December 21, 1864
Letter From Lieut. Melvin Richards. – Mr. Dillon yesterday received a letter from Lieut. Melvin Richards, of Carlin’s battery, who was captured by the rebels on the Hunter raid and who has since been confined in different Southern prisons. The letter is dated at Sorghumville, near Columbia, South Carolina, Dec. 8th and was brought through by a Lieut. Kidd, who came away for special exchange. – Lieut. Richards says the prisoners have nothing to eat but meal, rice and Sorghum which they are not even allowed to prepare to suit their tastes. He says he was always very fond of meal and rice and for eighteen or nineteen hundred meals he could manage to worry it down, but he don’t like it as a regular diet. The prisoners have had no meat or lard or any animal food of any kind issued to them since October last. They get five pints of meal, half pint of shorts, one pint of rice, two tablespoonfuls of salt for five days as much sour Sorghum as they want. Lieut. R, has never received any of the money sent him by his friends. He has received several letters but the money sent in them had been abstracted from the envelope. Capt. Craig of the 1st West Virginia Infantry received a letter a short time ago which had been broken open and the money abstracted. The only way prisoners can get money is to have it secreted in a box, which may be done in various ways, one of the best of which is to knock the box apart at the end. Then bore a three-eighth hole with the grain of the wood, put in ten gold dollars, plug up and nail together, putting a drop of ink or some such significant mark on the spot.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1864