Southwestern Historical Quarterly
after an unsuccessful attempt to escape, Major John A. Bering
and Lieutenant W. J. Strofe, 48th Ohio, were able to secure "the
use of a yoke of oxen, to haul logs" for their cabin.18 By March,
1865, the number of prisoners at Ford had declined enough that
one small group of newcomers apparently found the existing
One of the real assets of Camp Ford was an abundant supply of
water. A large spring just outside the western wall of the stockade
provided a cool, clear stream which flowed eastward through the
prison grounds. One Federal officer thought the precious liquid
"impregnated with iron and sulphur" and, therefore, "a perpetual
tonic." Several wooden reservoirs were used to collect the water
for human consumption."'
Little official or reliable information has been uncovered con-
cerning the rations issued to prisoners at Camp Ford. Presum-
ably the general Confederate policy that prisoners were to re-
ceive the same rations as those issued to Confederate troops was
followed at the prison. There is, however, considerable testi-
mony to the effect that the full, standard ration was not available
during the last year of the war.
A chaplain who reached Ford on April 15, 1864, afterwards
recalled that during the "first two weeks we received full rations-
a pound of corn meal unsifted, and about a pound of beef;" the
other items supposed to be in a ration were not mentioned.1 A
regimental history relating experiences from April 15 to October
1, 1864, noted that rations,
which consisted of one pint of corn meal and about half a pound of
fresh beef (Salt was issued in such small quantities that it scarcely de-
1SJohn A. Bering and Thomas Montgomery, History of the Forty-eighth Ohio
Veteran Volunteer Infantry: Giving a Complete Account of the Regiment from Its
Organization at Camp Dennison, Ohio, in October, z86z, to the Close of the War,
and Its Final Muster-Out, May zo, 1866 ... (Hillsboro, Ohio, 188o), 251, also
14Arthur E. Gilligan Diary, March 18, 1g, 1865 (typescript, Archives, University
of Texas Library).
a5Duganne, Twenty Months in the Department of the Gulf, 336; Woldert, History
of Tyler and Smith County, 39, 45; S. A. Swiggett, The Bright Side of Prison Life:
Experiences, In Prison and Out, of an Involuntary Sojourner in Rebeldom (Bal-
timore, 1897), 44.
1oMcCulloch, Reminiscences, in Baker, Camp Ford, 89. A full ration called for
twenty ounces of beef and eighteen ounces of corn meal.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed July 2, 2015.