ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington, May 1, 1862.
Colonel G. LOOMIS, U. S. Army,
Commanding Fort Columbus, N. Y.
SIR: In reply to your letters of the 26th and 27th ultimo I have respectfully to inform you that the prisoners lately received at Fort Columbus are to be treated like other prisoners of war. The circumstances under which they entered the rebel service are not to be made matter of inquiry by you. They will not be permitted to have their servants, but these last will be free to go where they choose. They will be permitted to hold intercourse with no one except on special authority from the Secretary of War. Letters to and from them will be subject to examination, and if objectionable in tenor will be forwarded to this office. Lieutenant Colonel William Hoffman, U. S. Army, has charge of the subject of clothing issued to prisoners in virtue of has office of commissary-general of prisoners. His address is Detroit, Mich.
I am, sir, &c.,
U. S. QUARTERMASTER'S OFFICE,
Madison, Wis., May 1, 1862.
Lieutenant-Colonel HOFFMAN, U. S. Army,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Detroit, Mich.
COLONEL: At the request of my agent I left Chicago yesterday to investigate and report upon the situation and condition of the prisoners of war at this point. I expected from his report to find a sad state of things, yet I must confess that their condition is even worse than has been reported to me. The prisoners were ordered here by General Halleck, and as there were no troops to guard them he ordered me to take the Nineteenth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers from Racine, Wis., and put them here for that purpose. This was done, but the regiment is perfectly raw, had no arms, and now only have those which I have borrowed from this State, only about 500, very poor and without ammunition to fit. I have applied for arms for this regiment but as yet have heard nothing from my application. But this is not the worst feature; I fear there is an utter want of discipline. Passes are issued broadcast to all to visit camp. Soldiers are allowed to tear down barracks to make themselves cook rooms, &c., though they have the best of tents with all of the conveniences. Quartermaster's property sent to camp on requisition is diverted from its legitimate purposes and appropriated in such way as the fancy of the officers or soldiers might choose. I have made every effort to have this all corrected, but I fear without satisfactory results. The hospital is in a terribly bad condition. There are many (200) sick. Bed sacks, camp cots, sheets, pillow-cases, &c., have been sent to the camp sufficient to make them comfortable, yet to-day I find prisoners helplessly sick lying on the bare floor, and many are dying I believe for the want of proper care and attention, and in fact, colonel, such a state of things indicates the utter incapacity or negligence of the medical officer or the commandant of the post. Can you not visit this point immediately? Call on me at Chicago and I will come up with you at once. There are about 1,260 prisoners here.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
J. A. POTTER,
Assistant Quartermaster, U. s. Army.