of State that the political prisoners confined at Fort Lafayette shall be decently lodged and subsisted unless they prefer to provide for themselves. " About the same time I was advised by Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, commanding this post, that his instructions were "to treat us kindly but keep us safely. "
I beg leave, sir, to inform you that your order has not been complied with. It cannot be considered a "decent lodging" to put a number of gentlemen accustomed to the comforts of life to sleep in one low-vaulted room, in or at the door of which they are confined except for two hours in the twenty-four. The number sleeping in the room in which I am now placed has varied from five to seven. There are now here six of us.
The only subsistence provided for us by the Government as the alternative of our providing for ourselves has been the proffer of the single ration distributed here to the private soldier which is inferior both in quantity and quality to the fare furnished to the convicted felons in many of the jails and penitentiaries throughout country.
And this is the "decent subsistence" offered to men who have been arrested and are held on suspicion only, and who have not ceased to demand an open investigation of any charges that may possibly have been preferred against them--a demand which has been persistently denied.
I have no grounds for imputing to Colonel Burke or the officers of this garrison any intentional disposition to treat us unkindly; but acting as they state themselves to be in obedience to the orders which they have received we are subjected to various harsh and arbitrary restrictions which are utterly irreconcilable with the idea of kind "treatment," whilst they are equally unnecessary for the insuring of our safe-keeping.
I deem it useless at present to go more into details as I have already described the condition in which we are placed in three communications to the honorable the Secretary of War on the 1st, 7th and 12th instant respectively and in one to Lieutenant-General Scott on the 8th instant, of none of which does any notice appear to have been taken.
Should you, sir, however desire a fuller statement than I have here made to be addressed directly to yourself one shall be forwarded as soon as I may be apprised of your wishes.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
FORT HAMILTON, NEW YORK HARBOR,
August 27, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington City, D. C.
SIR: In forwarding to the general-in-chief through you the communication of Lieutenant Wood, commanding Fort Lafayette, in continuation I will add that the request of the lieutenant-general (as everything coming from him) was attended to with marked respect. When the general-in-chief gave permission that Mrs. Howard with Mr. Benjamin Howard should visit Mr. Howard in prison I sent the officer of the day over with her.
Mr. Howard has ever been treated courteously by my officers. Upon his solicitation I believe newspapers were allowed to the prisoner. This of course was kind and proper. His family and that of Mrs. Howard