NOTT - SKETCHES IN PRISON CAMPS

[A Portion of Chapter VIII - Nott Arrives at Camp Ford]

Thus we went on, until upon the twelfth day of our march we passed through the little town of Tyler and approached Camp Ford. We felt some curiosity as to the appearance and comfort of this new abode. The question put to travelers whom we met always brought the reply that the prisoners were in houses quite comfortable. In houses prisoners might well be comfortable - much better to have houses than the dismal barracks of Camp Groce. At last the road wound round a little knoll, covered with pine and scraggly oak and disclosed the camp. We saw on a side-hill a barn-yard of a place, encompassed by a stockade fence fifteen feet high. Within, partly burrowed and partly built, was an irregular group of log shanties, small, dark and dirty. A naval friend stood at my side, who had been confident that we should find everything to our liking, and whose motto was "Nothing is too good for prisoners." I glanced at him and saw that, since I last looked, his countenance had grown immeasurably longer. A lieutenant of my regiment was on the outside of the stockade waiting to welcome me. He was a young and neat New-Yorker when I last saw him, but his dress now consisted of a pair of ragged trowsers and an old woolen shirt without arms.

"What kind of times have you fallen upon, Mr. L?" I asked.

"Not very good, Colonel," he replied, rather dolefully, and then brightening added, “But we have very good quarters - at least for prisoners!"

My naval friend looked at the lieutenant sternly and with disgust. He never forgave that speech.

The roll was called. We were marched forward. The gate opened and admitted us to seven months more of imprisonment. Within every thing looked gloomy and squalid. My own officers I hardly recognized; the others bore in their dress and mien the unmistakable marks of hardship and destitution. A Captain in my regiment came up, and after the usual greetings invited me into his "shebang" and to dinner. I walked in and looked around, I fear with some disgust.

A dodger had just been turned out of its pan and cut up.

“I can't stay to dinner, Captain," I said; "we have a wagon to unload; but I'll try a piece of the dodger."

I took a piece and walked out. The gentlemen of the "shebang" said nothing. But afterward there was a story told of the affair. It was this.

“The dodger was the whole of the dinner.”


I X .

A   D I N N E R .

 

The prisoners at Camp Ford were poor. They even thought themselves too poor to borrow. They possessed no supplies to sell; and in manufactures they had not risen above carved pipes and chessmen. They lived on their rations and cooked those rations in the simplest manner. Half of them had no tables, and more than half no table furniture. The plates and spoons did treble duty, traveling about from "shebang" to “shebang " (as they called the hovels they had built) in regular succession.

We rated them soundly about their condition, and asked them why they had lived thus; to which they responded by asking us how they could have lived otherwise. We lectured them severely on their not having begged, and above all, on their not having borrowed; and they answered, meekly, that no one would lend them. We lent them money, but they received it timidly, and expressed fears that they would not be able to re-pay it, and doubts as to whether there was anything to buy.

"Nobody ever had anything to sell," they said, " about Tyler."

A few days had passed in the work of improving our shebang," and we sat one night around the fire moodily, talking over the state of our affairs. We were in the midst of the Christmas holidays, and the contrasted scenes of home pressed rather heavily upon us, and made the present, perhaps, seem darker than it really was.

"Something must be done," said some one, "to raise these fellows up. They are completely down, and if we don't get them up, why they will pull us down too."

"I never saw such fellows," said a naval prisoner. “They could have got clothing from the Confederates just as easily as we did. Here we come in, thin and pale and weak, and find them healthy and hearty, and yet all down in their boots. They don't seem to have done anything to keep themselves alive but cook, and not much of that."

"That's the remedy," said a third. “You've hit it by accident. 'Cook' is the word. Let us give a dinner-party and astonish them."

"A dinner-party! We should astonish them, so that we'd never hear the last of it."

"Well, why not? Didn't some of us 'celebrate' the Fourth at Brashear? and didn't we have a Thanksgiving dinner at Camp Groce ? I have great faith in dinners. Why can't we have a New Year's dinner here?"

"For the best of all reasons, because there's nothing to eat. There we had milk and eggs and potatoes and onions and a turkey, and -- "

"The turkey was a windfall, and didn't come till we had determined to observe the day, and Dillingham had issued his proclamation.”

"And pumpkin and pecan nuts, and beef."

"Well, I'm sure we have beef"

"Yes, we have, look at the stuff, look at it," and our friend pointed to a dark, dry-looking, fatless lump, that hung from a rafter. "We have got beef, and we have got flour, and sugar, and bacon, and those are all.”

