angel voices were making true the fancies of my childhood.
Only the wounded men, sweet singers they were, beguiling
the long tedium of night with song, and it was that delight-
ful ditty, "Kitty Wells,'' that for the first time in my life fell
on my ears. For several days delirium had possessed the brain
of a young boy from Ohio, who was just beneath us. During
the day, the hum of conversation drowned his voice; but when
sleep had pressed down nearly all the eyelids, then it was that
his plaintive tones came to us, and how he pleaded for mother!
Ineffectual tears filled our eyes at the sound of his cries; but
with him we wandered amid the scenes of his earlier years,
and we saw that mother leading him by the hand, and we saw
her bidding her darling "Good-bye" as he became a soldier.
and we reflected how little that Ohio mother knew of the suffer-
ings of her dying boy. His spirit, ere long, forsook the frail
tenement and was at rest.
So then, day and night, and night and day, we stayed on.
Hope which springs eternal in the heart of youth buoyed us up.
Scarcely a day passed but there came a rumor of an immediate
exchange. There was little variety save as we watched
the diminution in our numbers. Occasionally, in the dead of
the night, there would arise a terrible commotion and cries
of "Stop thief!" and " Raiders!" would be heard. Some pred-
atory scamps, knowing that certain ones had some sort of valu-
able, would steal upon the victim, and, by a concerted move-
ment, would seize upon and carry off the article. Before any
search could be instituted the robbers would have fallen into
their places among their friends, and no loss was ever made
good. The bag or receptacle would generally be found in the
yard in the morning. At intervals, as the hours advanced, the
guards would cry the time thus: "Ten o'clock. Post No. 8, and
all's w-e-1-1," drawling this out in a thinness of tone possible
only to those whose speech generations of tobacco salivation
has diluted. One night we heard the guard in the square
shout, "Take your hand in, Yank, or I shoot." I must do the
rebel credit for repeating his warning, and then came the shot,
followed by most derisive laughter from the prison. Some
one, to try the fellow, had hung a cloth from the upper sash, and.
PRISONERS OF WAR. 343
to the guard's eye, it looked like a man swinging his arm, and
his orders were to keep the men away from the window.
The only escapes from our prison were effected by two men,
one a member of the 2d Massachusetts Cavalry, though he
was a Californian, who let themselves down into the sink,
wrenched off the grate leading into the narrow sewer, and, at
the imminent peril of suffocation, through indescribable filth,
made their way out to the river and eventual liberty. [One
of these men, Patrick Mahan, now of Natick, Mass., was a mem-
ber of the Legislature with the writer in 1894. During Cleve-
land's second term, he was postmaster of Natick.]
In the month of December, one bright morning, the 16th,
those of us who were looking from the window saw the guards
thrown into a state of great excitement. Their guns had been
stacked in the plaza before us; but now, seizing them, they
rushed with speed to the ofiicers' prison, and, thrusting their
weapons through the windows, fired. All this was an enigma
to us, and it was not till sometime afterward that we learned
that a plan had been formed to seize the guards in the prison,
rush to the square, appropriate the guns, free the prisoners,
arm them from the neighboring arsenal, and march away to
"But the best laid plans of mice and men,
Gang aft aglae."
Some of the officers had voted the scheme hair-brained, though
they went into it rather than have the name of standing out.
Your Khode Island Frenchman, General Duffle.* was the chief
promoter of the affair, and it is possible that they might have
gotten out of the building had not the very anxiety of the prig-
oners to get down the stairs occasioned so much noise that the
outside door, opened to their call, was speedily closed and the
death-dealing volley followed. Colonel Raulston, of the 24th
New York Cavalry, who had deemed the plan suicidal, was
killed, and several were wounded. Of those men who thus,
twenty-five years ago, made a break for libertj-, probably not
a third are living to-day.
Men who had gone out to work on the rebel fortifications
from No. 6 made good their escape, at least for a few days.
Some succeeded in getting to our lines, more were recaptured.
'Vide note on page 198.
344 NINTH NE'SV YOKK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
Let it be said to the credit of No. 1 that, to my knowledge,
only one man was found who was willing to sell his services
to his enemies. He took the oath of allegiance and remained
there when we came away. It was a daily sight to see the col-
ored prisoners driven to and from No. 3, there to dig upon
the fortifications. Neighboring farmers could secure any one of
these men by simply claiming them. They were beaten and
starved till scarcely any were left. One man was sent to Rich-
mond as a cook and he came away from that place with us.
