ŇI will try to give you a little sketch of our fare while in Libby PrisonÓ
New Convalescent Camp near Fort Barnard
Sunday, May 24, 1863
Dear and Beloved wife and children,
To pass a few lonesome hours away I take my pen., hoping by the blessing of God that it finds you as it leaves me, and that is I am well and I pray it will find all the household the same. Oh, I am so homesick it seems as if I canŐt stand it much longer if I canŐt come home. To see you dear faces again would inspire me with a new life.
What I have recently passed through seems more like a dream than anything else I can think of. Sometimes I get a thinking and it hardly seems as if I had been in Richmond, yet it is true, and a prisoner of war and am now waiting to be exchanged to take the bloody field again. I think there will be harder fighting this summer than any we have had yet.
I will try to give you a little sketch of our fare while in Libby Prison. We were confined in the garret and the roof was covered with tin and in the heat of the day it seemed as if we would perish. Think to yourself of a room large enough to accommodate 20 or 30 persons conveniently and then place 3 hundred and 50 into it. The floor crawling with vermin and lice, water to drink that is too filthy for swine to drink. Our privy on one side of the room smelling strong from the use of so many persons, without any door to close it up. The floor covered with tobacco quids and tobacco juice with no place to wash ourselves from all this filth and scarcely enough to keep us from starving from what we had to eat, our rations consisting of a quarter of a loaf of bread about the size of our 5 cents loaves at home and a piece of meat the size of an oyster and if we approached near the window within 2 feet of it you were fired upon by the sentry below. And here, God help me, I have given you a sketch of life in Libby Prison.
We may feel thankful that we escaped so soon from that horrible place. We are now in a delightful place in a neat cedar grove and living in barracks as comfortable as home. Everything is cooked for us the same as at home, only everything is neat and clean and has to be kept so all the time. Church is held here 3 times a day and everything is quiet. There is some 200 government buildings here besides others. Sutlers, picture galleries, barbershops, and the railroad running through the Camp makes it quite a business place. After supper I go out and sit down in the shade and the thoughts of home and the dear ones there casts a glow over everything.
If I could only hear from you once I think I should feel better. I go to the Post Office when I know there is no use in it but I canŐt help it, I must do something. We are not allowed outside of the guards and they only extend around Camp and that makes it seem more confining for we have been used to ramble for some distance away from camp with nothing to stop us. Dear Clara, if God permits me to return to you again I will never say anything against going out walking with you. I used to think I was tired when you would ask me sometimes to go walking. But I have marched here as I never expected to march in my life. 23 miles from noon till night was not bad, under a burning sun. But that was as far as human nature would go and next morning I was so sore from chafing, I could hardly move. But it was only 2 miles to Richmond and I went it and rested in Libby Prison. It was Rebel Cavalry that marched us mounted and they had orders to cut down any men that straggled or fell behind. But it is done and I have come out all right.
Dear Clara, you will please answer this as soon as you get it and oblige your ever loving husband. Kiss my dear children often for me and take good care of your health. Give my love to all. I remember every one.
From your ever faithful and loving husband,
Sergt. Peter L. Dumont