‘  Civil War,’ I wrote the following letter to the editor, which he declines to publish, telling me that he thinks I will, ‘on reflection, see the inadvisability of a controversy’ on the subject. He himself—he writes me—has discussed the matter ‘dispassionately,’ and, of course, there is no need for any further discussion. The almost five columns in which he tells his readers of the ‘unspeakable horrors of Andersonville,’ of the ‘millions of flies,’ which ‘deposited their maggots on the gangrenous wounds of the living, and in the mouths of the dead,’ are, of course, sufficient; and a ‘controversy’ could, he says, ‘conduce to no good end.’ Let there be no controversy. To hear one side of a question is enough. The Nation has spoken. Its editor is in his holy sanctum. Let all the earth keep silence before him.
To the Editor of the Nation:Sir,—As I leave not personally investigated the history of prisons during the civil war, I shall not venture to express in this letter any opinion of my own concerning the relative humanity of North and South in the treatment of prisoners; but, as you state in your editorial of last week that the diet at Johnson's Island was ‘exceptionally abundant and varied,’ I wish to call the attention of your readers to certain evidence to the contrary, which I have heard. After reading your article I went to a gentleman whose brother, a Confederate lieutenant, died after leaving Johnson's Island, from the effects of hardships suffered at that place, and asked him whether his brother had found the food ‘exceptionally abundant and varied.’ Briefly stated, the lieutenant's account was as follows: The food, though usually satisfactory as to quality, was not always so, as may be inferred from the fact that, in order to have a better Christmas dinner than was furnished him, he made soup out of some fish-skins which he had raked out of a gutter. As to the abundance, he heard the commandant of the prison, whom he praised highly for his kindness, say that he was well aware that the prisoners did not have enough to eat, but that he was under strict orders not to give them any more. Delicacies were sent him by New York and Louisville ladies, but were intercepted by the guards or other persons and never reached him. Moreover, in that bitterly cold climate, he was not allowed a blanket to cover himself at night until after Christmas. I am well acquainted with a Confederate captain now living in Richmond, a perfect Hercules in physique, who (if I remember rightly) weighed fifty pounds less upon leaving Johnson's Island than when he entered its prison walls.