We reached Charleston sometime during the afternoon, and were unloaded from the train within that part of the city which had been shattered and partly burnt by the shells from the Union batteries upon Morris Island. We had heard much from the Confederate authorities of the cruelties practiced upon the pet city of the South by these batteries, and more particularly by the single Union gun called the "Swamp Angel." We were also told that the whole city was so incensed by the ruin and suffering imposed upon them by the blockade, as well as by the shattering of their beautiful city, that we were in danger of being mobbed unless strongly guarded and protected. We were thus made suspicious and timid about our reception, and our astonishment was great when we found the treatment exactly the opposite of what we had been led to expect. Instead of being obliged to protect their prisoners from a mob, our guards were obliged to use all their faculties to prevent the inhabitants from giving us an ovation. They crowded upon us, particularly the women, and slyly passed us eatables of all kinds, clothing, and in some cases even money—of the Confederate stamp, however. In fact, we found very much real sympathy displayed for us in every possible manner. Those who were the most forward in showing us kindness were generally of the working classes, and of Irish or German nationality, whose sympathies were never very strongly with the South.

We were marched outside the city to an open park, called the Washington park or race-course, by the side of the Ashley River. Here they corralled us to the number of seven or eight thousand.  A plow was drawn around our camp, turning a single furrow, which constituted the dead-line. It was as near a circle as the plowman could make it. Fifteen feet outside this circle the sentinels paced, each one having a beat of thirty feet. Our camp was without form or comeliness, each prisoner being at liberty to occupy whatever space he chose within the circular dead-line. Its location was fine, even picturesque, and with tents for shelter and sufficient rations would have been all that could be desired. Wood enough was furnished for fuel to cook with, and the rations were the best ever issued to us while in the Confederacy. We labored under great disadvantages from lack of cooking utensils or vessels for holding water, and not being upon the immediate bank of the river, we were obliged to dig wells or holes in the ground for water. This was not difficult, as it was only necessary to dig three feet to find water, though it was a little brackish. From the number of holes dug it seemed as though every other prisoner had a well of his own, and these wells added to the uncertainty of moving about in the night. It was an hourly occurrence night and day for some hapless prisoner to step into one of them, though with but little harm. Usually fires were kept burning in the camp, which rendered it fairly lighted during the night.

Hit Counter visits since 02/21/2004.
Page updated 05/25/2006