FORT LAFAYETTE, October 8, 1861.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
SIR: The undersigned, prisoners confined in Fort Lafayette, are compelled to address you this protest and remonstrance against the inhumanity of their confinement and treatment.
The officers in command at Fort Hamilton and this post being fully aware of the grievances and privations to which we are obliged to submit we are bound for humanity's sake to presume that they have no authority or means to redress or remove them. They in fact assure us that they have not. Our only resource therefore is to lay this statement before you in order that you may interpose to prevent our being any longer exposed to them.
The prisoners at this post are confined in four small casemates and two large battery rooms. The former are about fourteen feet in breadth by twenty-four or thereabouts in length, with arched ceilings about eight or eight and a half fee t high at the highest point, the spring of the arch commencing at about five feet from the floor. In each of these is a fireplace and the floors are of plank. The battery rooms are of considerably higher pitch but the floors are of brick and a large space is occupied in them by the heavy guns and gun carriages of the batteries. They have no fireplaces or means of protection from cold or moisture and the doors are large like those of a carriage-house rendering the admission of light impossible without entire exposure to the temperature and weather without.
In one of the small casemates twenty-three prisoners are confined--two-thirds of them in irons--without beds, bedding or any of the commonest necessaries. Their condition could hardly be worse if they were in a slave ship on the middle passage. In each of two out of the three other casemates ten gentlemen are imprisoned; in the third there are nine and a tenth is allotted to it, their beds and necessary luggage leaving them scarce space enough to move and rendering the commonest personal cleanliness almost an impossibility.
The doors are all fastened from 6 or thereabouts in the evening until the same our in the morning, and with all the windows (which are small) left open in all weathers it is barely possible to sleep in the foul and unwholesome air.
Into one of the larger battery rooms there are thirty-four prisoners closely crowded; into the other thirty-five. All the doors are closed for the same period as stated above and the only ventilation is then from the embrasures and so imperfect that the atmosphere is offensive and almost stifling. Even during the day three of the doors of one of these apartments are kept closed against the remonstrance of the medical men who are among the inmates and to the utter exclusion of wholesome and necessary light and air.
In damp weather all these unhealthy annoyances and painful discomforts are of course greatly augmented, and where as to-day the prisoners are compelled by rain to continue within doors their situation becomes almost intolerable.
The undersigned do not hesitate to say that no intelligent inspector of prisons can fail to pronounce their accommodations as wretchedly deficient and altogether incompatible with health, and it is obvious as we already feel that the growing inclemencies of the season which is upon us must make our condition more and more nearly unendurable.
Many of the prisoners are men advanced in life; many more are of infirm health or delicate constitutions. The greater portion of them