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Chapter 67: the tortures inflicted by General Miles.

The following extracts from Dr. Craven's book will best present a feature of the tortures inflicted by General Miles:

May 24, 1865. Calling upon the prisoner — the first time I had ever seen him closely --he presented a very miserable and afflicting aspect. Stretched upon his pallet and very much emaciated, Mr. Davis appeared a mere fascine of raw and tremulous nerves, his eyes restless and fevered, his head continually shifting from side to side for a cool spot on the pillow, and his case clearly one in which intense cerebral excitement was the first thing needing attention. He was extremely despondent, his pulse full and at ninety, tongue thickly coated, extremities cold, and his head troubled with a long-established neuralgic disorder. Complained of his thin camp mattress, and pillow stuffed with hair, adding that he was so emaciated that his skin chafed easily against the slats; and, as these complaints were well founded, I ordered an additional hospital mattress and [660] softer pillow, for which he thanked me courteously.

May 24, 1865. On quitting Mr. Davis, at once wrote to Major Church, Assistant-Adjutant-general, advising that the prisoner be allowed tobacco — to the want of which, after a lifetime of use, he had referred as one of the probable partial causes of his illnessthough not complainingly, nor with any request that it be given.

After some days this request was granted.

Complained that the footfalls of the two sentries within his chamber made it difficult for him to collect his thoughts; but added cheerfully, that with this (touching his pipe) he hoped to become tranquil. 1

May 25th. I have a poor, frail body, “he said,” and though in my youth and manhood, while soldiering, I have done some rough camping and campaigning, there was flesh then to cover my nerves and bones; and that makes an important difference.

May 26th. Happening to notice that his coffee stood cold and apparently untasted beside his bed in its tin cup, I remarked that here was a contradiction of the assertion implied [661] in the old army question, “Who ever saw cold coffee in a tin cup?” referring to the eagerness with which soldiers of all classes, when campaigning, seek for and use this beverage.2

“ I cannot drink it,” he remarked, “though fond of coffee all my life. It is the poorest article of the sort I have ever tasted; and if your government pays for such stuff as coffee, the purchasing Quartermaster must be getting rich. It surprises me, too, for I thought your soldiers must have the best; many of my generals complaining of the difficulties they encountered in seeking to prevent our people from making volunteer truces with your soldiers whenever the lines ran near each other, for the purpose of exchanging the tobacco we had in abundance against your coffee and sugar.”

I told him to spend as little time in bed as he could; that exercise was the best medicine for dyspeptic patients. To this he answered by uncovering the blankets from his feet and showing me his shackled ankles. [662]

“ It is impossible for me, doctor; I cannot even stand erect. These shackles are very heavy; I know not, with the chain, how many pounds. If I try to move them they trip me, and have already abraded broad patches of skin from the parts they touch. Can you devise no means to pad or cushion them, so that when I try to drag them along they may not chafe me intolerably? My limbs have so little flesh on them, and that so weak, as to be easily lacerated.”

That afternoon, at an interview sought with Major-General Miles, my opinion was given that the physical condition of Stateprisoner Davis required the removal of his shackles until such time as his health should be established on some firmer basis. Exercise he absolutely needed, and also some alleviation of his abnormal nervous excitement. No drugs could aid a digestion naturally weak and so impaired, without exercise; nor could anything in the pharmacopoeia quiet nerves so overwrought and shattered, while the continual friction of the fetters was counterpoising whatever medicines could be given.

“ You believe it, then, a medical necessity?” queried General Miles.

“ I do, most earnestly.”

May 27th. Mr. Davis said: “ My physical condition rendered it obvious that there [663] could be no idea that fetters were needful to the security of my imprisonment. It was clear, therefore, that the object was to offer an indignity both to myself and the cause I represented — not the less sacred to me because covered with the pall of a military disaster. It was for this reason I resisted as a duty to my faith, to my countrymen, and to myself. It was for this reason I courted death from the muskets of the guard. The officer of the day prevented that result, and, indeed,” bowing to Captain Titlow, “ behaved like a man of good feeling.”

Patriots in all ages, to whose memories shrines are now built, have suffered as bad or worse indignities.

He was uneasy lest my luggage should be again searched and rifled, and indignities offered. Dr. Craven wrote:

On my remarking, to soothe him, that no such search was probable, he said it could hardly be otherwise, as he had received a suit of heavy clothes from the propeller; and General Miles, when informing him of the fact, had mentioned that there were quite a number of suits there.

