amenable to the State
, and also his (Jordan
's) own views regarding retaliation.
, who became their counsel, the prisoner States remembers, and says:—
‘A lawyer named Mitchell came to the jail and offered to defend us before the court.
He did a good deal for us, and talked with Sergeant Jeffries and Corporal Hardy, who went to trial as the two test cases.
Mitchell did this without pay, and was very kind to us at all times.
He worked hard and won the case, coming to us at midnight and called up to Jeffries, “All of you can now rejoice.
You are recognized as United States soldiers.”
Before the trial, gallows had been erected in the jail-yard, and, as we understood, were to be used for hanging all our colored boys.’
Sergt. Robert Johnson
and Private Edward S. Logan
, of Company F, Fifty-fifth Mass. Infantry, were captured at Botany Bay Island, S. C.
, on Nov. 12, 1863, and narrowly escaping being killed when first made prisoners, were taken to Charleston Jail to join the Fifty-fourth men. Johnson
died a prisoner; but Logan
lived to be released.
The following statement, most interesting to the survivors of both the regiments, is made by W. S. Glazier
, a Union officer confined in the jail, in his book, Capture, Prison pen, and escape.
The ground-floor of the jail was occupied by civil convicts; the second story by rebel officers under punishment for military offences; the third story by negro prisoners; and the fourth by Federal and rebel deserters. . . . Many of the negro prisoners were captured at our assault on Fort Wagner.
I had a conversation with Sergeant Johnson (colored), Co. F, 55th Massachusetts Infantry; he was a full-blooded negro, but possessed of no ordinary degree of intelligence.
He gave me an interesting history of the captivity and trial of the negro prisoners.
Soon after their capture they were informed that they were to be tried by a civil commission, on a charge of having abandoned their masters and enlisted in the United States Army, and, if found guilty, they were told that they might make up their minds to stretch hemp; and why should they not be found guilty?
To be sure, nearly all were from the North and had always been free; but they knew full well that this court was formed not to subserve the ends of justice, but to convict; for the rebels had sufficiently illustrated their method of dealing with negro prisoners,—that is, when they designed to receive them as such, instead of murdering them in cold blood, in order to convince their comrades of the narrow chance of life,