Rats as food.In regard to the scarcity of food, Mr. Keiley says: ‘It often happened that the same man got only bones for several successive days. The expedients resorted to were disgusting. Many found a substitute for meat in rats, with which the place abounded, and they commanded an average price of four cents apiece. I have seen scores of them in various stages of preparation. Others found, in the barrels of refuse fat, which accumulated in the cook-house and in the pickings of the bones which were thrown out in a dirty heap behind the kitchen to be removed once a week, the means of gratifying the cravings of hunger. I have seen a mob of starving ‘Rebs’ besieging the bone-cart and begging of the driver fragments on which the August sun had been burning for several days.’ Of the brutal treatment of prisoners Mr. Keiley gives the following instances:
A sick boy having inadvertently stepped across a mark made by one of the officials, he was compelled to leap back and forth across it until he fell exhausted. Another brute would lay about him with a tent-pole among the crippled and helpless prisoners. A man named Hale, one of the Stonewall brigade, having refused to compromise others by telling where he had obtained a little whiskey, instead of the usual confinement in the guard-house, had his thumbs tied together behind his back and the rope drawn up across a beam overhead until his whole weight rested upon them, causing excruciating agony. Still refusing to “peach,” he was gagged with a piece of wood, and struck in the face with an oaken billet, which knocked out his front teeth and covered his face with blood.