A writer in the New York Herald
gives a description of the prison arrangements as seen at Point Lookout, Md.
, through Yankee spectacles.--It will be a matter of interest to many of our brave soldiers who have experienced the hospitalities of the place, as well as the general public to read an account, however pose-colored it may be, of this famous prison house.
The camp is laid off in divisions, of which at present there are seven; and each division comprises ten companies of a hundred men each, thus making a thousand men to division.
Each company is governed by a sergeant, who attends to cleansing his part of camp, calling the roll, receiving and delivering letters, add producing his company to meats at proper house.
Besides he is the medium of communication between officials outside and prisoners within the enclosure.
There are no Union officers of any rank who have offices inside the prison gate excepting the commissary; who simply issues rations to the several c houses.
visits are to the hospital by the Union
surgeon in charge, and the camp is inspected delay by the officer of the day; but besides these and occasional visits of the Provost Marshal
and his assistants to distri boges or money letters, all else is managed by rebel sercants and details, without interference from any quarter.
Most of the prisoners occupy the lents furnished them, which are regularly arrested along each side of the streets.
The aristoc and wealthy, however, occupy comfortable looking houses, made of cracker boxes.
These for a camp are commotion a and genteel, some costing as high as twenty dollars. Some are marked with high sounding names, such as "Virginia Hall," "Louisiana Hall
," "Eldon Hall," others are as "The Rebel Retreat," "Rebel Den," or the and again about tempt at fun, as a rough drawing of dilapidated with the instruction, " your Mate
," and next to it " white-eyed open-mouthed caricature," Inscribed "Here's your Ride!,"
Now and what the prisoners eat.
There are halt a dozen cook houses, plain board buildings, each with its long outing room, with four or five table down its length, and a smaller back room or kitchen.
Each house can feed about five hundred at a time.
The menial work in them performed by volunteer details from camp, and a "position," at it is called, is estectued so highly that nomination for a vacancy caslly commands from five to ten dollars. A rebel sergeant superintends each house.
The table furniture is extremely primitive — tin cups and plates.
There are two meals per day. For breakfast each prisoner has a tin cup of coffee, with the addition of a spoonful of molasses once, or sometimes twice, a week, and for dinner a piece of meat, either port, pickled beef, or fresh beef, the size of the piece varying from a quarter to three quarters of a pound weight, and either coffee — same in quantity as for breakfast — potato soup, carrot soup, or bean soup, when either of the latter, a pint to the man. When meat and codes are provided a few Irish potatoes are added.
Of course, bread in part of the rations; but it is issued to the company be giants, who deal it out a loaf to each man. The loaves weigh nine or ten ounces.
Sometimes crackers are issued instead of soft bread--nine a day per man. The cooks and all cook house servants are allowed three meal a day, and are not reserved as to quantity.
This accounts for the fact that "positions" have a money value.
From the above it will be readily believed that dishonest efforts are constantly being made by same prisoners to get more to eat than is provided.
When such succeed it is called "flanking," and may be effected in of ways.
One may at mealtime report himself sick, and bespeak an allowance to be brought to him, but in the mean time sire to the cook house and score his share, may get his share at his proper place at table For it and move along with the incoming crowd to another place, and thus setters another share; or again, through connivance of company sergeants, one may muster on two company rolls and draw two men's rations.
But an honorable way for one to increase his rations is open in the shape of details for work in or outside of camp; it the latter, for repairs of roads, constructing wharves, unloading vessels, cutting wood and the like.
These details work almost dally, but to get on them is no easy matter, being so much in demand that many a poor fellow has often to exercise his wits and his patience to get the privilege of working a day for a plug of tobacco a piece of meat, and an armful of wood.
The wood however, is quite valuable.
One day last will for a hearty, strong detail man brought in enough wood on his shoulders at one turn to sell for sixty colliers (rebel currency)
Trades and Manufactures.
