The sentinels and guard at Andersonville were "home guards," composed of boys from twelve to sixteen years of age, and of old men unfit for active duty. The older sentinels were not so rash or bitter in performing their duties, but the boys would often embrace the slightest opportunity for maltreating us. It was a common rumor that a premium—a furlough of thirty days—was offered for every prisoner shot by a sentinel while upon his post, and his positive orders were to shoot any one who encroached upon the dead-line in any manner. So well were the orders obeyed that hardly a day passed without some unlucky prisoner being shot at from a sentry-box, and I never saw or heard of the slightest fault being found with any sentinel for this shooting.
Although many were being carried to the burial-ground each day, the prisoners increased very rapidly till the 1st of July, when our number reached 35,000, all crowded upon about twelve acres of land. That was the highest number reached; and after July 1 the death rate equaled the recruits, the number being kept at about 35,000 by the frequent arrival of new prisoners in squads of from 50 to 500 each.
Until our numbers had been nearly doubled there was pretense of cooking the rations of corn-bread and bacon; but before the 1st of July they were issued to the majority of us raw—about one pint of coarse corn-meal and two ounces of bacon per man. This would have been preferred, only there were no adequate measures taken to supply us with fuel to cook it with. Loud and repeated complaints were made to the authorities, until they finally allowed small squads to go out each day, from two to four hundred in all, to carry in their arms the fuel to cook rations for thirty thousand men. If the rations could have been cooked in messes of hundreds or thousands, it is possible the fuel thus brought in might have been of some little use; but there were no cooking utensils in the prison larger than quart cups and tin plates, and the cooking by messes was an utter impossibility. These squads would rarely bring in any more wood than they used individually, and if any passed from their hands to that of a comrade it was by purchase at the rate of from twenty-five cents to one dollar per stick. The only way in which the great mass procured even the smallest amount of fuel was by hacking to pieces the stumps which were left within the stockade, generally using, their case-knives for this purpose. In three weeks every vestige of a stump had disappeared; then the roots were dug; and within a very few weeks every foot of the. ground inclosed by the stockade was cleaned of roots to the depth of six feet In spite of all our complaints and begging, all our grubbing for roots, after exhausting all our ingenuity, thousands ate their com-meal raw every day, and it certainly was not strange that so many perished in Andersonville from diarrhea alone. Add to the raw, coarse com-meal the warm, filthy water which the great mass were obliged to drink, and one of the causes of the fearful death rate in Andersonville is explained.
About the middle of July the stockade was enlarged by an addition to its north end of about ten acres, which doubled our space, yet the fact was hardly noticed. It gave us for fuel the old section of stockade, which was rendered useless by being inclosed within the new, and ten acres more of stumps and roots, thus affording for three or four weeks some relief for the fuel famine.
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