|D. H. HILL, Major-General, C. S. A.
The rigid observance of the above cartel would have prevented all the horrors of prison life, North and South, and have averted the great mortality in Southern prisons and the greater mortality in Northern prisons. The Confederate authorities carried out in good faith the provisions of the cartel until the other side had not only frequently violated nearly every article, but finally repudiated the cartel itself.
Judge Ould's letter-book gives the most incontrovertible proof of this statement; but we reserve the detailed proofs for the present, and pass the consider further the
TREATMENT OF FEDERAL PRISONERS BY THE CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.
We have given above the testimony of General Lee - that the orders were to treat the whole field alike, caring for wounded friend and foe without discrimination, and that "these orders were respected on every field." Time and again, after some great victory, has the writer seen our brave soldiers, though well nigh worn out with the conflict, ministering to their wounded foes - sharing with them their scant rations, carrying them water, binding up their wounds, and bearing them gently back to our field hospitals, where we gave them every attention in our power. We were personal witnesses of that scene at Port Republic, when Fremont, who had been so badly whipped by Ewell at Cross Keys the day before, stood idly by until Jackson had routed Shields, and then amused himself by shelling the Confederate ambulances and litter- bearers who were caring for the Federal wounded. It is by no means affirmed that there were not individual instances of cruelty to prisoners on the part of Confederate soldiers (especially in the latter part of the war, when their passions were aroused by the heart-rending stories of Federal outrages to helpless women and children which came from every quarter), but we do most emphatically assert that our soldiers as a class were worthy of the eulogy which President Davis pronounced upon them just after the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, in which he said, "You are fighting for all that is dearest to man, and though opposed to a foe who disregards many of the usages of war, your humanity to the wounded and prisoners was a fit and crowning glory to your valor."
The following well authenticated incident of a gallant Confederate soldier was brought out during his funeral obsequies last fall:
"While Pickett's division was before Newbern, General Pickett received by flag of truce a letter from a gentleman in Boston, accompanied by a package of money containing $2,000, in which they writer states he had a brother, a Federal officer, in the Libby Prison; that his brother was a former comrade of Pickett in the Mexican war; and appealed to him, by the friendship of their old days, to forward the money to his brother. The appeal touched the generous heart of the soldier, and he dispatched an orderly with the money to the officer. The orderly, tempted by the unusual sight of so much greenbacks, basely deserted to the enemy and escaped with the booty. As soon as Pickett heard of the desertion he immediately went to Richmond, and by a mortgage on his Turkey Island property succeeded in borrowing $2,000, which he carried to the prisoner, with an explanation of and apology for the delay. The officer, when he learned by what means the General had raised the money, declined to accept $1,000 of it; but with that nine sense of honor which distinguished the true Southern gentleman, General Pickett compelled him to do so. The two soldiers then talked over the brave old days of the past, when together they fought under the same flag; and as the conversation ripened into friendly confidence the prisoner frankly told the General that his object was to escape if possible, and that he could not receive his confidence in such a matter; that the money was his own, and that he had a right to do with it as he pleased, but it would be improper for him to become a party to his plans. He then left. The prisoner did escape. The war ended disastrously to the South, and General Pickett's estate was sold to satisfy the mortgage which he had executed." [Some of this information is retracted in a later statement]
This incident of the treatment which the chivalric Pickett accorded to this prison is by no means an isolated example of the readiness of Confederate officers and soldiers to do all in their power to alleviate the condition of prisoners. Incidents illustrating this might be multiplied.
But we proceed to inquire into the treatment received by Federal prisoners after they reached our prisons. And as the report of the committee of the Confederate Congress treats chiefly of the prisons in and around Richmond, we will speak chiefly of ANDERSONVILLE, of which Mr. Blaine says, "Libby pales into insignificance before Andersonville." We cannot better state the case than it has been done by a well known writer:
"The site of the prison at Andersonville - a point on the Southwester Railway, in Georgia - had been selected under an official order having reference to the following points: "A healthy locality, plenty of pure, good water, a running stream, and if possible shade trees, and in the immediate neighborhood of grist and saw mills." The pressure was so great at Richmond and the supplies so scant that prisoners were sent forward while the stockade was only about half finished. When the first installment of prisoners arrived, there was no guard at Andersonville, and the little squad which had charge of them in the cars had to remain; and at no time did the guard, efficient and on duty, exceed fifteen hundred, to man the stockade, to guard, and to do general duty and afford relief and enforce discipline over thirty-four thousand prisoners.
