Died in despair.
Men died constantly, seemingly without a cause.
They would appear less cheerful and less interested in life, and next morning, when summoned to roll-call, would be found dead, either from starvation or cold, God only knows which.
Many went this way and many to the hospital never to return.
During this terrible month our guards were changed, and the new-comers must needs practice on the poor prisoners, some of them practically dying, to see if they could not add to sufferings already to great to be borne.
One night I saw through a crack in the stable eight or ten men being drilled in the snow with a shoe in each hand, this being for the amusement of the new guard and for punishment to the prisoners for talking after going to bed. These are some of the indignities that can be put into print, but there were things more cruel and revolting perpetrated by these guards on the defenceless men that cannot be printed.
If these numerous instances of shameful cruelty came under my personal observation, what number must have been perpetrated that none are living to record?
The outrages practiced by the guards and sergeants were not all we were subjected to in December, 1864.
There was an order issued by the commanding officer
that the men should not remain in barracks (after the doctor has passed through) from 9 o'clock A. M. until 3 o'clock. Poorly clad, starving men were compelled to stand around in the snow until hundreds had their feet so badly frost-bitten that their toes came off. This cruel order was persisted in till many men died from exposure, when the order was countermanded.
The excuse given for the order was that the men stayed in doors too much and would be benefited by exercise.
Had these officers raised the ragged coat or blanket from the first figure they met and looked at the emaciated, itch-scarred, vermin-eaten creature, they would have seen that the men needed more food and warm clothing to hold life in them, instead of more snow and cold north wind.
I am told that the people of Indianapolis
deny that these terrible things occurred in their fair city.