take charge of the prisoners of war at Camp Morton perhaps you will accord me some space in your columns for the statement of a few facts regarding the orders given and the manner in which they are carried out.
It would be unnecessary to trouble you it these animadversions touched only myself, feeling that I have rigidly and energetically discharged the duty assigned me in a manner which would meet I think the approbation of that strict disciplinarian, General Wool, by whom in Mexico I was formerly taugh that constant vigilance which should characterize a soldier. Expecting also if I live to the close of the war to return to my cherished pursuit of science, the mere question of popularity, much as I desire the approval of the good and wise, would not affect me. But that the duty of guarding the prisoners assigned to Indiana for safe-keeping should be faithfully performed is a matter of State pride, and the discussion as to the best policy therewith connected is really a national question. To permit escapes from the various camps would indicate a want of strength in the State and Nation, and to render the confinement close and irksome would offer stronger indusement for the prisoners to attempt an escape as well as probably increase the sickness and consequent expense.
On the other hand so to arrange and systematize as to have strict discipline and order, yet to grant such privileges as were consistent with safe-keeping and such comforts as could be realized by a regular and authorized saving from their rations without costing the Government a dollar, seemed (even if better treatment than they deserved as some contend) at least calculated to make them less restless in their confinement and likely when they return to their homes to spread among the or friends and acquaintances the news that they had been deceived regarding Northern men; that most of them never entered on this war solely for the purpose of depriving the South of her negroes as they had been led to suppose. All the above plans have been carried out. Through the savings on rations there have been furnished tobacco, stationery, stamps, wheelbarrows and tools for policing, scissors for cutting hair, plank and nails for making bunks, lines for airing clothes, leather for mending shoes, thread for repairs, &c. ; also additional vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, and some extra supplies of molasses.
Governor Morton directed that there should be no personal interviews between friends and relatives visiting camp and the prisoners inside. It is, however, permitted to send off andf receive written communications after being subjected to inspection, either through the post-office or through such private sources as come properly recommended to headquarters. This involves an immense amount of trouble and importunity, often seconded by strong letter from gentleman who themselves condemn interviews and yet urge that their friends should be allowed to gratify their curiosity. Theoretically it is easy to deal out stern justice, but it requires a strong sense of a soldier's first duty, obedience, to refuse to the tears of a mother one glance at her erring son or to deny to the stifled sobs of a wife a "God bless you" for the farther of her children when these scenes occur under your own eyes. The inspection of letters, the large issue of stores, wood and straw, the detailing for hospitals and squads for the burial of the dead, the answers to an infinitude of written and verbal questions, the receipt and disburnsement of money, the attention to health and cleanliness, the policing of premises, the adjustment of small grievances and difficulties, all make a great draft on the time and patience of those connected with the charge. Indeed our officers and men, particularly the latter, are