By a survivor of Andersonville
August 3 1904 Morris Chronicle
No incident comes to my recollection while at this place, worth relating, except it be perhaps a laugh, yes a laugh, at the ludicrous appearance of Lewis Bryany at the stream one morning when, after partaking of his wash, the poor fellow turned to me as the mirror which should reveal to him the result as to cleanliness obtained. It is on record, "The little dog laughed," etc, but here was a sight that would have made him howl with mirth, or terror, I hardly know which. A Commanche buck would have scalped himself for envy; or he might have made a fortune in New York or Paris, posing as a model for his Satanic Majesty, the devil. He had rubbed the smoke and grim into all the seams and cavities of a rather marked and rugged feature, his eyes gleamed forth like the headlights of an approaching locomotive on a dark night, his nose rose up like the apex of a bald mountain above the murky shadows which surrounded its base lines, converging and diverging, concentrating in pools of murky blackness, or strayed away and were lost in luxuriant forests of whiskers or hair; a sight to be seen to be appreciated, impossible of description. Yet I know he varied but little in appearance from the rest of us.
"Had but some heavenly power gi' us to see ourselves as ithers see us." To quote the Scotch poet. It was an impossible effort to obtain cleanliness of appearance. Our fuel consisted of a small ration of yellow pine wood, just sufficient for cooking. It burned like pitch and emitted a cloud of oily black smoke which penetrated the very pores, that without soap or warm water was impossible to remove. No laughing matter perhaps, yet subject to call a smile to the face of a clothes dummy. Lewis Bryant and Ed. Hargrave here began to succumb rapidly; cold increasing without sufficient protection of clothing, food or shelter, kills in the end, though these two escaped death. One day toward the last of November we were again put aboard the train and that night, a bitter one, the wind blowing a gale, we were dumped beside the railroad track near Savannah. I thought surely we must all perish there and at once, but human indurance is great, tho' some were chilled to almost helplessness. Early next morning the strongest of us were again put on board the train, about a thousand remaining too feeble for farther transportation, of these Bryant and Hargrave were of the number. Lewis Bryant told me afterwards that soon after we were gone a Rebel officer came among them and expressed much feeling, even to tears, at their pitiable condition. He said. "Men, we can do nothing for you, we have nothing, we are poor, we are going to put you on board a transport and turn you over to your own people off the harbor," which was done.
The main body of us, some four or five thousand, were run off south to Blackshire, the then terminus of the coast line, and again dumped. This time right in the pine woods. On the way thither I had some opportunity of seeing something of the country. I recollect crossing the Savannah river and of seeing the alligators at home in the pools and bayous we slowly passed. They lay apparently sleeping in the sun on the sandy beaches of the streams, the upper jaw thrown back as though attached on hinges. It was said a kind of mucous very attractive to flies and insects was thus exposed. A fatal hour, for when a satisfactory number had gathered the trap was suddenly sprung and with a blink of satisfaction he gulped down the simple collection. After resetting his trap he dozes off into a bit of slumber, awaiting in confident assurance the advent of the future.
We passed through large fields devoted to the cultivation of rice, at this time of year bare and brown as oat or wheat stubble. The fields were terraced in levels, some of large extent. A vast amount of labor and money must have been expended in their preparation. The crop is one that at certain stages requires a vast amount of water to develop. Thro' a system of irrigation with dam and ditch and gateways, it appeared, the fields could be flooded or drained at will. As we progressed southward the country became wilder. We passed through large forests of yellow pine. Principally a country low and level with little of interest to be seen. At frequent little stations we drew up for water and wood, wood constituting the fuel at that time on the railroads. We also saw something of the manufacture of tar, as the train moved through orchards of the boxed pines. The gathering of the rosin in buckets and boiling in huge caldrons, brought to my mind the maple sugar manufacture of this spring season in the old bush at home. That in the old open way was rather a smutty business, but this is beyond comparison. I think the blackness which rested over the face of the deep before the creation must some way have settled here to stay, concentrated on everything I saw, and everybody was black. You people of the thin chest, the dry cough, the bronchitis throat, the filthy catarrh, right here in the smoke is a cure for you. Secure it before it is too late.
But here we are at Blackshire, the road terminates and so does our journey for the present. We are marched from the train a half mile or so back into the woods and encamped under a strong guard without other inclosure. Here we remained for four or five weeks. There were two or three things here to our advantage. The winds were broken from us, and we had more liberal supply of food. I think on the whole the time passed here, in spite of the weather, was the most comfortable period of my imprisonment.
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