“ Now, I had none with me but such as my wife placed in her own trunks when she left Richmond, so that her trunks have probably been opened; and I suppose,” he added with [664] another grim smile, “that the other clothes to which General Miles referred, are now on exhibition or preserved as “relics.” My only hope is that in taking my wardrobe they did not also confiscate that of my wife and children; but I realize that we are like him of old who fell among a certain class of people and was succored by the good Samaritan.”

May 28th. Complained of the dampness of his cell, as one probable cause of his illness. The sun could never dart its influence through such masses of masonry. Surrounded as the fort was with a ditch, in which the water rose and fell from three to four feet with the tide, it was impossible to keep such places free from noxious vapors.

Recurring to the subject of his family, Mr. Davis asked me had I not been called upon to attend Miss Howell, his wife's sister, who had been very ill at the time of his quitting the Clyde. Replied that Colonel James, Chief Quartermaster, had called at my quarters and requested me to visit a sick lady on board that vessel; believed it was the lady he referred to, but could not be sure of the name. Had mentioned the matter to General Miles, asking a pass to visit; but he objected, saying the orders were to allow no communication with the ship.

June 1st. Except for the purpose of petty [665] torture, there could be no color of reason for withholding from him any books or papers dated prior to the war.

June 8th. Was distracted, night and day, by the unceasing tread of the two sentinels in his room, and the murmur or gabble of the guards in the outside cell. He said his casemate was well formed for a torture-room of the Inquisition. Its arched roof made it a perfect whispering gallery, in which all sounds were jumbled and repeated. The torment of his head was so dreadful, he feared he must lose his mind. Already his memory, vision, and hearing were impaired. He had but the remains of one eye left, and the glaring whitewashed walls were rapidly destroying this. He pointed to a crevice in the wall where his bed had been, explaining that he had changed to the other side to avoid its mephitic vapors.

June 10th. General Miles had taken charge of his clothing, and seemed to think a change of linen twice a week enough. It might be so in Massachusetts. But now even this wretched allowance was denied. The General might know nothing of the matter; but, if so, some member of his staff was negligent. It was pitiful they could not send his trunks to his cell, but must insist on thus doling out his clothes, as though he were a convict in some penitentiary. If the object were [666] to degrade him, it must fail. None could be degraded by unmerited insult heaped on helplessness but the perpetrators. The day would come when our people would be ashamed of his treatment. For himself, the sufferings he was undergoing would do him good with his people (the South). Even those who had opposed him would be kept silent, if not won over, by public sympathy. Whatever other opinions might be held, it was clear he was selected as chief victim, bearing the burden of Northern hatred which should be more equally distributed.

June 14th. Would be glad to have a few volumes on the conchology, geology, or botany of the South, and was at a loss to think how such volumes could endanger his safekeeping.

June 18th. Mr. Davis said: “ One of the features of the proposition submitted by General Sherman was a declaration of amnesty to all persons, both civil and military. Notice being called to the fact particularly, Sherman said, “I mean just that;” and gave his reason that it was the only way to have perfect peace. He had previously offered to furnish a vessel to take away any such persons as Mr. Davis might select, to be freighted with whatever personal property they might want to take with them, and to go wherever I pleased.


June 24th. Called on Mr. Davis, accompanied by Captain Titlow, officer of the day. On entering, found the prisoner, for the first time, alone in his cell, the two guards having been removed from it in consequence of my report to Major-General Miles that their presence was counteracting every effort for quieting the nerves of the patient. Mr. Davis remarked that the change had done him good, his last night's sleep having been undisturbed.

Representations in regard to the need Mr. Davis stood in of different pabulum, both for his eyes and mind, had been previously made by me to Major-General Miles, and had been confirmed, I rather believe, by Colonel Pineo, Medical Inspector of the department, who had visited Mr. Davis in my company on the 12th of the month, having a long and interesting conversation with the prisoner-a fact which should have been mentioned at an earlier date; but as the conversation was one in which I took little part, the brief memorandum in my diary escaped my notice until revived by the fuller notes of this day's interview.

While the State prisoner was yet speaking of the troubles of his sight, Major-General Miles entered, with the pleasant announcement that Mr. Davis was to be allowed to [668] walk one hour each day upon the ramparts, and to have miscellaneous reading hereafter --books, newspapers, and such magazines as might be approved, after perusal at headquarters — an improvement of condition, it must be needless to say, very pleasing to the prisoner.

Mr. Davis was allowed to walk on the ramparts beside General Miles, and with two armed men behind him.

