Saturday, May 13, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: April 8, 1864

We are digging with an old fire shovel at our tunnel. The shovel is a prize; we also use half of canteens, pieces of boards, &c. Its laborious work. A dozen are engaged in it. Like going into a grave to go into a tunnel. Soil light and liable to cave in. Take turns in digging. Waste dirt carried to the stream in small quantities and thrown in. Not much faith in the enterprise, but work with the rest as a sort of duty. Raiders acting fearful. Was boiling my cup of meal to day and one of the raiders ran against it and over it went. Give him a whack side of the head that made him see stars I should judge, and in return he made me see the whole heavens. Battese, a big Indian, rather helped me out of the scrape. All of our mess came to my rescue. Came near being a big fight with dozens engaged. Battese is a large full blooded six foot Minnesota Indian, has quarters near [us], and is a noble fellow. He and other Indians have been in our hundred for some weeks. They are quiet, attend to their own business, and won't stand much nonsense. Great deal of fighting. One Duffy, a New York rough, claims the light weight championship of Andersonville. Regular battles quite often. Remarkable how men will stand up and be pummeled. Dr Lewis daily getting worse off. Is troubled with scurvy and dropsy. If he was at home would be considered dangerously ill and in bed, but he walks around slowly inquiring for news in a pitiful way. I have probably fifty acquaintances here that visit us each day to talk the situation over. Jimmy Devers, my Michigan friend whom I found on Belle Isle, Sergt. Bullock, of my regiment; Tom McGill, also of Michigan; Michael Hoare, a schoolmate of mine from earliest recollection, Dorr Blakeman, also a resident of Jackson, Michigan, a little fellow named Swan, who lived in Ypsylanti, Mich.; Burckhardt from near Lansing; Hub Dakin, from Dansville, Mich., and many others, meet often to compare notes, and we have many a hearty laugh in the midst of misery I dicker and trade and often make an extra ration. We sometimes draw small cow peas for rations, and being a printer by trade, I spread the peas out on a blanket and quickly pick them up one at a time, after the manner of picking up type. One drawback is the practice of unconsciously putting the beans into my mouth. In this way I often eat up the whole printing office. I have trials of skill with a fellow named Land, who is also a printer. There are no other typos here that I know of.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 47-8

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