"In regard to the sufferings and mortality among the prisoners at Andersonville,
none of it arose from the unhealthiness of the locality. The food, though
the same as that used by the Confederate soldiers - the bread, too, being
corn - was different from that to which they had been accustomed, did not
agree with them, and scurvy and diarrhoea prevailed to a con- siderable
extent; neither disease, however, was the result of starvation. That
some prisoners did not get their allowance, although a full supply was
sent in, is true. But there not being a guard sufficient to attend
to distribution, Federal prisoners were appointed, each having a certain
number allotted to his charge, among whom it was his duty to see that every
"In regard to sanitary regulations, there were certain prescribed places
and modes for the reception of all filth, and a sluice was made to carry
it off; but the most abominable disregard was manifested of all sanitary
regulations, and to such a degree that it a conspiracy had been entered
into by a large number of the prisoners to cause the utmost filth and stench,
"The merits of Andersonville may be summed up by saying that it was
of unquestioned healthfulness; it was large enough and had water enough,
and could have been made tolerable for the number originally intended for
it. It appears that the increase of that number was apparently
a matter of necessity for the time; that other sites were selected and
Statement of One of the Guard:
We will add the following article, written by Mr. L. M. Park, of La Grange, Georgia, who is personally known to us as a gentleman of unimpeachable character, and whose testimony is of the highest importance, as he speaks of what he saw himself. His article was originally written for the Southern Magazine, and while it contains some expressions which are bitter against the slanderers of our people, we will give it entire except the concluding paragraphs:
The "Rebel Prison Pen" at Andersonville, Georgia.
It is the duty of every lover of justice, when he sees a gross and injurious
calumny put into circulation which he is able to refute from direct knowledge,
to challenge it at once, and more especially if it is aimed at his own
people, and meant to be used to their injury. It is true that in those
regions for which these calumnies are prepared they are too generally preferred
facts gleaned during a trip to Andersonville, Georgia, concerning the Confederate military prison there and the treatment of Federal prisoners. Instead of reviewing the article in detail, I will merely take up, one by one, the principal false statements.
THE WATER THE PRISONERS DRANK.
It was my fortune to be stationed at Andersonville almost from the first establishment of the prison until the removal to Millen, Georgia, or Camp Lawton, and I unhesitatingly pronounce the statement that "the prisoners had to drink the water which conveyed the offal of three camps and two large bakeries or kitchens off before it reached them," utterly false. The guards drank of the same water that quenched the prisoners' thirst, cooked their food with the same water, the same large stream or creek flowing through the encampment of guards and stockade, or prison-pen, as Northern writers sneeringly call it. The camps of the guards all faced the stream, while their sinks were far off in the rear, and orders were most strict not to muddy the water, much less defile it in any way. As to the offal of the bakeries, these being presided over by prisoners on parole, and who did the cooking for the entire prison, I cannot believe they would pollute the water their brother prisoners had to drink. As rapidly as they could the prisoners dug wells; in all some two hundred were dug, and purer, sweeter, colder water I never drank. Being on the staff of Captain Wirz, I had free access to the prison at all times day or night, and whenever I wished to quench my thirst, I went inside the prison and drank from one of these wells.
THAT PROVIDENTIAL SPRING, SO-CALLED.
That "providential spring" in an impious myth. I have been in the prison thousands of times and never before heard it so called, except on reading the Herald's account of the anniversary of the Fulton street prayer meeting, when some pharisaically pious old brother recited a long rigmarole about this same "providential spring," and said it was planted there in direct answer to prayer. The gist of this spring- tale is that when the prisoners' sickness and suffering from thirst was at its greatest, all at once, in the twinkling of an eye, this spring gushed forth in direct answer to prayer. Was ever such blasphemy? If such was the case, why does the spring still exist after it has answered its purpose? Do those rocks of Horeb struck by Moses to slake the children of Israel's thirst still exist, and at this late day the water gush forth? It is all a cock-and-bull story, and unlike Sterne's, one of the poorest I ever heard.
TWO FEDERAL AND THREE REBEL PROVIDENTIAL SPRINGS.
If my recollection serves me right, there was yet another of these same "providential springs" inside the stockade, and that Providence who sends the rain alike upon the just and the unjust gave unto the wicked and ungodly Rebels three of these "providential springs;" and I am sure he did not plant ours in answer to prayer, for we had just as soon drunk the branch water.
REASONS WHY THERE WERE NO BARRACKS.
The Confederate Government has always been harshly assailed for its want of humanity in not having barracks to house the prisoners from the sun and rains. A more senseless hue and cry was never heard. How was it possible to saw timber into planks without saw-mills? There were two water-power mills distant three and six miles respectfully, but such rude primitive affairs undeserving the name. The nearest steam saw-mill was twenty-three miles distant (near Smithville), the next at Reynolds, about fifty miles distant; but the great bulk of the lumber used, fully two-thirds, was brought from Gordon, a distance of eighty miles. Even if these mills had had the capacity to supply the necessary amount of lumber, it would still have been impossible to have provided barracks for the prisoners, as all the available engines of all the railroads in the Confederacy were taxed to their utmost capacity in transporting supplies for the army in the field and to the prisons. But few even of the officers of the guard had shanties, and these few were built of slabs and sheeting, which every one knows is the refuse of the mills. And even though there were no lack of lumber, when we remember that there was but one solitary manufactory of cut nails in the limits of the Confederacy, certainly no blame could be attached to the authorities for not furnishing more comfortable quarters for them. Nearly every building in the encampment was built of rough logs and covered with clap-boards split from the tree and held to their places by poles. The force of these statements is readily appreciated by every intelligent, unprejudiced mind. Besides, is it customary for any nation in time of war to treat their prisoners in a more humane manner than their own soldiers in the field? The inquiry becomes pertinent when we reflect that during the last two years of the war there was not a tent of any description to be found in any of the armies of the Confederacy, save such as were captured from the Federals.
