From the National Tribune, 5/19/1904

REBEL PRISONS,

Belle Isle, Andersonville, Millen, Savannah, and Blackshear.

EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: Having been a captive in nearly all the rebel prisons, my troubles were many and varied.

I enlisted Aug. 6, 1861, and serving in Kilpatrickís Division, Pleasontonís Cavalry Corps, was captured in an engagement at Bucklandís Mills, near Warrenton, Va., Oct. 19, 1862. Myself and other prisoners were sent to Richmond, where for about a week we were confined in the Pemberton Warehouse, a large, three-story brick building. An officer, a Major, I think, ordered a guard to search us, we not being permitted to retain on our persons any money or thing of value. The lying son of Belial then graciously informed us that the deprivation of our private property would only be temporary; that it would be restored to us when exchanged. From that prison we were sent to Belle Isle. I shall not enumerate the horrible sufferings, results of cold, hunger and exposure, that some 10,000 helpless prisoners endured on that island in the James River, under the shadow of the Confederate Capitol. I saw sick men clubbed by Marks, the one-eyed Sergeant. I saw the bodies of dead men frozen to the ground. On the memorable cold day, Jan. 1, 1864, the prisoners were driven out and made to stand in the piercing cold wind on the bank of the river to be counted. That unnecessary exposure was the cause of many deaths. The officer in command was Lieut. Henry Bossieux, a Frenchman.

Feb. 22, 1864, myself and others left Belle Isle, bound for Andersonville, arriving there March 1. We remained in that notorious prison until September, when we were taken to Savannah. [author goes on at some length to describe be transferred all over, until his release in Florida on April 27, 1865 after being a prisoner for more than 18 months. He was discharged on June 9, 1865. This section was not transcribed.]

I verily believe the officers in charge of those rebel prisons were the most consummate villains that ever went unhung. Near Blue Springs, Ga., I was run down by bloodhounds, bucked and gagged, and upon one occasion ordered to be shot. Not the least of my troubles were hunger, scurvy, and rheumatism. There were thousands, however, whose afflictions were worse than mine. I suffered more at Andersonville than in the other prisons. Wirz was the incarnation of meanness and cruelty, and the guards were the rag-tag of the Georgia Crackers.

As I remember the following were the names of the chief officers in charge of the various prisons in which I was confined: Pemberton, Dick Turner; Belle Isle, Henry Bossieux; Andersonville, Henry Wirz; Savannah, Lieut. Davis; Millen, ___ Lawton; Blackshear, Capt. Blackshear. I would be glad to hear from some of the comrades who marched on our last trip from Albany to Blackshear. - B. F. JONES, CO. B, 1st W. Va. Cav., Ludora, Iowa.

 

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