"Something may turn up if we resolve on it."

“Something may turn up!' Yes, it may, and when it turns up, we'll give a party."

All agreed to this common sense conclusion, except two obstinate members of the mess, and they were Lieutenant Dane, of the signal corps, and myself.

On the morrow (the thirtieth of December) we went to the gate, presented our compliments to the sergeant of the guard, and informed him that private business with Colonel Allen, commanding, etc., required a personal interview. The sergeant communicated the fact to a gentleman in butternut, who took his rifle and strolled leisurely over to head-quarters with us. The Colonel smiled pleasantly, and as he wrote out the pass, said in a well-bred way, that he never doubted the honor of his prisoners, though he sometimes had a little fear of their discretion, and that when he was applied to by gentlemen who would be discreet in their intercourse with the country people, it afforded him great pleasure to let them out on parole.

The lieutenant and I returned to our quarters, and hung around our necks a couple o£ canteens and three or four haversacks; we took a basket and bag, received with gravity sundry bits of ironical advice, and then presenting to the sergeant of the guard our pass, stepped out of Camp Ford on parole.

The road carried us into the woods. At the end of half a mile we descended a hill, crossed a little brook, and found ourselves close upon the white house and negro-cabins of a plantation. At the door we encountered a sour-faced, respectable man, with whom we were soon engaged in the following delightful dialogue:

"Good day, sir."

“Good day."

"Have you any dried fruit to sell?"

“No."

"No apples?"

“No.”

"Nor peaches?"

“No."

“Any eggs?”

“No."

“Any chickens?"

“No."

“Couldn't you spare some potatoes ?"

"No."

"Nothing to sell for cash, at the highest of prices?"

“No."

"Good day.”

It was two miles of dull walking to the next house. A plain-looking old woman appeared and invited us in. As ill-luck would have it, her two sons had been captured at Arkansas Post. Still more unluckily, the two sons, when ill, had been placed in different hospitals, and some surgeon with petty tyranny had refused to let the one brother visit the other. We explained that there were fools in both armies, who treated their own soldiers in the same way. But the old lady said she would forgive everything but that. That was unnecessary cruelty. She then heaped coals of fire upon our unoffending heads by presenting to us a pumpkin, and by authorizing her chief contraband, who bore the fruitful name of "Plenty," to sell us from his own private stores a bushel of sweet potatoes. Leaving these treasures till we should return, we went on.

At the third house we had the same conversation over that we enjoyed at the first, and as we turned back into the road it began to rain. “Shall we go back or go on?" was the question. "How far did they say it was to the next house, two miles?" "Yes, two miles. If we go on we shall be wet, perhaps frozen. But no matter; that is better than going back and acknowledging a failure. Come on."

Three miles more, and we came to another house, owned by another old lady. Everything about it was rigidly in order and stiffly neat. There was a startling combination of colors in her parlor; for the floors were unpainted, the walls were white, the ceiling blue, the wainscoting red, and the blinds green. Again we were told that there was nothing to sell. But luckily, at the first item on our list, the old lady's black overseer came in, and being an intelligent contraband, pricked up his cars and asked, what the gentlemen wanted to pay for dried peaches. We inquired what price he asked for them. He reckoned that he had 'bout a peck, and that a peck in these times ought to bring $5; and we thought that $5 was precisely the sum we ought to pay for a peck of peaches. This purchase being happily effected, we ran over the list, but to every item our sable friend "reckoned not," till we mentioned milk. At that liquid name, a thought evidently struck him. He hadn't no milk, but he had vinegar -- cider-vinegar -- he made it his own self, and he reckoned that in these times it ought to bring $1 a quart. We forthwith entrusted him with every canteen, to be filled full of this precious, and indeed, unrivalled fluid. We then reapplied to the old lady to know whether she really couldn't sell us something. But no, not even our free-handed expenditures and the absence of all Yankee cuteness in us, could bring forth the old lady's stores.

As we retraced our steps we noticed a small log-house near the road, and a middle-aged woman barbecuing beef under a little shed. "Let us try here," one of us said; and we went up to the fence and asked for eggs. The woman thought she had a few, and civilly invited us to come in out of the rain. We went in, and found that the house consisted of but one room and all looked wretched and forlorn. Nearly a dozen eggs were produced, and then the woman bethought herself of a certain fowl that might as well be sold, and set her eldest boys to catch him. A great cackling presently announced the fate of the fowl, and the boys, coming in out of breath, informed us that they had run him down. He was a vagabond-looking young cock, who, any one would swear, ought to come to an untimely end, and I felt a moral pleasure as I tied his legs and popped him into the basket.

