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[327] of prisoners began to arrive, most of them from Fort Delaware. They were in a most destitute and deplorable condition — many of them not having sufficient clothing to clothe them, and all were without blankets. The severity of a winter on this barren place can only be imagined by those who have been there, and our prospects were now gloomy indeed. Our camp had formerly been a corn-field, and consisted of about fifty acres. The Federal authorities conceived the plan of fencing in the camp, and erecting cook-houses, a commissary, &c., and for this purpose secured the services of several good carpenters. They employed about two hundred prisoners to assist, paying them in extra rations and tobacco. When these were erected the camp was thoroughly reorganized. The men were divided into divisions of one thousand men each — each under a Yankee sergeant — and the division into companies of one hundred men each, under a Confederate sergeant. We were compelled to keep the camp clean, well drained, &c., and for this purpose carts and barrows were furnished. Each company street was well drained, and made as hard and firm as pebble and sand could make it. Each drain ran into the main drain, which ran through the centre of the camp, and from which all the refuse water was thrown into the bay. Our tents were miserable affairs, being full of holes, and very rotten. They were of the “Sibley pattern,” and into each one of these sixteen men were crowded. In order to lay down at night, the men were compelled to lay so close together as to exclude sleep. The winter of 1863 was now approaching, and gloom, privation and starvation were staring us in the face. On the 9th of November, snow fell arid there was not a stick of wood in camp. The day was bitter cold, most of us were but poorly clad, and very few of us had shoes of any description. We were compelled to stand in our damp tents, and “mark time” to keep from freezing. This scarcely seems possible, yet it can be attested by hundreds who were there. Previous to this time--November, 1863--we had no reason to complain of our rations, but now we began to feel the pangs of hunger. Shortly after the cook houses were finished, a detail of ten or twelve men, under a sergeant, was assigned to each house, whose duty it was to cook the rations and issue them. Each house was furnished with three huge boilers — holding perhaps, forty gallons apiece — thus enabling them to feed about five hundred men at once. Our rations were now reduced as follows: for breakfast, half-pint coffee, or, rather, slop water; for dinner, half-pint greasy water (called soup for etiquette), also a small piece of meat, perhaps three or four ounces. For bread

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