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In Their Own Words

April 04, 1865

Journal Entry on Seeing Andersonville Prisoners

From Smithville, Ga., Eliza and Metta Andrews waited to catch a train while visiting their sister near Albany. At the depot, they watched a train go by carrying Union prisoners just released from Andersonville Prison by Confederate authorities:

“Up early and at the depot… .We had to wait five hours there for the train to Cuthbert. The hotel was so uninviting that we stayed in the car, putting down the blinds and making ourselves as comfortable as we could… . Just before the train arrived on which we were to leave, there came one with 1,100 Yankee prisoners on their way from Anderson en route for Florida, to be exchanged. [This was a mistake. The Confederacy having now practically collapsed, and the government being unable to care for them any longer, the prisoners remaining in the stockade were sent to Jacksonville, where the Federals were in possession, and literally forced back as a free gift on their friends.] The guard fired a salute as they passed, and some of the prisoners had the impudence to kiss their hands at us - but what better could be expected of the foreign riff-raff that make up the bulk of the Yankee army? If they had not been prisoners I would have felt like they ought to have a lesson in manners, for insulting us, but as it was, I couldn’t find it in my heart to be angry. They were half- naked, and such a poor, miserable, starved-looking set of wretches that we couldn’t help feeling sorry for them in spite of their wicked war against our country, and threw what was left of our lunch at them, as their train rattled by, thinking it would feed two or three of them, at least. But our aim was bad, and it fell short, so the poor creatures didn’t get it, and if any of them noticed, I expect they thought we were only “d - d rebel women” throwing our waste in their faces to insult them. I am glad they are going to be exchanged, anyway, and leave a climate that seems to be so unfriendly to them, though I think it is the garden spot of the world. If I had my choice of all the climates I know anything about, to live in, I would choose the region between Macon and Thomasville… .”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl: 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 131-133.