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    Chapter 23

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    Chapter 24
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    A NEW LOT OF PRISONERS--THE BATTLE OF OOLUSTEE--MEN SACRIFICED TO A
    GENERAL'S INCOMPETENCY--A HOODLUM REINFORCEMENT--A QUEER CROWD
    --MISTREATMENT OF AN OFFICER OF A COLORED REGIMENT--KILLING THE SERGEANT OF
    A NEGRO SQUAD.

    So far only old prisoners--those taken at Gettysburg, Chicamauga and Mine
    Run--had been brought in. The armies had been very quiet during the
    Winter, preparing for the death grapple in the Spring. There had been
    nothing done, save a few cavalry raids, such as our own, and Averill's
    attempt to gain and break up the Rebel salt works at Wytheville, and
    Saltville. Consequently none but a few cavalry prisoners were added to
    the number already in the hands of the Rebels.

    The first lot of new ones came in about the middle of March. There were
    about seven hundred of them, who had been captured at the battle of
    Oolustee, Fla., on the 20th of February. About five hundred of them were
    white, and belonged to the Seventh Connecticut, the Seventh New
    Hampshire, Forty Seventh, Forty-Eighth and One Hundred and Fifteenth New
    York, and Sherman's regular battery. The rest were colored, and belonged
    to the Eighth United States, and Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts. The story
    they told of the battle was one which had many shameful reiterations
    during the war. It was the story told whenever Banks, Sturgis, Butler,
    or one of a host of similar smaller failures were trusted with commands.
    It was a senseless waste of the lives of private soldiers, and the
    property of the United States by pretentious blunderers, who, in some
    inscrutable manner, had attained to responsible commands. In this
    instance, a bungling Brigadier named Seymore had marched his forces
    across the State of Florida, to do he hardly knew what, and in the
    neighborhood of an enemy of whose numbers, disposition, location, and
    intentions he was profoundly ignorant. The Rebels, under General
    Finnegan, waited till he had strung his command along through swamps
    and cane brakes, scores of miles from his supports, and then fell
    unexpectedly upon his advance. The regiment was overpowered, and another
    regiment that hurried up to its support, suffered the same fate. The
    balance of the regiments were sent in in the same manner--each arriving
    on the field just after its predecessor had been thoroughly whipped by
    the concentrated force of the Rebels. The men fought gallantly, but the
    stupidity of a Commanding General is a thing that the gods themselves
    strive against in vain. We suffered a humiliating defeat, with a loss of
    two thousand men and a fine rifled battery, which was brought to
    Andersonville and placed in position to command the prison.

    The majority of the Seventh New Hampshire were an unwelcome addition to
    our numbers. They were N'Yaarkers--old time colleagues of those already
    in with us--veteran bounty jumpers, that had been drawn to New Hampshire
    by the size of the bounty offered there, and had been assigned to fill up
    the wasted ranks of the veteran Seventh regiment. They had tried to
    desert as soon as they received their bounty, but the Government clung to
    them literally with hooks of steel, sending many of them to the regiment
    in irons. Thus foiled, they deserted to the Rebels during the retreat
    from the battlefield. They were quite an accession to the force of our
    N'Yaarkers, and helped much to establish the hoodlum reign which was
    shortly inaugurated over the whole prison.

    The Forty-Eighth New Yorkers who came in were a set of chaps so odd in
    every way as to be a source of never-failing interest. The name of their
    regiment was 'L'Enfants Perdu' (the Lost Children), which we anglicized
    into "The Lost Ducks." It was believed that every nation in Europe was
    represented in their ranks, and it used to be said jocularly, that no two
    of them spoke the same language. As near as I could find out they were
    all or nearly all South Europeans, Italians, Spaniards; Portuguese,
    Levantines, with a predominance of the French element. They wore a
    little cap with an upturned brim, and a strap resting on the chin, a coat
    with funny little tales about two inches long, and a brass chain across
    the breast; and for pantaloons they had a sort of a petticoat reaching to
    the knees, and sewed together down the middle. They were just as
    singular otherwise as in their looks, speech and uniform. On one
    occasion the whole mob of us went over in a mass to their squad to see
    them cook and eat a large water snake, which two of them had succeeded in
    capturing in the swamps, and carried off to their mess, jabbering in high
    glee over their treasure trove. Any of us were ready to eat a piece of
    dog, cat, horse or mule, if we could get it, but, it was generally
    agreed, as Dawson, of my company expressed it, that "Nobody but one of
    them darned queer Lost Ducks would eat a varmint like a water snake."

    Major Albert Bogle, of the Eighth United States, (colored) had fallen
    into the hands of the rebels by reason of a severe wound in the leg,
    which left him helpless upon the field at Oolustee. The Rebels treated
    him with studied indignity. They utterly refused to recognize him as an
    officer, or even as a man. Instead of being sent to Macon or Columbia,
    where the other officers were, he was sent to Andersonville, the same as
    an enlisted man. No care was given his wound, no surgeon would examine
    it or dress it. He was thrown into a stock car, without a bed or
    blanket, and hauled over the rough, jolting road to Andersonville.
    Once a Rebel officer rode up and fired several shots at him, as he lay
    helpless on the car floor. Fortunately the Rebel's marksmanship was as
    bad as his intentions, and none of the shots took effect. He was placed
    in a squad near me, and compelled to get up and hobble into line when the
    rest were mustered for roll-call. No opportunity to insult, "the nigger
    officer," was neglected, and the N'Yaarkers vied with the Rebels in
    heaping abuse upon him. He was a fine, intelligent young man, and bore
    it all with dignified self-possession, until after a lapse of some weeks
    the Rebels changed their policy and took him from the prison to send to
    where the other officers were.

    The negro soldiers were also treated as badly as possible. The wounded
    were turned into the Stockade without having their hurts attended to.
    One stalwart, soldierly Sergeant had received a bullet which had forced
    its way under the scalp for some distance, and partially imbedded itself
    in the skull, where it still remained. He suffered intense agony, and
    would pass the whole night walking up and down the street in front of our
    tent, moaning distressingly. The bullet could be felt plainly with the
    fingers, and we were sure that it would not be a minute's work, with a
    sharp knife, to remove it and give the man relief. But we could not
    prevail upon the Rebel Surgeons even to see the man. Finally
    inflammation set in and he died.

    The negros were made into a squad by themselves, and taken out every day
    to work around the prison. A white Sergeant was placed over them, who
    was the object of the contumely of the guards and other Rebels. One day
    as he was standing near the gate, waiting his orders to come out, the
    gate guard, without any provocation whatever, dropped his gun until the
    muzzle rested against the Sergeant's stomach, and fired, killing him
    instantly.

    The Sergeantcy was then offered to me, but as I had no accident policy, I
    was constrained to decline the honor.
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