Question. What is your connection with this hospital?
Answer. I am the chaplain of the hospital.
Question. How long have you been acting in that capacity?
Answer. I have been connected with the hospital in that capacity ever since the twentieth of October, 1862.
Question. What has been your opportunity of knowing the condition of our returned prisoners?
Answer. I have mingled with them and administered unto them ever since they have been here, night and day. I have written, I suppose, something like a hundred letters for them to their relatives and friends since they arrived here.
Question. Have you attended them when they were dying?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. And conversed with them about their condition, and the manner in which they have been brought to that condition?
Answer. Yes, sir; I have.
Question. Please tell us what you have ascertained from them?
Answer. The general story I have gotten from them was to the effect, that when captured, and before they got to Richmond
, they would generally be robbed of their clothing, their good United States
uniforms, even to their shoes and hats taken from them, and if any thing was given to them in place of them, they would receive only old worn-out confederate clothing.
Sometimes they were sent to Belle Isle
with nothing on but old pants and shirts.
They generally had their money taken from them, often with the promise of its return, but that promise was never fulfilled.
They were placed on Belle Isle
, as I have said, some with nothing on but pants and shirts, some with blouses, but they were seldom allowed to have an overcoat or a blanket.
There they remained for weeks, some of them for six or eight weeks, without any tents or any kind of covering.
Question. What time of the year was this?
Answer. All along from September down to December, as a general thing, through the latter part of the fall.
There they remained for weeks without any tents, without blankets, and in many instances without coats, exposed to the rain and snow, and all kinds of inclement weather.
And where some of them had tents, they were old worn-out army tents, full of holes and rents, so that they are very poor shelters indeed from the storms.
I have been told by several of them that several times, upon getting up in the morning, they would find six or eight of their number frozen to death.
There are men here now who have had their toes frozen off there.
They have said that they have been compelled to get up during the night and walk rapidly back and forth to keep from dying from the cold.
Question. What do they say in regard to the food furnished them?
Answer. They represent that as being very little in quantity, and of the very poorest quality, being but a small piece of corn-bread, about three inches square, made of meal ground very coarsely — some of them suppose made of corn and cobs all ground up together — and that bread was baked and cut up and sent to them in such a manner that a great deal of it would be crumbled off and lost.
Sometimes they would get a very small piece of meat, but that meat very poor, and sometimes for days they would receive no meat at all. And sometimes they would receive a very small quantity of what they call rice-water — that is, water with a few grains of rice in it.
Question. You have heard their statements separately?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Do they all agree in the same general statement as to their treatment?
Answer. Yes, sir; they do.
Question. How were they clothed when they arrived here?
Answer. They were clothed very poorly indeed, with old worn-out filthy garments, full of vermin.
Question. What was their condition and appearance as to health when they arrived here?