sent into the stockade had been kept carefully at headquarters, and it was found that some two thousand had attempted the “flank movement,” that is some two thousand more rations were returned on the count in the prison than could be accounted for. The trick was discovered, and as it was perpetrated on the north side the captain stopped their rations that day, but gave them to the south side of the prison.
This caused bad blood between the north side and the captain.
The men groaned him when he entered, and henceforth there was an intermittent feud; but the men who attempted this trick ought to have known and done better.
In quantity the rations were double, whatever other drawbacks there might have been.
Every night men worked at the tunneling from under some tent, out, under and at the other side of the stockade; but there was always some traitor in camp who informed on the “conspirators,” just as the tunnel was completed.
When discovered, the captain would ride in at the head of his guards and march to the exact spot where the tunnel was to be found.
But, although nightly discovered, the men worked like beavers at “tunneling” in some other part of the camp; but I do not believe that a single one of those tunnels ever proved successful.
The captain was thus kept in hot water, and being a man of a by no means mild temper, he often cursed and damned, but that was all.
Men were, however, nightly making their escape over the stockade, by bribing the guards, and by other dodges; and, though they often had a five hours start, the hounds being sent in pursuit, they were almost invariably overtaken and brought back, when they were for some days put in ball and chain, and sent back to the stockade; but they were no sooner inside than they managed to file off the ball and chain, only appearing in their (sham) pedal bracelets every morning during the counting of the men by the Confederate
As an evidence that Wirz
was actuated by no desire to inflict hardship upon our men, I heard him often exclaim, when a new batch of some five or six hundred prisoners would come: “I would as soon send these unfortunate men into h — l as into that d — d bull pen. It sickens me.”
The men often arrived at the prison without a blanket or any sort of “kit;” and in they marched and had to make their lodging on the cold ground.
At this time every branch and leaf for miles around had been cut down to make tents; and men had, when permitted to haul firewood, to go several miles around the country under guard.
It often happened, by the by, that on these occasions the Federal
soldiers would, when a sufficient distance from the stockade, lay hands on the guard, “buck and gag” him, take away his gun, and make their escape.