HOW THE STOCKADE WAS BUILT.
The stockade was built by the negroes belonging to the neighboring farms, either hired or pressed into service by the Confederate authorities to cut down the immense pine trees growing on the ground intended for the stockade; and these same trees were then cut into proper lengths and hewn upon the spot, and then planted in a ditch dug four feet deep to receive them. In this manner was the stockade made. Before it was completed the prisoners were forwarded in great numbers; and it being impossible to keep them in the cars, we had to put them in the completed end of the stockade and double the guards, and our whole force kept ever ready day and night for the slightest alarm; for at first we had only the shattered remnants of two regiments - the Twenty-sixth Alabama and the Fifty-fifth Georgia - numbering in all some three hundred and fifty men. This constituted the guard. In about ten days thereafter my regiment - the First Georgia Reserves, composed of young boys and old men (I was not sixteen), just organized - were sent to take the place of the Twenty-sixth Alabama and Twenty-sixth Georgia, so they could be sent to the front for duty. In a few days after our arrival the 2d, 3d and 4th Georgia Reserves, all composed of lads and hoary-headed men (for we were reduced to the strait of"), joined us as rapidly as they could be organized. The author of "Jaunt in the South" says: When the stockade was occupied in 1864, there was not a tree or blade of grass within it. Its reddish sand was entirely barren, and not the smallest particle of green showed itself. But now the surface is covered the entire area, and where before was a dreary desert there is now a wild and luxurious garden." I have before said the ground was covered with a pine forest, and the trees were utilized to build the stockade. Any one who has traveled south Macon, Georgia, knows the pine is abundant, and in fact almost the only tree. In these forests the ground is covered by wire grass or other grass peculiar to them.
WHY ANDERSONVILLE WAS SELECTED.
The main reasons for locating the prison at Andersonville, after its first being thought the most secure place in the Confederacy from Yankee cavalry raids, was the abundance of the water and the timber wherewith to construct the prison rapidly, and its being in the very heart of the grain-growing region of the South, which would make it less inconvenient to supply with provisions such a vast multitude.
MALICIOUS EXHIBITION IN OHIO STATE CAPITOL.
In the summer of 1867, I set out for New York, being resolved to live no longer in the South, where negroes were being placed over us by Yankee bayonets, and in their vernacular, "de bottom rail wuz agittin' on de top er de fence." I traveled very leisurely, and stopped in every city of any note on my route, and kept eyes and ears wide open to drink in everything. I visited the Ohio State Capitol at Columbus, and in the museum of curiosities were some small paper boxes carefully preserved in a glass case, containing what purported to have been the exact quality and quantity of rations issued per diem to each prisoner at Andersonville. In one box was about a pint of coarse unbolted meal, and in another about one tablespoonful of rice; and still another box with about two tablespoonsful of black peas; and in a tiny little box was about one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Underneath it is all explained, and says, among other things, "when rice was given, the peas were withheld; but when they had no rice, this kind of peas was given instead." It is needless to tell now my blood boiled at such an atrociously malicious and false exhibition. No wonder the hatred of the North is kept alive, and the bloody chasm continually widened by such wicked and uncharitable displays as this in one of the largest and most enlightened States in the Union.
RATIONS TO GUARDS AND PRISONERS THE SAME.
I was for three months a clerk in the Commissary Department at Andersonville,
and it was my business to weight out rations for the guards and prisoners
alike; and I solemnly assert that the prisoners got ounce for ounce and
pound for pound of just the same quality and quantity of food as did the
guards. The State authorities of Ohio ought to blush at thus traducing
and slandering a fallen foe, and never in the first instance to have placed
on exhibition for preservation as truth this fabrication of partisan hate.
No Andersonville prisoner, unless he were lost to all sense of honor and
shame, could make such a statement
WHY THE PRISONERS WERE FED ON CORN BREAD.
