By a survivor of Andersonville
June 8 1904 Morris Chronicle
It matters little in which direction we go the same sights are on every hand around us, so if you please we will take the most familiar course, the path which leads down to the stream. It is not straight and regular, we pass in and out around one or two here and three or four there; some are lying down beneath the hot sun, some have blanket shelters beneath which they sit or lie, many are seated with some garment in their hands they are trying to mend or are picking from it the body lice that have accumulated through the night. It is a daily task with every one.
Ah, here is a poor wretch right at our feet, he is unable to rise, his face is bloated with dark, shiny expression, there is wildness, suffering and misery in every look. He begs a passer-by for a drink of water, who refuses him; he is dying of scurvy and there may be contagion, he is grimy and filthy. Here a little way on lies another, if possible a more pitiable object, his eyes are bright with fever, his body a skeleton, his reason has flown, he realizes no more his condition, though his garments are alive with the vermin which are devouring him. He has long since lost the strength to defend himself from them, he babbles perhaps the name of mother or father or home. We have not the courage to listen, there is nothing we can do so we leave him to the dread angel who is very busy here, who every fifteen minutes, on an average, bears aloft the soul of some sufferer released; he dies of dysentary or diarroeha. Now we come upon a corpse prepared for removal to the north gates where all the dead are collected each day for transportation to the cemetery. He is stripped almost to nakedness, his body is grimy with dirt, his wrists are tied in front of him and his ankles with strings of raveling. He is prepared for burial unwashed but shorn indeed. We will follow him to the gates. If he has friends they are his bearers; if not it is the task of the police. If he is known to be an officer there is given the name, regiment and company of deceased, if not I suppose he went on the book simply as a number. I think there must be many nameless graves in Andersonville cemetery. We arrive at the gates, and we find here that a kind of booth or low house has been built to receive them. The leaves have long since dried and faded and the sunbeam falls unobstructed on a row of bodies which are waiting burial. Our friend is placed by their side a fair sample of those that have preceded him. Let our walk end here.
We will retrace our steps remembering what we have seen is nothing uncommon or overdrawn. We might continue our walk until strength failed us over this vast field of misery and suffering, repeating the scene over and over again day after day. I have heard the "God bless you" from the lips of thirsty sufferers, but not as often as I might or wish I had to-day. It was an opportunity lost. I had not much knowledge of the character of scurvy or other ills, and with the ignorant turned away rather than indifferent.
About this time our cooked rations ceased and the raw material was brought to us, about two- thirds of a pint of meal, the same of southern peas, on alternate days bacon of the amount I have before given. We received with which to cook this per individual a stick of wood about the size of a man's arm every three days. This was of Southern pitch pine. Mr. Card and myself had for utensils a quart cup and a half canteen, I think one spoon and about half a case-knife, the blade having been broken about mid-way and the corners rounded off, I daresay purposely for better convenience in carrying.
Again we brought the clay into service making from it a very small arch just sufficiently large enough to support our tin cup partially filled with water, putting in the peas if we had them, and cooked them until they were nearly done by keeping a little blaze of whittlings directly under the cup, then stirring in the meal we soon had our dinner cooked in the most satisfactory manner possible. I could always cook the day's rations in one cup and it would not be too thick at that. This new order brought much distress to many. Some not even having a dish in which to draw their rations, and I actually saw men eating their meal wet as chicken dough in their hands. It meant death.
[CONTINUED NEXT WEEK]