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[422] several hundred of their number, who, to relieve their sufferings, availed themselves of the frequent offers made to enlist them in the rebel army. Those who incurred the displeasure of their guards were mercilessly punished by whipping, put into torturing handcuffs, or strung up by the thumbs. Robbers, of their own number, stole from the incautious or weak the shreds of blankets, clothes, or pans used for cooking. Old diseases long dormant asserted themselves in consequence of their privations and exposure.

At one time some 15,000 prisoners were in Florence stockade. In January, 1865, 7500 were confined there. During its occupancy the number buried was about 3000, of whom all but about 200 are unknown. The mortality reached eleven per cent a month.

With the oncoming of Sherman's army in February, 1865, threatening the release of prisoners, it became necessary to remove them. The rebel armies of Lee and Johnson were being driven into more contracted lines. Under these conditions the prisoners had to endure increased privations; so that when forced to march away in droves, or taken into railroad cars packed like cattle, the suffering was dreadful, causing the death of hundreds while moving, or immediately after release. The Florence prisoners were taken in various directions, and it is hard to gain any clear account of the colored prisoners.

Daniel States says:—

‘From July 18, 1863, were in Charleston. Were taken from there to Florence stockade about December 1, 1864. There were some fifty-four, and all went to Florence. Were two months and nineteen days at Florence. On March 4, 1865, the last lot were paroled; some had left before.’

The number of prisoners mentioned, ‘fifty-four,’ doubtless refers to all colored prisoners removed, and not Fifty-fourth men alone. When he says that the last lot were paroled March 4, he probably means at the parole ground where they were at the time. This we know to have been at Goldsboro, N. C.

Alfred Green, of Co. B, also a Fifty-fourth prisoner, makes a more detailed statement of his experience and says,—

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