Immortal Six Hundred
October 1864, Union troops at Fort Pulaski accepted transfer of imprisoned Confederate officers who would later be known as The Immortal Six Hundred.
The officers' plight started in South Carolina when Edwin M. Stanton, Federal Secretary of War, ordered that 600 prisoners of war be positioned on Morris Island in Charleston harbor within direct line of fire from Confederate guns at Fort Sumter. Stanton's order followed word that 600 Union officers imprisoned in the city of Charleston were exposed to direct line of fire from federal artillery. The standoff continued until a yellow fever epidemic forced Confederate Major General S. Jones to remove the prisoners from the city limits. The federal command then transferred the surviving Confederate officers from the open stockade at Morris Island to Fort Pulaski.
October 23,1864, 550 tired, ill-clothed, men arrived at Cockspur Island. At first, the emaciated troops received extra rations, and were promised wool blankets and clothing. However, despite the best intentions of the garrison command, the prisoners never received sufficent food, blankets or clothes.
"After picking out the lumps, bugs, and worms in this rotten corn meal there was not more than seven ounces of meal left fit for use. About December 10th scurvy made its appearance in our prison amongst the weakest of the prisoners. Most every man in the prison was suffering more or less with dysentery and a large majority were from the starvation diet, unable to leave their bunks." Capt. J. Ogden Murray; VA. 7th Cav. Staff
"Two days ago, Lt. George B. Fitzgerald was taken to the hospital, and this morning announcement was made that "Fitz is dead". He was a confirmed opium eater; a poor, miserable wreck--ragged, filthy, lousy...He has had no blanket, no socks, hardly clothes to cover him; none of us could supply him, and he slept alone, covering himself with an old piece of tent fly...A graduate of West Point; a lieutenant in the old army, mingling with the Lees, McClellands and Grants..." Capt. Henry Dickinson; 2nd VA. Cav.
During the Immortal Six Hundred's incarceration at Fort Pulaski, thirteen persons died. The dead were buried on site at Cockspur Island, Georgia. Most died of dehydration due to dysentery. March 1865, prison survivors were sent to Fort Delaware where conditions were somewhat better than at Fort Pulaski.