By a survivor of Andersonville
June 29 1904 Morris Chronicle
One day one of our party recognized in some new arrivals Lewis Bryant and George Forster, a couple of Gilbertsville men. I believe they were members of a company of the Second N.Y.S. Heavy Artillery. How when and where they were captured, although I think I have heard them state, I will not attempt to repeat, remembrance is too indefinite. Although I had previously known of them, intimate acquaintance first began here. Of course they were promptly adopted by our little colony and faithfully returned what they seemed gladly to receive, sympathy and friendship, the essence of which was the cordial which helped to eke out the scanty fare and preserve life in the breasts of each. I think most of us are unaware of the benefits of social relation and intercourses. Of course the association of some is of far more benefit than that of others. The cheerful presence is like a sunbeam on the heart always, and the clouds that refuse to dispel in the presence of such companionship must be dense indeed.
Some natures are never cast down, the story, the joke, the laugh must follow, no matter what the situation of circumstances. Their presence is inestimable everywhere, in camp, on the march, even in the battle men do better, endure more, fight, I believe more courageously. Lewis Bryant was something of this type. His presence was always welcome and inspiring. His memory has a large place in my heart.
Although we were fortunate not to have had many severe storms, thunder storms were quite frequent in July and August, some of which I think must have been nerve trying for timid people. I have never been in a locality where the thunder seemed to bump along quite so close to the earth as it did in Andersonville, and really I believe the clouds did hover very low and the reports indicated the objects were frequently struck by the lightning.
Doubtless every reader has heard of what was designated as "Providence Spring". The circumstances of its birth I will relate briefly as possible. In nearly the southeast corner of the stockade stood quite a large pine tree, leaning in such a manner it was thought if cut it must fall across the live. It was the last of its race, the one green thing in the camp, but necessity one day formed a plan which was successfully carried out, and the prize was obtained. I do not know just in what manner, rope or wedges, the last I think. After consummation of the trunk the stump followed. In digging this quite a large pit was formed which they named the crater. This became a favorite locality for the holding of prayer meetings. Every day for some time prayers had ascended from this place that God would speedily send deliverance to the distressed camp. One day, I think toward the last of August, while a company was assembled there praying a terrible storm burst over the stockade, rain fell in torrents and the little stream became a swollen brook; still rising, the morass was half submerged, the lightening came into the prison, striking an old pine stump which stood just south of the north gate between the dead line and the stockade, shivering it. On the east side the stockade began to give way until quite a breach was formed through which the muddy water flowed like a river. I saw a number of men in the water, and I think some escaped outside, but the rebels rushed, as soon as possible, a company to the breach and none, I think, succeeded in getting off.
Two or three days after, when the stream had returned to its normal condition, it was noticed by some that quite an amount of water was flowing from the vicinity of the splintered stump. A request was made of the guards that it might be brought inside the line for use. A couple of boards were furnished, the edges of which were nailed together forming a trough, the lower end resting on a support a foot and a half from the ground, the upper end receiving the waters of the spring, which flowed in a stream the size of a man's arm nearly of excellent pure water, sufficient for the wants of the entire camp, and continued to do so. What do you think of it, is there a God, and did he in answer to prayer open this vein of living water in this miraculous manner, thereby supplying one of the prison's greatest wants, or was it an accident?
Time steadily progresses and the disease with which our comrades are afflicted surely and unrelentingly the causes that generated are not mitigated sufficiently in the change of food to stay the progress. Card, Ripley and Miller are growing more feeble day by day. Hope which has promised so fairly, that surely some terms of exchange must be arrived at - we shall not be confined here until death has exterminated us all, is whispering her promises less cheerily, and despair is sometimes seen wringing her hands in the distance.
Abel Card has almost been confined to the bed, arising and moving about with great difficulty. Neither of us had spoken the word hospital; I could not bear the thought of parting with him, and I think something of the same feeling possessed him.
He had nearly all the time since our enlistment shared the same quarters, which proves something of the mutual feelings of regard in which we held each other. No word of discord had ever been spoken, and no man in camp had a better comrade than I. Thus you can imagine something of the feelings of loneliness, regret and sadness which came over me as one morning the poor fellow limped away, assisted by a stick to lean on, to try and obtain a bunk in the hospital, and thereby at least obtain shelter from earth and storm. In this he was successful, and the same day or the next Alden Ripley and James Miler joined him there; they were fortunate too in obtaining berths together and were thus able to enjoy such benefits as associated suffering could afford.
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