By a survivor of Andersonville

April 27 1904 Morris Chronicle

Several accepted this promise and banked their capital. Whether, if the lived, they received it back again I cannot say; but if they died they certainly contributed to the Confederates. The rest of us were search and thoroughly. We were ordered to strip, and our persons and each article of clothing were searched. I need not say perhaps in my case it was barren, but not so in all; on the whole I thought they made quite a successful steal.


I think it was the next day after the search we were removed to Bell Island. This is, or was, a beautiful little plot in the James river, of I should think one or two acres in size, nearly level and but little raised above the water. In fact I thought it so low that in seasons of high water it must be inundated. There were no buildings, but a few old tents in which we found shelter for our brief stay. The change to us was a most acceptable one as you may imagine, from the crowded, filthy room, with its sweltering heat and foul air, to the lawn-like island with the pure sweet air around us, the cool grass to rest upon, the clear water of the river in which to bathe our grimy faces and aching limbs. And yet this very island on which we found such appreciated relief, bore reputation as the scene of untold suffering experienced by those prisoners who had been confined there as in the Libby in the first years of the war.

We bade good bye to the island the next day, when we were once more packed aboard train for our final destination, Andersonville, Georgia. I think no more fatiguing railroad journey was ever made that this, or greater suffering experienced by any one since this mode of travel was adopted. The cars provided were box cars, the only ventilation being from a partially opened door in which our guards were stationed. No seats were provided, and sitting with our backs against the sides of the car, or partially leaning on upon another when standing was no longer endurable, was our only relief. Two of our number were taken sick on this journey who never recovered, although they lived to reach Andersonville, Darel Stevens and George Reeve.

I think the day on which we started from Richmond was the 13th of June. We reached Linchburgh at evening, where we stopped over night. In the morning rations were issued to us for a four days' march to Dansville, a distance of eighty or ninety miles, Union cavelry having raided the intervening section and destroyed large quantities of track recently. For this march we received sixteen sea biscuits each and half or three-fourths pounds of bacon. The biscuit seemed to be made of a cheap grade of wheat or rye flour, and were similar to hard tack in the makeup and about twice the thickness and weight. Counting three meals a day this was giving us but little better than one for each meal, but in spite of the fact that I knew that we need expect nothing more until the expiration of the four days, I ate my third biscuit on the evening of the third day and laid down tired, sad and hungry, with a woeful contemplation in mind of the fasting manner in which I was to observe the morrow.

We marched four abreast with a flanking line of guards on either side besides a company of mounted outriders, some of whom seemed to be volunteer citizens with mount and equipment of their own.

I will relate here a bit of conversation which I caught between two of these who chanced to be riding opposite the file in which I marched. They apparently were men of some consequence, well dressed, well mounted and armed with fine sporting pieces of their own. Their conversation was in regard to the best Confederate policy in its treatment of Federal prisoners. Whether it was simply their own idea or whether they expressed that which was really to be carried out by those in authority, I cannot say, and yet the last is best sustained by the treatment we received. It was that prisoners should be so disqualified by treatment that in case of exchange they would not be able to return against them in the field. The query with me has always been was Captain Wirz guilty save only as a tool of those higher in authority? Did he not die a scapegoat for others? The statement is true. The decision is with you.

The whole march was through a fine section of country; orchards groves and fields, rivers and streams, hill and valley. A pleasant panorama if we could only have been at liberty, on a full stomach. But as all things must the march came to an end on scheduled time. We reached Dansville on the evening of the fourth day and were quartered in a large barn-like room tired and oh how hungry. My forebodings had been fulfilled for the day, not a mouthful of food since the evening before, save a few kernels of wheat I had gleaned on a field of stubble where we halted for our midday refreshing. Most of the company were as dinnerless as myself. It must have been nearly 9 o'clock in the evening, when we had almost given up hope of receiving food that night, that several rebel soldiers came into the room bringing baskets of fresh baked corn hoecakes and boiled bacon, which the sympathizing ladies of the city had cooked for us since our arrival. Bless their rebel hearts. Though crowded somewhat we were in shelter and passed the most comfortable night of the journey. Next morning we were boxed for the conclusion of our journey. I think none of us would have survived it nut that each night, while the train lay by, we were corralled on the open ground where although without shelter or blankets we thankfully lay down on the dew wet grass, from the crowded and suffocating cars, and found rest in spite of damp and chill. Stations, towns and cities were passed in North and South Carolina, and I think on the fifth day from Dansville, the train stopped, about midday, at Anderson Station, Georgia.