J. Ogden Murray.

The immortal six hundred; a story of cruelty to Confederate prisoners of war online

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Secretary of the 600














Copyright, 1911, by
J. Ogden Murray.

Published, December, 1911.

All Rights Reserved.

Price, $2.00.


To the dead and living comrades of the Im-
mortal Six Hundred, — Confederate officers, pris-
oners of war, — who were confined in the stockade
on Morris Island, South Carolina, under fire of
our own guns shelling that island; and who were
subsequently starved on rations of rotten corn
meal and onion pickle at Fort Pulaski, Georgia,
and Hilton Head, South Carolina, 1864-65, by or-
der of Edwin M. Stanton, United States Secretary
of War — to all who remained true unto the end,
under the terrible ordeal of fire and starvation,
this history is affectionately inscribed with a com-
rade's love.



IN presenting this Second Edition of the history
of the Six Hundred Confederate Officers,
Prisoners of War, who were placed on Morris
Island, S. C, under fire of their own guns
shelling that Island in 1864-65, and the wanton
cruelty subsequently inflicted upon them by order of
the United States Government, it is told without
malice. But it is told to refute the slanders made
by the pulpits and press of the North that the
Confederate Government was inhuman and cruel
to Union prisoners of war in Southern prisons.

We shall tell the story truthfully and backed,
as the story is, by the official orders and records
of the United States Government, we do hope to
prove the South was not guilty of the charges made
against it. But that the real culprits guilty of
inhumanity to prisoners of war, was the Secre-
tary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, and his col-
leagues in Washington City, in 1861-1865. The
charges of cruelty, made against President Davis
and the Confederate Government to the Union
prisoners of war, in Southern prisons, were made
by these officials to hide from the people of the
North those really guilty of the inhumanity, and
shift from their own shoulders, the responsibility
of violating the cartel of exchange, which was
the cause of all the suffering of Union prisoners
of war in Southern prisons. The Confederate author-


ities did all they could do, to alleviate the lot of
the unfortunates that the fate of war threw into
their hands. Whatever the Confederate soldier
received in the field as ration, was given to the
Union prisoners of war, and Mr. Edwin M. Stan-
ton was fully informed, officially and otherwise,
of this tact. I'he charges that the Con-
federate authorities refused to make exchange
of prisoners of war, were made at a time when pas-
sion was at fever heat in the North, and the charges
were made and circulated to conceal from the
people of the North, the real culprits who were
responsible for the home sickness, and troubles
of the Union prisoners of war confined in the

Capt. J. Madison Page, 2d Wisconsin
Volunteers, U. S. A., a gallant Union soldier, in
his book the "True Andersonville" charges all
the discomforts of the Union prisoners of war
to Mr. Stanton and the Washington authorities,
for violating the exchange cartel; surely this gal-
lant soldier's word will be accepted by the North.
Read what Mr. Charles A. Dana says. He was
Stanton's Assistant Secretary of War, 1861-65.
Read what the commission appointed by the
United States Government, to investigate North-
ern Military prisons say of the conditions they
found, and see where the blame of cruelty rests.
Read General Grant's request and order to stop


exchange and why he wanted exchanges stopped.
Read H. W. Halleck's, General, U. S. A., order
to stop all exchanges of prisoners of war, and we
think this alone should convince those who slan-
der Mr. Davis and the Confederate authorities
just where the responsibility rests. It was the
inhuman orders to stop exchanges, issued by
the Washington authorities that mar.e both Union
and Confederate prisoners of war suffer. The
Confederate authorities had no say in these or-
ders. Read D. A. M. Clark's, U. S. A., report
on Northern Military prisons. Read General
J. G. Foster's, U. S. A., authority to place Con-
federate prisoners of war on Morris Island, S. C,
under fire of their own guns shelling that Island.
Read what General Scammell, et al, U. S. officers
confined in Charleston, S. C, prisoners of war,
tell General Foster of their treatment, and the
letter is official. And when you read these proofs,
honestly say who was guilty of inhumanity to help-
less prisoners of war.

