War of the Rebellion: Serial 116 Page 0428 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

charge of them in accordance with the written request of Colonel Hoffman, commissary-general of prisoners, a copy of whose letter* is herewith inclosed. On the arrival of the prisoners at Columbus, most of whom were captured at Fort Donelson, they were disarmed, their arms being placed under charge of the quartermaster-general of Ohio and confined in the prisons at Camp Chase where they now are, being strictly guarded and thereby prevented from communicating with any persons whomsoever, except, however, such persons as are allowed access to them by the Governor.

His instructions for the maintenance of good order and discipline at the prisons are embraced in his Special Orders 202, 212, and 230 and are herewith+ submitted. My inspection satisfied me that they were and are faithfully and humanely enforced by the officer in command of the camp, Colonel G. Moody, of the Seventy-fourth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. A few of the prisoners as will be seen by the list have been paroled by the commanders of the Departments of the Mississippi and of Western Virginia and others by Governor Tod on account of sickness, an extension of their limits having been recommended by the surgeon. The latter in every case have been remanded to the prison limits on their restoration to health, but with the remainder it has been different. As, however, the Secretary's instructions did not permit any exceptions to be made I made none in my instructions to the Governor, as will appear from my letter submitted as a part of this report. ++

The prisoners on parole have the limits of the city of Columbus and report daily to the governor who, "under the belief that the Secretary of War was ignorant of the state of matters," states as will be perceived by his letter herewith inclosed @ that "he will defer sending them to prison until he can hear further from the Secretary. " All letters to and from the prisoners are closely scrutinized and the objectionable ones withheld. In future these will be forwarded to the Secretary in accordance with his instructions.

There are nearly if not quite 100 negroes among the prisoners captured at Donelson, most of whom were slaves and all of whom are considered as prisoners of war, receiving exactly the same treatment as other prisoners, and as evidence of this fact two of them have been paroled by Governor Tod on account of ill-health.

The prisoners are generally healthy, though shortly after the arrival of the Fort Donelson prisoners there was much sickness among them, the result it is thought of the great reaction which necessarily followed their capture. They are well fed and sufficiently clad, and notwithstanding they were informed by Colonel Moody who accompanied me in my inspection of the prisoners that they were at liberty to make known to me any complaints they might have none were made worthy of being brought to the notice of the Department. Their main desire was the restoration of their liberty, to obtain which some would gladly renew their allegiance to the Federal Government, and others while equally desirous feel that, having taken an oath to support or defend the constitution of the Confederate States, they cannot honorably take an oath which would conflict with this obligation, yet would joyfully return to their homes with a promise never to serve against the United States or aid its enemies. And there is a third class, pershaps a majority, who would give no promise except such as are usually required of


* Omitted here; Hoffman to Tod, February 28, p. 337.

+ Omitted here; see orders of February 27, March 2 and March 6, at pp. 334, 344, and 357.

++ Omitted here; Jones to Tod, April 3, p. 420.

@ Omitted here; Tod to Jones, April 3, p. 420.