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IN ANDERSONVILLE AND OTHER
Experiences, Observations, Interviews and Poems
An Appendix Containing Statement
JOHN WORRELL NORTHROP
Shut in a prison vast
From The Vision of North.
PUBLISHED AND COPYRIGHTED BY THE AUTHOR
WICHITA, KANSAS, 1904
Tears! Men had no time for tears
When battle waves rolled fierce and high, Could only fight; they had no time for fears!
When comrades fell, could do no more than sigh, Press to victory, or, if driven to defeat,
Bow in grief when waned the battle's heat.
Comrades slain were scattered on the way,
On fields, in woods where was met the foe That came to kill where we had come to slay,
Met as wave meets tide in ocean storms that blow; But men who war must not seek time to weep,
Must go where duty calls, though death shall reap.
Sad visions from distant and the yore
Rise in the heart and in sad memories,
Like shadows grim bedim the Veteran's eyes.
For hearts are blest where truth and valor reigned.
Far o'er the distant list to battle's roar!
Time, like a valley mead, lies 'twixt us and the scenes Where our fading lines shall march and fight no more,
Nor countermarch the way that intervenes. The shining river lies just on before;
We shall cross, anon, where the van passed o'er.
O, may the deeds which higher justice sought,
Which sought to strengthen Freedom's loftiest fane, Be by no recreant head, or hand, unwrought,
To grieve the souls who for the right were slain;
-J. W. NORTHROP.
From boyhood to mature years I was accustomed to write occurences of personal and general interest, often daily, sometimes summarizing several days, noting what I read, heard and
After going into the army I practiced this custom as circumstances allowed, not for use publicly, but for self-entertainment and improvement. Becoming a war prisoner in 1864, I was naturally impressed to practice my diary habit. I had a burning desire to note everything, which led to finding a way, more or less crude and inconvenient, to write what I did. Prison life furnished an unwelcome but unique field for daily journalizing. To avoid the idleness and ennui incident to my misfortune, I made it an occupation to observe, to hear, to meditate, to write. A partly blank diary and every piece of paper I could get hold of, became precious. I wrote fine and skeletonized. In my “teens” I had "fits" of poetic composition. I indulged and invited the bent. For all of the imperfections of these effusions, they brought to my brain a new and pleasing vitality; a light to my mind that darkest shadows could not dim; a hope and a purpose terrible realities could not obscure. I grasped the idea that an active, cheerful mind imparted added life to the body and strength to the soul. Though bound in conditions conducive to indolence, sloth and imbecility, I sought and found occupation that kept Giant Despair at a distance. Keenly realizing pending evils meant squalor and death to the imprisoned multitude, I lived in my thoughts, feasted on the glory of a higher plain. At times I lived in a world distinct from all but a few comrades, though sharing the fate of all. Some ridiculed my devotion to my work. They could not, would not write of the dreadful daily happenings—they wanted to forget. Productions "inspired by prison grub” were anomalous. So I wrote without thought of publicity, feeling that my efforts, my ideals and silent aspirations brought a steadying element to my life and raised my mentality beyond the miasms of the “Slough of Despond." It was three years after the war before I copied my prison manuscript and partly published in a newspaper There are occasions when it is good to speak of disagreeable things and to think of ideals beyond the scope of inexorably painful conditions. It lifts the better-self beyond the harm of their
The book that follows is a diary of prison life and events at Andersonville, Ga., Florence, S. C., and other places, journeyings from Virginia battlefields to those places, and the final restoration to the Union lines; a succession of interesting, sad, and unusual incidents and of patriotic sacrifices made by thousands of brave men for this country, and an exhibition of
many phases of human nature under unprecedented circumstances of cruelty, adversity and deprivation. A number of the poems are contained in the order of the date of writing as part of the diary, and others follow the concluding sketches entitled, Prison Psalms.
Time is passing. Those who fought, suffered and survived to save coming generations from consequences worse than war, all of which must have entailed war, eventually will follow comrades gone before. Hence, I deem it a highly patriotic duty to place these annals, which it was the lot of but few to record, though many saw and felt, before the public. Here is chronicled what ordinary history has not recorded, and that which all lovers of their country and of mankind should read. Young men and young women without definite facts of prison life, written daily, cannot comprehend the weight of all the perils and privations borne by men who fought for their country in the war for “Union and Liberty
one and inseparable.” Life in Rebel prisons tried men's souls as well as their bodies, showing grand loyalty and sacred devotion to justice and liberty bordering on martyrdom. If the Chronicles teach lessons of patriotism, the principal motive of the writer in publishing them will have been gratified. If they teach other lessons, so much the better. If they contain literary qualities they may exceed my claims.
Two historical introductions concisely detailing important events leading to the war, and immediately following the election of Abraham Lincoln, precede the Chronicles, the value of which for easy epoch reading, exceeds the price of the book.
That which is dead of the past, cannot be written into life. But there is that in all the past without which the present would be blind, the future blank. The past speaks to the future. Though behind, it is before. Even of its wrongs we learn lessons of truth, of right, of progress. The past links the future to that still beyond, that must evolve out of the past elements for better building and the glory to be. The wrongs of the past forgive; their lessons never forget. They are lights on the shore of billowy seas of moral advancement. The soldiers dead live; those living have more to live for, to hope for, to work for. While living, wait not to die. Let there be no straggling in the ranks of the army of freedom. We dwell in the present, our work is not done.
Forty years have passed since the beginning of the Chronicles, covering less than a year, but they are history written con