All we ask is that the truth shall be told.
If the truth shows the South or Confederate au-
thorities to have been guilty of cruelty to pris-
oners of war, then they should be held up to the
scorn of the civilized world. We cannot change
the Record now, it must stand. And we say with-
out the least fear of contradiction, that the Con-
federate Government never by order, fed Union


prisoner's of war on rotten corn meal and acid
pickle, the corn meal ground in 1861, and when
fed to the Six Hundred, was filled with bugs and
worms. V, ho was responsible for this cruelty?
Let's have the truth and fix the responsibility
for this cruelty; that if it was not inflicted by or-
der of the United States Government, she may
purge herself of this crime before the world. Let's
have the truth that the future historians may
be able to place before the world the men guilty
of inhumanity to prisoners of war. Find, if it is
possible to do so, such an order to feed men on
rotten corn meal and acid pickle, in the Records
of the Confederate Government, as this order of
Stanton, Foster, et al. Read the report of General
C. Grover, U. S. A., on condition of the Six Hun-
dred Confederate prisoners of war at Fort Pu-
laski, Ga.

Headquarters, Dist. of Savannah.
Savannah, Ga., Feb. 7, 1865.

AssT. Adjt. General.
Headquarters Department of the South: —

My medical director yesterday inspected the
condition of the Rebel prisoners confined at Fort
Pulaski, and represents that they are in a con-
dition of great suffering and exhaustion for want
of sufficient food and clothing; also, that they


have scurvy to a considerable extent. He rec-
ommends, as a necessary sanitary measure, that
they be at once put on full prison rations; and,
also, that they be allowed to receive necessary
articles of clothing from friends. I would re-
spectfully endorse the surgeon's recommenda-
tion, and ask authority to take such steps as may
be necessary to relieve actual sickness and suffer-

C. Grover, U. S. a.,

Brev. Maj. Gen. Commanding.

(See War Record, p. 162, Vol. xxxv.)

To-day there is abundant proof to show the
most biased mind, that President Jefferson Davis
and General Robert E. Lee, did protest against
the violation of the cartel of exchange, and did
offer, for humanity's sake, to turn over to the
United States all the wounded and sick Union
prisoners of war held in the South, if the United
States would send transports and take them away,
and finally, General Robert E. Lee, in humanity's
name, said "Come and get all your prisoners of
war, we cannot feed them, nor get medicines to
keep them in health." All offers to exchange
or send for their prisoners were rejected by Mr.
Secretary Stanton, on part of the United States
Government, and this as every one now knows
was the cruelty inflicted on the prisoners of war


in the South, and was not inflicted nor sanctioned
by the Confederate Government.

There never was a Union soldier, prisoner of
war, in the South placed under fire of his own
guns by order of any one, and there is not one
particle of proof that can show there was, but
there is an abundance of proof to show the wanton
cruelty of the United States to its prisoners of
war, 1864-65, and the above is proof from their
own records.

And it is a fact, proven beyond all question
of doubt, that notwithstanding the South had
no medicines, and could get none, to cure the sick,
and keep men in health, that only nine (9) in each
one hundred Union prisoners of war died in South-
ern prisons, while twelve (12) in every hundred
Confederate prisoners of war died in the prisons
of the North, where medicine and food were
abundant to keep men in health. This should be a
vindication of the South and her people from the
slander of cruelty, and would be, but for the per-
sistent slander of some of the pulpits and press
of the North, that make the charges, to keep
ahve the hatred engendered by the war, which
are used for political purposes, by the corrupt
politicians who live politically on sectional hate.

We want only the truth, we ask for nothing
else. We want to refute the slanders against
the South and her people. Jefferson Davis, Presi-



dent of the Confederate States, nor General Robt.

E. Lee, were never cruel to any human being.

But Secretary of War Stanton and his colleagues

in power at Washington, 1861-65, were and they

were guilty of all prisoners of war suffering on

both sides, by stopping exchanges of prisoners

of war.

The Author.




