Union Prisoners after Eighteen Months at Tyler, Texas
The prison near Texas, known as Camp Ford, was always
an interesting place, even when food and clothing were most scanty. The
prisoners here were an ingenious lot, who apparently spent their time in
unmilitary but natural fraternizing with their guards, with whom their
relations were nearly always pleasant. In spite of all the efforts of the
officers, the guards could not be prevented from trading with the prisoners.
The latter slaughtered the cattle for their own food; and from the hoofs and
horns they made combs, and carved beautiful sets of checkers and chessmen.
Conditions in this prison were not hard until 1864, when the concurrent
increase in numbers and exhaustion of supplies and wood in the neighborhood
brought much suffering. It is reported that when the guards learned of the
capture of Richmond, they went to their homes, leaving the prisoners almost
without supervision to make their way to New Orleans. With continued
confinement, clothes wore out, as is evident in the photographs, which
represent officers and enlisted men of the Nineteenth Iowa. With their bare
feet they were evidently not in a condition to be presented in "society."
Enlisted Men of the Nineteenth Iowa after Their Captivity