HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Richmond, March 19, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.
SIR: I have been requested to make several inquries at your Department which I will make in writing: First. Is there any arrangement existing at present by which our prisoners can be exchanged? Second. Can passports be obtained by persons of Maryland to return from the States of the Confederacy home, on showing their loyalty to the Confederate States or rather the South? Third. Are letters to foreign parts (say Europe) permitted to pass from Norfolk to Fortress Monroe at present? Fourth. Have you decided upon the application of J. C. Stewart to be discharged from the service as a private which I sent you some days since? The application was indorsed by Governor Clark, of North Carolina.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
B. S. GAITHER.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND FLORIDA,
Pocotaligo, March 19, 1862.
General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.
GENERAL: I am informed that nineteen prisoners of war taken on board the U. S. transport steamer Osceola near Georgetown, S. C., have been in confinement in the prison at Marion Court-House since 22nd of November, 1861. These prisoners are represented by the sheriff of Marion District to be in a suffering condition for want of clothing and I am requested to have them removed or that measures be taken for their exchange.
The subject is respectfully referred to the War Department.
J. C. PEMBERTON,
C. S. STEAMER SUMTER,*
Bay of Gibraltar, March 19, 1862.
Honorable JOHN SLIDELL, Commissioner, &c., Paris.
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your note of the 8th instant informing me that you had referred the subject of the capture of Paymaster Myers and Mr. Tunstall to Mr. Thouvenel, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, but that the impresion prevailed in Paris that those gentlemen had been liberated. With regard to the latter fact you have of course been undeceived before this.
The enemy's sloop of war Ino came into the Spanish port of this bay (Algeciras) with the prisoners on board on the 28th of February and sailed again on the next day. On the 6th of March she appeared off Cadiz, and after having communicated with the U. S. consul at that port tranferred the prisoners (six miles outside of Cadiz Light) to the U. S. merchant ship Harvest Home, bound for Boston, so that probably by the time this reaches you the gentlemen will be in Fort Warren. The French consul-general at Tangier must have kept his Government badly informed on the subject, since the latter supposed as late as the 8th instant that the prisoners had been liberated.
*Letter of Semmes to Mason of this date omitted, being substantially same as this to Slidell.