my hands are so cold I can scarcely hold a pen, and know that before I finish this to night will have to warm them over the gas, for it's the nearest approach to fire we have, having been kept locked up in our cells (except for two meals per day) ever since John's escape, a week since.
So far we have gotten along very much better than I expected, supposing that from our close confinement to the cells a great many would have suffered from rheumatism, &c. Some two or three of the older officers have been made quite sick, but there is no help for it, as they are no longer allowed to be treated in the hospital. What may yet be the result if we are kept in our cells much longer I am afraid to say. Being blessed with an excellent constitution, I have had the good fortune to enjoy excellent health since my imprisonment and manage to pass the day very well, reading, singing, and whistling in very low tone, exercising as much as we can a room seven by three and six feet deep. It would be some consolation if I were permitted to talk to my next cell neighbor, but this is strictly forbidden, and if I am caught at it will be put in the "black hole," a place even smaller than our cells and where one can scarcely breathe, as I have been informed by some of my brother officers who have had the honor of visiting this secluded spot, who were placed there for such offenses as reading a paper or talking in a loud voice. It was only a few nights since that one of the officers was caught at night telling his next cell neighbor the day of the month, when he was taken to the "hole" and not even permitted to take a blanket with him, and a bitter could night, too. Just to think, this has to be submitted to or you are kept longer for complaining. This punishment is always inflicted by some of the penitentiary guard, whose duty during the day is to guard the convicts at work and for amusement at night to detect some of us infringing some penitentiary rule. Is not this pretty hard to bear? And still there is no help for it. Should we complain, to the military authorities their reply is, generally, "Make your complaints known in writing," which, when done, is the last heard from it.
To-day I asked Captain Lamb, aide-de-camp to the commandant of this post, by whose authority it was we were kept in solitary confinement. His reply was "that he did not know whether by military [or] State, or by orders of the warden of this penitentiary. " So, you see, between hawk and buzzard we are pretty well picked before going through all their hands.
Four days since we were visited by two officers, whose duty it was to inspect, which I assure you they did most effectually - taking away all the clothes which they had permitted us to purchase; also money, watches, knives, postage, stamps, tobacco, pipes, and various other articles too numerous to mention; suffice it to say, everything. "Man's inhumanity to man, &c. "
I have often heard our soldiers complain of their ill-treatment in Northern prisons, and always made allowance for exaggeration, but since I have experienced a little of their conduct toward prisoners it will most certainly have a great influence on my own conduct toward any prisoners I may ever take should I be so silly as to do so.
I am forming resolutions for the future, I think, rather prematurely, don't you think so? and had better wait until I get out of this, of which I see very little prospect at present unless John has reached Richmond and can there make some arrangement for exchange or succeed in having us placed in some other prison where we can receive such treatment as is generally extended toward prisoners of war.