It only took Foote five days of being in Camp Oglethorpe before he mentions being sick in his diary. Many of the men suffered from chronic diseases like dysentery and scurvy due to poor sanitation and diet. His sickness escalated to an unremittant fever within days.
By late May, the Union prisoner population began swelling due to casualties in the Army of the Potomac engaged in Grant’s Overland Campaign. Foote mentions Generals Truman Seymour and Alexander Shaler coming in on Tuesday, May 24th. By the 25th of May Foote reported feeling better in terms of his fever but he acquired an eye infection on the 29th that caused some painful inflammation.
Enduring prison life at Oglethorpe
Besides enduring the challenging physical conditions as a prisoner of war, many soldiers also had to endure the emotional stresses. On June 3rd, a Friday, Foote records that Col. Egbert Olcott from the 121st New York Infantry came in and gave Foote news that his brother Frank was captured as well, and had his leg amputated. The news must have been devastating for Foote.
The next day, June 4th, a rainy day, Foote made an entry in his diary: “This place is decidedly better than Libby Prison. We get enough to eat here, of corn meal, bacon, rice & flour. The Generals and Staff draw their rations separately from the rest and get a little more.”
The next several days passed by in boredom and normalcy for Foote as his diary entries were sparse, often just mentioning it was raining, or hot; he washed his clothes, is feeling better, etc. But the entry on Saturday June 11th leaps from the small leather diary with disdain, “Rainy. Blue times. An Officer was shot this evening by a Sentinel, no provocation.”