Union prisoners were grim sight indeed

On this day in 1865: A.O. Abbott, first lieutenant in the 1st N.Y. Dragoons, recalls the arrival in Goldsboro of a trainload of 700 fellow Union prisoners, these from Salisbury and Florence, S.C.:

“They had ridden all night in open flatcars, without a particle of shelter or fire. It was . . . a bitter cold, damp night, and, scantily clothed as they were, they had suffered beyond account. Three had died during the night, and were still on the train. Not one of them had a whole garment on, while nearly all were destitute of shirts or coats. A ragged or patched pair of pants, and a piece of an old blanket, constituted the wardrobe of the majority. Their faces were blackened by the pitch-pine smoke from the fires over which they had cooked their rations, while traces of soap and water were lost altogether. Hair and beard in their natural state. Yet all of this was nothing compared to their diseased, starving condition.

“In short, no words can describe their appearance. The sunken eye, the gaping mouth, the filthy skin, the clothes and head alive with vermin, the repelling bony contour, all conspired to lead to the conclusion that they were the victims of starvation, cruelty, and exposure to a degree unparalleled in the history of humanity.”

3 thoughts on “Union prisoners were grim sight indeed”

  1. This is really interesting. I’ve never heard of an account like this for civil war pow’s. Thanks for the citation, I was curious as to where you found this info. Truly an amazing account of union pow’s.

  2. Don’t have it in front of me, but I think I purloined that letter from “Civil War Prisons & Escapes: A Day-By-Day Chronicle” by Robert E. Denney (1993). Denney, who died in 2002, was a keen and prolific researcher and compiler — at least four Civil War books that I know of.

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