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[144] of our number, and was, prior to the war, familiar with the approaches to the river. An explanation from him as to the strange course the vessel seemed to be taking was anxiously sought. He allayed the fears of the prisoners for awhile by saying that the vessel was not taking the proper course, as he had known it, but it was possible that sand bars had formed in the old channel, and that the boat was rounding them. But the Illinois continued on its course, and very quickly the Lieutenant gave it as his opinion that she was going to sea. We then called upon the captain and asked him to tell us the worst. He very frankly informed us that he had received orders to return the prisoners to Fort Delaware; that active operations had commenced at Petersburg that morning by an attack upon Fort Steadman by General Lee's army, and that no prisoners would be exchanged on the James as long as active operations continued. This was disappointment's greatest shock. Hope, that had sustained us in every peril, now forsook us, and our hearts sank within us. All was despondency and gloom. Quite a number of deaths occurred on the voyage around to Fort Delaware, and, although it was a run of only twenty-four hours, the poor fellows were not accorded a rude burial in the Confederate grave-yard on Jersey's shore, but were wrapped in their blankets and consigned to watery graves in the tempest-troubled deep.

We were landed at fort Delaware in due time. The prisoners at the fort had largely increased in numbers during our absence. They were in comparatively good health, and the contrast between their appearance and that of the emaciated, haggard and ragged survivors of the 600 was most marked. The photographs of sick soldiers, after their return from Confederate prisons, taken by the United States Sanitary Commission, and industriously and widely distributed for the purpose of firing the Northern heart, would have brought the blush of shame to the Northern cheek, if they could have seen a photograph of the group of Confederate prisoners, taken on their return to Fort Delaware.

Our party greatly enjoyed the superior accommodations and privileges of the Delaware prison, and rapidly improved in health.

The prisoners occupied their time in a variety of ways, many of them at cards. Debating societies were organized, moot courts instituted, for there were many lawyers among us, &c. The inventive genius of the prisoners was developed to a high degree. One man constructed a still, and actually made whiskey without being detected. The product of his still was not of superior quality, but was


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