And now we had the task of walking six miles back in the rain. As we mounted a rocky ridge we noticed near the road some sumach. The sumach had been so scarce at Camp Groce that we thought this a prize. Setting down our baskets, therefore, we went to work picking sumach, and as we filled our haversacks, we talked of the dinner.

"The last haul is a prize, Colonel," said Lieutenant Dane. "The vinegar is a treasure, and the peaches are worth their weight in Confederate notes. How many shall we ask to dine with us ?"

"Yes, it settles the question of dinner. After such luck as this we must go on. I think we can squeeze in six on a side, and one at each end-fourteen in all."

"Fourteen! Well, now, the question is what shall we have? So far our luck is of a very small pattern - a very small pattern indeed. Ten eggs and one chicken of themselves won't make much of a dinner for fourteen men."

"The fact is, we must make this dinner chiefly out of our own brains. Give it the whole weight of your mind; think intensely, and see if you can't hit on a way to make a dish or two out of chips."

"Here's this sumach - what would you make of it?"

"Look at it philosophically. Analyse it: TASTE acid; COLOR-red. Now what is there that is acid and red?"

There are currants for one thing, and there's something else, I'm sure -- oh, cranberries."

"Then we must make currants and cranberries out of sumach. But for my part I'm greatly distressed about this wretched fowl-what can we do with him?"

"We might boil him, though he is young and will do to roast."

"What are you thinking of? -- one small fowl on a table before fourteen hungry men; ridiculous!"

"Yes, and these healthy fellows have got fearful appetites. They eat like alligators. When they draw three days' beef they devour it in one, for fear (as they say) that somebody might steal it. Can't you make a salad of him such as you used to send over to us at Camp Groce ? Do you know when we first came there we all thought the dressing was real?"

"Let us see-we have vinegar, to be sure, and some red peppers. But there is not time now to manufacture the mustard, and then we have no milk or butter to make the oil from. No! it's very sad, but we can't have chicken salad !"

" Well, the haversacks are full, so we may as well go on. It rains harder than ever, and that low piece of road will be over our boots in mud and water. I wonder if we shall find the potatoes and pumpkin all safe?"

Our friend "Plenty" duly delivered to us those vegetables when we reached his cabin. Now, a couple of officers trudging along in the mud on a rainy day, laden with a bag of potatoes, a big pumpkin, a couple of overloaded baskets, and several haversacks and canteens, cannot present a very elegant or dignified appearance; nevertheless, a tall man mounted on a ragged-looking steed, and wearing his head stuck through a hole in the middle of -his blanket, after the fashion of a Mexican poncha, accosted us as "gentlemen," and in most courteous terms desired to know whether this was the road to Marshall. He gave just one quick, keen glance that traveled all over us, and rested for a single instant on our shoulder straps.

" I perceive, gentlemen," said he, without the slightest diminution of courtesy, " that you belong to the other side."

I nodded an assent.

"And that you are officers?" I nodded again.

“I presume you are prisoners then, and here on parole?"

Now, wearing a United States uniform at that time in Texas by no means proved that a man was in the United States service; it only indicated that he was a soldier. So many prisoners were in their butternut, and so many Confederates in our uniform that a Texan eye rarely looked behind the coat to distinguish the kind of soldier it covered. When, therefore, our tall friend said, "You are on the other side," and added, "you are officers," it was plain to us that he had made the close acquaintance of our troops in some other way than through the newspapers.

"I perceive that you are an old soldier," I said in reply. "And I do not think you are a Texan. Allow me to ask where you are from?"

" I belong to the 1st Missouri Cavalry," said he, "and I am from Missouri."

"From Missouri!" I exclaimed. "Why, I was in service there myself during the first year of the war." The tall man and I looked steadily at each other in mutual astonishment. The same thoughts were passing through our minds, and he expressed them first and best by saying:

"You know, sir, that if you and I had met this way in Missouri, that first year of the war, only one of us would have walked away, and maybe neither."

" Yes," I said, "the war was very bitter there."

"It was that. No man could have made me believe then that I could ever meet an enemy with the same friendly feelings I have for you, gentlemen."

Here our friend began to unbuckle his saddle-bags, and after much trouble produced a flat bottle. "A friend," he said, "gave me this, and I mean to carry it through to Arkansas, if I can, but I must take a drink with a gentleman that was on the other side in Missouri, the first year of the war, if I never drink again as long as I live."

