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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 7, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)

Washington, D. C., October 31, 1864.

Colonel WILLIAM HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners:

COLONEL: By direction of Major-General Halleck, chief of staff, your attention is called to following extracts from inspection reports of Northern Department for months of August and September, 1864, viz:


August. -In my opinion Camp Douglas should be supplied with two howitzers and at least fifty rounds of ammunition (canister) to each gun. The prisoners of war are more uneasy than usual. the garrison is prepared for any trouble. The greatest annoyance in the prison square is the defective supply of water. The main pipe is three inches and the pipe to the hydrant only one inch in diameter. If a fire should break out in the barracks it would be impossible to get water enough to extinguish it. The Farmer boilers used in the rebel kitchens are worn out. Eighteen of them are unsafe and ought to be replaced without delay, otherwise it is but a question of time as to an extensive fire. the requisition for medicines for use of the prisoners of war were not promptly filled; the consequence, more sickness and more death.

September. -The camp has been improved in many particulars since my last report. Increased facilities for supplying the camp with water have been adopted. The barracks are being put in repair and a more rigid discipline instituted with the prisoners of war with a view to make them more clean and neat. There is an apparent restlessness that augurs mischief among them if they are not well watched. The garrison, in my opinion, is too weak for safety, especially at this time, when everything tends to show that the prisoners of war expect succor from some quarter. I would earnestly recommend that another regiment of veteran reserves be sent to this post or that means be taken to fill the Eighth and Fifteenth Regiments Veteran Reserve corps to their maximum number. From the construction of the camp (the prisoners of war at one end, the garrison at the other) a larger body of troops are required to effectively guard them, so as to prevent the possibility of an escape.


It is of great importance that the camps at Johnson's Island be supplied with water. Plans and specifications are now before the proper department in Washington. this recommendation has been repeatedly made. the hospital is entirely too small for the requirements of the garrison, largely increased.

Rations of prisoners. -In view of the very large number of prisoners within this command (nearly 30,000), it is respectfully submitted whether a change in the prisoners' ration may not be made. Certainly it would be economy to substitute, at least a portion of the time, corn-meal for wheat flour or bread, and that the prisoners be required to cook their own rations of flour or meal, even if obliged to furnish their own cooking materials. These prisoners, being located in a section of country where corn may be considered the staple, the saving of the large amount of grain consumed by them, which is the universal food of the army, would be a very large item.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Assistant Adjutant-General.

Washington, October 31, 1864.

Major-General FOSTER, Hilton Head:

GENERAL: Your letter of the 20th instant, transmitting General Hardee's proposition for an exchange of prisoners of war, has been submitted to Lieutenant-General Grant, who directs me to say that no exchanges will be made except on the field of battle, as provided in the cartel, without special orders, or through the duly appointed commissioners.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General and Chief of Staff.

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 7, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
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