The Libby Chronicle, 8/21/1863
TO FACTS AND FUN.
EDITOR- IN- CHIEF, LOUIS N. BEAUDRY, CHAPLAIN FIFTH N. Y. VOL. CAVALRY.
PRISON, RICHMOND, VA., AUGUST 21, 1863.
THE LIBBY CHRONICLE
will be issued weekly from Prisoner & Co.'s steam press of thought.
Such will be the equalization of labor among those engaged in this enterprise,
that our publication can be afforded at very low rates. Price of subscription
weekly, one moment's good attention, invariably in advance. These terms complied
with, the news will be forwarded postage free.
facilities for obtaining useful information, it is quite needless to
state that we expect an extensive patronage. Our adherence to facts, which are
always the most stubborn arguments, and to the motto that
“A little nonsense now and then
is a full guarantee to our patrons, that they will ever obtain an ample equivalent for their subscription. We cannot well forbear mentioning, that the contributors to our columns are among the most eminent of the land, including the skillful lawyer, the sedate judge, the erudite clergyman, the amusing comedian, the renowned legislator, and scores of others from the various walks of life, whose connection with our periodical places success beyond a doubt.
As we make our humble bow to the public, we hope that
progress will mark our course in every department of our work, until THE
CHRONICLE, its editor and publisher, its friends and patrons, find themselves
sailing toward the North Land of liberty and civilization.
LIGHTS AND SHADES IN LIBBY.
Day dawns, and light falls upon the adjacent fields and waters, and struggles through the barred windows of Libby. How many it arouses from sweet dreams of home and days of liberty, to look upon solemn prison walls, bare rafters under the roof and naked posts and beams. What a contrast to the waking scenes of other days !
You are not long, however, in making yourself realize that you are a prisoner of war. Like your heart, your bones ache, after lying on the vermin-covered floor, and though weak. through starvation, you are glad to leap to your feet when you hear the stentorian voice of “Old Ben,” the black news-man, who cries: “All fo' copies of de mornin' papers! Great news in de papers! Full 'count of de flyin' mules!* News from de front! etc., etc.” But nothing stirs the sleepers like the call, “Full statement of ‘change of prisoners!” Then there is a general resurrection of heads and bodies throughout the rooms, and a large patronage is enjoyed by the poor slave who has often cheered the inmates of this doleful place by his well-intended jokes and musical, pleasant laughter. His sheets, however, just issued from the Richmond press, seem to be as innocent of literary taste as they are of reliable news, and though only two pages on paper as brown as that of an old kitchen wall, they cost us twentyfive cents in Confederate currency per copy. Between the reading of these,
*This was evidently a facetious allusion by "
Old Ben" to the charge of the " Mule Brigade."
and the performance of our toilet, the morning wears away.
"But why," it may be asked, "is your toilet so toilsome?" It is because the soldier will play the soldier, place him where you will. None will doubt this who looks. out upon the teeming multitudes of Libby each morning as soon as are aroused the miserable sleepers. For then, even without orders, every man sets himself to "skirmishing." The soldier must be a soldier. The better to accomplish his task, like the racers in the Olympic games, he strips himself of all loose garments, not unfrequently of his entire wardrobe, and great preparations are made for the conflict.
Woe now to the enemy that may chance to linger in the open fields, for the sharp-shooter will certainly dispatch him! A rapid dash is made and the open ground is cleared, and then there is a falling back to the fences and ravines, which, in prison parlance, are known as "seams of shirts and pants." This is to prevent all possible flank movements. The conflict now deepens. Human blood, not yet assimilated with animal blood, is spilt. In this wretched prison, if no where else, every soldier sheds blood for his country. The casualties are many. The black flag is raised, and no quarters are given to these rebel parasites that swarm as in the plagues of Egypt. This battling for human rights against brute force is going :on in every room throughout the live-long day, and especially in the early hours of the morning, -Editor.
"Of Libby's rebel lice, to us the direful spring
Shall I tell you why, Mr. Editor, that ensconced in this out-of-the-way corner, close to this cross-barred frame, why I call it my "South Window?" Because memory reverts to another scene and time in by-gone days, when a fair, bright face oft watched adown the road, the first to welcome the toiler home. I wonder if she sits in that south window now to wait the wanderer's return ?
Ah! Mr. Editor, whose heart so cold not to warm with thoughts like these? Ever as memory goes back to those fast growing, far distant hours, I picture my happy home. Situated a few miles from the busy hum of the metropolis, on a little bay, nestled in a magnificent grove of chestnuts, hid by them from the sight of the passer by, is my home.
There at night, after the work of the day, have I retired in the keen enjoyment of the comforts of a happy home, surrounded only by those who love: Such a life is almost the poet's dream of Elysium. There in the early mists of the morning have I mounted my horse for a ride along the sea-girt shore, or through the clover fields; or in the moon-lit summer's evening have unfurled the sails of my " bonny " yacht and glided on the smooth surface of the bay, hour after hour, happy in forgetfulness of everything save the present. This, in all its wide meaning, is home.
In what respect do the officers confined in Libby resemble lost Dives in the parable?
Why is our soup in Libby like the stuff of which dreams are made ?
Why is it certain that at least one species of our domestic fowls in Libby will soon be extinct ?
Why are greenbacks like some of the Jews?
It is thirty-one miles from Richmond to City Point,. therefore how many young ladies would it require to reach that distance?
What Chaplain in Libby should preach the most forcible sermons ?
The author of the above has. just failed in the conundrum business for want of stock, and says that if he could get transportation to Fortress Monroe he would join the Federal Army.-[May the transportation soon come. - Editor.]
DISCIPLINE OF SORROW.
It has been justly said that sorrow is the noblest discipline. Our nature shrinks from it ; but it is not less for the greatness of our nature. It is a scourge; but there is healing in its stripes. - It. is a chalice; and the drink is bitter. It is a crown of thorns; but it becomes a wreath of light on the brow it has lacerated.
Every prisoner in Libby has learned this subtile philosophy, the bitter and sweet of sorrow. Thus far, however, in our experience here, we have tasted more bitter than sweet.
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