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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 6, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
Page 434 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

If they should fall short in anything the responsibility would be on you, not on him. If the pumps cannot be protected against the frost in any way so as to prevent their freezing it will not be necessary to put in another one this fall. Can not they be inclosed in a box filled with sawdust or hay so as to keep them from freezing?

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. HOFFMAN,

Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners.


HEADQUARTERS CAMP DOUGLAS,
Chicago, Ill., October 28, 1863.

Colonel HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners:

COLONEL: In reply to your telegram I will state that twenty-six prisoners were confined in a prison which stood close beside an outside fence. Near the prison was an old sink for slops, nine feet deep and covered about six inches with gravel. The guard paced round outside the building. The prisoners cut a hole through the plank floor, then dug about four feet into the sink and then dug from the sink outside the fence about ten feet, all under ground, right under the feet of the guards. I cannot see how anybody is to blame for it. It is one of those desperate things that desperate men will sometimes do, and was done with great cunning, rapidity, and secrecy, as well as success. We have lost quite a number of men this month besides these, and be patient a moment or two over it. I came to this camp August 18 last. The whole thing, barracks, fences, &c., were all out of repair and very unsafe. On the 19th of August prisoners began to arrive and in a few days I had 4,000 to 5,000. For six weeks I had less than 600 effective men has garrison. During all the time we have been building, fencing, laying sewers, water pipes, &c. This has left large holes in fence, openings in the ground, and during the days there have been large numbers of workmen passing to and fro among the prisoners. Of course all this has produced confusion. Prisoners have slid out the holes in the dark, have passed out as workmen, and in a variety of ways have eluded the vigilance of the guards. The erection of the new fence has made them desperate and they have resorted to all manner of means to escape. Several have been killed and others wounded, and yet some escapes could not be prevented. The new fence will be completed this week and then escape will be next to impossible. There has been some bribery, no doubt, as there is constantly a throng of disloyal men and women here from Kentucky to test the virtue of every soldier they meet with money. The guard is in the same quarter with the prisoners, and this, with the large number of workmen constantly in with them, has given great facilities e. I have instituted some extremely severe punishments to restrain the men, with good general success, though there are perhaps a few exceptions.

Now, colonel, the success of any officer in keeping prisoners depends as much upon the facilities for safety and the strength of the guard as upon the vigilance and devotion of the officer. I tell you frankly this camp has heretofore been a mere rookery; its barracks, fences, guard-houses, all a mere shell of refuse pine boards; a nest of hiding places instead of a safe compact prison, and my guard has never yet numbered over 900 effective men. We have all labored as I never


Page 434 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 6, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
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