During the month of November, while confined within the stockade at Florence, the presidential election occurred at the North; and although it was spoken of and lightly discussed by some of my prison comrades, yet no great amount of interest was taken in it till we discovered that it was the absorbing topic of the authorities outside, and for days was the only thing that seemed to interest our guard. To a man, their anxiety seemed to center in a desire for the election of George B. McClellan. I believe that underneath their hatred of the Yankee there was love for the Union and that they thought the election of McClellan would open a way for their honorable return to the Union without an "unconditional surrender"; also that Lincoln's election meant a prosecution of the war to the bitter end.
A vast majority of the prisoners were lovers of McClellan, but they also felt that it would be unwise to change leaders. Perhaps we had unconsciously adopted the sentiment, as given by one of our dying comrades in the last words he uttered, that "to love those things the rebels hated, and hate what they loved, would assure any man a safe entrance to heaven."
When election morning dawned great preparations were made by the prison authorities to take a test vote of the prison. Knowing we represented all parts of the great North, they thought our vote would be a fair index of that cast at the North, and in fact it was.
A bag was procured, and presided over by some of our own number, and also supervised by some of the prison authorities. Beans were used for ballots, and we were instructed that a black bean would count for Lincoln and a white bean for McClellan. The intense desire for the election of McClellan was displayed by the prison authorities in their offer of an extra ration to the whole prison if a majority of white beans were found in the bag, so that every incentive was held out to vote for McClellan; besides, we knew that our vote would have no influence upon the real election.
The result was a great disappointment to our captors. About five thousand five hundred men voted, being marched to the polls in squads of a hundred. Four thousand votes were cast for Lincoln, and one thousand five hundred for McClellan. There was some flanking and repeating, but the above was a fair indication of the prisoners' choice.
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