It has been charged as a crying shame upon the Confederacy by ignorant humanitarians that the South might at least have given the prisoners wheat bread occasionally; that they rarely ate corn bread in their own land, and that the bread we issued was made of meal so coarse and unsifted that it caused dysentery, thereby largely increasing the mortality. It is well known now that the South depends very largely, and with shame I Confess it, on the West for her bread and bacon, and the cotton belt proper makes but little pretension of raising wheat, for the climate, it is said, is unsuited; so that the region round about Andersonville, being in the very heart of the cotton-growing section of Georgia, such a thing as feeding prisoners of flour was simply impossible, and the little flour that was obtained as tithes (one-tenth of all the crops raised was required by our Government) was devoted entirely to the use of the hospitals. Not only was this true of the territory immediately surrounding Andersonville, but of the whole South. Our own armies were unsupplied with flour, and perhaps not one family in fifty throughout the whole land enjoyed that luxury. The guards ate the same bread, or rather meal; the bread eaten by the prisoner being baked by regular bakers (prisoner detailed for that purpose), while the guards did their own cooking. The meal, however, was the same, and both were unsifted and in truth very coarse. I ate the unsifted meal always.
THE DEAD LINE.
Another cry of holy horror is raised every time the "Dead Line" is mentioned, as if this dead line was prima facie evidence that the Southerners were as barbarous and cruel a race as ever blotted the face of earth. The civilized North, however, had the same barbarous dead line in their prisons, and in fact originated the device. It was a necessity with us, for we had never at one time more than 1,200 to 1,500 guards in the four regiments fit for duty, and we had the keeping at one time of very nearly 40,000 prisoners. By a concerted plan of onslaught they could at any time have scaled the walls, captured guards, and with the weapons of their keepers overrun the entire country, which, all south of Dalton, Georgia (100 miles north of Atlanta), was left wholly unprotected save by gray-haired old men and young boys; and the women, children, and negroes, who were the only hope for the making of crops for our armies, would have been helplessly at their mercy. This dead line was clearly defined, and consisted of stakes driven into the ground twenty feet from the stockade walls, and on these stakes was a three-inch strip of plank nailed all around the inside of the prison. They were all notified that a step beyond this line was not prudent, and they were not so unwise as to venture beyond that limit.
BURIAL OF DEAD PRISONERS.
Speaking of the number and burial of the dead, the writer of the aforesaid "Jaunt" says: "The authorities at the stockade who had charge of the interment of the Federal dead did their work rudely, * * * digging pits and burying them in." Then he goes on: "It is hard to comprehended the true value of the number, 14,000; its magnitude eludes you. Fourteen thousand men would form a great mob, or a great army, or a great town. Here you have 14,000 men lying silently in a few acres. Within these bounds men have suffered as greatly as have any since the world began." In reply to this, I would merely say the burial was the work of prisoners paroled especially for the purpose, both the hauling of the bodies to the ground, the digging of the graves, and even the recording of the names were all done by paroled prisoners. Owing to the weakness of the guard, paroled prisoners were employed for this duty, as we could spare no men for the purpose; and if the work was rudely or carelessly done, the blame rests with them. As compensation they were given double rations and almost entire freedom. As to the number of the dead, we admit that it is great, but statistics show that more Southern soldiers died in Northern prisons than Northern soldiers in Southern prisons. In vain have Northern writers tried to disprove this fact.
MORTALITY NO GREATER AMONG PRISONERS THAN GUARD.
Great as was the mortality among the prisoners, it was no greater in proportion to numbers than that of the guard, which is fully attested by the reports of the surgeon in charge. Besides, it is well known to every soul that can or does read that the Confederacy, through their agent, Judge Ould, made frequent and tireless efforts to get the United States Government, through their agent, General Butler, to exchange. But no, the Federal authorities would not hear to it; but acting on the avowed and promulgated idea that the South, being blockaded, could not recruit her armies from foreign lands, while to the North the whole of Europe was opened, they cruelly determined not to exchange, so as to detain our soldiers from again fighting them, well knowing that even then we had made our last conscription (17 to 50 years), and when those we had were killed up or in prison we would of course be overpowered. This was their cold-blooded, brutal policy; and closely did they stick to it, even till we were almost literally wiped out, while the men they had fighting us were in most part hired substitutes, drafted men, and foreign hirelings.
PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF MORTALITY.
Farther, as to the mortality among the prisoners, let it be remembered that a majority of the deaths caused in our prisons was for want of proper medicines, which we did not have and could not get, except by blockade-running. Had the Federal Government any of the milk of human kindness in its composition, it would have acceded to our earnest request to take cotton in exchange for drugs to administer to their own dying soldiers. Their immense manufactories were lying idle for want of cotton, while we had it, but could not use it. But as these self- same drugs and medicines would also be applied to the relief of our own sick soldiers, they determined it would be to their advantage to let all die alike, knowing the South could get no more men to supply the places of the sick, the dying, and those they had imprisoned, so refusal all overtures. After using every effort and exhausting every argument to get an exchange, we proposed - as we had no medicines and could get none, except what we accidentally ran it through the blockade from Europe (they being declared contraband and always confiscated whenever captured by the blockading fleet) - we proposed to turn over to them all their sick, without requiring man for man, but giving them absolutely up, if the United States would only send vessels for transporting them. This was done at Camp Lawton (Millen, Georgia), after the prison was removed from Andersonville for greater security.
