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[396] spread with an alarming rapidity. Add to this the short rations which were meted out to us, together with their miserable quality and the cruel treatment which we received at the hands of the negro soldiers, and you have but a faint idea of the suffering to which we were now subjected. Fears of death, either by disease or the hands of the negroes, forced many true Southern soldiers to think of taking the oath. This could readily be done, by application to the proper authorities, and a released obtained — only, however, to be drafted in the United States army. An opportunity to take the oath, and go into the United States army, was now freely extended to all the prisoners, as the officials gave notice that a “drawing for hostages in retaliation for the Fort Pillow massacre” was to take place at some early day. Preparations were accordingly made, and finally the 20th of May was announced as the day upon which to determine the fate of many men. The ruse took remarkably well, and some hundred or so flocked to the gate, to swear fealty to “Uncle Sam.” After this furor oath-taking was not so prevalent. Later in the summer, it again made its appearance, and this time the prisoners determined to take action to prevent it. This, however, had to be done with great secrecy, as the participators in it, if known, would have been severely punished. Meetings were held in the tents of the most prominent men in camp, and various schemes devised to prevent the depletion of our ranks in this manner. None of them had any effect, however, and more vigorous measures had to be adopted. Whenever it was known that a prisoner intended taking the oath (and it was very difficult to conceal the matter from his tent mates), a party would proceed to his tent the night previous, call him out and administer a severe flogging. They even went so far as to clip off the ears of one. Of course the parties who did this work were completely disguised. Thus it will be seen that Kuklux existed at Point Lookout before it did in South Carolina. The enforcement of these harsh measures decreased the number of oath-takers very materially, and the United States were compelled to seek elsewhere for recruits. Summer was now fairly upon us, and we began to feel its effects most severely. There was not a shade tree in the camp, and the only shelter we had from the scorching rays of the sun was our dilapidated tents. The glare of the sun upon the white ground and tents soon produced what is known as “moon blindness.” This is a disease which affects one only at night. Then one-half of the camp, at least, were totally blind, and had to be led

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