CIRCUS MEMOIRS
In the Army - 2

 

I will say here that Lieutenant Bosseau, who had charge of this island, was a very kind, humane man and was in no way responsible for the suffering, want of food or medicines. On the other hand, Lieutenant Roe was a vile person. The Southern soldiers themselves were very short of food. We could not expect to have any more than they had. The exchange of prisoners was stopped. The Confederate Government did not recognize General Ben. Butler as a gentleman, and would not treat with him. Then again, it was said that our Government would not give up healthy Southern prisoners in exchange for sick, emaciated Northern ones. About this time word came that there would be an exchange of about two hundred sick on each side. All this time I had not been idle. I had made about two hundred dollars selling things to eat to the bounty jumpers' substitutes, so I offered to pay one hundred and fifty dollars to the Southern sergeant if he would let me take away five of my friends along with the sick prisoners that were going North. He took my money and counted us in with the sick, otherwise I would have landed at Andersonville. In a few days we arrived at Annapolis; the first one to salute me was Jasper Jones of my company. He advised us, when we were told to throw away our blankets and draw new ones, not to do so, but on the contrary to grab as many as we could. This we did, getting one dollar a piece for them. Shortly after our arrival we were taken up to the sanitary commission building, where the good ladies in charge gave us supplies of all kinds for our comfort. Looking over six of us, they remarked: "Did you men come from Richmond?" "Yes, madame." "You look very well for sick boys", she replied. "We are not as well as we look, lady, we are bloated."


(Oh the joy of these evenings before the cracking olive wood fire, with Mr. Middleton smoking his favorite cigar, taking the comfort of a king in a Louis XV. chair. I feel, dear and excellent reader, that I want to share this with you. - Mrs. R. K. M.)


After a short stay here we were sent to the dismounted camp at Washington, D. C., where I was detailed as orderly to Colonel William Gamble, with whom I remained until the expiration of my three years enlistment. Then I went on to my company at Winchester, Virginia, where I was mustered out and left for my home in Madison. After reaching home, I was restless and like a fish out of water, notwithstanding my parents had refurnished the home in fine style to welcome my home coming. Not having sisters to be consulted in matters of decorations and selection of furniture, the folks had made everything comfortable and to suit a boy’s taste. The most imposing thing to my mind was the parlor set, consisting of a settee, a rocker, six chairs, all upholstered with black mohair, and a center table.


Kind reader, fancy the change, if you can, after three years of sitting on the ground or logs or hardtack boxes. At times I found it very difficult to keep my seat on the mohair, frequently sliding off on to the floor. When we had callers, to be sure of my seat, I had to hold on.


On the walls were three chromos. Rembrandt or Leonardo de Vinci never painted anything that was as wonderful to me, as I recall them now.
After hand-shaking around for a few months, I began to look for something to do, in which search I did not have much success. I had occasion to go to Cincinnati for a day or two, and it so happened while I was there that the news came of General Lee’s surrender. From that day to this I have never heard such a noise and din as took place on that occasion.


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