From the New York Sunday Mercury, 6/1/1862
THIRTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT, N.Y.S.M.
EN ROUTE FOR RICHMOND, VA., May 28.
Now that our forces are so near Richmond, a few incidents of prison life in the tobacco manufactories might be interesting to the reader in search of truth. After the Battle of Bull Run, on the 21st of July, 1861, among those captured I was marched to Manassas Junction, where we remained in the drizzling rain, which fell all night. Owing to the extreme fatigue of body attending on the heat of the day, forced marching, and the battle-field, I slept peaceably and sound, and for a moment on awakening the next morning, it was almost impossible for me to decide where I was; but gradually a vivid sense of my position forced itself upon me, and I realized that I was a prisoner. All day on the 22nd, following the battle, we remained standing in the slowly-falling rain, wetting us to the skin. Around us stood guards, close together, and beyond them a gaping multitude of idle gazers, looking at the "Yankees" – evidently, from the way they eyed us, supposing us to be some curious animal, and remarking: "Why, they look just like our folks!" "Lord, they're white folks just like we are." And asking us: "What made you come down here for?" All day long we were kept in this position, nothing given to us to eat, and-must I say it? – water could not be obtained, unless, thanks to God for the falling rain of that day, when caught in an India-rubber blanket, poured into a tin-cup. And bitter, brackish, sickish to the taste as was this water, 'twas like nectar to the half-famished men who, many of them, had not tasted a drop of water since the previous bloody day. About 5 o'clock, P.M., however, some hard biscuit and rancid bacon were divided among us, and we were marched to the railroad depot, and placed in baggage and freight cars, en route for Richmond. Here Fortune was propitious, for the rain dripping from the tops of the cars presented a rich harvest of pure water to the thirsty men. It was a perfect godsend. It was hard in the extreme to see the avidity with which the poor fellows sought to catch the falling drops, as their thirst was doubly increased by the salt meat just served out.
About six o'clock the next afternoon, we arrived in Richmond, and, well guarded, were marched through the streets, hooted, hissed, and blackguarded in a manner I could hardly have believed would have occurred in a city belonging to a civilized nation. But seeing what I have of them has changed my mind considerably. About dark, we reached one of the vile tobacco factories destined to receive us, and from whose doors many of the brave boys who entered them were never more to pass, until in a pine coffin, conveyed in a rickety cart, they should fill a grave in some distant portion of the negro burying-ground of the capital city of Virginia. Is it too much to ask one passing thought to those who thus died and still fill the humble tenement? In the building with myself were five hundred and thirty-eight souls-two hundred on one floor, and three hundred and thirty-eight on the floor above, these floors being some one hundred by thirty feet. Here, for some three or four weeks-if I may be allowed the expression-we were left to rot; and ere that time, vermin had made their appearance, and, notwithstanding all endeavors to the contrary, "reigned supreme." It was a fine specimen of close packing, at night, when we turned in, and it would have been difficult to one not accustomed to moving among a crowd to have made their way through the room with stepping on some part of the human mass that strewed the floor. Even in the day it was difficult navigation.
Lieutenant [David] Todd, of Kentucky, C. S. A., notorious for his cruelty, was in charge of us. Much has been already said of his treatment of our suffering prisoners of war. An incident, however, which I do not think has been in print, occurring at this time, and in which he was chief actor, will better prove his cruel treatment than any other I could mention.
One morning, in passing through one of the crowded rooms, stopped by the crowd who obstructed his passage, he bade them give way; they not obeying his order as quickly as he wished, he drew his sword, and making a step toward one of the nearest of the crowd, who belonged to the First Minnesota Regiment, passed it through the lower portion of the leg, and in withdrawing it he literally cut the piece of flesh to the bone. Remarking coolly, as he passed on: "Take care of the man and clear the road." This act was on par with his other cruelties while in charge. By his orders our prisoners were fired on in the windows, and no less than five wounded and three killed. Another day we were refused water for more than six hours in the day, for the mere crime of spilling some on the floor; and frequently our meals were not served until late in the day. Some four weeks after our arrival, the wounded from Bull Run arrived in Richmond, and some placed in the general hospital, and the remainder-by far the largest portion-conveyed to our prison, Hanwood's [Harwood’s] Tobacco Factory, on Main, corner of Twenty-sixth street, it being the most convenient of access and best adapted to hospital purposes.
