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[142] friendly disposed, they were given a warm reception by the prisoners. Not a great while after we were put on retaliation rations, some enterprising or half-starved prisoner conceived the happy idea of testing cat flesh as an article of food. The experiment proved a success, and thereafter the cats rapidly disappeared. The cats were generally captured, killed and dressed during the night. The soldiers were at a loss to know what had become of their pets, but they soon discovered the skins floating in the moat, and this led to the discovery that the prisoners were killing them for food. Some complaint was made to Colonel Brown, but to no purpose. The Colonel himself had a fine pet, which he prized very highly, and when he heard of the havoc among the garrison cats, he came into the prison one day and made a special request that his cat be spared. Of course his request was respected by every one of the prisoners, and thereafter his pet had the liberty of the prison, day and night, without even the fear of molestation. It would hardly be expected that the rules of hospitality would be observed among a lot of half-starved prisoners, situated as we were, and it rarely happened that invitations to dinner were sent out to particular friends by the members of a mess which had been fortunate enough to capture a cat the night before. These invitations were highly appreciated and the dish highly enjoyed. I was favored with more than one invitation. The flesh of the cat is white, and as tender as spring chicken, and to us it was delicious.

The order by which this cruel punishment was inflicted was continued in for nearly two months, after which rations were increased and we were permitted to go out on the island, under guard, and cut a kind of swamp grass that grew there for bedding. This added much to the comfort of the prisoners who, as stated before, were not furnished blankets. The winter at Fort Fulaski was mild, as compared with that of Virginia, but still it was unpleasant. There was no snow during the winter, and I observed sleet only once. But the weather was generally damp and chilly, and we suffered almost continuously from the want of proper clothing for the person and for the bed.

It is proper to state that Colonel Brown and his command were ordered to the front before the retaliatory order was rescinded, and I have no doubt that the Colonel preferred to encounter the dangers and hardships of service in the field to the ease and comforts of the position of commander of a post, coupled with the duty of inflicting unnecessary and cruel punishment upon a lot of helpless prisoners.

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Bedford Brown (2)
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