We touched our lips to the detestable poison, and thanked our friend for his courtesy. The “border ruffian" then expressed his great satisfaction at finding we were treated as gentlemen and prisoners of war should be, and said he doubted if he didn't respect the soldiers on "the other side" rather more than he did a good many folks on his own. Finally he asked our names -- gave us his own, which was Woodland -- shook hands warmly, and rode off. We shouldered our loads and plodded on, wondering whether the barbarous and brutal trade of war does not of itself inspire men at last with some noble and chivalric sentiments.

These meditations lasted us till we reached the gate. We were somewhat apprehensive that our appearance would produce a sensation in camp, and excite anticipations of the coming festivities, but luckily the rain and cold had driven all within their hovels. We walked rapidly past the closed doors of the "shebangs" till we hastily kicked open our own, and threw down our loads before the eyes of our astonished messmates. Then after a savage attack on cold beef and hot dodger, and after brewing a hot decoction of sumach to keep the cold out, we hung our wet clothes before the fire, and rolled ourselves in our warm blankets for the rest of the evening. Ere we fell asleep some one came in and said that it was freezing, and that the ground was white with snow.

The ground was white with snow, and so were our blankets the next morning. The north wind blew a gale - a goodly sized snow-drift stretched across the floor of the "shebang" - the water pail was frozen nearly solid, and a cup of sumach tea that stood upon the table directly in front of the fire was coated with ice. Daylight stole in through many chinks and crevices to find us still shivering in our bunks. One gentleman suggested that another gentleman rise and cook the breakfast; but the other gentleman thought the day would be long enough if we had breakfast any time before sunset. A humorous man from another "shebang" poked his head in the door, and inquired whether we would like to be dug out in the course of the day. We took no notice of his humor, and shivered in silence. At length the most uncomfortable one rolled out, threw a pile of logs upon the fire, and swept away the snow. As a matter of course the others followed. Breakfast was first disposed of, and then Lieutenant Dane began his great work. All of that day we were engaged, like Count Rumford, on a series of scientific experiments closely allied to the art of cookery. When night came we had fought our way over all obstacles, and were able to announce that the dinner should come off and should be a success.

The two junior members of the mess had at the outset agreed (in bad faith) that if we would cook the dinner, they would wait upon the table. We now held them to this agreement, and, as a righteous punishment for their contempt, determined to cut the dinner up into as many courses as we decently could, and make them wash the plates at the end of every course. The rest of the mess who had been abashed by our foraging and overawed by our experiments, became gradually interested, and joined in the work by inviting the guests, manufacturing a table, and chopping an immense pile of wood for the evening.

"Happy New Year's" came to us bright and clear, and the prisoners followed the old Dutch custom by wandering around and wishing each other happier returns of the day. At our "shebang" we were compelled to inform visitors that we received on the other side of the way. We were, in fact, busy beyond powers of description, scolding, as I have observed good cooks always scold, and ordering in the style that really talented artists always order. We had three fires in full blast -- one in our fire-place, one in our stove, and one under an independent pot. I observed, I regret to say, that one or two of the invited strolled up with a suspicious air, as if they really feared the invitation might be what the vulgar term "a sell," and the dinner so much moonshine. It was plain that they were not used to being invited out. As the appointed hour approached, the remarks of passers-by gradually called our attention to the fact that this was the coldest day ever known in Texas. (4° Fahr.) Some extra work was therefore necessary. We placed the table across the "shebang" directly in front of the fire-place, and close behind the table, hung blankets from the roof to the floor, thus curtaining out the cold after our Camp Groce plan. There were actually found crockery plates in camp just sufficient to go round, and also two naval table-cloths, which spliced, exactly covered the table. We devoted our last three candles to illume the festal board; and we built a fire over a back-log as large as a barrel.

As the hour of six o'clock approached our guests were adroitly intercepted at the door," and carried into a neighboring cabin, where they were entertained till wanted. When every thing was ready, the last finishing touches given, and the two waiters fully instructed with respect to some strategic movements to be executed behind a curtain, the door was opened, and our guests triumphantly marshalled in. As these misguided men, who for half a year had been devouring rations off of tin plates, and had not so much as heard the word table-cloth spoken - as they descended into the "shebang," they seemed to be fairly dazed with the splendors of the apartment. They sank into their designated seats, too much appalled to speak, and only talked in subdued tones after three or four courses. The first course was on the table. It consisted of soup and wheaten bread-flour bread, as it was vulgarly called in camp. I observed - at least I had a sort of suspicion - that one or two of the guests had an habitual idea that soup was all the dinner; for they looked nervously over their shoulders when an adroit waiter (with an eye to the morrow,) whisked the soup off the table immediately after everybody had been helped once.