He told me that, so far as he knew, he was the only survivor
of the Mine captives to be sent North.
December 20th, in spite of a drizzling rain, I remained in
the yard till I was quite wet. This was at nightfall. By 8
o'clock I was down with an attack of diphtheria. All through
the night I had great difficulty in breathing. The next day I
grew worse, but there was nothing to be done for me. The
22d, in the morning with several others, I was trundled off
to the hospital in a condition which, I have always thought,
arising at home, would have finished me. There was no debil-
itating sympathy around me, and 1 had no relish for a grave
in Virginia, sacred though its soil be. I was in no condition
to appreciate the view of the streets, though I remember pass-
ing No. 6, and we are finally landed at the hospital. Here I
am assigned to a cot, and the German steward proudly refers
to me as the first case of diphtheria, and so far as I know I
am the only case during our imprisonment. In a few days my
disease yields to lunar caustic and flax-seed poultices, and I
then have a chance to look about me. The doctor makes his
rounds and asks me, "Well, how ye comin' on to-day?" He
is a kind man and I respect him. Dr. Dame, the Episcopal
rector. New Hampshire born, and a second cousin of Caleb
Cushing. calls almost daily on us. and, on his asking me what
he can do for me, I suggest a book. The next coming brings
"Paradise Lost'' â€” there being a degree of fitness in his selection
that I don't believe occurred to him. In December last (1888,
the 24th) I called on the aged clergyman and said to him,
grasping his hand, "You don't know me; but I was sick and
in prison and ye visited me." With what cordiality came the
response, "Is that so? I am glad to see you. Come, let us sit
and talk." For nearly an hour we discourse of these remote
times, and he tells that wherever it was possible he sent a
Rev. Geo. W. Dame. L). D.
PRISONERS OF WAR. 345
letter to the friends of tbe dead prisoners. Whatever of im-
jirovenu nt there was in iiur treatment above that given to men
turtiit-r South, I thinlc was hirgely owing to him. To my mind
he filled, in the broadest sense, the definition of tbe Christian.
Though Xorthern born, his early going to the South, his edu-
cation at fTampden-Sidney, his marriage and long residence
in Virginia, all combined to make his prejudices in favor of
secession; but he was more than reliel or Federal, he was a
Christian man. Going iutooneof theprisonsoneSunday to preach
he found a second cousin, by the name of Cushing, from the
old Bay State, and he led the singing. So thoroughly did the
war mix up families. His talks to the men were always most
respectfully received, and when in the following April, the 6th
Corps entered Danville, no one received more considerate at-
tention than the Kev. George W. Dame.*
â€¢George Washington Dame, son of Jabez and Elizabeth Hansen
Cushing Dame, was born in Rochester, N. H., July 27, 1812. As a child
he was taken to Virginia by his maternal uncle, Jonathan P. Cushing,
president of Hampden-Sidney College, Prince Edward county (whose
chief town is Farmville), where the subsequent divine was graduated
in 1S29. He lived to be the oldest surviving graduate of his alma
mater. For several years an instructor in his college, he studied
medicine, both in Prince Edward Medical School located in Richmond,
and in the University of Pennsylvania. He severed his connection
with the college in 1836. As an M. D. in Lynchburg he prepared a
biographical sketch of his distinguished uncle's life. Later, from
Hampden-Sidney, he received the degree of D. D. After all, his trend
was towards theology, and in 1840 he became the organizer and first
rector of the Episcopal Church in Danville. At that time there were
only eight communicants in Camden Parish, including Pittsylvania,
Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties. He had only four resident
members at the beginning, and he continued the sole incumbent till
1895, when he became emeritus. He died suddenly Christmas eve,
1895. He was married, July 22, 1835, to Miss Lucy Maria, daughter of
Major Carter Page, a soldier of the Revolution, and through her
mother, Lucy, a grand-daughter of General Thomas Nelson, a signer
of the Declaration from Virginia. She died September 11, 1895. Three
of their sons, the Rev. Wm. M. of Baltimore, the Rev. Geo. W., Jr.,
also of Baltimore, and the Rev. Nelson P. of Winchester, are Episcopal
rectors. Dr. Dame was conspicuous in Masonry, having been, from
1864 to his death, grand chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Virginia.