EXTRACTS FROM AN OFFICER'S DIARY.
From the private journal of a Confederate officer high in command, both at Andersonville and other Southern prisons, I glean the annexed facts, the first bearing directly upon the foregoing:
- "At one time an order came to Camp Lawton to prepare 2,000 men for exchange. The order from Richmond was to select first the wounded, next the oldest prisoners and the sickly, filling up with healthy men according to date. This party went first to Savannah, as arranged, but by some mistake the ships were at Charleston, and the poor wretched had to be taken there; and every one who knew the Southern railroads in those days, and the difficulty or rather impossibility to procure food for such a crowd along the road, will know what those poor fellows suffered. At Charleston they were refused, the commissioner declaring that "he was not going to exchange able-bodied men for such miserable specimens of humanity." (The term used was more brutal). Finding him obdurate, Colonel Ould requested him to take them without exchange. This he refused with a sneering laugh, and the crowd was ordered back. Never did the writer of this witness such woe-begone countenances, in which misery and hopelessness were more strongly painted, than shown by those poor fellows on their return. And the curses leveled against the rulers who thus treated the defenders of their country were fearful, although certainly well deserved. As the stockade-gate closed upon them the surgeon in charge said to the writer: "Poor fellows! the world has closed upon more than half of them; this disappointment will be their death-knell." His words proved true. Who murdered those men? Let history answer the question."
CLOTHING FOR PRISONERS.
Again I extract from the aforesaid journal: "the Northerners talk so much of the cruelty of the South to the Federal prisoners. At one time the unfortunate prisoners were almost without clothing, indeed some had hardly as much as common decency required. The South could not provide them, not being able to clothe their own men. An application was made to Seward. The reply was that "the Federal Government did not supply clothing to prisoners of war." Luckily for the poor fellows, a society in New York took the matter in hand, and several bales of clothing and cases of shoes were forwarded to Richmond, and divided, in proportion to numbers, among the prisons."
CRUELTY TO PRISONERS.
A great deal has been said of the cruelty to the prisoners inside the stockade. This so-called cruelty was inflicted by their own men. In every prison a police with a chief, all from the prisoners, was appointed to keep order, see to the enforcement of the regulations, and inquire into all offenses, reporting through their chief to the Commandant. The punishments, such as were used in the Federal army, were ordered to be inflicted by these men, and some were of such a barbarous nature that they were prohibited with disgust by the Confederate officers, who substituted milder and more humane ones; and yet the former were in common practice in the Federal armies, as testified by all the prisoners.
Among the numerous lies invented by Northerners, and actually still
believed by some parties to this day, was the story that the Confederates
used to hunt and worry prisoners with bloodhounds. Now it is well known
that the breed of bloodhounds is nearly extinct in the South, and the large
packs of those dogs alluded to by writers on this subject existed only
in their imaginations, the prolific brains of penny-a-liners, whose vile
and lying compositions even now abound in many so-called respectable New
York papers. No public man is safe from their atrocious attacks. Among
the various specimens of this dog alluded to by the above- named gentry,
was the famous bloodhound of the Libby Prison. The writer has often seen
this formidable animal, which certainly in his youth must have been as
fine a specimen of the kind as could be met anywhere, but unfortunately
for the thrilling portion of the accounts of his doings at the time of
the war, the poor beast, worn out from old age and with hardly a tooth
in his head, wandered about a harmless, inoffensive creature. He was the
property of the Commandant of Libby, who kept him because he was a pet
dog of his father's, and there the brute lived a pensioner in his old age.
As to his worrying men, he could not, had he even tried, have worried a
child. The other prisons had none, not even as pensioners. Among the records
history gives us of using those dogs to hunt men, it is stated that during
the Florida was a
In reference to the causes of the mortality at Andersonville, we have the highest medical authority, testimony which the other side cannot impeach, for it was on his testimony (garbled and perverted, it is true) that they hung Captain Wirz. Dr. Joseph Jones, now a professor in the Medical College at New Orleans, and then one of the most distinguished surgeons in the Confederate service, was sent to Andersonville. He has recently sent us a MS., from which we make the following extract:
Statement of Dr. Joseph Jones.