The soup plates were removed by one waiter: he disappeared with them behind the curtain, and re-appeared with the dinner-set in about the time the other waiter had placed the second course upon the table. It might have been remarked that our soup plates were rather shallow, and our dinner plates, by contrast, rather deep; but the eyes of our guests were too dazzled to perceive such slight peculiarities. We knew that it was a wise maneuvre to show great profusion at the beginning of a dinner. The guests then have their anxiety allayed, and carry with them an overpowering idea of plenty, which of itself allays the appetite. Accordingly we double spotted this gun. At the head of the table appeared a dish not generally known or appreciated. Sweet potatoes and beef entered largely into its composition. A hungry naval officer had introduced it into the mess, and he called it scouse. Yet it served a certain purpose well, and was skilfully slipped in at this point to attract the attention of gentlemen with vigorous appetites. At the other end appeared a broiled spare-rib, and the lines of communication between these right and left wings were kept open by detachments of squash, turnips, boiled potatoes, and cranberry sauce. With secret pleasure we saw our friends lay in heavily of the scouse, and deceive themselves into the foolish belief that we had thrown two courses together, and that this was the dinner.

But the next course came on, with clean plates, in the imposing form and substance of a CHICKEN PIE. A magnificent chicken pie it was, filling an immense pan, and richly crowned with brown crust heaving up above the brim. It had no accompaniments save baked potatoes, and constituted of itself an entire army corps. No one associated with it the idea of anything little, or niggardly, or economical. On the contrary, all applauded, it enthusiastically, and declared that it alone would have made a dinner.

From the gravity of this heavy dish we passed to the gayety of mince and pumpkin pies. These were the only common-place things in the dinner. They were followed by a course of tarts - small, refined-looking tarts, elegantly covered with currant jelly and beautiful pear preserves. This course was surprisingly showy and genteel, impressing beholders with the idea that there must be a pastry-cook shop concealed somewhere in the camp. Our grand climax was one of those efforts of genius sometimes called "jelly-cake," sometimes " Lafayette cake," sometimes " Washington pie." It was some eighteen inches in diameter, and four or five inches thick, (the exact size of our dodger pot), a beautiful brown on the outside, and a rich golden yellow within, and when cut was seen to be divided by strata of tempting jelly. Finally, we closed with coffee (not corn, but Java) and tea (not Thea Chinensis, but Thea Texana), and tobacco inhaled through pipes, instead of through the original leaf. We broke up, after the usual four hours' sitting of a respectable party, with the usual courtesies and ceremonies. One or two late men stayed, as they always do, to tell their best stories; and one or two early men slipped off, as they always do, on the plea of domestic engagements. There was one or two small mishaps, such as a slight infusion of red pepper in the coffee (occasioned by one of the cooks grinding the pepper first), and the house getting a-fire (caused by the stoker piling the wood as high as the log mantel), but the affair, as a whole, was a grand, noble, philanthropic success.

For the benefit of those persons who (allured by the brightness of this report) desire to become prisoners, I will minutely narrate how this wonderful result was obtained.

The soup was real, and probably the strongest thing of the kind ever made, for a choice assortment of beef-bones were boiled for thirty-six hours. The turnips and spare-rib were a present from the Confederate Commissary, Lieutenant Ross, and came in the very nick of time. That solitary fowl we had discussed for a mile or two of our walk back, and had finally determined to put him in a pie. But the only pie-dish we could procure was a large tin milk-pan. To have a dish half full of pie would never do. It was necessary both to have pie enough and to fill the dish. From Confederate beef we selected pieces free from fat and grizzle, and then took the fowl and chopped him up bones and all. The beef was also chopped, and the two mixed thoroughly to­gether. The fragments of bone, to which some prejudiced housewives would have objected, were of great value to us in establishing the authenticity of the pie ; for a man who, with every mouthful he took, pricked his tongue on a splinter of chicken bone, could not doubt (if he were a reasoning creature) that he was eating chicken pie.

