By a survivor of Andersonville

June 22 1904 Morris Chronicle

At 2 o'clock in the morning we found the waters purest on account of the less number bathing or otherwise disturbing the waters through the hours of daylight. It was nearly always crowded and visitors were found there at all hours. This practice we continued as long as Comrade Card's health permitted. I think it was about the middle of August that it had to be discontinued. At this time to I think the hearts of the prison commandants began to be touched by a little feeling of sympathy on account of our miserable condition, or fear at the terrible account of mortality in the eyes of the world generally. A change was made in the rations provided. Materials, tools and lumber were furnished and a kind of barrack or receiving hospital was built at the north end of the stockade, consisting of a double roofed open shed with four rows of bunks running down through the middle. They were made for each to accommodate two persons. The length and capacity of this barrack as it was is difficult for me to estimate. It may have been 150 or 200 feet in length, capacity from 500 to 1,000 occupants. It was under the supervision of the police, and those who were ill and without shelter were eligible applicants for a berth if an unoccupied one could be found. Aside from shelter and care (which was a good deal) no other advantage was obtained, the same rations were provided as in the general camp, and medical attendance or aid for sick Yankees were something unknown, at least inside the prison.

The change in rations consisted in the withholding of the bacon and the substitution of sorgum molasses and fresh beef issued on alternate days. The beef was an enormous hunk of from two to four ounces, and a little more than a tablespoonful of molasses. This change was agreeable to us. Although the allowances were small both of them were of a character to ward off the dread scurvey which afflicted so many. Of course from a place of so much suffering thoughts and plans of escape were much dwelt upon. If this was to be effected at all the attempt must be made before the deprivation of strength and health had too far resulted. The chance of scaling the stockade on a dark night between two guards and the possibility of tunneling underneath were discussed. The first method required some kind of ladder or grappling by which to mount the wall, which was difficult to obtain, and the risk of discovery almost certain. The last and most favored was an undertaking of much time and labor. A party must locate themselves for some time near the dead line to ward off suspicion, commence digging a well, of which there were a dozen or more from which water was procured. Nearly all of them being from 60 to 70 feet deep. The red clay of which I have spoken providing the very best kind of soil for the purpose, no curbing being required. Places could be cut for hand and foot without danger of sloughing off, which formed the manner of descending and returning to the surface by those employed in the digging and raising of the dirt and water.

Before the horizontal shaft could be commenced water must be reached, so that suspicion may not be excited by the guards, and when this is commenced it must be at a depth of seven or eight feet, so as not to undermint the stockade. It is eighteen or twenty feet from the dead line to the wall beyond which it must be carried a little, the more the safer. Say the well is 60 feet, the horizontal shaft to liberty 30, with 10 feet to surface outside, and we have a shaft 100 feet in length, large enough for the body of a man to pass through.

How and with what tools is all this work accomplished? A caseknife, a half canteen, a stick, the hands with which to dig, a piece of cloth, and old shirt or pair of pants with sleeves or legs tied for a sack to carry the dirt to the surface until the well is in use, then the dirt from the horizontal shaft is dumped into the lower part, and the harder work is accomplished. But the guards are alert and watching for just such an effort. If the outside is reached successfully there are a hundred miles or more of wood and swamp and hostile country to be overcome, the hounds to outwit, of which a pair with their master circles the camp every morning, which are almost certain somewhere to bring up the hopeless fugitive. I know a number reached the outside, but I think none succeeded in getting through. Indeed I have heard the rebels boast that no Yankee ever escaped the prison.

About this time, middle of August, a plot was formed on a large scale, of which at the time none of our party had any knowledge, to escape. A tunnel was dug and two or three thousand of the most able men were enlisted, under the leadership of a commissioned officer (the only one, I think, in Andersonville) who when all things were ready and the night favorable was to lead them outside, when an attempt would be made to surprise and capture the fort and the whole rebel camp. Had it been made and successfully carried out it of course would have liberated the prison, when it was hoped connection might be effected with Sherman. It was a desperate plan, and I fear had it been attempted would have resulted in terrible slaughter. But it was not to be. One of the initiated informed the guard he had a communication for the commandant. He was taken outside, and betrayed the whole scheme. For reward he was put back in prison, and when it became known what he had done he got it from the betrayed. One side of his head was shaved and the word Traitor tattoed in ink across his forehead, and he was turned over to the camp. It was a terrible retribution; nowhere was he allowed to halt, kicks and blows were dealt him at every turn until the guards, seeing his terrible distress and foreseeing the certain fate that awaited him, took him outside again, and it was said that the next day he died. He passed close to me (remainder of article is missing)

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