existing between the con- tending parties.

From that mass of sorrowful narrative it is a pleasure to discover a small bit of the silvery lining which at times shows its glory behind the blackest clouds.

Among the archives of the Louisiana Historical Association is a newspaper published (hand-written) at Fort Delaware, in April, 1865, by Confederate prisoners. Within the limits of Fort Delaware, in a space of barely five acres, sixteen hundred Confederate officers were confined; and they, after the manner of Mark Tapley, not willing to be depressed by untoward circumstances surrounding them, perfected organizations for the entertainment and comfort of all the great company. Musical and Christian associations were formed, and finally they issued the Prison Times.

The Times illustrates so plainly the cheerful and hopeful spirit of these gallant officers, and gives such insight behind the scenes of prison life, that it deserves to be preserved among the annals of the great war.

The original paper was presented to the Historical Association by Major E. D. Willett, who received it from the wife of Lieutenant A. T. Turner, Fifteenth Louisiana regiment, who was Chief of Divi- sion 25, in the barracks of Fort Delaware.

It is so worn and torn that it is almost illegible, and can only be deciphered by using a strong reading-glass.