For the majority of the preceding facts I am indebted to the Rev. J.
Cleveland Hall, Dr. Dame's successor. The accompanying picture,
representing the venerable clergj'man standing under tbe porch of
his residence, was made, with his consent, just as I was leaving him
after our very happy interview.â€” A. S. R.
346 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
Aa I convalesced I explored. I found that our hospital was
built for Confederate occupancy; but necessity had filled it
with Yankees. So far as I could observe, we received as good
as our captors had to give. A good lady* living near, whose
name I have never learned, daily sent to us some sort of deli-
cacy, and that was honestly given to us. The two Confederate
officers who were about our ward held converse as to the ap-
proaching Christmas, and great expectations were had over
a visit to the home of one of them. The principal present to
be taken was a pair of shoes, made by one of our men, to be
given to a sister. The poverty of the country was apparent
in the most commonplace conversation. On their return from
their festival they dilated on the pleasure afforded by that
one pair of Yankee-made shoes. The next May I met one of
these lieutenants at Boston Station, on the Richmond and Dan-
ville railroad, the same being near his home, and I recall his
wonder at my rehearsal of his pre and post Christmas talks.
When, one morning, one of the men said, "That fellow out
at the dead-house had scales like an alligator," I was moved
with a desire to see that place. At the earliest possible mo-
ment I made my way there, and daily thereafter I made morning
visits to see who had been brought out during the night or in
the early morn. T frequently helped the negro driver to lift
the dead into the boxes, there being for me a morbid attraction
for the place wholly unaccountable. As a rule the bodies were
not molested, though on one occasion wandering swine sadly
disfigured several. Once, at least, a seeming corpse was car-
ried out before it was really thus, and, revived by the clear
air, Jimmy O ds arose and, naked, marched into the ward
proclaiming himself "not dead yet by a d â€” d sight." Weeks
afterward I saw the same Jimmy peacefully smoking his du-
deen in Annapolis. My rambles are, of course, confined to the
bounds of the hospital inclosure; but with returning strength
came a revived appetite, one that my rations by no means sat-
isfied. I refrain from telling the straits to which I was forced
in my researches about the cook-house, and the quantity and
quality of alleged food that I secured. My mine was the foun-
dation of a little plan to run away with a western soldier,
â€¢I was told that her husband was a surgeon in the Confederate ser-
PRISONBRS OF WAR. 347
though he came from Ireland before he went west, but before
we could get our stock in provisions we were sent back to the
In my liberty or freedom of the wards, I went through them
all, in search of certain trinkets or keepsakes left by friends of
mine, and to see some of the living who were unable to leave
their cots. The little reticule containing peach-pit dishes made
by David Wilson for his sisters, I found and later sent to his
family. I stood by the side of Corporal Mead, of my company,
and as I saw his giant form dwindled to nothing but bones,
barely covered with skin, I forgave him his crowding me out
of the place I had made for myself one night down on the
Weldon railroad, and I devoutly wished him a safe passage
on the journey he must make so soon.
"Kitty Baker! Why don't you come, Kitty Baker?" is the
sad monologue that all one night may be heard throughout the
ward. I did not know the dying man; but imagination pictured
scenes in a far-away land, where, perhaps, some one anxiously
awaited a coming that could never be.
Frank Gustin had lived in the same town as myself, and I
promised him, if I survived, to carry a lock of his hair to his
aunt. During that last night of his life, his labored breathing
proclaimed the approaching end. The lock that I cut from his
brow was carried to the relative who had not known his where-
abouts, he having run away to enlist.
I would omit the following scene did I not wish to reveal
as fully as possible the secrets of my prison-house. Says Stew-
ard Small one day, "If you men want to see a sight you never
saw equaled, just come out here to the corner." We went;
seated in a chair was a man whom I had often noted as wear-
ing a close-fitting skull-cap, which I had never seen removed.
