were special cases, either awaiting trial by court-martial or under sentence, and temporarily held there for the convenience of the government.
Thus it was the pleasure of the authorities to regard those captured from Mosby
's following ( “guerrillas” ) as special cases, and I had some twenty of them — rough, dirty, ill-looking customers they were — in a large room on the fourth floor of the Old Capitol, fronting on the street.
They were a turbulent and unruly set, and often amused themselves by throwing bricks (taken from an old fireplace in their room) at the sentinels on the pavement underneath their window, and, in one or two cases, barely escaped killing them.
All other means failing, and provoked at last, I notified them that I had given orders to the guard to fire on any one showing himself at the window, and that they were responsible for it, and for the result.
I am happy to say no one was injured, although they tested both the obedience and correct aim of the sentinel by putting one of their old hats on a stick and pushing it up to the window and getting a ball through it-but the brick throwing was ended.
It is proper to say, in this connection, that there was no means of punishing a refractory prisoner — as there were no “dungeons” in either prison-nor did I ever see a prisoner ironed beyond being handcuffed, and that only in very few cases and for a temporary purpose, and not once as a punishment.
The food served was a soldier's full ration, cooked, and many purchased at neighboring restaurants (by written order) anything they wished, even wine and cigars; the privilege of so buying, however, being mostly confined to civilians, who often had plenty of money, which officers or soldiers rarely had. Of course, the money and valuables of each prisoner was taken from him on his entrance to the prison, and a receipt given him by the superintendent, but he was at liberty to draw it for legitimate uses as pleased him. Knives were also taken from the prisoners, and upon assuming the command of the prisons I receipted for, to my predecessor, among other valuables, something like a hundred thousand dollars in money and United States
bonds and a full bushel
I speak thus accurately of the measure
as they were contained in two half-bushel measures, fairly level full, being those belonging to prisoners then
in confinement, as well as to many hundreds who had been released or sent elsewhere and forgotten to ask for them.
A noted English hotel thief, who was held by the authorities as a witness, gave up on his admission to the prison about five thousand dollars' worth of jewelry, mostly diamonds, and naively answered my query as to where he got them by saying concisely, “prigged 'em,” i. e
., stole them.
He was a gentlemanly-looking