Interior, Fort Jefferson
When he first arrived at the prison, he had assisted in the fort’s hospital, but after the escape, he was assigned to hard labor. However in 1867, a yellow fever epidemic broke out in the prison and shortly afterwards the prison doctor died of the disease. Dr. Mudd struggled with the desire to help and the fear of being unjustly accused once again should someone die under his care. In a letter to his wife, he said,
I felt that I had to make a decision, and although the rule of conduct upon which I had determined was not in accord with my natural feelings, yet I had the sanction of my professional and religious teachings and the consciousness of conforming to that holy precept, “Do ye good for evil,” which alone distinguishes the man from the brute.
Dr. Mudd, a devout Catholic, volunteered his services to help his fellow man, and as a result, very few of the infected died from the disease, yet one of his fellow accused conspirators was a victim. Dr. Mudd himself also contracted the disease, but fortunately survived. His efforts to help others prompted petitions from the soldiers to the president appealing his immediate release, but it took another year before the request was granted.
Dr. Mudd was finally free.
Many of us know what it’s like to feel imprisoned, if not by actual walls. Our past, our thoughts, our attitudes or our habits can trap us and take away our freedom. Sometimes it’s only when we lose our freedom that we appreciate it. But Christ doesn’t want us to be burdened that way.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1