Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/19

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Andersonville Prison.

men together who came much nearer to my standard of what I call gentlemen. They were respectful, humane, and soldierly.

We were organized into squads of ninety, and I soon discovered that the young sergeant in charge of our squad was a fine young fellow. I shall refer to him more explicitly farther on.

I have read Richardson, Kellogg, Urban, Spencer and Grisby, on Andersonville, the most of it recently, and I was and am surprised at the free-lance recklessness of description.

Let us first discuss the topographical selection of the Andersonville site for a prison camp. I realize that this phase of the question has been reverted to and minutely described every five or six years, since Richardson first gave his views to the public, early in the autumn of 1865. The selection of the site was excellent. I do not propose to dilate on the beauties of a prison. * * * I wouldn't advise any one to seek a prison as a place at which to spend a vacation.

Of course there was suffering, hunger and misery among the prisoners at Andersonville. I had my share of it. There was also hunger, misery and suffering at Salisbury and at Rock Island and Elmira, the two latter places right in a land of plenty.

The Confederate officer who selected Andersonville gave evidence of his being an engineer of no mean caliber. I don't believe that in the whole State of Georgia a better choice could have been made. The place was healthful and salubrious and the water was good. The ground within the inclosure was not, as has been described by an unfriendly chronicler seemingly with malice aforethought, wet, boggy, miry, and a swamp.

Captain Wirz has been so often characterized as a monster of cruelty that one recalls with surprise this description of him by the Union officer:

Meeting him in one of his rounds of the prison, I approached and saluted. "Captain Wirz, I believe," said I. "Yes, sir." "May I speak with you?" "Certainly." "Captain, there are a number of the prisoners adjacent to my quarters, several of whom are immediate comrades, who are sick. We have no fuel with which to cook our rations. The meal issued of late is poor in quality. I think that there is part of the cob ground with it. I am here on a begging mission to see if something cannot be done to remedy matters, I trust that you will pardon my pre-