It was now off and vermin covered his head in a way I had
never dreamed of. The steward, with a pair of scissors, clipped
off the locks, of a warm red hue, and as they touched the
ground they seemed to have a jelly-like consistency. The hair
off, a comb was drawn down his cranium, each draught rolling
up a wad of squirming life as large as one's finger. The back
of the head was like a mass of raw beef. We were close to
the path along which all those must go who went for water,
for just below us was a fine spring. These men were no
novices in prison sights; but here was something that aston-
348 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
ished them. Stopping, they, in turn, called on all the names
of the deity, and also those of the denizens of Inferno. The
poor victim seemed absolutely without feeling. The sequel is
sad; for, bereft of his hair, like Samson, his strength failed
and death soon followed. What was strangest in the whole
affair was the fact that no one remembered seeing him scratch
his head, and it was only Steward Small's discovery of the
vermin crawling from beneath his cap that led to the investi-
gation. I reasoned that his whole scalp was paralyzed or be-
My stay at the hospital is one month long, and then I am
marched, with others, back to my old quarters, or as near them
as I can get. Rumors of exchange grow more common. It
begins to look as though the Confederates would relent and
allow that a black man may be a soldier. After the coldest
weather is over, clothing that had been sent into the Confed-
eracy early in the season is passed down to us. It is distributed,
but so hungry are we that we very readily trade it with the
rebels for something to eat, and in a few brief hours we are as
ragged as ever. Every movement on the part of our guards
seems to indicate that a change is near. By and by comes the
statement that to-morrow we go. To be sure, the morrow is
again and again removed, but that we shall get out is evident.
In our joy over prospective release we do not forget the poor
boys who sorrowed with us, but whom we must leave
behind us. Sergeant York of Company D, â€” how he walked
the floor, day after day, exclaiming that he must live
to get home to see his wife and baby. But even his
will can not keep him up.* Lee Marcellus, with his good-
â™¦Prison notes from the diary of Norman G. York.
July 9. On skirmish line. Retreated till next morning. Got over
ten miles on the 10th. Captured on the 11th.
July 13. I am sick, but the guards use me very well.
July 14. Cross the Potomac.
July 16. Long march, 25 miles; camp at 4 P. M.; then 12 miles
further in the night.
July 18. March 14 miles to Winchester.
July 20. Through Newtown to Strasburg, and through that also.
July 22. To Mt. Jackson; 23d, through Newmarket; 24th, marched
July 25. To Staunton, 10 a. m., cars to Charlottesville. Stay all night.
July 26. Reach Lynchburg at 1 P. M.
PRISONERS OF WAR. 349
natured face, conies to mind, but lie must stay. Tom Roe, of
Companr C, as clean an Irish boy as ever crossed the ocean,
can not go Lome with us.
We all remember Sterne's "Sentimental Journey," and that
at the hotel in Paris he encountered the starling in his cage,
whose sole refrain was, ''I can't get out." Here is the secret
July 28. Leave Lynchburg at sunrise and reach Danville the next
July 31. Rations at 10 A. M., very short; rebels look half starved.
Aug. 2. A new batch of prisoners came in. Bread and bacon at 9
A. M.; soup at 3 P. M.
Aug. 4. Some sick men sent North. No soup.
Aug. 13. Anniversary of enlistment; 17th, John Perkins (Co. C)
went to the hospital, quick consumption.
Aug. 18. John Perkins died to-day.
Aug. 29. I bet E. P. Dunning the oysters that we would not be out
of here in six weeks.
Aug. 30. More sick and wounded men sent North. Sept. 3d, fresh
Sept. 15. With Fred. Stell swept the prison floor. Sold my boots
for -325 (Confederate) and 14 onions, worth six dollars more. Bought
a pair of shoes for 88.
Sept. 24. Relay of prisoners comes in from No. 6; 28th, bought 24
onions for S6.
Oct. 3. Finished reading the New Testament since I have been in
Oct. 14. Again the sick are sent North. Levi Riggs went out to
Oct. 24. Gave S6 for peck of sweet potatoes; 26th, Dewitt Havens
died at the hospital.
Oct. 29. Bought some more potatoes. More prisoners came In from
Nov. 1. Passed a bad night; 2-4, feeling badly. Riggs sends in
Nov. 14. Got letter from Wm. York dated Aug. 29, and one from
father of same date.
Nov. 16. Hiram Peck went to the hospital; 17th, came to the hospi-
tal; 25th, suffering from diarrhea.
Nov. 27. My illness is worse this morning; had a very poor night,
This was his last entry, though he survived till Christmas day, when
he passed over to the majority. Years afterwards, it was my privilege
to call on Mrs. Charles H. Covell of Rose, N. Y., who was the baby,
Lilhan, never seen with mortal eyes by her father, and to tell her of
the absorbing love that imprisoned parent had for his child. Herself
a mother, she was able to appreciate, in part, how his heart was filled
with regard for his little one.â€” A. S. R.
