War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0023 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -UNION.

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way toward Arkansas with the intention of serving in the rebel army. Many of these men now claim to be exchanged as prisoners of war. I ask to be instructed as to what I shall do with them. And at this point I desire to call your attention to that clause in your letter of the 20th of September above quoted. I have acted upon that, as making it obligatory upon me to release any prisoner of war who offers to take the oath. Would it not be safer to leave it to my discretion to refuse a release where I entertain serious suspicions as to the good faith of the prisoner? And another question has arisen in my mind under that clause. It is whether deserters from the rebel army who deliver themselves up as prisoners are to be entitled to a release upon taking the oath. A few days ago a man came to my office professing to be a deserter, having safely passed the lines and reached Saint Louis without being questioned. He asked to take the oath and be released. From his manner and appearance I thought it not unlikely that he was a spy, and yet it was but suspicion that I felt. In such a case if the rule you have established leaves it to my discretion I would hold the man in custody until satisfied of his honesty.

In your letter to Colonel Grantt of the 13th* of October you direct that prisoners sent to Alton must be accompanied by a full list, giving all the details required by the printed rolls, and that they must be sent to arrive in the daytime. A large number of irregular prisoners are sent to Saint Louis picked up by detached companies in this State. They sometimes pass through two or three hands before they reach me. They are guerrillas or bushwhackers and marauders of various kinds. All that I can learn about them is from the evidence taken to prove their acts, and it contains generally no particular beyond the county, and not always that. It is impossible to give all the particulars in such cases. When bands of men are captured they are often sent forward with only their names and the general proof against the entire body. The officers who capture them send them here for imprisonment without delay, and all that they can know is that they were captured as a marauding band in arms but without permanent officers of organization. When prisoners sent from here reach Alton after dark it is in consequence of the necessity of sending them by the daily packet which starts in the afternoon and is sometimes detained.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant-Colonel and Provost-Marshal-General.


Near Sandusky, Ohio, December 3, 1862.

Colonel W. HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners:

Inclosed you will find return+ of prisoners for November. I have designed to make it comply with your directions of the 29th November by putting on the back all charges. I have, however, excepted the rolls of prisoners sent during the month and also this day. I have heretofore been in the practice of notifying you by letter of every discharge and so supposed the dead were the only prisoners necessary to name on the returns. You will observe that our list of dead is very large. I think I can get along without hiring a clerk as you permit me, and if I can think it my duty so to do.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major Hoffman's Battalion, Commanding.


* See Vol. IV, this Series, p. 618.

+ Omitted.