In the specification of the first charge against Henry Wirz, formerly
commandant of the interior of the Confederate States military prison at
Andersonville, during his trial before a special Military Commission, convened
in accordance with Special Orders No. 453, War Department, Adjutant-General's
office, Washington, August 23d, 1865, the following is
Among the co-conspirators specified in the charges were the surgeon
of the post, Dr. White, and the surgeon in charge of the military prison
hospital, R. R. Stevenson, Surgeon, C. S. A. As the vaccinations were made
in accordance with the orders of the Surgeon-General, C. S. A., and of
the medical officers acting under his command, the charge of deliberately
The acts of those who once composed the Medical Department of the Confederate
army, from the efficient and laborious Surgeon-General to the regimental
and hospital officers, need no defence at my hands. Time, with its unerring
lines of historic truth, will embalm their heroic labors in the cause of
suffering humanity, and will acknowledge their untiring efforts
The grand object of the trial and condemnation of Henry Wirz was the conviction and execution of President Davis, General Robert E. lee, and other prominent men of the Confederacy, in order that "treason might be rendered forever odious and infamous."
In accordance with the direction of Dr. Samuel Preston Moore, formerly Surgeon-General, C. S. A., I instituted, during the months of August and September, 1864, a series of investigations on the diseases of the Federal prisoners confined in Camp Sumter, Andersonville, Georgia.
The report which I drew up for the use of the Medical Department of the Confederacy army, contained a truthful representation of the sufferings of these prisoners, and at the same time gave an equally truthful of the difficulties under which the medical officers labored, and of the distressed and beleaguered and desolated condition of the Southern States.
Shortly after the close of the civil war this report, which had never
been delivered to the Confederate authorities, on account of the destruction
of all railroad communication with Richmond, Virginia, was suddenly seized
by the agents of the United States Government conducting the trial of Henry
Wirz. I have since learned that the United States authorities
It was with extreme pain that I contemplated the diversion of my labors, in the cause of medical science, from their true and legitimate object; and I addressed an earnest appeal, which accompanied the report, to the Judge-Advocate, Colonel N. P. Chipman, in which I used the following language:
"In justice to myself, as well as to those most nearly connected with
this investigation, I would respectfully call the attention of Colonel
Chipman, Judge-Advocate, U. S. A., to the fact that the matter which is
surrendered in obedience to the demands of a power from which there is
no appeal, was prepared solely for the consideration of the Surgeon-General,
C. S. A., and
On the 21st of May, 1861, it was enacted by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, "that all prisoners of war taken, whether on land or sea, during the pending hostilities with the United States, should be transferred by the captors, from time to time, as often as convenient, to the Department of War; and it should be the duty of the Secretary of War, with the approval of the President, to issue such instructions to the Quartermaster-General and his subordinates as shall provide for the safe custody and sustenance of prisoners of war; and the rations furnished prisoners of war shall be the same in quantity and quality as those furnished enlisted men in the army of the Confederacy." By act of February 17th, 1864, the Quartermaster-General was relieved of this duty, and the Commissary-General of Subsistence was ordered to provide for the sustenance of prisoners of war. According to General Orders No. 159, Adjutant and Inspector-General's office, "Hospitals for prisoners of war are placed on the same footing as other Confederate States hospitals in all respects, and will be managed accordingly."
"The Federal prisoners were removed to southwestern Georgia in the early part of 1864, \not only to secure a place of confinement more remote than Richmond and other large towns from the operations of the United States forces, but also "to secure a more abundant and easy supply of food." As far as my experience extends, no person who had been reared on wheat bread, and who was held in captivity for any length of time, could retain his health and escape either scurvy or diarrhoea, if confined to the Confederate ration (issued to the soldier in the field and hospital) of unbolted corn meal than once from scurvy; and as the war progressed, secondary hemorrhage and hospital gangrene became fearfully prevalent from the deteriorated condition of the systems of the troops, dependent on the prolonged use of salt meat; and but for the extra supplies received from home, and from the various State benevolent institutions, scurvy and diarrhoea and dysentery would have been still farther prevalent.
"It was believed by the citizens of the Southern States that the Confederate
authorities desired to effect a continuous and speedy exchange of prisoners
of war in their hands, on the ground that the retention of these soldiers
in captivity was a great calamity, not only entailing heavy expenditure
of the scanty means of subsistence, already insufficient to support their
suffering, half-starved, half-clad and unpaid armies, struggling in the
field with overwhelming numbers, and embarrassing their imperfect and dilapidated
lines of communication, but also as depriving them of the services of a
veteran army, fully equal to one-third the number actively engaged in the
field; and the history of subsequent events have shown that the retention
in captivity of the Confederate prisoners was one of the efficient causes
of the final and complete overthrow of the Confederate Government. * *
* * It is my honest belief that if the exhausted condition of the Confederate
The Judge-Advocate, N. P. Chipman, Colonel, U. S. A., was not only deaf to this appeal, but in his final argument before the Military Commission, or so called "Court," whilst excluding all portions of my testimony which related to the distressed condition of the Southern States, and the efforts of the medical officers and Confederate authorities to relieve the sufferings of these prisoners of war, deliberately endeavored to arouse the hatred of the entire North against the author of the report and the medical officers of the Confederate army. This statement will be manifest from the following quotation, which I extract from the "argument" of the Judge-Advocate before the "Court:"
"He had called into his counsels an eminent medical gentleman, of his attainments in his profession, and of loyalty to the Rebel Government unquestioned. Amid all the details in this terrible tragedy there seems to me none more heartless, wanton and void of humanity than that revealed by the Surgeon-General, to which I am about to refer. I quote now from the report of this same Dr. Joseph Jones, which he says (Record, p. 4384) was made in the interest of the Confederate Government for the use of the Medical Department, in the view that no eye would see it but that of the Surgeon-General.