The ingenious contrivances made by the prisoners the interesting in consideration of the sent means for making them, and are another illustration of the time honored adage, "Necessity as the mother of invention" They consist of washing labs, wooden parts, wood saws, frying pans, &c.--Also, bone toothpicks, bone and guild perches rings, some quite handsome, and held at good prices; a veritable steam engine, made by a Georgia soldier, and which works as perfectly in its small way as any. The trades are well represented, there being a number of shoemakers', tarriers', and barbers' shops by courtesy, but tents in reality.
On not imagine, because it is a rebel camp, that rebel shinplaster are more valuable than greenbacks.
On the contrary, the latter are very highly prized, five cents being worth a dollar and upwards of the former.
Some, indeed, will not take the rebel currency at any price, though most receive it at the rate mentioned.
There is a camp currency, however, which is just as much a legal tender as green backs, viz: "Hard tack" (crackers) and tobacco.
One of the former is equivalent to a chew of the latter, and pieces of meal or other merchantable articles are valued at so many "hard racks" or as many chews of tobacco.
Having houses and Refreshment stands.
Senttered through camp at intervals are tents and houses labelled "hot bread." "ples and bread," or "cakes and apples." These supply the camp demand for the articles named; but occasionally one stumbles on a sing, "Rebel Eating House," where are kept oysters, (sometimes) cakes, coffee, biscuit, &c. These places, though, are for the accommodation of fortunate possessors of green-backs and the common class, the undistinguished mass, must needs content themselves with Government rations, issued out on cool evenings with "hot coffee," This ordinarily delicious beverage here savors too strongly of Dixie, being made from parched crackers or coffee grounds, and innocent of sugar or milk.
It retails at one "hard tack" (a cracker) or a chew of tobacco a cupful.
It would probably move a stranger's gravity to walk through a business street on a fine evening.
At each step one tens the stores, and behind them, standing in the tent doorways, the grave and thoughtful looking merchants.
The store counters are simple, rough hoards, and the wares temptingly displayed on them are apples, chews of tobacco, bread or crackers.
Here and there are the coffee --Trade
is pretty brick, if one may judge from the neises which assail the car: "Here's your hot coffee! " "Here's your apples!" "Here's your hard tank and tobacco!" Notice closely, and may hap one will see a hard fisted, coarked man, a merchants, maybe, worn with the labors or the day, coming round a tent, cup in one hand and cracker in the other, requiring, in a brick, business way, "Where's your coffee for hard tack!" A coffee merchant quickly says, "Here's your coffee," and a trade or purchase is soon affected.
Queer, isn't it, for men with beards on their faces!
This vice stands out pretty boldly here.
It does not used in hide itself behind barrel and care fully watched doors, out is carried on in the streets usually in the shape of a game called "kene" In rule the players, who are provided with cards containing printed numbers and pebbles or buttons, sit down on the ground and await the movements of a dirty, fit- looking fellow, who draws, from a haversack swing at his side, small bits of wood or bone, and calls the numbers on them.
In a few minutes a player will say "keno," when all hands look up, the stake being won. Crackers and chews of tobacco comprise the stakes.
are one regiment of New Hampshire volunteers and two regiments of United States colored troops.
It gaits some of the rebels to be guarded by the latter, and they make many a whispered threat of vengeance against colored man, to be executed when they get to Dixie.
But the negroes discharge their duties in a soldierly manner, neither seeming to be aware of the dislike they occasion, nor, apparently, taking on airs on account of their superior position — guarding their masters of old. One of them recognized in a prisoner the person of his late master
, and gave him ten dollars. A curious inversion of old times.
Continuous to the principal camp is a smaller one for rebel officers.
Their tents are floored and furnished with stoves, and they are allowed three meals per day; but, except in these particulars, the camp is like its larger neighbor.
The extra meal consists of a cup of coffee only.
There are several hundred rebel officers confined here, none higher in rank than colonel.
From the rebel camp about six hundred prisoners have seen the error of their ways, have deserted the failing cause of rebellion, and enlisted under the Stars and Stripes.
They are encamped on the Point
, not very distant from the rebel camp, and are drilled regularly, preparatory to being mustered into the Union
They are nicknamed "galvanized" by their late rebel comrades.