Chapter One — History of the incidents lead-
ing up to the retaUation measures inflicted
upon the six hundred Confederate officers,
prisoners of war, with correspondence offi-
cial between Gen. J. G. Foster, U. S. A.,
Department of the South, and Gen. Sam
Jones, C. S. A., commanding Charleston,
S. C. Violation of cartel, etc., etc 13

Chapter Two — Fort Delaware. Rumors of
exchange. Order to get ready for ex-
change. Saying good-bye. Packing us
on steamship "Crescent City." 59

Chapter Three — March from old schooner
hulk to prison stockade. Hot sun. Men
sick forced to move on. Brutal white
officers and nigger soldiers. Prison stock-
ade. Water, rations and shelter 96

Chapter Four — Hilton Head Prison 199

Chapter Five — Account of escape from Fort

Pulaski 233

Chapter Six — Diary kept by Capt. A. M.
Bedford, 3d Missouri Cavalry, while on
Morris Island, S. C, prisoner of war at
Hilton Head and Fort Pulaski 250

List of the Immortals 320

List of the prisoners of war who took the oath

of allegiance 355





History of the incidents leading up to the retaliation
measures inflicted upon the six hundred Con-
federate officers, prisoners of war, with corre-
spondence official between Gen. J. G. Foster,
U. S. A., Department of the South, and Gen.
Sam Jones, C. S. A., commanding Charleston,
S. C. Violation of cartel, etc., etc.

THERE is no apology to be made
by me for the publication of this
work or history of the six hundred
Confederate officers, prisoners of war con-
fined on Morris Island by order of the
Federal Government. It is put in print
for two reasons: First, to preserve the
record of this gallant band; second, to
give to the world a true history of the
wanton cruelty inflicted upon helpless
prisoners of war, without the least shadow
of excuse. The only information that the
United States Government had that there
were six hundred Union soldiers, prison-
ers of war, under fire in Charleston, S. C,
was based upon the word of runaway



niggers, Confederate deserters, Union
scallawags, and such people, whose word
should not have been taken by any decent
man without corroboration; yet Gen. J. G.
Foster, U. S. A., commanding Depart-
ment of the South, headquarters, Hilton
Head, S. C, accepted the word of these
creatures without question, and inflicted
upon helpless prisoners of war cruelties
that would have shamed Nero.

There never were any Union prison-
ers of war under fire of their own guns
in any part of the South; there were never
any prisoners of war treated with harsh-
ness or cruelty by order of the Confed-
erate Government authorities; but on the
contrary all was done to lessen the burden
of prison life that could be done by the
Richmond government, and men of the
highest rank in the United States Army
attest this fact. The cruelty charged
against the South is as false as the
tongues that utter it, and it has been
proven false time and time again. Even
Andersonville, that m.uch maligned prison,



(Merchant, retired)

j. -J ^» .^-



has been proven to have been a very para-
dise in comparison to Camp Chase, Rock
Island, Elmira, and other Yankee prisons.

The treatment meted to the six hun-
dred Confederate officers, prisoners of
war, confined on Morris Island, S. C, by
the United States Secretary of War, is
a blot upon the escutcheon of the United
States that can never be blotted out nor
removed. It was cowardly, it was in-
human, and cruel. The names of the
men responsible for this cruelty must be
written — and they will be written — upon
history's blacklists of cruel men. Stan-
ton, Foster, and Halleck, are names that
must always cast a shadow upon the days
of 1861-65.

There can be no excuse given for
cruelty. There is no justification for it
under the laws of God or man, and it
has never been proven, yet, that the Con-
federate authorities treated or allowed
to be treated harshly or unkindly Union
prisoners of war. The stories told of
cruelties to Union soldiers in Confeder-



ate prisons were the offsprings of the
brains of perjured men, some of them
never in a Confederate prison, nor never
south beyond Washington City. The
word of an ignorant nigger or a Con-
federate deserter was given credence by
the Washington authorities, when the tes-
timony of, and letters of, such men as
Generals Wessells, Scammon, and other
honorable officers of the United States
army, who were prisoners of war, was ig-
nored. The records show most conclu-
sively there were never any Union pris-
oners of war under fire in Charleston
City or at any other point in the Con-
federacy; and, further, there never was
any premediated and planned cruelty per-
petrated upon Union prisoners of war in
Southern prisons like that inflicted upon
Confederate prisoners of war in Northern
military prisons. There were men, no
doubt, both in the North and South, who
took delight in treating prisoners of war
cruelly. Such men were both moral and
physical cowards, and acted upon their



