Prisoners in Richmond


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 22, 1862

This site features online versions of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and we are making this incredible resource available for your study and perusal.

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Fort Henry

Battle of Fort Henry


Commodore Foote

Stone Arrested

General Stone Arrested

Lord Lyons

Lord Lyons

Richmond Prisons

Richmond Prisons

Richmond Prisoners

Richmond Prisoners

Ohio Freshet

Ohio Freshet

Attack on Fort Henry

Attack on Fort Henry

Stuck in Mud

Stuck in the Mud


Ice Skating in Brooklyn

Battle of Vera Cruz

Battle of Vera Cruz

P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum Advertisement









FEBRUARY 22, 1862.]


habits—obedience and awe. They would wait till they starved in the solitude—wait to hearken and answer my call. And I, who thus rule them or charm them—I use and despise them. They know that, and yet serve me! Between you and me, my philosopher, there is but one thing worth living for—life for one's self."

Is it age, is it youth, that thus shocks all my sense, in my solemn completeness of man? I know not to this hour. But perhaps, in great capitals, young men of pleasure will answer, "It is youth; and we think what he says!" Young friends, I do not believe you.


ALONG the grass track I saw now, under the moon, just risen, a strange procession—never seen before in Australian pastures. It moved on, noiselessly but quickly. We descended the hillock, and met it on the way. A sable litter, borne by four men, in unfamiliar Eastern garments; two other swarthy servitors, more bravely dressed, with yataghans and silver-hilted pistols in their belts, preceding this sombre equipage. Perhaps Margrave divined the disdainful thought that passed through my mind, vaguely and half consciously; for he said, with the hollow, bitter laugh that had replaced the lively peal of his once melodious mirth:

"A little leisure and a little gold, and your raw colonist, too, will have the tastes of a pashaw."

I made no answer. I had ceased to care who and what was my tempter. To me his whole being was resolved into one problem: Had he a secret by which Death could be turned from Lilian?

But now, as the litter halted, from the long dark shadow which it cast upon the turf, the figure of a woman emerged, and stood before us. The outlines of her shape were lost in the loose folds of a black mantle, and the features of her face were hidden by a black veil, except only the dark, bright, solemn eyes. Her stature was lofty, her bearing majestic, whether in movement or repose.

Margrave accosted her in some language unknown to me. She replied in what seemed to my ear the same tongue. The tones of her voice were sweet, but inexpressibly mournful. The words that they uttered appeared intended to warn, or deprecate, or dissuade, for they called to Margrave's brow a lowering frown, and drew from his lips a burst of unmistakable anger. The woman rejoined, in the same melancholy music of voice. And Margrave then, leaning his arm upon her shoulder, as he had leaned it on mine, drew her away from the group into a neighboring copse of the flowering eucalypti—mystic trees, never changing the hues of their pale- green leaves, ever shifting the tints of their ash-gray, shedding bark. For some moments I gazed on the two human forms, dimly seen by the glinting moonlight through the gaps in the foliage. Then, turning away my eyes, I saw, standing close at my side, a man whom I had not noticed before. His footstep, as it stole to me, had fallen on the sward

without sound. His dress, though Oriental, differed from that of his companions, both in shape and color; fitting close to the breast, leaving the arms bare to the elbow, and of a uniform, ghastly white, as are the cerements of the grave. His visage was even darker than those of the Syrians or Arabs behind him, and his features were those of a bird of prey—the beak of the eagle, but the eye of the vulture. His checks were hollow; the arms, crossed on his breast, were long and fleshless. Yet in that skeleton form there was a something which conveyed the idea of a serpent's suppleness and strength; and as the hungry, watchful eyes met my own startled gaze, I recoiled impulsively with that inward warning of danger which is conveyed to man, as to inferior animals, in the very aspect of the creatures that sting or devour. At my movement the man inclined his head in the submissive Eastern salutation, and spoke in his foreign tongue, softly, humbly, fawningly, to judge by his tone and his gesture.

I moved yet farther away from him with loathing, and now the human thought flashed upon me: was I in truth exposed to no danger in trusting myself to the mercy of the weird and remorseless master of those hirelings from the East?—seven men in number, two at least of them formidably armed, and docile as blood-hounds to the hunter, who has only to show them their prey. But fear of man like myself is not my weakness; where fear found its way to my heart it was through the doubts or the fancies in which man like myself disappeared in the attributes, dark and unknown, which we give to a fiend or a spectre. And perhaps, if I could have paused to analyze my own sensations, the very presence of this escort—creatures of flesh and blood—lessened the dread of my incomprehensible tempter. Rather, a hundred times, front and defy those seven Eastern slaves —I, haughty son of the Anglo-Saxon who conquers all races because he fears no odds—than have seen again on the walls of my threshold the luminous, bodiless Shadow! Besides, Lilian—Lilian! for one chance of saving her life, however wild and chimerical that chance might be, I would have shrunk not a foot from the march of an army.

Thus reassured and thus resolved, I advanced, with a smile of disdain, to meet Margrave and his veiled companion, as they now came from the moonlit copse.

"Well," I said to him, with an irony that unconsciously mimicked his own, "have you taken advice with your nurse? I assume that the dark masked form by your side is that of Ayesha!"

