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[50]

It is a matter of history that the Confederates at this time were desirous of an exchange of prisoners and that the United States authorities would not consent to exchange. The New York Tribune, editorially referring to the occurrences of 1864, says: “In August the rebels offered to renew the exchange, man for man. General Grant then telegraphed the following important order: ‘It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken we will have to fight on till the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught they amount to no more than dead men.’”

With no hope of exchange and without supplies, and the death rate increasing, in the summer of 1864 Commissioner Ould further reports: ‘I did offer to deliver from ten to fifteen thousand of the sick and wounded prisoners on the north of the Savannah river without requiring any equivalent. Although this offer was made in the summer of 1864, transportation was not sent to Savannah river until about the middle or last of November, and then I delivered as many as could be transported—about thirteen thousand. About three thousand sick and wounded (Confederates) were delivered to me. The original rolls showed that some thirty-five hundred had started from Northern prisons, and that death had reduced the number to about three thousand.’

Now as to the difference of one hundred and nine per one thousand in the ratio of mortality at Andersonville and Elmira. It is an admitted fact that the residents of colder zones, passing into and residing in warmer localities, are more liable to contract diseases peculiar to warm or hot climates, such as diarrhea, dysentery and the malarial diseases, than are residents of warmer climates migrating to colder latitudes. In the carefully classified list of the twelve thousand nine hundred and twelve deaths among the prisoners recorded at Andersonville, one thousand three hundred and eighty-four died from dysentery, four thousand eight hundred and seventeen from diarrhea, and one hundred and seventy-seven from remittent fever. In other words, six thousand three hundred and seventy-eight, or one-half of all deaths there, were due to diseases which would naturally result from the exposure to the climate of Georgia during July, August, September and October, especially when they were subsisting chiefly on coarse corn-meal, a diet to which the prisoners were not accustomed and which tended to produce gastric and intestinal irritation.


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