"After a brief introduction to his report, and to show under what authority it was made, he quotes a letter from the Surgeons-General, dated Surgeon-General's office, Richmond, Virginia, August 6th, 1864. The letter is addressed to Surgeon I. H. White, in charge of the Hospital for Federal prisoners, Andersonville, Georgia, and is as follows:
""Sir - The field of pathological investigation afforded by the large collection of Federal prisoners in Georgia is of great extent and importance, and it is believe that results of value to the profession may be obtained by careful examination of the effects of disease upon a large body of men subjected to a decide change of climate and the circumstances peculiar to prison life. The surgeon in charge of the hospital for Federal prisoners, together with his assistants, will afford every facility to Surgeons Joseph Jones in the prosecution of the labors ordered by the Surgeon-General. The medical offices will assist in the performance of such post mortems as Dr. Jones may indicate, in order that this great filed for pathological investigation may be explored for the benefit of the Medical Department of the Confederate States armies.
""S. P. MOORE, Surgeon-General,"
"Pursuant to his orders, Dr. Jones, as he tells us, proceeded to Andersonville, and on September 17th received the following pass:
""ANDERSONVILLE, September 17th, 1864.
""Captain - You will permit Surgeon Joseph Jones, who has orders from the Surgeon-General , to visit the sick within the stockade that are under medical treatment. Surgeon Jones is ordered to make certain investigations which may prove useful to his profession.
""By order of General Winder.
""W. S. WINDER, A. A. G.
""Captain H. WIRZ, Commanding Prison,"
"When we remember that the Surgeon-General had been apprised of the wants of that prison, and that he had overlooked the real necessities of the prison, shifting the responsibility upon Dr. White, whom he must have known was totally incompetent, it is hard to conceive with what devilish mallice, or criminal devotion to his profession, or reckless disregard of the high duties imposed upon him - I scarcely know which - he could sit down and deliberately pen such a letter of instructions as that given to Dr. Jones. Was it not enough to have cruelly starved and murdered our soldiers? Was it not enough to have sought to wipe out their very memories by burying them in nameless graves? Was it not enough to have instituted a system of medical treatment, the very embodiment of charlatanism? Was it not enough, without adding to the many other diabolical motives, which must have governed the perpetrators of these acts, this scientific object, as deliberate and cold-blooded as one can conceive? The Surgeon-General could quiet his conscience when the matter was laid before him, through Colonel Chandler, by endorsing that it was impossible to send medical officers to take the place of the contract physicians on duty at Andersonville; yet could select at the same time a distinguished gentleman of the medical profession and send him to Andersonville, directing the whole force of surgeons there to render him every assistance, leaving their multiplied duties for that purpose. Why? Not to alleviate the sufferings of the prisoners; not to convey to them one ounce more of nutritious food; to make no suggestions for the improvement of their sanitary condition; for no purpose of this kind, but, as the letter of instruction itself shows, for no other purpose than "that this great field of pathological investigation may be explored for the benefit of the Medical Department of the Confederate armies"! The Andersonville Prison, so far as the Surgeon-General was concerned, was a mere dissecting-room, a clinic institute, to be made tributary to the Medical Department of the Confederate armies."
The denunciations of the Judge-Advocate were leveled not merely against a defenceless prisoner of war, whose papers had been seized and himself dragged as a witness to this crucifixion of his native land, but they were sweeping in their character, and were designed to arraign the humanity, honesty and intelligence of the Surgeon-General and the entire corps of medical officers of the Confederate army.
This charge had the desired effect, and was reiterated even by eminent medical men in the North. Thus the son of the Vice-President of the United States, Dr. Augustus C. Hamlin, late Medical Inspector United States Army, Royal Antiquarian, etc., etc., in his "Martyria, or Anderson Prison," says:
"Here came a medical officer of the highest rank in the Rebel army, and one of the most eminent savans of the South, to study the physiology and philosophy of STARVATION. The notes of that FEARFUL CLINIC are preserved, and may some future day startle the scientific world with their clearness, their candor, their positive evidence of the cause of deaths. This the scalped silences the argument, the reasoning of sophistry."
A similar statement has been made by Dr. Austin Flint, Jr., in his recent work on the "Physiology of Man."
