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MRS. MARY B. MORRIS.
fered, perhaps, as great indignities, and was subjected to as much cruel and barbarous treatment as any other person incarcerated in the Bastiles of the country during the war. This lady, whose noble nature is overflowing with the milk of human kindness, was born in Kentucky, and reared beneath a Southern sky. Having removed to Chicago, some ten or twelve years before the breaking out of the war, with her husband, Hon. B. S. Morris, who was a staunch sup porter and able leader of the Whig party in the State of Illinois, and who looked upon secession as being wholly wrong, it was natural that she should entertain the same views. But it was 'equally natural that, when the war actually commencel, and the tread of hostile armies was pressing the soil that gave her birth, her sympathies should be enlisted in behalf of those who were near and dear to her by the ties of consanguinity and friendship — that her prayers should go up to the God of the Universe, supplicating Him to protect and defend them. That her sympathies were thus enlisted, that her prayers were of this character, was but natural, no one will deny.
The war progressed, fearful and bloody battles were fought, and, as one of the common results of the war, prisoners weru captured. And as, at the commencement, there was no cartel for the exchange of prisoners between the North and South, the prisoners on each side were kept in confinement, at different points where prisons were located, for their safe keep ing. One of these prisons was located at Chicago, and snown as Camp Douglas. It was here that Mrs. Morris commenced the ministrations
of kindness and love toward those unfortunate men who had been captured in battling for the lost cause. Many of these men arrived at the prison in the most destitute condition, some sick, some wounded, all nearly naked, the blood marking the tracks of their shoeless feet. Their suffering condition drew forth the sympathies of women born in the North, and it is but natural that those who had friends and relatives among them should endeavor to relieve their wants, and engage in the merciful mission of providing for them clothing, to protect them from the chilling winter winds, and in furnishing medicines and proper food for the sick and wounded in a strange land.
Seeing her friends and relatives thus circumstanced, the generous heart of Mrs. Morris was roused to action, and she immediately set about devising plans whereby she could at once ameliorate their sad condition. She applied to the commandant of the prison for permission to visit the hospitals, and, after numerous entreaties and appeals, she obtained it. From morn till eve did she sit by the bedside of the sick and dying, supplying the place of mothers far away. She took with her nice little dainties, that she knew so well were needed in sickness. Bed-clothing she furnished in large quantities, to make them comfortable. But not only did she Administer to the wants of the sick: she also took upon herself the duty of furnishing them well with clothing, of which all were scantily supplied; and so assiduously did she apply herself to the work, that in a short time she saw all of those poor fellows warmly clad.
The war went on, the strife grew deadlier, the breach wider, battles were more frequent and fierce, the worst passions of men were stirred up, and as all things grew worse, so the treatment of prisoners of war. Camp Douglas had a change of commandants-one that was not at all advantageous to the prisoners. An officer was placed in command who rejoiced over the death of any and all Rebels, and did everything that he could to render the prisoners under his sontrol more miserable than they were before. One of his acts was to prohibit Mrs. Morris from visiting the cantp.
This was the severest blow that he could have inflicted upon the unfortunate prisoners, and their sufferings were greatly increased. Still she did all that she could, not withstanding she was thus debarred from visiting the prison. She sent in food and clothing, but alas! the most of it was appropriated by the officers in charge. This privilege of sending in food and clothing was, however, soon denied her, and hence the charitable offices and humane labors which this lady had so arduously and constantly performed were brought to an end.
She had done all that she could, or was allowed to do, in this humane work. What she did, was done with the full knowledge and consent of those in command of the prison, with the exception, that on a few occasions, she furnished money to escaped prisoners to enable them to get to Canadal. These were mere boys, who, upon their arrival in Canada, were placed at school, and there kept until the close of the
So that, instead of working against the Government, she actually did it a service.
We give this brief statement of facts in order to show the malignity of the Government in the arrest and imprison ment of this estimable lady.
In November, 1864, the vindictiveness of the party in power was at its highest pitch, and all who dared to differ from it became the recipients of a relentless persecution. The Hon. B. S. Morris was one of this class, although obeying the laws of his country, and doing nothing but what the Constitution guaranteed him the right to do. At midnight his house was surrounded by armed soldiers. He was ordered to open his doors, when fifty soldiers, wearing the uniform of the United States, marched in, seized and dragged him off to prison. This was the commencement of the cruel treat. ment that was so mercilessly heaped upon Mrs. Morris. After they had imprisoned her husband, she requested that she might be allowed to see him. The answer from his bruta!
jailer was that “she would not see him again; that he would be hanged, and that speedily;” thus adding insult to injury, increasing the fears of a woman already racked with the pain of uncertainty as to her husband's fate.
But she was permitted to see him sooner than she expected, and under circumstances that she little dreamed of. In about four weeks after his arrest and imprisonment, early in the morning, she was informed by a servant that the house was again surrounded by armed soldiers. The cause of their being there she could not surmise — certahnly the United: States Government was not going to degrade itself by arresting a woman. Yes, this was the mission of its seventy-five soldiers, on that November morning. The house was opened, and the healthy and robust Captain of the Invaliil Corps, (into which he had got in order to keep at a safe distance from Rebel bullets,) after having placed some fifty of his men around the house to see that the object of his pursuit did not escape, marched boldly at the head of his remaining twenty-five men into the house, called for Mrs. Morris, and informed her that she was his prisoner. He then ordered her to produce all of her letters, that he might examine them This she was compelled to do. After he had examined them, and finding that no treason was contained in them, he concluded that the treasonable documents were kept back, and thereupon instituted a search himself. Ile ransacked every drawer and closet in the house, and carried off more than a bushel of letters, but found nothing objectionable. He then ordered her to go with him to prison. It being early in the morning, and having only thrown on her wrapper, she respectfully asked the privilege of putting on some more suitable clothing. She was informed that she would not be allowed to go out of his sight for one minute. She told him that she could not go out apparelled as she was, and must put on more comfortable clothing, and that he could go into her room and examine everything in it again, if he was not satisfied witli his first search, and convince himself that there was nothing there that she wished to destroy, or that he might