they have offered to buy dogs at any price for food, of those who came in there; and one actually said that when a man came in there with a dog, and went out without the dog noticing it, they caught him and dressed him and roasted him over the fire, over a gas-light
, as best they could, and then ate it; and, as he expressed it, “it was a precious mite to them.”
Their testimony in regard to the cruelty of the guards and others set over them is to the effect that in one instance two comrades in the army together, who were taken prisoners together, and remained in the prison together, were separated when the prisoners were exchanged.
One was returned here and the other left.
The one who was left went to the window and waved his hand in adieu to his comrade, and the guard deliberately shot him through the temple, and he fell dead.
I mentioned this fact to others of our prisoners here in the hospital, and they said that they knew it to be so. Some of them were there at the time the man was shot.
Question. Do you keep any record of the deaths here?
Answer. I have not kept a record.
I have the official notice of the deaths; but inasmuch as the records are kept at the office, and we have had so many other duties crowding upon us — so many deaths here — it has been almost impossible for us to keep any record.
I think it is impossible for any description to exaggerate the condition of those men. The condition of those here now is not so bad, as a class, as some we have received heretofore.
By the Chairman
Question. Has the treatment of our prisoners latterly been worse than before, from their testimony?
Answer. I think there has been no very material change of late.
I think it has grown worse from the very first; but for a year past, I should judge it could not be made any worse.
Question. Just the same thing we now see here?
Answer. Yes, sir. I would give just another fact in regard to the statements made here by large numbers of our returned prisoners.
On Belle Isle
, their privies were down from the main camp.
From six o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the evening they were permitted to go to these sinks or privies, but from six at night until six in the morning they were refused the privilege of going there, and consequently, so many suffering with diarrhea, their filth was deposited all through their camp.
The wells from which they drew their water were sunk in the sand around through their camp, and you can judge what the effect of that has been.
Some of these prisoners, soon after they were put on Belle Isle
, not knowing the regulations there, and suffering from chronic diarrhoea, when making the attempt to go down to these privies after six o'clock at night, were shot down in cold blood by the guards, without any warning whatever.
Several such instances have been stated to me by parties who have arrived here.
By Mr. Odell
Question. You make these statements from the testimony of prisoners received here?
Answer. Yes, sir; from testimony that I have the most perfect confidence in. Men have stated these things to me in the very last hours of their lives.
By the Chairman
Question. Were they conscious of their condition at the time they made their statements?
Answer. Yes, sir; I think they were perfectly conscious; yet there is one thing which is very remarkable, that is, these men retain their hope of life up to the hour of dying.
They do not give up. There is another thing I would wish to state: all the men, without any exception, among the thousands that have come to this hospital, have never, in a single instance, expressed a regret (notwithstanding the privations and sufferings that they have endured) that they entered their country's service.
They have been the most loyal, devoted, and earnest men. Even on the last days of their lives they have said that all they hoped for was just to live and enter the ranks again and meet their foes.
It is a most glorious record in reference to the devotion of our men to their country.
I do not think their patriotism has ever been equalled in the history of the world.
The Committee then proceeded, by steamer, from Annapolis
, and visited the West Hospital
, and saw the patients there.
As they presented the same reduced and debilitated appearance as those they had already seen at Annapolis
, and in conversation gave the same account of their treatment at the hands of the rebels, the Committee
concluded their examination by taking merely the testimony of the surgeon and chaplain of the hospital.