U. S. MARSHAL'S OFFICE, SOUTHERN DIST. OF NEW YORK,
New York, October 28, 1861.
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
SIR: In obedience to your instructions I yesterday proceeded to Lafayette to examine the situation of the prisoners there, and in order to have the concurrent testimony of others I selected Mr. Simeon Draper, who is connected with the charitable institutions of the State, and Mr. Senator Ferry to accompany me. After a through examination of the situation of the prisoners there we came to the conclusion that sufficient food of a good quality was supplied to them, and that their wants in other particulars were well attended to with the exception of the cooking arrangements. Soldiers are employed to do this business who have no knowledge of it, and it would be desirable to have two cooks appointed who could attend to this branch of the department.
Amongst the prisoners we found a number of men who occupy no social position and who have no standing in the community and whose room would be more beneficial to the Government than the space they occupy. The main difficulty with regard to the comfort of the prisoners in the forts is the want of sufficient room, and by discharging those whom it is of no interest to the Government to retain this difficulty would be obviated. These men it would appear to me could not to do the Government any mischief, and it is only a matter of surprise how they came to be arrested. I would therefore advise that some competent person or persons should be named by you to examine into the charges against these men and report to you for you final action in the premises. Lieutenant Wood, in command of the fort, complains that his duties are very onerous, having in charge from $5 to $15,000 belonging to the prisoners which he disburses on their order. Of course under these circumstances his time is almost entirely occupied and he is unable to render those services which he ought to be able to render to the prisoners.
I have itation in saying that it would only be right and proper that he should have a secretary appointed to assist him, to be selected according to your instructions. I would suggest that as soon as the room could be spared that a hospital should be set apart for those who are suffering from sickness in order to separate them from those who are in good health.
Very respectfully, yours,
U. S. Marshal.
P. S. - Mr. Draper and senator Ferry concur in the above recommendation.
OCTOBER 29, 1861.
Respectfully referred to Lieutenant-General Scott with a request that he will make an order for the military matters within mentioned.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.