19 October 1864: “What we suffered in Libby Prison and Belle Isle I will not attempt to describe”

Item Description: Letter dated 19 October 1864 written by Julius Frederic Ramsdell. He briefly mentions some of the harsh conditions of his life while in prison at Libby and Belle Isle.


Item Citation: Folder 2, Julius Frederic Ramsdell Papers, #4403, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Annapolis General Hospital

Maryland Oct 19th 1864

Dear Uncle,

I received your letter of the 14th yesterday, and was very glad to hear that you and all the family are well. I was afraid that after being cut off your communication home for two months I should have to hear of some changes, which to me might be bad news.

I shall make an application today for a furlough of thirty days and send it to the Surgeon in charge of the hospital. But I shall have to take my chance, with the rest for out of all the applications sent in their are but few who get their furloughs. I may get one in a week, or month or perhaps not at all. I shall do all I can to get one, for I want to go home fall very much.

I found Leigh my man here. He has lost the use of his right arm and is expecting his discharge or some light duty. He lent all from our company five dollars as soon as we reached the hospital. When I received your letter with the money $25 enclosed I immediately paid him five dollars and have plenty now (20.00) to buy what necessaries I need and can get here. While we were in the enemies hands we were searched five different times. Everything was taken from us, blankets, clothing, money, and every kind of trinket which we happened to have in our pockets. All that was left us was our shirts, pants, blouse, dipper and spoon. The dipper we had to eat soup in This soup was one of our principle articles of food It was made of black beans boiled in liver water.

With some difficulty I succeeded in carrying my pocket diary and Testament through And those were the only things I had with me when we landed with from the boat. What we suffered in Libby Prison and Belle Isle I will not attempt to describe. You have heard enough about both those places to know what our treatment was.

From the boat load in which I came of about 350 or 400 men 8 died upon the passage. And 14 more the day after reaching the hospital. One of our Company is not expected to live from day to day. His wife and brother are with him now. Where with the company he was the strongest and healthiest man among us. Thomas Moran is his name. He is suffering with chronic Diarrhea.

I am gaining strength fast. During the past week I have been to work helping take care of the sick sweep their worns make their bed ? I have just enough to do to give me a good appetite and make me feel well.

I hear Mr. Gage is going to send us a box of clothing shirts drawers etc. We shall look for it every day- Write whenever you can. My love to all- Your Affect. Neph


This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.