From the Richmond Examiner, 6/29/1864
THE PRISONERS in Castle Thunder inaugurate high old times
occasionally, and break the monotony of prison life by breaking the rules and
each others' heads. Recently a grand pugilistic match was made up between the
friends of two of the best bullies within the walls. One wore his hair cropped
short, a la Heenan, and the other sported long matty locks that, like
Hobbs' last, strongest could not be undone or unraveled. The fight began, and at
the first round croppy seized the capillary appendage of his opponent, taking a
great hank out by the roots. Long locks called "quits" until he could
have his hair cropped so as to place him on an equal footing with his opponent,
and then went at it again. Bits of rations or pieces of tobacco are wagered upon
the result of these contests.
The prisoners also have established a court, which is no
mock tribunal either. A big fellow from Baltimore is prosecuting attorney. A
party caught stealing is put through a regular form of trial, and if convicted
goes under the lash on his bare back as seriously as though by due process of
law. Those who have means in the hands of the commandant of the post can buy
themselves off by treating the court and jury.
The warning, "who enters here leave hope behind,"
emblazoned over the entrance of the "Inferno," should be transferred
to the lintels of Castle Thunder, with the slight alteration, "who enters
here leave valuables behind." Daniel in the lion's den, without the divine
protection, would have stood no more chance of his life among the animals than
does a newcomer among the lecherous, thieving inmates of the Castle of
indolence, vice and cruelty. They watch for the coming victims through the
Castle bars, and their advent is signalled by the warning and rallying cry of
"fresh fish!" "fresh fish!" Knocked down, bleeding and
bruised, the new inmate upon his first introduction recovers from momentary
insensibility, perhaps to find either his clothing, money, jewelry, hat or boots
gone. Thankful that his life is spared he says nothing, and, if the "right
stripe," is soon one of them.
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