I only noticed that Mr. Davis was arrayed in the same garb he had worn when entering the cell-indeed General Miles hadpossession of all his other wardrobe-and that while his carriage was proud and erect as ever, not losing a hair's breadth of his height from any stoop, his step had lost its elasticity, his gait was feeble in the extreme, and he had frequently to press his chest, panting in the pauses of exertion. The cortege promenaded along the ramparts of the south front, Mr. Davis often stopping and pointing out objects of interest, as if giving reminiscences of the past and making inquiries of the present. He was so weak, however, that the hour allowed proved nearly twice too much for him, and he had to be led back with only half his offered liberty enjoyed.

June 25th. From this time, the prisoner received books and newspapers freely, chiefly [669] reading of newspapers3: the New York Herald (only occasional numbers), and of books, histories-Mr. Bancroft appearing his favorite American author. I recommended him to be very moderate at first in his open-air exercise, gauging the amount of exercise to his strength; and from time to time forward, Mr. Davis went out every day for an hour's exercise, the weather and his health permitting.

July 11th. Found prisoner very desponding, the failure of his sight troubling him and his nights almost without sleep. His present treatment was killing him by inches, and he wished shorter work could be made of his torment. He had hoped long since for a trial which should be public, and therefore with some semblance of fairness; but hope deferred was making his heart sick.

Mr. Davis complained this sleeplessness was aggravated by the lamp kept burning in his room all night, so that he could be seen at all moments by the guard in the outer cell. If he happened to doze one feverish moment, the noise of relieving guard in the next room aroused him, and the lamp poured its full [670] glare into his aching and throbbing eyes. There must be a change in this, or he would go crazy, or blind, or both.

Doctor,” he said, “ had you ever the consciousness of being watched? Of having an eye fixed on you every moment, intently scrutinizing your most minute actions, and the variations of your countenance and posture? Tie consciousness that the Omniscient Eye rests upon us, in every situation, is the most consoling and beautiful belief of religion. But to have a human eye riveted on you in every moment of waking or sleeping, sitting, walking, or lying down, is a refinement of torture on anything the Camanches or Spanish Inquisition ever dreamed. ... But the human eye forever fixed upon you is the eye of a spy, or enemy, gloating in the pain and humiliation which itself creates. I have lived too long in the woods to be frightened by an owl, and have seen death too often to dread any form of pain. But I confess this torture of being watched begins to prey on my reason. The lamp burning in my room all night would seem a torment devised by someone who had intimate knowledge of my habits, my custom having been through life never to sleep except in total darkness.”

July 15th. Called on Mr. Davis accompanied by Captain Grill, Third Pennsylvania [671] Artillery, officer of the day. Found him extremely weak, growing more alarmed about his sight, which was failing rapidly. The phenomenon had occurred to him of seeing all objects double, due chiefly to his nervous debility and the over-taxation of constant reading.

July 30th. Found Mr. Davis in a very critical state; his nervous debility extreme, his mind more despondent than ever heretofore, his appetite gone, complexion livid, and pulse denoting deep prostration of all physical energies. Was much alarmed, and realized with painful anxiety the responsibilities of my position. If he were to die in prison, and without trial, subject to such severities as had been inflicted on his attenuated frame, the world would form unjust conclusions, but conclusions with enough color to pass them into history. 4

Let me here remark that, despite a certain exterior cynicism of manner, no patient has ever crossed my path who, suffering so much himself, appeared to feel so warmly and tenderly for others. Sickness, as a general rule, is sadly selfish, its own pains and infirmities [672] occupying too much of its thoughts. With Mr. Davis, however, the rule did not work, or rather he was an exception calling attention to its general truth.

When I obtained permission to write letters to my husband, the only restriction imposed by the Government was that the Attorney-General should read those written and received, but General Miles also claimed their perusal, and they “had to be sent open to General Miles, and from him, he (Mr. Davis) understood, similarly open to the Attorney-General.”

There was no affectation of devoutness or asceticism in my patient; but every opportunity I had of seeing him, convinced me more deeply of his sincere religious convictions. He was fond of referring to passages of Scripture, comparing text with text, dwelling on the divine beauty of the imagery, and the wonderful adaptation of the whole to every conceivable phase and stage of human life.

The Psalms were his favorite portion of the Word, and had always been. Evidence of their divine origin was inherent in their text. Only an intelligence that held the lifethreads of the entire human family could have thus pealed forth in a single cry every wish, joy, fear, exultation, hope, passion, and sorrow of the human heart. There were moments, [673] while speaking on. religious subjects, in which Mr. Davis impressed me more than any professor of Christianity I had ever heard. There was a vital earnestness in his discourse, a clear, almost passionate, grasp in his faith; and the thought would frequently recur, that a belief capable of consoling such sorrows as his, possessed, and thereby evidenced, a reality — a substance — which no sophistry of the infidel could discredit.

