HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Saint Louis, Mo., April 3, 1862.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding Department of the Mississippi.
GENERAL: In obedience to Special Orders, Numbers 62, we have examined the condition of the prisoners at Alton, as also the cases of the prisoners arrested in Illinois for assisting in the escape of a prisoner of war, and beg leave to make the following report:
Number and character of prisoners. - The total number of prisoners under the charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Burbank is 791, of which 58 are officers, as follows: Colonels 5, lieutenant-colonels 2, majors 3, chaplain 1, captains 18, lieutenant 22, surgeons 7. Of these, one captain (Carey, of Missouri) and the seven surgeons are on parole restricted to the town of Alton. The prisoners are those taken at Pea Ridge, 459 in number; those taken at Fort Henry and its vicinity 130, and the balance composed of prisoners captured a Milford, of bridge-burners, soldiers arrested for pillaging, and disloyal citizens.
Quarters. - The quarters of the officers, privates and citizens were found to be excellent, certainly equal if not superior to those at Camps Butler, Douglas and Morton. About 300 are quartered in the penitentiary proper - not in the cells, but in the wide passage-ways running around the three different tiers of cells. The bunks are double and amply sufficient for two persons. The others are lodged in the different outbuildings, in large and well-ventilated rooms heated by stoves, and in reply to our numerous in regard to their quarters, bunks and bedding we heard but a single complaint. That was made by Colonel Stone, and referred to the absence in many cases of straw for bedding and to the fact the blankets of some of the prisoners had not been brought on from Rolla while en route from Arkansas to Alton. These wants, however, are now being supplied, as the commanding officer has directed the straw, blankets and clothing to be distributed according to the respective necessities of the prisoners. The prisoners are divided into twenty-six squads of thirty men in each. Two squads are daily detailed for police purposes and the cleanliness of their quarters depends upon their own care and taste. While the quarters generally were in a clean and healthy condition, as demanded and exacted by the U. S. officer in charge, it was very evident that some were better kept and in neater order than others. The officers were quartered together in a large hall, well ventilated and with abundance of room. In the cells there are confined twenty-four prisoners, part of whom have been sentenced and the others committed under serious criminal charges. None of these, however, are properly speaking prisoners of war.
Subsistance. - Rations are issued at stated intervals to the prisoners in the same manner and to the same amount as to troops in the service of the United States. These provisions (bread instead of flour) are delivered to the squad detailed permanently as cooks and in charge of the kitchen; are cooked by them and served in a large dining hall by the squad detailed for that particular duty. Fresh beef is supplied every day for dinner. The hall accommodates 300 at one sitting and the hours for meals (two each day) are fixed by the prisoners themselves. The kitchen well supplied with ranges and all the appliances for cooking. The dining hall and the different quarters were all inspected, and to our repeated inquiries as to the quality and quantity of the provisions allowed them every one with a single exception