The woman looked at me from her sable mask, with her steadfast, solemn eyes, and said, in English, though with a foreign accent, "The nurse, born in Asia, is but wise through her love; the pale son of Europe is wise in his art. The nurse says 'Forbear!' Do you say 'Adventure?' "

"Peace!" exclaimed Margrave, stamping his foot on the ground, "I take no counsel from either; it is for me to resolve, for you to obey, and for him to aid. Night is come, and we waste it; move on."

The woman made no reply, nor did I. He took my arm and walked back to the hut. The barbaric escort followed. When we reached the door of the building Margrave said a few words to the woman and to the litter-bearers. They entered the hut with us. Margrave pointed out to the woman his coffer; to the men, the fuel stowed in the outhouse. Both were borne away and placed within the litter. Meanwhile I took from the table, on which it was carelessly thrown, the light hatchet that I habitually carried with me in my rambles.

" Do you think that you need that idle weapon?" said Margrave. "Do you fear the good faith of my swarthy attendants?"

"Nay, take the hatchet yourself; its use is to sever the gold from the quartz in which we may find it embedded, or to clear, as this shovel, which will also be needed, from the slight soil above it the ore that the mine in the mountain flings forth, as the sea casts its waifs on the sands."

"Give me your hand, fellow-laborer!" said Margrave, joyfully, "Ah, there is no faltering terror in this pulse. I was not mistaken in the Man. What rests but the Place and the Hour? I shall live—I shall live!"


WE publish on page 117 several illustrations of OUR PRISONERS AT RICHMOND, with portraits of their jailors, from sketches by Mr. James Gillette.

The testimony of those recently released goes to show, that the published accounts of outrages perpetrated upon unarmed prisoners of war by their keepers, and the many sufferings they have undergone, have not been exaggerated, as many have supposed. Perhaps a mistake has been made in ascribing these circumstances to a vindictive spirit on the part of the revolutionary authorities. It more properly results from their inability to control the passions of the drunken and ignorant hordes that compose the rank and file of their army, and the total absence of material or means necessary for the maintenance of a war prison. The necessities of their own army are avowed excuses for whatever deprivations the prisoners are obliged to submit to.

The condition of our soldiers, crowded in the damp and filthy tobacco factories of the South, is indeed fearful. Covered with vermin, which a want of change of clothing, filth, and improper accommodations have engendered, half-starved and nearly naked as they are, who with heart so hardened to human suffering as will refuse to advocate measures by which these suffering patriots may be honorably released!

The return of Mr. JAMES GILLETTE, of the New York 71st Regiment, who has been five months a prisoner in Richmond, affords us an opportunity to give our readers accurate representations of the prisons and prison scenes, from sketches made by Mr. G. during the weary hours of his imprisonment.

We publish this week illustrations of Prison No. 2, Atkinson's factory, on four floors of which (size 40 x 60 feet) over four hundred men were confined; also Hospital No. 1, Ross's factory, containing

nearly one hundred wounded soldiers, in charge of Dr. Higginbotham, surgeon in the rebel army. These men are suffering from wounds received at the battle of Bull Run. We give other representations of officials and scenes of interest to the many friends of the prisoners.


WHATEVER opportunities the fine weather of last month afforded for a forward movement, it is evidently out of the question to stir now, even if it accorded with General McClellan's strategy to do so. The Army of the Potomac is literally stuck in the mud, and no one attempts locomotion unless obliged. Those who think it as much as life is worth to get the feet wetted should see how little difference it makes to the soldier. When he steps out of his tent at reveille, it is to sink at each step half-way to his knees in liquid mud; and from that time till tattoo is sounded he has to get along as well as he can with wet boots. It does not appear to interfere with the health of the men, the sick-roll showing fewer cases than before in most of the camps. In some places the officers have secured quarters in houses, where they shut themselves up in small close rooms, with a red-hot stove, and the windows hermetically sealed (the Germans are very fond of this plan).

To return to the subject of the sketch. The centre picture gives a fair average representation of the condition of the roads on the lines—axle-deep in mud, and abounding in holes, from which it requires the combined efforts of several teams and a vast amount of cursing to draw a single wagon. The fields are cut up with ruts in all directions, ornamented with an occasional broken wagon or dead horse; and in passing through the streams the water comes over the floor of the wagon.

The sketches on page 121 describe themselves. Soldiers struggling through the sacred soil to relieve the guards, and a group of officers slowly and wearily wending their way to camp. The scene below, sketched in Franklin's division, shows several of the contrivances adopted by the soldiers to make their tents comfortable: the log foundation, with the tent above it, and make-shift chimneys of empty flour barrels. In chimneys much variety of invention is presented. The more aristocratic are built of bricks; others of sticks plastered with mud; while barrels and stove-pipes, in endless variety of combination, appear.

The large amount of fuel required by the army has caused the woods to disappear with magical rapidity. This, and the destruction of the fences, the demolition of houses, and construction of new military roads, will render it rather difficult for the absconding secessionists to recognize their ancient boundaries, if they ever return. The worst feature of the mud blockade is the stoppage of regimental and brigade drill. Still, with mud nearly up to the knees, the 22d Massachusetts come out on the double quick for dress parade. On comparatively dry spots, target, bayonet, and skirmish drill is carried on. A noticeable feature in our army is the absence of demoralization, on account of the necessary inactivity.


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