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February 9th

A few officers were paroled to day for exchange. Why am I not among the number? Very few here are more helpless than I, and the fortunate parties are strong and well. It is difficult to be patient and calm under such treatment. The paroled officers are buoyant and happy, while those who have to remain are correspondingly depressed and wretched. The anxious increasing desire to be exchanged is positively painful. Nostalgia or homesickness is alarmingly prevalent, and its effects, combined with poor food and rough treatment, are often fatal. Sometimes a paragraph from an eagerly scanned newspaper, or a “grape vine” telegram, having no foundation whatever, makes all hopeful and jubilant, but soon a counter report fills them with gloom and despair. Many declare they would prefer to fight in battle every day to remaining longer in their wretched quarters. Gaming occupies the minds of many. Some read novels and histories, others study ancient and modern languages and mathematics, and thus divert, for the time, their minds from the painful, desperate, hopeless surroundings. A few are actually losing their memories, and are in danger of either becoming gibbering idiots or dangerous madmen. A speedy change to home life is the only salvation for them.

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