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[136] gazing into vacancy. Nostalgia (homesickness) occasionally appears on the surgeons' reports as the cause of death of a prisoner, but there can be no question that it was a contributing cause in many cases attributed to other diseases.

Where the prisoners were educated men with resources in themselves, they struggled bravely to keep up their courage, for if this were lost their chances of survival were lessened. The Confederate officers at Johnson's Island had debating societies, classes in French, dancing, and music; they organized a government and debated and raised questions in their House of Representatives. The same sort of thing went on at Libby and at other places, and some of the discussions given in the books of reminiscences are exceedingly interesting. At Camp Ford, in Texas, at Fort Lafayette, and at one of the Richmond prisons, newspapers written out by hand were published.

A study of mortality statistics shows that there were fewer deaths in the prisons for officers than in those for privates. Their treatment was not essentially different and their food was often the same, yet they endured the hardships more successfully. Generally, they were, of course, men of more education and training than the privates, and had greater resources in themselves. They were determined not to lose heart and become apathetic, and for this reason they lived.

Though the subject is not pleasant, in reading of the experiences of prisoners of war one must be struck with the prominent place given to vermin in every description of prison life. In few cases did the prisoners have proper opportunities for bathing. In many cases they had no change of clothing, and vermin of various kinds seemed to have multiplied, North and South, with marvelous rapidity. No proper systematic effort to disinfect and cleanse the barracks seems to have been made. But even where such efforts were made, so tenacious of life were these creatures and the hasty construction of the barracks afforded so many hiding-places, that in a few weeks conditions were as bad as ever.

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