It was clearly demonstrated in my report that diarrhoea, dysentery,
scurvy and hospital gangrene were the diseases which caused the mortality
at Andersonville. And it was still farther shown that this mortality was
referable, in no appreciable degree, to either the character of the soil,
or waters, or the conditions of climate. The effects of salt meat and farinaceous
By the officials reports of the medical officers of both the English and French armies, during the Crimean war, it was conclusively shown that, notwithstanding the extraordinary exertions of these powerful nations, holding undisputed sway of both land and sea, scurvy and a scorbutic condition of the blood increased to a fearful degree the mortality, not only of gunshot wounds, but of all diseases, and especially of pneumonia, diarrhoea and dysentery. I have recorded numerous incontrovertible facts to show that the scorbutic ulcers and hospital gangrene, and the accidents from vaccination arising at Andersonville, were by no means new in the history of medicine, and that the causes which induced these distressing affections have been active in all wars and sieges, and amongst all armies and navies.
In truth, these men at Andersonville were in the condition of a crew at sea - confined on a foul ship, upon salt meat, and unvarying food, and without fresh vegetables. Not only so, but these unfortunate prisoners were like men forcibly confined and crowded upon a ship tossed about on a stormy ocean - without a rudder, without a compass, without a guiding star, and without an apparent boundary or end to their voyage; and they reflected in their steadily increasing miseries the distressed condition and waning fortunes of a desolated and bleeding country, which was compelled, in justice to her own unfortunate sons, to hold their men in this most distressing captivity.
The Federal prisoners received the same rations, in kind, quality and amount, issued to Confederate soldiers in the field. These rations were, during the last eighteen months of the war, insufficient, and without that variety of fresh meat and vegetables, which would ward off scurvy, from soldiers as well as prisoners. As far as my experience extended, no body of troops could be confined exclusively to the Confederate rations of 1864 and 1865, without manifesting symptoms of the scurvy.
The Confederate rations grew worse and worse as the war progressed, and as portion after portion of the most fertile regions of the Confederate States were overrun and desolated by the Federal armies. In the straitened condition of the Confederate States the support of an army of one hundred thousand prisoners, forced on their hands by a relentless policy, was a great and distressing burden, which consumed their scant resources, burdened their rotten lines of railroad, and exhausted the overtaxed energies of the entire country, crowded with refugees from their desolated homes.
The Confederate authorities charged with the exchange of prisoners used every effort in their power, consistent with their views of national honor and rectitude, to effect an exchange of all prisoners in their hands, and to establish and maintain definite rules by which all prisoners of war might be continuously exchanged as soon as possible after capture.
Whatever the feelings of resentment on the part of the Confederates may have been against those who were invading and desolating their native land, which had been purchased by the blood of their ancestors from the English and Indians, the desire for the speedy exchange and return of the great army of veterans held captives in Northern prisons was earnest and universal, and this desire for speedy and continuous exchange on the part of the Government,
Page178 Southern Historical Society Papers.
as well as on the part of the people, sprang not merely from motives of compassion for their unfortunate kindred and fellow-soldiers, but also from the dictates of that policy which would exchange on the part of a weak and struggling people, a large army of prisoners (consumers and non-combatants, requiring an army for their safe keeping) for an army of tried veterans.
Apart from the real facts of the case, it is impossible to conceive that any government in the distressed and struggling state of the Confederacy, could deliberately advocate any policy which would deprive it of a large army of veterans, and compel it to waste its scant supplies, already insufficient for the support of its struggling and retreating armies.
And the result has shown that the destruction of the Confederate Government was accomplished as much by the persistent retention in captivity of the Confederate soldiers, as by the emancipation and arming of the Southern slaves, and the employment of European recruits.
After the trial of Wirz, I published a small volume, entitled "Researches upon Spurious Vaccination, or the Abnormal Phenomena, accompanying and following vaccination in the Confederate army during the recent civil war, 1861-1865," in which I examined the charge that the medical officers of the Confederate army had deliberately poisoned the Federal prisoners with poisonous vaccine matter.
Copies of this work were sent to several of the most prominent Generals and medical officers of the Confederate army, with the request that they would communicate such facts, as were in their possession, with reference to the sufferings of the Federal and Confederate prisoners. The universal testimony was to the effect that the sufferings of the Federal prisoners was due to causes over which the Confederate Government had little or no control, and that the sufferings and mortality amongst the Confederate prisoners confined in Northern prisons were equally great and deplorable.
From this correspondence, I select the following letter from General Robert E. Lee:
"DR. JOSEPH JONES:
"Dear Sir -
I am much obliged to you for the copy of your "Researches on Spurious Vaccination," which I will place in the library of the Lexington College. I have read with attention your examination of the charge made by the United States Military Commission, that the Confederate surgeons poisoned the Federal prisoners at Andersonville with vaccine matter. I believe every one who has investigated the afflictions of the Federal prisoners is of the opinion that they were incident to their condition as prisoners of war, and to the distressed state of the whole Southern country, and I fear they were fully shared by the Confederate prisoners in Federal prisoners,