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 The two most important prisons west of the Mississippi were Camp Ford, near Tyler, and Camp Groce, near Hempstead, Texas. The former was at first a Camp on a beautiful hill covered with trees, though a stockade was built later. Both officers and men were confined here, and there seemed to have been, during 1863 and the early part of 1864, comparatively few hardships. The prisoners built log huts around which some of them planted vines and flowers. Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. H. Duganne tells of paying two prisoners, experienced in such work, one hundred dollars in Confederate money for the construction of a hut ten by twelve feet with a stone fireplace and a clay chimney. The supply of wood was abundant, the water was excellent, bathing arrangements were ample, and the food, though confined to a few articles, was good. There was an abundance of fresh beef and corn-meal, and farmers in the neighborhood were allowed to sell any of their produce, though there was no regular sutler. The prisoners seem to have been allowed to keep and to receive money in any quantity. There was so little sickness that there seems to have been no need for a hospital. A newspaper written by hand was published by the prisoners, and concerts were given frequently. In the spring of 1864, many of the inmates planted gardens, but about this time a great influx of prisoners from the Red River operations overcrowded the prison and the horticultural hopes were dissipated. This great increase in the number of prisoners brought disease from overcrowding, and a hospital was built. By this time there were no trees within the prison or near by, and many of the men burrowed in the earth. The ration was reduced to corn-meal, and conditions became similar to those in the Eastern stockades. The last prison to be considered, Camp Groce, near Hempstead, was at first a Camp in an open field enclosed by guard lines. The number of Federal prisoners of war confined here was comparatively small, and little information regarding it is to be found in the ‘ Official Records.’
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