To this phase of the prisoner's character I have heretofore rather avoided calling attention for several reasons, prominent of which, though an unworthy one, was this: My knowledge that many, if not a majority, of my readers would approach the character of Mr. Davis with a preconception of dislike and distrust, and a consequent fear that an earlier forcing on their attention of this phase of his character, before their opinion had been modified by such glimpses as are herein given, might only challenge a base and false imputation of hypocrisy against one whom, in my judgment, no more devout exemplar of Christian faith, and its value as a consolation, now lives, whatever may have been his political crimes.

July 24th. While walking on the ramparts in enforced companionship with General Miles, who, if he was seeking a subject that [674] would not offend the almost dying man, was singularly unfortunate in his choice of a topic, he observed, interrogatively, that it was reported John C. Calhoun had made much money by speculations, or favoring the speculations of his friends, connected with this work.

In a moment Mr. Davis started to his feet, betraying much indignation by his excited manner and flushed cheek. It was a transfiguration of friendly emotion, the feeble and wasted invalid and prisoner suddenly forgetting his bonds, forgetting his debility, and ablaze with eloquent anger against this injustice to the memory of one whom he loved and reverenced. Mr. Calhoun, he said, lived a whole atmosphere above any sordid or dishonest thought — was of a nature to which even a mean act was impossible ...

Mr. Davis believed the hands of George Washington not more free from the filthiness of bribes than were those of the departed statesman who had been thus libelled.

August 16th. Prisoner suffering severely, but in a less critical state, the erysipelas now showing itself in his nose and forehead. Found that a carbuncle was forming on his left thigh, Mr. Davis urging this as a proof of a malarial atmosphere in his cell, reiterating his wish that, if the Government wanted to be [675] rid of him without trial, it might take some quicker process.

August 20th. Called with Captain Evans, officer of the day. Mr. Davis suffering great prostration, a cloud of erysipelas covering his whole face and throat. The carbuncle much inflamed. Spirits exceedingly dejected, evinced by anxiety for his wife and children. That he should die without opportunity of rebutting in public trial the imputed conspiracy to assassinate Mr. Lincoln, was referred to frequently and painfully. That history would do him justice, and the criminal absurdity of the charge be its own refutation, he had cheerful confidence while in health; but in his feebleness and despondency, with knowledge how powerful they were who wished to affix this stain, his alarm lest it might become a reproach to his children grew an increasing shadow.

August 21st. Prostration increased, and the erysipelas spreading. Deemed it my duty to send a communication to Major-General Miles, reporting that I found the State prisoner, Davis, suffering severely from erysipelas in the face and head, accompanied by the usual prostration attending that disease. Also that he had a small carbuncle on his left thigh, his condition denoting a low state of the vital forces.


August 23d. Said he concluded not to lose any more spoons for me, but would retain the one that morning sent with his breakfast. Unless things took a change he would not require it long.

(This was an allusion to the desire some of the guards had to secure trophies of anything Mr. Davis had touched. They had carried away his brier-wood pipe, and from time to time taken five of the spoons sent over with his meals from my quarters. ... No knife or fork being allowed the prisoner, “lest he should commit suicide,” his food had to be cut up before being sent over --a needless precaution, it always seemed to me, and more likely to produce than to prevent the act, by continually keeping the idea that it was expected before the prisoner's mind. It was in returning the trays from Mr. Davis to my quarters, that the spoons were taken — an annoyance obviated by his retaining one for use. This only changed the form of trophy, however; napkins that he had used being the next class of prizes seized and sent home to sweethearts by loyal warders at the gates.) 5 [677]

Errors, like all other men, he had committed; but stretched now on a bed from which he might never rise, and looking with the eyes of faith, which no walls could bar, up to the throne of Divine mercy, it was his comfort that no such crimes as men laid to his charge reproached him in the whispers of his conscience.

August 24th. Visited Mr. Davis with Captain Titlow, officer of the day. Found him slightly better in mind and body.

Observing me brush away with my foot some crumbs scattered near his bedside, Mr. Davis asked me to desist; they were for a mouse he was domesticating — the only living thing he had now power to benefit.

Every conversation of this kind with Mr. Davis recalled the saying of some eminent writer, whose name has escaped me, that “ it is a noble thing to know how to take a country walk,” or words containing that idea, but more concisely and vividly expressed.

