War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0516 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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placed at the disposal of the Secretary of War. I have dispatched him to know if the case of the severely wounded held by me would form an exception.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

L. POLK,

Major-General, Commanding.

ENGINEER'S OFFICE,

Camp Cairo, Ill., November 9, 1861.

Brigadier General U. S. GRAT, Commanding District.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the result of the expedition sent under a flag of truce to Columbus yesterday. On our arrival in the vicinity of the place a steamer carrying Captain Blake, assistant adjutant-general to General Polk, met us. I delivered to him your letter and offered him unconditionally the sick and wounded prisoners whom I had in charge. He informed me that orders had been recently received by General Polk respecting the exchange of prisoners and declined accepting those I offered until he could receive further instructions. He then left, saying we had permission to bury our dead on the field of battle. I placed a working party under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hart, of the Twenty-second Illinois Regiment, and sent them to the field where they were employed for the remained of the day in caring for the wounded some of whom were found yet there, and in burying the dead.

It was near sunset when Captain Blake again came on board our boat and handed me the communication from General Polk which I gave you last night on my return. He informed me that a dispatch had been sent to their Secretary of War in regard to the exchange of prisoners and that they had received no reply.

During the interval between the two visits of Captain Blake several parties of the enemy visited our boat, General Cheatham among them. he informed me that he had directed four of our wounded to be brought to us and asked if I would or any other number he would accept unconditionally but that I had no authority to negotiate for an exchange, and that as to the four of ours which he sent on board I would await the decision of General Polk. Several more of our wounded had been given into the care of our party on the field by Major Mason, quartermaster at Columbus.

These facts I mentioned to Captain Blake and told him that these thus put in our care awaited his orders as I wishes to avoid any appearance even of doing anything not in strict accordance with our obligations under the flag of truce. he replied that he did not wish to interfere with any arrangements made by others and I thought that under this state of the case bake the wounded men so politely offered by General Cheatham and Major Mason. It is due to the latter gentleman particularly to say that his disposition to do everything in his power to aid us in our mission of humanity was conspicuous during our entire stay there and certainly deserves our warmest appreciation.

At the second visit of Captain Blake to our boat he received the sick and wounded prisoners whom I again offered him unconditionally and they were put on board his boat. The number of our wounded as above stated from General Cheatham and Major Mason and brought up by me was thirteen.