Thursday, July 23, 2009

The steamer Evansville . . .

. . . with 360 Rebel Prisoners on board, from Island No. 10, and Lo Moth Hospital, bound for Prairie du Chien, came up yesterday afternoon, and while at the landing, wooding up, afforded a large number of citizens the opportunity of seeing a lot of genuine secesh. Through the politeness of the surgeon in charge, Dr. A. G. Quinlan, we were permitted to go on board and make a closer inspection than could be made from the shore. – Capt. O. C. Johnson, 15th Wisconsin with a guard of twenty men, constituted the escort. – The prisoners, as a general thing, were dirty and ignorant and possessed little of the bearing of soldiers, some wore semi uniforms of jeans and butternut homespun, and others were wrapped in blankets. About 250 of them were sick, and were stretched upon the lower deck, the floor in the cabin and in the state rooms. Nine have been buried since the boat left Cairo. Some of them seemed depressed and others satisfied with their lot. We conversed with an intelligent young man, who said he came from Alabama, not far from Montgomery. His company hand been in the service but a short time having been raised to fill up the First Alabama at Pensacola, but they were ordered to Island No. 10 and placed as a guard over the water batteries, which were spiked a few days before the surrender by a detachment sent from our gunboats. He stated that the rebel guard were compelled to wade in water to their breasts in order to reach the parapet upon which the guns were placed and many became sick in consequence. He, for one, was glad of the exchange.

There were many others of the same mind. – All were well satisfied with their treatment since their capture, and said it could not be better. Much amusement was created by a remark of one of them that, “you Northwestern men will fight, but your New England Yankees are another sort of men.” They seemed to have full faith in the ability of the hardy sons of the West but little in the Down Easters.

Three Rebel flags were exhibited, one of which bore the following inscription: “Mississippi Devils, presented by the ladies.” Another, a cavalry flag, “Victory or Death,” and the third “Alabama.”

The prisoners assisted in wooding, and the Surgeon informed us that they had done so during the trip. One fellow, whom we learned came originally from Vermont, and lately from Alabama, was extremely merry, and said he was only anxious to wood up in order to get the old tub up to Prairie Du Chien.

A number of ladies went on board, and some of them held interesting conversation with the Rebels, who seemed honored by their presence.

– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 26, 1862

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