August 25th. The captain gave me an order from General Miles, allowing State prisoner Davis to have a knife and fork with his meals hereafter. Mr. Davis was pleased, but said he had learned many new uses to which a spoon could be put when no other implement was accessible. In particular, it was the best peach peeler ever invented, [678] and he illustrated as he spoke on a fruit that lay on his table. Denying him a knife and fork lest he should commit suicide, he said, was designed to represent him to the world as an atrocious criminal, so harrowed by remorse that the oblivion of death would be welcome. His early shackles had partly the same object, but still more to degrade his cause.

September 1st. Was called at daylight by Captain Titlow, officer of the day, to see State prisoner Davis, who appeared rapidly sinking, and was believed to be in a critical condition. The carbuncle on his thigh was much inflamed, his pulse indicating extreme prostration of the vital forces. The erysipelas which had subsided now reappeared, and the febrile excitement ran very high. Prescribed such remedies, constitutional and topical, as were indicated; but always had much trouble to persuade him to use the stimulants so urgently needed by his condition.

Mr. Davis renewed his complaints of the vitiated atmosphere of the casemate, declaring it to be noxious and pestilential from the causes before noticed. Mould gathered upon his shoes, showing the dampness of the place, and no animal life could prosper in an atmosphere that generated these hyphomycetous fungi. From the rising and falling of the [679] tides in the loose foundations of the casemate, mephitic fungi emanated, the spores of which, floating in the air, were thrown off with such quantities, and such incessant repetitions of reproduction, as to thoroughly pervade the atmosphere, entering the lungs and blood with every breath, and redeveloping their poisonous qualities in the citadel of life. Peculiar classes of these fungi were characteristic of the atmosphere in which cholera and other forms of plague were most rankly generated, as had been established by the Reverend Mr. Osborne, in a long and interesting series of experimental researches with the achromatic microscope during the cholera visitation of 1854, in England. Men in robust health might defy these miasmatic influences, but to him, so physically reduced, the atmosphere that generated mould found no vital force sufficient to resist its poisonous inhalation.

Assured Mr. Davis that his opinion on the matter had for some time been my own, and that on several occasions I had called the attention of Major-General Miles to the subject. Satisfied that the danger was now serious if he were longer continued in such an atmosphere, I would make an official report on the subject to the General Commanding, recommending a change of quarters. [680]

Mr. Davis again spoke of the wretchedness of being constantly watched, of feeling that a human eye, inquisitive and pitiless, was fixed upon all his movements, night and day. This was one of the torments imposed on the Marquis de Lafayette in the dungeons of Magdeburg and Olmutz. Indeed, the parallel between their prison lives, if not in some other respects, was remarkable. Lafayette was denied the use of knife or fork, lest he should commit self-destruction. He was confined in a casemate or dungeon of the two most powerful fortresses of Prussia first, and then Austria. While in Magdeburg, he found a friend in the humane physician, who repeatedly reported that the prisoner could not live unless allowed to breathe purer air than that of his cell; and on this recommendation-the Governor at first answering that he “was not ill enough yet ” --the illustrious prisoner was at length allowed to take the air, sometimes on foot, at other times in a carriage, but always accompanied by an officer with drawn sword and two armed guards.

Lafayette, however, in his second imprisonment was never shackled; and though treated with the utmost cruelty, no indignities were offered to his person.

It may be here remarked that the power of memory possessed by Mr. Davis appeared [681] almost miraculous — a single perusal of any passage that interested him enabling him to repeat it almost verbatim. This wonderful gift of memorizing, and apparent universality of knowledge, were remarked by every officer of the day as well as myself, Mr. Davis having kindly relations with all, and conversation suited to each visitor. As instances of thisat which I was not present myself, but heard related from the officers immediately after their occurrence-let me mention two conversations.

An officer of the day, very fond of dogs, and believing himself well posted in all varieties of that animal, once entered the prisoner's cell, followed by a bull-terrier or some other breed of belligerent canine. Mr. Davis at once commenced examining and criticising the dog's points with all the minuteness of a master, thence gliding into a general review of the whole race of pointers, setters, and retrievers, terriers, bull-dogs, German poodles, greyhounds, blood-hounds, and so forth; the result of his conversation being best given in the words of the dog-fancying officer: “ Well, I thought I knew something about dogs, but hang me if I won't get appointed officer of the day as often as I can, and go to school to Jeff Davis.”


office of the Chief medical officer, Fort Monroe, Va., September 1, 1865.
General: I have the honor to report prisoner Davis still suffering from the effects of a carbuncle. The erysipelas of the face had entirely subsided, but yesterday reappeared. His health is evidently rapidly declining.

I remain, General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

John J. Craven.

The routine report merely ran:

I have the honor to report prisoner Davis's condition not perceivably different from that of yesterday: very feeble; no appetite.

