RICHMOND, VA., August 8, 1861.
Honorable L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War.
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter informing me that the Surgeon-General had called the attention of the Department to the crowded condition of the prisoners. In answer I have the honor to state that the crowded state of the prisoners arises entirely from the fact that one of the buildings occupied by prisoners was vacated at the request of the Surgeon-General himself to be used as a hospital. As this evacuation was done at a few moments' notice another house could not be procured as readily as the other was vacated, but I immediately set to work to procure a house and I shall occupy it to-day. I thin, the complaint of the Surgeon-General was premature.
As to the police of the prisoners the crowded condition complained of was brought about by crowding the prisoners from three buildings into two for the purpose of accommodating the Surgeon-General. I have endeavored at all times to keep the prisoners in good condition and have always taken the responsibility to procure all that was necessary to accomplish it. I have been very much hampered for want of proper officers, finding it very difficult to procure them. I never send prisoners out of town without express orders to that effect.
I respectfully think the complaint of the Surgeon-General was to say the least premature.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO H. WINDER,
Brigadier-General, in Charge of Prisoners.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, August 9, 1861.
His Excellency HENRY T. CLARK, Raleigh, N. C.
SIR: Your letter of late date, inclosing report of John D. Whitfield of ordnance stores necessary for the defense of North Carolina, has been received. This report has been referred to the Ordnance Department, and will receive due attention. Travis Southall, of Williamsburg, Va., having been arrested as a spy, was sent to Raleigh for confinement. There appearing no evidence to justify his detention you will please order his immediate release.
Your Excellency's letter of August 6, relative to the prisoners now in confinement at Raleigh, has been also received. This Department cannot authorize the release of any of the prisoners mentioned upon their oath not to serve against the Confederate States, nor could the foreigners among them whom you mention be admitted to join our volunteer ranks. Rossvally and Widgen, having been arrested not as prisoners of war, are certainly entitled to the writ of habeas corpus, but this Department takes the liberty of reminding Your Excellency that it has been the uniform practice of the courts in similar cases not to grant discharges except by the authority of the Government, or after full legal process.
With regard to the sailing master who was captured by the authorities of North Carolina before that State became a member of the Confederacy, this Department does not assume to exercise control.
The Department begs leave, however, to suggest to Your Excellency a doubt as to the policy of discharging the prisoner unless the evidence