own responsibility; but I do say the au-
thorities at Washington City did plan, or-
der, and execute wantonly, cruelties upon
Confederate prisoners of war that can
not be justified under any pretext; and
I claim that no proof can be produced
that the Confederate Govenurent did at
any time countenance the slightest cruelty
to its prisoners of war. The same rations
given to the Confederate soldier in the
field were issued to the Yankee prisoners
of war in Confederate prisons. The
greatest cruelty inflicted upon the Union
prisoners of war in the South was inflicted
by Edwin M. Stanton, United States Sec-
retary of War, and Gen. U. S. Grant,
when they refused to exchange prisoners
of war. The records show that General
Grant, by order of Stanton, stopped ex-
change and inflicted whatever hardships
upon their own men they did suffer by
this suspension of exchange; and it is a
matter of recorded proof that both Presi-
dent Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee, to
alleviate the suffering of the prisoners of



war in Southern prisons, offered, if the
United States Government would send
transports, to turn over all prisoners held
by the Confederate authorities, in hu-
manity's name.

Here are two extracts from Union
witnesses to prove on which side cruelty
shall be charged, and I do not hesitate to
say these witnesses do most effectively
offset Libby or Andersonville if the stories
of the prisons be true.

On February 9, 1862, Judge Ould,
Confederate States Commissioner of Ex-
change wrote Colonel Ludlow, United
States Exchange Commissioner:

"I see from your own papers that some
dozen of our men, captured at Arkansas Pass,
were allowed to freeze to death in one night
at Camp Douglas. I appeal to our common
instincts against such atrocious inhumanity."
(War Records, p. 257.)

There is no denial of this charge to
be found in the War Records. On May
10, 1863,. Dr. WiUiam H. Van Buren, of
New York, on behalf of the United States



"Sanitary Commission," reported to the
Secretary of War at Washington the con-
dition of the hospitals of the prisoners of
war at Camp Douglas, near Chicago, and
Gratiot Street prison, St. Louis. In this
report he incorporates the statements of
Drs. Hun and Cogswell, of Albany, N. Y.,
who had been employed by the ''Sanitary
Commission" to inspect hospitals. And
Dr. Van Buren commends these gentle-
men as men of high character and emi-
nent fitness for the work to which they
had been assigned. It is from the state-
ment of these northern gentlemen that I
quote. They caption their report from
Albany, April 5, 1863, and say, among
other things, as follows :

"In our experience, we have never wit-
nessed so painful a spectacle as that presented
by these wretched inmates; without change
of clothing, covered with vermin, they lie in
cots, without mattresses, or with mattresses
furnished by private charity, without sheets
or bedding of any kind, except blankets, often
in rags; in wards reeking with filth and foul
air. The stench is most offensive. We care-



fully avoid all exaggeration of statement, but
we give some facts which speak for themselves.
From January 27, 1863, when the prisoners
(in number about 3,800) arrived at Camp
Douglas, to February 18th, the day of our
visit, 385 patients have been admitted to the
hospitals, of whom 130 have died. This mor-
tahty of 2)Z per cent, does not express the
whole truth, for of the 148 patients then re-
maining in the hospital a large number must
have since died. Besides this, 130 prisoners
have died in barracks, not having been able to
gain admission even to the miserable accom-
modations of the hospital, and at the time
of our visit 150 persons were sick in barracks
waiting for room in hospital. Thus it will be
seen that 260 out of the 3,800 prisoners had
died in twenty-one days, a rate of mortality
which, if continued, would secure their total
extermination in about 320 days."

Then they go on to describe the condi-
tions at St. Louis, showing them to be
worse than at Chicago, and after stating
that the conditions of these prisons are
"discreditable to a Christian people," they

"It surely is not the intention of our



government to place these prisoners in a posi-
tion which will secure their extermination by
pestilence in less than a year."

See also Report of United States^
Surgeon A. M. Clarke, Vol. VI, Series

71,p. 371, p. 113.