September 1st, Mr. Davis said: “The women of the South had sent forth their sons, directing them to return with wounds disabling them for further service, or never to return at all. All they had flung into the contest-beauty, grace, passion, ornament; the exquisite frivolities so dear to the sex were cast aside; their songs, if they had any heart to sing, were patriotic; their trinkets were flung into the public crucible; the carpets from their floors were portioned out as blankets to the suffering soldiers of their cause; women bred to every refinement of luxury, [683] wore home-spuns made by their own hands; when materials for an army-balloon were wanted, the richest silk dresses were sent in, and there was only competition to secure their acceptance. As nurses of the sick, as encouragers and providers for the combatants, as angels of charity and mercy, adopting as their own all children made orphans in defence of their homes, as patient and beautiful household deities, accepting every sacrifice with unconcern, and lightening the burdens of war by every art, blandishment, and labor proper to their sphere, the dear women of his people deserved to take rank with the highest heroines of the grandest days of the greatest countries.”

September 6th. As with the casemate, there were to be two rooms used for the prisoner's confinement. In the outer one a lieutenant and two soldiers were constantly stationed on guard, having a view of the interior chamber through a grated door. Opposite this door was a fireplace. To its right when facing the door, was a window heavily grated, and with a sentinel continually on duty before it, pacing up and down the piazza. Opposite the window a door leading into the corridor, but permanently fastened with heavy iron clamps, and in this door a sliding panel in which the face of a sentinel was continually [684] framed by night and day, ready to report to his officer the first sign of any attempt on the prisoner's part to shuffle off this mortal coil by any act of self-violence. It was of this face, with its unblinking eyes, that Mr. Davis so bitterly complained in after-days; but this is anticipating. The prisoner, as was said of Lafayette, is perhaps “not sick enough yet,” and has to suffer some further weeks of exposure in his present casemate.

September 22d. Called on Mr. Davis for the first time since returning from Richmond, accompanied by Captain Titlow, Third Pennsylvania Artillery, officer of the day. Found he had been inquiring for me several days, in consequence of suffering premonitory symptoms of a return of the erysipelas to his face. Reported his condition to Major-General Miles, respectfully asking permission to call in Colonel Pineo, Medical Inspector of the Department for consultation.

Mentioned that General Terry, my old commander, had kindly placed the carriage of Mr. Davis at my disposal during the visit.

Mr. Davis laughed about his carriage, and said that since some “ Yankee” had to ride in it, he would prefer my doing so to another.

September 23d. Prisoner renewed his questions about the proposed change in his place of confinement, begging me, if I knew [685] anything, even the worst — that he was to be kept as now until death put an end to his sufferings — not to conceal it from him anylonger; that suspense was more injurious to him than could be the most painful certainty. Assured him that I had no further information. A place had been selected for his incarceration in Carroll Hall, the requisite changes in the rooms made, and I heard no reason for his non-transfer. If I did so, he should be informed immediately.6

Mr. Davis renewed my attention to the steady deterioration of his health, which he regarded as chiefly due to the unfitness of his cell for human habitation. His head had a continued humming in it, like the whizzing of a wound watch when its main spring is suddenly broken. Little black motes slowly ascended and descended between his sight, and whatever page he was reading or object inspecting; and his memory likewise gave distinct indications of losing its elasticity. The carbuncle, however, was quite well, having left a deep-red cicatrix where it had been, precisely like the healed wound of a Minie bullet. Mr. Davis had not much flesh to lose on entering the fort, but believed he must [686] have lost what little of it could be spared while still preserving life.

October 15th. Colonel Pelouze called for a report of the health of the prisoner, with my opinion as to the advisability or necessity of a change in his place of confinement; visited the new quarters in Carroll Hall, and directed General Miles-being thereto empowered by his instructions — to remove Mr. Davis from the casemate to his new and more pleasant abode.

Found Mr. Davis already looking much brighter, exclaiming as I entered, “ The world does move, after all.” The panel in the side door opening into the corridor, in which a sentry's face was framed, gave him some annoyance, and he referred again to Lafayette in connection with the torture of a human eye constantly riveted on his movements. If his wish were to commit suicide, such a precaution would prove wholly unavailing. It looked rather as if the wish were to drive him to its commission.

