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[190] The rebels gave us leave
     To send down loyal men—1
Men good and true, who might receive
     Aid for that prison pen,
And tend the suffering inmates there
     With a whole nation's love and care.

But no, these gallant men
     Were left to starve and die
That Northern banners might again
     Mid Southern breezes fly;
And bold recruits might rush to save
     Their comrades from a prison grave.

A wise, sagacious move!
     A stroke of policy!
So called by those who know not love
     Or human sympathy.
But ah! those noble boys in blue—
     Their blood now rests on ‘me and you.’

The rebels, pinched and pressed,
     Offered to send them home2
Without exchange—you know the rest,
     For home they did not come!
Our ships could not be spared to save
     Our soldiers from a Southern grave!

Who did such grievous wrong
     In that sad, gloomy hour?
Men who were anxious to prolong
     Their influence and power.
Who cares for fifteen thousand men
     If we the helm of State retain?

1 In January, 1864, the Confederates proposed to allow the Federal authorities to send their own surgeons to the South. It was proposed, also, that these surgeons should act as commissaries, and distribute whatever either the United States Government or private benevolence should furnish. Of course, the Confederates would have desired a similar opportunity for their surgeons to minister to Southern prisoners at the North. The United States authorities, however, never gave any reply to the proposition, though the war continued for more than a year after it was made.

2 In August, 1864, when the mortality was increasing at Andersonville, the Confederates offered to give up from ten to fifteen thousand men unconditionally, except that the United States' authorities were to send for them. After a delay of three fearful months, the most sickly of the year, they did send and took away thirteen thousand, leaving in their place three thousand Southerners, who were even more squalid and sickly than the poor fellows they took home.

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