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[145] always in demand at high figures. Quite a number engaged in making trinkets of bone and guttapercha. A miniature steam saw-mill was built, a camp-kettle being used for the boiler. This was used in sawing bone and other material for the trinket manufacturers. The rings, bracelets, watch-chains, &c., were sold to the visitors of the prison, and a considerable amount of money was realized. A captain of my regiment brought out of prison, on his final release, over six hundred dollars made in this way. He is now a prosperous and wealthy citizen of Knoxville, Tenn. For the purpose of amusement as well as profit, a first-class negro minstrel company was organized, and permitted by General Schoepf to give exhibitions in the mess hall. These performances were well attended by the prisoners and the Federal officers of the fort. The admisssion fee of fifty cents was cheerfully paid by the prisoners who were supplied with money by friends at the North, and complimentary tickets were generally given to those without means. The receipts often amounted to two or three hundred dollars a night in money and tobacco, tobacco being legal tender in the prison.

The boxes of clothing and provisions, sent to the prisoners by Northern friends, were opened and inspected before they were delivered, and it often happened that the contents were appropriated by the inspectors, and old clothes and army rations sometimes substituted. Of course, these petty peculations greatly annoyed the prisoners, and they protested vigorously to Captain Ahl, and it was believed that if he had laid the complaint before General Schoepf, the pernicious practice would have been checked.

The farce of opening the boxes outside the prison, the daily box call on the platform overlooking the pen, and the amusing scenes that occurred inside the pen when the recipients opened their boxes and found old clothes and prison rations in place of the fine things sent them, were reproduced on the stage by the minstrel company, to the delight of the prisoners and the chagrin of the Federal officers present. It was a splendid take off, and must have been productive of good results. A portion of these exhibitions were used in supplying the sick in the hospitals with delicacies and things necessary to their comfort, and in aiding officers in the pen who had no friends North to send them money or clothing, and the balance was divided among the members of the troupe. This organization was, in fact, a charitable institution, for, besides affording pleasure and amusement to the prison public, in my opinion it was the means of saving many lives.

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