We had no books, papers, or pamphlets; only a few Bibles brought in by the prisoners. I was fortunate enough to possess a copy, which was so well read by my comrades that nothing remained of it to bring away.
The thirteen thousand prisoners that we found in the stockade upon our arrival in May had, almost to a man, given up all hope of exchange or of ever reaching home again, and were every day and hour simply lying down to die. There was hardly a half-hour during the whole day and night but that at least one was passing away to his everlasting home. They had ceased to care for cleanliness, or to take any precautions for their health, though upon the arrival of our fresh-looking men they seemed to show a little more regard for their personal appearance and health. Upon our rallying them, some would brighten up and appear more hopeful, so that for a few weeks the death rate was materially reduced, but as the heat of summer advanced and the number of prisoners increased to thirty or thirty-five thousand, our death rate rapidly grew, and it was soon a common occurrence to carry out a hundred dead men from the stockade in one morning. Two hundred and twelve were carried out one day in August.
During the month of June the sufferings of myself and comrades were comparatively light; but about the first of July one of them, Charles Wilmarth, was taken sick, and very soon died. In his place we took a John Brown, another member and one of the recruits of my own regiment. Brown was about fifty years old, had served out his time in the English navy, had been several years a whaler, had been three years in our own navy, and knew nearly every important port in the world. He was the only man in the whole prison coming under my observation who did not seem afflicted by prison life. It did affect him, but in the form of a blessing rather than an evil. At the time of his arrival in the prison he was a mere brute, crazed with whisky; and his intellect, which was naturally strong, even brilliant, was nearly destroyed. After one month's abstinence he seemed stronger, healthier, and improving rapidly every day. His conversation, stories of his life, and brilliant qualities of mind were very entertaining to our immediate circle, and were of assistance towards keeping our spirits good. With all our sufferings this man proved to us, beyond a doubt, that there was one condition in this world that a man might reach worse than Andersonville.
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