Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

by John Beauchamp Jones

            OCTOBER 1ST.—We have a rumor to-day that Meade is sending heavy masses of troops to the West to extricate Rosecrans, and that Gen. Hooker is to menace Richmond from the Peninsula, with 25,000 men, to keep Lee from crossing the Potomac.

            We have absolutely nothing from Bragg; but a dispatch from Gen. S. Jones, East Tennessee, of this date, says he has sent Gen. Ranseur after the rear guard of the enemy, near Knoxville.

            A letter from W. G. M. Davis, describes St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida, as practicable for exporting and importing purposes. It may be required, if Charleston and Wilmington fall—which is not improbable.

            Nevertheless, Bragg’s victory has given us a respite in the East, and soon the bad roads will put an end to the marching of armies until next year. I doubt whether the Yankees will desire another winter campaign in Virginia.

            The papers contain the following account of sufferings at Gettysburg, and in the Federal prisons:

            “A lady from the vicinity of Gettysburg writes: ‘July 18th—We have been visiting the battle-field, and have done all we can for the wounded there. Since then we have sent another party, who came upon a camp of wounded Confederates in a wood between the hills. Through this wood quite a large creek runs. This camp contained between 200 and 300 wounded men, in every stage of suffering; two well men among them as nurses. Most of them had frightful wounds. A few evenings ago the rain, sudden and violent, swelled the creek, and 35 of the unfortunates were swept away; 35 died of starvation. No one had been to visit them since they were carried off the battle-field; they had no food of any kind; they were crying all the time “bread, bread! water, water!” One boy without beard was stretched out dead, quite naked, a piece of blanket thrown over his emaciated form, a rag over his face, and his small, thin hands laid over his breast. Of the dead none knew their names, and it breaks my heart to think of the mothers waiting and watching for the sons laid in the lonely grave on that fearful battle-field. All of those men in the woods were nearly naked, and when ladies approached they tried to cover themselves with the filthy rags they had cast aside. The wounds themselves, unwashed and untouched, were full of worms. God only knows what they suffered.

            “ ‘Not one word of complaint passed their lips, not a murmur; their only words were “Bread, bread! water, water!” Except when they saw some of our ladies much affected, they said, “Oh, ladies, don’t cry; we are used to this.” We are doing all we can; we served all day yesterday, though it was Sunday.’ This lady adds: ‘There were two brothers—one a colonel, the other a captain—lying side by side, and both wounded. They had a Bible between them.’ Another letter from Philadelphia says: ‘There are over 8000 on the island (FortDelaware), the hospitals crowded, and between 300 and 400 men on the bare floor of the barracks; not even a straw mattress under them. The surgeon says the hundred pillows and other things sent from here were a God-send. Everything except gray clothing will be thankfully received, and can be fully disposed of. It is very difficult to get money here. I write to you in the hope that you may be able to send some comforts for these suffering men. Some two or three thousand have been sent to an island in the East River, most of them South Carolinians, and all in great destitution. Your hearts would ache as mine does if you knew all I hear and know is true of the sufferings of our poor people.’

            “Another writes: Philadelphia, July 20th, 1863. ‘I mentioned in my last the large number of Southern prisoners now in the hands of the Federal Government in FortDelaware, near this city. There are 8000, a large portion of whom are sick and wounded; all are suffering most seriously for the want of a thousand things. Those in the city who are by birth or association connected with Southern people, and who feel a sympathy for the sufferings of these prisoners, are but few in number, and upon these have been increasing calls for aid. Their powers of contribution are now exhausted. I thought it my duty to acquaint you and others in Europe of this state of things, that you might raise something to relieve the sufferings of these prisoners. I believe the government has decided that any contributions for them may be delivered to them. There is scarcely a man among them, officers or privates, who has any money or any clothes beyond those in which they stood when they were captured on the battlefield. You can, therefore, imagine their situation. In the hospitals the government gives them nothing beyond medicines and soldier’s rations. Sick men require much more, or they perish; and these people are dying by scores. I think it a matter in which their friends on the other side should take prompt and ample action.’ “

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