National Tribune, 8/13/1903

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From the National Tribune, 8/13/1903

From Battlefield to Prison

[1862]...From Lynchburg we were escorted to Belle Isle, another “Southern resort for unfortunate military Northerners.” When we arrived we found a number of our comrades had preceded us, some 3,000 or 4,000, that multitude being confined on some three or four acres of ground, and, although this was early in the war, and that prison had not yet become noted for atrocities that distinguished it later, there were, even then, terrible privations, much suffering, and many deaths; and these conditions increased as the weather grew colder, the majority of us being without blankets or shelter. We had no clothes except those we were wearing when captured, and those had become tattered and torn. At night we would walk the camp to keep warm, and in the daytime we would sleep in the sand, after it had been warmed by the sun. No fires were allowed. Our food was cooked by prisoners detailed for that purpose, being in that respect an improvement on our Lynchburg fare. The daily ration for each man consisted of half a loaf of baker’s bread, a small piece of bacon or beef, or a small cup of black-eyed bean soup, meat and soup often being densely populated. However, we always ate the meat and soup, population included, and yearned for more. The death rate from scurvy and other diseases became appalling. In going through the camp at any hour, day or night, one could see a score or more of men lying on the ground, dead or dying, many of the latter delirious and talking of home and something to eat. [remainder of narrative describes other prisons and was not transcribed] - S. W. Hart, 29th Ohio. 

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