Theodore Roosevelt > New York > Page 170
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  New York.  1906.

Page 170
old City Hall, the old sugar-house of the Livingstons (a gloomy stone building, five stories high, with deep narrow windows), and most of the non-Episcopal churches were turned into jails, and packed full of prisoners. It was a much rougher age than the present; the prisons of the most civilized countries were scandalous even in peace, and of course prisoners of war fared horribly. The king’s officers as a whole doubtless meant to behave humanely; but the provost-marshal of New York was a very brutal man, and the cheating commissaries who undertook to feed the prisoners made large fortunes by furnishing them with spoiled provisions, curtailing their rations, and the like. The captives were huddled together in ragged, emaciated, vermin-covered and fever-stricken masses; while disease, bad food, bad water, the cold of winter, and the stifling heat of summer ravaged their squalid ranks. Every morning the death-carts drew up at the doors to receive the bodies of those who during the night had died on the filthy straw of which they made their beds. The prison-ships were even worse. They were evil, pestilent hulks of merchantmen or men-of-war, moored mostly in Wallabout Bay; and in their noisome rotten holds men died by hundreds, and were buried in shallow pits at the water’s edge, the graves being soon uncovered by the tide. In after years many hogsheads of



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