WASHINGTON, October 22, 1861.
General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that immediatelyon the receipt of your instructions of the 7th instant I proceeded to the Put-in-Bay Islands, in Lake Erie, with the view of selecting one of them for a depot for prisoners of war, and the following is the result of my examination:
On the steamer island Queen which is engaged in the trade of those islands I passed round the outer ones known as the North and middle Bass, andpassed the night at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.
North Bass is about a mile across in any diretion; has upon it sufficient cleared ground for a depot owned by different persons who are engaged in cultivating the soil and fishing, who as I am informed would not be willing to give up their farms for any reasonable rent if at all as they have made their homes there. Theboat did not stop long enough to permit me to consult them. But the position of the island is such as to preclude its occupation as a depot. It is only four to five miles from the nearest of the Canada islands, the boundary lines being midway between them, which would afford a too inviting opportunity for their friends to attempt their rescue. Besides being so remote from the mainland and being almost entirely cut off from communication with it for weeks or even months at a time during the winter, it would be necessary to confine the prisoners within secure walls or the guard would have to be confined within a very defensible work to insure that the prisoenrs could at no time overcome them and make their escape into Canada. Further the island is so distant from sandusky, the nearest port, that it would not be possible before the navigation closes to erect the necessary quarters, hospital, store-houses, &c., which thedepot would require.
Middle Bass which is a mile within the outer island has all the objections to it which apply to North Bass, besides having no suitable cleared land upon it. I remained at Put-in-Bay till the next morning and visited the only ground which seemed available for the purpose. On the northwest point which forms the bay there is a space which by including some timbered land about ten acres may be cut off by a fence or wall 200 to 300 yards long from the lake to a slough. The point is a cold, bleak place in winter, exposed to all the prevailing winds. On cold, bleak place in winter, exposed to all the prevailing winds. On the other side of the slough is an open piece of ground, about twenty acres, but it could not readily be inclosed. The northeast point of the island could at little expense be cut off from the rest of the island, but it is occupied by a number of families who have planted vineyards which yield at the rate of $200 to $400 per acre and they could not be induced to rent their farms.
At the extreme point is a cleared space of two acres belonging to a tract of forty acres, but if it were suitable for the purpose and could be obtained the presence of the soldiers there would ruin all the vineyards on the island, there being only twenty to thirty families living there who could offer no resistance to the depredations of lawless men. Put-in-Bay is twenty-four miles from Sandusky, too far distant to afford a reasonable hope that the necessary buildings could be put up this winter when it is remembered that the navigation closes ordinarily during the first week in December. This island is also almosy entirely cut off from communication with the mainland during the winter and special arrangements would have to be made to secure the guard against a sudden rising of the prisoners.