After leaving Columbia we passed through no other town of any note in the State, and the same night, after crossing the Savannah River, which divides this State from Georgia, we reached Augusta. Here we remained through one night, and were permitted to leave the train and to camp in an open field outside the city. Extra guards were sent out to care for us, and about ten o'clock in the evening rations of hard-bread and bacon were distributed among us in fair quantities.
We were here informed that the reason of the lack of rations along our journey was the fact that the officers in charge depended upon chance supplies for the prisoners along the route, without sending any notice ahead of our approach; that the inland towns could not get together enough to ration us all without at least a day's notice. The trains that followed ours fared better.
Up to the time of our arrival at Columbia it had all been “exchange." Our guard and officers in charge talked "exchange"—exchange by way of Charleston. We talked "exchange." It was all "exchange." At Columbia a revolution took place. Many of us knew the lay of the land, and were aware that we must now take the Charleston and Columbia Road in order to reach Charleston. We gently hinted this fact to our guards, making eager inquiries regarding another fact, that we were taking the road to Augusta instead of to Charleston, but we could get no satisfaction from them.
The earnest discussions among ourselves, soon reached the ears of the commanding officer, and he very quickly set the report into circulation that Charleston was so blockaded, in such a state of siege, that we could not be exchanged by that port; that he had received a telegram while at Columbia to take us on to Savannah for exchange. The majority were ready to believe and swallow this new dose, but several questioned whether we were now taking the most direct route for Savannah. The majority ruled, however; therefore it was voted, exchange by way of Savannah.
At Augusta there was a branch road for Charleston, but we did not take it. Our cramped condition in the box-car prisons was becoming unendurable.
We finally reached Macon. This was the point where the doubting ones were to decide the matter of exchange. Here the road branched again, one section running to Savannah, and the other continuing south and terminating at Americus. At Macon we saw another prison where Federal officers were confined.
It had become a settled question in all our discussions that if we took the road from Macon to Savannah it was for exchange; if the other road, then a prison of some sort.
We took the road towards "a prison of some sort." The officers in charge, well knowing our destination, put a double guard over us and ordered a closer watch upon our movements. The inquiry was in every comrade's mouth, "Where are we going?" "What kind of a prison are they going to find for us?"
Our guard soon had an answer for us, because instructions were sent along down the train from the commanding officer that our destination, for a short time, was within a few miles of Americus; that the prison grounds were pleasantly located, well shaded by nature's forest trees; the “fence," as they termed it, inclosing two slopes or hillsides that were richly carpeted with grass; on the whole as pleasant a spot as the Confederacy afforded, and "too good for you Yanks anyway!"
It was near noon of the 20th of May, 1864, that our train came to a stop, in a clearing of the pine forest. We had been all expectation for an hour or more, straining eager eyes to catch some glimpse of our stopping-place. It was here before us. Looking from our position upon the railroad towards the southeast, at the extreme end of the clearing, some three or four hundred yards away, a cloud of smoke was curling upward from a rectangular, substantial-looking pen. Upon inquiry we were told, “That’s where you Yanks will put up!"
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