Now let me ask this quesion: Why
did not the representatives of this same
"Sanitary Commission," when they were
publishing their slanderous report of Sep-
tember, 1864, as to the way Union prison-
ers were treated in Southern prisons,
which report they illustrated with skele-
tons alleged to have come from Libby,
Andersonville, and other prisons in the
South, make at least mention of the con-
dition of the things found by them in
Camp Douglas and Gratiot Street prison

One word on violation of the ex-
change cartel: On May 13, 1863, Judge
Ould wrote Colonel Ludlow, calling his
attention to the ''large nimiber of Con-
federate officers captured long since and
still held by the United States," threat-



ened retaliation if the unjust and harsh
course then pursued by the Federals to-
wards our officers was persevered in, and
concluded as follows :

"Nothing is now left as to those whom
our protests have failed to release but to
resort to retaliation. The Confederate Gov-
ernment is anxious to avoid a resort to that
harsh measure. In its name I make a final
appeal for that justice to our imprisoned of-
ficers and men which your own agreements
have declared to be their due." (War Rec-
ords, p. 607.^

Again on May 14, 1863, Judge Ould
wrote, naming several of Mosby's men
who had been carried to the Old Capitol
prison. He then said:

"They are retained under the allegation
that they are bushwhackers and guerillas.
Mosby's command is in the Confederate serv-
ice, in every sense of the term. He is regularly-
commissioned, and his force is as strictly Con-
federate as any in our army. Why is this
done? This day I have cleaned every prison
in my control as far as I know. If there is
any detention anywhere, let me know and I


(Attorney at Law — Ex-Chancellor State)



will rectify it. I am compelled to complain
of this thing in almost every communication.
You will not deem me passionate when I assure
you it will not be endured any longer. If these
men are not delivered, a stern retaliation will
be made immediately." (Id., p. 632.)

This being the condition of things,
on May 25, 1863, the following order was
issued by the Federals :

War Department, Washington, D. C,
May 25, 1863.

General Schofield:

No Confederate ofBcer will be paroled
or exchanged till further orders. They will be
kept in close confinement, and be strongly
guarded. Those already paroled will be con-

H. W. Halleck.

Why was the cartel suspended?
Surely not by request of the Confederate
authorities. Who was responsible for
this inhuman work that inflicted so much
suffering upon the Union prisoners of
war in the hands of the South that could
not care for them nor feed them?



The question is asked in all honesty,
because this suspension of the cartel by
the United States Government was the
cause of the suffering of the Union pris-
oners of war in the South.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of
War, and Gen. H. W. Halleck are respon-
sible for the suffering of Union prison-
ers of war in the South, and not President
Davis nor the Confederate Government.
Mr. Charles A. Dana, the Assistant Fed-
eral Secretary of War, in an editorial in
his paper, the New York ''Sun," said in
commenting on a letter President Davis
wrote to Mr. James Lyons in reply to
some strictures Mr. Blaine had made upon
the question of prisoners of war:

"This letter shows clearly, we think,
that the Confederate authorities, and especial-
ly Mr. Davis, ought not to be held responsible
for the terrible privations, sufferings and in-
juries which our men had to endure while
they were kept in Confederate mihtary pris-
ons. The fact is unquestionable, that while
the Confederates desired to exchange prison-
ers, to send our men home, and to get back



their own, General Grant steadily and strenuously-
resisted such an exchange. * * *

'"It is hard on our men held in Southern pris-
ons,' said Grant, in an official communication,
'not to exchange them; but it is humane to those
left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we com-
mence a system of exchanges which liberates all
prisoners taken, we will have to fight c.i until the
whole South is exterminated. If we hold those
caught they are no more than dead men.' * * *

"This evidence [says Dana] must be taken as
conclusive. It proves that it was not the Confed-
erate authorities who insisted on keeping our pris-
oners in distress, want and disease, hut the commander
of our own armies. * * * Moreover [says he]
there is no evidence whatever, that it was practi-
cable for the Confederate authorities to feed our
prisoners any better than they were fed, or to give
them any better care and attention than they re-
ceived. The food was insufficient, the care and
attention were insufficient, no doubt, and yet the
condition of our prisoners was not worse than that
of the Confederate soldiers in the field, except in
so far as the condition of those in prison must of
necessity be worse than that of men who are free
and active outside."



This is the statement of the Federal
Assistant Secretary of War during the

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Online LibraryJ. Ogden MurrayThe immortal six hundred; a story of cruelty to Confederate prisoners of war → online text (page 1 of 17)