From the National Tribune,
BRUTAL MURDERS AT BELLE ISLE.
To the Editor NATIONAL TRIBUNE:
I am an ex-soldier of the late war; was a member of company
E, Ringgold cavalry,
volunteers, afterwards company F, Twenty-second Pennsylvania cavalry
volunteers. Enlisted when but sixteen years of age, for three years; was taken
prisoner, after serving one year, at Moorefield, West Va., September 4, 1863;
was shortly after ushered into and partook of the hospitalities of “Libby
Prison,” and subsequently was transferred to “Belle Isle,” where I
remained over eight months, and saw and endured the cruelties perpetrated there.
I became reduced to a mere skeleton through starving and exposure. While there I
saw the rebel Lieutenant Boisseux, in charge of the prisoners, set three men on
what resembled a sawhorse, sharp edged, with legs about eight feet high; each
were bucked and gagged, their hands tied behind them, a rope attached to each
ankle, and then a man at each rope stretched their legs apart to the utmost
limit, and then tied the ropes to pegs driven into the ground, and the
officer’s hellish heart allowed them to remain in that position until two of
them fell off dead. It matters not what they had done, such brutality was
uncalled for. We were powerless, however and I must tell the way we revenged
ourselves. The lieutenant had a pair of white bull-dogs which he thought a great
deal of. They mysteriously disappeared, and we hungry fellows actually ate and
relished the steaks sliced from their hams. I wonder if any of my
fellow-companions that ate some of those bulldog steaks are in the land of the
living. If there is one, whose eyes may catch these lines, for the love of the
memories of 1861 and 1865 he will drop me a line.
There was at the same time I was taken prisoner three
others with me, and in a few days after eight more of our company were added to
our number, and nine of the twelve paid the debt of their lives in those
loathsome dens. No costly marble monument marks their resting place. The dead
were piled in trenches, and no ceremony took place to solemnize the occasion. It
was a southern rule, a rebel boast, that no soldier should leave prison in a
condition that would permit him to do active service again, and this rule they
invariably kept. They did what they could to weaken our armies by starving poor,
helpless prisoners to death.
Are not those men who, through the effects of a long term
of confinement, as much entitled to a pension, as those who were but slightly
wounded and well cared for in our hospitals? Did the thousands who starved to
death in those miserable dens suffer less than those comrades who were shot down
in the many hard-fought battles? Pensions for ex-prisoners? Yes! They cannot be
repaid for the sacrifices they have made. Old veterans, the passing years are
fast thinning our ranks; let us bask in each other’s halo of reminiscences
while we tarry, standing shoulder to shoulder, not excluding the Johnnies, for
we are now all under the same dear “Old Flag.”
I am well pleased with THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE, and all
ex-soldiers should take an interest in it, and write some of the adventures they
were engaged in in that great struggle for freedom. I am a member of Post No.
10, G. A. R., an order that is growing rapidly in this State, and hundreds of
old soldiers are flocking into its ranks. I am doing all I can to advance the
interests of those who served their country in her hour of danger, and I hope
the day will soon come when justice and equity will be meted out to them.
JOHN W. MANNING,
E, Riggold Cav.,
SALINEVILLE, O., August 15.
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