October 15th. Ladies and other friends of persons in authority at the fort were let loose on the ramparts about the hour of his walk, to stare at him as though he were the caged monster of some travelling menagerie.7 [687] He had endeavored to rebuke this during his last walk, when he saw a group of ladies waiting for his appearance, by turning short round and re-entering his cell. Dear and valuable as was the liberty of an hour's exercise in the open air, there were prices at which he could not consent to purchase it, and this was of the number. His general treatment Mr. Davis acknowledged to be good, though there were in it many annoyances of detail-such as the sentry's eye always fastened on his movements, and the supervision of his correspondence with his wife-unworthy of any country aspiring to magnanimity or greatness.

October 25th. Mr. Davis had been for some time complaining that his light suit of gray tweed was too thin for the increasing cold of the days on the ramparts of the fortress, and finding that his measure was with a tailor in Washington, I requested a friend of mine to call there and order a good, heavy black pilot-cloth overcoat for the prisoner, and that the bill should be sent to me; and also ordered from a store in New York some heavy flannels to make Mr. Davis comfortable for the winter.8 These acts to me appearing [688] innocent, and even laudable, cause great trouble, as may be seen by the following correspondence, finally leading to a peremptory order which almost altogether broke off the previously free relations I had exercised with Mr. Davis.

Mr. Davis referred to the kindness of Captain Grisson, of the staff of General Miles, in regard to a little matter which, though trivial in itself, had given him much annoyance. It arose in this manner: He had requested a barber to be sent to him, as his hair was growing too long. Captain Grisson brought a hairdresser, but on the termination of the operation said it was the order of General Miles that the lopped hair should be carried to headquarters. To this Mr. Davis objected, first from a horror of having such trophies or “relics” paraded around the country, and secondly, because he wished to send it to Mrs. Davis; this latter probably an excuse to avoid the former disagreeable alternative. Captain Grisson replied that his orders were peremptory, but if Mr. Davis would fold the hair up in a newspaper, and leave it on a designated shelf in the casemate, the captain would step over to headquarters, report the prisoner's objections, and ask for further orders. This was done, and Captain Grisson soon returned with the glad tidings that the [689] desire to obtain possession of these “interesting relics” had been abandoned.

The change to Carroll Hall, as it was loftier, had been of the greatest benefit to the prisoner's health, the air being purer, his own room more cheerful, and only subject to the drawback that he had human eyes from three directions continually fixed upon him through the grated door entering his room, the window opening on the piazza at his left, and the door opposite the window, with an open panel in it, opposite which stood a sentry.

November 1st. Called with Brevet Captain Valentine H. Stone, Fifth United States Artillery, first officer of the day from the new regiment garrisoning the fort. ... He appeared to scrutinize Captain Stone with great care, asking him all about his term of service, his early education, etc., as if anxious to find out everything ascertainable about the new men into whose hands he had fallen --an operation repeated with each new officer of the day who called to see him. Indeed, his habit of analysis appeared universal with the prisoner. It seemed as if he put into a crucible each fresh development of humanity that crossed his path, testing it therein for as long as the interview lasted, and then carefully inspecting the ingot which was left as the result. That ingot, whether appearing to him [690] pure gold or baser metal, never lost its character to his mind from any subsequent acquaintance.

Mr. Davis said it was scandalous that Government should allow General Miles to review his letters to his wife. They had to pass through the hands of Attorney-General Speed, who should be a quite competent judge of offensive matter, or what was deemed offensive. General Miles had returned to him several pages of a letter written to Mrs. Davis, containing only a description of his new prison in answer to her inquiries, the general declaring such description to be objectionable; perhaps suspecting that if told where he was, Mrs. Davis would storm the fort and rescue him VI et armis.

Headquarters military District, Fort Monroe, November 10, 1865.
Sir: The Major-General commanding directs me to inquire of you if any orders have been given by you, or through you, for an overcoat for Jefferson Davis.

Such a report appeared in the papers.

Very respectfully,

A. V. Hitchcock, Captain and Provost Marshal.

To which on the same date I returned the following answer: [691]

office of Post Surgeon, Fort Monroe, November 10th.
Captain: I have received the communication dated November Ioth, Headquarters Military District, Fort Monroe, in which the Major-General commanding directs you to inquire if any orders have been given by me, or through me, for an overcoat for Jefferson Davis.

In reply, I would respectfully state that I did — order a thick overcoat, woollen drawers, and undershirts for Jefferson Davis. I found, as the cold weather approached, he needed thick garments, the prisoner being feeble in health, and the winds of the coast cold and piercing.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

(Signed) John J. Craven, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, Surgeon United States Army. Captain A. O. Hitchcock, A. D. C.

