Major F. F. Warley
, who was captured at the evacuation of Fort Wagner
, in the boat which was conveying him, wounded, to the city, and has been held as a prisoner ever since until the late exchange at Charleston
, furnishes the Darlington Southerner
with the following interesting account of Yankee prisons and the treatment our prisoners receive in them:
, near Baltimore
, is not now a depot for prisoners of war, but is one of the most noted Yankee bastilles at which citizens expiate offences, real or imaginary, committed against "the best government the world has ever seen." Prisoners of war are collected there and sent to some regular depot as soon as a load is obtained.
I shall endeavor to give you a description of this place, which was once visited with pride by our people and affectionately remembered as the place where, during a certain "perilous night," our flag floated defiantly and was found proudly waving at returning dawn.
That flag, then reverenced as the banner of liberty, has now become a badge of despotism; and the fort, then so gallantly defended by freemen, is now a prison-house for their children.
Within the enclosure which surrounds the fort, just upon the water's edge, is the provost marshal
Within this are two long brick houses, which were once used as government horse stables.
These are divided above and below into two rooms; the upper rooms are reached by long flights of steps.--In the "upper story" of one of these stables is the apartment known as the "officers' room," in which I was confined from the 14th of February until the 16th of June. My fellow prisoners were mostly officers, wounded and captured at Gettysburg
; a majority of these poor fellows had given a limb to their country, and all had been severely wounded.
In this apartment there were bunks without any bedding, and during a part of the winter the wounded were unable to procure straw to lie upon.
The rations here consisted of meat once a day, and "hard tack and coffee" twice.
Occasionally Irish potatoes were also given to us. Compared with Fort Delaware
, the only regular depot for prisoners at which I was confined, we fared finely.
The two most interesting points at Fort McHenry
were the "Interior" and the "Middle Rooms."The former were rooms within the fort, to which Confederates were assigned when under charges or sentence, for special punishment.
When one is consigned to the "Interior," he dies to his companions, who are not allowed to communicate with him. I have seen officers who have been confined there, and all agree that it is far from being a pleasant place.
Frequently our men are confined in dark, damp cells for months at a time.
It is to these "Interiors" that the Confederate Government should direct attention, and by timely and severe retaliation, rob them of their victims.
The "Middle Room," otherwise known as "Hell," is thus graphically and truthfully described by another. "Imagine all the dead rabbits, plug ugliest, blood tubs, market thieves, pickpockets, wharf rats and murderers of the great cities of the North
, gotten together, and the most choice selections of this conglomeration of human iniquity selected and placed in four brick walls with no windows, and their native qualities stimulated into full and free activity by copious supplies of mean whiskey, the subjects upon which to exercise their varied talents utterly hopeless for defence, with all restraints removed, and the approving smile of the authorities ready to reward their worst achievements, and you have a picture of the 'Middle Room,' known among the unfortunate Confederates who have experienced its horrors as 'Hell.'"
There is still another "permanent institution." at Fort McHenry
deserving of notice — a gallows, which stands in the middle of the parade ground.--Occupying a very prominent position, it is among the first things which attracts the attention of the stranger.
My thoughts often linger about this gibbet, for I saw one of freedom's sons offered there as a sacrifice to Yankee vindictiveness.
It was here that young Leopold
, of Maryland
He was a member of a cavalry company commanded by Captain Burke
, of Virginia
The home of the Captain
was within the enemy's lines, and he ventured on one occasion to visit his family; a neighbor, a Unionist, discovering that he was there, gave notice to the enemy, who surrounded the house and murdered Captain Burke
in the presence of his family.
A short time afterwards the Union
citizen met a similar fate.
was captured; as soon as it was discovered that he was from Maryland
and a member of Burke
's company, charges were preferred against him for the murder of the Unionist referred to and for being a spy. He was convicted and sentenced to be hung.--He was incarcerated in a dark, damp cell in the "Interior" for more than six months. Early in May, he was one night notified that he was to die the next morning at five o'clock. His brother soldiers saw him ascend the scaffold, and, bearing himself as one who was not afraid to die, gave his life with apparent cheerfulness to his adopted country.
His enemies and ours reported what he said. "He thanked those who had been kind to him, and for gave all who had treated him with unkindness.
He was sentenced to suffer an ignominious death as a felon — but he would soon be in the presence of One who knew his innocence.
He was surrounded by his enemies, and yet he would venture to make a last request — bear witness that I die true to my country."He adjusted the cap, the drop fell, and the patriot Leopold
was with his God.
Fellow-soldiers, to whom this account may come, avenge his death, and label the victims whom you offer up, that your enemies may know the avenger's work.
is a regular depot for prisoners.--Here I was confined with six hundred brother officers
; we were not allowed to communicate with the enlisted men of our armies.
We were told that between eight and ten thousand Confederate soldiers were confined there.
The enclosure in which the officers were kept contained about three acres of land; three sides of the square were made by the buildings we occupied, and the fourth by a high board fence.
Here we received two meals a day; at nine o'clock, about two ounces of meat and a piece of bread, and at five o'clock the came.
Our soldiers receive but one piece of meat.
They volunteer to do police duty for an extra ration of bread, and I have seen the poor fellows pick pieces of bread from the refuse and eat them with greediness.
I do not intend to say that all prisoners live on this allowance; if they have money or friends they can get whatever they want; but such is the diet of those who are obliged to live on prison fare.
In the prison at Delaware
there were several political prisoners confined with us; among these was the Rev. Dr. Handy
, of Portsmouth, Virginia
, a distinguished Presbyterian divine.
He had been a prisoner for near twelve months; his discharge was offered whenever he took the oath, but he persisted in refusing to purchase his liberty at such a price.
This old, white headed man, shut up in prison for opinion sake, was one of the thousand living monuments which I witnessed attesting the perfect freedom enjoyed under "the best government the world ever saw." Dr. Handy
labored assiduously among the officers, and was doing much good.
Here we had preaching, bible class, debating societies, a masonic lodge for instruction, &c. Of course, where as many were confined, we could find ways for amusement and instruction.