The rations throughout were delivered to us raw. For the first two weeks about one-half our number obtained from one to two ounces of fresh beef on every alternate day, the other half taking it the other day; but this was soon stopped, and during all the winter months no meat was issued. The rations for three-fourths of the time were about eight ounces of com-meal for each man per day. Occasionally about half the quantity of flour, "cow peas," or rice would be substituted. The ration of "cow peas" was always very acceptable in exchange for the meal, being a fair substitute for it in sustaining qualities, but the flour and the rice were not so satisfactory, a ration of either containing much less nutriment than the com-meal or the "cow peas."
There were days when our scant rations failed to appear at all, through some flimsy excuse, and once none were delivered for three days. The occasion of this failure was Lieutenant Barrett's difficulty in counting us.
This Lieutenant Barrett was an ignorant man, supposed to be a renegade Yankee, whose occupation was that of a "negro driver" before the war. I was told by Adjutant Cheatham that these Yankees, who usually came South to make money, were very apt to become negro traders.
Every Sunday a thorough count was made of our numbers by driving every man who could hobble to one side of the creek, then counting them as they returned over a foot-bridge so narrow that but one man could cross at a time.
We were obliged to take all our movable possessions along with us; for if left behind, some of our needy ones would return before the owners and transfer them. Some poor scamp of a prisoner did appropriate a good share of our pine-needle bedding before we returned from one of our weekly pilgrimages. One Sunday Barrett could not make his count agree with the reported number of prisoners. He declared the count must tally, or the missing ones be accounted for, before we would receive any more rations, and he kept us moving backward and forward across the creek for three days before he was able to discover his own mistake, or consent to issue the regular rations. When the ration did come it was for only one day. No back rations were ever made up to us.
In his testimony before the congressional committee, Thomas A. Pillsbury of the l6th Connecticut stated that the rations were withheld for three days because Lieutenant Barrett was not able to find out who of the prisoners were digging a certain tunnel. "The man who dug the tunnel," he said, " went out and told him, and then we received our rations."—EDITOR.
This period of three days without rations caused the most acute sufferings, broke down more men mentally and physically, and in all my prison life of ten months was the climax of cruelty to which we were subjected. I had been three days without food after the battle of Chancellorsville, but the deprivation followed immediately upon plenty. In Florence the three days' loss of food followed immediately upon a starvation diet of months. Several hundred deaths were the immediate result.
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