From the Twentieth
Headquarters Army of the Tennessee
East Point, GA Sep 24, 1864
Published in Kendall County Record Oct 13, 1864
Friend Record: Having moved from Chattanooga to this place since I last wrote you, and seen and heard several things of interest to your readers, I shall attempt to jot down a few words.
Hearing on my arrival on the 14th, that the 20th Illinois were camped about five hundred yards from us, I went over the next day to see my old Regiment. Two short rows pine pole bunks, covered with rubber blankets constituted the camp of the Regiment. They are doing guard duty at Headquarters Third Division, 17th Corps, and are detached from their Brigade. One of the three officers who remain with them is Lieut. Spellman of Company K, all seemed in good spirits, and are generally in good health. Of Company K, I found Private John Leach, A. P. White, P. Barnard, Conner, Preston and Scofield. Mr. Barnard has been sick but is fast recovering. I learned news of those who were captured. He is the fifer of Company B, from Joliet, and says that all of our Regiment are doing as well as possible except Franklin, of Company E, who has the scurvy. There were eight of the Regiment exchanged. As the rest were sent away on the cars (train), he supposes they are gone to Charleston. As none of Company K was exchanged I could learn no further particulars. However, your readers may judge of life in Andersonville (where they were taken) by the following account given by a member of Company B, 4th IL Cavalry, who was captured eight months ago and escaped by "tunneling out." I have forgotten his name but his home is in Chicago.
Said He: "I was captured when Ross tried to cross those arms in Mississippi along with several others. I'd sooner die on the spot than go through again what I have. They treated us like dogs from the first. As soon as they got us first one and then another robbed us. A Provost Marshal even cut the buttons off my jacket, and took my penknife. Watches, money, and good hats they "go for" first, then shoes or boots, and they often forget to leave a "feller" anything in exchange. We were taken from Columbus, GA to Andersonville, and been there ever since. There were about twenty-five thousand of our men there when I "sloped." May you never see men in the condition they are. The prison, as they call it, is about 150 acres fenced with a high stockade. There is a ditch running through it that furnishes water for the men to cook with and wash and to drink. About forty feet from the stockade is what they call the dead-line (a row of short posts with narrow strips on them.) If any of them gets over between that and the stockade the guard shoots him. As it is crowded in there, sometimes one will get his legs a little outside while laid down. As soon as he does he is a "goner" for he is instantly shot. They shoot on the least chance. I have seen boys killed for reaching up the ditch for a little clearer water to drink. They don't feed them. It is a perfect starvation. They gave us a pint of corn meal, or a piece of corn bread (without salt) about four by three inches and an inch thick and a piece of bacon about an inch square, for a day's ration. We eat it all at a meal and then wait until the next day.
Hungary! That was no name for it because you see we had no shelter and they had taken most of our clothes before we went in. Through all that rainy weather in July and August, we had to take it day and night in the open air. It was awful on those who were sick or wounded. I tell you but the scurvy carries them off. Some of the boys, yes! Lots of them lose all their teeth and gums. They have scarcely room to lie down. When it rains they are just covered with mud. They don't get any soap, so of course a clean face can't be seen there. With those who die of disease and starvation and those who are shot, they average about 200 deaths a day. You may be sure that after I got out I made up my mind never to go in there alive again. What is more, if a place like that don't make a man think of his God, I don't know what will."
As he stood near the Provost Marshal's tent, bare-footed, bare-headed, ragged and dirty, he saw the flag floating in front of the General's tent, and remarked: "You can't imagine the feeling that came over me when I saw that flag as I came into our lines. I couldn't laugh, and tears fell in spite of me."
Such is the treatment of our brave boys who have the misfortune to fall into the hands of our "misguided brethren," (say rather fiends) and the English language fails me when I attempt to give my opinion of those men who would make peace with them on any other terms but the bayonet. Talk about their rights! They have but two. The ones Brownlow designated, and we pray that they may get them. Several thousands of our prisoners (Union soldiers) have been exchanged, and are being clothed free of charge. All tell the same story. If there is anything they wish more than a shot at the rebels, it is "one lick at a copperhead!"
Signed J. B. L. (I believe the author was James B. Littlewood, at one time a member of Co. K, 20th Illinois Infantry.