After remaining in the prison hospital till the middle of November, I was removed to quarters, as they called the prison; here I remained until my return home. During my short existence in the den I saw hard scenes, as well as amusing ones; spent sad hours, and a few happy ones. In the room, here you'd see a sick man lying on the hard floor groaning; there, another who had lost his reason-several cases of this kind occurred; again, a party of bluff players appear busily engaged transferring from one to another Confederate shinplasters. In one corner is the bone manufactory, where from beef bones, rings, brooches, breast-pins, hair-pins, shawl-pins, and other trinkets are constructed by the workmen, and many were done in a masterly manner, and the proceeds devoted to obtaining the meal not furnished by the Confederacy, viz., dinner. At dinner, we had, bread, five ounces; beef boiled, five ounces; soup, one pint. No wonder many went hungry, and couldn't help it. In the centre of the room the stove, prison made (it is quite singular how many things a man can make if he will only take a hold and try), with a variety of different concoctions-quite as difficult it is to discover what they are made of as it is to understand how the pans are constructed in which they are cooking. Here, again, we have a grand drill of cripples we have been discharged as cured from the hospital, some minus a leg, some an arm, and others with a leg some three or four inches short. And as they go marching around the room, merrily going through the military drill, it looks comical in the extreme. I must say, the ones who seemed to have suffered the most pain seemed to be the merriest party of the lot. Some singing, others promenading, fill up the heterogeneous mass of prisoners of war.
On the 1st of January, we received news of our approaching freedom; and on the 3rd were marched to the steamer Northampton, on which we received one good meal-coffee, fried bacon and pork, chickens and turkey stew, and boiled corned beef. I suppose that they were trying to erase the impression of our former feeds from our mind, thinking that if we went home with full stomachs it would pay for our fasting the whole time we had boarded at the expense of the Southern Confederacy. That afternoon the old flag floated before us once more, and when it came upon us it was too much for us to bear. Our hearts overflowed, and every eye filled with tears, that had been long locked up in the adamantine chambers of our hearts. The stirring moment was deepened by the band on board the steam transport George Washington, which received us from the Confederate steam transport, striking up the old loved tune, "Home Sweet Home". And as the gentle strains floated over the quiet waters of the James River, and the Stars and Stripes waved above us, it seemed the happiest moment of my life. At Baltimore we were received by the Union Relief Associations, who treated us in good style. Our boys gave us a splendid reception in the regiment, and our colonel, a furlough. Since its expiration, I have been with the regiment. While passing through Williamsburg, a few days after the late battle, I was informed by two of my prison comrades, who were standing guard over the Secesh, that a number of the Fifth Georgia Regiment, who stood guard over us in Richmond last summer, were inside, and that they had recognized some of them, and been remembered by them in return. At this moment, I heard some one calling from the window, and discovered a Secesh, who said:
"Say, wasn't you the man who used to carry the bottles over after medicine from the place whar de sick Yankees was in?"
"Just so," said I.
"I reckoned you was. I stood guard over dem dare. Doesn't you remember me?"
"No, sir," I answered.
I thought his face familiar, but could not place him. As he belongs to the Fifth Georgia, I suppose he told the truth. It would be difficult for a person to have seen me passing across the Main street of Richmond with my armful of bottles, and a guard with musket and bayonet marching stiffly behind me, to have forgotten so novel a picture. Several of our regiment, also prisoners of war, recognized some of the Secesh soldiers, and conversed with them of Richmond. Sergeant C. W. Fairfield, captured while on picket last August at Munson's Hill, Va., saw the same party who captured him immediately. Other recognizances have been also made on both sides.
I hope I shall soon be able to write to you from Richmond, and I hope I may chronicle the delivery of our gallant major, James Decatur Potter, who has been a prisoner since the 21st of July last.
I remain yours, respectfully, E.H.K.
Edward H Kellogg, age 23, of Company K, 38th New York Infantry was mustered out with the regiment on June 22, 1863. He later served in the 17th New York, and 39th New York Infantry. According to his pension file, Kellogg listed his occupation as a journalist. In 1875 he married Marie Curtin of Brooklyn and the couple had two children. Edward Kellogg died on February 21, 1898 of heart failure. From Writing & Fighting the Civil War : Soldier Correspondence to the New York Sunday Mercury, by William B. Styple, et al., 2000.