350 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
of the horror of prison life. Over and above the privations
of hunger and thirst, more biting than cold or heat, is the
ever-present thought, "I can't get out." When, finally, on the
19th of February, we were actually marched out of our prison,
there was no prisoner-of-Chillon sigh upon my lips nor in my
heart. It was not yet the air of liberty that we were breath-
ing; but the prison was behind and we were out. Down to the
station which we first saw six months before, we march, and
here are freight cars in waiting. Sixty -five of us are crowded
into one car and we proclaim it full; but fifteen more men are
jammed in. So, then, here we are â€” eighty men, or boys â€” too
crowded for lying or even sitting. Must we stand all the way
to Richmond? It looks like it; but we are willing to endure
that and more even if by so doing we may put distance
between ourselves and Danville.
HOME FROM PRISON.
The horrors of that night, from Danville to Richmond, can
never be effaced from memory's tablet. Eighty well men in
one ordinary box-car would certainly be uncomfortable, but
when we remember that these prisoners had suffered much from
long imprisonment, that there were men in the car who could
not stand alone, that the scurvy, dysentery, and many other
ailments had their representatives, some notion of the night
that was before us may be had. We were disposed to endure
a great deal, for we knew that our way was homeward, but the
condition at times seemed absolutely unendurable. The air
was very keen and frosty, as cold as it often gets in the lati-
tude of southern Virginia, so in our poorly clad state, it seemed
necessary to have the car-door shut. The interior, in some
respects, soon resembled that of the famous Black Hole of Cal-
cutta. The guard who stood at the door suffered with the
rest of us. The moment the door was shoved open for a breath
of air, some freezing wretch would clamor for its immediate
closing. Finally, I asked and obtained the privilege of going
to the top of the car to ride there. Since there was no danger
of any one's trying to escape, my proposition found favor at
once, both from the guard and from my fellow prisoners who
wanted my room. It will be readily surmised that my move
was not a jump from the frying-pan into the fire. On the con-
PRISONERS OF WAR. 361
trary, quite the rererse. My new Hades was like that described
by Dante, where the lost are infernally and eternally preserved
in vast masses of never-melting ice. I lay down at full length
upon the car, with my head towards Richmond and my face
next to the car. I didn't freeze, that is evident, but I was just
about as cold as I could be and still be able to move. Frequent
stops were the order in the South during the war. Accordingly
when the train drew up at a station, it was possible for me to
climb down and in for a change. Sleep was the last thing
thought of during these hours, the obstacles within and without
being (juite too numerous to be overcome. As for myself, I
alternated nearly the whole night long between the interior
and exterior of the car. I have very little recollection of the
places or stations past which we went, save one, pronounced
Powatan, destined, in a few months, to have a world-wide fame
through the closing scenes in the great strife to be enacted
near; but I was not a prophet and so knew nothing of the
glories of the future. To me it was simply a place named after
an Indian chief whose name I had all my life mispronounced
as Powhatan, and whose more famous daughter, Pocahontas,
had rendered a distressed Englishman most excellent service,
once on a time. I wondered whether the scene of the saving
were not neai", hence accounting for the name. Our guard,
however, had not received much culture from the schools, and
so was quite unable to shed any light upon the subject. He
simply knew that we were Yanks, proverbial for curiosity,
whose zeal for knowledge not even months of imprisonment
Morning brought the sun and Richmond. I was taking one
of my reliefs on the car top when the famous city came in
sight. Had I then known all the bearings of the Capital of
the Confederacy, my exalted outlook might have given me a
view of the prison of Belle Isle, for it was plainly visible at
my left. This I did not know. Then I was more intent on the
sight of the James, which the events of more than 200 years
had rendered historical. The bridge itself was the one soon
to be burned on the flight of the Confederate president. We
halt just over the stream, and are marched, as we suppose, to
Libby. From the names on the street corners I soon learned
that we were on Carey street. From my outside perch it had
been easy for me to get pretty near the head of the line. Our
352 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
march, however, was destined to be a short one, for in a few
minutes we discovered ahead of us the celebrated sigu, "Libby
& Sons, Ship Chandlers and Grocers." I well remember sajnug