That objection to my action in the matter should have been made, was about the last thing I should have expected — the prisoner's health being under my charge, and warm clothing for cold weather being obviously one of the first necessities to a patient in so feeble a condition. Let me add, that Mr. Davis had [692] never asked for the warm clothing I deemed requisite, and that sending for it, and insisting upon its acceptance, had been with me a purely professional act. In the valise belonging to Mr. Davis, which was kept at the headquarters of General Miles, no heavy clothing could be found, merely containing a few articles of apparel chiefly designed for the warm climate of the South. General Miles, however, took a different view of my action, to judge from the following letter:

Headquarters military District, Fort Monroe, November 18, 1865.
Colonel: The Major-General commanding directs that, in future, you give no orders for Jefferson Davis without first communicating with these head districts.

Also, that in future, your conversations with him will be confined strictly to professional matters, and that you comply with the instructions regarding the meals to be furnished to prisoners Davis and Clay, and have them delivered more promptly. Also, report the price paid for Mr. Davis's overcoat, and by whom paid.

A. O. Hitchcock, Captain and A. D. C. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Craven, Post Surgeon,


This order I then regarded as cruel and unnecessary, nor has subsequent reflection changed my opinion. The meals for Mr. Davis I had sent at hours to suit his former habits and present desires-two meals a day at such time as he felt most appetite. I was now ordered to send his meals three times a day, and at hours which did not meet his wishes, and were very inconvenient to my family, his meals being invariably sent over at the same hour I had mine. The order to abstain from anything but professional conversation was a yet greater medical hardship, as to a man in the nervous condition of Mr. Davis, a friend with whom he feels free to converse is a valuable relief from the moodiness of silent reflection.

Captain: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated Headquarters Military District, Fort Monroe, Va., November 18, 1865; and in answer to your inquiry concerning the cost of the coat ordered by me for Mr. Davis, I would say:

That I do not know the cost of the coat; I have not yet received the bill. As soon as received, I will forward it to the Major-General commanding. I do not know that any [694] person paid for the coat, having directed that the bill should be sent to me when ordering it.

I remain, Captain, very respectfully,

John J. Craven, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and Post Surgeon and Chief Medical Officer, Military District, Fort Monroe, Va.

November 8th. Major Charles P. Muhlenburgh, Captain S. A. Day, and many others, displaying both generosity and consideration in their treatment of the distinguished captive.

His self-control was the feature of his character, knowing that his temper had been high and proud, which most struck me during my attendance. His reticence was remarked on subjects where he knew we must differ; and though occasionally speaking with freedom of slavery, it was as a philosopher rather than as a politician-rather as a friend to the negro, and one sorry for his inevitable fate in the future, than with rancor or acrimony against those opponents of the institution whom he persisted in regarding as responsible for the war, with all its attendant horrors and sacrifices.

Mr. Davis is remarkable for the kindliness of his nature and fidelity to friends. Of [695] none of God's creatures does he seem to wish or speak unkindly; and the same fault found with Mr. Lincoln-unwillingness to sanction the military severities essential to maintain discipline — is the fault I have heard most strongly urged against Mr. Davis.

Dr. Craven concluded his diary, because his other visits were limited to mere medical examinations of the prisoner's condition. Shortly after Mr. Davis's removal to Carroll Hall, Dr. Craven was ordered away, and Dr. Cooper, a man equally kind-hearted and attentive, was stationed at the fort.

1 During this period Mr. Stanton is said to have gone down and peered through the grating at the tortured man, and that General Miles favored his friends with peeps at him when they were at all curious.

2 This coffee was brought in the same cup, unwashed, in which his soup had been served the day before, and whatever he tasted cooked brought on intense pain. The bread brought to him was first shredded through the hands of one of the soldiers, to see that it contained no “deadly weepons.” Mr. Davis therefore decided to eat no more than would barely sustain life, and found difficulty in doing this, the manner of its presentation was so revolting.

3 The newspapers allowed were of those the most hostile, and irregularly sent. The books sent were such as General Miles chose, though I sent a large box of books in English type, and these the express office showed by a receipt were delivered at the fort. Mr. Davis never received one, nor could I recover them afterward.

4 The italics are mine, but as we heard the book from which these excerpts are quoted was submitted to Mr. Stanton before it was published, and its details severely curtailed, suppose this significant passage crept in unawares.

5 Everything he laid down was taken except his bible, and at last, when he had dropped asleep momentarily, a soldier felt in his nightgown to get a little medal I had persuaded him to wear about his neck,

6 The change was postponed as long as possible, as Dr. Craven evidently thought.

7 School-girls headed by their teachers came down to the fort and were allowed to intercept him in the restricted walks he took with General Miles for a companion!

8 I had also sent a box of like garments, but they had, General Miles said, never been received; a subsequent one, however, was received,

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