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[33] a wretched condition—dirty, ragged, and covered with vermin— their soiled and torn uniforms, if such they may be called, were stained and soaked with blood; and their wounds, which had not been dressed from the time of the battles at Gettysburg until their arrival here, were absolutely alive with maggots. Many of them had suffered amputation — some had bullets in their persons—at least a score have died who were at the point of death when the boat touched the wharf.

On their arrival here they were dressed in the dirty gray coats and pants, so common in the Southern army. Shakespeare's army of beggars must have been better clad than were the Confederate prisoners. One of the first acts of Dr. Simmons, the surgeon in charge, was to order the prisoners to throw aside their “ragged regimentals,” wash their persons thoroughly and robe themselves in clean and comfortable hospital clothing, which consists of cotton shirts and drawers, dressing gown of gray flannel, and blue coat and trousers of substantial cloth..

‘Their old rags were collected in a heap and burned, notwithstanding the great sacrifice of life involved. We looked about the island in vain to find a butternut colored jacket, or Rebel uniform. The 3,000 prisoners did not bring with them enough clean linen to make a white flag of peace had they been disposed to show any such sign of conciliation.’

Who were these dirty, ragged soldiers, whose soiled and torn uniforms, if such they could be called, were stained and soaked with blood? The world knows them as the gallant followers of Lee, whose triumphant valor on every field, and against all odds, had filled the world with wonder and admiration,—who suffered their first defeat at Gettysburg—suffered from no want of courage on their part as Pickett's charge shows, but solely from want of prompt obedience to Lee's orders. The three thousand wounded Confederate soldiers, in these pavilions, were the very flower of the South—the sons and product of its best blood; inheritors of a chivalric race, the bone and sinew of the land, bright, intelligent, open-faced and open-hearted men; including in their ranks many a professional man—many a college student—readers of Homer and Plato—readers of Virgil and Cicero. There were among these ragged-jacket wearers

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R. E. Lee (2)
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