The next, and perhaps the greatest achievement of our art, was in the currant and cranberry line. We made, after many experiments, a strong decoction of sumach. Into this we stirred flour, slightly browned to reduce its color and take off the raw taste. When this mixture was properly sweetened and cooled it made a dark, pasty substance, looking and tasting precisely like poor currant jelly. The cranberry sauce was more difficult, and involved d repeated experiments. Finally a handful of dried peaches was chopped up, so that when cooked the pieces would appear about the size of cranberries. To get rid of their peach flavor, we soaked them and boiled them and drained the water off, and then cooked them slightly in a decoction of sumach, and added sugar in the usual way. Although every one must have known that there were no cranberries in Texas, yet no one dared to question the reality of this dish. It was not cranberry, but it was so like cranberry that they could not imagine what else it could be, and feared to betray their ignorance.

A shrewd observer will have noticed the fact that our invaluable peaches nowhere appeared on the bill of fare. Indeed they were very carefully kept out of sight, and did duty in the secret service. Those mince pies! They were made of peaches - of peaches and mince-meat, well flavored, and moistened with cider-vinegar. I cannot assert that they were poor, for we had no other mince-pies wherewith to compare them; I cannot deny that they were good, because they were all eaten up. The proof was in their favor.

The big pumpkin that we carried under one arm till benumbed, and on one shoulder till a stiff neck for life threatened us, was a very useful vegetable. In one course it appeared as squash; in another as pumpkin, and in. a third as pear. The chief cook recollected having seen or heard of pumpkin preserves, and our early experiments pointed to ultimate success. To succeed, however, the simplest common sense told us we must have a name for our invention. To call it pumpkin sweatmeats would ruin it. We knew that guava jelly and preserved ginger must become bankrupt under such a label. Accordingly we cut the pumpkin in pieces, like those of a quartered pear; we stewed it till it was not quite done (a little tough where the core ought to be) ; we spiced it with sassafras, prickly-ash, a few cloves, and the last half of a nutmeg, and we called it pear-preserve.

It will be remembered that I alluded to a gigantic cake, beautifully brown without and richly yellow within. This magnificent work of art, truth compels me to say, was a failure. Its golden richness was not due to eggs but to corn-meal. We mixed a dodger with some flour, to give consistence, and some sugar, to give sweetness. We baked it at the right time and in the right manner. We sliced it up, and daubed the slices over with artificial currant jelly. We went a step farther, and called it cake. We even varied the name of the cake, to meet the prejudice or fancy of the particular guest about to be helped. But vulgarly speaking, "it was not a go." We could cheat our guests through the medium of their eyes and ears in many things, but we couldn't cheat them on dodger. When they tasted dodger, they recognized dodger. Dodger for breakfast, dodger for dinner, and dodger for supper, in the course of half a year, makes a deep impression on the human mind. A little sugar and jelly were wholly inadequate to smooth it away. Here, then, in the very flush of victory, we were in danger of suffering a shameful defeat. Earlier in the dinner we could have brought up fresh forces, but now, in the hope of making the affair overwhelming, we had thrown our last reserve into action. A retreat was ruin, and an instant of hesitation would have acknowledged a defeat. In less than an instant we turned the retreat into a flank movement. Captain Dillingham, with naval effrontery, gave the cake a new name, and called it a JOKE!

Thus ended this great dinner. Our guests retired from it wiser and better men. A profound sensation was followed by a healthy excitement. Manufactures sprang up and trade began. Some gentlemen made caps from rags, and hats from straw. Others built a gymnasium for amusement, and others engaged in gardening for recreation. A few musicians manufactured banjoes, tanning the parchment and preparing the strings in camp. One officer, possessed of a worn-out file, a large screw, and a couple of old horse-shoes, ground the file into a chisel, and turned the screw and worn-out horse-shoes into a good turning lathe. Another changed this lathe from half-action to full-action. A third made for it a crank and foot-treadle. A fourth built an entirely new lathe, better than the first. And thus affairs went on until we numbered more than forty articles of camp manufacture made, chiefly, like our dinner, out of nothing.*

* Among these fabrics manufactured and sold by the prisoners in Texas, were:

Axe helves, Baskets, Blacking, Brooms, Candles (mould and dip), Chairs (arm and rocking), Chessmen, Checkermen, Crockeryware, Caps (military), Cigars, Door mats, Hats (straw) ; Musical instruments, viz., banjoes, castanets and triangles; Pails, Pepper-boxes, Pipes, Potash, Rings, Shirt-studs, Sleeve-buttons, Soap, Shoes, Tables, Toy-boxes; wooden-ware, viz., knives, forks, spoons, plates, dishes, bowls, salt-cellars, wash-boards.


 

 

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