with horror at the sight of the terrible misery which met their eyes, they were thrust into the midst of the inferno from which in most cases they were only to emerge as corpses or physical wrecks throughout the remainder of life.
Starved, left to dig into the ground for shelter like wild beasts, maltreated, reviled, shot at if in misery or diseased mind they wandered to the dead-line, reeking in filth, covered with vermin, shaking with fever or cold, stricken with scurvy, the hapless victims lived on as best they could, but to endure until hope of release grew faint with waning strength, while their captors strove to sap their loyalty by offers of freedom, would they but enlist in their ranks, or labor on their works.
That such barbarous treatment of our prisoners and their condition was made known to the Confederate
officials cannot be gainsaid, for the archives which fell into our hands furnish ample proof.
On Sept. 22, 1862, the Confederate Secretary of War
received a report from the chairman of a committee of their Congress, which, speaking of the deplorable condition of the hospitals in which our soldiers were treated when captives, said: ‘The honor of our country will not permit us to bring this matter to the attention of Congress, thereby making the matter public.’
When Gen. John H. Winder
was sent from Richmond
to Andersonville prison to take charge, the Richmond Examiner said: ‘Thank God that Richmond
is at last rid of old Winder
God have mercy upon those to whom he has been sent!’
Of this Winder, Col. D. T. Chandler
, wrote in his report of Andersonville
to his department of the Confederate army on Aug. 5, 1864:—
‘My duty requires me to recommend a change in commander of the post, Brigadier-General Winder, and the substitution in his place of one who unites both energy and good judgment with some feeling of humanity and consideration for the welfare and comfort (so far as is consistent with their safe keeping) of the vast number of unfortunates placed under his control; some one who at least will not advocate deliberately and in cold blood the propriety of leaving them in their present condition until their number has been sufficiently reduced by death to make the present arrangement suffice for their accommodation.’